March 20, 2013

Dealing With a Loss of a Pet

One of the saddest aspects of pet ownership is coming to terms with the death of a beloved pet. Our pets are part of the family and as such, it’s only natural that we mourn and grieve their loss.

What to expect emotionally

While some (mostly those who don’t own a pet themselves) scoff at the idea of mourning a pet, it’s actually a perfectly normal and natural response. The stages of grief for those who have lost a pet are in fact very similar to those who have lost a family member or loved one.

While the length of the mourning and grieving process is individual to each circumstance, the following emotions and stages are quite common:

Stage one: Denial – Typically, this stage lasts the shortest and occurs when the owner hasn’t yet accepted, or come to terms, with the loss.

Stage two: Anger – In the next stage, many pet owners channel their anger towards a third party for the loss of their pet.

Stage three: Guilt – There will always be the ‘what if’ component of any loss and it’s normal for a pet owner to feel guilt over what they could have done, even if there were no other options.

Stage four: Depression – The final stage of grieving is typically personified by a deep sadness that permeates the pet owner’s life and reduces their motivation.

Coping mechanisms

Thankfully though, there are coping mechanisms that you can put in place to help deal with the death of a pet, the first of which is to allow yourself to grieve. Whatever you are feeling, acknowledge the emotion and let it run its course. The following, lists some coping mechanisms you can try:

• Where possible, speak to friends, family and loved ones about your loss.
• Prepare a tribute to celebrate the life of your pet. This could be a scrapbook, a letter or a poem to your pet.
• Make a difference to the lives of other pets and either volunteer your time at an animal rescue organization or donate money on behalf of your pet.
• Seek the support of professionals, whether that is your own family therapist or an organization like The Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement. The American Veterinary Medical Association also has pet loss support hotlines available for your use.
• If the sight of your pet’s belongings upsets you, you can put them away during your mourning period or donate them to charity.
• You can organize a memorial or funeral for your pet. This is one of the more practical aspects to consider. Whether you choose to create a burial in your backyard, or plant a tree in your pet’s honor, the final resting place of your pet is a special and important decision.
Other tips

• If you have other pets, understand that they may experience grief too, even if it’s just in response to your own.
• Do not bring a new pet into your life until you feel completely ready. You must be emotionally up to the demands of a new pet and able to dedicate yourself to their upbringing.
• If you have children in your family, be honest and open about your pet’s death and support your children through their grief.

And finally, be kind to yourself. This is a difficult and emotional event in any pet owners life. Ensure that you take care of yourself and give yourself the time and the space to move on.

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February 25, 2013

The Best Toys for Your Cat or Dog

Imagine this: You are sitting at home with your family. Your dog is at your feet, and your cat is in your lap. Everyone in your house is enjoying time together. You notice that your dog starts to get restless and goes over to the couch and starts sniffing around. Before you even know what’s happening your dog is chewing the corner and your cat has jumped off your lap and joined in.

What the heck is going on?! You have never seen this type of behavior from either of your pets, and you are disgusted, to say the least. You send your dog to the kennel but can’t find the cat. The next night the cat and the dog start chewing and scratching away at your dining room table and chairs.
Your pets have always been mild mannered until now, and you can’t figure out why the change in behavior. Take a look around your house. Have you purchased any pet toys to help give them sensory satisfaction?Toys for your pets are not just something that you get them to spoil them. They are also used to help with sensory satisfaction and to help keep them engaged. When any kind of animal isbored, they tend to find the first thing that peaks their interest and typically that spells t-r-o-u-b-l-e for them and anger for you.

So what type of toys is best for your pets? If you have a dog that is a little bit more hyperactive, you need to find a toy that allows them to fun and play as much as possible. Balls or any type of toy that they can chase is often a good idea. The same goes for a cat. Cats are natural predators. They love to pounce, chase, and run around just as much as a dog.

 The best toys you can purchase for your dog include
Chew toys 
• Plush Toys

The best toys you can purchase for your cat include:
Feeders 
Interactive toys 

No matter what type of toy you buy for your pets it is important that they have them. They are not just a tool to help them be more occupied, they also help to increase brain function. Always ensure that no matter what type of toy you get for your pet it is safe for them. Consult with you local pet store owner to find out what your best options are and what toys meet the highest safety standards. Remember, always keep your pet engaged; have fun with them. Sensory satisfaction is important for your pet’s happiness and your peace of mind.

