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Saving Animals While Keeping People Safe From COVID-19

Wow, the world has changed so much in such a short time. This occurs to me several times a day, but today’s biggest shock was a blog post written by Julie Levy, DVM, PhD, DACVIM, DABVP, Fran Marino Endowed Professor of Shelter Medicine Education, Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program, University of Florida – in other words, a highly educated, passionate proponent of spay/neuter practices, especially in shelter medicine. Dr. Levy’s shocking post? A plea for shelter and rescue programs to suspend spay/neuter surgeries temporarily in order to support “safer at home” practices, slowing the spread of COVID-19.

It takes a village

While all operations of an animal
shelter require workers to show up to care for the animals, surgery, in
particular, brings people together in very close quarters. Of course, sterile
conditions are maintained during surgery. But I’ve been behind the scenes at
both veterinary clinics and shelters when they were doing back-to-back
spay/neuter surgeries. There is a small army
of people working in support of the veterinarian who performs the surgeries:
people bathing animals, taking their temperatures, inducing sedation, shaving
them, helping intubate and secure them on the surgery table, monitoring the
anesthesia equipment, moving “packs” of sterilized surgical tools through the
process (delivering clean packs to the vet, taking away used instruments,
readying the used instruments for sterilization), providing the sort of routine
husbandry tasks that are immensely easier when the patient is still sedated
(ear cleaning, nail-trimming, expressing anal glands), monitoring the animals
after surgery and helping them “wake up” safely. Social distancing is
impossible in this setting – and performing all of these tasks under layers of
protective equipment is a lot more challenging in the (perennially) tighter
confines of a veterinary surgical suite.

For those of us who volunteer or work
closely with shelters or rescues, spay/neuter is a third-rail sort of
proposition. There are no stronger proponents of limiting the reproduction of
dogs and cats than us – and yes, as a long-time shelter volunteer, I count
myself as one of those people. As long as dogs and cats in this country are
being euthanized in the hundreds of thousands a year, I will be an avid
advocate for limiting the ability of most pets to procreate.

(What about the adverse effects on the
health of the altered animals? So glad you asked: In the May issue, we have a
major feature looking at the scientific literature regarding the effects of
spay/neuter on dogs. Stand by!)

Dr. Levy’s plea to temporarily halt spay/neuter surgery

Dr. Levy is not alone in recommending that shelters and
rescues temporarily move forward with adoptions and placing animals in foster
homes without first performing
spay/neuter surgery; the recommendation is being shared by all the major
university shelter-medicine programs in North America: The University of
Wisconsin-Madison Shelter Medicine Program, University of Florida Maddie’s
Shelter Medicine Program, University of California- Davis Koret Shelter
Medicine Program, Cornell Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program, Humane Canada, The
Association for Advancement of Animal Welfare, Association of Shelter
Veterinarians, Ontario Shelter Medicine Association and the Association
Vétérinaire Québécoise de Médicine de Refuge.

Here’s an excerpt from Dr. Levy’s blog
post:

The urgency of this unprecedented pandemic calls for radical action to protect human lives, and as a consequence of that, to protect animal lives. Of utmost importance is to support our healthcare system, which is close to the breaking point, via #SaferAtHome.  It is no longer just about our animal welfare missions, but about those brave souls who are literally putting their lives and personal welfare on the line for us. The sacrifices we make in this moment will determine what larger sacrifices will be thrust upon us in the coming weeks and months. It is time to suspend routine spay-neuter.

This will help keep as many people as possible healthy and out of our community hospitals so that life-saving beds are available when needed.  This will safeguard our staff so that when this crisis subsides, and it will, we have an intact work force of experts that can go back to work with renewed vigor and tackle the animal needs that we are all highly committed to…

Spay/neuter is a tool of lifesaving, but we are too creative and resourceful to believe we cannot overcome in other ways, kitten season notwithstanding. Pausing spay/neuter is a gut punch, and it will have consequences – kittens will be born, revenue will fall, staff may be furloughed – but these pale in comparison to the alternative.

A “gut punch” – that’s the perfect expression to describe
how I felt reading Dr. Levy’s post. Especially since I am currently helping a
friend with fostering a litter of 10 puppies for our local shelter – puppies
who are at the perfect age for getting placed in homes. The idea of sending
those pups away with people who may not manage to get them back to the shelter
(at some point in the future, god willing) in time to prevent them from
reproducing is anathema to me. And yet, do I want the veterinarian, registered
veterinary technicians, and other shelter staff members to risk their health
and that of their families in order to prevent this from happening? I do not.

