All posts by dr. sarah
If you haven’t made time lately to take your canine companion to a local dog park, you’re both missing out on some serious fun! In this episode of Pet Talk, Dr. Sarah’s on location at the Spring Canyon Dog Park in Fort Collins, CO. With the help of her Goldendoodle co-star, Alma, Dr. Sarah will share the code of proper dog-park conduct, for both canines and humans, to ensure maximum fun for everyone. Learning about companion animal etiquette has never been so much fun! " />

Rules for the Dog Park

If you haven’t made time lately to take your canine companion to a local dog park, you’re both missing out on some serious fun! In this episode of Pet Talk, Dr. Sarah’s on location at the Spring Canyon Dog Park in Fort Collins, CO. With the help of her Goldendoodle co-star, Alma, Dr. Sarah will share the code of proper dog-park conduct, for both canines and humans, to ensure maximum fun for everyone. Learning about companion animal etiquette has never been so much fun!

If some of your best friends have been dogs, you’ve probably noticed that they can be particularly attuned to your moods. This perceptiveness may have less to do with mind-reading than face-reading. That’s right! Dogs naturally observe facial cues for information. But how do they develop this skill? Born of instinct to read other dog’s expressions, can they really adapt to accurately read the expressions of humans? Even though this enigmatic mystery has confounded canine behaviorists for decades, Dr. Sarah devotes this episode of Pet Talk to reveal the latest developments in this area, demonstrating how you can use facial cues to improve your interspecies communication. " />

Canine Facial Cues

If some of your best friends have been dogs, you’ve probably noticed that they can be particularly attuned to your moods. This perceptiveness may have less to do with mind-reading than face-reading. That’s right! Dogs naturally observe facial cues for information. But how do they develop this skill? Born of instinct to read other dog’s expressions, can they really adapt to accurately read the expressions of humans? Even though this enigmatic mystery has confounded canine behaviorists for decades, Dr. Sarah devotes this episode of Pet Talk to reveal the latest developments in this area, demonstrating how you can use facial cues to improve your interspecies communication.

Socialization

Socialization is vital to raising a well-adjusted, calm and happy dog. And there’s no better time to start socializing your dog than when he or she is a puppy. In this episode of Pet Talk, Dr. Sarah’s joined by a very special guest who will help demonstrate the ins-and-outs of early canine socialization. Learn what to expect at certain periods of development, what to avoid when teaching puppies and the importance of positive reinforcement. In this video, Dr. Sarah shares valuable tips that can help your puppy grow up with the social skills needed over a lifetime.

It’s one of those terms that not everyone is familiar with, but once you’ve witnessed “palliative care” in the case of a loved one, you’ll never forget it. According to the World Health Organization, palliative care is a medical approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing complications associated with life-threatening illness, often through the prevention and relief of suffering by treatment of pain and other problems. These treatments are offered regardless of whether or not there is any hope of a cure by any means. " />

Palliative Care

It’s one of those terms that not everyone is familiar with, but once you’ve witnessed “palliative care” in the case of a loved one, you’ll never forget it. According to the World Health Organization, palliative care is a medical approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing complications associated with life-threatening illness, often through the prevention and relief of suffering by treatment of pain and other problems. These treatments are offered regardless of whether or not there is any hope of a cure by any means.

While palliative care has been available to humans for decades, more and more veterinarians and pet parents are advocating for similar treatments for companion animals, too. As a pet parent, you owe it to yourselves – and your companion animals – to watch this special episode of Pet Talk.

One of America’s favorite summer pastimes is vacation travel. Often, these trips do not or cannot include our pets, so what do you do with your beloved companion when you cannot take them along? The most important thing is to not worry - the more we worry the less fun we have. Here are some of Dr. Sarah’s favorite tips to help your animals when you travel." />

Are you traveling without your pet this summer?

One of America’s favorite summer pastimes is vacation travel. Often, these trips do not or cannot include our pets, so what do you do with your beloved companion when you cannot take them along? The most important thing is to not worry - the more we worry the less fun we have. Here are some of Dr. Sarah’s favorite tips to help your animals when you travel.

