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Senior citizens and pet ownership

A recent poll by Preeti Malani, M.D found some interesting facts about pet ownership. Pets included dogs, cats, birds, fish, and other types of pets. The physical and mental benefits were evident as has been indicated by other studies, however this study found some interesting information that families as well as an elderly person should consider when deciding if it is a good idea for an elderly family member to have a pet.

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We know that the positive reasons to have a pet include but are not limited to:

  • Companionship
  • Social connections
  • Source of enjoyment
  • Feeling of being needed and loved

Some of the negatives to consider are:

  • Difficulty to travel
  • Enjoying activities outside the home
  • Putting pet’s needs ahead of their own health needs
  • The cost of pet health care, especially for older pets
  • Owner health issues that make keeping a pet difficult
  • Owner or other family member’s allergies to the pet
  • A need to move into a facility that does not allow pets
  • The risk of falling because of a pet

In some cases family support will allow an elderly person to keep a pet. If the family agrees to take the pet and care for it if the elderly person must move to a care facility, that will ease the mind of the pet owner and allow them to keep the pet as long as possible.

If the pet owner can arrange for someone to care for a pet while on vacation, this will solve the vacation issue. The pet owner in most cases will be home more than they are away so watching a pet for them may not be a huge task.

If the pet lover cannot have a pet due to financial reasons, they may volunteer at a local shelter or offer to pet sit for friends. This will give them some quality time with pets without the expense. Another consideration if the person likes birds, is to feed the wild birds. A feeder near a window can be a source of joy with little responsibility. Many people enjoy bird-watching which is a year-round activity.

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A visitor to one of my bird feeders

Often if the family will “think outside of the box” a happy solution can be found for whatever difficulties may be present.

People’s ability to read canine facial expressions

Some people seem to be able to understand a dog’s facial expressions better than other people. Of course we know that you need to be able to read the dog’s whole-body language to fully understand how a dog feels and what they are thinking. But why are some people better at it than others?

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In a recent study by Federica Amici of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology and Juliane Bräuer of the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History has discovered that all humans can identify anger and happiness, but those who grew up in a dog friendly environment were able to identify other emotions much better. It seems that age and experience make a difference in a person’s ability to interpret canine feelings. It would be interesting to see how this applies to other animals.

Treatment for Lung Cancer in Dogs

In a study by the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), an affiliate of the City of Hope, and The Ohio State University and published in the journal Clinical Cancer Research, researchers found that dogs and humans have the same gene, HER2, that women get with a certain type of breast cancer.

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The good news is that the researchers found that the drug neratinib used for human breast cancer may also help the almost 40,000 dogs in the U.S. that annually develop the most common type of canine lung cancer, known as canine pulmonary adenocarcinoma, or CPAC.

Dr. Hendricks stated, “For humans, we already have drugs that can inhibit many dysregulated proteins. We hope to show that we can provide the same benefit for dogs with canine cancers.”

This is another example where human and canine medicine and studies can help both humans and their pets live a healthier life. Perhaps this will lead to more treatments for other pets such as cats.

Pet Health Insurance by guest blogger Brandon Kelly

My name is Brandon – I work for an organization called Consumers Advocate that strives to protect consumers (and their pets!) online. Part of protecting the four-legged dudes and dudettes of society is knowing what options are available for them.

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Brandon Kelly and Frida

My lil pupper’s name is Frida (Kahlo). She’s a scrappy middle-aged rescue with eyebrows like her namesake. When I found her 4 years ago she had been injured by other dogs, and the vet said she had pre-existing asthma. She’s a tough girl, but there is a lot that goes into taking care of her. I wish there was an app that translated my dog’s thoughts into text messages. Something that allowed her to interrupt my writing of this article with a “Hey, miss you; I’m hungry; Pick up tennis balls on your way back – the fresh ones please!”.

Navigating insurance policies is always tricky. Our researchers have put in months into finding out what pet insurance companies are out there and what they are offering. Further, we have taken that information and made it transparent and accessible to the consumer. Hopefully, this will help your followers and community to be better informed.
Here is our pet insurance guide: www.consumersadvocate.org/pet-insurance

Not everyone believes or can afford pet insurance, but it is important and, in some cases, responsible to at least consider. As you will see in our guide, some policies can be very flexible and affordable.  I hope this helps you find the right insurance for your pets.

Glyphosate may be in your cat and dog food

What is Glyphosate? It is the active herbicide widely used in weed killers like Roundup. Although the latest reports show that the levels are safe for human consumption, this does not mean that the levels are safe for pet consumption. After all, most dogs and cats weigh much less than an adult human.

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Annamaet dog food

How did it get into our pet’s food? It is absorbed by genetically modified crops (GMO) engineered to be resistant to this particular herbicide. This includes most corn, soy, sugar, sugar beet, cotton and canola that is grown in the US and in imported rice. It is also used to desiccated (all of the moisture removed) wheat and other crops before they are harvested.

Some of the health problems that can be a result of GMO’s are inflammatory bowel disease, allergies, skin and organ problems. Some of the pet foods that tested positive are Purina Cat Chow Complete, Purina Dog Chow Complete, Purina Beyond Natural-Simply Nine, Rachel Ray Zero Grain, Rachel Ray Nutrish Super Premium, Iams Proactive Health, 9 Lives Indoor Complete, Friskies Indoor Delights.

The best thing you can do is only feed your pet high quality food that is from a reliable manufacturer. No supermarket or discount stores that I know of carry the brands that I recommend. Most discount pet shops also do not carry the highest quality foods. I recommend Annamaet and Wysong.

