September 2015

How to Make Sure Your Dog Recovers from Surgery as Smoothly and Quickly as Possible

Subscribers Only — Dogs are lousy patients. It’s as simple as that. True, they don’t constantly call for a glass of water or a plump of their pillow, but that’s precisely the problem: Often unable to communicate distress, and possessing a stoicism that masks their true level of discomfort, dogs can mislead their owners into thinking that all’s well after a surgical procedure, when in fact it’s anything but.   More...

How to Teach Your Dog To Settle Down And Relax On Cue

Subscribers Only — Sit. Target. Go out. Jump. Fetch. Roll over. Turn on the light. Close the door. In sharp contrast to the rigid, behavior-suppressing training methods of days gone by, we in the modern, positive reinforcement-based training world take great pride in our ability to get our dogs to do lots of stuff. Fun stuff. Creative stuff. In our zeal to teach behaviors and encourage our dogs to offer behaviors, we sometimes overlook the importance of being able to ask our dogs to turn it off, settle down, and relax. That can be a serious oversight.   More...

Filing an Appeal

Subscribers Only — Insurance companies are in the business to make money, and anything they can legally deny, they will. However, that doesn’t mean they’re always right. You can file a letter of appeal with your insurer, but you need more than a stern letter. You need proof that you’re right. The evidence you need depends upon the disagreement and your contract.   More...

Pet Insurance 101

Subscribers Only — A 2010 New York Times article cited a survey of more than 1,000 pet owners, showing that fewer than half would pay more than $1,000 to a veterinarian to save their pet’s life. Only a third would pay $2,000 to save their pet. The article further stated that the result didn’t vary much by annual income; people with a household income of more than $50,000 a year were every bit as reluctant to spend big on a pet as those with household incomes of less than $50,000.   More...

How Retailers Can Help

Subscribers Only — Pet food manufacturers are fond of saying that their operations are highly regulated. It’s true that regulations are in place that, in theory, protect consumers’ dogs against poorly formulated products – but it’s also true that there is little surveillance and enforcement of the regulations. Rarely (and usually only in response to complaints) do regulators test to see if a food meets the guaranteed analysis for macronutrients on its label, and even more rarely, if it meets the standards for vitamins and minerals. So it’s largely up to the market to look after itself.   More...

The State of the Commercial Raw Diet Industry

Subscribers Only — Three of the most knowledgeable and experienced advocates of well-formulated raw diets for dogs have joined forces to explain how to evaluate commercial raw diets. We described them in the inaugural installment of this column last month: Dr. Karen Becker, a leading holistic veterinarian; Steve Brown, one of the founders of this industry; and Mary Straus, one of the most dedicated canine nutrition researchers and writers. This month, we’ve asked them to address the state of the commercial raw diet industry, starting with diets that are labeled as “complete and balanced” or “AAFCO-compliant” (formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the Association of American Feed Control Officials). Their executive summary? More and more dog owners and veterinarians are learning that well-formulated raw diets are the best food for most dogs most of the time – but the commercial raw dog food industry has problems. They are disappointed with the apparent lack of basic nutritional knowledge demonstrated by many companies – as evidenced by the formulation of their products – despite the manufacturers’ good intentions. They hasten to add, however, that consumers can learn how to evaluate raw products and the companies that make them, in order to avoid the poorly formulated ones and buy the best products for their dogs. While consumers have no way to determine the quality of the ingredients used by the manufacturers, or whether they really include the ingredients listed on their product labels, owners can evaluate the companies’ formulation proficiency and how that impacts the nutritional adequacy of their products. Following are six guidelines to help you evaluate commercial raw diets. – Nancy Kerns, Editor   More...

The 12 Rules of Rocket Recall

1. Train it! Practice it! 2. Use the reinforcers that have the highest value for your dog for recall practice. 3. Reward ALL check-ins during other times of the day (a check-in is any time your dog chooses to visit you of his own accord). 4. Don’t call a dog for anything he doesn’t or won’t like (such as trimming nails). 5. Don’t call your dog if you don’t think he will come (i.e., if your dog is riveted by a twitching squirrel).   More...

Rocket Recall

At a recent outdoor social for our clients and their off-leash dogs, my own dog, Willow, joined in the fun. In addition to helping her continue to enjoy the company of a variety of other dogs, I also use times like this to practice recall. Over the course of 45 minutes, I called her to me six or eight times and each recall was met with this success: Willow leaving the action and returning to me immediately, enthusiastically and with rocket-like speed. One client asked, “How in the world do you do that?” My simple answer was, “You train it.”   More...

Spend to Save

I spent more than $7,000 on vet bills last year. Only a fraction of that was spent on my own two dogs and two cats; the bulk of it was spent on foster puppies and a relative’s dog. The crazy thing is, I think would have come out better if I had bought pet health insurance for all of them, the six foster puppies and my relative’s dog included.   More...