Potential Causes for Reactivity (Shyness, Anxiety, Fear, and Terror) in a Dog

< Updated 22MAY22 >

< A short link for this page – https://bit.ly/Causes-Reactivity >

Reactivity in a dog is one of the most common reasons I see clients with behavioral concerns about their dog. Frequently, this is triggered by fear. Fear occurs on a continuum from mild shyness or timidity to anxiety, fear, and ultimately terror. Reactivity can also be caused by frustration, anger, and rage, another continuum. Even positive stress, or eustress, such as happiness that leads to hyper-excitement, may cause undesirable reactivity. Fear, anger, and hyper-excitement are emotional responses that may result in reactivity and aggression. While what we call “dog training” can work well for teaching a dog to respond to a cue like sit or down, emotional responses cannot be “trained” away. When a dog or person is in an extreme emotional state, they are under stress, making learning very difficult, if not impossible. When experiencing this level of stress, the dog is under the influence of the “fight or flight response” and is solely concerned about its survival.

A dog can be fearful for many reasons:

Genetics – If either parent were on the fear spectrum, all of their offspring would likely be somewhere on the spectrum. Knowing if either of a dog’s parents is fearful can be very helpful in determining how and if we can help them. If you have not already done so, I recommend talking to the breeder or the rescue or shelter where you obtained your dog. However, understand they may not have information or may misinterpret what they do know.

Medical Conditions – A medical issue can often trigger a sudden behavior change. Pain and any physical or emotional discomfort can cause behavioral changes in pets. Disorders of the nervous, endocrine, reproductive, and gastrointestinal systems can also affect your pet’s behavior.

Tick-borne diseases have become much more prevalent in Maine. A few years ago, we only needed to worry about Lyme disease. Today we also need to be concerned about Anaplasmosis, Babesiosis, Borrelia miyamotoi, Ehrlichiosis, Powassan Encephalitis, and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. These diseases can cause changes in behavior, including; anorexia, anxiety, confusion, depression, fatigue, malaise, and other subtle mental disorders. I have experienced this with my dog Muppy who has had Lyme disease and anaplasmosis. Both times she exhibited fearful behavior as the only sign of infection. However, once treated by her veterinarian, her behavior returned to normal.

I recommend that a veterinarian rule out any medical issues for fearful behavior before addressing it as a behavioral problem. If your veterinarian does not have experience with treating behavior, I recommend that you see Dr. Christine Calder, a Veterinary Behaviorist practicing in Maine. [ Calder Veterinary Behavior Services, (207) 298-4375, www.caldervbs.com]

Socialization – A puppy has a critical socialization and habituation period that begins when three weeks old and ends between 12 to 16 weeks of age. During this period, a puppy is typically very open to gentle exposure to novel stimuli set up to create a positive association. A puppy should always be given a choice as to whether or not they interact with someone or something. Forced interactions may cause a traumatic experience.

Ideally, you want to carefully expose a puppy to everything it will encounter in its life before they reach 12 to 16 weeks of age. However, if your puppy is acting fearfully during this period, it may be a sign of fear due to a medical issue or genetic issue, in which case I recommend you see your veterinarian immediately.

You can attempt remedial socialization after 16 weeks of age, but it requires a well-thought-out plan. This is not typically a DIY project, and I recommend you seek the services of a credentialed canine behavior consultant or a veterinary behaviorist.

Past or Recent Physical, Mental or Emotional Trauma – A dog’s brain works similar to ours; it is designed to permanently record any distressing experience in one trial to avoid that situation in the future. The next time the dog is exposed to whatever caused the trauma, it may try to flee, freeze in place, or fight if they have no other choice.

Trauma can be physical or emotional. It is vital to understand that only the dogs’ perception matters. In other words, while we might believe that something is not scary or painful, if our dog does find that “something” causes discomfort or is frightening, that is the reality from their perspective. This is a time when our opinion does not matter.

The problem with helping our dog get past a  traumatic event is that we may not even know when it occurred, and the dog has no way to tell us. Nor can our dog provide us with any details about the event. For example, suppose your dog is reactive to a specific individual. It could be due to their appearance, behavior, scent, or sounds they made. It could even be due to something in the environment which your dog associated with the individual. As you can see, appearance, behavior, scent, sound, and the environment open up a wide range of possible triggers. What your dog is reacting to may even be a combination of several things, further complicating matters.

Unfortunately, we may never know what our dog fears unless we witness the triggering event. For example, my first dog suddenly became afraid of her water dish and would not drink from it or approach it. Fortunately, I did witness what happened. It was winter, and the air in our home was very dry. We were all in the living room, where the floor was covered with a thick shag carpet. My dog ran along the carpet to her steel water bowl, which was at the edge of the carpet in the dining room, which was not carpeted. She lowered her head to get a drink which caused her to yelp and run away back into the living room. I walked across the carpet, bent down to look at the bowl, touched it, and received a static shock. It was not something I was expecting, but it clearly explained why my dog was suddenly afraid of her dish. Fortunately, I got her drinking again by switching to a non-metal dish and placing it in another location. However, suppose I had not seen that incident in its entirety. In that case, I might never have determined why Trivia suddenly became afraid of her water bowl.

Thunderstorms can be a traumatic event for some dogs creating a lifelong fear. We presume they are reacting to the thunder or lightning, but that is not always the case. Some dogs start reacting before they hear thunder or see a lightning bolt. For example, a friend had a dog who became afraid of storms when they lived in a home struck by lightning. After that,  a clap of thunder or bolt of lightning caused the dog to run to the basement. However, over time the dog’s fear generalized to other typical things that occur during a thunderstorm, such as trees blowing in the wind. Therefore, it is essential to understand that any fear can generalize beyond the initial trigger.

Some of the more typical traumas experienced by dogs include;

  • Physical injury such as a fall, being hit by a car or being bitten by another animal.
  • Physical abuse such as being hit or kicked by a person or being subjected to training methods and tools designed to force compliance through pain such as shock, prong, or choke collars.
  • Emotional trauma is often associated with physical injuries and abuse. However, even yelling at a dog has the potential to create an unforgettable fear. Likewise, even angry body language expressed by a person can create emotional trauma.

Not all incidents of physical or emotional trauma will cause fear. Whether or not it does depends on the event, the individual dog, and its previous history.

The most important thing to remember when helping a dog overcome anxiety is that the dog gets to decide what causes its fear. Our opinion does not matter.

Addressing Fear – The first two steps in determining why your dog is fearful are; ruling out any potential genetic or medical issues. Neither training nor behavior modification will be helpful until the medical issues are resolved.

The third step is to manage the dog and its environment to prevent exposure to anything that could trigger their fear. In my experience, a well-designed behavior modification protocol and appropriate behavioral medications are almost always necessary when treating anxiety and aggression.

Recommended Resources

Articles on Don’s Blog
( http://www.words-woofs-meows.com  )

Help! My Dog is Aggressive, Reactive, Fearful, Anxious, etc. – What do I do?http://bit.ly/HelpDogAggx

How Can I Tell When My Dog Is Anxious or Fearful?http://bit.ly/DogsSignsofFear

Essential Handouts On Body Language, and Canine and Human Behavior from Dr. Sophia Yinhttps://bit.ly/YinBodyLang

Shared Blog Post – Reactivity Misunderstood – https://bit.ly/ReactivityMisunderstood

Shared Blog Post – the misunderstanding of time by Nancy Tannerhttp://blog.greenacreskennel.com/2016/11/16/shared-blog-post-the-misunderstanding-of-time-by-nancy-tanner/

What Is A Pet Behavior Consultant? – http://bit.ly/WhatIsPetBhxConsulting

Understanding, Identifying and Coping with Canine Stresshttp://bit.ly/Canine-Stress

The emotional toll of a reactive dog by Jay Gurden in Dog’s Today – http://bit.ly/SharedGurenEmotional

Podcasts from The Woof Meow Show
( http://woofmeowshow.libsyn.com/ )

