Covid-19 and dogs

Can my dog suffer from Covid-19?

Covid-19 has since early March 2019 been classified as a worldwide pandemic. Different countries have taken different restrictive measures and no matter where you are in the world your life have been affected in one way or the other. Many people are isolated in their homes, either by choice or through governmental restrictions.

However, it is not only themselves they are worried about, it is also their pets. Through news and social media channels pets have been seen wearing protective masks and people have started pouring sanitizer on their dogs’ paws before letting them back into their house.

But can dogs really get Covid-19?

https://youtu.be/WTNV9W0ymBE

Dogs can be infected with certain types of corona viruses, such as the canine respiratory corona virus. However, despite having found some (weakly) positive cases of dogs with Covid-19 in China, it seems that dogs do not get any symptoms from this specific branch, and the dogs that has been found infected has been infected through humans.  

Furthermore, the cases of dogs being infected with Covid-19 has been found to be very rare, 17 dogs where tested in Hong Kong and only 2 tested positive. This also indicates that dogs most likely are not able to spread Covid-19. This is further supported by WHO stating: “There is no evidence that a dog, cat or any pet can transmit COVID-19. COVID-19 is mainly spread through droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or speaks. To protect yourself, clean your hands frequently and thoroughly.”  

It is believed that the strand Covid-19 first came from an animal source but that the spread goes from human to human. However, the advice is that if you have tested positive for Covid-19 it is best to leave the care of your pet to someone else but that humans in your household are in much greater risk to contract the virus then your pets are.

Is it OK to pet my dog?

You should not be afraid to pet your dog.

Science have found that the virus survives best on smooth surfaces whereas fur being a more porous surface tends to trap and absorb pathogens making the contamination risk very small through touch.

Common practice are however always to be advised. Just like you always should, it is advised to wash your hands after petting a dog and before eating.

Petting your dog during these lock down days can have a tremendous impact on your psychological well being as pets have been shown over and over to be a great source of comfort during crisis, and that they will keep you calm. If you feel anxious or stressed you should definitely go pet your dog and let them calm you down.

Is it OK to walk my dog?

YES! It is OK to walk your dog if you feel healthy. In fact, getting some exercise and fresh air is strongly advisable in order to keep both you and your dog sane and healthy. Follow your local restrictions and of course respect social distancing and you should be fine. Social distancing also goes for your dog, so they will have to wait with seeing their friends, both fur and human, for a little while but they don’t need to wear a mask when you are out.

When you get back home it is advised to wash your hands thoroughly, but bathing your dogs’ paws in sanitizer can severely damage them and is highly unadvisable. What you can do, and what you always should do, is wipe your dog’s paws off with a towel before they enter, here is how you can teach your dog to have their paws cleaned:

https://lifewithadog.org/5-steps-to-clean-dog-paws/

Should your local restrictions keep you from keeping up with your dog’s daily walking routine, it is important to keep your dog engaged and entertained otherwise to tire them out and give them that daily mental stimuli that they need. If you want inspiration on how to do that go here:

In summary:

  • Yes you can walk and pet your dog if you are healthy. If you are sick refrain from petting and walking your dog.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly after every outing and before you eat.
  • You do not need to put a mask on your dog or wash their paws with sanitizer but clean their paws with a towel before entering.

Stay safe and healthy <3

SOURCES:

https://edition.cnn.com/2020/03/20/health/pets-dogs-cats-coronavirus-wellness/index.html

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/animals.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fcoronavirus%2F2019-ncov%2Fprepare%2Fanimals.html

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Lifestyle disease in dogs

Can my dog suffer from a lifestyle disease?

Lifestyle diseases are getting more and more common in dogs. In this blog we go through why there is such a rise in lifestyle diseases in dogs and what you can do to keep your dog healthy throughout his/her entire life.

The dog was domesticated 15.000-32.000 years ago. With domestication we have seen many behavioral changes as our dogs adapt to our way of living. It started with us humans going from migrants to settlers, then we started farming the lands and then cities began to rise all over the world.

Our dogs have followed us faithfully from the very beginning of their domestication, where a wolf had her pups in a settlement and the pups where taken in by a human.

In previous blog posts I have talked about how the domestication have affected our dogs’ emotional development (Emotions in dogs) and how the relation between humans and dogs have evolved (The relation between human and dog – how strong is it really?), but how has the domestication affected their physical needs? And how do their physical needs today affect their behavior?

Lifestyle disease in dogs
A lifestyle disease can be due to your dog not getting the right nutrition.

