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Shiny Happy Pets Issue

Dr. Ward: I think it’s essential to acknowledge that the grief is real — to tell pet parents that it is a natural response and counsel them about what to expect. Typically, if a pet’s not as interested in food or playing for up to two weeks, I’d consider that normal grieving. If they’re refusing food and drink altogether or if they’re extremely depressed, we’ll talk about taking medical action. Dr. Dodman: It’s good to distract the dog with other activities — enrich their environment, introduce novel things to entertain them, bring them new places in the car, try agility, try day care… any activities designed to get them more involved in life again. Sometimes, despite all this, the dog is in a nosedive, and that’s when you would consider trying some of the same antidepressant drugs that we use in people. Dr. Ward: I’m often asked questions like this: “I have a 6-year-old dog and a 14-year-old dog, and the older dog is at the end of his life. How can we prepare the younger dog for the loss of his friend?” Dr. Dodman: The older dog should be getting all the attention. To get a new puppy to insulate yourself (or your other dog) is not always the best idea; concentrate on your old friend first. But do provide distraction for the younger dog with outside activities, doggie day care, other dog friends, etc., so all of his emotions aren’t in one basket with his friend who is on the way out. Dr. Ward: Right — keep the older dog as comfortable and emotionally engaged as possible, and keep the younger dog distracted and entertained. I do prescribe new puppies for older pets, but not at the end of life. Ideally, you would do it a year earlier. You want to ease the transition as much as possible. Dr. Dodman: Pets who are most likely to experience this longer-term upset are pets who have pre-existing anxious conditions. Anxiety is not always easy for people to recognize. If a dog is a “worrier” — hypervigilant, always switched-on, difficult to settle — these are outward signs of stress. Dr. Ward: There can also be subtle signs that pets are struggling emotionally or psychologically, which we fail to spot. Let’s say a dog is barking at passing delivery trucks, or occasionally jumping on visitors. That can escalate, so it’s important for us to address behavioral It’s good to distract the dog with other activities — enrich their environment, introduce novel things to entertain them, bring them new places in the car, try agility, try day care… any activities designed to get them more involved in life again. issues as early as possible. Of course, it’s also important to work with your vet to first rule out underlying medical issues that can cause unusual behaviors. Dr. Dodman: That’s exactly true. If you have a 2-year-old Golden Retriever who suddenly starts showing aggression, you should have him tested for hypothyroidism, because that can be a condition that can increase anxiety and promote aggression. One of the factors shown to be significantly involved in enhanced aggression is ongoing pain. Once medical reasons for behaviors are ruled out, we consider psychological influences. Socialization occurs in puppies during the first three months of life, and it’s important to protect them from adverse experiences during this time. the shiny happy pets issue 33


Shiny Happy Pets Issue
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