How Dogs Experience Grief

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Losing a pet is a sad and stressful situation for everyone, including the other dogs in the household. You may not realize it, but dogs do grieve the loss of a companion. If you are dealing with the death of one of your dogs, there are several things you can do to help your remaining dog (or dogs) get through this difficult time.

What to expect after your dog loses a friend

Just like people, all dogs react differently to loss. Some dogs seem to act completely normal while others get deeply depressed. Certain dogs may develop health or behavior issues. Here are some common dog reactions to the death of another dog:

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If you notice any signs of grief in your dog, call your vet today.

  • Personality changes. Some dogs may seem to change some of their behaviors. If the dog that passed away was a leader, the dog left behind may feel it is now their responsibility to take on that job. You may notice them barking more at passersby or acting more outgoing or confident. Or, you may notice your dog is more withdrawn and quiet.

  • Physical symptoms. Dogs left behind may have physical symptoms in response to the loss of another pet. Some common symptoms include lethargy, loss of appetite, and sometimes even illness.

  • No signs. Some dogs may not even show signs after losing a companion dog. This does not mean the dog is not experiencing some kind of grief.

Stick to your routine

No matter how your dog may react to the loss of another pet, they are likely feeling the stress over the changes in the household. One of the best ways you can help your dog adjust to the loss is to stick as carefully and closely to their normal routine. Continue to feed and walk them at the same times. By sticking to the usual schedule, you are reducing their stress a great deal. Keeping a routine will also help you cope with your own grief of losing a pet.

Provide more exercise and stimulation

Chances are high that the dog that passed away played a large role in the day-to-day life of your other dog. They may have played together, napped together, ate together. Losing this relationship may leave your remaining dog feeling anxious or bored. You can help relieve or help deal with this boredom and anxiety by providing them more exercise and mental stimulation.

Some things you can do for your dog include going for an additional walk each day, providing plenty of interesting toys, starting an obedience program, and playing extra little games like fetch or tug-of-war. You can also just make time for extra cuddling and bonding time with one another.

Should I get another dog?

One of the first pieces of advice people often hear when they lose a dog is to run right out and get another dog. This is not always the right choice. Before you get another dog, here are a few things to consider:

  • Are you ready for another dog? Your life may have changed a great deal wince you first brought your dogs home and new dogs are often a lot of work. Make sure you are prepared and emotionally ready for this kind of commitment before taking on a new dog.

  • Make sure your dog will accept another dog. Although your dogs were inseparable before, this does not guarantee the remaining dog will have the same relationship with a new dog. We suggest before you bring a new song home, test out their interactions beforehand.

So let’s reiterate. Some dogs show physical symptoms of grief. Others may exhibit behavior changes. Stick to your routine and give your remaining dog lots of exercise and attention. If you notice further signs of concern or physical illness, schedule an appointment to speak with your vet.

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Aging Pet Care Awareness

Help your pet live a long healthy life.

Help your pet live a long healthy life.

A comment made frequently by pet owners is that pets don't live long enough. As veterinary medicine advances and pet lover's awareness grows, longer and healthier life spans are possible.

Average pet lifespan varies greatly between dogs, cats and breeds. That said, I was surprised by a recent survey of more than 1,000 people by PetAg, Inc. that showed one-third of American pet owners don’t know when their pet will become a senior. With 71 million pet-owning households in the U.S. alone, this "one-third" statistic translates to millions of households that do not know how to prepare for and provide the best care during their pet's senior years.

Knowing when a pet is a "senior" will help people make appropriate changes in diet, exercise and health examination schedules to ensure a long, healthy life of their pet.

As a general rule of thumb, dogs and cats are considered "senior" around age seven. Larger dogs sooner (age 5 or 6), and smaller dogs later (age 8 or 9). Dogs have such a large variety of breeds and sizes that there isn't a single age that automatically translates to senior status.

The most accurate way to plan for your pet's senior years is to make an appointment with your veterinarian to discuss your pet's specific needs and age-related plan for optimal health.