We’ve all been there. Looking into the pleading eyes of a puppy or kitten who needs a good home. In that moment, it’s hard to think straight. Fortunately, Dr. Sarah is here to help. In this episode of Pet Talk, Dr. Sarah discusses the five biggest mistakes that new pet parents make, and how to avoid them. By taking these solutions to heart, your next adoption could just be the best decision you’ve ever made! " />

Five Biggest Mistakes New Pet Parents Make

We’ve all been there. Looking into the pleading eyes of a puppy or kitten who needs a good home. In that moment, it’s hard to think straight. Fortunately, Dr. Sarah is here to help. In this episode of Pet Talk, Dr. Sarah discusses the five biggest mistakes that new pet parents make, and how to avoid them. By taking these solutions to heart, your next adoption could just be the best decision you’ve ever made!

Hypothyroidism, or low thyroid function, is one of the most common canine hormone imbalances. This was not always the case. In recent decades, hypothyroidism diagnoses are on the rise. " />

Canine Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism, or low thyroid function, is one of the most common canine hormone imbalances. This was not always the case. In recent decades, hypothyroidism diagnoses are on the rise.

In this episode of Pet Talk, Dr. Sarah gives advice about how best to care for dogs that have already been diagnosed with hypothyroidism, as well as provides the steps you can take to ensure that your dog has the best chance of staying healthy.

After you watch the video, click here for more information on Canine Hypothyroidism by Dr. Sarah.

More Information On Canine Hypothyroidism By Dr Sarah

Hypothyroidism, or low thyroid function, is one of the most common canine hormone imbalances. This was not always the case. In recent decades, hypothyroidism diagnoses are on the rise.

What’s going on here?

In mammals, the endocrine system is a system of glands, each of which secretes a type of hormone directly into the bloodstream, that regulate the body. The thyroid gland, one of the largest endocrine glands, controls how quickly the body uses energy, makes proteins, regulates calcium and controls the body’s sensitivity to other hormones. The thyroid is critical to metabolic processes and affects the functionality of almost every other organ in the body. The endocrine system is highly sensitive, and its delicate dance of hormones can be disrupted, potentially resulting in disease. In dogs, the most common hormonal disorder diagnosed is hypothyroidism.

Typically, hypothyroidism occurs in dogs from 4-10 years of age, though in rare instances dogs can actually be born with it. Because the thyroid hormone affects the metabolism of the whole body, the clinical signs can be non-specific. That being said, dogs with hypothyroidism often exhibit low energy levels, weight gain, hair loss, a dull hair coat and concurrent skin infections. More...

Parenting Emotionally Challenged Pooches

In the last few months, we’ve been besieged with images and stories of destruction, the magnitude of which is difficult to comprehend: Australian floods, New Zealand earthquakes, and most recently the devastating earthquakes and tsunami in Japan. While the loss of human life and the impact on the human survivors makes up the majority of the coverage, we know that many of these people included pets in their families. What are the lasting impacts on behavior of the surviving companion animals? Is it true, as many people believe, that the emotional scars caused by trauma (whether it’s due to a natural event like an earthquake, or an unnatural act like physical or mental abuse) can lead to fearful or aggressive behavior? Just how common is emotional scarring in companion animals? The answers to these questions may surprise you.

The unfortunate companion animals affected by recent environmental catastrophes are likely experiencing what we call “post traumatic stress disorder” (PTSD). PTSD is a recognized anxiety disorder induced by exposure to life-threatening trauma. Widely recognized as a diagnosis for people, PTSD has actually been studied in non-human animals, too. Research has actually shown that the brains of traumatized animals exhibit chemistries that differ from non-traumatized animals! True PTSD, however, is relatively rare in companion animals, developing as a result of a significant life-threatening event or predatory trauma.

If your dog has undergone a traumatic event, there are warning signs of PTSD, which include hiding, loss of house training, barking, loss of appetite and diminished interest in interacting with his human companions. It can also include out-of-character aggression. If your dog ever does go through a life-threatening or catastrophic event, veterinarians recommend providing a safe, secure area such as a crate, bathroom or laundry room, where your dog can get away from noise, people and other pets. Put familiar, comforting objects in the space, such as their own bed, favorite toys and/or an article of your clothing. Try and maintain a consistent routine, especially with regards to feedings, walks and play times. Like the traumatized pets in Australia, any pet that undergoes life-threatening trauma needs safety, a dependable routine, behavioral (and perhaps medical) intervention as soon as possible.