Canine Behavior: Myths & Facts – http://blog.greenacreskennel.com/2016/03/27/podcast-canine-behavior-myths-and-facts/

Pet Behavior, Vets & The AAHA Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelines with Dr. Dave Cloutier from Veazie Veterinary Clinichttp://blog.greenacreskennel.com/2016/03/13/podcast-the-woof-meow-show-pet-behavior-vets-the-aaha-canine-and-feline-behavior-management-guidelines-with-dr-dave-cloutier-from-veazie-veterinary-clinic/

Dog Training Questions for Don and Kate with special guest host Dr. Mark Hanks – part 3http://blog.greenacreskennel.com/2015/07/27/blog-post-27jul15-podcast-dog-training-questions-for-don-and-kate-with-special-guest-host-dr-mark-hanks-part-3/

The Unintended Consequences of Shock Collarshttp://bit.ly/ShockPodcast

The Pet Professional Guild and the Shock-Free Coalition with Niki Tudgehttp://bit.ly/PodCastShockFree-NikiTudge-2017

What’s Shocking About Shock – What Science Tells Us About the Use of Shock in Dog Traininghttp://bit.ly/WfMw-WhatShock-27JUL19

Podcast – Charlee and the Electronic Shock Containment System w-Dan Antolechttps://bit.ly/Blog-Charlee_E-Fence

To Find A Qualified and Credential Animal Behavioral Specialist

American College of Veterinary Behaviorists (ACVB) https://www.dacvb.org/search/custom.asp

Animal Behavior Society ( ABS ) Certified Applied Animal Behavior Consultants – http://www.animalbehaviorsociety.org/web/applied-behavior-caab-directory.php

Pet Professional Accreditation Board (PPAB)https://www.credentialingboard.com/Professionals

________________________________________________________________________

Don Hanson lives in Bangor, Maine, where he is the co-owner of the Green Acres Kennel Shop ( greenacreskennel.com ) and the founder of ForceFreePets.com, an online educational resource for people with dogs and cats. He is a Professional Canine Behavior Consultant (PCBC-A) accredited by the Pet Professional Accreditation Board (PPAB) and a Bach Foundation Registered Animal Practitioner (BFRAP). Don is a member of the Pet Professional Guild (PPG), where he serves on the Board of Directors and Steering Committee and chairs the Advocacy Committee. He is also a founding director of Pet Advocacy International (PIAI). In addition, Don produces and co-hosts The Woof Meow Show podcast, available at http://bit.ly/WfMwPodcasts/, the Apple Podcast app, and Don’s blog: www.words-woofs-meows.com. The opinions in this post are those of Don Hanson.

©22MAY22, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
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Shared Blog Post – Behavioral Euthanasia: Making the Hard Decision

< Updated 05MAY22 >

Considering whether or not euthanasia is appropriate for a pet is never easy. However, it can be even more complicated when behavioral considerations are a primary factor in the process. Dr. Christine Calder, a veterinary behaviorist, recently addressed this topic in an article entitled Behavioral Euthanasia: Making the Hard Decision in the May 2022 edition of Downeast Dog News. If you face a decision of this nature, I encourage you to read the article, as Dr. Calder offers very sound advice and potential alternatives.

FMIhttps://downeastdognews.villagesoup.com/p/behavioral-euthanasia-making-the-hard-decision/1907099

Pets & Automobiles – Helping Your Pet Enjoy the Car

< A version of this article was published in the January and February 2022 issues of Downeast Dog News>

< Updated 30JAN22 >

< A short link for this page – https://bit.ly/Pets-Autos >

Cars, trucks, mini-vans, basically any automobile are often as much a part of our pets’ lives as they are ours. It’s how we brought them home the first time and transport them to all types of activities. We have all known someone who has a dog that the mere mention of “car ride” has the dog leaping in ecstasy. However, some dogs are or become terrified of riding in a moving vehicle. Some cats enjoy car rides, but many find the crate and car a predictor of getting sick or a trip to the vet.

Automobile Safety for Pets

We are responsible for the safety of our pets. Pets need to be secured in a vehicle when it is in motion for their safety and our own. A loose pet can become a distraction to the driver. A pet in the car’s front seat is unlikely to survive if the airbag discharges in an accident. An unsecured pet riding in a vehicle is more likely to become seriously injured. It also has great potential to hurt passengers if they become a fast-moving projectile due to a sudden stop. Even if a pet is uninjured in an accident, it is possible that they will be so terrified they will frantically try to escape, which itself can result in injury or death. Dogs have even been known to deter emergency personnel from rescuing injured people.

An article about car safety harnesses in the Whole Dog Journal, [Car Safety Harness Recommendation, updated 3/21/19], discusses a Boxer named Ruby riding in a car unrestrained when the vehicle was in an accident. Ruby survived but “…suffered a spinal cord injury and mild brain injury.” Ruby also required months of intensive rehab, costing over $9000.

One option for securing a pet in a vehicle is a hard-sided crate of the type used for air transport. The crate should be just big enough for your pet to stand up and lie down. A separate crate should be used for each pet. It would be best if you secure the crate to the vehicle chassis in a manner such that it cannot break loose in the event of an accident. An unsecured crate can become a dangerous projectile.

For a crate to effectively keep your pet safe and secure in your vehicle, your pet must be comfortable in their crate. Unfortunately, some pets find a crate stressful, in which case you will need to patiently help them learn that a crate is a safe and comfortable place. These two articles can help you through the process; Dogs – Crate Habituation to Reduce Anxietyhttp://bit.ly/CrateHabituation and Cats – Make Your Life Easier – Get Your Cat to Love Their Carrier –  http://bit.ly/Cats-Carriers.

A gate or barrier is another option for securing a pet in a vehicle. However, for these to provide the safety necessary in an accident, they must be attached to the vehicle chassis so they cannot break free. While a barrier might keep passengers safe, it is no guarantee the pet will survive the crash.

Many people confine their dogs to the backseat of their car with a special harness or seatbelt made especially for dogs. Unfortunately, many of these products may not protect your dog in a crash, giving you a false sense of security. Only three such harnesses have passed the rigorous crash test standards of the Center for Pet Safety (CPS) [https://www.centerforpetsafety.org/] You can find a list of harnesses, carriers, and crates that are CPS Certified at https://www.centerforpetsafety.org/cps-certified/

While a CPS Certified harness can be an excellent option, recognize that your dog may not automatically enjoy being harnessed in the car. A reward-based dog trainer can help you slowly acclimate your dog to wearing such a harness in the car. FMI – How to Select A Dog Trainer – http://bit.ly/HowToSelectADogTrainer.

Does Your Pet Need to Go With You?

Most of us rarely take our cats for a ride because of most cats’ inherent dislike of travel. On the other hand, many of us love our dogs’ company, and the dog often loves the adventure of a ride. However, suppose you will need to leave your dog alone in the vehicle at any time. In that case, I encourage you to ask yourself if having the dog with you is necessary.

Unless the trip is specifically for the dog, a visit to daycare or the dog park, a hiking adventure appropriate for the dog, a trip to the veterinarian, or something else where the dog’s presence is required, I encourage you to consider leaving the dog at home. When we leave a dog alone in a vehicle, we need to worry about them; overheating, getting too cold, becoming anxious and frantically trying to escape, being stolen, or being teased by uncaring people. More than one person has told me how they caught a person taunting their dog when they left their dog alone in the car. After this, the dog behaved aggressively anytime anyone approached the vehicle. Another person told me they left their dog alone in the car for only a brief moment. However, it was enough time for the dog to bite a child when they stuck their little hand in through the open window. I love having Muppy with me, but if there is any chance I might need to leave her alone in the car, she stays home.

Aversion and Motion Sickness

A dog may suddenly refuse to get in the car for several reasons. The vehicle may have become a predictor of something unpleasant such as a trip to the veterinarian. Or perhaps the dog was in the car during a traumatic event such as a crash or a thunderstorm. If the dog was injured getting in or out of a vehicle, they might also become afraid of the car. Even having an angry conversation with someone over your phone while the dog is in the vehicle may cause an aversion to being in the car.

