To dig or not to dig?

Dog Digging A Hole in the Yard

Image source Bing Images

Digging is an instinctual habit of dogs but an undesirable trait according to dog owners.

It appears that people are more concerned about the appearance of their lawns than the psychological development of their dogs. After all, it’s expensive to produce a well-manicured lawn and the destruction caused by digging dogs frustrates pet owners.

According to Shore, Riley, & Douglas (2006), one of the reasons dog owners turn their dogs over to animal shelters is digging. So clearly, dogs and their owners must work together through this issue.

There are several reasons a dog resorts to digging. First, it’s hardwired into their DNA to dig.

In fact, breeders bred some dogs because of their digging abilities. According to Cesar Millan, the desire to dig is “especially strong in terrier breeds.”

Second, it gives them an outlet for their energy. When a dog doesn’t have an outlet, they become bored and naturally gravitate toward their digging instinct.

Third, they dig to ward off intruders like moles and other ground-dwelling animals. According to Yvette Van Veen in the Toronto Star, “Dogs notice these uninvited guests- often well before owners. [When they do], they usually start to dig.”

Fourth, they dig to provide themselves a place to cool off during the summer. The cool earth provides a nice place to cool off in warmer months. I’ve also observed that in colder months, dogs will cuddle together in a previously dug hole to keep warm.

Digging is part of who your dog is. Asking your dog to stop digging is like asking him to change his nature. Why? So you can have a pristine lawn. Your dog doesn’t understand why your lawn is so important, after all, it’s his bathroom. Not that he doesn’t appreciate a clean yard to frolic in or the fact that you have it cut regularly, he just doesn’t value the yard the same way you do.

Is it really necessary to stop the behavior? If the answer is yes, here are some things you can do to curb your dog’s desire to dig.

Primarily, exercise is key. Dogs need about 30 minutes of exercise 6 to 7 days a week. Take your dog on walks, jogs, or runs. Take your dog swimming. Find an activity that you and your dog can enjoy together and let her exercise to her heart’s content.

Second, never allow your dog to be alone in your yard. If it is important to stop the digging behavior, you must absolutely keep a watchful eye on your dog for signs of digging. When you first observe it, that’s when you must quickly redirect your dog to some other acceptable activity.

Another option available to you is one of compromise. It’s understandable that you don’t want your yard to be “ruined” after you paid handsomely for it. Couldn’t you designate an area of your yard as a digging-zone? It is almost like providing a sandbox for your children. In fact, you might be interested in doing some research on dogscaping, a relatively new way at sculpting your yard with your dog’s needs in mind.

References

Cesar’s Way. (2014 December 8). Common dog behaviors. Retrieved on June 10, 2015 from cesarsway.com/dog-behavior/basics/common-dog-behaviors-explained

Millan, C. (2015 April 23). Stop dog from digging. Retrieved on June 10, 2015 from cesarsway.com/dog-behavior/obsession/How-Can-I-Get-My-Dogs-to-Stop-Digging

Shore, E. R., Riley, M. L., & Douglas, D. K. (2006). Pet owner behaviors and attachment to yard versus house dogs. Anthrozoos19(4), 325-334.

Yvette Van Veen Special to the Star Yvette Van Veen is an animal behaviour consultant. Write her at, a. (n.d). Backyard digging has many roots. Toronto Star (Canada).

Gas Pump

PetCorps to Implement Transportation Fees

Gas PumpTo offset a rise in fuel costs this summer, PetCorps will implement a temporary fuel surcharge on all services beginning in May and ending in October.

The fuel surcharge will be applied as a separate charge on customer invoices apart from the regular price for waste removal, pet sitting, and other services.

The decision comes after the recent increase in fuel prices in the Elizabethtown and Louisville markets. Based on a forecast report from GasBuddy, PetCorps owner Jason Smith said, “A transportation fee is necessary to continue serving our customers.”

GasBuddy 2015 Gasoline Forecast

GasBuddy 2015 Gasoline Forecast

The transportation fee will be calculated to minimize the overall charges customers receive. Customers will be charged 57.5 cents per mile for their “fair share” of the average miles driven.

First, the sum of the distances from PetCorps to each customer on a route are averaged. Then, the distance for each customer is divided by the total miles to find the percent of total miles. The percent is multiplied by the average miles to determine the miles billed.

For example:

Customer Distance % Miles billed
A 9 37.50% 3.0 mi
B 8 33.33% 2.7 mi
C 7 29.17% 2.3 mi
TOTAL 24 100.00%
Average 8.0

Calculating the final price that will appear on a customer’s monthly invoice depends on the frequency of service.

