Feeling Stressed? Then Your Dog Probably Feels Stressed, Too By: By Steven Reinberg, HealthDay Reporter
This dog-eat-dog world got you feeling anxious? If so, your canine companion probably feels the same way, new research shows.
A Swedish research team measured levels of the stress hormone cortisol in hair samples taken from dogs and their owners.
"We found that the levels of long-term cortisol in the dog and its owner were synchronized, such that owners with high cortisol levels have dogs with high cortisol levels, while owners with low cortisol levels have dogs with low levels," researcher Ann-Sofie Sundman, of Linkoping University's department of physics, chemistry and biology, said in a university news release.
For the study, Sundman's team took hair samples from 25 border collies and 33 Shetland sheepdogs, all of them owned by women.
Dog owners also completed questionnaires about their own and their dog's personalities.
The researchers then factored in the dog's activity level, which can increase cortisol levels.
The results: There was no major effect of a dog's individual personality on their long-term stress level. However, the personality of the dog's owner did seem to have a strong effect on their pet's own anxiety level.
That led the researchers to hypothesize that dogs are mirroring their owners' stress levels.
The investigators said that they are planning to study other breeds, to see if a similar connection exists among other types of dogs.
According to researcher Lina Roth, a senior lecturer at the university, "If we learn more about how different types of dogs are influenced by humans, it will be possible to match dog and owner in a way that is better for both, from a stress-management point of view. It may be that certain breeds are not so deeply affected if their owner has a high stress level."
The report was published June 6 in the journal Scientific Reports.
WebMD News from HealthDay
Louisiana currently has no law making it a crime to leave an animal in a hot car, nor does it have a law allowing members of the public to break into a car to save an animal.
This doesn't mean that pet owners in Louisiana can get away with animal cruelty and neglect scot-free, however. Louisiana’s animal cruelty statute, among other things, prohibits carrying an animal in a vehicle in a cruel or inhumane way, and “Mistreats any living animal by any act or omission whereby unnecessary or unjustifiable physical pain, suffering or death is caused to or permitted upon the animal.”
A first-time offender may be punished by a maximum of six months imprisonment and/or a maximum fine of $1,000. A subsequent offense will come with a fine of between $5,000 and $25,000, and/or a sentence "with or without hard labor" for between one and ten years. A subsequent offender will also be ordered to complete 40 hours of community service, and must complete a psychological evaluation. Although Louisiana’s laws do not specifically allow for the rescue of struggling animals by members of the public, they do allow for rescue by police officers, and the punishments for animal cruelty are among the harshest in the nation, especially for repeat offenders. In addition, Louisiana restricts those convicted of animal cruelty from owning or possessing any animals for “a length of time deemed appropriate by the court.”
January 13, 2018
DOGS IN HOT CARS: HAWAII - LOUISIANA
Author: Simon Isham
While it may be hard to imagine why anyone would steal a pet from its caretakers, it happens all too frequently. According to Last Chance for Animals, an estimated 2 million pets are stolen in the United States each year.
Fortunately, there are some precautions you can take each day to minimize the risk of pet theft.
1. Never leave pets unattended in public.
As a pet sitter or pet owner, it is your responsibility to make sure you stay with pets at all times when you are out in public, whether you are at a dog park or the grocery store. Leaving a pet alone even for a few moments can put them at risk of theft, so always keep them with you, and keep them on a leash. Even if you are nearby, it is easier for a criminal to try to run off with a pet if it is not on a leash.
If the dog will be spending time outside at home, ensure that the yard has a secure fence. Just keep in mind that it is still best not to leave the dog unattended for long, since even fences are not a deterrent to some criminals.
Another important thing to remember: Never leave pets in your vehicle, even if you plan to be back in a few minutes. Not only does it pose a health risk to pets, since temperatures can drop or rise quickly even while the heat or air conditioning are on, but it also leaves the pets susceptible to people with bad intentions who may see them alone in your car.
2. Research your pet-care providers.
Whether you are looking for a pet sitter, trainer, groomer or other pet-service provider, be sure to do your research. You should always use the services of a trained professional who can provide references, proof of a background check and insurance coverage, etc.