Nausea due to motion sickness is one of the biggest reasons dogs learn to dislike traveling. If the pet has little experience traveling, they may not be comfortable in motion, especially if confined in a crate or unable to see where they are going. Since you control the car’s movement, how you drive or where you drive may be a factor. A queasy tummy may not be related to movement but may be triggered by something the dog ate. However, since the sick feeling started in the car, the dog may associate feeling queasy with the vehicle and not what they ate. Medical conditions such as an inner-ear problem may also cause nausea. However, no matter the cause, anything that causes physical or emotional pain or discomfort is likely to be remembered and is unlikely to resolve on its own. I encourage you to speak to your veterinarian or a credentialed animal behavior consultant as soon as possible for the sake of your pet.

Two of my nine dogs went through periods of being uncomfortable in the car. When Tikken was a puppy, I started taking her on frequent short trips to acclimate her to travel. She was transported in a crate to keep her safe. These included a weekly trip to her vet for what I called a “happy visit,” where we walked in, I gave her a few treats, and then we left. One day I took her out of the crate when we got home, and I noticed she had drooled so profusely that her chest was soaked. The next time I tried to get her in the car, she sat down 20 feet away and refused to get any closer. The excessive drooling was a sign of nausea, and Tikken made it clear she did not want to get in the car again. I helped Tikken learn that the vehicle was safe by stopping all travel until I successfully desensitized and counter conditioned her to like the car. A couple of months later, we took a 10-hour trip without incident.

My second dog to have issues in the car is my current dog, Muppy. The day we drove home with her, for three-plus hours, was without incident. However, soon after, she would occasionally vomit in the car about one out of every ten car rides. Fortunately, Muppy never became hesitant about getting in the vehicle. Still, her obvious discomfort and the profuse amounts of vomit motivated me to get her feeling comfortable. I was able to do so with some anti-nausea products. However, due to the unpredictability of her getting sick, it took a couple of years to figure it out.

If your dog is experiencing excessive drooling, vomiting, or diarrhea, specific to being in a moving vehicle, make an appointment with your veterinarian so that they can rule out any medical causes and prescribe any necessary medications.

How to tell if your dog is uncomfortable in the car

  • Your dog is exhibiting signs of stress and discomfort in or around the vehicle ( FMI – http://bit.ly/DogsSignsofFear
  • Your dog refuses to get in the car. Please understand making them get into the car will only make them more fearful of the car and you. It is not a solution.
  • Your dog is smacking or licking its lips or drooling excessively, indicating they may feel nauseous or anxious.
  • Your dog is vomiting or has diarrhea when in the car; both can be a sign of nausea or anxiety.

Things that may help alleviate nausea and anxiety

  • Limit trips to only those that are necessary until the issue is resolved.
  • Withhold food and treats at least 12-hours before necessary travel.
  • Practice very short trips in the vehicle; 30ft, 60ft, 100ft, increasing in small increments. You might want to consult with a credentialed pet behavior consultant to assist you with developing a desensitization protocol.
  • Treat nausea and, if necessary, anxiety.
    • Over the counter treatments (No Prescription Required)
      • Ginger helps relieve nausea. The easiest way to see if it helps your dog is to get some gingersnap cookies. Just make sure they contain real ginger and do not contain xylitol. Give a cookie about 30-minutes before travel.
      • CBD can relieve both anxiety and, in some cases, nausea. It is one of the things I use with Muppy. Just be careful as there is a wide range of CBD products, and not all of them are of equal quality. ( FMI – http://bit.ly/BLOG-Hemp-CBD-PRO-for-pets )
      • Adaptil – This is a pheromone that can help alleviate anxiety. It is available as a spray and a collar.
      • Lavender Essential Oil – Lavender can have a calmative effect. Still, just as with CBD, there are many Lavender products, and they are not all of the same grade and quality.
      • Bach Rescue Remedy – Rescue Remedy® is a combination flower remedy formula explicitly created for addressing stress in emergencies or crises. I have used it for over 20 years in a wide variety of applications. ( FMI – http://bit.ly/Bach-RescueRemedy )
    • Homeopathic Remedies – While many homeopathic medications do not require a prescription, I recommend that you work with a Homeopathic Veterinarian if you are not knowledgeable in this area. Some remedies can be beneficial in treating nausea and motion sickness. One was very helpful with Muppy. Dr. Herman, who also writes a column for Down East Dogs News, is knowledgeable about using homeopathic remedies with pets.
    • Prescription medications – (Must be prescribed by a veterinarian). Only treating nausea may be enough, but symptoms of nausea may predict anxiety, so an anti-anxiety medication may also be in order. Common medications prescribed by veterinarians for these conditions include:
      • for nausea – Cerenia®, Antivert®, and Bonine®
      • for anxiety – Alprazolam (Xanax®), trazodone (Desyrel®)
      • Please do not use any prescription medication with your pet without first discussing it with your veterinarian.
    • Behavior Modification – A desensitization and counterconditioning protocol, such as I used with Tikken, may be helpful or even necessary to get the dog to tolerate or enjoy the car after a bad experience. A credentialed dog behavior consultant or Veterinary Behaviorist such as DEDN columnist Dr. Christine Calder can help. ( FMI – http://bit.ly/WWM-Trainer-Behaviorist )

Recommended Resources

Articles on Don’s Blog
( http://www.words-woofs-meows.com  )

 Dogs – Crate Habituation to Reduce Anxiety http://bit.ly/CrateHabituation

Cats – Make Your Life Easier – Get Your Cat to Love Their Carrier http://bit.ly/Cats-Carriers.

How to Choose A Dog Trainerhttp://bit.ly/HowToSelectADogTrainer

How Can I Tell When My Dog Is Anxious or Fearful?http://bit.ly/DogsSignsofFear

How Hemp-Derived Phytocannabinoid Nutraceuticals May Help Your Petshttp://bit.ly/BLOG-Hemp-CBD-PRO-for-pets

Bach Flower Remedies – Bach Rescue Remedy®http://bit.ly/Bach-RescueRemedy

Do I Need a Dog Trainer or a “Behaviorist”?http://bit.ly/WWM-Trainer-Behaviorist

Contact Information for Dr. Herman & Dr. Calder

Dr. Judy Herman
Animal Wellness Center
95 Northern Ave., Augusta ME
207-623-1177
http://www.judithhermandvm.com/

Dr. Christine Calder
Calder Veterinary Behavior Services
207-298-4375
www.caldervbs.com

________________________________________________________________________
Don Hanson is the co-owner of the Green Acres Kennel Shop ( greenacreskennel.com ) in Bangor, Maine, where he has been helping people with their pets since 1995. He is also the founder of ForceFreePets.com, an online educational resource for people with dogs and cats. Don is a Bach Foundation Registered Animal Practitioner (BFRAP), Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC), Associate Certified Cat Behavior Consultant (ACCBC), and a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA). He is a member of the Pet Professional Guild (PPG), where he serves on the Board of Directors and Steering Committee and chairs the Advocacy Committee and The Shock-Free Coalition ( shockfree.org ). In addition, Don produces and co-hosts a podcast, The Woof Meow Show, available at http://bit.ly/WfMwPodcasts/, the Apple Podcast app, and Don’s blog: www.words-woofs-meows.com. The opinions in this post are those of Don Hanson.

©23JAN22, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
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Shared Blog Post – All About Hypoallergenic Dog Breeds – They’re NOT!

< Updated 16JAN22 >

< A short link for this page – https://bit.ly/AreDogsHypoallergenic >

Many people desperately want a dog in their life but have allergies. There are dog breeds advertised and promoted as being “hypoallergenic.” This would seem to imply that if you get one of these dogs, you will not have an allergic reaction. Sadly, the very suggestion that a dog is “hypoallergenic” is disingenuous. As noted in this recent blog post by Embark, “Being called hypoallergenic means the dog is less likely to cause someone to have an allergic reaction. However, no dog is 100% hypoallergenic.”

