Pet Food Banks Feeling the Effects of the Economy

With millions of Americans pinching pennies, sometimes it is the family pet that must be sacrificed so that a family can survive. Pet food banks have been feeling the effects of the downturn in the economy as more and more families are trying desperately to keep every member of their families fed.

For some on fixed income that means giving up their own food to feed their pets. I know there are some people out there right now thinking, “Well if they can’t afford a pet, they shouldn’t have one.” In some cases that is true, but in most, the same thing could happen to you or me. You go into work one day at a job where you’re making decent pay and you get the dreaded “pink slip.” Now what? You’re in the same situation as the senior who is on a fixed income that doesn’t compare to the rising costs of food and fuel.

For most pet owners, the pet is part of the family and giving up their dog/cat/whatever would be like losing a child. Pets give us companionship and unconditional love, don’t you think that is enough to do whatever it takes to give back to them, even if that means asking for help?

So, if you are in this same situation, or you know someone who is, please have them contact their local humane society or rescue and ask if they have a pet food bank. And, if you have a little extra cash, please, PLEASE donate so that people who are animals lovers, just like you can keep their fur babies.

DogPause – Healthy Dog Bowl

The DogPause dog bowl is made by Long Tail Pet Products in Evergreen, CO. “While advances have been made in what dogs are being fed — from organic to raw diets — little attention has been given to how dogs eat,” said John Funk, president of Long Tail Pet Products.
“Our bowl redefines what it means for a dog to ‘eat healthy.” Recommended by vets and proven in clinical trials, the bowl’s design slows eating to reduce effects of fast-eating such as choking, vomiting, gas, and even life-threatening bloat. The dog bowl’s four feeding zones serve as SlowZonesTM that reduce the dog’s ability to gulp down food quickly, and also provide an integrated means of portion control as each SlowZone is half a cup in size.

The DogPause dog bowl was invented by Nancy Kerrigan. Nancy heard her dog gag one time too many, and had an idea to divide the bowl into smaller “feeding zones” and add a fun element to the bowl in the center. Her dog couldn’t get her entire face into the bowl, and as a result, ate more slowly.

The DogPause dog bowl slows down the pace of eating and aids with portion control in the following ways:

  • Divides the bowl into 4 feeding zones
  • Each feeding zone is 1/2 cup in capacity and designed to “block” the dog from putting his full snout into the bowl; this slows down eating pace as your dog needs to use his tongue for each bite
  • After your dog finishes each zone, he must re-position himself for the next zone
  • The bowl is designed to slide a little on the floor, further slowing down the dog as he needs to re-position for each bite

Help! My dog has separation anxiety!

Dogs with separation anxiety have behavior problems when they are left alone. The most common of these behaviors are:

  • Digging, chewing, and scratching at doors or windows in an attempt to escape and reunite with their owners.
  • Howling, barking, and crying in an attempt to get their owner to return.
  • Urination and defecation (even with housetrained dogs) as a result of distress.

These behaviors occur as a panic response to being separated from their owners. Dogs with separation anxiety will take out their anxiety about being left alone on just about anything, including your furniture, bed, clothing — anything they can get their paws (and teeth) on.

If your dog already has unwanted separation behavior, training may be more difficult, but is worth the effort to correct. Many older dogs with separation anxiety were shelter dogs or strays at some point in their life. Up to half of these dogs will improve with training, but you may need to modify your routine to desensitize them to your leaving.

For a dog that has mild separation anxiety, it can be relieved by (according to HSUS):

  • Keep arrivals and departures low-key. For example, when you arrive home, ignore your dog for the first few minutes, then calmly pet him. This may be hard for you to do, but it’s important!
  • Leave your dog with an article of clothing that smells like you—such as an old t-shirt that you’ve slept in recently.
  • Establish a “safety cue”—a word or action that you use every time you leave that tells your dog you’ll be back. Dogs usually learn to associate certain cues with short absences by their owners. For example, when you take out the garbage, your dog knows you come right back and doesn’t become anxious. Therefore, it’s helpful to associate a safety cue with your short-duration absences.Some examples of safety cues are a playing radio, a playing television, or a toy (one that doesn’t have dangerous fillings and can’t be torn into pieces). Use your safety cue during practice sessions with your dog. Be sure to avoid presenting your dog with the safety cue when you leave for a period of time longer than he can tolerate; if you do, the value of the safety cue will be lost. Leaving a radio on to provide company for your dog isn’t particularly useful by itself, but a playing radio may work if you’ve used it consistently as a safety cue in your practice sessions. If your dog engages in destructive chewing as part of his separation distress, offering him a chewing item as a safety cue is a good idea. Very hard rubber toys that can be stuffed with treats and Nylabone®-like products are good choices.

