Does Adding a Younger Dog to the Family Revitalize a Senior Dog?

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Our Rottweiler mix, Lucy, was 15 when she passed away. In the weeks that followed we watched Jason, our 8-year-old border collie mix, get more and more depressed. He spent a lot of time laying on Lucy’s bed with his face turned towards the wall. We felt sure that what he needed was a new companion. The problem was making a good match. Jason had only been 6-months-old when we adopted him as a companion for Lucy, and his puppy antics gave her renewed energy.

With that in mind, we adopted American foxhound Bella, a skinny 1-year-old, who had been rescued from a kill shelter in Virginia. She was used to living with a pack of hounds and always wanted to lay beside or on top of Jason. He wasn’t impressed but soon got used to her neediness. The problems started when Bella gained strength and we got to see her crazy playing style. She was too rough for our senior and didn’t respond well to his signals to back off. We had to constantly supervise playtime to make sure things didn’t get out of control.

jasonandbella

We’ve all heard that an older dog becomes revitalized if you bring a younger dog into the family. Is that true? It very much depends on the dog and the family say experts at the Senior Dogs Project, a nonprofit that promotes the adoption of older dogs and provides information on the special care of seniors. In some cases, a puppy will “energize” an older dog, who will become more playful and begin to behave like a puppy herself again. However, some older dog simply won’t tolerate the changes made by another dog in her home.

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Tips For Pet Owners Looking to Rent a House or Apartment

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I will never forget how nervous I was the day Solas, my late German shepherd mix, and I headed out to meet the landlord of a studio apartment that I was hoping to rent. The apartment was at the back of the landlord’s home and he and his wife were hesitant to rent to a tenant with a dog. I convinced them to meet my dog before turning us down.

Solas had been bathed and was wearing a cute bandana when we walked up to the landlord’s door. I also brought along her Canine Good Citizen certificate and references from my veterinarian. She made a great impression and we got the apartment. In fact, Solas and the landlord’s granddaughter became great buddies.

Not all tenants with pets fare so well. In an American Humane survey of 93 shelters, “landlord won’t allow pets” was the fourth most common reason pets were surrendered to shelters. And according to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the lack of pet-friendly rental properties leads to the surrender of half a million pets to shelters each year. While the rental housing industry claims to be pet-friendly, HSUS representatives say that it is discriminating about the types of pets allowed. Often there are weight limits or breed restrictions when it comes to renting with dogs.

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DNA Testing can Help with Training and Behavior Modification in Dogs

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What breed is your dog? It’s a question those of us lucky enough to share our lives with mixed breed dogs get asked a lot. And, it was one of the reasons that Cathie Giglio from Orange County, NY, decided to have a DNA test done for Happy, the dog her family adopted from Pets Alive Animal Sanctuary in Middletown, NY. Happy was the only pup to survive when her mom gave birth to a litter after being rescued from the streets in Puerto Rico. The shelter believed that Happy’s mom was part Australian shepherd.

“Since we only knew her mom we were curious about who her dad might have been,” Giglio said. “We also wondered how her breed makeup influenced her behavior and personality.”

Happyandmom

Happy (left) and her mom meet again years after being adopted into separate homes. Staff at Pets Alive Animal Sanctuary believed Happy’s mom was part Australian shepherd. Image credit: Cathie Giglio

According to a research study supported by the National Canine Research Foundation Maddie’s Fund, and Merial, visual breed identification is only accurate about 27 percent of the time, even by professionals. And while DNA test results aren’t one hundred percent accurate, they do provide insight into the breed makeup of mixed breed dogs.

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Is Crate Training Cruel? Here’s What Some Experts Have to Say

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One of my dog walking clients recently adopted a 3-year-old Italian greyhound who wasn’t housebroken. He peed and pooped all over her house, and the rescue group where she adopted him suggested that she use crate training to housebreak her newest family member. Because my client works full time she called me in to walk the greyhound during the day. We had fun on our long walks and he willingly returned to his crate with a favorite treat and toy to settle down and relax until his “mom” returned home.

Everything was going according to plan except for one problem—my client wasn’t happy. Crating filled her with guilt as she thought it would traumatize her dog.

So, is crating cruel or is it an effective training tool?

The use of a crate as a training tool is controversial. Many leading animal welfare groups such as the HSUS and the ASPCA believe that when used properly crating is an effective and humane training tool. Behavioral experts at the HSUS recommend crating dogs until they can be trusted not to destroy the house, and after that leaving the crates around as a place where dogs can go voluntarily. Other groups such as PETA believe that crating is cruel and has become a popular “convenience practice” that is often used on adult dogs.

