Ever came home to a torn up cushions or chewed shoes? Multiple holes in the backyard? These are common signs that your dog is getting bored when you’re away during the day.
Environmental enrichment is a concept that has been adopted by many kennels, research facilities and pounds to try to enrich the lives of their boarders during their stays.
There are 4 key areas which need to be considered when choosing appropriate ‘boredom breakers’.
This is providing the pet a ‘safe’ place for them to hide. This may be a simple as a cardboard box or a dog kennel or a special towel or blanket. This is the most important aspect as it makes them feel secure in their environment.
This sense of security can be particularly useful for animals afraid of storms. Encourage the use of the special spot with regular feeding and treats, so when the time comes they feel ‘safe’ in their happy place.
This challenges the animal to think and encourages them to use their natural activities, skills and movements. Things such as scratching posts, food toys, scatter feeding and introducing interesting and different scents (including catnip) to their play area can also give them mental stimulation and prevent boredom.
Who doesn’t love the sense of achievement after you have completed a task or solved a difficult problem? The same can be applied to cats and dogs. Toys are great for entertainment however, sometimes pets may require objects which they can manipulate for rewards. Items such as the occasional bone, interactive feeders, Kongs, cardboard cereal boxes with food inside, or even plastic water bottles which have holes in the sides for the odd biscuit to fall out are encouraged.
This provides a degree of the unknown for your pet. This aspect should be carefully considered as to much of the ‘unknown’ may be intimidating and have the reverse effect, whilst not enough novelty may still cause your pet to become bored.
Chewed up cushions, torn apart shoes and other destructive behaviours might not just be occurring because of boredom. It is quite possible that your pet may be suffering from some form of anxiety.
To help with this there are prescription drugs that can help to re-wire your pet’s brain. Over a course of 6-8wks of using the medication in conjunction with the aforementioned “boredom breakers” there should be a significant improvement in their behaviour.
Other options to consider for stressy or anxious dogs are DAP collars. DAP (dog appeasing pheromone) is slowly secreted from the collar and this helps to calm dogs down and make them feel secure and safe.
Similarly, Feliway spray or diffusers are available to help relieve cats from stress in their household. This is particularly important as stressed cats are more likely to get blocked bladders, which can quickly turn into a life threatening situation.
All things considered, tactile interaction with your pets is always best. Playtime or pats with cats and long walks for dogs are also advised as it keeps them both physically and mentally active and healthy.
Image from: http://www.provet.com.au/en-au/products/exclusiveproducts/4cytecanine.aspx
Image from: https://www.blackmores.com.au/products/pet-health/joint-care/paw-osteosupport-joint-care-powder-for-dogs
McMahon & Gallagher Veterinary Services Beaudesert
image from: http://www.hillspet.com.au/
Coming into the cooler months of the year it can be a struggle for pets (and people) to get up and move about on those cool winter mornings. This can be due to number of reasons, thought the most widespread cause is osteoarthritis.
Fortunately there are ways to ease the pain and suffering of this chronic disease. Generally pets with severe cases are taking prescription medications from their local veterinarian, however supplements are available which may reduce the use and therefore negative side effects of these medications.
On the market currently there are several highly recommended joint supplements including PAW (by Blackmores) Osteosupport and 4CYTE by Provet.
This product contains a natural source of key nutrients extracted from renewable sources of New Zealand Green Lipped Mussel. These nutrients are needed for the production of cartilage and also aid in general joint care. Green Lipped Mussels contain omegas 3 & 6 plus antioxidants and chondroitin which have a number benefits in conjunction with joint care for your cat or dog.
A relatively new product, 4CYTE has astounded researchers with the many health
benefits it possesses. The main ingredient, Epiitalis has the ability to create cartilage
cells which tips the cartilage production balance back in favour of production rather
than the degeneration of cells.
Its properties also aids in the suppression of chemical which are responsible for poor
joint function. As well as Epiitalis, this product contains Green Lipped Mussel,
glucosamine and chondroitin (from the sustainable harvest of shark cartilage) as well
as omega and fatty acids.
Hills j/d and Hills j/d + Metabolic
Although it is not a supplement, Hills j/d food is a great way to help your pet’s general mobility and wellbeing. Being proactive about joint health and mobility issues can reduce the need for aggressive therapies later in life. Hills j/d is an excellent source of omega 3 to nourish the joint cartilage and also contains L-carnitine which can help to maintain a healthy weight and so avoiding the extra stress placed on joints in obese animals. The added antioxidants also give the immune system and added boost to fight off the free radicals attacking and destroying joint cartilage.
Hills j/d Metabolic combines the 2 prescription diets into one easy food. The added benefits of metabolic help to encourage weight loss and therefore helps to reduce stress on the joints as obesity is a lead contributor to arthritis.
PAW Osteosupport and Provet’s 4CYTE are safe to use in conjunction with Hills j/d.