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Mental Health Awareness Week And Our Dogs !!

  

 Mental Health Awareness week and our dogs!!

 

This week in the UK is Mental awareness week 18th to 24th May and this year they are focussing on Stress.

I believe this is such an important topic and I think pets can help you through the bad times and definitely have a link to our mental health. This year more than any with the lockdown in place people will have been feeling isolated, depressed, and lonely. How many of you have felt having your dog, cat, or other pet at home is helping you through all this.

Research as shown that two-thirds of us experience a mental health problem in our lifetimes and the common factor is stress. If we can get Stress under control this can go a long way to tackling mental health problems such as worry and depression.

They say a certain amount of stress is necessary and even good for us but it is how we cope with the stress that seems to be important to how badly it affects us.

As I have mentioned in previous posts, dogs are our heroes they offer us unconditional love are there for us when others are not, they truly are our best friends.

How do our dogs help us with our Mental health and reducing stress?

Studies show that dogs reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, ease loneliness, and improve our health overall.

Dogs give us a reason to go out and exercise, dogs need exercise, so we go out with them too and give us that reason to get out of that house and breathe in some fresh air. Exercise increases endorphins which help to fight depression.

Because pets especially need to go out and exercise, need care, and need feeding at regular intervals this helps us build a routine instead of it being a one-off activity. Research has shown that having a routine can help reduce stress levels and lead to better sleep patterns as I’m sure some of you have noticed that during the current COVID situation where we have had no routine our sleeping pattern has been completely out of sync.

Dogs give us a reason to talk to people, other dog owners when in the park, people may stop and chat about our dogs, or just say good morning as we pass. This can help to ease the loneliness you can feel at any time but especially at the moment.  Socialization with others especially face to face remembering the 2-meter rule at the moment has been shown to ease symptoms of depression.

Having a dog or cat in the household can prevent depression from worsening as giving care to an animal gives you a purpose, a reason to get up in the mornings, it can also make you feel needed and wanted and stops you from concentrating too much on your worries and depression.

Dogs will be there for you too.

Someone to spend the day with and make us feel loved. They can pick up on our emotions, knowing when we are down and can read our body language much better than we can read there’s and then give us that extra comfort if we begin to feel low, maybe snuggling up to us at these times. Dogs can even be there as someone to talk to, you don’t have to worry about confidentiality or judgment, and they are amazingly comforting and supportive. The next time you find yourself like me chatting away to your dog remind yourself it is a good thing and its actually helping your health.

Dogs can make us feel proud which in turn improves our self-esteem for example if we train our dogs a new trick and practice it whilst out on the park and other people comment on it or just smile as they walk past it really gives us a boost.

Dogs can keep you calm especially those with anxiety and can add comfort to our lives. Research as shown that just simply being with a pet can lower stress hormones.

Dogs bring happiness into our lives and depression is often no match for the unconditional love and joy they provide.

I would always talk to your doctor or mental health provider before getting a pet as you do need to be able to make sure that you can provide for them it does have to be a 2-way street.

The ideal situation though is you and your pet looking after each other, the way it is supposed to be.

By |2020-05-17T15:35:23+01:00May 17th, 2020|Facebook|0 Comments

How to keep our pets safe and well during this lock down

As we are now on our second 3 week lockdown period and unsure about whether that will be extended or not, we are taking all the necessary precautions to keep ourselves safe but what about our pets? little is said or known about how to keep our beloved pets healthy.

The current guidelines from knowledge received about the disease is that dogs and cats do not seem to act as transmitters for the coronavirus.

What does the World Health Organisation (WHO) say?

WHO previously was convinced that cats and dogs couldn’t get infected by SARS-COV-2the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19, but now the agency is not so sure after a report a dog that tested positive in Hong Kong after being with its owner whilst she was positive for the disease. the dog didn’t show any clinical signs of the virus but tested positive all the same. It didn’t have a measurable amount of antibodies to the virus, but that may be because the virus recovered so quickly that the dog’s immune system didn’t have the chance to develop an antibody response. On its website WHO has noted that “there is no evidence that a dog, cat or any other pet can transmit COVID-19”

Can you catch coronavirus from your pet?

Of course, we love our pets dearly and they are part of or family so we need to know the answer to whether we can catch Covid-19 from them. On the 13th March Who issued updated information stating that “at present, there is no evidence that companion animals/pets such as dogs or cats can spread coronavirus or indeed be infected with it in the same way as humans ”

Can the virus be spread from touching animals?

Because the virus can live on numerous surfaces, as a precaution the World Health Organization for Animal Health advises washing your hands before and after being with an animal, their food or supplies and avoiding kissing licking or sharing food with them. also, remember social- distancing so avoid going up to other people’s pets and stroking them no matter how tempting it is.

Can I take my dog for a walk?