This is especially important when selecting a pet sitter. More and more horror stories are coming out each year of people who posed as “pet sitters” only to steal (and then sell) an animal they had been hired to pet sit. Just because someone is listed on an online directory or app doesn’t mean he or she is a qualified pet sitter running a professional business.
Pet Sitters International (PSI) offers a free checklist of questions pet owners should ask any potential pet sitter. Pet owners can also visit petsit.com/locate to search for a PSI member in their area. Hiring a trustworthy pet sitter ensures that pets get to stay in the comfort of their own home and that pet parents have peace of mind.
3. Make sure pets have current IDs.
Always make sure that the pets in your care are wearing collars and ID tags with up-to-date contact information. While you should take steps to prevent pet theft, you want to be prepared in the unlikely event that the pet is still stolen somehow. If the pet gets away from the thief and is found by someone else—or if someone gets suspicious of the pet’s origins and intervenes—the current contact information will let them know where the pet should go.
But pet parents should also consider having their pets microchipped. A thief can remove a pet’s collar and ID tags, but he or she may not realize that the pet has a microchip. A simple trip to the veterinarian may then reveal the crime, PetHub explains, and lead to a happy reunion.
4. Keep accurate records.
Also be sure to keep current photos of pet and parent, as well as documents proving pet ownership (e.g. vet records, shelter adoption paperwork, etc.).
While you would like to think the best of the people you know, it is not unheard of for people (especially former roommates or partners) to claim falsely that a pet is theirs. By having records clearly proving ownership, you can help prevent this type of pet theft.
New Year’s Eve is a fun celebration for you, but loud music, laughter and fireworks can be stressful for your pets. Help your cats and dogs stay safe and relaxed during the holiday parties by following some of our tips listed below.
1. Keep your pets inside! Many pets find fireworks, crowds of people and the loud sounds of partying overwhelming leaving them anxious and frightened. Noisy poppers can terrify pets and cause possible damage to sensitive ears. Consider keeping your pets safe and secure at home in an escape-proof room as midnight approaches. Make sure your pet has plenty of water inside the room and your cat has access to a litter box.
2. If you must take your pet outside, keep them securely leashed or confined in a crate. Pets can run away from strange people and loud sounds. If your dog or cat doesn’t have a secure harness and you think they might easily slip out of a collar and leash, it is probably best they should be left safe at home.
3. Keep your pets microchips and vaccination tags up-to-date. Parties mean doors getting opened a lot. Even if you’ve thoughtfully hung a sign on a bedroom door saying ‘Do Not Open,’ or if you have your pets safely contained in a crate inside a bedroom, accidents happen. Make sure your pet ID tags and microchip information has your current address and phone numbers.
4. Keep alcoholic beverages away from pets. According to the Pet Poison Helpline, alcohol can be toxic to both dogs and cats resulting in symptoms such as drooling, dry heaves or vomiting, distended abdomen, low blood pressure, weakness and collapse, and possible coma and death. See your vet immediately if you suspect your animal has ingested any kind of alcohol.
5. Keep pets away from bones and fatty foods. Fatty foods can create digestive problems for your pet causing them to suffer from vomiting, diarrhea and bloating. Additionally, when torn apart by teeth, cooked bones have been known to result in torn intestinal, stomach and esophageal tissues. Bones can also get stuck around the teeth and jaws, in the esophagus, stomach and intestines and end in blockages that may need surgical intervention.
6. Beware of New Year’s decorations. Shiny streamers, noisemakers, bright balloons and crinkly tinsel can be swallowed causing possible digestive issues and blockages.
7. Keep your pet on their usual feeding, sleeping and walking schedule. Your pet may feel less likely anxious when they stick to their daily routine.
8. Talk to your veterinarian about giving your pet anti-anxiety medications during the holiday. There are several different types of drugs available for animals. Please note: Do NOT attempt to dose your pet with any type of medication without first consulting with your veterinarian.