Australian Kelpie surprise

A recent DNA study of the Australian Kelpie has proven that they are not related to the Dingo as some believe. The Kelpie was brought to Australia from Scotland and are derived from the Scottish farm collie or smooth collie which is most likely the same working stock as the Border Collie.

 

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Kelpie’s are known for their ability to run across the backs of sheep

Like many breeds in the rest of the world, there are two distinct types of Australian Kelpie, the working variety and the show or conformation variety.

The Kelpie DNA used in the research was collected to help breeders produce the best working dogs. This ongoing research is open to owners of working Kelpie’s who wish to participate.

It is important for breeders to work together in all working breeds to maintain their working ability, which is often lost in a little as three generations of poor breeding.

K9 Obedience Training: Teaching Pets and Working Dogs to be Reliable and Free Thinking – by Susan Bulanda

Obedience is the foundation for any reliable, well-trained dog. Without obedience, working dogs are ineffective in operations and pet dogs can be annoying and possibly a danger to themselves or others.

K9 OBEDIENCE TRAINING COVER PRINT

In K9 Obedience Training, veteran search and rescue (SAR) dog handler and trainer Susan Bulanda, M.A., C.A.B.C. (certified animal behavior consultant) shares the secrets of building an effective obedience training program. SAR dogs need “thinking” obedience: they sometimes need to exercise intelligent disobedience in the field. You can use the same training program for any working or pet dog. For trainers who demand the best obedience training for future working dogs, Susan’s techniques lay the groundwork for success.

And pet owners who want to help their dog be easy to be around will find lots of training tips and exercises too, along with straightforward advice on proper handling, grooming and teaching simple tricks.

My new book will be out by the end of June, 2019. You can order it from my web site, www.sbulanda.com  You will receive an autographed copy. Please note that the shipping cost is for the US only. If you live outside the US please email me at sbulanda@gmail.com for postal rates.  Unfortunately it often cost more to ship the book than the book cost. You can also order it on line as an ebook through Amazon or from the publisher at www.dogtrainingpress.com 

Pet Health Insurance

I am often asked by clients if they should purchase pet insurance. This is a tricky question for several reasons however, I have a few suggestions that might help you decide if pet insurance is right for you.

 

  1. Can you afford the premiums. Most pet insurance policies are flexible as to the amount of coverage that you can carry, the deductibles and what they cover. To help make that decision you can consider the following questions.

 

  1. Is your type of pet prone to illnesses? Certain breeds of dog are more likely to have genetic illnesses than others. The same is true for cats and other pets. Will the pet insurance cover the illnesses most likely to affect your pet?

 

  1. What is your pet’s lifestyle? If you are active with your dog, horse or other type of pet, or if you cat is an indoor/outdoor cat, your pet may be more likely to have an injury.

 

  1. If your dog is a larger breed of dog, he may be more prone to inherited problems such as canine hip dysplasia which can be corrected with surgery.

 

  1. If your pet is prone to a certain disease or inherited issue, find out what treatment costs then compare it to the estimated years it will take for the illness to manifest itself and see if the insurance is worth the cost.

 

  1. Consider the life span of your pet. Most pet insurance rates go up as the pet ages. Some insurance will not cover your pet after a certain age. Of course the most likely time you will need the insurance is in your pets old age when coverage may not be an option.

 

  1. Consider a personal savings plan to cover catastrophic health issues. If you take the projected life span of your pet and the amount of the yearly insurance fee, then multiply it, you will get an idea of how much the insurance will cost over the life of your pet. What you can do is set up a separate savings account and either yearly or monthly, deposit the amount that insurance will cost per year, and do not touch it for any reason. In all probability you will save enough money to cover any medical bills that your pet will have, especially if your pet is healthy into old age. If you do not need the money set aside for your pet by the time your pet passes, you will have money to put toward the new pet.

 

I hope I have given you some helpful suggestions. There is a good web site that can help you review different pet insurance companies if you decide that is the way to go.

https://365petinsurance.com/reviews/

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Virtual dog helps prevent dog bites

Dogs Trust and the University of Liverpool researchers have created a virtual reality dog that people can approach and interact with that displays signs of aggression.

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The purpose of the project is to educate people, including children, how to recognize signs of aggression in a dog in a safe environment. As the user approaches the dog its behavior changes to include lip licking, lowering of the head and body, front paw lifting, growling and showing of teeth. The team plans to improve the virtual dog to show a variety of behaviors and situations.

This is an excellent project and I hope that it will succeed and be used worldwide to help educate people and teach them how to recognize and understand canine body language. This could also work with all types of animals and would be a safe fantastic way for people to learn about animal behavior.

America’s first dogs

Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have proven that the first dogs that lived in the Americas were descended from Siberian dogs, not wolves. These dogs came with their human counterpart as they migrated over the land bridge linking Siberia with Alaska.

According to the researchers few if any modern dogs are related to these ancient dogs. It appears that the dogs died out after people from Europe came to the Americas.

They also discovered “. . . that the genomic signature of a transmissible cancer that afflicts dogs appears to be one of the last “living” remnants of the genetic heritage of dogs that populated the Americas prior to European contact.”

This latest research brings up the question of the heritage of the Carolina Dog which claims to be descended from the original dogs that were brought to North America across the Bering Strait. It would have been interesting if the researchers included this breed of dog in their study.

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Carolina Dog – (internet free photo) These dogs come in a variety of colors but many are tan