What shelters are doing during this crisis

I’ve been watching the websites and Facebook pages of
shelters that I admire to see how they are dealing with the intake and adoption
of animals. Most shelters have closed their doors to the public at this time,
asking people to call the shelter to discuss surrenders, adoptions, or other
needs. The most organized shelters (and those who are best-supported by
volunteers in their communities) have sent most or all of their adoptable
animals out to foster homes. Most are in the process of setting up online “meet
and greet” sessions in support of potential adoptions, reserving the transfer
of animals for only the most pre-qualified, committed adopters. I’m trying to
help my shelter accomplish this, if only for these pups! (I have to admit to
feeling special urgency about puppies; I hate the idea of them spending the
most formative weeks of their lives seeing only my friend and me and our dogs;
for the best socialization experience they can have in these trying times, I’d
so prefer to get them into the hands of their adoptive families as soon as
possible.)

Tell me: What are shelters in your area doing with their
wards today? Are you helping in any way? If you don’t know what’s happening at
your local shelter and have a little time to spare to help, give them a call!

The post Saving Animals While Keeping People Safe From COVID-19 appeared first on Whole Dog Journal.

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Three Secrets to Safe & Effective Exercise for Your Dog

It’s no secret that exercising your dog can lead to a happier and healthier pup – not to mention a quieter house and a happier you. The complication is that exercising your dog takes time and sometimes we struggle to find time to exercise ourselves. However, without safe and effective exercise, your dog can gain weight, risk costly injury, and tear apart the house in response to pent up energy. Consider how you exercise your dog now: perhaps you play tug with your Chihuahua in the living room, jog or play fetch with your active retriever, or ask your senior mixed breed to sit in the kitchen — all of these activities can exercise your dog both physically and mentally. Let’s further explore how you can make the most of your time with your dog while safely and effectively gaining the benefits of exercise.

Here are three secrets to safely and effectively exercising your dog through activities and games that you probably already play.

1. Discuss with your veterinarian

Before beginning any exercise (even training class!), it’s important to get a full health check with your local veterinarian. Let your vet know which activities you are thinking about pursuing, and ask which activities would be most appropriate for your dog’s age, musculoskeletal structure, and preferences. Remember, just like with children, jumping from high places or playing on hard surfaces can be detrimental to joints. Be sure to ask how long the activities should last, how intense they should be, and about any necessary equipment or weather precautions. Just because your dog wants to fetch constantly, doesn’t necessarily mean that this high impact, sustained exercise is healthy. Describe the activity and environment to your vet in detail, and be sure to get clearance before enjoying with your pup.

2. Explore variation

After speaking with your veterinarian about appropriate activities for your dog, plan to vary the types of activities each day. If your veterinarian approved some shorter distance jogs for your pup, perhaps the next day you could spread his food in the backyard as a scavenger hunt. Varying high intensity with low intensity workouts is just as stimulating for your pup, and the variation will keep him engaged. You can also vary exercises within the activity itself. For example, if you frequently throw a ball or disc for your dog until she lies down and pants, consider asking for tricks between different types of throws. By varying distances and body movements you can help your dog regulate her arousal and stay safe.

3. Remember warms up & cool down

Before beginning any activity, it’s important to set up your dog for success. Dogs have the same basic musculoskeletal components as people, and therefore they can sustain similar injuries from rigorous use or clumsy accidents. However, dogs are more athletic compared to humans (even your couch potato probably has a higher VO2max than you!), and they can exert a lot of energy at playtime. It’s important to warm up and cool down your dog’s muscles before use. Consider the type of exercise and what body parts are involved, and plan for a warm up. For example, if you’re about to open the back door for your dog to dash out with his powerful hind legs, take a couple walking laps around the living room first. Ask for a few repetitions of sit and put a treat in front of his nose to lure him in a few circles before opening the door. Much like a short jog, squats, and plyometrics before a sprint, these exercises can help protect your dog’s soft tissue before dashing off. The easiest part is that the same exercises can be performed in reverse for a quick cool down.

Using these three secrets, you can safely and effectively exercise your dog in the same amount of time and help you and your pup enjoy the benefits. Through warms ups/cool downs and varying your dog’s activities you can tire your pup out in no time at all. Talking to your veterinarian about the type, duration, and intensity of activity can also tailor the exercise to your dog and avoid costly injury. 

