Monthly Archives: March 2013

Rain, rain, go away

As spring approaches, Rachael looks at storm fear and possible solutions for your skittish pup.

courtesy of madmikesamerica.com

courtesy of madmikesamerica.com

Thunderstorms leave my foxy little lady a trembling, hot mess. She paces, hides, shakes and pants. It's disturbing for me to see because I feel like I can't comfort her, and then I'm like, "Gah! How bad is it when I'm not here?" I instantly feel guilt, but that's a post for another day.

Many pet owners struggle with anxious fur babies when a thunderstorm hits. With storms, levels of anxiety can go from relatively mild, like Pippa, to destructive. Severity of thunderstorms can also play a role in the response of your pet. Mild thunderstorms elicit a similar reaction from the Pips, but a severe thunderstorm can be debilitating for her.

You'd think that we could just beckon our sweet babies to sit in our laps, so we can comfort them, but storm anxiety or fear makes normal lap dogs disinterested in our lovin'. Pippa rarely lets me love on her when it storms - she even turns down the treats that I try to lure her into my lap with; on a normal day, she wouldn't turn down a treat or my lap. She prefers to go into hiding whether it's under the bed, in her kennel or in the nook between the corner of the couch and the side table.

thundervestDog trainers suggest that when owners know a storm is approaching, to help reduce their anxiety we should distract them with their favorite toy. Distracting them will help turn their focus from the storm to, "Yay! I'm having fun with Mom or Dad!"

Products also exist on the market that include plug-in dog pheromones to help reduce anxiety, as well as apparel like the ThunderVest or Thundershirts. For extreme cases, some pets may be prescribed medication from their Vet to help calm them during severe weather.

pheromonesRegardless of the method, remember that no two dogs are alike, which is why you may have to try a few methods before finding one that works to help reduce your fur babies' storm anxiety. 

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Free & low-cost resources to help with spay, neuter and medical care

walking the dogIt’s okay to admit it: sometimes you may need a bit of help with the dog’s medical bills. After all, taking care of an animal isn’t cheap, and it can often cost thousands of dollars just to figure out what’s wrong. They can’t speak to us in English, so figuring out what’s going on with them is more guess work than anything, and sometimes that guess work can rack up some serious bucks.

But because other people understand, there are resources to help cope with those bills. That assistance comes from many places and in many forms, all of which have been categorized below.

Medical Care Resources

Care Credit: This is the most well-known type of assistance you can get in a crunch. If Fido is vomiting and refusing food and water and you just had to pay $700 to get your car repaired, you can turn to Care Credit to give you a helping hand. They are a low-interest credit card company that offers credit to almost anyone who needs it, but the credit can only be used on health-related expenses (including ones for our furkids). You can find out more information about them on their website.

Red Rover: Not only do the kind folks at Red Rover have a grant of their own for pets in need, they also have an extensive directory of resources that are mostly breed specific. They include a smattering of disease specific programs as well. If you’re a non-profit in need of assistance, they even have a list for you.

The Shakespeare Animal Fund: SAF helps animals that are injured and sick. They’ve distributed some $300,000 to needy owners that need help paying medical bills for their animals, and they specialize in cases where an animal is being held because a medical bill cannot be paid.

The Pet Fund: The Pet Fund is a smaller organization, but they do tons of good work. Their website is also full of awesome resources about spay and neutering and basic medical information.

YouCaring: YouCaring doesn’t directly offer help, but they provide a way to raise money for your animal in need of medical care – for free. YouCaring is one of the few sites that doesn’t charge any fees on top of the PayPal fees already associated with crowdfunding websites. There is an option to donate to their server fees, though.

Spay & Neuter Resources

Because Spay & Neuter has to happen up close and personal, some of these resources are very localized.

Animal Liberation Front: This website is awesome because they’re constantly updating their list of free and cheap spay and neuter locations. Many of their resources also offer feral cat spay and neuter for free as long as the person who brought the animal in agrees to allow it to be ear-clipped to indicate it’s part of a feral colony.

Advocate for Saving Dogs: This website has lots of resources, one of which is a state-by-state guide to free or low cost spay/neuter.

Neuter Spay: Neuterspay.org is a pretty huge database that lists nationwide spay and neuter resources. There are even some resources for people in Canada and Europe.

PAWS: Paws is known for helping out low-income households with not only information on low-cost clinics, but with money to pay for those low-cost expenses, too. They have tons of locations, plus they work with vets across the nation.

Humane Society: The Humane Society maintains a database of low-cost spay and neuter resources, but they also provide services themselves for little to no cost for families in need. They have a huge network of vets, locations, and grants.

 

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Do dogs really feel guilt or shame?

Poop Bubblestissuespowerbars flour dad's shoeRachael takes a look into the pet shaming trend

Being a pet owner all but ensures that you’ll be granted memories that will bring you great joy, even if that joy comes secondary to initial anger and/or frustration.

Enter the dog shaming phenomena. I’ve yet to join the Internet trend of documenting my sweet Pippa’s poor decision making skills, but fur baby moms and dads across the globe are popularizing the trend on websites like dogshaming.com to bring attention to their little troublemakers.

On various websites and through the use of social media outlets, pet owners are regularly posting pictures outing their beloved pets and documenting angry moments into laugh-worthy photos for all the world to enjoy. Below are some of my favorites, courtesy of dogshaming.com.

Now, I couldn’t help but notice that some of the pups in these photographs look genuinely guilty. When Pippa makes bad decisions, I’d like to think that her behavior when “caught” is equivalent to guilt, which makes me pose the question: Do dogs feel guilty?

In an article by Jason Goldman, “Do Dogs feel Guilty”, he reveals that 74% of dog owners believe that their dog experiences guilt. Unfortunately, evidence that supports this is rare, as it’s difficult to measure this secondary emotion in animals. Many reactions stem from the owners scolding and the “guilty” look may be a learned response, as it tends to reduce the duration of the scolding. Animal cognition experts have conducted a few studies, but nothing conclusive yet is on the horizon for whether or not your sweet pup truly feels guilty for chewing up your favorite shoes, or eating the cat’s poop. Guilt is a complex emotion - I’d like to think that their “guilty” look at least means they are ashamed of what they’ve done, but in reality, our sweet animals are just that, animals. Somewhere this century, perhaps more studies done in the realm of real-world pet/owner interactions, more evidence will be revealed that indicates our dogs do feel guilt, but until then... let’s settle for the notion that they have a guilty conscience, and take more pictures.

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