If you are searching for a “hypoallergenic” dog, I encourage you to read this blog post from Embark. It provides detailed, scientific information on dog allergies and which breeds may be less of a concern than others for a person that has dog allergies. However, the fact remains no dog will be 100% allergenic.

Embark – All About Hypoallergenic Dog Breedshttps://embarkvet.com/resources/blog/all-about-hypoallergenic-dog-breeds/?

If you are thinking about buying a dog from someone telling you that the dog is “hypoallergenic,” I suggest you talk to other breeders, rescues, and pet professionals before making a financial commitment. At least, ask yourself, “What else have they told me about this dog that might not be true?” The following article from my blog may be helpful as you look for the right dog for you and your family.

Adopting A Pet – Finding the Right Dog for You and Your Familyhttp://bit.ly/FindingTheRightDogForYou

Why Is it Suddenly So Difficult to See the Veterinarian? What Can I Do If My Pet Has a Healthcare Emergency?

< A version of this article was published in the NOV2021 issue of Downeast Dog News>

< Updated 01NOV21 >

< A short link for this page – https://bit.ly/2021VetCrisis >

Some of my clients have commented on the long lead times to get appointments with their veterinarian for several months. In addition, new clients that have just moved to the area have indicated that many local veterinarians are not accepting new patients at this time. There were also rumors of the Eastern Maine Emergency Veterinary Clinic (EMEVC) not being open some nights and turning patients away because they did not have enough staff to see everyone. So, on Sept. 27, When EMEVC announced that they would be closed on Mondays and Tuesdays until further notice, I started to ask my friends in the veterinary community what was going on. What I learned was alarming.

After talking with colleagues throughout Maine and the USA, I discovered a nationwide shortage of veterinarians, technicians, and assistants. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) recently addressed this topic in an article in the JAVMA News entitled “Are we in a veterinary workforce crisis?” While some have speculated that this was due to a massive increase in pet adoptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the data reported in JAVMA does not support this conclusion; “The number of pets adopted from shelters in 2020 was the lowest in five years, based on data from over 4,000 shelters across the country.”

The data does indicate …veterinarians saw fewer patients per hour and average productivity declined by almost 25% in 2020, compared with 2019.” The JAVMA News article suggests a significant drop in productivity directly resulting from necessary changes in how veterinary practices operated due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As with other professions, the pandemic has increased stress levels and a loss of staff due to illness, a need to care for family members, or burnout.

The article in JAMA News suggests several things the veterinary profession can do to change this situation, but none will happen quickly. Additionally, society is still feeling the effects of COVID-19. With cases increasing again, it is quite possible things will worsen before they get better.

Those who share our lives with pets care deeply about their health, as does the entire veterinary and professional pet care community. I believe the best thing we can do as a like-minded community is to commit to working together to resolve this crisis. Too many people have used COVID to divide us as a society; it’s time for pet guardians to set an example for the rest of the world. Let’s show the world how to work together as a compassionate, caring team that is as concerned about the wellbeing of others as much as themselves. This is how we can start:

  • Be kind, patient, and helpful to others.
  • If you have not already done so, establish a relationship with a local veterinarian. Ask them what level of care they can provide if area emergency clinics are unavailable BEFORE you have an emergency.
  • Ensure you have contact information for all area emergency clinics readily available if the closest is closed.
  • Take a pet first aid class to better prepare to care for your pet in a crisis. An excellent course is offered online by the Pet Professional Guild. [ FMI – https://www.petprofessionalguild.com/Learnpetfirstaid ]
  • Keep all of your pet’s veterinary records so that they are readily available if you need to see another veterinarian. Take those records with you if you travel with your pet.
  • Every time you see your veterinarian, they probably send you home with a report indicating when your pets will be due for their next vaccinations and exams. Don’t wait until the last minute to schedule those appointments. Also, keep that information readily available so that you can provide it to your daycare, boarding facility, dog trainer, and groomer without having to call your very busy veterinarian for another copy.
  • Keep your pets healthy. Make sure that they have adequate and appropriate physical exercise and mental enrichment. Feed them healthy food and do not let them become obese. Provide them with medications as prescribed and order prescription refills well in advance. Please, do not use aversive training tools [ shock, prong & choke collars] that can cause physical or emotional injury.
  • Before embarking on a non-regular activity with your pet, assess their health and age and review the risk of that activity. Is your pet up to it, and are you ready to do what’s necessary if your pet has a healthcare emergency?
  • Be kind, patient, and helpful to others.

References

Are we in a veterinary workforce crisis?, JAVMAnews, Sept. 15, 2021 – https://www.avma.org/javma-news/2021-09-15/are-we-veterinary-workforce-crisis

________________________________________________________________________
Don Hanson is the co-owner of the Green Acres Kennel Shop ( greenacreskennel.com ) in Bangor, Maine, where he has been helping people with their pets since 1995. He is also the founder of ForceFreePets.com, an online educational resource for people with dogs and cats. Don is a Bach Foundation Registered Animal Practitioner (BFRAP), Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC), Associate Certified Cat Behavior Consultant (ACCBC), and a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA). He is a member of the Pet Professional Guild (PPG), where he serves on the Board of Directors and Steering Committee and chairs the Advocacy Committee and The Shock-Free Coalition ( shockfree.org ). Don produces and co-hosts a weekly radio show and podcast, The Woof Meow Show, that airs on Z62 Retro Radio WZON (AM620) and WKIT 103.3-HD3 and is streamed at http://bit.ly/AM620-WZON every Saturday at 9 AM. Podcasts of the show are available at http://bit.ly/WfMwPodcasts/, the Apple Podcast app, and Don’s blog: www.words-woofs-meows.com.  The opinions in this post are those of Don Hanson.

©[email protected], Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
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Tobacco Smoke, Vaping, Nicotine, and The Risk They Pose to Our Pets

< A version of this article was published in the April 2021 issue of Downeast Dog News>

< Updated 24JUN21 >

< A short link for this page – http://bit.ly/Pets-Nicotine-APR21 >

Two nights before I started writing my April 2021 Words, Woofs, & Meows column for Downeast Dog News, my staff and I at Green Acres attended a training session called Tobacco Smoke and Animals-Understanding the Risks & Tips on How to Talk to Pet Owners About their Tobacco Use. This presentation was developed by the Maine CDC and presented for us by Public Health Educator/Tobacco specialists from Bangor Public Health. I knew I had to share what we learned in my next column, as this was important information.

You can listen to a podcast on this topic at this link.

One of the most important things you can do for your pet’s health is to make your home free of tobacco smoke, vapors, and nicotine. Tobacco, vaping, and nicotine products all pose a health risk to pets in your home.

Exposure to Smoke

When a tobacco product burns, it gives off smoke. Some of that smoke is inhaled and captured in the smoker’s lungs. The smoke exhaled by the smoker or that enters the air as the tobacco burns goes directly into the environment, becoming a threat to any living creature in that environment. That is called secondhand smoke, and it contains thousands of chemicals, 69 of which are known to cause cancer. Secondhand smoke occurs in any environment where smokers smoke.

A person’s exposure to secondhand smoke increases their risk of developing lung cancer or heart disease by as much as 30%. In addition, children are at a higher risk for these health issues; Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, acute respiratory infections, ear problems, learning disabilities, behavioral problems, and severe asthma.

A dog that lives with a smoker will have significantly higher cotinine levels in its blood due to exposure to nicotine from secondhand smoke.1 Other studies have indicated that exposure to tobacco smoke increased cancer risk in the nasal cavities and sinuses of long-snouted dogs2. Cancer risk for those dogs increased the more the smoker smoked. Dogs with short and medium-length noses were twice as likely to develop lung cancer if they lived with a smoker.3 Cats sharing a home with a smoker are twice as likely to develop lymphoma, a type of cancer. After five or more years of exposure, that increases to 3 times more likely.4

If you’ve spent any time in the same environment with a smoker, you know that smoke lingers. It forms a residue on walls, floors, carpets, furniture, clothes, hair, skin, and other surfaces. It accumulates on toys that your child or pet may put in their mouth.  It will even cling to the coat of your pet. Blech!

