Kicking Pet Odors to the Curb

As pet lovers, the concessions we are willing to make to keep our companions in our homes are nearly limitless. Arranging our homes so they have access to their comfiest sleeping spots while we’re at work. Keeping only pet-safe houseplants. Wearing only colors that compliment/disguise our pet’s fur (or at very least, eradicating most of our black clothing).

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There’s no doubt about it, pets are good therapy.

We’ve seen reports on television and in the news about the benefits of having pets around. It’s why some retirement centers and nursing homes have resident cats or dogs that spend time with the residents. Some people also have “therapy dogs” that they take most places with them to alleviate anxiety.  A therapy dog is a dog trained to provide comfort and affection to people in retirement homes, nursing homes, hospitals, mental institutions, schools, and stressful situations such as after a disaster or traumatic event.

The concept of a therapy dog is often attributed to Elaine Smith, an American who worked as a registered nurse for a time in England. Smith noticed how well patients responded to visits by a certain chaplain and his canine companion, a golden retriever. Upon returning to the United States in 1976, Smith started a program for training dogs to visit institutions.

Over the years healthcare professionals have noticed the therapeutic effect of animal companionship, such as relieving stress, lowering blood pressure, and raising spirits,and the demand for therapy dogs continues to grow. In recent years, therapy dogs have been enlisted to help children overcome speech and emotional disorders.

The concept has widened to include other species, specifically therapy cats, therapy rabbits, and therapy birds. Whether we have them as official therapy animals, or just as beloved family pets, it’s clear that pets make us feel better and stay healthier.

Keeping Your Pet Limber – Joint Therapy for Your Dog

Most everyone who’s owned a pet at one time in their life has had to experience the difficult fact of watching their beloved pet grow older. As your pet ages, his or her muscles and joints become less flexible causing stiffness and discomfort during movement. If your dog suffers from mobility issues, physical therapy can help your pet restore movement, reduce discomfort and help him adjust to his new physical condition. Dog physical therapists or physiotherapists can utilize the following 6 methods to treat your pet’s leg injury, disease or disability, even if your dog is an amputee.

Therapeutic Exercise
Designed specifically to strengthen and rehabilitate, increase range of motion and restore physical function to your dog’s injured area. Some exercises might include being led through a series of cones, stepping through objects, moving from sitting-to-standing repeatedly, and going up and down steps in order to regain control and balance. Therapists recommend short exercise periods separated by long rest periods. Exercise should be consistent and spaced out evenly throughout the day and week for maximum benefit.

Massaging and Manipulation
Used to decrease your dog’s stiffness and pain while increasing his mobility. If your dog has sustained an injury or requires surgery, massage and manipulation therapy can speed up healing time and result in a better recovery by encouraging blood flow and bringing nutrients to the injured area. For dogs that have decreased activity levels, massage can help keep muscles toned and slow atrophy and musculoskeletal degeneration.

Electrical Stimulation
When your dog is rendered inactive for longer periods of time because of illness or surgery, the application of low-level electrical currents can also slow muscle atrophy and accelerate healing.

Thermal Therapy
Cold compresses are applied to the dog’s injured area to help reduce swelling and inflammation. This is usually done within the first 24 to 36 hours of sustaining the injury. Hot compresses are applied to increase comfort, stimulate blood flow to the injured area and relax tense muscles.

Therapeutic Ultrasound
Ultrasonic waves are targeted at injured tissue. This application stimulates blood flow and can warm injured muscles more deeply than a superficial heat compress. When used in conjunction with massage and manipulation, therapeutic ultrasound can help reduce recovery time.

Aquatic Therapy
An underwater treadmill allows a dog with joint pain or leg weakness to exercise easily and safely. The warm water provides buoyancy and gentle resistance. It can also give a dog that is unsteady on his legs a feeling of stability. The benefits of water therapy include:increased strength, flexibility, endurance and confidence.

These dog physical therapy techniques should only be performed by a licensed and trained professional and under the supervision of your vet. If your veterinarian does not offer these services, he or she will be able to refer you.

