Is length the most important thing? (Day -160)

Quality vs Quantity of life in dogs

I’ve recently spent some time within some of the top oncology (cancer) referral vets within the UK and been in consults with people who have to be told that the biopsy says it is cancer. One of the most difficult questions that pet guardians will then ask is how long a loved pet has left – this is an awful question that has to be answered so carefully because we just do not know.

We try to use evidence based studies looking at different treatments when discussing the options – however these studies over use statistics to give averages. Unfortunately within veterinary research many studies only have a small amount of patients which is caused by the way the veterinary industry works. This means that when looking at a study with average life duration from start of treatment of 3 months that some dogs may have died at 1 week whilst others lived until 9 months or a year. I am personally starting to believe that statistics should be limited to use only in sample sizes over a defined minimum limit to improve reliability (I wrote about statistics here).

However what is missing from most of these studies is perhaps even more important and is the second question that most pet guardians ask. That is what the quality of life is like. It is something that may sound strange however it is much easier to quantify quantity of life (i.e. days) than it is quality (i.e. happiness) of a pet.

This is still something in it’s infancy within veterinary medicine – with humans we can explain that it will hurt now but it will mean that they are good later. The first time I saw this discussed was within surgery decision making in the AWSELVA journal in 2014 (J. Yeates & S. Corr) to evaluate treatment options based on the amount of painful time vs the amount of pain free time.

This is something that is difficult though as we need to define how we recognise the quality of life. For example if we consider movement as an indicator as recently there have been studies using accelerometers (step counters) to monitor the activity of an animal. A study just published used this to measure the physical activity in dogs receiving chemotherapy as an oncology treatment which may be acceptable.

However if we look at dogs with neurological problems that may have abnormal circling or pedalling movements then activity may not be the best quality of life. Here is where other techniques may come into play with things such as a seizure diary being kept to record frequency and duration of seizures to allow comparison of good time vs bad time.

Hopefully soon we will have better measures for the quality of life – and be able to apply these when making decisions that may impact animal welfare.

Don’t Make A Dog’s Dinner Out Of Your Puppy’s Upbringing

Training your puppy

Teaching your new puppy certain rules can be the most challenging thing any owner will face when it comes to their dog. Actually, training your dog to be obedient could be the most challenging thing any owner will ever face when it comes to life. It can be such a tedious process and one that you didn’t account for until you came home to find a fully chewed sofa and your best chews being used a dog toy. Somehow your puppy had even found a way to make your shoes squeak. As such, we have come up with a list of ways to help you in your search for obedience and manners, whatever the task at hand (or paw) may consist of.

Straight Off The Bat

The most crucial piece of advice we can give any puppy-owner is this: remember that a dog is a loyal companion. They love being with you, they love spending time with you and socialising with you. As such, any extended periods of confinement, including ignoring them, can have a negative effect on what you are trying to achieve. In fact, these type of ‘training’ will probably just lead to more destructive behaviour, louder barking and increased hyperactivity. In short, it will see them become a nuisance.

Basic Tips

Certain pieces of training advice are universal when it comes to training your puppy, or dog. The most universal is consistency. Always be consistent with your commands, and your rewards. What we mean is, don’t change up the word for sit, or heel, or anything like that. It will be confusing.

Another great tip to remember is that dogs love hearing their name, as such you should try using it a lot and often. However, don’t use their name whenever you are trying to reprimand your beloved pooch; only use it alongside actions that will grand a positive result, like rolling-over, albeit sitting is much more achievable.

When we say reward, be aware that this doesn’t necessarily mean a treat, or a doggy biscuit. It means attention and love and affection. Dogs will often crave this more than a little nibble on something tasty. Trust us. On this note, try and avoid giving your dog lots of attention whenever it misbehaves because, well, it will see this as a positive result to something naughty.

Do not reprimand your dog for urinating when it gets excited. This is a common trait in most dogs and it is involuntary. They’re simply recognising ou as their owner, and they love you so much they can’t contain themselves; so reprimanding them will only have a negative effect.

Try A Professional

If you’re having real problems housebreaking your pup, there are alternatives to stressing out and losing your mind. A great way to do this is to look out for any professional services that may be able to help you in your quest for good behavior, services such as a puppy daycare. Professionals have trained dogs before, lots of dogs, and so they will be able to communicate with your pup and inform you of what tricks seem to be most effective.

Training your dog professionally

Simple Tips To Keep Your Dog Healthy

Keeping a dog healthy

Our loveable canine companions will always find ways to get themselves into a spot of bother all on their own. There’s not much we can do if a dog is determined to have fun and explore without doing a thorough safety check first. Dealing with a slightly dusty and beaten up dog is part and parcel of being a dog owner.

If their exuberance is out of our control, then take heart in the fact that we can control another aspect of their well-being: their health. Your dog doesn’t have the capacity to make sure their insides are kept in tip-top condition, but you do – and that’s why they adore you so! Here’s a few of the simple steps you can take to ensure yours feels great inside and out.

Eating Well

Every person is different, and consequently needs different quantities and types of food in order to have a balanced diet. Dogs are no different. It’s really important that your furry best friend gets the gets the right levels of nutrients through their foods. As dogfoodaid.com says, failing to provide the correct food for your pet can result in a number of serious conditions, such as obesity, arthritis, skin allergies, and congestive heart failure. All of these can be preventable if you take the time to learn just what foods your dog needs, so make sure you take the time to learn!

Brushing Their Teeth

Can you imagine what might to your teeth and all-round health if you didn’t brush your teeth? We’re sure you rather wouldn’t think about it, so we’ll just tell you – it would not be good. Your dog might not need to have fresh breath for an important meeting or get together, but they still need to have their teeth well taken care of. If they don’t, they’re liable to suffer from gum disease, which can cause massive complications in dogs, including missing teeth and eroded gums. What’s particularly evil about this condition is that it’s often difficult to detect until it’s too late.

Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be “too late” without a bit of preventative care. Brushing your dog’s teeth might not sound like the easiest or more enjoyable task of the day, but you’ll be doing him or her a great service.

Protection from the heat

Protection from the Heat

If you’re in the UK, you’ll know how much time we put into making sure we’re protected from the sunshine (at least on those rare few days a year when it shines). If we need to be lapped in suntan lotion and have access to a sun umbrella and water, then it’s fairly reasonable to assume your dog will too –  especially as sunshine can play havoc with your dog’s health. So before you take your dog along with you to the beach, make sure they have plenty of access to water (though not too much!) and a place to sit in the shade. In hotter weather, it’s advisable to coat your dog in canine friendly suntan lotion – they do exist! Just make sure it doesn’t contain Zinc Oxide, as that can be toxic to dogs.