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Anxiety in Dogs

Anxiety in Dogs

Some ideas to try and help reduce your dogs anxiety.

Like us humans, dogs also suffer from anxiety issues in varying degrees from dog to dog. Some dogs strut through life afraid of nothing, while others are reduced to trembling wrecks at the thought of a car ride or the arrival of the vacuum cleaner in the room. And size does not determine who suffers from anxiety – there are just as many cases of ‘fraidy-cat’ great danes and bull mastiffs, as there are chihuahua’s who think they are bullet-proof.

A car ride. A clap of thunder. The dreaded vacuum cleaner. Fireworks. Any of these loud noises might turn your pup into an anxious wreck. Noise phobias can be especially challenging because the anxiety may feed on itself and increasingly become a problem until normal everyday sounds are causing your dog to become fearful. Maybe it starts with fireworks as an example; then the dog becomes afraid of loud bangs on TV, honking horns, or even the microwave. 

It is not only because a dogs hearing is more sensitive than ours that they become afraid of loud noises. Dogs are creatures of routine and as they become accustomed to every day sounds like the doorbell, they learn the sound and associate it with someone entering the house. Whereas fireworks or thunder are random loud noises that they cannot understand or associate with – so for an anxious dog this becomes frightening.

Guy Fawkes celebrations in early November causes fear and trauma to many dogs and pets every year. Pets spooked by fireworks often take off running, and get lost, or worse, hit by a car. It is similar to when a person has an anxiety attack - a dog may not be thinking clearly, they are just reacting and will run to get away until they stop from exhaustion, or are stopped in some other way.

If the anxiety becomes a problem for you and your dog, or you are struggling to manage the fear and it’s escalation, here are some suggestions to try and reduce the anxiety and to help your nervous dog

Consult a trainer

An experienced dog trainer / therapist may be able to help ‘desensitise’ your dog by gradually introducing him to scary noises while offering him rewards. Rewiring your dog’s associations to loud noise is a long-term solution that requires a lot of work, not only from the trainer, but you as well. If you are considering going down this track, it would pay to thoroughly vet available trainers by talking to some of their previous clients, as choosing someone unqualified may at best cost you money and time with no improvement, or at worst, make the problem worse.

Play music or try distracting your dog

If your dog is shut inside the house it may help to play music or have the television on to help mask the noise outside that is causing the anxiety. Distracting your dog by playing with him, grooming him, or even teaching him a simple trick may be enough to take his mind off the fear inducing noise.

Try a Thundershirt

The Thundershirt is a compression garment designed to reduce fear in dogs. Thundershirts work on a similar theory to that of swaddling a baby for comfort or giving a reassuring hug. The company that markets the Thundershirts claim it can help with a wide range of phobias and works for about 80% of pets that try them.

Pheromones

When a mother dog nurses her puppies she releases a calming pheromone that encourages them to lay down quietly. You can buy a synthetic version of that pheromone to help your dog relax at any age. Consult your veterinarian for further advice on pheromone’s to help reduce anxiety in your dog. 

Talk to your vet about medication

In very extreme cases, where some dogs levels of anxiety can become a safety risk to you or himself, and none of the above behaviourial modification solutions have worked, it may be necessary to consider a prescription medication. Once again, your veterinarian will give you the best advice on whether this step is appropriate for your dog.

Safety Tips for your dog on Fireworks night

Always prepare for Guy Fawkes night well in advance by ensuring all dogs, cats and other pets are safely shut inside the house. Preferably, make sure someone will be home with them, close the drapes, have the lights on, and also have the television on or music playing to help mask the noise of the fireworks outside.

Another good idea is to check your dog or cat is wearing a collar with address and contact info tags on. In the event they manage to get out of the house, this gives a much better chance of you being reunited with your pet.

Choosing the right bedding for your dog

Choosing the right bedding for your dog

The market for dog and puppy bedding is vast. Choosing what product to purchase can be confusing and overwhelming when trying to decide what is best for your dog. There are a couple of rules however, that you should keep in mind, when wading through the options.

The idea of having bedding for your dog is so that he can have his own warm and comfortable place in the house to call his own where he can go to sleep or rest. Some people like to set up a crate as a bed – this has the advantage of the dog already being accustomed to his crate when it’s time to travel or confine him to the crate for a period of time. Others choose the option of an open bed raised off the floor – rather like a hammock.