9. Exercise or play with your pet during the day to release any excess energy. The extra workout can reduce your pets stress level, helping them remain calm after dark.
10. Consider leaving your noisy neighborhood for the evening to someplace quieter. If you know for sure that none of the tips here will help your pet’s severe anxiety, pack up the travel crate and all of the other things you will need for an overnight away from home and take off to a more relaxing place.
The thyroid is a small but important gland in the neck. A cat’s thyroid or dog’s thyroid consists of two segments, one on each side of the windpipe. This gland produces the hormone thyroxine, along with several other important thyroid hormones. In a healthy pet, these hormones automatically work together to coordinate your pet’s energy levels, growth, body temperature and heart rate.
Cat thyroid problems and thyroid problems in dogs occur when the hormone levels become too high or low. According to Dr. Rachel Barrack, DVM, CVA, CVCH and founder of Animal Acupuncture in New York City, signs of a thyroid problem in dogs or cats occur gradually and can be easy to miss. “Symptoms are often subtle at first but become more overt with progression of the disease,” she says.
Pet owners can sometimes fail to recognize a cat or dog thyroid issue until their pet is at risk for more serious complications. That’s why it’s important to be aware of the subtle signs and symptoms. If you know what to look for, you can bring it up to your vet and possibly catch the disease in its early stages.
Thyroid Disease in Dogs and Cats
Thyroid problems are extremely common in pets. However, dogs and cats aren’t typically affected the same the way. Dogs are most commonly afflicted with hypothyroidism, or low thyroid hormone levels. According to Lori Pasternak, DVM and co-founder of Helping Hands Affordable Veterinary Surgery and Dental Care, hypothyroidism usually affects dogs around the age of 2 to 7 years old.
Hyperthyroidism, or high thyroid hormone levels, is more common in cats. While dogs and cats can be diagnosed with hyperthyroidism at any age, cats generally don't show signs of hyperthyroidism until they are at least 7 years old. While either disease can occur in both species, it is rare.
Here are the key symptoms of cat and dog thyroid problems to look out for:
1. Changes in Behavior or Activity Level
According to Dr. Pasternak, the biggest sign of a thyroid problem is changes in your pet’s behavior or activity level. “Generally, when pets exhibit behavior changes, it is usually their way of telling us something is wrong,” she says.
Since the thyroid hormone helps regulate your pet's energy level, a common sign of hypothyroidism in dogs (low thyroid) is that they tend to be less active or lethargic. Your dog may seem less playful at the dog park, or doesn’t want to play fetch, or just won’t walk as far as he used to. He might also be sleeping more than usual or won’t get up with you in the morning.
Cat hyperthyroidism (high thyroid levels) is the opposite problem—they tend to have more energy than usual. According to Dr. Pasternak, this can sometimes be tricky to pinpoint. “Most people think it is a good thing when their older cat starts becoming more active,” she says. “They don't realize it’s a thyroid issue until the levels are so high that the cat starts to show more serious signs.” While increased energy might be a good sign in your older cat, it’s always best to run it by your vet to rule out a cat thyroid problem. Other symptoms commonly seen with hyperthyroidism in cats include increased thirst, urination, hunger and vocalization as well as intermittent vomiting.
2. Weight Gain or Loss
Another sign of thyroid problems in dogs is weight gain that’s not caused by overeating. Instead, your pet slowly packs on a few pounds despite you feeding him a normal diet. According to Dr. Barrack, this weight gain can even lead to obesity in your pet if the thyroid problem isn’t corrected.
Conversely, cats with thyroid problems often experience weight loss, despite having a ravenous appetite. As with increased energy, Dr. Pasternak cautions owners against mistaking increased appetite in an older cat for a good thing. When paired with weight loss, it’s always something you should bring up to your vet.
3. Skin or Coat Problems
Skin and coat issues are also a sign of thyroid problems in dogs. Hypothyroidism typically causes dull hair, hair loss or a dry coat, according to Dr. Pasternak. You might notice that your pet’s skin flakes off more than usual when you’re brushing him. Or, he might start to experience patches of thinning hair.