Life in the fast lane increase the risk of lifestyle disease

Lifestyle diseases in humans has been a problem ever since we started to urbanize our lives. Humans exercise less and the range of fast food that is continuously popping up for our convenience, leads to less and less home cooked wholesome meals. Our lives are stressed, and grabbing something to go on the way to and from work or our many activities, is often the easiest fix to silent our hunger.

This stressful lifestyle we are carrying are not only affecting us negatively in the range of different lifestyle diseases, it is also affecting our dogs.

Dogs used to roam around on the farm, following the farmer as he went about his business. Sometimes, getting lucky and snatching a bone from the recent slaughter of a cow. Nowadays, our dogs are left at home for several hours each day. We pour their kibble in a bowl for them once or twice a day and take them on the mandatory walk around the blog. The rest of the time is spent inside four walls, probably snoozing on the couch. It is not surprising that next time you take your dog to his/her annual vet check he/she has gained 5 kilos and your vet gives you disapproving looks.

It is estimated that one in three dogs suffers from obesity, and with obesity, just like in us humans, we can say hello to diseases such as diabetes, arthritis, breathing problems, skin problems and heart disease, just to mention some.

While humans often develop type 2 diabetes due to their unhealthy diet, dogs often develop type 1 diabetes, which demands that they get insulin. The arthritis aches in their bones due to carrying around so much weight for an extensive amount of time, while the extra weight has also caused pressure on their lungs making it hard to breathe properly, also affecting the heart as it struggles with the extra kilos surrounding it. Not to mention the itchy scaly skin that just makes life very uncomfortable. It is a grim picture for sure, but sadly the news that our dogs are overweight are surprising to many.

With love comes food, right?

We feel bad for leaving our dogs for so long so we give them that little extra to nipple on, so they will know that we love them. We want to walk them more, but we just haven’t gotten around to it and taking the normal route around the blog keeps us from spending too much energy.

The diseases will automatically affect our dog’s behavior. Pain can alter a dog’s behavior to the unrecognizable and your once so sweet pooch can turn into an aggressive, angry terror. Obesity can limit your dog’s mobility to a point where he/she won’t even bother fetching the ball you just threw as the effort is simply too much. You might think they are just lazy or don’t like the ball, but maybe it is because they simply don’t have the energy to play as their heart is already working overtime to keep the regular body functions going.

How to minimize the risk of a lifestyle disease

Here is the silver lining.

By exercising your dog more you not only help your dog, you also help yourself. Studies have shown that dog owners who walk their dogs daily for at least 30 minutes are less likely to develop heart diseases and diabetes. By walking your dog, you lower your blood pressure and are less likely to develop depression and then it of course keeps those extra kilos around your tummy at bay.

Dogs need a healthy balanced diet, lots of exercise and enrichment to keep both their body and mind healthy. If your dog is suffering from overweight have a chat with your vet to learn about the best kibble to feed and how much exercise they estimate your dog needs on a daily basis. Then make a schedule for your dog to make sure you comply with the recommendations both in regard to their food and their daily exercise. Remember no feeding them table scraps. Instead use the many enrichment ideas here (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1k6j-eStlk0&list=PLKSDzqanrS38ahzYGg79Hyz5VeTCTmFRU)

to come up with new ways to enrich your dog’s mind while giving them that little extra exercise they get from working for their food.

Have fun and keep up the exercise!

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senior dogs

Senior dogs – How to make their senior years golden!

As a dog age, they change and so does their needs.

You might have noticed that those energetic puppy outbursts are getting fewer, your dog is taking longer naps and the walks seems slower than before.

Senior dog
Belga, my senior dog girl

A dog can be called a senior dog from the age of 7 and onward depending on the breed. In general smaller breeds live longer than bigger breeds and mixed breeds tend to live longer than purebreds. As a dog grows older you will begin to see differences in his/her behavior. Little hints here and there that shows you that age is catching up, showing you that your dog is becoming a senior dog.

What can you do to help your senior dog in his/her golden years?

Loss of hearing and sight

One of the first things to go with age is a dog’s ability to hear and see.

If you find that your dog doesn’t come to you anymore when you call him/her, or he/she can’t find the stick you just threw in front of him/her, it could be signs that your dog is losing his/her hearing or sight. Behavioral issues such as your dog being startled if you come from behind him/her, or reactive and latch out at you if you touch him/her are also signals that your dog might have trouble hearing. If you notice these signs you should always first take your dog to the vet and get him/her checked out as your senior dog might also be in pain.

But there are also things you can do yourself in order to give your senior dog the best conditions.

Show me your body language

Senior dogs - How to make their senior years golden! 1

Dogs are all about body language (Learn the basics in reading dog body language here) and they can understand your signals even better than you often can yourself. As your dog’s sight and hearing deteriorate, he/she will start to depend more and more on your body language.