Whatever method you choose it's a good idea to purchase your dog his own bedding for him to use. However, it's important that you choose the proper dog bedding for an outdoor kennel or inside bed, because this can have an impact on your pet's comfort level, his behavior and even his long term health.

• Waterproof

If your dog is likely to play outside a good deal of the time it is a good idea that the material that you purchase for your pet's bedding is waterproof and moisture resistant. Dogs often come in to lay down on their bedding after being outside in the rain. It's possible that your dog’s coat and feet will be wet when he comes inside, and as he lays down the bedding can become wet. Waterproof and moisture resistant bedding will be better able to resist the growth of mold and other potentially harmful bacteria. It will also retain its appearance and smell better than non-moisture resistant or waterproof bedding will.

• Washable

It's crucial that the bedding that you buy for your dog be washable. You'll want to regularly remove the covering of the bedding to wash it and keep it clean. This not only keeps the smell of the bedding from becoming a frustrating nuisance for you and your family, but it also works to keep the bedding itself hygienic and clean, which in turn can help your dog to be less likely to get sick from laying on it regularly. Regularly washing your dogs bedding will also ensure it remains warm and comfortable for your dog to sleep on.

Choosing a Boarding Kennel for your dog

Choosing a Boarding Kennel for your dog

You and your family have decided to take an overseas holiday, cruise, or other type of vacation that does not welcome pets, which means the family dog has to stay behind.

It can be worrying leaving your dog behind at a kennels for the first time. You have no previous experience that the facility will measure up, and you don’t know how well your dog will adapt while you’re away. Will he pine? Will the staff look after him and treat him well? Many questions revolve around your head.

Good initial advice is to visit the establishments within your area and meet the staff that will be looking after your dog. First impressions are generally good ones – if you leave feeling uncomfortable or unsure - that isn’t the place to leave your dog.

As you look around, notice the facilities;

  • are the kennels and bedding areas clean and comfortable
  • spacious
  • do the current inhabitants look clean, healthy and happy
  • is there an exercise area that is safe and well enclosed
  • does everything look clean, neat and tidy
  • is the staff friendly, tidy and do they show evidence of appropriate training

If you answer no to any of the above, that is cause for concern, and good reason not to book your dog in.

There is a ‘Code of Practice for Boarding Kennels’ set out by ‘Asure Quality’, and it is a good idea to familiarise yourself with it so you know what you are entitled to expect from the boarding kennel you choose to leave your dog at.

The Code of Practice deals with responsibilities of the owner/manager of the facility, the monitoring, housing, feeding and care of the dogs, food preparation and healthcare. The Code also deals with how behavioural issues should be dealt with, especially the steps that are to be taken before using a no-barking collar.

Ask the owner / manager when you meet them if they run the boarding kennel to the standards within the Code of Practice for Boarding Kennels – if the answer is no, it is probably best to move on and visit the next kennel on your list.

You can access a pdf file of the Code of Practice at the following link https://www.asurequality.com/assets/Pet-Boarding/Pet-Boarding-Code-of-Practice-for-Kennels-Version-4.2.pdf

Why do dogs hump other dogs?

Why do dogs hump other dogs?

Why do dogs hump other dogs?

Does your dog like to hump other dogs?
Objects? People?

Humping behavior is actually quite natural in dogs. Contrary to what you might think, humping is not always sexual. It’s also not really related to dominance as some people used to think. Dogs usually hump each other as a part of normal play. They may also playfully hump objects and people. Excitement (non-sexual) and attention seeking may also be reasons for humping.

Humping of objects is only a problem if it really bothers you. When it comes to humping people, you will probably want to break this habit for your house guests’ sake. Often, the solution is walking away from the dog and denying attention until humping stops.

Principles of Dog Nutrition

Principles of Dog Nutrition

Principles of Dog Nutrition

By T. J. Dunn, Jr., DVM

Pet nutrition principles for feeding dogs continue to evolve. An example of how far we've come concerns what we veterinarians, 30 years ago, used to call "All Meat Dogs." These pathetically sick and dying dogs were coming in to clinics, thin, weak, with hair loss and metabolic imbalances as a direct result of eating a nationally advertised "All Meat" canned dog food.

Nearly everyone at that time thought that because dogs were carnivores (they're technically omnivores) that "all meat" diets must be the best thing for them! We know now that dogs cannot survive if fed 100% meat for extended periods.