Here are some age-related myths from the Aging Pet Care Awareness Survey:

MYTH: Pets and their owners age differently.
FACT: While the rate at which pets age is certainly different than humans, the changes seen with advancing age are very similar: changes in weight (gain or loss), dental problems, arthritic joints and heart troubles, to name a few. "Many of the same health and wellness strategies may be implemented in pets to increase longevity," notes Dr. Kelly Swanson, an assistant professor at the University of Illinois who teamed with PetAg to design the survey. A wellness/geriatric examination with your veterinarian is the perfect time to discuss an appropriate senior diet, supplements or medications to ease the pain of arthritis, and schedule a dental cleaning to keep teeth, gums, heart and liver healthy.

MYTH: As long as my pet isn't overweight, it isn't a major health concern.
FACT: While obesity is a huge health concern and one that actually "ages" animals faster, sudden weight loss or being chronically underweight is also a serious health concern. Diseases such as cancer, kidney failure, and Diabetes Mellitus can cause weight loss along with other symptoms, and must be addressed for optimum health.
At the other end of the body weight spectrum, two of the age-related symptoms most concerning to survey participants — aching joints (55.7%) and lack of energy (36%), are common symptoms of obesity that can be managed with proper diet and exercise.

MYTH: Exercise and engaging toys are the best ways to prevent cognitive decline.
FACT: Cognitive decline, or geriatric dementia, is something that is most often associated with human seniors, but pets are prone to age-related dementia, too.
Dementia in pets may manifest in different ways, most commonly: inappropriate vocalization (barking or meowing in the middle of the night), loss of house training (urinary accidents), getting "lost" in a corner or part of the house, and not interacting with family members as before.
The general confusion from dementia along with the above behavior changes may cause additional stress/fear/anxiety for the pet as well as for the human family members.
From the study: "maintaining proper levels of exercise can help maintain cognitive function, but Dr. Swanson explained that there is more evidence supporting dietary intervention, including the use of nutritional supplements. He suggests looking for products that include antioxidants (i.e. vitamins E, C and beta carotene) or those with omega-3 fatty acids." Please check with your veterinarian to see what product(s) or medications may be able to help your senior pet.

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Schedule an appointment with your vet today to talk about your aging pet’s health.

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Water Safety for Your Dog: High Risk Breeds & Puppy First Aid

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Many puppies leap before they look, or simply fall into the swimming pool, hot tub or break through ice on the lake and can’t get out. Dog paddling may be instinctive but they can still drown if they can’t climb out, get too tired to float, or are at risk of being top-heavy.

High Risk Breeds

Some puppy breeds adore the water but others have a hard time staying afloat. For instance, Labrador Retrievers especially love the water. Puppy breeds with heavy coats such as Collies become waterlogged and tend to dislike puddle jumping. Heavy-bodied breeds like Bulldogs have trouble staying afloat and actually could sink and be unable to get out of the pool.

All pets are at risk but especially small breeds and puppies are most prone to drowning. Their inexperience, curiosity, and fearlessness prompt them to explore but they may be unable to climb out of even small bodies of water. The steep sides of backyard pools and hot tubs prove particularly dangerous during the summer.

Water Safety for Puppy Swimming

Pool safety is just as important for puppies as it is for children. Most backyard pools have steps in the deep end along with a shallow end. Teach your pup to find these easy exits through guidance and praise. Never ever leave pets unsupervised around the pool.

Does your pup enjoy a nice boat ride on the gulf? Camping and spending time with our furry friends on water can be tons of fun, but pets can easily lose their footing on slippery boat decks. Even if your pup manages the trek back to land, they may become lost on the beach or sandbar, so it is important that they have their identification tags/collars on, as well as microchipped.

To avoid your pup hurdling into the water at 40 mph, provide double-sided rubber mats on boat decks for a more secure footing for your pet. A harness and a strong lead or tether also helps assure your pet stays secure onboard. Don’t forget safety life vests for pets. You can find these products at most any pet store these days to assure even if they fall into the water, they have some assistance. Most of these floatation harnesses provide a handle for you to lift your pup upwards out of the water with.

First Aid for Drowning

Please, pet-proof pools and other water adventures to prevent tragedies all year round. Supervise your water-babies so cooling off during the summer stays safe. Water games should be fun for the entire family.