What about fear and aggression in non-traumatized dogs? We already know that true PTSD in dogs is rare, but too many shelter animals have been rescued from abusive or neglectful situations, so it’s not unusual for them to have fear or aggression issues.

Believe it or not, some dogs are genetically predisposed to experience heightened fear. Just as people can be shy or outgoing, dogs show similar personality inclinations. Other dogs will experience fear due to a specific trauma, such a frightening thunderstorm. While some argue that abuse, especially for young dogs, leads to PTSD, what is more likely is that rescue animals are simply poorly socialized during the critical developmental period between 3-16 weeks of age. At this age, puppies undergo a rapid learning process, making it the ideal window of opportunity for socialization. When puppies fail to encounter appropriate socialization during this critical period, they can develop fear or aggression later in life.

Even though they present challenges, negative experiences or insufficient socialization don’t have to define your dog’s long-term personality. Fortunately, there are ways to work through emotional issues. In this episode of Pet Talk, Dr. Sarah talks about how to recognize the symptoms of fear and aggression, and how to deal with some of these issues.

What challenges have you experienced in parenting a companion animal with emotional or social problems? What helped you work through these issues? Share your story with us in the comment section below.

Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome

Thanks to advances in health care and nutrition, our beloved family pets are living longer and longer. Senior pets are becoming the norm rather than the exception, and with the happy increase in the number of furry senior citizens, there has been a shift in health concerns for both veterinarians and pet parents alike.

One area of great concern for veterinarian and dog parent alike is the decline in a senior dog’s cognitive abilities or brain function. Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome, or CDS for short, is the term vets use to describe a degenerative brain disorder in senior dogs. Often, when pet parents are talking to their veterinarian, they will share that their senior citizen is uncharacteristically disobedient or soiling in the house. Other tell-tale signs of CDS include generalized anxiety (pacing or panting), confusion, decreased grooming habits, a changed appetite, acting depressed and forgetting regular habits. Signs of CDS are typically irreversible and progressive, but with effective treatment and management, the signs can be slowed and some can even be reversed. It is important to know that many of the signs of CDS can be confused with other diseases, such as hypothyroidism, arthritis or even dental disease, so if your senior dog is acting differently, schedule a full checkup with your local veterinarian.

One of the first questions pet parents usually ask when their veterinarian mentions the possibility of CDS is, “Is it like Alzheimer’s?” The answer is “Sorta.” CDS shares many similarities to symptoms of Alzheimer’s in humans, including similar microscopic changes and oxidative damage to brain cells that correspond to the severity of the disease. In fact, the two diseases are so similar that many of the treatments that are used in Alzheimer’s were first developed in dogs.

So if your dog has been diagnosed with CDS, what can you do? What about if you want to be proactive and take steps now to decrease the likelihood that CDS will mar your best friend’s golden years? In this video, Dr. Sarah goes over recent advances in treatment and prevention of canine cognitive syndrome.

References:

Cotman, C. W. et al. 2002. Brain Aging in the Canine: a Diet Enriched in Antioxidants Reduces Cognitive Dysfunction. Neurobiology of Aging 23: 809–818

Borra’s, D., Ferrer I., and Pumarola, M. 1999. Age-related Changes in the Brain of the Dog. Vet Pathol 36:202–211.

Dimakopoulos, A. C. and Mayer, R.J. 2001. Aspects of Neurodegeneration in the Canine Brain. Waltham International Symposium: Pet Nutrition Coming of Age.

Lansberg, G. 2005. Therapeutic Agents for the Treatment of Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome in Senior Dogs. Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry 29: 471-479.

Milgram, N.W. et al. 2002 Landmark Discrimination Learning in the Dog: Effects of Age, and Antioxidant Fortified Food, and Cognitive Strategy. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews 26: 679–695.

Fahnestock M, Marchese M, Head E, Pop V, Michalski B, Milgram WN, Cotman CW. BDNF increases with behavioral enrichment and an antioxidant diet in the aged dog. Neurobiol Aging. 2010 May 4.