Is Your Dog Stressed Out?: Locate and Eliminate Hidden Stressors
Posted Jul 08 2009 9:56am
Our pets’ lives are too often filled with hidden stresses that challenge their health and longevity. In addition to common stressors like highly processed commercial food , over-vaccination and over-medication, pets will be healthier and happier if you:
• Reduce their isolation. Dogs are pack animals. Leave them alone hour after hour, day after day, and they will mourn their very existence. This can result in problems like separation anxiety, incessant barking and destructive behavior, and also in health problems. In fact, insufficient attention may be the biggest stress of all.
• Improve water. Impure or insufficient water is dangerous. Make sure you take water along with you on long or hot walks. Never let your dog drink sprinkler run-off or out of fountains (which likely contain toxic chemicals). And if you’re drinking purified water, your pets should be, too.
• Get Your Dog Moving. A fit dog is less prone to injury and has a healthier digestive system and heart. Did you know that heart disease is a major killer of dogs? Like us, they need sensible exercise to live a long, healthy life. But take it easy. Dogs will do their best to keep up with joggers and cyclists even when they shouldn’t. Don’t ask them to exert themselves strenuously unless they’re in shape.
• Stay slim. Chubby dogs aren’t cute. They are health problems waiting to happen. Expect early onset of joint damage, diabetes and major organ disease. How can you tell if your dog is slender enough? (Studies show most of us don’t have a clue.) Make sure your dog has a slim waist and that you can find his ribs. Think slim, but not too skinny. And don’t result to diet drugs to slim your dog down. Just cut back on high fat foods and carbs (no corn, no wheat). Add steamed veggies (like broccoli, carrots or green beans) for snacks.
• Reduce exposure to environmental stresses. Eliminate loud or jarring noises and protect your pet from air pollution and known allergens as much as possible. We tend to think of pets as tough creatures of the wild, but they have no more tolerance to 21st Century life than we do.
• Think shade. Dogs with thin coats, fair skin and those with a summer buzz cuts are susceptible to skin cancer. Apply nontoxic sunscreen made for dogs — remembering that they may lick it off so it needs to be safe for a human baby to swallow. And always provide shade and cool water.
• End second-hand smoke. Second-hand smoke is as bad for dogs as it is for you and can cause lung infections, respiratory problems and even asthma and lung cancer. So please stop smoking, for your dog’s sake if not for yours.
• Just Say No! Health aspects aside, it’s cruel to blow pot smoke into an animal’s nose or to give them alcohol. Make sure your kids know this!
• Think Comfort. Dogs, like people, like soft beds and the kind of temperatures Goldilocks would like — not too hot and not too cold. If you sleep indoors, your dog should sleep indoors, too. They’re family.
• Eliminate chemical exposure. Beware herbicides, pesticides, road grime and other potentially carcinogenic substances, and consider safer alternatives to toxic products. Read the Product Inserts for all pet meds. (If you have to rush to the hospital if you consume them, don’t let them near your pets.) Know that something as seemingly inocuous as cocoa mulch can prove deadly. Also, pets love to eat off the floor; this means they’re consuming your cleaning products, too. So make sure they’re child safe.
• Stop emotional stressors and physical abuse. If dogs are constantly being taunted by another family member (canine or feline or human), stress will win. This is animal cruelty. Fix the situation.
Our canine friends (and feline friends, too) need our help to lead long and healthy lives. Stress shortens the lives of pets … and destroys their happiness. It’s no exaggeration that Stress Kills!