Since then, pet food manufacturer's knowledge has changed and they now make some properly formulated foods. We've all learned much more about just what it takes to put together the right combination of ingredients in the proper ratios to create a nutritious diet.

Unfortunately for the pet food purchaser, and worse for the dog, there are available various brands of foods that, despite what the label may claim, are NOT a good source of nutrition for your dog. Some are actually harmful!

However, did you know that some of the most popular and most trusted brands of dog foods are purposely formulated to just meet the minimum requirements of an average dog? These formulations are set up so that the pet food can be sold at a targeted lower price in order to appeal to the consumer group that will not spend higher amounts on dog food.

A dog food that just barely meets the minimum nutritional requirements of a dog will have cheaper ingredients, such as grains, instead of higher quality ingredients that cost more.

And meeting the minimum standards for an average dog means statistically some dogs won't get what they need.

What if your puppy or adult dog isn't average? No one has ever shown me what an average dog looks like so how am I, after working with tens of thousands of dogs over thirty years of practice, supposed to know the difference between an average dog and one that isn't?

How will you know if your dog is average? And even if you did know, would you really want to feed it a food that was specifically designed to only meet it's minimum requirements?

Buy a cheap dog food and you will be feeding your dog cheap ingredients. Cheap ingredients are less efficiently digested, there's more fecal waste production, and the dog won't be as healthy as when fed higher quality (meat-based) dog food.

Another example of how poorly regulated the pet food industry is concerns preservatives.

There are all kinds of agents used to keep the nutritional value in that bag or can of dog food from deteriorating over time. Chemicals such as Ethoxyquin and BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) have controversial reputations as to safety. Most experts will tell us they are safe, however, many pet owners would rather avoid chemical preservatives and instead use substances that don't have murky reputations. Currently, pet food consumers have driven the popularity of more "natural" preservatives such as vitamin E or vitamin C.

Naturally we consumers, when given a choice, generally pick a food preserved with vitamin E and have every reason to expect that the food has no other preservatives in it.

Well, sorry. It still could have other chemical preservatives in the food if the manufacturer purchased the fat and protein from suppliers who, prior to shipping to the manufacturers, added chemical preservatives. So the food manufacturer's label says, "preserved with Vitamin E" because that's all they added. You have no way of knowing if prior to what the manufacturer did, someone else added other preservatives. In my opinion, the pet food industry really needs tighter controls and more specific labeling of their products.

In the meantime, you might be asking, "How do I pick out a good food for my dog?" There are some general rules to follow and concepts to keep in mind when choosing a good dog food.

Choosing a Good Dog Food

Making the right choice starts with reading the label's list of ingredients. By law the ingredients must be listed according to weight of the ingredient added in descending order. In other words, by weight of raw ingredient the main ingredient is listed first, second most prominent ingredient next, and so on.

The first three ingredients are the most important. It's easy to tell if the diet is vegetable based, with corn, rice, wheat, and soybean meal listed as the main ingredients; or if the diet is meat based, with meat, lamb, fish or poultry listed as the main ingredients.

I would always pick a meat-based diet over vegetable-based foods for optimum health for dogs. Now...here's the catch! I'm going to have to pay more for the meat-based diet! Responsible and caring dog owners should never let the price of the food dictate the purchase decision. In almost every situation with dog food, you get what you pay for. The higher the price the higher the quality.

I'll let you consider the converse of that. And the higher the quality of the ingredients, the greater the nutritive value for the dog. Plus, you will purchase less high quality food than cheap food since dogs must eat more low quality food to meet their nutritional needs.

Immediately you will notice that when feeding a high quality, meat-based food, the dog will need to consume fewer cups of it per day than a cheap diet; the dog will also pass noticeably less stool when consuming a high quality diet than with a grain-based diet.

Cheap dog foods -- and they are widely available and wrapped in all sorts of fancy labels -- will contain cheap ingredients that will be poorly digested and will lead, over varying lengths of time, to deficiencies in your dog's health. Stroll through the pet food departments of various pet food outlets and read the labels of the different products.

The cheap food will almost always be vegetable based and the more costly foods will be meat, poultry or fish based. Your dog has no control over your choice; so you have an obligation to provide good quality products that will optimize your dog's quality of life!