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Simple tips on how to pet proof your garden

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How do I create a pet-friendly garden or yard?

Your garden is the perfect place to enjoy with your pets. However, while you may be in the safety of your home, there are a number of hazards present in your garden which could harm your pet.

Here are a few cat and dog-friendly garden ideas to help protect your garden and keep your pet safe.

Raise your flower beds

Raising your flower beds help keep dogs out of flowerbeds and protect your more delicate plants. For areas where dogs and children will be rough housing, choose tougher, hardy plants or shrubs that can withstand a bit of rough-n-tumble.

Identify toxic plants

There are quite a few plants out there that are toxic to animals, so make sure that your garden only contains cat and dog-friendly plants and flowers if you are to leave them left to their own devices in your garden. Common toxic plants include: crocuses, azaleas, bleeding heart (dicentra), box, bluebells, broom, cyclamen, daffodils, dieffenbachia, hyacinth bulbs, mistletoe, yew, onions, and rhubarb. Although most plants are not attractive to pets, puppies and kittens are especially inquisitive and dogs can chew on sticks where you were pruning.

Secure fencing or enclosure

Ensure that your fencing is secure and without gaps or holes to prevent little escape artists. Consider your pet’s habits as well. Do they tend to dig? If so, give them an area to dig in and encourage him to use this area by hiding toys or treats, rather than your nicely cared for lawn. For cats, consider planting cat nip (Nepeta cataria) or cat grass that is safe for them to chew on.

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Pet-friendly garden checklist

- Clear pathways

- Raise flower beds

- Secure fencing

- Provide shade

- Store chemicals and fertilizers in a safe place

- Identify toxic plants

- Keep compost out of reach

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8 Ways to Keep Puppies Cool in Summer

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At such a young age, puppies are still learning how to regulate their body’s temperature when it’s hot out. It’s up to us as their caretaker’s to keep them comfortable on sweltering hot summer days. While letting your pup chill indoors with the air conditioning on, owners need to create an environment conducive to cooling down for outdoor pups.

Provide a Shady Rest Spot

If you don’t have shade provided by a tree in the yard, an outdoor patio umbrella or sunshade canopy that covers a portion of your dog’s run will work just fine. Also to consider is a well ventilated dog crate or doghouse with ample airflow. Providing several options will teach your pup where to seek shelter when their body temperature rises.

Offer Cool Drinking Options

Cold water aids in the evaporative process that happens when your dog pants. It’s one of the main ways that puppies (and dogs) regulate their body temperature. However, playful pups may dump or tip over the water bowl. One way to avoid such an incident is to dig a bucket-sized hole in the ground and fit a watering pail or bowl inside. This will stop your pup from tipping over their watering well. The soil will also act as a great insulator, keeping the water cooler for longer.

Create a Water Fountain

A water faucet attachment can transform your hose bib into a puppy water fountain. Special attachments like the Lixit Faucet will provide your puppy water on their demand. Train them to activate the drinking fountain before leaving them alone.

Freeze a Treat

Fill your pup’s favorite rubber chew toy (like a Kong) with soft food blended with chicken brother or water. Then, stick it in the freezer. Offer these pup friendly ‘pupsicles’ to help your pup stay cool.

Related: Dog Treats Recipe - Pumpkin Ice Cream

Misting Fans

Misting fans made for pets will keep your pet’s fur damp, keeping their body temperature under control. Avoid placing misting fans on bare ground, as it can create a muddy mess (which is very enticing to a puppy).

Pool Party Plans

A kiddie wading pool is perfect for a pup. Place in the shade, invite a few doggie friends over, and tire out exuberant pups. This is a great way to familiarize your puppy with water and water sports.

Dig a Dugout

A sandbox in a shaded corner of the yard will keep your pup cool. Puppy’s that love a good afternoon dig might even excavate their own spot. Wetting down a spot of sand for them to dig will create the perfect nest to chill and escape the heat of the day. Sand is a great medium for digging, and is far easier to shake out of fur than say, dirt or wet mud.

Cooling Tech for Pets

You can find cooling bandanas, collars, jackets, and mats for indoor/outdoor use. Soak in water before leaving and your pet is good to go for roughly five hours.

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