Teaching your dog hand signals early on can help him/her better understand, and makes it easier for the both of you to communicate. As his/her hearing worsens you can use hand signals such as clapping your hands on the floor to get his/her attention as he/she will feel the vibration and then come to you.

Also avoid petting him/her without having him/her see you first. A dog can be very startled by such an approach and react with snapping or growling. It is a natural response and should of course never be punished. Just imagine how you react when you get startled.  

Loss of vision can be helped by you always keeping the house clutter free, and keeping the furniture, his/her basket and his/her food and water bowl in the same location. That way your dog will memorize the home and have no trouble getting around by himself/herself. If you are moving with a senior dog, make sure to give time for helping your dog finding and learning his/her way around his/her new home.

Come on buddy, keep up

Have you noticed that your senior dog has started lacking behind you in walks or might even stop and lie down?

As a dog age so does his/her joints and bones, and he/she might suffer from pain when walking. Again, it is important to always take your dog to the vet to rule out any ailment and perhaps get some medicinal support to take the top of your dog’s pain.

An elderly dog doesn’t need that much exercise so keep the walks shorter and maybe put a few more short walks in during the day. A senior dog might also have trouble keeping house clean so more walks can also help him/her relief himself/herself more often and keep him/her from having accidents inside. Avoid having your senior dog jump up in the car but help him/her in and out using a ramp or simply by caring him/her. Also avoid stairs and don’t call your dog unnecessarily when he/she is lying down – go to him/her instead if you want to give him/her cuddles.

Besides the walk, a good massage is nice for anyone with sore joints and muscles and helps the blood circulation which in turn keeps the joints stronger and healthier for longer. Your senior dog will also have trouble regulating his/her heat, so make sure that he/she has a nice cozy bed maybe even close to a heater so he/she can stay nice and warm during those cold months of winter. This of course also goes the other way. You need to make sure that your dog doesn’t get too warm during the summer, and make sure he/she has a place to go to where he/she can cool off.

I might be old, but I can still think

Does your dog understand you

The phrase “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” might be true for humans but certainly not for dogs. Dogs can learn throughout their life and it is important that we as their humans keep their mind sharp and keep giving them mental stimulation – letting them sniff after their food in their basket or giving them that frozen stuffed Kong filled with goodies for them to yum up is essential even for a senior dog (more enrichment ideas here.)

In fact, due to the shorter walks I would say it is even more important to incorporate mental enrichment in your senior dog’s everyday life to keep that mind sharp. It might take longer for him/her to learn a new trick but that doesn’t make it impossible and think of all the fun you will have while training.  When his/her mind does start to weaken and he/she starts to forget the things he/she used to know, stay patient with him/her and instead focus on the stuff that you can still do.

I will stay calm when you are stressed

You might have noticed your dog is starting to react different when you take him/her out. He/She seems a little more nervous and doesn’t want to socialize with the dogs or humans you meet anymore. Older dogs are easier stressed and can become anxious. It is important that you listen to these signs, as your dog’s anxiety might worsen if you keep putting him/her in situations that he/she is uncomfortable with. He/She might not enjoy the dog pen anymore, so maybe it is better to have him/her play in your yard with his/her best friends – a dog play date! He/She might want to be closer to you or have more alone time, either one should be respected and nurtured.

Keeping up your dog’s daily routine helps him/her from becoming anxious, along with continuous mental stimulation to keep him/her engaged and tire him/her out. If you want to go out, then maybe leave him/her at home where he/she is more comfortable or get a pet-sitter to come and be with him/her while you are away. Most importantly, stay patient – your dog, no matter age or condition, will pick up on your mood as fast as you can think it, and your irritation will cause his/her anxiety to rise which will not help the situation at all.

Of course, there are many more things you should be aware of as your dog age – nutrition, dental care (Want to learn how to brush your dogs teeth? Read How to brush your dog’s teeth – A 7-step guide) and maintaining his fur to mention a few. Always keep up with your dog’s yearly vet appointments and although there might be more issues arising as your dog age be there for him/her and in return you will get the satisfaction of knowing that you made his/her life as good as you could and you were with him/her all the way through <3

If you need help with your senior dog ,then book a consultation with me here.

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happy

How happy does your dog really make you?

It is no secret that having a dog makes life a little better and makes you more happy. Dogs are there for us no matter which mood we are in. They are ready to play if we feel playful, they are by our side if we need to take a walk or a run and they are there when we feel sad, ready for cuddling or giving us kisses to take our tears away. Dogs are man’s best friend!

Happy human, happy dog?