Hyperthyroidism in cats causes the opposite problem. According to Dr. Barrack, your cat’s coat may start to look greasy and matted. Cats will sometimes stop grooming themselves and develop an unkempt appearance.
4. Intolerance to Cold
According to Dr. Barrack, aversion to cold can indicate hypothyroidism in dogs. You might notice your pet shivering in the cold or turning back toward the house to cut potty breaks short on cold days. He might also sit close to the heat vent, burrow under blankets or be reluctant to leave his warm bed.
5. Vomiting or Diarrhea
Over time, hyperthyroidism in cats can progress to a more serious symptoms, such as vomiting. “Left untreated, cats with thyroid problems can also develop secondary problems such as high blood pressure and heart disease,” warns Dr. Barrack.
If your pet is experiencing any of these symptoms, talk to your veterinarian. If your dog or cat does have thyroid problems, they can typically be treated with prescription pet medication. However, when left untreated, these problems can greatly affect the quality of your pet’s life.
Bad behavior: the big picture
Happy New Year! Did a new dog join the family this holiday season? Are you aiming to start a brand-new year with fine habits and manageable goals? Is this the time to tackle your dog's problem behaviors, the ones that have had you perplexed?
A solid foundation in positive training gets you off to great start, either with that new puppy or with your older dog. But training has to be more than just a foundation, especially if there are any undesirable canine behaviors on the scene. Consider the whole picture when it comes to behavior problems, and review the most common reasons a dog "behaves badly." Understanding the common explanations for behavior problems is the first step in solving and preventing those problems.
Reason #1: Not Enough Exercise
Dogs need physical exercise to be happy, and on-leash walks around the block are not usually sufficient. Activities like off-leash runs, running with you on a Walky Dog or Springer bike leash, fetch games, a pole toy like a Chase-It, or dog-dog play/daycare for social dogs are more appropriate exercise choices.
Reason #2: Not Enough Mental Stimulation
Mentally stimulating puzzle toys help eliminate
boredom and keep dogs out of mischief.
Often-forgotten mental stimulation is essential for a well-balanced dog. Mental exercise can be just as tiring as physical; someone who works at a desk job can be as tired at the end of the day as a landscaper. Utilizing your dog's daily rations for food-enrichment activities or for a bit of training as often as you can will go a long way toward tiring your dog mentally. Something as simple as hiding your dog's meal or spreading the food in the yard can be an enrichment activity. Dogs love to forage or work for their meals.
Reason #3: Health Problems
Health problems cause behavior issues more often than people realize; health issues are often missed. Think about it—if you are not feeling well, you are probably going to be cranky or not yourself. Your dog is the same way, except a dog does not have words to tell you. Health issues that can change your dog's behavior include arthritis, hip dysplasia, luxating patellas, sore teeth, thyroid problems, epilepsy/seizures, ear infections, digestive issues, skin or environmental allergies, yeast infections, hearing loss, eyesight loss, and cancer. If aggression or another behavior issue shows up suddenly, contact your vet. There is a good chance one of the above health complaints, or something related, could be causing your canine to be cranky.
Reason #4: Genetic Issues
Sometimes behavior issues have genetic causes. Behaviors that range from aggression to hyperactivity can come down to what your dog inherited from its parents. If you are buying a puppy, it is imperative to find out if the parents have positive temperaments. If they do not, the chance of your puppy having a poor temperament is very high. Sometimes, with very good socialization, you can override poor genetics, but often even with the best socialization program there are behavior issues if your dog has lost the gene pool lottery. Genetic issues tend to show up very young and are difficult to treat with behavior modification.
Reason #5: Inconsistent Environment
If you sometimes let your dog jump on you because you're wearing casual clothes, but at other times punish him jumping, how fair is this to your dog? Dogs do not know the difference in clothing! This pattern, or lack of pattern, is very confusing for them and can cause anxiety. It reinforces jumping or any other behavior you are rewarding inconsistently. If you want your dog not to do something, be consistent by making that clear to him in a kind manner. If your dog jumps, for example, take time to practice sitting with positive reinforcement (providing something your dog likes such as treats or play immediately after the behavior) and ignore your dog completely if he jumps. Ignoring your dog means no talking, touching, or eye contact, as all are forms of attention and can reinforce behavior you don't like. Cross your arms, turn your back, and ignore your dog until all four paws are on the floor.