The government guidelines at the moment are that yes as long as its during your one period of exercise a day you can still walk your dog If there’s two of you in the household you could walk the dog separately so the dog can have 2 walks a day. You need to keep 2 meters away from another person and their dogs. Dogs would be kept on the leads unless you are 100% sure your dog will not approach another person or dog. Its also best practice to walk your dog locally so you don’t have to drive to an area to walk them. if your dog is anti-social and you need to get to a quiet area to walk him then drive to somewhere as close as possible to your home.

Should I restrict my cat from going outside?

At the moment there are no guidelines to suggest your cats should be all kept indoors but you should be more mindful of wiping your cats down when coming back inside making sure you do their paws a swell. If you were in the high-risk category it would be advisable to keep your cats indoors using litter trays.

What if I have been diagnosed with Covid-19

if you suspect you may have the virus or have tested positive for it you should restrict contact with any animals if at all possible, definitely not allowing a pet to move freely from the infected person to the rest of the household. An unaffected family member should take over the care of the pet until you are fully recovered., but again if this is not possible wear protective gloves and thoroughly wash hands and wear a face mask with any interaction with the pet.  Most small and medium-size dogs would be ok with a garden if not get someone else to walk your dog for you, there are some professional dog walkers who are still working and knowledgeable about the ways to best protect themselves and others whilst doing so. Keep dogs entertained in the house or garden by paling game with them, making them food puzzles, hiding food for them to find or giving them long-lasting chews and filled Kongs, etc. The best scenario all round would be to arrange for someone else to care for your pet whilst you unwell or in isolation.

Ways to keep your pets amused?

Dogs

    1. Scent work just keep it basic if your dog is not used to this so hiding food or their favorite toy and let them search for it.
    2. Playing tug keeping the tug low and giving your dog easy wins.
    3. Playing frisbee
    4. New training ideas or playing games. I have a new online course suitable for lockdown click here for the course Good dog 1 it is a 6-week course with lifetime access but only requiring 5 minutes of training a day.https://schoolfordogs.teachable.com/p/pawspositive-level-1
    5. Hide and seek in the house and garden where you hide from your dog and let him find you.
    6. enrichment toys ..check out my pages for enrichment ideas
    7. spoil your dg with a massage if he likes being touched.

 

Cats 

1.   Cats love new toys

2.   Cats love cardboard boxes big enough for them to sit in and feel safe you could even hide some food in them for them to find.

3.   Scrunched up paper to flick around for the cats to chase

4.   New scratch posts to keep your cat’s nails down and to keep the cats enriched

5.  Groom your cat and give some full and undivided attention with yourselves

 

Horses

If you own a horse or livestock and keep them on land that is not based at your address and your unwell or isolating ask someone else to care for them until you can safely do so.

 

Please make sure you have pet supplies in just in case you have to self isolate this includes food, medications, litter, poo bags, hay, etc

Make sure you practice a good hygiene routine.

limit physical contact if you suspect you may have COVID-19

Include pets in your precautionary measures to keep their family, which includes your pet’s safety during this time.

Pet owners should pre-determine a friend, family member or boarding facility which could be trusted to take care of your pet if you are taken down by the infection. Making a list of your pet’s normal routine, food, dislikes and likes for the entrusted person to have all the information required to give them the best of care in your absence.

Paws 4 A Break and Paws Positive Dog training hopes both yourself and your family all keep safe and well during this difficult time and we will all see you on the other side of the lock down.

 

 

 

 

By |2020-04-17T18:19:25+01:00April 17th, 2020|Facebook|0 Comments

Well that’s summer gone and what looks like to be a warm but wet beginning of Autumn as arrived.

Autumn is a beautiful season and is the most colourful season of the year with the gold and red hues of falling leaves and the foraging squirrels hiding their nuts but as Dog Walkers and Pet owners that brings a new set of challenges especially when the clocks go back.

I am writing this blog to give you a few tips on keeping you and your pets especially dogs safe during this season.

For all pets

A change in any season can bring on skin conditions breathing issues allergies and aching joints so its important to keep monitoring your pet’s health and to seek veterinary advise if you see any changes.

 

Slug pellets are poisonous to all pets so be careful of popping them around flower beds, signs to look out for are twitching or fitting, diarrhoea and vomiting, excessive panting and uncoordinated walking and hypothermia, if you see any of these signs seek immediate veterinary help.

 

Antifreeze and screen wash have the same dangerous life threatening effect on pets made worse with the fact that there is a substance in them that makes both Antifreeze and Screen wash palatable, its sweet tasting  to our pets but even a small amount can cause serious kidney damage and be fatal.  Antifreeze can leak from a cars radiator a dog or cat can walk on it then go to lick their paws and become intoxicated. The first signs of intoxication can be that dogs appear drunk. If you know your dog or cat as ingested antifreeze or screen wash contact your vet without delay as the prognosis becomes less good the longer the delay.

