Archive for January, 2016

Many people made a New Year’s resolution to lose weight. Did you? Did your dog make one also?

Obesity in humans has become a major health problem in the United States. The Center for Disease Control has estimated that 68% of the population is overweight and 33% are considered obese. Due to the propensity of people to treat their dogs as “their children” or in other terms as humans, this health problem is also emerging as a major problem for dogs. It has been reported that over 50% of dogs that live in the United States are overweight or obese. This is a staggering 44 million dogs.

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This over-weight situation in our canine pets is creating the same health problems, as many modern-day humans are experiencing. These nutritional diseases and health problems are numerous including degenerative joint disease, high blood sugar levels, hypertension, hardening of the arteries, cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, breathing difficulties and pulmonary disease, torn knee tendons, cancer, and early mortality rates.

There are many economic, social, and psychological reasons why a sizeable percentage of the American population has reached this state of unhealthiness. In his most recent book, “The Well-Tuned Brain” Peter Whybrow uses extensive research from neuroscience, economics, philosophy, history, and anthropology to explain human behavior from the 2008 financial crisis to obesity. From his broad knowledge of neuroscience he describes how the intuitive or reflexive parts of the brain control much of our actions instinctively. The central theses of the book are concerned with our ability individually and as a society to survive in today’s tempting commercial consumer driven market culture when our brain often functioning on primeval instincts tells us to do the wrong things as assuming too much debt or eating too much.

With dogs even more of their actions are controlled by instinct. They cannot imagine, will think in the future, or think in the abstract. This is one reason why anthropomorphizing them, meaning we think about them as if they were human, can create problems especially when it comes to eating habits, diet, and obesity.

People have the ability to think about and plan for the future. Eat a light lunch because later you will sit down to a big dinner, your mother counsels you to quit eating snacks or you will not have room for dinner, I have to keep my New Year’s resolution to lose weight…. Etc. Dogs although very intelligent and demonstrate many personality, mental, and human type emotions cannot imagine or think about the future, they do not have the mental capacity, they react to the present. Their instincts inherited from the wolf tell them that when they find food as with a kill of deer they need to eat as much as possible as quickly as possible before bigger predators arrive and there might not be another kill for a long time. When they start to cross the road and a car is coming they many times with disastrous outcomes from instinct just try to run faster because they cannot anticipate that if they just wait the cars will pass and they can cross safely.

As stated it is a well-known and recognized common health problem in our domesticated dogs. It is documented and discussed in academic veterinarian literature, the commercial pet industry, and on the numerous Internet sites associated with our pets and dogs. The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) is dedicated to educating dog owners about obesity in their pets. Its site http://www.petobesityprevention.org has comprehensive information on symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and treatment of this critical dog health problem. Much of the information in this article was obtained at this very informative site.

“Fat Pet Gap” is one very interesting concept that APOP identifies, in which 95% of owners of overweight and even obese dogs incorrectly believe their pet is normal weight. This obviously makes confronting the obesity problem difficult. APOP has calculators to compare overweight conditions in dogs to that of humans that help the dog owner to identify and start to work on alleviating the problem. For instance, it shows that a 12-pound Yorkie is the same as an average female weighing 218 pounds.

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The root cause of this problem for dog health is the same as in humans, eating too much, eating the wrong foods, and not enough exercise; calories consumed exceed calories expended. But this article is not meant to lecture dog owners on all the nitty-gritty details of dog obesity, but to try to make them think about problem from a different view; a view from the neuroscience of the dog’s brain.

Bruce Harte is a Partner and Head of the Research Staff at VitaHound.com . He has always been a devoted dog owner with his companions over the last 60+ years ranging from mongrels, to beagles to golden and black labs. They have always been raised naturally not only with diet and dog supplements but also with their environment including their adobe home in the high Sonoran Desert or rustic cabins high in the Pines of the White Mountains of eastern Arizona. Receiving his Bachelor of Science degree in 1968 Bruce has over 50 years experience in technical and scientific research. Bruce’s love of gardening, natural herbs and remedies combined with extensive knowledge of Native American culture has enabled the VitaHound site to become a robust source of dog supplement and nutrition information.

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Reducing Pet Allergies in Your Home

Is your dog making it difficult for others to visit your home? Even the best trained dog can be a deterrent if your friends or family have allergic reactions. Allergies might even make you think twice about owning a pet altogether, but by understanding what causes these reactions you’ll be able to take the steps you need to reduce them happening in your home.
Understanding Dander and its Effects
Dogs produce a protein which remains in the glands of dead skin, known as dander. This protein is also found in their saliva, and if your dog licks their fur the allergens may flake off once their fur dries. This is the reason why some of those who suffer from pet allergies can have a reaction without even being in the same room as the pet.
Allergic reactions can have a range of effects, such as asthmatic symptoms or skin rashes. If you have regular allergic reactions and believe that it may be pet related, allergy shots may be available to ease some or all of your symptoms. However, you should always consult allergies with your doctor if they continue to be a problem so that the best medication (if necessary) is prescribed.
The best thing to do is to reduce the chances of dander and similar allergies being spread around your home. This is achievable by utilizing the possibilities each room brings:
Minimizing Allergies Around Your Home
Spare Room
If you have a spare room in your home, particularly a box room, consider transforming it into an area just for your dog, so that they regularly eat, play and sleep in their own space. Containing most of their time spent around your home to one room makes it easier to contain their allergens to a single space, and also means cleaning up after them is much simpler. A baby safety gate is also effective for keeping young pups and medium sized dogs to single areas while allowing you to keep doors open. Allergens remain contained and you can still keep an eye on your pet.
Living Room
With visitors naturally spending a lot of time in your living room, it’s essential to keep sofas and carpets in this room as clean as possible. Keep a lint roller or handheld vacuum cleaner handy so you can pick up shed hair from furniture before it starts to build up. If you are dealing with multiple pets, professional deep cleaning may be needed for your carpets to effectively remove all allergens and prevent them from being ground into your living room.
Bathroom
Your dog should be bathed and brushed regularly, to keep their fur as clean as possible. Brush their fur every day to help prevent any saliva building up on their fur and bathe them once a week to fight dirt and dander build-up. You should also regularly wash any bedding they have, with spares so that potentially allergen-heavy material can be replaced straight away.
Kitchen
If you have an external door in your kitchen, consider placing your dog’s basket and toys closer to it. This will help reduce any dirt they could bring into the home as well as discouraging them from climbing on nearby furniture. If you are renovating your kitchen (or other rooms in your home) you may want to install wooden flooring as this will accumulate far less dirt and is easier to clean than carpet.
Hallways
Dander can spread throughout your home if it is picked up by a ventilation system, meaning rooms your pet doesn’t even visit can house airborne allergens. Keep some air purifiers in your home’s hallways so that they trap and filter out dander before they are tracked into a room. High Efficiency Particulate Air filters and purifiers are made to trap more dust and dander particles than regular air filters, making them perfect for keeping your hallways allergen-free.

There are many solutions to controlling allergen levels in your home, even if your sensitivity to allergens varies. Some dogs are labeled ‘hypoallergenic’ as they shed less hair, but it is important to know that no dog is 100% allergen free, even hairless breeds. By adopting these tips you should see allergens levels dramatically reduce in your home, meaning you, your family and your friends can live with your pet without the worry of allergic reactions.
Author bio: Matthew Foster is from the UK so he is naturally a pet lover, much to the dismay of his allergy suffering mum!