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Rescued Greyhounds Give Sense of Purpose to Prison Inmates

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In addition to writing about pets, I have the pleasure of working as a dog walker and pet sitter. Among my clients is Spring, who was adopted from Greyhound Friends of New Jersey (GFNJ), and is a graduate of the group’s Prison Foster Program. This wonderful program that is located at the Mountainside Youth Correctional Facility in Annandale, NJ, celebrated its 15th year anniversary in May 2017 and to date has graduated approximately 822 greyhounds.


Photo courtesy of Greyhound Friends of New Jersey 

In 2011, GFNJ was inducted into the New Jersey Animal Hall of Fame for the positive impact the Prison Foster Program has had on the retired racing greyhounds and the participating inmates.

“It’s a great program that’s a win-win for the dogs and the inmates,” said Susan Smith, a retired corrections sergeant, who has volunteered as the coordinator of the prison foster program for almost 10 years. “It allows us to take more dogs and it provides the inmates with an opportunity to care for the dogs and develop new skills.”

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Do Our Pets Really Benefit from Supplements? Here’s What the Experts Have to Say

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Our late Rottweiler mix, Lucy, was diagnosed with chronic hip dysplasia when she was only 4 years old. After researching ways to help her I learned that joint supplements containing the ingredients chondroitin and glucosamine seem to help some dogs with joint issues. Following a discussion with my veterinarian, I started Lucy on two pills a day. I don’t know if they helped her, but she joined us on walks and hikes until we finally lost her at age 15.


Joint supplements containing the ingredients chondroitin and glucosamine seem to help Lucy who had chronic hip dysplasia. 

Now we think that our 10-year-old border collie mix, Jason, is showing signs of arthritis. Once the vet confirms this, we’ll ask if we should put him on the same supplements we used for Lucy? We’re not alone in considering the use of pet supplements. According to market researcher Packaged Facts, projected retail sales for pet supplements and nutraceutical treats in the U.S. are expected to grow through 2017, to an estimated $1.6 billion.

The National Animal Supplement Council (NASC) describes pet supplements as products that are intended to complement the diet and help support and maintain a normal biological function. Products range from multivitamins for overall health to targeted formulas that claim to alleviate joint problems or canine cognitive dysfunction.

Do Our Pets Really Benefit From the Addition of Supplements in Their Diets?

The most commonly used pet supplements are multivitamins, joint supplements and fatty acids. Veterinary experts agree that glucosamine/chondroitin supplements if they are of good quality, may have modest benefits in some animals with arthritis. And fish oil supplements may be beneficial for pets with certain medical conditions, such as heart disease, kidney disease and cancer. However, even these common supplements have potential side effects and are not right for every dog and cat with these conditions. As for multivitamin supplements, veterinary experts say that pets do not need these unless they are on a nutritionally unbalanced diet.

“A healthy dog and cat on a well-regulated commercial pet food that has been carefully designed by a board-certified veterinary nutritionist will be getting all the vitamins and minerals they need,” said Laura Eirmann, a veterinary nutritionist at Oradell Animal Hospital. Complete and balanced pet foods are made to give pets the right amount of nutrients and adding more could be harmful to your pet Eirmann said. For example, giving too much calcium to a large breed puppy can lead to skeletal diseases.

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What You Need to Know About Online Pet Pharmacies

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I’ve been purchasing supplements for my dogs online for many years now. These purchases have saved me quite a lot of money. While I’ve never purchased prescription medications online, I understand why many pet owners do. Every week, online pet pharmacies offer discounts and special deals on a wide variety of products.

But the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Center for Veterinary Medicine warns pet owners to exercise caution when filling prescriptions online. Some illegal online pet pharmacies may sell medicines that are counterfeit, outdated, mislabeled, incorrectly formulated, or improperly made or stored. These medicines may not contain the actual drug, may contain contaminants or the incorrect amount of drug, or may not work as well due to age or being stored in the wrong environment.

How to Determine if an Online Pharmacy is Reputable

Check the website for the seal indicating that it is a Vet-VIPPS (Veterinary-Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Site) accredited pharmacy. This is a voluntary accreditation program of the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy which requires rigid standards in the preparation and dispensing of medicines.

If the online pet pharmacy operates in the U.S., pet owners can check the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy website to see if the pharmacy is properly licensed.

The FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine advises pet owners to have a discussion with their veterinarians before using an online pet pharmacy. Ask for instance, if your veterinarian trusts the online pharmacy you plan to use. Ask if he or she has ever worked with the pharmacy or has clients who have used the site. Typically veterinarians will write prescriptions for clients to send to reputable online pet pharmacies, or fax permission to refill medications, as long as the hospital has an established and recent veterinary-client-patient relationship.