 

Seasonal canine illness there is a lot of research going into this mystery illness but not a lot of answers as yet, it usually rears its ugly head between august and November, case have been reported around the uk this year. It can affect any dog of any size breed age or sex and does cause dogs to become very ill very quickly after being walked in woodland areas. The most common symptoms you will notice are sickness, diarrhoea and lethargy. If you think your dog is showing signs of SCI and you’ve been walking in woodland areas go immediately to your vets.

 

Conkers as much as we love to go and collect these with our children who have hours of fun with them, ingestion by dogs can cause gastro-ingestional signs such as retching, drooling, vomiting diarrhoea and stomach pain. The conkers case and the conker itself can also cause intestinal blockages. Dogs usually vomit any ingested conkers quickly so treatment to control vomiting may be needed.

 

Acorns contain tannic a  cid which is thought to be poisonous to dogs and can cause damage to the liver and kidneys and can also cause an intestinal blockage. Signs to watch out for are vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain and lethargy. Watch out for what your dog is picking up among the leaves and maybe distract them with a treat or a ball if they are prone to gathering.

 

 

Rat Poisons most contain an anti-coagulant compound that interferes with a rat’s ability to clot its own blood. Repeated exposure to products bought in shops or exposure to professional rodent baits can cause disruption to a dog’s blood clotting ability too. This can result in massive internal bleeding. The effects may be delayed for several days -blood clotting tests are often required to determine if the dog is at risk of developing problems. Treatment involves giving an antidote and in severe cases transfusions of plasma or whole blood.

 

Luminous necklaces and glow stick the chemicals inside these products is very irritating to gums if dogs ingest them and cause drooling frothing and foaming of the mouth, vomiting and abdominal pain although the symptoms can look bad thankfully ingestion is unlikely to cause any long-term problems.

 

Fallen leaves can develop bacteria and mould so can lead to gastrointestinal upsets if ingested by our dogs

 

Chocolate is around more at Halloween time and we must remember it contains a stimulant called theobromine that’s poisonous to dogs, the darker the chocolate the more theobromine it contains. Theobromine affects the heart, central nervous system and the kidneys. Symptoms usually start to appear within 4-24 hours of ingestion, increased heart rate and you may see vomiting, diarrhoea, hyperactivity, restlessness, rapid breathing, muscle tension and seizures. Keep chocolate well away from dogs.

 

Raisons and grapes, we don’t know what the toxic substance in these are, but it can cause kidney failure. dogs with health problems are at even more risk of a serious reaction so ingestion of these should be avoided.

 

Toadstools and Mushrooms some of these are highly toxic to dogs but its hard to tell which ones are and which are not so its best just to avoid your dog having any.

Fleas and Ticks increase over the autumn period especially peaking when we start to turn up our central heating make sure you use flea and tick prevention and check your dog and cats’ coats over regularly. If you see a tick, make sure you use the correct tick removal tool.  Using a household flea spray in your home can help as well.

 

Exercise and nutrition with the dark night and the cold wet weather you may find that your dog is not getting as much exercise as he would normally. You need to keep an eye on his weight during this time as if he’s exercising less and still eating the same amount of food he could easily put weight on, if you see this happening you need to reduce his intake of food accordingly and monitor. You could always employ a dog walker like us at Paws 4 A Break if you really don’t want to go out in the cold or rain. If walks are getting less frequent there are other ways to exercise your dog’s mind and body:

Play scent games in the house

Feed some or all of your dog’s dinner in Kong’s or on licki mats

Make your own interactive puzzle toys

Teach your dogs some basic tricks

Play hide and seek in the house and garden

Play fetch or tug sensibly

Go to training classes

Many more

 

If you are walking your dog in the early morning or after work, invest in a reflective vest for yourself and a reflective collar for your dog. If you take your dog to a safe are where you can let him run off the lead you can buy flashing lights that you attach to a collar or harness so you can see where he is and also if he stops to have a poo. The flashing lights come in different colours so are great if you have multi dogs. But a good quality torch with a decent beam or even better a headlight so you can be hands free.

 

Keep your personal safety in mind when walking in the dark, only walk in areas where you feel safe and have some light such as streetlights. Always tell someone where you are going and how long you will be. Carry a mobile phone in your pocket in case of an emergency, but don’t be constantly on it. Keep vigilant. It’s always best whenever possible to walk with someone else or use a dog walking service, if it’s too dark for your own comfort, some will do early morning and Evening walks, I know we at Paws 4 A Break do. You could always set up a walker’s group too with other walkers you know.

 

Fireworks can be really frightening to your dog and cause lots of issues and with the firework season just becoming longer and longer dogs need help. If this is an issue you would like to resolve as its causing lots of distress for yourselves and your dog contact our in house dog trainer at http://www.pawspositivedogtraining.co.uk  for help. She recommends training as soon as possible before the fireworks begin its also advisable to have a training session with puppies to try and prevent the fear occurring in the first place.

Enjoy your lovely Autumn walks but be safe!!

 

 

 

 

By |2019-09-22T20:49:15+01:00September 22nd, 2019|Facebook|0 Comments