If your dog has more severe separation anxiety you can desensitize him by:

  • Do your usual leaving routine. Put on your jacket and pick up your keys. Then, put your keys down and take your jacket off. Go and sit down. Ignore the dog for a few minutes then calmly pat him. Repeat this process until he ignores your leaving cues.
  • Next, repeat the same process, put on your jacket and grab your keys. Go to the door. Open it, then close it. Put your keys down and take your jacket off. Ignore the dog for a few minutes and the calmly pat him. Do this until he is calm when you go to the door.
  • Now do the same process again, this time step through the door, close it, then open it and walk back in. Do the same as before. When your dog is comfortable with this step move on to the next.
  • From now on, each time you walk out and close the door, wait a bit longer each time until you can leave for short periods of time without the dog becoming distressed. It is a long process, but it will be worth the effort when your dog is able to stay alone and not destroy your furniture.

Another thing you can do to reinforce this desensitization is to teach your dog “sit-stay” or “down-stay.” Doing this will allow you to leave your dog’s sight while he sits or lays happily until you return. To do this, you gradually increase the distance you move away from your dog. As you progress, you can do this during the course of your normal daily activities.

Because the treatments described above can take a while, and because a dog with separation anxiety can do serious damage to himself and/or your home in the interim, consider these suggestions to help you and your dog cope in the short term (HSUS):

  • Consult your veterinarian about the possibility of drug therapy. A good anti-anxiety drug should not sedate your dog, but simply reduce his anxiety while you’re gone. Such medication is a temporary measure and should be used in conjunction with behavior modification techniques.
  • Take your dog to a dog day care facility or boarding kennel.
  • Leave your dog with a friend, family member, or neighbor.
  • Take your dog to work with you, even for half a day, if possible.

Pinnal-Pedal Reflex – Diagnosing Scarcoptic Mange

Has anyone heard of the Pinnal-Pedal reflex before? I hadn’t heard about it until just recently when our staff veterinarian was talking about diagnosing Scarcoptic mange. Scarcoptic mange is hard to diagnose with traditional testing because as the dog scratches, the tunnels that mange mites make are broken open and the mites die, leaving no trace of them on skin scrapings.

However, using the Pinnal-Pedal Reflex, veterinarians can more accurately diagnose cases of Scarcoptic mange. In recent studies done by the Animal Skin and Allergy Clinic in Victoria, Australia, 82% of the dogs in the study who had mange were diagnosed using this technique. This reflex is assessed by vigorously rubbing the tip of the earflap to the base of the ear between the thumb and forefinger for five seconds. The dog is considered positive for mange if its hind leg makes a scratching movement.



Running Dog, Treadmill Hog

We all live hectic lives and having pets can make it even more hectic, so what’s a busy pet owner to do? I have recently been seeing a lot of people using their treadmills to help beat doggie boredom and exercise them at the same time. We all know that daily exercise helps reduce dog behavior problems, but many of us find it hard to fit that in between life, work and kids too.

Teaching your dog to run on a treadmill can be a fun training experience for both of you if done properly. While there are treadmills specifically made for dogs, such as Jog A Dog, which are quite pricey, you really don’t need to shell out the money for a dog-specific treadmill. In fact, you can pick up one for just a little money (less than $400) at Wal-Mart, or if you really want to save money, pick one up at a garage sale. It doesn’t have to have all the bells and whistles, your dog doesn’t care if it’s MP3 compatible or not!

Now for training….I won’t go into it as this video shows a pretty good example.

And if you’re really, really motivated, you can teach your cat to do it too!