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How Owning A Dog Will Improve Your Mental Health

health benefits dog ownership

August 5, 2018

Dog owners everywhere agree that their pets add love and depth to their lives. Did you know that owning a dog can significantly improve your mental health as well?

How is this possible? Is this just something that obsessed dog owners say to justify their relationships with furry friends, or is there some truth that adding a loyal dog to your life improves every aspect of life?

Scientific research has been conducted on the impact that having a pet in your home has on life, health, and relationships, and it has proven that having a relationship with a dog can improve your mental health.

Dogs Can Help Reduce Depression Symptoms

With the introduction of AAT, or animal-assisted therapy activities as part of depression treatment, people suffering from depression noted a significant decrease in the number and severity of symptoms, even when it was reported that they’d had the diagnosis for years. Dogs also help reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness, something we particularly tend to struggle with in our modern society.  AAT has been known to reduce feelings of loneliness in patients residing in long-term care facilities. People that had experienced favorable interactions with therapy animals began reaching out to patients and caregivers around them, increasing their interactions and making connections with others.

Dogs Inspire Family Time

Studies show that families who adopt or raise a dog to participate in more leisure activities and family time than those who do not. Interpersonal relationships, as well as relationships with the family pet, are notably improved during these interactions. Make sure to get a breed that blends well with the family, such as a beagle, a golden retriever, or even a german shepherd (if you want a guard dog as well).

Dogs Increase Our Capacity For Empathy

The presence of a dog in the home increases our capacity for empathy and compassion. Looking at that relationship requires that we identify with feelings that are unique to our dogs, and to anticipate what their needs and desires must be. By giving them what they want and need, it deepens our connection with them.

Dogs Ease The Trauma Caused by PTSD

PTSD support animals are used to decrease stress and the after-effects of trauma on abuse sufferers, military service members, and people suffering from mental and emotional distress as a result of a traumatic event. Creating a relationship with therapy dogs allows people with PTSD to step outside of those tragic memories and remain in the present moment for more extended periods of time.

Dogs Reduce Our Stress!

If this isn’t reason enough to adopt a furry family member, I don’t know what is! It was found that interacting with a dog during a break in a workday significantly reduced levels of cortisol–a known stress hormone–in the body. The next time you see a pet in your workplace, stop and say hello. It will benefit both of you! Want to implement a pet-friendly workplace?

Dog Owners Have Better Sleep

What better way to unwind and relax after a long day than by playing a rousing game of catch with your dog? That’s bound to tire the both of you out—dog owners tend to experience better sleep than those without dogs. It is also noted that dog owners have better levels of health and fitness and resisted illness more effectively.

Yes, you might be considering all of the cons, whether it’s the potential noise, training demands, or even the poop (which, hey, there’s a service to help with that), that might be deterring you from getting a furry friend. Well, it’s time to consider all of the positives. With all of the noted benefits of owning a dog, how can you justify not running to your nearest animal shelter and looking for the perfect companion for you and your family? Dogs are loyal, devoted friends, and they will improve your life in ways that you never imagined possible. If you haven’t already done so, consider adding more depth and richness to your life; adopt a dog today!

References:

Why Millennials Are Lonely | Forbes

How Dogs Can Help Combat Vets with PTSD | Low VA Rates

7 Surprising Reasons Your Dog Should Sleep On Your Bed Every Night | Little Things

Dog Love and Owner’s Health: The Therapeutic Companion | Dog Lovers For Life

The Power of Animals in Recovery | The Recovery Village

 

Pets or parenthood? Why millennials are choosing pets over parenting

pets or parenthood

April 23, 2018, by Ryan O’Quinn

 

Often, millennials get a bad rap in the media sometimes being described as lazy, entitled and/or selfish. While such characteristics or personality traits are typically unique to individuals rather than the generation as a whole, maybe some stereotypes need to be reconsidered. Maybe this younger generation is actually smart not selfish. Why start a family when you’re still trying to figure things out? One truth is that this generation isn’t rushing into anything, especially parenthood.

 

Studies have shown that younger Americans are less likely to become parents, own a car, or become homeowners as compared to their predecessors. However, there is one category millennials do lead in: Pets. Millennials are adopting more pets: 35% as compared with 32% of Boomers. 57% percent of millennial households own a dog versus 51% of all U.S. households. And there are several different reasons behind why a large number of millennials are choosing to forego parenthood for pet ownership.

 

Money – While owning a cat or dog isn’t exactly cheap (estimates say that a small dog can cost you about $2,674 for the first year of raising), it’s significantly cheaper than raising a child. Estimates for raising one child inside a two-parent, middle-income household is between $12,800 and $14,970 annually depending on the child’s age. Millennials know how expensive it can be to raise a child these days and that’s one reason many choose to simply own pets instead.