And don't forget to pay attention to the trick of "ingredient splitting." What the pet food manufacturer does, in order to make the ingredient list look better, is to break down a product such as corn into its different forms, then place each form of the ingredient into the ingredient list according to the amount of the form present.

For example, they will list ground corn, yellow corn meal, corn gluten, and corn gluten meal separately and thereby split up "corn" (which really should be listed as the main ingredient) in to places further down on the ingredient list to make it appear to the consumer that there is less corn in the dog food.

Should I Feed Canned or Dry ... or Both?

If dog owners had to choose one or the other, canned food or dry food, they should choose the dry. Canned food is generally 75% water, so 75% of your purchase price is going toward a non-nutritive ingredient that you can readily obtain from your own water faucet. Plus, there is an advantage to oral hygiene in the friction of the dry dog food, helping to keep the gums and teeth healthier than if the dog were eating only canned food.

The only time I recommend canned food is to someone who refuses to stop buying cheap dry food; the addition of canned food to a cheap dry food will generally improve the total diet. And just like the dry food, canned food has an ingredient list you can read to help guide your purchase decision. A dog being fed a high quality dry food does not require any canned food.

 Semi-Moist Foods

I never recommend semi-moist foods. You know the ones ... they're wrapped in cellophane and look like meat and have names that give the impression they're meaty. I often wonder why the manufacturers, if they want to associate these foods with meat, don't put any meat in them! They do put lots of food coloring, soybean meal, sucrose and preservatives like propylene glycol in them, though! Forget about the semi-moist dog foods.

Table Scraps

Many of my clients, when I query them about what they feed their dog, will proudly offer this statement, "... but we never feed table scraps!" And I respond, "Why not?" Dogs can be fed many foods that people eat, but there are exceptions -- such as the fact that some dogs are lactose intolerant, grapes on occasion can cause (kidney damage,) and overfeeding certain foods can create nutritional imbalances.

You, at home, could feed your dog a perfectly fine diet if you knew the right amounts of meats, vegetables, fruit, etc. to feed and in the proper ratios. But why bother when there are good diets already prepared for you by companies employing highly knowledgeable scientists with years of research backing them up?

Table scraps are perfectly acceptable to give to most dogs under certain conditions. And it is better to feed them to the dog than throw good food in the garbage. But you must remember that sudden changes in some dog's diet may promote diarrhea, vomiting and in the instance of providing too much fat all of a sudden, pancreatitis.

Most dogs eat more consistently, are less finicky, and are less likely to have digestive tract upsets if they are fed consistently every day. If you choose to feed table scraps, try to do it on a fairly consistent basis.

I am not a proponent of feeding bones to dogs. For one thing there is almost no food value in bones (although there is plenty of good nutrition in the attached muscle and fat). Don't believe me? Take a look for yourself to see just how little food value there is in bones.

 How Much To Feed

Every bag of dog food will give a suggested amount to feed relative to your dog's weight or breed. I'll give you a helpful hint... don't even bother to look at these suggestions. They'll only confuse you since they are imprecise and vague.

Keep in mind that every dog is unique (no wonder I can't find an "average" dog!) in it's metabolic rate (how fast it burns up calories) and nutritional requirements. Whether you feed "free choice" by keeping some food in the bowl all the time or "restricted" or "portion controlled" by feeding a certain amount once or twice a day, the very best way to judge if you are feeding the right amount is to look at the dog. If it appears too thin for its breed (remember, some breeds such as Setters and sight-hounds are normally "thin") then feed the dog more food. If the dog or puppy appears overweight, cut back on the amount fed.

Most dogs, probably 75%, if fed "free choice" will maintain optimum weight. The rest will become overweight and you, having complete control over what your dog consumes, will have to restrict the total amount of food intake to get that overweight dog back to a weight where it appears normal.

So the amount to feed varies with every dog. For example, you could have two dogs, each weighing 40 pounds, where one might require twice as much food as the other to maintain its weight at 40 pounds. So don't look at the food label to tell you how much to feed, look at the dog!

Future Concepts

Strange to say but I believe we dog lovers will be going back to the future in properly feeding our canine friends. Going back to Nature by feeding meat-based foods and including what we term "table scraps" in dogs' diets will surely be an improvement over some of the grain-based, cheap pet foods available today. Raw diets, frozen meat diets  and home made diets are here today and will be even more popular in the future because dog owners will see the excellent results these more natural diets achieve.