This residue is classified as thirdhand smoke and contains toxins that your children can ingest when playing with their toys. In addition, pets may ingest thirdhand smoke from their toys or when licking their paws or their coat. Cats are especially susceptible due to their self-grooming. As they lick at their fur, they expose the toxins from the smoke to the mucous membranes in their mouth.

Exposure to tobacco smoke can cause the following health problems with your pets; breathing issues, cancer, diarrhea, heart disease, itchy skin, lung disease, salivation, and vomiting.

The only way to eliminate second and thirdhand smoke is to stop all smoking in your environment. However, even if you force everyone to smoke outside your home, the environmental tobacco levels in your home will still be five to seven times higher than in a house where everyone is a nonsmoker5.

If you have committed to having a smoke-free home or are ready to do so, I encourage you to take the Smoke-Free Homes Pledge at https://breatheeasymaine.org/smoke-free-homes-pledge/

Vaping and Exposure to E-Cigarette Vapors

E-Cigarettes, vape pens, and the various names used to describe them are “electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS).” These devices may look like real cigarettes, pens, and even USB flash drives.

An ENDS device uses an internal battery to heat a liquid, often called E-Juice or vape juice, to produce an aerosol inhaled by the user. This aerosol is also dispersed into the air others breathe when the user exhales and as a by-product of the ENDS device. This secondhand vape juice contains nicotine, ultrafine particles, volatile organic compounds, and artificial flavors. Some of these chemicals are known carcinogens. Additionally, this aerosol may contain hazardous heavy metals such as nickel, tin, and lead.

According to the CDC, many of these products, like JUUL, contain higher nicotine levels in a different chemical form than other products. They use nicotine salts instead of free-base nicotine. This allows the nicotine to be inhaled more easily, with less irritation to the lungs, encouraging increased use of an already addictive product. A single pod may contain as much nicotine as a pack of 20 regular cigarettes.

Just as the flavors added to vape pods make them more attractive to children, they may have the same effect on our pets. If a pet ingests a vape pod, nicotine toxicity can occur within 15 to 30 minutes of exposure. Depending on where you live, that may not give you enough time to get to a veterinarian. If you suspect ingestion, seek veterinary care immediately. Please do not wait until you observe signs of toxicity, as it may be too late.

Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems are as unhealthy and can be as deadly as smoking tobacco. Thus, ENDS seems to be a fitting acronym for something with great potential to END life.

Nicotine

Nicotine is a natural component of the tobacco plant that acts as a stimulant and can reduce anxiety. However, it is incredibly addictive, and tiny amounts can be toxic. In addition, pets can ingest nicotine by consuming cigarettes and butts, chewing tobacco, cigars, vaping pods and refills, and smoking cessation products such as patches, gums, etc.

Signs of nicotine poisoning in pets include; drooling, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, unsteady gait, dilated pupils, agitation, nervousness, weakness, an abnormal heart rate, high blood pressure, panting, tremors, seizures, paralysis, respiratory arrest, and even death.  There is no antidote for nicotine poisoning, so immediate veterinary care is mandatory. Pets can and have died from nicotine poisoning.

How your dog will be affected by nicotine ingestion depends on what they have ingested and their size. Smaller dogs will be more susceptible. Items with the highest nicotine concentration are the most dangerous and include cigars, vaping pods, e-juice, and nicotine patches. These products should be secured where a child or pet can’t gain access to them.

The CDC states that 50 to 60mgs of nicotine is a deadly dose for an adult weighing 150 pounds. For pets, the toxic amount of nicotine is 0.5 to 1mg per pound of body weight. The lethal dose is 4mg per pound of body weight.

 Nicotine Content of Typical Products and Amount Lethal to a Pet

Nicotine Content in these items Average Amount of Nicotine/mg/g) Lethal Dose 10lb Pet, 40mg Lethal Dose 20lb Pet, 80mg Lethal Dose 60lb Pet, 240mg
Cigarette, one 7 to 30 1.3 to 5.7 cigarettes 2.67 to 11.43 cigarettes 8 to 34.3 cigarettes
Cigar, one 100 to 444 0.09 to 0.4 cigars 0.18 to 0.8 cigars 0.54 to 2.40 cigars
Chewing Tobacco 7 to 16  2.5 to 5.7 g 5 to 11.43 g 15 to 34.3g
Vape Pod 41.3 to 90 0.44 to 0.97 pods 0.89 to 1.94 pods 2.67 to 5.7 pods
Nicotine Patch 7 to 114 0.35 to 5.7 patches 0.7 to 11.43 patches 2.1 to 34.3 patches
Nicotine Gum,
1 pc
2 to 4 10 to 20 pcs 20 to 40 pcs 60 to 120 pcs

Think Beyond Your Home

Remember, your pet can be exposed to tobacco, vaping, and smoking cessation products outside of your home. These products can be found in vehicles, the home of family and friends, and places your pet spends time, such as a boarding or daycare facility, the groomer, the dog trainer, or even your veterinarian’s offices. In addition, the use of tobacco and vaping products at events where pets may be present should also be a concern. Look for signs like this one at businesses where your pet spends time.

Be aware that waste material from tobacco and vaping products can be equally toxic and are not always disposed of properly. Look for them in parks, dog parks, hiking trails, and even public streets where you walk your dog.

So How Do I Quit or Help Someone Else Quit?

Nicotine is an addictive drug. Sadly, tobacco and vaping companies are taking advantage of that fact to fill their coffers as your health and those around you are put at risk. Data indicates that 70% of tobacco users want to quit, and more than half attempt to stop yearly. Keep trying!

Only you can decide if you’re going to stop smoking or vaping. If you choose to quit tobacco, vaping, or both, the state of Maine has resources ready to assist you. I encourage you to check them out at MaineQuitLink.comhttps://mainequitlink.com/. When you quit, you know that the rest of your family, including your pets, will benefit.

When trying to help others to quit, make it about the smoke, not the smoker. Please share information about the danger of smoke with other members of your family without shaming them. Often, protecting the health of others can be a great motivator. If they’re not ready to quit, suggest they stop smoking indoors. Lastly, recognize that talking about the dangers of tobacco use is not a one-time event. Be prepared to bring it up again, but no shaming or nagging. You can find many informative fact sheets and infographics at the MaineHealth Center for Tobacco Independence website – https://ctimaine.org/

Resources

Cited References

1Bertone-Johnson ER, Procter-Gray E, Gollenberg AL, et al. Environmental tobacco smoke and canine urinary cotinine level. Environ Res. 2008;106(3):361-4. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17950271. Accessed Nov 11, 2012.

2Reif JS, Bruns C, Lower KS. Cancer of the Nasal Cavity and Paranasal Sinuses and Exposure to Environmental Tobacco Smoke in Pet Dogs. Am J Epidemiol 1998; 147:488–92. Available at: http://aje.oxfordjournals.org/content/147/5/488.short. Accessed Nov 11, 2012.

3Reif JS, Dunn K, Ogilvie GK et al. Passive smoking and canine lung cancer risk. Am J Epidemiol 1992 Feb 1;135(3):234-9. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1546698. Accessed Nov 11, 2012.

4Environmental Tobacco Smoke and Risk of Malignant Lymphoma in Pet Cats; Am J Epidemiol 2002; 156:268–73. Bertone ER, Snyder LA, Moore AS. http://aje.oxfordjournals.org/content/156/3/268.full

5Matt GE, Quintana PJE, Hovell MF et al.  Households contaminated by environmental tobacco smoke: sources of infant exposures. Tob Control 2004;13:29-3. Available at: http://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/content/13/1/29.short. Accessed Nov 11, 2012.

