Winter: the season of arthritis

Arthritis in dogs is almost impossible to avoid once we mature but there are ways you can ease the pain for us during the cold winter months when our joints become stiff and tender.

Once we reach 7 to 10 years of age, there’s a 60 percent chance that we’ll develop arthritis, a chronic pain condition that results when joint cartilage deteriorates. The joints become inflamed due to a lack of lubrication and we hurt when we move. Older, big dogs are especially prone because their frames have to carry so much weight. But younger pooches that are overweight, lack exercise and eat poorly are also in danger. Genetics and poor breeding are also to blame. Notice if we start to limp, favor a limb, are unwilling to and have difficultly sitting and standing up and let out a yelp if you touch us. Sometimes we can’t keep up with you on walks because we’re in too much pain. Have a vet check us for arthritis. Osteoarthritis is the most common form in animals and humans. There’s also rheumatoid arthritis and infectious arthritis.

There’s no cure for the condition but here are things you can do to make us more comfortable.

  • I know we’re in pain but light exercise is vital to help us strengthen the muscles, keeps the ligaments and tendons flexible and helps blood circulate to the stiff joints. Make it fun, short and low-impact. A little incentive always helps.
  • Make sure we have a proper bed – Hard, cold surfaces irritate the joints. Invest in a heated or orthopedic pet bed.
  • Use non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs prescribed by a vet and analgesic medications to reduce the symptoms, but be aware that they can sometimes cause gastrointestinal problems. Hip and joint supplements such as glucosamine, chondroitin and Omega 3 fatty acids help as well.
  • Owners who prefer a holistic approach, can try acupuncture, hydrotherapy, massage and light therapy.
  • More recently, stem cell therapy has proven effective
  • Surgery is also an option, but is rare

Winter days may be bleak and bleary but there’s hope for us arthritic dogs during this time.

– Trevor the dog

Hybrid cars: easy on my ears, and pleasant to my nose

One of the highlights for me is riding in the car with my owner. It’s another chance to bond, whether we’re running a 15-minute errand or going on a weekend getaway. These outings are more enjoyable nowadays because of hybrid cars, which aren’t just beneficial to the environment but healthier for pooches.

More than 80 percent of dog owners take their canine companions along in their vehicles on errands, leisure rides and day trips, according to a survey by the Automobile Association of America survey in 2010. But some of my fellow canines have problems becoming accustomed to the noise, vibration and motion in standard cars. Therefore, we might shake, drool and even vomit on your beautiful leather car seats.

We smell 1,000 to 10,000 times better than humans and hear at a higher frequency too. But because hybrid cars are quieter than conventional vehicles, it results in a more pleasant ride for us. Hybrid cars are also easier on our noses because there’s less smog exhaust in the air.

Regardless of the kind of car, always remember to secure us with a doggy seatbelt or crate us and use a seat belt to secure the crate. This prevents us from climbing into your lap, one of our favorite places, or flying around the car should you have to brake suddenly or someone hit your car. And it’s fine if you put us in the backseat. We know how much you want to pet us (and we like it too) but we don’t want to distract you from driving. Letting us hang our heads out of the window may look cool but it’s bad for us because debris can fly in our eyes and ears and harm us. Also, don’t leave us in a closed car, even for a few minutes. You’d be surprised at how quickly a closed car can heat up and cause permanent damage to us or worse yet, even kill us. Therefore, make sure you can take us inside whatever establishment you go to as well.

– Trevor the dog Fido’s search for the perfect human

Humans go through an amazing amount of research to find the ideal dog to make part of their family. But no one ever asks us what we’re looking for in an owner. Here’s what’s on my wish list for the perfect pet parent. I want someone who is:

Active: Exercise is important for all dogs, regardless of size. I want someone that will take me for walks through the neighborhood and play outside with me.

Sensitive: It’s important that you get to know my behavior and patterns so you can tell when I’m not feeling well.

Caring: I want someone who will bathe me or take me the groomer regularly. Make sure my toenails are clipped because it will help prevent injury and make me more comfortable. Also, brush me often so my coat doesn’t matt and I won’t shed so much.

Great communicator: Talk to me daily. Not only do I like the sound of your voice but you would be surprised at how many words I understand. My vocabulary extends far beyond “sit,” “stay,” “roll over,” “come,” and “fetch.” Nothing warms my heart more than when someone says “I love you,” and kisses me. I’ll even kiss back.

Patient: Please don’t be in a hurry when you walk me. I like to stop and sniff – a lot.

Generous: This means with your time. I’m excited when you come home from work and want you to spend some time playing with me. Before you leave in the morning, take a few minutes to play with me also.

Affectionate: I love to be rubbed and, like most dogs, have my belly scratched. Massages are also nice and can be calming for humans. Try giving me one.

Giver: Praise us. Dogs love their owners and we want to please you. If you praise us then we know we’re doing the right thing.

Remember, dogs are the most loyal pets. We remain devoted through the good and the bad times. But being an ideal pet parent gives us all the more reason to be the best companion to you.

– Trevor the Dog

Yuck, why does my water taste so bad?

Everyone knows that dogs need fresh water daily but it’s also important to note that we should receive the same high-quality water as humans.

Just like our masters turn up their noses at unfiltered water from the tap, so do your four-legged friends. We notice that you drink bottled and filtered water and even lately water from expensive systems that turn yucky tap water into tasty water that is high in alkaline and antioxidants. Please share with us little people.