If your dog has a behavior problem, look to yourself—how do you respond?If your dog has a behavior problem, look to yourself—how do you respond? There is an excellent chance you have been reinforcing the behavior with attention, and may have actually trained your dog to perform that behavior! Another example of a reinforced bad behavior is barking. Dog barks, you yell, dog thinks you are barking along—look at the attention I got! Dog barks more, you scold more, dog barks more, and on and on it goes.
Having a consistent set of boundaries and consistent rules in your house helps your dog understand that the environment is predictable. It also shows your dog that you provide guidance, leadership, and access to all the good stuff. Take the time to teach your dog rules using patience and positive reinforcement. Teaching your dog not to jump up, or training to eliminate any undesirable behavior, takes patience, consistency, and knowing what to ignore and what to reward.
Reason #6: Misunderstanding the "Normal" Dog Behavior
Barking is a natural behavior for some breeds.
Normal dogs bark, pull on leash, eat poop, roll in dead things, jump up to greet, guard food and bones (to a degree), growl when they are threatened, chew whatever they can get their mouths on, pee and poop wherever, nip, protect property or their family, herd, chase small animals, and sometimes kill small animals. All of these "nuisance" behaviors are perfectly natural parts of a dog's repertoire, and vary depending on breed. Find a dog breed that is compatible with your lifestyle. It's simply unfair to get a mastiff and be shocked when he barks at strangers approaching your home. These dogs have been bred for thousands of years to be guard dogs. Siberian huskies and northern breeds may not be reliable off leash and may kill small animals. Border collies might herd your children. Daschunds are known to bark a lot. These traits are due to selective breeding to perform a job or to natural canine behavior. Sometimes you can train an alternative behavior, and sometimes you cannot. It depends on how genetically hardwired the behavior is.
Reason #7: Changes in Routine
Changing the routine can be stressful for your dog, and may cause your dog to act out.Changing the routine can be stressful for your dog, and may cause your dog to act out. Just like us, dogs need a sense of security. Drastic changes in environment or routine can really throw them off, causing anxiety that is commonly expressed as problem behavior. Moving to a new house often causes a lapse in house training, among other issues. A change in work schedule can confuse your dog, and a new pet or child joining the family can also be very stressful. In all of these cases, be patient with your dog and guide him through the struggle with kindness while he adjusts to the changes.
Reason #8: Changes in Diet
Switching your dog to a poorer quality or less suitable diet may also cause him to act up. Diet has a huge influence on behavior (going back to health influencing behavior). Switching your dog's diet to something that is of poor quality or that doesn't agree with him may change how the dog acts. Always feed your dog a high-quality diet, and change foods gradually over a week or so.
Reason #9: Poor Socialization or Negative Socialization
Proper socialization lays a foundation for a well-balanced dog.
Socialization is the process of providing your puppy positive, controlled exposure to other dogs, people of all types, sounds, surfaces, and new experiences. Dogs need to be socialized to the human world starting as young puppies and continuing throughout their lives. The period from 3-16 weeks of age is the most critical socialization period. This time lays a foundation for a well-balanced dog. If a puppy doesn't get proper socialization during its critical period, it can grow up into a shy, fearful, or aggressive adult. A well-run puppy class can be a fun way to kick-start your dog's socialization skills.
Even a dog that has been well socialized can develop behavior problems after negative experiences. Being attacked by other dogs or teased by children when out in the yard are occurrences that can affect your dog's behavior negatively. A poor experience at the vet, training class, or groomer can do the same. Be selective about where you take your dog to socialize and which professionals you trust to handle your dog. I would also advise against leaving your dog alone in the yard when you are not at home, as you never know what could happen.