But how happy do dogs really make us and does it go both ways?

A new study performed here in Sweden have now shown that not only are they our best friend, they are also good for our health. Earlier science has shown us that by taking those daily walks with your pooch you lower your blood pressure and decrease the risk for blood clots and heart diseases.

Happy dog and human walking

However, this new study has now showed that when a human pet their dog, they get a Oxytocin boost, just like when a new mother breastfeed her child. Oxytocin is known as the happiness hormone and when released into the body it decrease stress and sadness – it makes you happy! This also increase the bond you have with your dog. By petting your dog and releasing Oxytocin you automatically feel happier and less stressed. But that is not all the study found. By taking blood samples from both owners and dogs after a petting session, the researchers found that it is not only humans that get that Oxytocin boost, dogs gets it too!!!

This is good news for the both of you as Oxytocin not only makes you feel happier in general but also has a profound physiological effect, as it lowers your heart rate and blood pressure, making you healthier and possibly able to live longer.

Check out this short video about the study here:

Enjoy!

Want to read more about dogs? Check out my other blogs here

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Sensitive stomach dog

The sensitive stomach dog! (3 steps to helping your dog)

Do you have a dog with a sensitive stomach?

My little C does too. He has had a sensitive stomach right from puppy hood. The many sleepless nights I have had walking circles around our blog or searching for grass patches to eat. The tons of different foods we have gone through before finding something that works. The cuddles when he needs a belly rub when his tummy hurts. Having to tell people not to feed him with this and that during the holidays, not to mention the many vet visits we have had to try and figure out what was wrong.

Sounds familiar?

Having a dog with a sensitive stomach is definitely not easy. We are now on a tight feeding schedule 4 times a day and finally seem to have found a brand that agrees with his stomach. So today I thought I would share some tips on how to best deal with a dog that has a sensitive stomach.

  1. Visit the veterinarian

Sensitive stomach dog

Having an illness or any kind of physical ailment can affect you mentally, the same goes for dogs. This is why it is so important that you always visit a vet when you have a behavioral problem to always rule out any physical illness first. When that is done you can start working with the problematic behavior along with an Ethologist (Contact me here).

I definitely see changes in Chester’s behavior if he has a day with stomach issues, and it is important to be aware of that with your dog in order to always be able to set him/her up for success. If your dog has an off day, ex. having a stomach ache, then take a shorter walk, cuddle them a little more and let them be without having too high expectations training wise that day.

2. The right food for a sensitive stomach

Sensitive stomach dog

If you do have a dog with stomach issues you already know how important it is to provide the right food for them (Read 10 foods that are toxic for dogs).

However, I think it is important to mention here, that if you are still in the search for the right food then make a slow transfer between the different types of food. Mix the old and the new food slowly increasing the quantity of the new food over several days. A sudden shift to a new food can cause stomach issues on its own.

The vet often has different foods, depending on their sponsors. Sometimes these work and sometimes they don’t. Chester was given a specific sensitive stomach food from the vet. It worked fine but not as good as the food he is given now.

For me I think it is also important to think about how the food is produced. Just like us, having too many E-numbers of different kinds in our bodies is not the best and most likely it would be the same for dogs, so try to go ecological or as natural as possible.

That being said, if you are thinking of switching to RAW food then talk to your vet first and do proper research as RAW food can also cause stomach troubles due to containing different not so friendly bacteria. Specially to an already sensitive stomach.

Treats is a whole other thing that can also cause a lot of havoc, especially when your entire family wants to give your dog a piece of their x-mas roast. Your dog will definitely not say no to that, so you have to be his/her voice and tell people that yes they can give the dogs treats, but they have to be your treats and not a piece of their roast.

3. Listen to your dog’s body language

Sensitive stomach

Finally I want to talk about listening to your dog, and learning how to read their body language (Learn the basics in dog body language here).

Chester has remarkably always been very good to tell me when he needs to go out, running from door to door panting and winning and then I know we have to hurry outside.

What does your dog do to tell you he/she needs to go out?

Each dog shows discomfort and pain differently, so learn how to read when your dog is not feeling well. Is he/she pacing restlessly back and forth? Winning? Sleeping more than usual or being lazier than usual? Does he/she turn to their side with their snout, or licking their paws? All that can be a sign that they are in pain or have discomfort.

Always be aware of rewarding these behaviors so your dog can feel safe telling you he/she is not well and you skip “the scrubbing stains of the floor” part. This will also ensure that your dog will start showing you when he/she needs to go out or are not feeling well, which in general is a very smart trick.

Hope this will help you and let you know that we are many who has a dog with a sensitive stomach so you are definitely not alone.

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