Many caretakers believe that their dog needs to sprint in order to get tired, when in reality sniffing, training, or a combination can be just as taxing. Check out the table below for more ideas! Challenge yourself this week to change one thing about your dog’s exercise routine, and see if you enjoy a calmer, healthier dog!

 

Activity

Variation

Warm up/cool down

Hide a treat/toy in the house

High/low places, obstacles, multiple rooms

Walk laps, sits, crawls

Sniffy walk

Hide treats, change route

Walk laps, sits

Tug

Side to side, stop/go, 2 tugs

Jog laps, play bow, weight shift

Fetch

Short/long distances, walking breaks, sit/down/spin/beg/back

Jog laps, downs, circles

Jog

Walk/run, canicross, sniff breaks

Sniff, walk laps, sits

 

 

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Forget About Stress & Anxiety

POSITIONING THEMSELVES FOR REINFORCEMENT First off, sorry. The title was designed to get your attention. We cannot forget about stress and anxiety but rather than focus on those conditions we assume a dog is experiencing, let’s get down to the business of behavior. It has been important that people have been encouraged to […]

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Forget About Stress & Anxiety

POSITIONING THEMSELVES FOR REINFORCEMENT First off, sorry. The title was designed to get your attention. We cannot forget about stress and anxiety but rather than focus on those conditions we assume a dog is experiencing, let’s get down to the business of behavior. It has been important that people have been encouraged to […]

The post Forget About Stress & Anxiety appeared first on Fearful Dogs.

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Episode 813 – How to be an effective online learner from home

Victoria and Aly dig into online learning, including how best to give dog trainers the tools and education they need to be truly successful at their jobs. Also discussed, definitions and clarifications of e-learning terminology and jargon in the adult learning field, including synchronous and asynchronous learning, in-person, online, blended, etc. The benefits of choosing an online course that fits your schedule rather than the other way around, and the importance of ensuring a relationship with your instructor as well as the use of storytelling in instructional design. Whether or not it’s useful to take notes and write things down while learning online.

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Why is My Dog Excessively Licking His Paws?

Paw licking causes and remedies.
dog licks paw

Paw licking is a common behavior in dogs, but a healthy dog should not excessively paw lick, and a history of excessive licking could be a red flag for a more serious problem. While it’s true they might simply be grooming themselves, paw chewing could indicate something more going on if they are doing it all the time. It doesn’t help that all that constant foot licking can also cause a secondary infection (bacterial or yeast) due to the extra moisture.

An allergic reaction in the skin is the most common reason why dogs will chew their paws excessively. The good news here is that many of the causes of a dog’s paw licking can be resolved with home treatment alone.

So, why do dogs lick in the first place?

Common Causes for Paw Licking

Food Allergies
Environmental Allergies
Flea Allergies
Dry Skin
Obsessive Behavior
Anxious Behavior

FOOD & ENVIRONMENTAL ALLERGIES

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Episode 811 – The New Normal: Distance Learning & Telecommuting

Victoria and Aly talk about how to be more effective when learning and working from home. Social distancing is the thing these days, but how do we keep from going nuts and what are the best practices to stay productive and efficient when working or learning from home. Dealing with the social aspect of isolation. Aly shares some top tips for how to be productive while staying home, including staying engaged and avoiding passivity. The use of rituals of physical, technical and mental preparation in staying efficient at home.

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Forget About Stress & Anxiety

POSITIONING THEMSELVES FOR REINFORCEMENT First off, sorry. The title was designed to get your attention. We cannot forget about stress and anxiety but rather than focus on those conditions we assume a dog is experiencing, let’s get down to the business of behavior. It has been important that people have been encouraged to […]

The post Forget About Stress & Anxiety appeared first on Fearful Dogs.

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Meet Barkley

Barkley loves playing ball, going to doggie daycare to play with his buddies, looking at the moon and anyone who gives him attention.

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Choosing the Best Dog Food Before Your Dog Gets Sick

Don’t wait until your dog’s sick to look at what you’re putting in her bowl.
how to choose the best dog food

You’ve just returned from the veterinarian’s office and are completely overwhelmed—your beloved 10-year-old Dachshund, Cody, has been diagnosed with diabetes. Your veterinarian told you that Cody is very sick, and that if he doesn’t stay on the proper diet, he could die. You never realized how important your dog’s diet and weight were to his health. You think back on all those delicious dog treats you gave him and worry that your loving care may have somehow harmed him. You want to do everything right from this day forward, but don’t know where to start.

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