For example, if customer C is a twice-a-week customer, the total miles billed each week is 4.6 miles (2.3 times 2). We first multiply by the mileage rate to get the weekly fee. The weekly fee in this example is $2.65. We multiply this by 52 weeks and divide by 12 months to get the transportation fee. In this example, the monthly transportation fee is $11.48.

If customer A is a biweekly customer, the total miles billed every two weeks is 3.0. The biweekly fee is $1.73. We then multiply this result by 26 two-week periods and divide by 12 months to get the monthly transportation fee, which is $3.75 in this example.

Finally, if customer B is a once-a-week customer, the total miles billed each week is 2.7 miles. The weekly fee is $1.55. Multiplying by 52 weeks and dividing by 12 months yields $6.72 in transportation fees each month.

This method minimizes the transportation fees passed on to the customers and prevents monthly fluctuations caused by 4 or 5 week months.

At the end of September, PetCorps plans to remove the transportation fees as fuel prices begin trending downward. The company will continue to absorb transportation costs from October through December; however, if prices consistently trend above $2.509 per gallon after that time, permanent transportation fees may become necessary in 2016.

Dog Waste Cleanup Helps Professionals Capture Significant Value in Home Economics

You didn’t become a CEO, doctor, lawyer, business owner, or high level manager by paying full price for goods and services. You got there by being value conscious by choosing the right goods and services that provided the right value for your business to succeed.

The same is true in personal finance. You select goods and services for personal consumption based on the value they provide. Household services can save you time so you can be more productive by doing things that really matter.

Everyone is looking for work-life balance. Today’s thought leaders have determined that balance is not possible. What matters is being intentional with what we give our attention to. At home, be intentionally focused on spending time with your family. At work, be intentionally focused and engaged in work activities. The idea is to give your attention to whatever takes the highest priority at any given moment.

Picking up after the dog usually takes the lowest priority in the household environment. Greater importance should be placed on picking up after the dog because dog waste can cause disease in pets and people. Humans are susceptible to these zoonotic diseases when exposed to dog waste:

  • Roundworm
  • Hookworm
  • Giardia
  • Campylobacter
  • Salmonella
  • E. coli

This is not an all-inclusive list as there are other risks to humans. When dog waste is allowed to sit dormant on the lawn, rain can wash the waste into ground water and sewer systems where pathogens remain untreated.

Right now, PetCorps Professional Pet Care is offering special pricing on its dog waste cleanup service in Hardin and Meade County Kentucky. This sale is limited to the first 10 customers to sign up. So if you’d like to capture significant value by saving $10, $20, or even $40 per month on this time-saving service, call 877-402-4427 today to secure your slot. Slots are quickly running out, so don’t delay call today!

Winter Weather Tips

snowdog

If you live in Southern Indiana or North Central Kentucky, the National Weather Service is calling for some significant snowfall accumulations over night and into tomorrow morning. As you make preparations for your family, don’t forget about your four-legged companions. As a companion animal guardian, here are a few tips to help you survive the winter storm.

1. Make a Dug Out

No, this is not a baseball reference. Simply, select an area of your yard and dig out the snow so your dogs will have a place to eliminate without having to plop through deep snow.

2. Bring Pets Inside

If your dogs or cats usually spend time outdoors, bring them inside. Although they have fur, dogs and cats are susceptible to winter weather injuries such as frost bite and hypothermia. If it’s not possible to bring them into the house, prepare a shelter for them in your garage away from the elements where they can warm up.

CAUTION: If you plan to keep your pets in the garage, make sure your vehicles haven’t leaked any antifreeze. Antifreeze is ethylene glycol, a sweet smelling and tasting liquid that attract companion animals. It is also poisonous to pets in small doses.

3. Feed them Well and Keep them Watered

To keep warm, dogs and cats burn extra calories and may require additional food portions to maintain their energy and to aid in thermoregulation. Also keep plenty of water on hand so your companion animals do not get dehydrated.

4. Avoid Long Walks

If you plan to walk your dog in the snow, make sure it’s not very far. Also avoid walking your dog on surfaces that have been treated with rock salt as this can cause cracked paws, a condition where the skin on the foot pads cracks and begins to bleed.

5. Tap Your Hood

The engine block of your car is a warm enclosed area that provides shelter to outside cats. Before starting your car in the morning, pound on the hood of your car to startle any animals that may have sought shelter under your hood.