 

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February 12, 2013

Pet Health: Smoking and Your Furry Friend

Filed under: cats,dogs,pet health,pets,puppy health,Smoking,Uncategorized,Your Pet — Tags: , — Dr. Amber Reed @ 1:00 pm

At one point or another, we have all been told that smoking is bad for our health. We have been shown the impact of tar on human organs, we have been told about the many cancers that can result from smoking, and time after time we are informed of the dangers of secondhand smoke. Full of this knowledge on the health risks related to smoking, have you ever consider the impact that smoking may have on your pet?

Just as smoking may affect the people around you, studies have shown that it may also impact your pets. When someone smokes, toxins are released into the very same air that your pet breathes in. When breathing in air, the toxins move through your pet’s mouth, into their lungs, and throughout their circulation system. This process is repeated every time your furry friend takes a breath. Moreover, toxins that are released into the air come in contact with your pet’s fur and skin. When grooming themselves, pets lick their fur, fur on which toxins like nicotine and tar may collect. The nicotine and tar enters your pet’s mouth and digestive system each time they lick themselves.

Smoking effects and pet health

Studies have shown that a few effects that second-hand smoke can have on your pet are:

  • Cancers: lymphoma, lung, and nasal
  • Respiratory problems
  • Allergies
  • Skin diseases
  • Eye infections
  • Vomiting
  • Salivation

It is common for us to hear the effects that smoking has upon humans, that we may forget to think about how our pets are impacted. Next time you think of lighting up near your pet, think about the effects that smoking might have on their health.

 

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December 8, 2011

Why No Respect for Pet Lovers?

Filed under: Your Pet — Tags: , , — Dr. Amber Reed @ 1:22 pm

canine stress In an article featured in the New York Times by Vanderbilt Philosophy Professor, Kelly Oliver, contends that the pathology of animal lovers is often times portrayed as weak and mentally unstable. Her argument rests on two scenarios. Firstly, she argues that the President is traditionally seen as an animal tamer, hunter, and eater. Presidents are photographed hunting, a political strategy used to depict them as a character who provides sustenance for his family and protection for the nation; they are not pet lovers. Even President Obama, who is one of the few Presidents to not hunt, is often times seen eating a burger. Oliver contends that vegetarianism and American politics are polar opposites. Her next argument revolves around how female celebrities for animal rights are oftentimes depicted as “quirky at best and at worst crazy.” In fact, she argues that pets are only accepted in two categories: as pets for children, or as service animals. In the former, she argues the psychological profile for pet lover is “soft, childlike, or pathological,” attributes which are only accepted in a child who turns to their pet for comfort and support. In regards to the latter, she argues that society only accepts animal dependence in times of “illness, handicap or severe need.” For example, service animals provide physical assistance to the blind or emotional support for patients going through extreme emotional and medical stress.

Pet LoverWhile this article does raise some interesting points, I think it makes too broad conclusions based on weak assumptions and promotes unfair assumptions for pet owners. Her first argument about the President ultimately not being a pet lover is simply untrue. For example, Bill Clinton was notoriously close to his dog, Buddy. Buddy wasn’t his daughter’s, Chelsea’s, dog; the dog was Clinton’s through and through. In fact, nearly ever President has owned a dog, and to argue that those dogs were for their children and not for the President, even when the President owned the dog before he had children/after his children had grown up, is simply absurd!

Her second argument is also contentious. There are many vegetarian and vegan celebrities who are regarded with respect, such as Paul McCartney and Steve Jobs. Moreover, recently in the UK, Paul McCartney and Gordon Brown have been pushing to introduce a Meat-Free Mondays law, with the goal of pushing health, the environment, and other ethical issues higher up on the political agenda.

Her third argument, about service animals being used for the physically and emotionally vulnerable, is perhaps her most legitimate argument. It is true – people do turn to animals in times of need. However, this decision to rely on animal support during times of need is clearly a choice – people turn to service animals because they provide unconditional love and support.

Show your beloved pet support. Give back to her or him, particularly with the upcoming Christmas season. Ensure that they are always safe, loved, and free of possible dog anxiety with herbs and supplements for overall pet health.

Also, what do you think? Are pets really just for children? Do you think powerful people can be animal lovers? Leave your opinion on this article in the comments section below.

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Disclaimer: CritterCures is an educational resource, and all information herein is strictly for educational purposes. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure diseases, nor is it meant to replace the (prescribed) treatment or recommendations of your veterinarian or healthcare provider. Always inform your veterinarian or healthcare provider of any products that your pet are taking, including herbal remedies and supplements.