Dog health is a multi-faceted subject and it doesn’t begin and end with quality vet care. Gone are the days where we pop Fido out the back on a chain or all alone for a day. We’ve come to understand that our relationship with dogs is so much richer and that our canine friends need regular support. Dogs give us a great deal in life. That’s why it’s no surprise that the pet industry regarding dog clothing, pet toys and dog treats are booming.
So too are supporting services that can help your dog flourish in a variety of different circumstances. Here are some of those supporting services in the spotlight
Doggy day care
Boredom, parental guilt, socialisation worries- these all prey on the back of the mind of loving dog parents. Especially in winter, where the days are shorter and colder with inclement weather. We often feel reluctant or even unable to exercise our doggy friends the way we would in summer.
This is where doggy day care comes in as a great bridging gap.
While you work through the day, choosing to make use of doggy daycare services can alleviate some of the dog parent guilt. It can also mean your dog is well looked after, is safe from harm and receives all the right kinds of doggy fun to make for a happy pooch. A doggy daycare experience includes socialisation, exercise, dedicated rest times and supervised play. This can be just the ticket for a stressed or bored dog or puppy.
Doggy day care provides great enrichment, mental health, exercise and socialisation- all of which is vital to strong dog health.
While we no longer offer doggy daycare services ourselves, we suggest you look for options within the local Wahroonga area and use it as part of your regular routine.
While a dedicated dog owner can do a lot of influence their dog through support, training and a positive relationship, sometimes your dog may need something a little more.
Mental health is an important part of maintaining positive dog health and a happy, trouble-free relationship with your dog.
Like humans, our dogs and puppies can have lowered levels of resilience or mental health issues that impact behaviour and ability. Our dogs are sensitive creatures. They can be influenced by environmental impacts and life events. Perhaps previous experiences with other owners or in shelter situations. Situations and events that occur in their life with you such as accidents, impacts such as family violence or grief and loss can also be a factor. All kinds of situations with excess stress can influence your dog’s confidence, approach to life and even mental health outcomes.
So too can nature and biology play a factor. Mental health can be influenced by brain chemistry, natural timidity and resilience generally. An anxious bitch can give birth to similarly anxious puppies for example. Genetics, biology and even breed can influence how well your pet responds to stress.
An animal behaviourist can work with you and your dog to assess and work on issues, confidence and stress reduction. Depending on the behaviourist, they may have a veterinary background and be able to subscribe medications just as a psychiatrist would with a human patient. Or they may approach the treatment from a cognitive, teaching and therapy perspective where games, play and positive frameworks are setup to help your dog bridge the gap with the world around them.
Times you might call on an animal behaviourist are when you see high levels of anxiety, repeated stress behaviours, obsessive behaviours such as excessive grooming or damage to self, fear or strangers and spaces or anything that gives you cause to pause.
We have a great relationship with animal behaviourists in the Wahroonga area, so if you are concerned that your dog is exhibiting behaviour that exceeds what might come under the heading of training, it’s always best to come in and have a chat. Our vets can assess your dog and make some suggestions on what you can try prior to seeing an animal behaviourist. And if the situation looks like it needs some specialist care and advice, help you find the right person and understand what to expect.
Pet end of life doula
The end of life doula scene in Australia is growing and with it, the use of end of life doulas for pets. An end of life doula is like a birth doula. They are the person that helps you navigate your options at end of life and act as anything from home help to the person taking you to appointments in the wake of a terminal diagnosis. They might be there to write down notes from the doctor, bring the family together and coordinate respite during care situations, help with funeral arrangements and more with someone that has a life-limiting or terminal diagnosis.
And end of life pet doula does the same sorts of things only for a pet. They might help you look after a pet that is dying at home by sharing the care load. They could take on the responsibility of organising the care arrangements, funeral and burial arrangements and be there when you are seeking treatment from the vet. They might act as a comfort and confidant to help you get through the impending and actual loss of a pet.
Their role is not to replace a vet, grief counsellor or a pet undertaker. They are the bridge between you as a pet owner and all the situations you face when a pet enters end of life. They are your support as your dog or cat or other family pet navigates ill-health to death. It’s as much about providing support in a dog health capacity as it is for your emotional wellbeing so you can continue to care for your dog throughout the end of life journey.
Training is an important part of dog health as it improves your relationship, lowers risk, reduces stress and helps you connect well with your dog.
If you want to learn great dog training skills, another way to explore a relationship with a dog is to consider becoming a puppy raiser for a support dog organisation. You can get intensive training on how to better look after your dogs now and in the future as well as give back to the community is become a puppy raiser. Organisations such as Guide Dogs Australia, Assistance Dogs Australia, and Seeing Eye Dogs Australia are often looking for people that can take a puppy for 12 months, raise them and learn basic training to start their life as a support dog.
Programs can allow for you to have an already existing dog or other pets in the home. And each puppy raiser role comes with free training, regular classes, veterinary bills paid for, food and toys and other doggy needs covered. Plus, you raise a pup safe in the knowledge they could be going off to transform the lives of people with low vision, disabilities, autism, people with PTSD or to work with kids in classroom settings.
The other beautiful thing about being a puppy raiser is you meet an entire community of dog lovers while receiving quality training in the latest techniques. That could help expand your existing friendship group while also having a positive influence on existing family pets and your future dog ownership skills in the process.
Dog grooming isn’t only about looking good about town. Dog health is directly tied to that very important organ, the skin. Dog grooming helps reduce shedding around the home and makes your dog more comfortable. It can help keep the coat and skin healthy, especially free from matting and knotting. And it gives you the opportunity to spot any issues your dog may be having with disease, damage or fleas.
At Fox Valley Animal Hospital, our dog groomers are also trained to spot skin ailments and evidence of allergies, fleas, injury and more. With resident skin specialist vet Katie in the vet clinic, any issues found can be diagnosed and treated in a vet consultation.
Skin is an important organ and can be the window to issues with diet, allergic reactions, general ill-health, hot spots, skin cancers and even show if your dog is involved in fighting or altercations with other pets.
We recommend dog grooming as part of keeping your dog healthy, comfortable and happy. As a minimum, taking your dog to the groomer during the spring and autumn shed cycles can really help. More regular visits obviously increase your opportunity to spot skin and fur issues faster which can in turn improve treatment outcomes and reduce the work required to maintain your dog’s skin health by spotting issues earlier.
Enriching your pet is what we do
At Fox Valley Animal Hospital, we adore dogs and helping educate owners about all aspects of dog health is something we’re proud of. We love them for their kind and generous nature. Their goofy sense of style and humour never fails to impress. And we love their cheekiness just as much as we value their desire to help, please and be a part of life.
If you want to enrich your dog’s life with additional training, extra support services or when they are facing life’s challenges, call on us. We’re happy to help you give your dog the best possible life.