Do you have any winter weather tips to add? Share them in the comments section below.

The Financial Burden of Pets

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Image Source: http://miniaturepaws.com/dogs-can-cost-a-lot-of-money/

How much money does it cost you annually to care for your pets?

I remember having a pet Guinea Pig when I was right out of high school. They are very easy to care for but I needed wisdom. So I read a book about Guinea Pigs and applied my learning.

When you have a Guinea Pig, there are certain provisions you must make for them.

First, they need shelter. This is easily achieved by purchasing an aquarium, wire cage, or a large plastic bin. Guinea Pigs require a minimum of 2 square feet per animal.

Next, they need bedding. I preferred the recycled newspaper bedding. Though pine or cedar has a pleasant aroma, oils from wood chips can irritate small animals.

They also need food and water. As far as nutrition goes, a guinea pig is at risk of scurvy, so it’s important to provide vitamin C supplements as well as vitamin C-rich fruits & vegetables. Fresh fruits & veggies are preferable over pellets; however, it is still good to feed pellets. Another food item you might offer a Guinea Pig is Timothy hay.

Fortunately, Guinea Pigs seldom require veterinary care.

Overall, there is a significant cost associated with caring for a pet. We may not see it or even feel it because you can’t put a price tag on love.

While Guinea Pigs are different from dogs and cats, I shared all that to illustrate that pet ownership is more than just buying a pet. There is a cost involved that I think some people overlook.

According to the 2013-2014 American Pet Products Association (APPA) National Pet Owners Survey, 68% of U.S. households own a pet, which equates to 82.5 millions homes. APPA estimates that pet expenses were about $58.51 billion in 2014, up 5% from 2013.

Pet owners spent approximately $22.62 billion on food, $13.72 billion on supplies and over-the-counter medicine, $15.25 billion on veterinary care, $2.19 billion on live animal purchases, and $4.73 billion on services in 2014.

The cost of acquiring a pet pales in comparison to the actual cost of caring for a pet.

So before you think about adding a pet to your household, think about whether you can cover the added expenses of pet ownership.

Luke 14:28 (NLT) says, “But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it?”

Kennel Cough Vaccine – Helpful or Harmful?

By Jason Michael Smith
November 10, 2014

I recently came across an article about vaccinating dogs for kennel cough. The author explained that kennel cough vaccines could actually be responsible for spreading the disease. While many readers agreed with the thoughts expressed in her blog, there were a few comments that disagreed with her saying that her science was wrong, the article was poorly written, and she should remove or rewrite the page.I found the article fascinating and wanted to dig a little bit deeper on the subject so I consulted a number of journals, web sites, and books to clarify the thoughts of the article.Allow me to establish one thing. Ten years ago, I served as a veterinary technician in the U.S. Army. The Army taught me a specific protocol for vaccinating dogs. Chances are, the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) developed the protocol we used. The AAHA recently changed the protocol in 2011, so it is likely that what I was doing in practice a decade ago is much different from what veterinarians are doing today.

It is also evident to me that veterinary medicine is an ever-changing practice. While I have knowledge in some areas, the fact that I no longer practice under a licensed veterinarian suggests to me that I am no longer an expert in the field. This is why I turn to outside materials and consult with veterinary technicians every chance I get. I want to be a resource for my customers and to achieve that, I must stay up to date on the field of veterinary medicine.

In her blog post Three Critical Problems With the Kennel Cough Vaccine (and what you should do about them), author Dana Scott listed these problems:

  1. The vaccine doesn’t work that well.
  2. The vaccine is not safe.
  3. Somebody did some bad math.

Dr. Jean Dodds recommends administering the intranasal form of the kennel cough vaccine whenever it is required by a grooming or boarding facility. She writes, “However, none of these vaccines is fully effective and may not be needed at all.” (Dodds, 2014, para. 11)

The vaccine is not effective, according to Dr. Karen Becker, because kennel cough is caused by a myriad of infectious agents. She explained in her video what kennel cough is, what causes it, and why she believes the kennel cough vaccine is ineffective for preventing this illness.

Essentially, kennel cough is a self-limiting illness similar to the common cold in humans. Unfortunately, because it can be caused by the bacteria Bordetella bronchiseptica as well as the parainfluenza virus and numerous other agents, a single vaccine for kennel cough does little to prevent dogs from contracting the illness. This agrees with Scott’s research that states, “There are at least forty agents that cause bordetella…But only a couple of these agents are contained in the vaccine.” (Scott, n.d., para. 15).