 

Freedom – Although pets need lots of love and attention, supervision doesn’t have to be constant like with a child. It isn’t considered cruel or inhumane to leave your dog at home while you head off to work or out with friends. Kids need to be watched at all times and with a childcare price tag of about $720 to $2,230 per month, you can see why some millennials choose to opt for pets instead of children.

 

Practice – When couples commit to each other one of the first things they tend to do is move-in and get a dog or cat they can raise together. Raising pets can help committed couples who are either married or thinking of having a child in the future learn some basic parenting lessons. Couples can see how their partner may be as a parent and by raising a pet together, they can each get a small idea of what to expect when having a child.

 

Most millennials are at a phase in life where the thought of having a baby sounds too stressful or financially cumbersome. That makes having a pet an ideal decision. Furthermore, dogs and cats provide unconditional love that nurtures both mental and physical health. While some younger Americans may choose to have a pet over a child right now, many will still end up going down that path as they get older and more established.

Top 5 Easter Dangers For Pets

 

Easter dangers for pets

March 31, 2018, by Ryan O’Quinn

 

While everyone has been busy painting Easter eggs this week, we’ve been hard at work removing all the brown ones from our clients’ yards. We wouldn’t want anyone to inadvertently choose the wrong egg on your hunt tomorrow.

That said, with all the prepping for the big day, just make sure your lil’ four-legged furballs don’t accidentally get into something they’re not supposed to. Depending on how you celebrate or decorate on Easter day, be aware of these items that could be dangerous or potentially fatal to your pets.

 

Easter Lilies

 

First on the list are those beautiful Easter lilies. Beautiful as they may be, the Easter lily is one of the most dangerous flowers you can have around your cats.  Along with several of the other lily varietals, it can easily cause kidney failure. They’re toxic and often fatal, even if your cat takes only a small nibble on a petal or two. All parts of the lily plant can be deadly to cats, including the leaves, pollen, flower, and even the water the lilies are stored in. It can also happen when your cat grooms lily pollen off their fur or paws. Given the high risk and the devastating consequences, the safest thing you can do is to keep these lilies out of homes with cats.

 

Chocolate

 

Easter wouldn’t be Easter without those yummy chocolate bunnies. As most folks are already aware, chocolate is highly toxic to dogs. Dark chocolate and unsweetened, bitter chocolate are the most toxic types because they contain the highest amount of a chemical called theobromine (and also caffeine) that must be avoided. Chocolate can also be toxic to cats, however, they tend to stay away from sweet foods.

 

Easter Basket Items

 

Plastic eggs, plastic grass, and foil wrappers may be good basket fillers for kids, but all too often look like a tasty treat to your pets. They can be a choking hazard and should be kept away from dogs and cats. These items can cause serious health problems such as airway or mechanical obstruction, gastroenteritis, even pancreatitis. In some cases, these items must be surgically removed. Be sure baskets are kept off the ground, or pets are kept in another room while baskets are being unwrapped.

 

Eggs

 

Fresh, hardboiled eggs are not dangerous, but eggs spoil quickly. If days later your pet finds and eats an egg that was undiscovered during the Easter egg hunt, it can make them very sick. The best thing to do is keep track of the number of eggs hidden and make sure all are accounted for at the end of the hunt.

 

Candy Containing Xylitol

 

Xylitol is a sweetener most often found in sugar-free baked goods, sugar-free candy, and sugar-free gum.  According to PetMD, Xylitol rapidly releases insulin into a dog’s bloodstream, causing an extreme drop in blood sugar. It has also been known to cause liver failure and death.  Dogs are actually the only species reportedly affected by xylitol toxicity. The ingestion of xylitol should be considered a medical emergency, and pet owners should contact an emergency center as soon as possible.

Keep your dog safe this Easter by avoiding human food and/or treats. Spending some extra time playing with him/her, going for a long walk, or just a good cuddle session will make his holiday just as special.

 

 

 

8 Reasons Why Dogs Eat Their Own Poop And How To Stop It

Why dogs eat their own poop

March 18th, 2018, by Ryan O’Quinn

 

If you’ve ever stepped into your backyard only to discover your dog enjoying a fecalicious (sounds like it’d be a real word) midday snack, I’m sure the last thought running through your mind would be; some salt and pepper might make that taste better. Nope, probably not. Initial thoughts would be more along the lines of disgust. Immediately followed by, “you’re sure as hell not kissing me with that mouth!”

