Oct
16
2014
Taking care of a disabled pet can be a demanding 24/7 experience, but more pet owners than ever before are volunteering for the job so their beloved dogs and cats can live longer. Respite care for these dedicated individuals is essential; however, finding the right person to provide this service forces most pet owners to think out of the box. Terri S. ran into this problem after her 11½ -year-old dog, Clancy, slowly became paralyzed in his hind legs. Terri and her husband, Paul, took Clancy to several veterinary specialists, but nothing could be done to stop the paralysis and by September 2013 the dog was completely paralyzed. Clancy needed round-the-clock care that included carrying him whenever he needed to be moved, hand feeding him meals, making sure he was turned regularly on his waterproof mat to prevent pressure sores, and holding him while he relieved himself. Terri and Paul saw that Clancy was never left alone.  After 10 months, the couple had used up all of their vacation and sick time at work. They were exhausted and frustrated. They looked for signs that Clancy was unhappy living this way, but Terri described her dog as “happy and alert.” Finally, Terri turned to the doggie day care where Clancy had gone before his illness for help. The workers behind the counter turned silent after she described the level of care her dog needed. They told her the day care was for active dogs only. Terri carried Clancy back to her car and cried. What is respite care? Respite care is short-term assistance for a disabled person or pet that gives the primary caregiver a break from his or her duties. It is not a luxury; it is a necessity. Benefits of respite careAllows a caretaker to get refreshed and rejuvenated Helps a caregiver reconnect with the outside world Enables a pet owner to do a better jobWhile respite care for people has been around for some time, the concept for a disabled pet is relatively new. It takes some creative thinking to find a person with the skills to help. Terri and Paul turned to a family member who was willing to learn how to take care of Clancy. Terri’s brother filled in a few hours twice a week so that she and her husband could have a break in the demanding schedule. Other resources for respite careHire a vet tech at your veterinarian’s office or a physical therapy clinic that might be looking for extra work Board your pet at your veterinarian’s office, even if it’s just for the day Search the Internet for websites that specialize in licensed pet sitters, such as DogVacay or Care.com Check the Internet for veterinary hospice care companies, because many also supply in-home medical respite care Organize a respite exchange with another caregiver of a special-needs pet Check with a local animal rescue group for a referral to their most reliable foster familiesWhen you find the person who will provide the respite care, have a trial run to make sure he or she is a good match for you and your pet. In the recent PetsMatter article, “Tips for working with a pet sitter,” writer Bekka Burton points out this can “smooth out any rough patches.” A trial period gives a pet owner the opportunity to be sure the individual can perform all of the necessary duties, and just as important, the chance to see if the pet likes the new caregiver. You may want to start with an evening away from your pet and slowly work up to longer periods of respite care. Then, once everyone is comfortable, be sure to let your veterinarian know the name of the person taking care of your dog or cat. Being the full-time caretaker for a disabled pet is challenging, but with the help of a respite caregiver it can be a rewarding experience for you and your cherished pet.   Photo: Clancy, online shopping Sharon Seltzer is an animal writer who founded the website, Lessons From A Paralyzed Dog, as a tribute to her dog, Sophie, who was paralyzed for 5 years.  
Oct
14
2014
Giving your pet the medication he needs at home can seem overwhelming. Here are a few tips and tricks to ease the pain of pilling your pet.

“Sasha doesn’t like pills, but she loves treats.” Get sneaky and hide the pill in a treat! Mix it into peanut butter or yogurt, stick it in cheese or bread, or wrap it in a small piece of deli meat. ...more
Oct
9
2014
Let me start out by introducing all three of my “children”: Bo, the beautiful and determined Australian shepherd mix; Ty, the adorable and silly golden retriever; and Duncan, the handsome and loving yellow Labrador. They were all about the same size and age when they came to live with my husband and me, which was wonderful at first. As they started to age, however, it became difficult to have three senior dogs....more
Sep
16
2014
Are you taking that much-needed, week-long vacation to the beach and considering hiring a pet sitter? Perhaps you have a highly recommended and trustworthy acquaintance you’d like to hire. Maybe a neighbor or family member has offered to take care of your pet while you’re away. Whoever you chose to act as your pet’s stand-in caretaker during your vacation, here are a few tips to make sure it’s smooth sailing for your animal and your sitter....more
Sep
11
2014
Do you think you’re speaking your pet’s love language by plying her with all the tasty treats she can eat? If your pet could actually talk to you, she might say that you have a thing or two to learn about finding the way to an animal’s heart.

According to Ernie Ward, DVM, author of Chow Hounds and founder of the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, people tend to celebrate special occasions or express their emotions through cakes, ice cream, and champagne. And, because they can’t verbally communicate with their pets, they assume their pets also want to receive love in the form of high-calorie goodies. ...more
Sep
8
2014
In honor of October’s Adopt a Dog Month, here is advice to help you adopt a dog successfully.

The myth about shelter animals
First, let’s dispel the myth that dogs in shelters are problem dogs. “This is one of the biggest misconceptions of shelter animals,” says Aimee Gilbreath, executive director of Found Animals, a foundation dedicated to reversing animal euthanasia. “Most of the animals in shelters end up there through no fault of their own....more
Sep
4
2014
Most pet owners appreciate the importance of diet to their pets’ health and longevity, but when it comes to selecting a good food option for their pets from the myriad choices that exist in the marketplace, the decision can be an overwhelming one. What should pet owners consider when reviewing the nutritional labeling on the various food options they are considering? ...more
Sep
2
2014
Is your kitty house-soiling? Don’t abandon, euthanize, or give her to a shelter. Help is available.

The American Association of Feline Practitioners and the International Society of Feline Medicine now have guidelines to diagnose and solve house-soiling behavior in cats....more

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