Other Resources

Smoking, Vaping, Nicotine & Pets

Resources to Help You Quit Smoking or Vaping

________________________________________________________________________
Don Hanson is the co-owner of the Green Acres Kennel Shop ( greenacreskennel.com ) in Bangor, Maine, where he has been helping people with their pets since 1995. He is also the founder of ForceFreePets.com, an online educational resource for people with dogs and cats. Don is a Bach Foundation Registered Animal Practitioner (BFRAP), Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC), Associate Certified Cat Behavior Consultant (ACCBC), and a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA). He is a member of the Pet Professional Guild (PPG). Don is committed to PPG’s Guiding Principles and the Pain-Free, Force-Free, and Fear-Free training, management, and care of all pets. He serves on the PPG Steering Committee and Advocacy Committee and is the Chair of The Shock-Free Coalition ( shockfree.org ). Don produces and co-hosts a weekly radio show and podcast, The Woof Meow Show, that airs on Z62 Retro Radio WZON (AM620) and WKIT 103.3-HD3 streamed at http://bit.ly/AM620-WZON every Saturday at 9 AM. Podcasts of the show are available at http://bit.ly/WfMwPodcasts/, the Apple Podcast app, and Don’s blog: www.words-woofs-meows.com.  The opinions in this post are those of Don Hanson.

©10-Mar-21, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
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Pet Nutrition – Pet Food Myths & Facts – No. 1, MYTH – Only a Board-Certified Veterinary Nutritionist is qualified to formulate pet food

< This is an expanded version of my column, which was first published in the MARCH 2021 issue of Downeast Dog News>

< Updated 28MAR21 >

< A short link for this page – http://bit.ly/PetFoodMyths-Facts-4MAR21 >

 

Long before becoming pet care professionals, my wife and I learned that what we feed our pets matters. Unfortunately, as we pursued our education in pet nutrition, we quickly discovered there are many myths, a polite word for lies, about pet nutrition. Secondly, and more alarming, we found that the pet food industry lacks transparency. Sadly, some of these myths have become more prevalent in the last few years. This article is the first in a series where I will expose the myths and reveal pet food facts as I understand them. You may find some of what I write alarming as I shine a light on the dark side of the pet food industry.

MYTHOnly a Board-Certified Veterinary Nutritionist is qualified to formulate pet food

The myth that only a Board-Certified Veterinary Nutritionist is qualified to formulate pet food took flight in July of 2018. It was a response to a press release issued by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announcing an investigation into alleged links between certain dog foods and canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). This story was covered by every major news network, perpetuating other unfounded statements that became part of pet food mythology. Within a week, many experts on animal nutrition were challenging the FDA conclusions. However, it was not until November of 2020 that the FDA concluded they were wrong and that no link between DCM and grain-free foods exists.  [ FMI – http://bit.ly/FDA-Grain-Free-SAFE ]

FACT There is no legal or logical requirement that one must have a veterinary degree to formulate pet food.

The law requires that all pet foods sold in the USA meet requirements established by the American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). Individuals with advanced degrees in animal nutrition are equally or more knowledgeable about nutrition than any veterinarian. These individuals have been formulating pet food that meets AAFCO requirements for years.

FACT Today, almost all pet food diets are formulated exclusively by computer software specifically designed to create balanced pet food formulas based on current science as established by the Natural Research Council (NRC) and AAFCO regulations. One does not need a veterinary degree or a doctorate in animal nutrition to use these programs.

You might want to consider a software program called Pet Diet Designer that has been designed to be used by people like you and me. FMIhttps://www.petdietdesigner.com/en/

FACT Formulating a pet food requires knowledge, but it is far from being “rocket science.” By educating yourself, you can make better decisions about the pet food you buy and, if you choose to, can make safe and healthy food for your pets yourself.

Please understand, making food for your dog is not as simple as buying ingredients and putting them in a bowl. You need to understand your dog’s nutritional needs and what ingredients provide your dog with what they need to grow and thrive. Once you know that, you can source fresh, wholesome ingredients and prepare a meal for your pet far healthier than most processed commercial foods simply because you provide them with fresh food. My wife prepared food for our dog Gus for many months, but as I have said, it does take knowledge and time.

Learning About Pet Nutrition

I learned what I know about pet nutrition from reading books and articles and attending numerous seminars and workshops on the subject. Because I find the topic fascinating and want the best for my pets, I continually seek knowledge on feeding them for optimal health. For those of you that want to learn more, these are my favorite books on the topic.

  • Canine and Feline Nutrition – A Resource for Companion Animal Professionals, by Linda Case, MS, Leighann Daristotle, DVM, Michael Hayek, Ph.D. & Melody Foess Raasch, DVM
    • This book was written for pet care professionals but is an excellent resource for those that want to know as much as possible. The lead author, Linda Case, has worked in the pet food industry. She has also been a frequent guest on The Woof Meow Show, helping us understand the DCM/Grain-Free fiasco.
  • Dog Food Logic – Making Smart Decisions For Your Dog In An Age Of Too Many Choices, by Linda Case, MS
    • Also written by Linda Case, this book is a perfect choice for dog parents that want to learn the fundamentals.
  • Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats, by Richard H. Pitcairn, DVM, Ph.D.
    • This is an excellent book for those who want to take a natural approach to their pets’ healthcare, including recipes for homemade diets. It is the book my wife used when cooking for our dog Gus.
  • Natural Nutrition for Dogs and Cats – The Ultimate Diet, by Kymythy Schultze,
    • This is my favorite book for those that want to prepare meals for their pets, rather than empty a package into a bowl, It’s filled with great advice and is simple to follow. Kymythy has another book specific to feline nutrition, Natural Nutrition for Cats: The Path to Purr-fect Health, which is also excellent. She has also been a guest on my radio show and podcast, The Woof Meow Show.
  • Ruined by Excess, Perfected by Lack, by Richard Patton, Ph.D.
    • Patton takes a complicated, technical and vital subject, animal nutrition, and translates it into common sense. He has worked in the pet food industry and as a consultant around the world. If you are looking for a nutritional approach to addressing your pet’s food allergies and intolerance’s, digestive difficulties, obesity, and chronic diseases such as kidney disease or diabetes, read this book. I found this book so valuable that; I gave copies to the Green Acres staff and several local veterinarians in our community. Dr. Patton has been a guest on The Woof Meow Show and has presented pet nutrition seminars at Green Acres. A video of that presentation is available on this blog.
  • See Spot Live Longer, by Steve Brown & Beth Taylor
    • Steve is the inventor of Charlee Bear dog treats and Steve’s Real Food for Pets, the first widely distributed frozen raw diets for both cats and dogs. Like Paula and I, Steve became interested in pet nutrition to help his pets live longer. He has been a guest on The Woof Meow Show. This is an excellent book for those who want to learn how what you feed can extend your pet’s life.
  • The Truth About Pet Foods, Randy Wysong, DVM
    • We discovered this book in our first couple of years at Green Acres. It was written by a veterinarian who also owns a pet food company. One of the things that impressed me most about Dr. Wysong and his book is that he believes that if you want to provide optimal nutrition for your pet, you should make their food from fresh ingredients. The book also exposes many of the myths started by the pet food industry. The book can be downloaded for free as a PDF at – http://truthaboutpetfoods.net/The-Truth-About-Pet-Foods.pdf
  • Unlocking the Canine Ancestral Diet, by Steve Brown
    • Steve Brown’s second book focuses on what a dog was designed to eat, and it’s not kibble. Steve also provides some excellent tips on how you can improve your dog’s diet by adding some fresh, whole food to their kibble.

Why does this myth exist?

Why would anyone tell you, “Never purchase pet food from a company that does not have a board-certified veterinary nutritionist on staff?  It could be due to a lack of knowledge. Perhaps they are unaware that for tens of thousands of years’ canines have been successfully eating and thriving without human assistance. Or maybe they don’t know that before the introduction of commercial pet food, people fed their pets without aid from any type of veterinarian. Sadly, it could also be for more nefarious reasons. The pet food industry, like all businesses, is about profit. There is nothing inherently wrong with profit; it’s what allows all of us to earn a living. However, pet care is a multi-billion-dollar business becoming less competitive every year as megalithic corporations swallow up small companies. By definition, a corporation’s first duty is to its shareholders, NOT you or your pets.