This is NOT to say that commercial canned and dry foods are not good for dogs and cats, either. I have personally examined 20 year old dogs and cats that we never fed table scraps but were fed only a brand name dry or canned food. There will always be a deserved place for commercial dry and canned pet foods; I just hope that the high quality ones are most utilized.

In Summary

Use common sense. Read the labels. If you do those two things, you will certainly avoid the cheap, plant-based dog foods with the fancy labels that try to make you think you're getting a good deal.

Remember ... your dog's health, more than any other single aspect, depends upon optimum nutrition.

How much exercise does your dog need?

How much exercise does your dog need?

How Much Exercise Does Your Dog Need?

How much exercise a dog needs can vary quite dramatically between breeds as well as individual dogs. Working breeds such as Border Collies usually require a lot more exercise than smaller breeds such as Pugs or Chihuahuas. Regardless of your dog's breed, there are some signs that can tell you your dog needs more activity.

What you need to keep in mind before starting a new exercise routine

Don't begin, or drastically increase your dog's exercise regimen, without speaking first to your veterinarian to check that your dog is medically capable of handling it. Be sure your dog has plenty of fresh water during exercise, and don't overdo it in hot temperatures.

Is Your Dog Overweight?

If your dog is overweight it is because he/she is taking in more calories than burning. This means that he/she may need to go on a diet. Exercise can certainly improve the situation. There are many reasons for keeping your dog at a good weight, most important is it promotes good physical and mental health, and consequently a happier dog.

Is Your Dog Destructive?

Dogs do sometimes destroy belongings or property accidentally, especially curious puppies. Chronic boredom, however, may lead to your dog developing excessive destructive habits, especially when left at home on their own. Adequate play and exercise may help eliminate this problem. Playing with, walking, and exercising your dog can tire him out, making him less likely to take out his boredom on your property.
Does Your Dog Bark Excessively?

Excessive barking is another anti-social behaviour that dogs may develop through no other reason than boredom and needing more play and exercise time. Barking may be the result of either boredom or anxiety, both of which may be improved by more play and exercise time during the day. Barking excessively can also be separation anxiety when left at home on their own, or just part of the dog's individual personality. However, a dog that has enjoyed plenty of exercise with their owner will be less likely to bark than one that is bored or lonely.

Does Your Dog Not Sleep Well?

Just like human beings, a dog that doesn't get enough exercise during the day is less likely to sleep well at night. Making sure that your dog is tired out is a great way to ensure that he won't be up all night pacing around, causing trouble, and looking for someone to play with him.

Does Your Dog Crave Attention All The Time?

All dogs have individual personalities – some like a lot of human attention, while others can appear quite indifferent and independent. There is no wrong or right, but a dog that incessantly brings you a ball, nudges you, or whines and stares at you all day may need more exercise. These behaviours can indicate boredom, so try increasing your dog's exercise time if your dog is engaging in them, and note if as a result, the ‘craving attention’ behaviour decreases.

Does Your Dog Pull on the Leash Excessively?

If your dog consistently pulls hard on the leash whenever you walk him, even though he's been properly trained to heel, it may indicate that he has too much pent-up energy and not enough exercise. Unfortunately, a dog that pulls on the leash excessively may receive less exercise because the owner is reluctant to subject him or herself to the experience. If possible, tire your dog out a bit with a game of fetch or tug-of-war before walking; your dog will be less likely to pull exuberantly if he's tuckered out.

A Few Good Dog Exercises

 

If you have decided that your dog needs more exercise here are some ideas to help you spend more time with him or her. You can try walking, playing fetch, or playing tug of war. If your dog is a member of a working breed that needs even more exercise than other dogs, consider agility training. And if you get worn-out before your dog does, you can even take a rest and supervise while your dog plays with a tether tug toy.

If your dog is well-trained and good with other dogs, a dog park is a great place for canine socialization and exercise. Keep in mind that some exercises aren't suitable for all dogs. There are many breeds of dog, and they all have different exercise requirements. Some small breeds, such as Jack Russell Terriers are extremely active and will resort to destructive behaviours if left bored for too long, while larger dog breeds such as the Mastiff prefer to have a more sedentary lifestyle.