According to Dr. Peter Dobias, administering a kennel cough vaccine to a healthy dog often resulted in the patient’s return visit “a few days later with actual symptoms of the disease” (Dobias, n.d., para. 9).
This suggests that a bordetella vaccine can actually cause the illness in otherwise healthy dogs.

And even if the vaccine itself doesn’t cause kennel cough in dogs, your dog can still become infected even after vaccination according to Dr. Becker.

All of these sources suppport Scott’s initial problem with the kennel cough vaccine. It simply does not work well.

The safety of the vaccine is questionable, however, research suggests that the intranasal form of the vaccine is the safest option if a facility requires you to get a kennel cough vaccination for your dog. Whitcomb (2011) quotes Dr. Ronald Shulz, professor and chair of the Department of Pathobiological Sciences at the University of Wisonsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine:

“Vaccines are, in general, fairly safe…But they are something you don’t want to use if you don’t need to.”

So the question now becomes, When is it appropriate to vaccinate a dog with a kennel cough vaccine? If you ask this question to any holistic veterinarian, chances are you will get the same answer: never. However, there are circumstances, as Dr. Becker explains, when she is “forced” to administer the vaccine because a boarding facility or groomer “will not accept the owner’s written waiver to ‘hold the facility harmless'” (Dodds, 2014, para. 12).

Dr. Becker explained, “Kennels, doggie day cares, and groomers, and some veterinarians require that dogs be vaccinated for kennel cough. They demand this to remove liability from themselves.” (Becker, 2012)

This is where it gets interesting. Scott described how the kennel cough vaccine can cause the illness. She stated, “Dogs that are vaccinated for kennel cough will shed that disease for up to 7 weeks and parainfluenza for a week” (Scott, n.d., para. 27). This means dogs that are vaccinated only to be boarded, could potentially infect other dogs in the boarding facility. And since the literature supports the argument that dogs can become infected even after vaccination, the probability is very high that we are causing kennel cough in our dogs more than the natural cause.

To support the argument that dogs shed the disease, I came across an interesting article. Rath, Register, et. al. (2008), presented a case study in Clinical Infectious Diseases where a human infant had contracted kennel cough. According to the article, the 6-week old African American infant presented with rapid breathing, low oxygen, and apnea to a hospital ER. A few days before his admission, the family dog received an attenuated intranasal kennel cough vaccine. The infant was treated and discharged. When his cultures came back, he was positive for kennel cough. The patient was not available for follow up. However, the article described how he had been in and out of the hospital five times by 8 months of age, each time for kennel cough. When the second hospital treated him, they treated for whooping cough (caused by Bordetella pertussis). When another culture came back, they discovered the boy had actually contracted kennel cough. The article explained that the infant was immunocompetent, up-to-date on all shots, and otherwise healthy when the initial infection occurred.

Some veterinarians consider risk factors when it comes to recommending vaccinations. Dr. Michael Paul is one veterinarian who advocates for vaccinating dogs and cats with “non-core” vaccines when the individual animal has a high risk of exposure to a particular disease. Under this premise, any dog that is exposed to a communal population of dogs (such as what you would find at a veterinary clinic, groomer, boarding facility, or doggie day care) would fall into the high risk category for kennel cough. Paul (2012) asserts, “By asking a few questions, it is likely that virtually all dogs and cats should receive at least one so-called noncore vaccine every year.”

This is actually a promising position, since he is quoted saying at least once per year. In some areas, boarding facilities, doggie day cares, groomers, and veterinarians require the kennel cough vaccine to be administered twice per year, usually in 6-month intervals.

Here are a couple of interesting factoids from Scheiddeger (2014) from DVM360

  • Kennel cough remains a significant threat despite the availability of effective vaccines; the disease affected almost 2 percent of dogs seen in 2013.
  • Kennel cough was most often diagnosed in Kentucky, Utah and Florida.

Conclusions

It appears that the kennel cough vaccine is not an effective tool for mitigating disease in dogs. Instead, the vaccine causes illness and exposes other mammals (including humans) to B. bronchiseptica. While it would be wise to administer vaccines to animals with a higher risk of infection, it appears that a kennel cough vaccine would not work in this instance. Avoiding the kennel cough vaccine altogether would be the best choice but could leave pet owners with the burden of finding alternate care providers who do not require the vaccine or who will accept a signed waiver in lieu of the vaccine.

References