Saturday, December 28, 2019

The New Year, a request to share what is on your mind, and a teaser about heartworm, flea and tick preventives

The New Year is just around the corner - hard to believe! As spring quickly heads our way, and in light of the crazy (but wonderful) warm weather recently, I'm working on a post for the near future on heartworm and flea and tick preventives. Keep an eye out for that coming soon. There is a confusing array of products available intended to prevent these devastating and distressing parasites. Some market their convenience, some argue their long-lasting effectiveness, and some now carry significant FDA warnings for seizure risks. As we approach the season to make decisions about what we want to do for our dogs, I'll help you sort through the options, the risks, and the research to make informed choices. 

What's on your mind? 
While I work on that, I am interested in knowing what you would like to read about. What challenges are you facing in the health care of your dog, or what have you come across that has piqued your curiosity and you would like to know more?  What New Year's resolutions would you like to share? Comment below with your suggestions for future blog posts, or your suggestions for care. I look forward to your comments and suggestions for future topics.

More resolutions for the new year
As for the New Year, Henry posted his top 8 resolutions last year. You can revisit that here in the December, 2018 post, or find it linked on the SEVA-GRREAT website under the "Medical" tab. This year he wants to add two more:

9.  Expose your dog to new places and stimuli regularly, within the limits of the dogs tolerance.   Anyone experienced with dog training knows that taking your dog to new places is critical to their socialization and the ability to have a well trained dog who is comfortable in a variety of settings. One of my favorite places for training is Lowe's, and a trip down the doorbell aisle where you can test the different chimes is a great place for exposing the dog to different stimuli. Of course, you want to do that carefully, with a dog who is ready for that degree of stimulation, and only one or two chimes during a visit. But that is an example of the kinds of different stimuli, noises, people, etc., that can help a dog gain confidence and learn to handle all sorts of different situations. Some of our rescues will not be ready for something like that for a long time, if ever. But you can accomplish something similar by varying your walking route. Drive a few blocks away and walk in a different area, visit a park. You are out in the world every day, going to work, stores, social events, restaurants, all sorts of things. Your dog's world is the walls of your home. Variety will help the dog grow, develop important skills, and be comfortable with different stimuli. Just to emphasize again, exposure needs to be appropriate to the dog and the ability to tolerate new situations and environments. For fearful dogs, that exposure needs to be very, very positive, perhaps with high value treat rewards. But careful exposure, in a positive way, can help to build confidence in addition to fighting boredom. Henry, once incredibly fearful, loves new smells and sounds and sights and people.... even if we go to the same park, we take a different path each time. At one time he was terribly fearful, and he still is a little unsure when we go to a new place. But he has gained a lot of confidence over time and I want that to keep building for him.

10.  Consider cooking with your dog (a golden retriever's dream, right? It involves food!). There are some very simple treats that are made easily at home where you can control the ingredients. This can also be a good savings approach as made at home treats often are less expensive than "store-bought." I like knowing what goes in my food, and in his.  You can find recipes for treats many places on the internet. Many do not involve cooking at all, or not much, anyway.  One of my favorites is dehydrated sweet potato chews, or I should say Henry's favorite, a good source of fiber and a tooth-safe alternative for some chewing satisfaction. They don't last long as a chew, but it seems to satisfy the urge to chew.  There's always the stuffed kong approach, too, which involves minimal prep and maximum pleasure. An easy recipe to start:  3 ingredient pumpkin and peanut butter dog treat

So while this may not be the typical "medical" blog, we know that good nutrition, healthy food, and good socialization and stimulation are very important to the health of our dogs.  We'll be back with something more specifically veterinary in focus soon when we look at flea, tick, and heartworm preventives. Remember to let me know what you would like to see here during 2020.

Till then, Henry and I wish you all a healthy, happy, and Golden New Year!