For an informative short video demonstrating proper technique in giving your pet a relaxing and soothing joint and muscle massage, visit this link.

Losing a Pet: Saying goodbye to a dear friend (dedicated to Ebbie)

Losing a petLosing a pet is a subject most pet owners never want to think about, but unfortunately must deal with at some point. I personally had to deal with the loss of two cats a few years ago, each within 6 months of each other. I really don’t think I’ve ever fully gotten over it — I’ve just learned to live with an emptiness I can’t describe. Even though both were suffering from mid-stage terminal illnesses, and both living past 16 years of age, there was never a right time to say goodbye.

I feel it is so important to let people who are connected to their beloved pets know that this kind of loss is, in most cases, equal to losing a family member. Because, after all, pets are a part of families, aren’t they? For those of you who are going through this now, I hope this story will give you some solace. You are not alone, and it is so important to be able to express your grief for that beloved companion who is gone from your life, but never your heart.

Need some advice on how to cope? The ASPCA, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, offers answers to commonly asked questions about dealing with the loss of a pet.
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Therapy Dogs

Recently I heard someone mention the term “therapy dog.” Not being familiar with the term, I decided to do some reading up on the subject.  A “therapy dog” refers to a dog trained to provide comfort and affection to people in retirement homes, nursing homes, hospitals, mental institutions, schools, and stressful situations such as disaster areas.
The concept of a therapy dog is often attributed to Elaine Smith, an American who worked as a registered nurse for a time in England. Smith noticed how well patients responded to visits by a certain chaplain and his canine companion, a golden retriever. Upon returning to the United States in 1976, Smith started a program for training dogs to visit institutions.



Over the years healthcare professionals have noticed the therapeutic effect of animal companionship, such as relieving stress, lowering blood pressure, and raising spirits, and the demand for therapy dogs continues to grow. In recent years, therapy dogs have been enlisted to help children overcome speech and emotional disorders.
The concept has widened to include other species, specifically therapy cats, therapy rabbits, and therapy birds. Would you or someone you know benefit from this kind of service? What other applications or industries do you feel this service would contribute positively toward?

How to Give Your Pet a Pill

For most pet owners, pets are integral members of the family. They often require as much care and attention as our own children. As a pet owner, I make it a priority to make sure my animals are fed, loved and most importantly, kept healthy. That means making appointments for visits to the veterinarian for regular check-ups, and administering medications when needed. According to a recently released study, only 10 percent of cat owners and only 30 percent of dog owners succeed in medicating their pets correctly. Oftentimes this is due to pet owners having difficulty getting their pets to take their medications.

Here are some tried and true steps you can take to make sure your dog or cat gets (and swallows) its medication:

  • Keep all of your pet’s medications in a separate area away from your family’s medications to keep them from getting mixed up.
  • There are products available called “pill pockets” that are soft, highly palatable chews that have a hole in them to insert a pill and press it closed around it.
  • If your pet smells the crushed pill and refuses to swallow the pill, or spits it out, there are products available to assist in getting pills down, like pill guns available at PetSmart®. The dispenser places the pill directly into the back of your pet’s throat, allowing the pill to be swallowed automatically. This method helps ensure that your pet swallows the pill and gets the full dosage.

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Pet Dieting for Overweight or Obese Pets?

Nestlé, the world’s biggest food company by sales, is seeking to offset consumer thrift by targeting two of the fastest-growing markets: obesity and pets. While rich-world consumers are generally seeking to penny pinch as disposable incomes dwindle, they are making an exception for their cats and dogs: pet food has proven more resilient than human foodstuffs.

According to the recent Financial Times article: Nestlé seeks sustenance in pet diets, this trend is set to continue. The Euromonitor predicts US sales of pet food will increase by 23% between 2011 and 2015, more than double the growth rate of human fare. Obesity, too, has continued to rise but, said Lisa Talamini, vice-president of research and program  innovation at Jenny Craig, Nestlé’s diet program, it is not limited to people. “Two-thirds of adults in the US are overweight or obese, and more than half of all pets in the country are also battling the bulge,” she said.