As of 2018, only six companies account for 89.3% of the pet food market and 103 pet food brands.  Two companies now control 71% of all pet food sales in the US and are also purchasing veterinary clinics. [FMI – http://bit.ly/PetFoodComp ]. These same companies also employ many of the 96 Veterinary Nutritionists in the world. It doesn’t take a genius to see that insisting their employees formulate pet food could further increase their control of the pet food and veterinary business. Is that what you want as a pet owner? Less control and fewer choices, which will undoubtedly lead to higher prices? It’s not what I want, and in fact, it scares me. I hope it scares you too and that you choose to look out for your pets and your best interests.

Recommended Resources

Articles on Don’s Blog
( http://www.words-woofs-meows.com  )

GAKS Philosophy on Pet Nutrition http://bit.ly/GAKS_Nut_Phil

FDA Concludes, “…there is nothing inherently unsafe about a grain-free diet.”http://bit.ly/FDA-Grain-Free-SAFE

Which Companies Are Behind Your Pet’s Food?  – http://bit.ly/PetFoodComp

FDA Update on Heart Disease in Dogs & What Should You Do? – 7JUL19 

http://bit.ly/FDA-DCM-Food-7JUL19

Shared Articles – More on the FDA, DCM, and Pet Food – 10JUL19 

–  http://bit.ly/FDA-DCM-Food-10JUL19

Shared Articles – Do the Vets Behind the FDA Investigation Have A Conflict of Interest? – http://bit.ly/DCM-FDA-Conflict

What I Feed My Dog and Why I Feed What I Do https://bit.ly/WhatIFeedAndWhy

Things I Wish I Had Known… The Importance of What I Feed My Pets – – WWM-MAR2019 – http://bit.ly/Things-Nutrition-1

Pet Nutrition: Some Myths and Facts – Part 1 – My story with Gus – Maine Dog Magazine – Winter 2017 http://bit.ly/Gus-Nutrition

The Science and Dogma of Pet Nutrition with Dr. Richard Patton with link to 1-hour video http://bit.ly/Video-Dr-Richard-Patton

Shared News Story – An Exposé on Prescription Diets from WJLA ABC7 Newshttp://bit.ly/Nut-RXDiets-WJLA-24MAY19

Podcasts from The Woof Meow Show
( http://woofmeowshow.libsyn.com/ )

What We Feed Our Pets and Why, with – Don Hanson, Kate Dutra, and Linda Case  – https://bit.ly/WfMw-WhatWeFeed-11JUL20

Is Feeding A Grain-Free Food to Our Dogs Dangerous?, with Linda Case, MS – http://bit.ly/Podcast-FDA-Grain-Free-LindaCase-29SEP18

Pet’s in the News–No. 4 Pet Food, DCM and The FDA http://bit.ly/WfMw-DCM-FDA-20JUL19

DCM, the FDA, and Dog Food-the Science and the Hype with Canine Nutritionist Linda Casehttp://bit.ly/Blog-DCM-FDA-8AUG19

Pet Nutrition with Dr. Richard Pattonhttp://bit.ly/DrPatton-Podcast

Pet Fooled – A Look Inside A Questionable Industry with Kohl Harringtonhttp://bit.ly/WfMw-Pet-Fooled

________________________________________________________________________
Don Hanson is the co-owner of the Green Acres Kennel Shop ( greenacreskennel.com ) in Bangor, Maine, where he has been helping people with their pets since 1995. He is also the founder of ForceFreePets.com, an online educational resource for people with dogs and cats. Don is a Bach Foundation Registered Animal Practitioner (BFRAP), Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC), Associate Certified Cat Behavior Consultant (ACCBC), and a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA). He is a member of the Pet Professional Guild (PPG). Don is committed to PPG’s Guiding Principles and the Pain-Free, Force-Free, and Fear-Free training, management, and care of all pets. He serves on the PPG Steering Committee and Advocacy Committee and is the Chair of The Shock-Free Coalition ( shockfree.org ). Don produces and co-hosts a weekly radio show and podcast, The Woof Meow Show, that airs on Z62 Retro Radio WZON (AM620) and WKIT 103.3-HD3 and is streamed at http://bit.ly/AM620-WZON every Saturday at 9 AM. Podcasts of the show are available at http://bit.ly/WfMwPodcasts/, the Apple Podcast app, and Don’s blog: www.words-woofs-meows.com.  The opinions in this post are those of Don Hanson.

©28MAR21, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
< Click for Copyright and Use Policy >

 

Pet Nutrition – FDA Concludes “…there is nothing inherently unsafe about a grain-free diet.”

< A version of this article was published in the December 2020 issue of Downeast Dog News>

< Updated 11FEB21 >

< A short link for this page – http://bit.ly/FDA-Grain-Free-SAFE >

In July of 2018, grain-free pet foods and a disorder called DCM (Dilated Cardiomyopathy) in dogs were all over the news for many weeks. A small group of veterinarians and the FDA held a press conference announcing a surge in reported cases of DCM. They attributed the increase due to grain-free pet foods. Yet, at the same time, one of the veterinarians involved seemed also to implicate dog food made with exotic proteins by “boutique pet food companies.” The media circus continued for months, causing panic among pet parents and the pet food industry.

When this all started, animal nutritionists I trust were saying the FDA’s conclusions did not add up. There was no evidence to implicate grain-free foods, exotic proteins, or specific types of pet food companies. They indicated that DCM is a very complicated disorder with many factors. It turns out, the people I trusted were correct as now the FDA is saying the same thing.

At the end of September, Kansas State University held a scientific forum to discuss DCM and pet food. Information presented at the meeting is just now circulating in the media. I’m still digesting the reports and will write more in the future, but here is the good news from the FDA.

The agency concluded that there is nothing inherently unsafe about a grain-free diet.”

Evidence shows that the absence of grains in a dog’s diet is not linked to the development of DCM, as the presence of grains in a dog’s diet does not prevent against DCM. We hope this brings clarity to pet lovers and gives them the confidence and trust to select the best diet for their dogs. “

Additionally, there is no evidence to implicate “exotic proteins” or “boutique pet food companies” as contributing to DCM.  Suppose you were previously feeding dog food without grain or one with exotic proteins or dog food made by a small, family-owned pet food company. In that case, you can feel safe feeding it again.

If you have a dog with DCM or are concerned about DCM, here is the bad news. “The results show that DCM is a multifactorial issue with potential variables including, but not limited to, breed, age, weight, gastrointestinal disease, atopy, infection, and more.” In other words, as many animal nutritionists were saying as early as July 2018, the FDA was off on a wild goose chase. Sadly, much more research needs to be done to help dogs with DCM, and based on what I’ve been reading, much of the research in the past two years may have been a waste of time. I hope I am wrong, as losing a pet to DCM is something no one wants.

Tragically, there is worse news for all of us.  At the September conference, it was stated, “Nevertheless, these observations must be subject to rigorous scientific investigation before conclusions are made.” Which is exactly what did NOT happen before the press conference in July 2018. The FDA should know better and realize they need to do some serious work on their reputation.