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Puppy Mill Survivors Serve as Comforters, Role Models and Ambassadors

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Pomegranate, was 9 years old and carrying nine dead pups when she was rescued from an Amish puppy mill by the Ramapo-Bergen Animal Refuge, Inc. (RBARI) in Oakland, NJ. The Pomeranian had just three teeth left, a heart condition caused from over breeding and feet splayed out with nails that grow up instead of out.

“She had lived her whole life outside in a rabbit cage with hundreds of other dogs,” said Frannie D’Annunzio, Volunteer Manager at RBARI, who adopted Pomegranate. “The cages were those typically found in puppy mills with wire bottoms so that the poop falls out and no one ever has to clean them. The food is thrown into the cages and the only time the doors are open is for breeding purposes or to take the pups away from their mothers.”

For two years when the other dogs in the household ran towards D’Annunzio, Pomegranate ran in the opposite direction. Today, she’s eager to jump in her “mom’s” lap and serves as a “therapy dog” for new rescues and sick dogs and helps socialize new puppy mill rescues at the shelter. Several RBARI adopters have reported that their rehabilitated puppy mill survivors serve as comforters and role models for newly-rescued mill dogs as they acclimate to life in their new homes.

“I foster hospice dogs and puppy mill rescues and Pomegranate is always the first to run up and comfort them when I bring them home,” D’Annunzio said. “Most recently I brought home a 19-year-old hospice Chihuahua, Cupcake, and Pomegranate immediately jumped into the bed beside her. It’s so heartwarming to see her in action.”

Pomegranate comforting cupcake, a hospice foster.
Image credit: Frannie D’Annunzio

Adopt Don’t Shop

According to the Puppy Mill Project, two million puppies are bred annually in an estimated 10,000 mills across the United States, and 1.2 million dogs are euthanized in shelters each year. Adult dogs who can no longer breed are typically discarded or killed after they have served their purpose.

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Why do Some Dogs Adjust to Babies While Others Get Stressed?

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While shelter and rescue groups too often see dogs abandoned by families just because a new baby comes into the house, there are absolutely times when a dog is so stressed that the best and safest solution is to find him a new home. Why do some dogs adjust to new babies while others feel stressed?

“We never know what is going on in the brain of any living being,” said Pia Silvani, director, behavioral rehabilitation for the ASPCA. “It’s not jealousy—dogs do not exhibit jealousy—that’s a human emotion.”

What has happened is that the dog’s immediate social group was once stable and now there is an intruder. Typically, Silvani said, dogs who have difficulty adjusting to babies have not been properly socialized with children and are now forced to live with them. Dogs do not understand the body language of a child and feel threatened. They are looking to their leader, the parent, for help but the parent is paying attention to the intruder and not giving the dog what it needs.

Things get turned upside down and there’s lots of stress in the house, especially when it’s a first baby,” said Silvani, author of “Raising Puppies and Kids Together: A Parent’s Guide.” “Sadly there are times when a dog just doesn’t adjust to the new baby. My heart goes out to families in this situation. They love their dog but are petrified that their baby is going to be injured.”

That’s no way to live and is not a good quality of life for anyone—including the dog, the trainer said. Some families solve the problem by rehoming the dog with grandparents so she is still part of the family. Others are placed into new loving homes.

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Why Children Get Bitten by Dogs and How to Protect Them

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention every year more than four million people in the United Sates are bitten by dogs. Most people are bitten by their own dog or one they know and most of these victims are children under the age of 13.

The results of a study of dog bites in children published in the American Journal of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery found that dog bite injuries in the head and neck disproportionately affect children, and have been previously reported to account for 3-4 percent of all pediatric emergency visits, and up to 40 percent of all pediatric traumas. According to the study, these injuries can lead to disfiguring scars and lengthy treatments and the need for facial plastic and reconstructive surgery.

Why are so many children bitten by dogs?

“First of all children are not taught how to approach, handle or behave around dogs,” said Liz Gruen, a certified dog trainer and owner of Dog Training with Liz located in Palm Bay, FL. “And secondly, adults are not educated to the fact that even if they think their dog would never bite anyone, kids need to be supervised at all times when around dogs.” Even the friendliest dogs can be uncomfortable with a child’s quick movements and loud tone of voice, say Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) experts. Children tend to get excited around dogs and can approach them quickly, talk loudly and try to hug the animal. Any one of these actions can easily result in a bite.

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