New Finnish Study Shows Anxiety is a Common Trait in Many Dogs

Researchers in Finland conducted a survey of nearly 14,000 dog owners to determine the causes of canine anxiety.  They found that over 72% of dogs experience some form of anxiety.

What types of anxiety are most common, and are there certain breeds that are more anxious than others?  Here are a few key findings from the study:

  • The most common form of anxiety in dogs is noise sensitivity (fireworks, thunder, etc.) followed by fear of specific things (such as strangers, other dogs, or surfaces and heights).
  • Female dogs are slightly more likely to show anxiety and fear than male dogs (51.5%). Male dogs tend to show more separation anxiety.
  • Certain behavior problems tend to be associated with canine anxiety, including inattention, aggression, hyperactivity, and compulsive behavior (such as self-biting).
  • Some breeds are more anxious and fearful than others. Labrador Retrievers and Staffordshire Bull Terriers show low levels of fear, while Shetland Sheepdogs and Rough Collies tend to be more fearful.

The authors of the study note that canine anxiety can have a genetic basis.  However, the prevalence of canine anxiety shows that it is common across breeds and factors like training, socialization, and the home environment play a role too.

Interested in learning more?  Check out the full study HERE.


Top Pet Food Trends of 2020

This year’s Global Pet Expo, a convention hosted by the American Pet Products Association and the Pet Industry Distributors Association, highlighted some new product trends that are driving the pet food market this year.

A Switch from Grain-Free to Grain-Friendly Diets

The grain-free pet food trend, which was growing in popularity over the past few years, has faced a setback as an increased number of dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) cases in certain dog breeds have been linked to ingredients found in grain-free diets.

The pet food industry is now focused on “grain-friendly” diets featuring healthy and wholesome grains such as barley, oatmeal, and brown rice.

Pet Foods that Target a Specific Health Issue

Solutions-based pet foods that are designed for a particular life stage or health condition are continuing to gain in popularity.  Some of the most popular address issues like obesity and skin, coat, and joint health.

Foods that Address “Rotational Feeding”

Rotational feeding is a growing trend among pet owners who like to feed their animals different formats of the same dietary formula.  Examples of this include wet, dry, and treat options that address a particular concern or contain the same combination of animal proteins.

Whole-Animal Nutrition

It used to be that pet foods containing animal by-products like organs, bone, and cartilage were frowned on.  Today’s quality pet food manufacturers are returning to “whole-animal nutrition” by adding some of these ingredients to their high-end diets.

Lickable Food and Treats

Pet owners are increasingly turning to pet foods and treats that have a very soft mousse or gel texture.  They can be served out of containers or tubes and include meaty broths and frozen, ice cream-like treats.


Can Pets Get Coronavirus?

The new strain of coronavirus from Wuhan, China (2019-nCoV) is believed to be a virus that jumped from animals (possibly bats via another species) to humans.  While its contagiousness among people is a worldwide health concern, what about our pets?

Veterinarians at Texas A&M University report that there is currently no evidence that the new coronavirus affects dogs, cats, or other companion animals.  This means that as far as we know, we cannot transmit it to pets and pets cannot transmit it to us.

Other types of coronavirus can affect pets, and are often specific to a particular species, meaning that dogs cannot pass them to cats and vice versa.

For instance, infectious tracheobronchitis complex (ITB), commonly known as kennel cough, is a coronavirus in dogs.  Respiratory and intestinal coronaviruses are common in dogs, but they are often mild.

Dogs with coronavirus infection may have diarrhea, cough, or a runny nose.

In cats, coronavirus symptoms can be severe and may include diarrhea, fever, jaundice, weight loss, and fluid in the chest or abdomen, depending on the specific virus strain.  The often-fatal disease FIP (feline infectious peritonitis) is caused by a coronavirus.

Common-sense prevention measures are the best way to stop coronaviruses from spreading among dogs and cats.

Isolate any new pets brought into the household until they are cleared by a veterinarian. Wash your hands after coming in contact with pet feces.  Make sure you clean the litterbox daily, especially in a multi-cat household.

Can the new 2019-nCoV virus jump to pets?  The vets at Texas A&M say it’s possible, but not likely, and pet owners should concentrate on preventing the more common pet viruses in their furry friends.


Study: Risk Factors for Accidental Opioid Poisoning in Dogs

Accidental opioid poisoning is a danger for our companion animals, especially dogs, as well as for humans.  A new study analyzed data from the Animal Poison Control Center for the years 2006-2014 to identify risk factors for opioid poisoning in U.S. pet dogs.

Not surprisingly, there was a significant link between the number of accidental dog opioid poisoning calls and the county-level human opioid prescription rate.

The number of calls tended to be lower for older and heavier dogs.  Smaller, younger dogs were more likely to accidentally ingest opioids.  Neutered dogs were found to have lower poisoning call rates than intact dogs.

The call rate for accidental opioid poisoning in dogs peaked during 2008 and then began to decline.  The authors speculate that this may be related to an overall decline in the number of prescriptions being written.

The authors note that like human children, curious dogs are also at risk for accidental ingestion of harmful substances like prescription opioids and other drugs like marijuana.

Awareness of the characteristics that put dogs at risk can help to reduce the number of accidental poisonings.  While calls about opiates may be on the decline, the authors remind owners to be mindful of all human drugs and other toxicants, like pesticides and poisonous plants.


Dog Walking Safety Tips from the AVMA

Taking your dog for a walk is a great way for you and your pet to enjoy quality time together and get in some healthy exercise.  Seems like a simple activity, but the American Veterinary Medical Association reminds dog owners to keep their best friend’s safety and well-being in mind when going on walks.

Here are a few of their best dog walking safety tips, but be sure to click HERE for the full story.

  • Talk to your veterinarian before starting a new exercise program for your pet to ensure that he is healthy enough for added physical activity.
  • Make sure your dog is well-trained to walk on a leash and remember to obey all local leash laws and pick up after she does her business.
  • Allow your dog to take “sniff breaks” so that he can fully enjoy his outdoor adventure.

  • Avoid walks in the coldest part of the day in winter and the hottest part of the day in summer. Learn the signs of hypothermia and heatstroke in dogs and protect their paws from ice in the winter and hot pavement in the summer.
  • If your dog is new to walks, build up gradually to one or two 15-minute brisk walks per day, allowing time for cool down and recovery.
  • Monitor your dog for unusual tiredness, lameness, or difficulty breathing during walks. Talk to your veterinarian about possible joint or breathing problems, especially if you own a breed prone to conditions like hip dysplasia or brachycephaly.

Enjoy your walks together!