So don’t assume a dogs size dictates how much activity they require. Dogs with short faces can't do the same intensity of exercising as other dogs, and those with short legs and long backs are more vulnerable to spinal injuries from jumping/twisting forms of activity. Check with your veterinarian if you aren't sure whether a certain type of exercise is appropriate for your dog.

Jack Russell Terriers

Jack Russell Terriers

 

A very popular breed in New Zealand is the
Jack Russell Terrier

This active busy hilarious dog is a great favourite, and an ideal companion, for an active person with a good sense of humor who wants a lot of entertainment and mischief in one small dog

He is often seen in the company of people who favour equestrian pursuits and also in the farming community. A funny and popular event at agricultural shows in New Zealand is the Jack Russell Terrier race, where it is not always certain if the participants will run in the right direction, get along with each other, or even bother to stop at the end of the race.

The Jack Russell Terrier was developed in 19th century England by a clergyman named John Russell. This feisty little terrier was used to hunt small game, particularly fox, by digging the quarry out of its den.

The Jack Russell Terrier is a cheerful, merry, devoted and loving dog. It is spirited and obedient, yet completely fearless, sometimes to the detriment of his own safety. This is a dog that thrives on action and adventure and in the process, it often finds itself in the middle of trouble. It is a true hunter at heart and will explore, wander, chase and dig when it gets a chance. It is very playful and intelligent and gets along well with children and strangers. It does well with horses, but it may chase cats and is not good with rodents – which for many farmers is considered a bonus.

The Jack Russell is very intelligent and if you let them take an inch, they can become willful and determined to take the proverbial mile. Therefore it is important that you are this dog’s pack leader. He needs to be given rules to follow, and limitations as to what he is and is not allowed to do. This is where varying degrees of behavior problems may arise, including, but not limited to guarding, snapping, separation anxiety, and obsessive barking.

Jack Russell Terrier dog active breed
Jack Russell’s are highly trainable and able to perform impressive tricks. They have been used on television and in the movies. However, if you do not show authority toward the dog, it can be difficult to train. This breed needs a firm, experienced trainer. This hunting dog likes to chase, explore, bark and dig and be warned - only let it off lead if it is well trained or in a safe. The Jack Russell will get restless and destructive if it does not receive enough exercise and activities to occupy its keen mind.

Jack Russells are not an ideal breed for an inexperienced dog owner, as the trainer needs to be as strong-willed as the dog is, or this little guy will take over. With the right owner he can really excel, but is not recommended for those who do not understand what it means to be a dog’s true pack leader. The Jack Russell needs a lot of mental and physical stimulation every day. It is not a dog that can sit around inside. It needs a long walk or strenuous game every day, plus a short training session. It enjoys the chance to explore on its own, but it must do so only in a safe area because it tends to go off in search of trouble, and some go down holes and must be dug out! It can live outdoors in temperate climates and does best when allowed access to a house and yard. It is not an ideal apartment dog.

Labradors - New Zealand's Favourite Breed

Labradors - New Zealand's Favourite Breed

Labradors – a favourite with Kiwi’s.

The Labrador retriever is one of the most popular breeds among dog owners in New Zealand. They are especially popular in areas with a high proportion of families with children as they are generally known to be friendly, relaxed dogs that are intelligent, active and attractive.

Labradors regularly top the popularity tables around the world because they are a popular 'family' dog. They are fun-loving, loyal, good solid dogs ... just very nice dogs to have around.

Labradors are well-known for their ninja-like abilities in sniffing out potential snacks.

A reason Labradors have been a popular choice for a family dog in New Zealand for many years could be that current owners are likely to have fond memories of growing up with a Labrador, and wish for their children to also enjoy the benefits that having a dog in the family brings.

Here is a list of some of the more endearing traits that we love about Labradors.

 

  1. Kindness

When you are at your lowest ebb, and feel the brush of soft whiskers on your hand and the heavy press of a broad head on your lap,  you know that your Labrador really cares. Dogs understand when we are sad. They are often able to be more gentle and even calmer around more vulnerable people.

 

  1. Willingness

Labradors are incredibly willing to please. Whether your Labrador is as bright as a button, or a bit of a dozy darling, you know he really wants to make you happy. Following you wherever you go, bringing you his toys and flashing you that endearing expression. His willingness is lovely for you, and really enforces the bond between the pair of you.