 

Of all the awkwardly gross habits we see our dogs engage in like drinking from the toilet, scooting their butt across the carpet, or just licking their butts—eating poop is the icing on the cake. Nothing tops it as far as the gross factor goes. They may not intend to gross us out, but it sure does the trick. Believe it or not, the gross-factor can be enough for some folks, that poop eating—scientifically called coprophagia—is, unfortunately, often a reason people will try to rehome a dog or even opt for euthanasia in some cases.

 

Reasons dogs engage in coprophagia

 

Since it’s pretty safe to say dogs aren’t eating their poop because of its sweet, savory taste, what would be a legitimate reason they’d engage in such a disgusting behavior? According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), in many cases, dogs start to eat their own poop because of some kind of environmental stress or behavioral triggers, which include:

 

1.  Isolation: Studies have shown that dogs who are kept alone in kennels or basements are more likely to eat poop than those dogs who live close to their people.

2.  Restrictive confinement: Spending too much time confined in a small space can cause the problem. It’s not uncommon to see coprophagia in dogs rescued from crowded shelters.

3.  Anxiety: often a result of a person using punishment or harsh methods during house-training. According to this theory, dogs may eliminate and then eat their own poop to get rid of the evidence, but then they are punished more. It becomes a vicious cycle.

4.  Attention-seeking: Dogs eat their own poop to get a reaction from their humans, which they inevitably will. So if you see your dog doing this, don’t overreact.

5.  Inappropriate association with real food: Dogs who are fed in close proximity to their feces may make a connection between the odors of food and those of poop and will be unable to tell the difference.

6.  Scenting it on their mothers: In some cases, puppies will get confused by sniffing fecal odors on their mother’s breath after she has cleaned them. Sometimes mothers may regurgitate food that is mixed with puppy fecal matter, which may set a puppy up to develop this bad habit.

7.  Living with a sick or elderly dog: Sometimes a healthy dog will consume stools from a weaker canine member of the household, especially in cases of fecal incontinence. Scientists hypothesize that this may be related to the instinct to protect the pack from predators.

8.  Just Because: Finally, some puppies and adult dogs will eat their own stool just because they like to do it. There is not always a satisfying explanation for the behavior, and the best you can do is to try to prevent your dog from doing it by distracting him and getting the stool picked up as quickly as possible.

 

Ok, so there are plenty of reasons your dog may be an avid connoisseur of coprophagia. But now the million dollar question: how exactly do you nip the problem in the bud?

 

Try these methods to end the poop-eating

 

1.  Always keep things clean. Pick up after your dog immediately. Don’t give him the opportunity to even consider how that fresh, steamy stool tastes. If you have other pets, clean up after them right away, too–especially litter boxes. In other words, keep temptation at bay by keeping all stools away.

2.  Keep your dog mentally and physically engaged. Make sure you set up a  regular playtime and give him/her plenty of daily activity. This is especially important for more energetic breeds of dogs.

3.  Make sure he/she is eating a whole, varied diet of quality proteins. Raw food has those digestive enzymes your dog needs to help him/her process meals. If you’re feeding cooked food only, you’ll definitely want to add digestive enzymes. Raw, green tripe is particularly high in digestive enzymes, as well as probiotics.

4.  Try adding some kelp for trace mineral deficiency. And, for a hydrochloric acid deficiency, try some apple cider vinegar. This may help mimic the missing acid and help the body compensate for the deficiency.

5.  Check your dog’s stool regularly for parasites. This can often become an undesirable and time-consuming task. By signing up for dog poop pickup service, part of the service is immediately notifying our clients if we find anything unusual in your dog’s stool upon each pickup.

6.  Avoid punishment: according to a study at the University of California, Davis involving 1,500 online surveys of pet owners, it is ineffective. The study also found food additives used to stop poop eating are only effective up to 2 percent of the time. Positive reinforcement training was not very effective either.

7.  Keep on top of the digestion situation of all the pets in your household. Remember, your dog may be attracted to another dog’s or cat’s stool, not only because he is deficient in something, but because they are not absorbing their food and their stools may be extra enticing.

 

The gross, but seemingly simple act of coprophagia may be somewhat complicated. If you’re noticing your dog’s starting to take a liking to poop, look for medical causes and if he/she is clear of any problems or issues, then make sure to keep things clean, your dog engaged and well fed. Be patient and most importantly always be consistent. Consulting your vet is always the best and should be the first move when dealing with a furry, four-legged poop-eating family member.

 

 

 

10 Benefits Of A Pet-Friendly Workplace

 

pet friendly workplaces

February 25, 2018, by Ryan O’Quinn

Does Your Workplace Employ a Pet-Friendly Policy?

If your pet was allowed to accompany you to work each day or on designated days, would you bring him/her along? Why or why not? In this post, I’m referring specifically to dogs. My apologies in advance to all cat owners reading this. Most dog owners I know personally or have talked to at some point or another would jump at the opportunity.