Reason #10: Fear Periods or Adolescence
It is normal for puppies to go through several fear periods as their brains develop.If your normally fearless puppy suddenly turns shy one day, don't panic. It is normal for puppies to go through several fear periods as their brains develop. The first generally occurs somewhere around 8-12 weeks of age and another period occurs around 5 or 6 months of age. Depending on the breed and bloodlines of your dog, your dog may experience more or fewer fear periods. Do not panic; just let your puppy go through this phase. You may want to avoid going to the vet, training class, groomer, or new places for a week until your puppy is back to his normal behavior. If during a fear period something frightens your dog, it imprints very strongly. So, rather than trying to work through a fear period, it might be best just to let it pass.
Adolescence starts at about 6 months of age and usually continues to 12 to 18 months of age. Adolescence is when most dogs are turned over to shelters. This is a period when puppies start testing their world and their boundaries. A previously "good" dog may become a nightmare. Continued obedience training, maintaining structure and boundaries, patience, and skilled management are all essential practices during this phase. Management means setting up the environment so that the dog doesn't get a chance to do "naughty" things, and includes techniques like crating the dog when you cannot supervise directly.
Understanding common potential causes of problem behavior in dogs can make it easier to sort out what is happening with your own challenging canine. Target to change. Understanding common potential causes of problem behavior in dogs can make it easier to sort out what is happening with your own challenging canine. Eliminate each of the various origins of change, if possible narrowing down to a trigger for the undesirable behavior your pet is exhibiting. With more detailed information, you will have a better chance of eliminating the frustrating behavior quickly. Of course, if your dog's behavior problems are severe, look for a reputable trainer to help you.
About the author, Sarah Fulcher, KPA CTP, offers group and private training, daycare, boarding, and other pet services through her company Barks and Recreation in British Columbia, Canada. With an impressive educational background and experience that includes fostering dogs as well as training them, Sarah is particularly interested in helping puppies, newly adopted dogs, and dogs that have behavioral issues.
I'm about to have some houseguests arrive, and they'll be here for a few days. Why am I telling you this, you ask? Well, it turns out that they have a black lab mix - he's young, a bit spastic, and he has been known to be aggressive with other dogs. So, in the interests of everyone being able to get along for the next 5 days, I am dusting off the old manual to tell you about the best way to introduce two dogs to each other. These are the basics of introducing your dog to another dog. In an upcoming article we will talk about specific strategies to handle severe aggression between two dogs. If you were to rate dog aggression on a scale of zero to ten, with ten being the MOST aggressive (and zero being not aggressive at all), these techniques will work with dogs in the zero-to-six-or-seven range. Dogs in the eight-nine-ten range...well, they deserve a special article all to themselves. So, without further ado, here is the best way to introduce your dog to another dog, in ten easy steps:
As always, thanks for stopping by, and if you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments or e-mail me: neil at naturaldogblog dot com.
We don’t just love animals, we know them. We know their behaviors, we understand their issues.
It isn’t just about feeding and walking; it’s about making them happy. We understand that they are sad when the family leaves town, we have pets too; so we get that. So we love to be able to entertain them, exercise them, love on them and care for them. Our hearts are at peace when we leave your house knowing that they have had fun, have been fed and are happy and tired.
We are sad when we lose a pet to the rainbow bridge or when one moves out of town. We form bonds with your pets and when we enter your house, we are just as excited to see them as they are to see us. Our pets have been with us for several years and they are a part of our family too. We often ask each other updates on our pets; “How was Bella today, I’ll bet she just loves this weather!” or “Did Reggie walk a little faster today since he’s lost weight?” Your pets are our pets too. We miss them when we haven’t seen them in a while. We worry about them when they are sick or injured.
It just might be your pet that we think of when we wake up in the morning. We love them too.
Signs your dog or cat might not be feeling well.
1. Vomiting or Diarrhea
2. Lack of Appetite
3. Decrease in Activity
4. Urinating more or less frequently
6. Hair loss or itchy skin
7. Stiffness or difficulty getting up
For more information on these symptoms, go to this article from Pet-WebMD.
I welcome your comments and opinions.