  1. Foolishness

It is not unusual for a Lab to be described as a bit of a class clown. Labradors aren’t afraid to look foolish. To mess around and be silly. Your faithful friend will not mind one bit if you laugh at him. He will probably just try harder to make you smile.

  1. Enthusiasm

Labs love the world and everything in it. They want to be a part of the action.  Whatever is happening today,  they are up for it! Whether its an exciting new adventure together, or a walk around the back yard scooping poop, they are equally enthusiastic and keen to be a part of it.

  1. Forgetfulness

Labs can be adorably forgetful. Young Labradors especially often forget what they are supposed to do. Training takes time, and they need our help in remembering what we taught them yesterday. But it part of their doggy nature,  and we love them for it.  A little patience when your Lab is young and his memory will improve.

  1. Fun

Labradors always look on the bright side. They are masters at enjoying themselves. It doesn’t have to be sunny, you don’t have to give him very much. He’ll have a great day, every day, just because he is a Labrador and he is spending his day with you.

  1. Forgiveness

Labradors forgives all our faults. If you snap at your Labrador when you are tired, he will forgive you in a heartbeat. If you are late with dinner or take a shorter route on the walk, he won’t mind later on. He never bears a grudge and he never will.

  1. Loyalty

A Labrador is the ultimate friend. He doesn’t care what you look like, he isn’t interested in how clever you are, or how many friends you have. You are his everything, his whole world for his whole life.

  1. Bravery

Labradors are courageous dogs. From their work in military danger zones and with the police, Labradors contribute world wide,  protecting us from explosives,  drugs, disease, and many other sources of danger. They will do anything for their human friends and family too.

  1. Intelligence

Labs might seem dopey at times, but they are seriously smart cookies. They are able to learn vast quantities of commands, and can learn to carry out complex tasks. Working in perfect harmony with their human handlers.

  1. Athleticism

Labradors are fabulously fit dogs. They can keep up with you on your daily run, compete in agility events and work hard all day in the field. Their structure has been maintained over the years to be the pinnacle of health, and they are all the happier for it.

  1. Friendliness

A Labrador is everyone’s friend. They will welcome family members and strangers into their home, and probably even their bed, without blinking an eye. They will happily greet fellow walkers, making new friends wherever you go.

The 5 Freedoms - internationally recognised animal welfare standards

The 5 Freedoms - internationally recognised animal welfare standards

 

The New Zealand SPCA endorses and enforces    'The 5 Freedoms'

The 5 freedoms are a set of internationally-recognised animal welfare standards. They outline what we as animal owners and carers must provide. They are not just things we want to do for our animals, but also things we must do in order to be responsible owners.

The 5 freedoms are:

  1. Freedom from hunger and thirst (food and water)

All animals deserve access to clean water and a well-balanced, nutritious diet. Freedom from hunger and thirst provides for animals most basic needs by allowing that animal to remain in good health and full of vitality.

  1. Freedom from discomfort (shelter)

All animals should live in an appropriate environment. The conditions and surroundings given to an animal contribute to its overall well-being. By providing an animal with shelter and a comfortable resting area, you are ensuring that the animal remains healthy and happy.

  1. Freedom from pain, injury and disease (medical care)

All animals should be entitled to immediate veterinary attention when sick or injured to avoid unnecessary suffering. In certain cases, unneccesary pain and injury can be prevented through regular visits to a vet.

  1. Freedom to express normal behaviour (exercise)

All animals should be allowed to express normal behaviours. A normal behaviour is the way an animal acts in its natural environment. Enough space, proper shelter and housing as well as adequate exercise, opportunity to play and the company of the animal's own kind encourages the expression of normal behaviours.

  1. Freedom from fear and distress (love and understanding)

All animals deserve to be happy. Ensuring conditions that avoid unnecessary anxiety and stress will help to provide freedom from mental suffering. While favourable physical conditions are essential, appropriate mental conditions are also important to good animal welfare.


Of course, no freedom is enough in isolation and as such we must provide our animals with the 5 freedoms all the time, so they can live happy and healthy lives.

Animal Welfare Act 1999

The 5 freedoms are also an important part of the Animal Welfare Act 1999 which is enforced by SPCA Inspectors in the community. They are often the first things our Inspectors look for when they visit a property after receiving an animal welfare complaint. If they find that the animals are not receiving these needs, they will try and work with the owners to help them understand their obligations, and help improve the lives of the animals.