 

Living in the Bay Area—especially Silicon Valley to San Francisco — the trend of pet-friendly workplaces has gained lots of popularity. And the number of companies joining suit are on the rise. Tech companies like Google (Alphabet), Zynga, Facebook, VMWare, Salesforce and Etsy (San Franciso office) are where you hear stories about a dog-themed cafe called Yoshka, inspired by Google’s employee #8, Urs Hölzle. Or, there’s Boo, the famously cute Pomeranian with his own Facebook page that has over 18 million likes. This famous dog belongs to Facebook employee, Irene Ahn.

 

So, what’s all the hype behind dog-friendly offices? Well, recent research shows the scores of benefits created by these environments. The benefits can be twofold, meaning beneficial for the employees and the company itself. Though there certainly may be complications that come along with introducing animals into your office space, in most cases the benefits FAR outweigh the difficulties. Below are ten important benefits of a pet-friendly workplace.

 

1. Overall Improved Workplace Morale

Having pets in the workplace has been shown to greatly improve employee morale. Wagging tails around the office increase happiness levels, helping workers to feel more content at work.

2. Increased Employee Retention

Though pet-friendly workplaces are becoming more common, they still aren’t the norm. Many employees who enjoy bringing their pets to work prefer to stay with companies that enable them to do so.

3. Stress Reduction

Studies have shown that having pets in the workplace has helped to reduce employee stress levels without negatively impacting productivity levels.

4. Improved Work/Life Balance

Bringing pets to work helps employees to improve their work/life balance. Having an animal companion in the office can be a great way to bridge the gap between life at home and life at work.

5. Improved Employee Health

Studies have shown that pets can have surprising positive impacts on overall health. From helping to reduce stress to improving blood pressure, pets – specifically dogs – in the workplace can help to improve overall employee health. Other studies have shown dog owners to have improved immune function.

6. Increased Employee Activity & Exercise

Having pets in the workplace encourages employees to get away from their desks and move around throughout the day. Most people tend to bring their dogs to work and no matter the weather outside or the workload inside, bathroom breaks and short walks keep their humans active.

7. Improved Company Culture

Pets in the workplace tend to improve the atmosphere around the office and enhance the company culture overall. Having pets at work makes the office feel more like home for employees, which makes it easier for them to want to come to work. This, in turn, benefits the company as employees tend to mind less if they need to stay late.

8. Added Employee Convenience

Full-time employees with pets constantly need to balance caring for their pets with their work schedules. Allowing pets in the workplace simplifies the lives of pet owners and makes pet ownership more convenient.

9. Improved Work Relationships and Collaboration

Pets tend to bring people together. They are great conversation starters and can encourage healthy, productive relationships, collaboration and socialization among employees. Let’s face it. You may not have much in common with the person in the next cubicle, but dogs being around can change that quickly.

10. Attractiveness to Talented Employees

Many in-demand applicants in the market for a new job are looking for forward-thinking companies who offer benefits like pet-friendly workplaces. Pet-friendliness is a unique attribute that can help set companies apart from others for applicants and potential new hires.

 

And, if you’re not sold on the idea yet, here are a few statistics on pet-friendly office environments:

 

  • 53 percent of employees who currently work at a company that is not pet-friendly were “more likely” to stay with their company if it allowed them to bring their pets to the office. Sixty-three percent of HR decision-makers at companies without pet-friendly policies would be more likely to stay if the policy changed to be pet-friendly.

 

  • 82 percent of employees and 91 percent of HR decision makers said that allowing pets in the workplace would make employees more loyal to the company.

 

  • Employee reports of improved morale (88 percent), reduced stress (86 percent), and increased productivity (67 percent) have been documented as a result of pet-friendly policies.

 

With all the benefits and positive data listed above, implementing a pet-friendly workplace or office still requires a good deal of planning. For example, different colored leashes (provided by the company) to indicate whether a dog is more relaxed and friendly around other dogs and humans, versus dogs that may be more skittish or timid are a good idea.

 

Another factor that needs to be considered is designated potty and/or relief areas. Having a strategy in place before going live with a pet-friendly workplace program is an integral component in planning. Will there be pet waste stations set up in predetermined areas? Will the pets-at-work program be long or short-term? Depending on the answer, different solutions will be necessary. Does your company need help in implementing a pet-friendly workplace? If so, we can help! 

 

We partnered with McAfee in the launch of their pets-at-work program in the summer of 2017. The goal of their program was to get more employees into the office instead of working remotely. The program has seen much success thus far. Whatever the reason be for implementing a pets-at-work policy, a strategy needs to be in place. With a little planning, both employees and company can reap the rewards and benefits of a pet-friendly workplace.