The hardest part about sharing your life with a companion animal is when the time comes to say goodbye. The loss of a beloved pet is difficult for all pet parents. Luckily, there are some helpful support resources out there, including Ohio State University Veterinary Medical Center’s Honoring the Bond program.
Honoring the Bond not only helps clients of the Veterinary Medical Center (providing on-site social work services) but also pet owners everywhere.
Do other animals in the home grieve the loss of a companion?
Ohio State has also compiled a great suggested reading list on topics related to pet loss, including making end of life decisions and children’s books about the loss of a pet. You can also find a list of hotlines and online sites that support grieving pet owners.
An organization of cat care professionals in the UK called The Cat Group has created a very helpful “Kitten Checklist” for anyone thinking about adding a new kitten to their family!
This user-friendly checklist was designed to help owners choose a happy and healthy kitten, whether it comes from a shelter, rescue organization, friend, or breeder.
Besides checking for signs of poor health, the creators of the checklist also note the importance of assessing temperament. “Many people don’t understand that in order to become a good pet cat, kittens need positive interactions with people and need to get used to the human environment and lifestyle before they are about 8 weeks old,” they report.
The checklist guides potential owners through a series of questions. These include things to consider before visiting a shelter or breeder to see kittens and what to observe when you are visiting and interacting with a kitten.
The health section includes an easy way to evaluate the different parts of a kitten’s body: eyes, ears, nose, coat, etc.
You can download or print out the Kitten Checklist pdf by clicking HERE.
The University of Washington and Texas A&M University have teamed up for a large-scale study called the Dog Aging Project. The project invites dog owners to nominate their pets to be part of the study.
The goal of the Dog Aging Project is to identify factors that are critical to improving healthy lifespan in dogs. The researchers are interested in finding out how genetics, lifestyle, and environment influence the canine aging process.
By analyzing the data collected, the researchers’ ultimate goal is to provide owners with evidence-based advice that will help owners increase their dog’s healthy lifespan.
If you are accepted into the program, you will be invited to fill out surveys about your dog’s health and life experiences. You will be asked to submit a sample of your dog’s saliva for DNA testing as well. Some owners will be able to perform special activities with their dogs and report the results to the study.
Interesting in getting started? You can learn more about nominating your dog HERE.
The placebo effect is a known factor in human medicine. It occurs when a patient feels that they are benefiting from a fake pill or treatment, often given to patients in double-blind studies when researchers are testing new medications.
Is there a placebo effect for pets? A recent article in The Atlantic addresses this question.
While our pets don’t know what kind of medicine they are getting, we as owners do know. It turns out that placebos can trick owners into thinking that their pets are feeling better.
In one study on a canine epilepsy drug, 79% of owners with dogs on the placebo reported a reduction in seizures.
How does this happen? Veterinary experts report that we have “blind spots” about our pets, and our perceptions of their health don’t always match up with reality. This often happens when pet owners are aware that their pets are being studied and they have an expectation that they will see an improvement.
The placebo effect among pet owners is similar to what’s known as the “caregiver placebo effect.” When a patient—human or animal—can’t speak about how they are feeling, the caregiver must observe and judge the effects of a treatment.
The article points to one canine arthritis drug study where the perceptions of both owners and veterinarians were compared to actual physical exams. It turns out that even the vets were guilty of the caregiver placebo effect.
The danger of the veterinary placebo effect is that our pets may continue to suffer while we think that they are feeling better. Veterinarians note that it’s natural for us to want our pets to feel better, we just have to be aware of our perceptions and expectations.
We are celebrating a milestone, our 2,500th life saved!
Meet Charlie, an adorable 5 year old Terrier mix. Recently, Charlie began to show signs of illness. Her family brought her to the vet where she was diagnosed with pyometra, a life-threatening infection of the uterus in unspayed female dogs.
Charlie needed emergency surgery. Her human parents are a senior couple struggling to make ends meet. Charlie’s mom has needed a wheelchair to get around since an accident, and the family credits Charlie with being a key element of her rehabilitation.
“I honestly credit Charlie with saving my wife’s life. Though she is still wheelchair bound, Charlie helped get her through this tough time. Charlie is always by her side,” reports Charlie’s dad.