Recommended Resources

Articles on Don’s Blog
( http://www.words-woofs-meows.com  )

Shared Article – Researchers Find No Definitive Link Between DCM and Grain-Free Diets – https://bit.ly/DCM-NOLink-GrainFree-18JUN20

 FDA Update on Heart Disease in Dogs & What Should You Do? – 7JUL19  – http://bit.ly/FDA-DCM-Food-7JUL19

Shared Articles – More on the FDA, DCM, and Pet Food – 10JUL19  –  http://bit.ly/FDA-DCM-Food-10JUL19

Shared Articles – Do the Vets Behind the FDA Investigation Have A Conflict of Interest?31JUL19http://bit.ly/DCM-FDA-Conflict

Pet Nutrition – Grain-Free Foods and FDA Reports of Increased Heart Disease in Dogs – 23JUL18http://blog.greenacreskennel.com/2018/07/22/pet-nutrition-grain-free-foods-and-fda-reports-of-increased-heart-disease-in-dogs/

Podcasts from The Woof Meow Show
( http://woofmeowshow.libsyn.com/ )

Podcast – DCM, the FDA, and Dog Food-the Science and the Hype with Canine Nutritionist Linda Casehttp://bit.ly/Blog-DCM-FDA-8AUG19

Podcast – Pet’s in the News–No. 4 Pet Food, DCM and The FDA http://bit.ly/WfMw-DCM-FDA-20JUL19

 

 

Green Acres Pet Nutrition Resources Page
( http://bit.ly/GAKS_Nut_Home )

GAKS Philosophy on Pet Nutrition http://bit.ly/GAKS_Nut_Phil

Pet Foods We Offer At Green Acres Kennel Shop http://bit.ly/GAKS_PetFood_Brands

Pet Nutrition – Which Companies Are Behind Your Pet’s Food?  – http://bit.ly/PetFoodComp

Other Resources

Pet Product News – June 17, 2020 – Researchers Find No Definitive Link Between DCM and Grain-Free Diets http://www.petproductnews.com/News/Researchers-Find-No-Definitive-Link-Between-DCM-and-Grain-Free-Diets/

Journal of ANIMAL SCIENCE June 15th, 2020 – Review of canine dilated cardiomyopathy in the wake of diet-associated concernshttps://academic.oup.com/jas/article/98/6/skaa155/5857674

 

________________________________________________________________________
Don Hanson is the co-owner of the Green Acres Kennel Shop ( greenacreskennel.com ) in Bangor, Maine, where he has been helping people with their pets since 1995. He is also the founder of ForceFreePets.com, an online educational resource for people with dogs and cats. Don is a Bach Foundation Registered Animal Practitioner (BFRAP), Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC), Associate Certified Cat Behavior Consultant (ACCBC), and a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA). He is a member of the Pet Professional Guild (PPG). Don is committed to PPG’s Guiding Principles and the Pain-Free, Force-Free, and Fear-Free training, management, and care of all pets. He serves on the PPG Steering Committee and Advocacy Committee and is the Chair of The Shock-Free Coalition ( shockfree.org ). Don produces and co-hosts a weekly radio show and podcast, The Woof Meow Show, that airs on Z62 Retro Radio WZON (AM620) and WKIT 103.3-HD3 and is streamed at http://bit.ly/AM620-WZON every Saturday at 9 AM. Podcasts of the show are available at http://bit.ly/WfMwPodcasts/, the Apple Podcast app, and Don’s blog: www.words-woofs-meows.com.  The opinions in this post are those of Don Hanson.

©11FEB21, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
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Podcast – Preparing for the Holidays; Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, & New Years

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< Updated 18OCT20 >

< A short link for this page – http://bit.ly/WfMwHolidayPrep >

The last three months of the year are often your favorite or least favorite time of year. It is a time filled with holidays, more guests in our home than usual, frantic activity, hectic schedules, and yes, stress, and not the good kind but unpleasant distress. All of these things can affect our pets every bit as much as they affect us. In this show, Kate and Don will be discussing ways you can make this time of year less stressful for both your and your pets. We’ll address Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

You can listen to The Woof Meow Show on Z62 Retro Radio, AM620, and WKIT HD3 at 9 AM on Saturday. If you are not near a radio, listen on your computer at http://bit.ly/AM620-WZON or your smartphone or tablet with the free WZON 620 AM app. A podcast of the show is typically posted immediately after the show. You can download this show and others at http://bit.ly/WfMwPodcasts, at Don’s blog http://bit.ly/Words-Woofs-Meows and the Apple podcast app.

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Contact Info

Don Hanson & Kate Dutra
Green Acres Kennel Shop & The Woof Meow Show
Bangor, ME
(207) 945-6841
https://www.greenacreskennel.com/
https://www.facebook.com/GreenAcresKennelShop/
https://woofmeowshow.libsyn.com/
https://www.facebook.com/WoofMeowShow/

Recommended Resources

Articles on Don’s Blog
( http://www.words-woofs-meows.com  )

 Halloween Tips for Pets and Their People – http://bit.ly/Halloween-Pets

Preparing Your Pets for the Holidayshttp://blog.greenacreskennel.com/2016/01/01/preparing-your-pets-for-the-holidays/

 Other Resources

Mighty Dog Graphics Halloween Postershttps://www.facebook.com/mightydoggraphics/posts/the-halloween-collection-/1328779170582929/

©18OCT20, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
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COVID-19, Working from Home, & Pets

< Updated 22MAR20 >

< A short link for this page –
https://bit.ly/GAKSCOVID-22MAR20 >

There has been a wide variety of information circulating online and in the media about COVID-19 and pets. I have reviewed material from scientific and veterinary resources, as well as the general media, and have summarized it here. Please remember that we are learning more about COVID-19 every day, and so some of what you read may change.

At the top of many people’s list of questions is can COVID-19 be transmitted from humans to pets and vice versa. There has been news reported out of Hong Kong by the mass media about the possibility of two dogs testing positive for the COVID-19 virus.  Two sources that I trust believe that there is no proven risk of direct transmission of COVID-19 between people and pets at this time.

The SARS-CoV-2 virus spreads from humans to humans. There is no research to support human to animal spread at this time. – Science Magazine AAAS, March 12, 2020 – https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/03/quarantine-cat-disinfect-dog-latest-advice-about-coronavirus-and-your-pets

Currently there is limited evidence that companion animals can be infected with SARS-Cov-2 and no evidence that pet dogs or cats can be a source of infection to other animals or to humans resulting in COVID-19. This is a rapidly evolving situation and information will be updated as it becomes available. – WSAVA, March 20, 2020 – https://wsava.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/COVID-19_WSAVA-Advisory-Document-Mar-19-2020.pdf

Science and the WSAVA offer some excellent advice about how we interact with our pets during this pandemic.

  • If you are infected with COVID-19 or are awaiting test results, limit contact with your pets. Wash your hands, and don’t let them lick you on the face. The CDC recommends you avoid petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food with your pet.
  • It is best to quarantine your pets away from anyone infected in your home
  • Be prepared, in the event you become sick or are quarantined, or worse yet, end up in the hospital. Make sure you have enough food on hand for your pet and that you have someone lined up to care for them if you are unable to do so. Whomever you chose to care for your pet in such an eventuality, make sure they have a plan as well in case they become ill.

Is COVID-19 the same as the coronavirus that infects dogs and cats? –  Several types of coronaviruses affect different species, including humans, dogs, cats, and more. Neither the canine nor the feline coronaviruses infect humans.

Can our pets carry COVID-19 even though they are not infected? – The COVID-19 virus can survive on some surfaces for up to 24 hours in a laboratory environment. It may be possible for a pet to carry the COVID-19 virus on their body, leash, or collar. For this reason, it is recommended that no one with the virus handles your pets. A helpful article on this topic comes from Healthy Paws Pet Insurance and can be read at https://www.healthypawspetinsurance.com/blog/2020/03/03/coronavirus-in-dogs-what-to-know-about-covid-19

Can my dog and I still go for walks? – Yes, providing you maintain social distancing and maintain a 6-foot distance from others and use hand sanitizer after all interactions with others.

Help! – Because the whole family is staying home all day with the dog right now, things are getting a little crazy. – If you and your family are not used to being together 24/7, and it’s not typical for your pets(s), things may be stressful for more than one of you. Dr. Zazie Todd recommends; Stick to your routine, Let pets have safe spaces, Supervise pets and children closely (if you cannot supervise, separate), Make more time for play, keep the dog on a short leash when off property, Engage your pets and keep them busy with puzzle toys, and Do some training. ( https://www.companionanimalpsychology.com/2020/03/spending-more-time-with-your-pet-due-to.html ). One thing that Dr. Todd did not mention is ensuring some alone time for your dog. If we are required to stay home for any length of time, your dog could get used to you being there 24/7 and may need some adjustment time when everyone disappears. My article on Alone Training Can be found at http://bit.ly/AloneTraining.

Stay well!

©22MAR20, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
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