Tap water can contain harmful bacteria, viruses and even parasites. We don’t want those in our bodies any more than you do. Chlorine is added to tap water to kill the bacteria but that can be bad because chlorine, a poisonous gas that is converted to liquid form, might react with organic materials found in the water to create dangerous trihalomethanes (THM). Sometimes ingesting THMs and other chlorine by products increases the risk of certain types of cancer in both humans and animals, according to some studies. And chlorine just doesn’t taste very good. Imagine drinking water from a swimming pool with chlorine and then you’ll know what I mean.

Water is very important to us because we need to stay hydrated. We want to lead a long and healthy life with you and one way is for us to have quality water. When I lap fresh, filtered water, I don’t worry so much about getting urinary tract disorders and other medical conditions.

Also, please don’t forget to wash our bowls frequently. Otherwise, our bowls turn into Petri dishes where bacteria can grow from mold in the air. We prefer bowls made of stainless steel, glass or stoneware because they resist scratches that can harbor bacteria.

The thing to remember is this: if you would not drink the water from my bowl then neither should I.

– Trevor the Dog

Lessening the Poop Quotient: Keep dog poop out of your food

I’ve talked about canine poop containment in the past, urging you to try out a doggie doo compost option (either homemade or premade), but scooping can be such a nuisance. Close to 4 million tons of dog waste is purportedly left where it lies every year by dog owners. That’s because on average, 40 percent of all Americans fail to scoop their pooch’s poop.

Is there a way to lessen the amount of poop produced? More than likely your dog will poop less when he’s eating a well-balanced diet filled with top-notch ingredients. Many lower-grade canine foods contain all kinds of animal byproducts. In fact, although the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) is tasked with monitoring feed standards for both livestock and pets, each state in the US is allowed to enforce those guidelines as they see fit, and that can mean some pretty unsavory menus for Fido.

A good portion of many doggie diets on the market are filled with waste foods that are not fit for human consumption. Up to 50 percent of every food animal (lungs, intestines, hooves, hair, etc) is not used to produce human food, and these byproducts often find their way into dietary products for animals. By choosing healthy food for your dog, you can ensure their food is short on byproducts and high on nutrition, which essentially will cut the poop problem at the source.

Higher-quality food that contains good sources of protein are easier for your dog to digest, which means a greater percentage of the calories in the food are digestible and nutrient-rich. In the end, your dog will poop smaller, firmer stools, which means less mess for you!

Here are some characteristics to look for in a healthy dog food:

  • Look for protein (meat) to be the first thing on the ingredient list: lamb, chicken, and beef for instance. Avoid foods that contain things like “chicken meal” “beef byproduct” and other non-specific ingredients.
  • High-quality ingredients like eggs should also be listed in the top three to five ingredients. What you don’t want one type of meat followed by a list of grains.

– Lucy

Protecting the wildlife and making lemonade from lemons

This is a great example of how communities rise to the occasion and turn lemons into lemonade.

Puppy loves to whistle

Because sometimes, we just need a good laugh.

Pets, Relationships and How One Can Improve the Other

We’ve gone dog crazy. Yes I said it. Dogs in purses, designer dogs, dog whisperers. Sheesh! I dig animals and all but uhm… they can’t sleep in my bed and I’m just not picking up poop. I can’t deny the benefits that pets bring into our lives. The companionship and the unconditional love and devotion they give are just too priceless to measure. And let’s just tic off a few of the documented health benefits:

  • Increased longevity after heart attacks
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Lower cholesterol
  • Decreased feelings of loneliness

Someone bring me a puppy please!

So when Dr. Suzanne Phillips over at Psych Central asked the question, “Can pets improve your relationship?” I was all over it. We know how their mere presence in our lives helps us physically and mentally, but how we relate to them, our capacity for forgiveness, our openness, and our willingness to let them be who they are, opens us up on an emotional level. Perhaps we should take note of the grace and compassion in which we treat out animal companions and apply that to our loved ones. We are so afraid of getting hurt. We are so afraid of people seeing who we really are, of judgement. Our pets are not. They let it all hang out. And maybe they do it out of ignorance and I’m willing to bet that the bliss of that ignorance is what we really want anyway.

Can we learn something from our relationship with pets that might enhance our relationship with partners?

No matter how you feel or what mood you are in, you greet your pet with a positive, even animated, hello and often with a display of physical affection.

With pets, maybe it’s your lack of expectation that makes the difference. You probably rarely predict that your pet will be angry if you are late. As a result, you don’t head home defensively angry in preparation for the reaction you expect to face.

Holding Grudges
When you do return home to find that your cats have redecorated the room with shreds of every tissue they could find or the dog has eaten some of the mail, you may well react with a choice expletive but you are not likely to hold a grudge. You are still going to be petting Donatello or cuddling with Thor the next day.

Assuming the Best

There is a natural tendency to forgive pets their trespasses – after all, the dog wasn’t trying to torture you by eating the mail. Was your partner really trying to torture you by putting it in such a safe spot it can’t be found?

Few pet owners personalize their pets’ reactions to others to an extreme that makes them so embarrassed that they fear their image is tarnished or they become resentful of their pets. The fact that the dog is licking every part of the arriving guest’s body is cause to pull him away or laugh it away. The cat that will not come out of hiding or the parrot that is screeching is left without judgment or excuses. That’s them!

For Better or For Worse

In most cases, pets are home to stay. People love and care for pets of every size, shape and disposition. “She’s not exactly a watch dog; she’s loving but easily frightened.” “He insists on sleeping on the bed – we have given in.” “She steals food from the other dogs, she’s pretty hyper, but cute.” Few pets live with the fear of being betrayed or with the implication that things are just not working out. Of course they don’t – but just consider how the absence of such fears enhances the trust and connection you feel from them!

So think about what you give your pet and maybe how — in addition to improving your health — your pet can improve your relationship!

– Aunt B

Source: Psych Central

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