If the situation is very serious they may need to remove the animals from the property, and in cases of abuse proceed with a prosecution.

What causes arthritis in dogs?

What causes arthritis in dogs?

What causes arthritis in dogs?

What is arthritis?

Arthritis is a degenerative condition that affects one or more joints, and can effect dogs of any age, but is more commonly associated with older and aging dogs. It can result in changes to the cartilage, fluid, bones and capsule of the joint.

Arthritis is:

  • A painful, progressive inflammatory disease of the joints
  • The joints most commonly affected are the hip, knee, elbow, shoulder, carpus and spinal column
  • Causes damage to the joint cartilage resulting in inflammation causing pain
  • Pain associated with arthritis is significant. This pain has a profound impact on mobility and quality of life
  • Is an ongoing degenerative condition

There are many things that can cause arthritis in dogs such as:

  • Traumatic injuries that result in joint instability
  • Obesity - being overweight increases the forces acting on the joint
  • Genetically weakened or unstable joints e.g. hip dysplasia
  • Failure of proper bone development in young dogs

Arthritis can make your dog miss out on the fun things he used to enjoy.

 

Signs Your Dog May be Suffering from Arthritis

  • Limping

Limping or favouring one or more limbs after resting or being immobile, which then becomes less noticeable after moving around for a while may be a sign of arthritis.

  • Difficulty Moving

Your dog may become reluctant to do things that he previously could do with ease. You may notice he has become reluctant to jump in and out of the car, or walk up and down stairs.

  • Spinal Issues

Arthritic changes can also develop in parts of the spine, which may result in a sore neck or an abnormal hunching posture. Spinal arthritis can also cause lameness of one or both hind legs.

  • Tiredness

Your dog may tire more easily than normal. This may mean that walks become shorter and more painful for your dog. Your dog may also spend more time sleeping and/or resting than usual.

  • Irritability

Arthritic dogs may become irritable. Where once they were placid and friendly, they may become anxious or aggressive when approached or handled, particularly if the petting or handling takes place in a manner that increases their pain.

  • Licking, Chewing & Biting

Dogs affected wth arthritis may also begin to lick at, chew or bite at body areas that are painful. This may even reach the point of causing inflamed skin and hair loss over affected areas.

Arthritis Treatment for Dogs

Though arthritis cannot be cured, there are various remedies and procedures that can help ease the pain for your pet. The good news is, there are safe and effective ways to ease the pain without resorting to drugs or medications.

Arthritis is considered a degenerative condition, this means there is no cure and it will inevitably progress. But there are many treatment options than can relieve pain, and may slow progression.

  • Weight Loss

This may involve calorie restriction, change in dog food brand, increase in exercise, or a combination of all of the above.

• Fish Oil Supplementation

This can be a very cost effective treatment that has other health benefits in addition to improving joint function

• A Healthy Diet

This is the foundation of your dog’s health! A fresh food meat based diet works best for most arthritic dogs.

• Supplements

Supplements specifically for joint health such as chondroitin and glucosamine are a great choice for your dog also herbal formulations such a tumeric based supplement.

• Acupuncture

Similar to chiropractic, acupuncture can increase joint mobility. The insertion of needles improves blood flow to tight muscles. Relieving muscle tension permits joints to move better. Acupuncture also works as a pain control method, allowing reduced doses of other drugs or supplements

• Laser Therapy

Also called “low level laser”, this is light at specific frequencies absorbed by the cells. Laser therapy has similar benefits and mechanisms of action to acupuncture. It can reduce pain, relieve muscle spasm, and improve joint motion

• Hydrotherapy

Getting your dog in the water will allow joints to move more freely! This is a great non-drug way to improve mobility and relieve pain. Depending on your dog’s preferences and specific problems, free swimming may work great, or you may get better results with water treadmill exercise. It can also be a great way to help your dog lose weight

• Modifying The Environment

You might get a ramp for your dog to get in and out of the car, or to avoid steps. You can lay down runner carpet over hard wood floors to reduce those slip’n’slide moves that sometimes happen to older dogs with weaker hind ends.

Some dogs appreciate a softer bed, or a raised canvas bed. A good bedding area is important so the dog can find a comfortable position for restful sleep.

No one wants to see their dog getting older or being in pain. But don’t despair if your canine friend has arthritis! There are many ways to help relieve pain, improve function, and extend quality of life for your beloved pets.

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