Who doesn’t like smoothies? From smoothie shops to ice cream parlors, this fruity blended drink can be found almost anywhere. Made to order or pre-blended smoothies can be had anytime, day or night.
Let’s face it – humans love their smoothies! In addition to humans, we have a feeling that after trying the following recipe, you’ll find that your dog loves smoothies too.
This carrot and berry canine smoothie recipe is flexible. You can pretty much guesstimate how much of the ingredients you want to place in your blender. Just like NuVet supplements, this recipe is chock full of great stuff for your canine companion!
If you are aware of any sensitivities your dog may have then avoid that ingredient or substitute it for something else that you know your dog likes. For example, you could pick blueberries instead of strawberries or cucumber instead of carrot.
This recipe was selected because it contains ingredients that are nutritious, dog friendly and tasty. For example, yogurt is rich in calcium. Honey aids in digestion and is great for boosting energy. Bananas are high in potassium and other nutrients, while strawberries contain, fiber, vitamins C, K, B6 and B1.
Carrots on the other hand are high in a myriad of vitamins, aid in digestion, promote a healthy coat and are even good for your dog’s breath. Just like with NuVet Plus, you can be sure that your pup is receiving great nutrition with this fruity treat.
Step 1 – Add 1 small container of yogurt, ½ teaspoon of honey, 1 chopped banana, 1 cup of strawberries, 1 diced medium carrot, and 1 8oz cup of water to a blender.
Step 2 – Blend until ingredients are smooth.
Note: carrots may not blend completely, tiny chunks are fine and your dog will probably like them! We feel pretty confident that next to your pup’s NuVet Plus supplements, this smoothie is going to be something Fido really enjoys eating.
You can easily serve Fido his smoothie by pouring the finished product into an ice cube tray and freezing it, or if you prefer, you can make the smoothie into popsicles for your dog. Consider using a rawhide chew or other chew toy as the popsicle stick.
Making nutrition tasty is important to NuVet Labs, which is why they created NuVet Plus and NuJoint Plus. Not only are their high quality supplements comprised of human-grade ingredients and produced in an FDA registered lab, but dogs actually look forward to taking their NuVet and NuJoint.
Aside from taste, canine parents everywhere have witnessed their dogs energy levels and general health improve with daily use of NuVet supplements. Dog parents have been so thrilled with what they have observed that they regularly post about their experiences. To see what they have to say, visit NuVet Labs testimonials page.
With cold weather on the horizon you may find yourself thinking about how to help your dog’s joints this fall and winter. If your pooch experiences joint issues, keep reading as we share six tips that may help keep your dog comfortable during the cold months ahead.
Probably one of the easiest things you can do to make life easier on your pup’s joints is to purchase a ramp. Ramps can be used in place of steps. They can also be used to make simple tasks, like jumping on the couch, much easier on your canine companion’s joints. Following the manufacturer’s instructions will help you install your ramp properly. Most ramps can be purchased online or at your local pet supply store for a fairly reasonable price.
Stiff, tender joints can be very uncomfortable to sleep on. It may be a good idea this fall season to invest in a high-quality orthopedic bed made just for dogs. Keep in mind the size of your dog when selecting a bed. Make sure that Fido’s entire body is able to fit in the bed comfortably while he is lying down. If the idea of lugging your dog’s bed from room to room doesn’t sound like fun to you – you may want to get multiple.
Being overweight can exacerbate your dog’s joint issues. Keeping Fido at a healthy weight is extremely beneficial. Feeding your pup a high quality diet in addition to a nutritious dog supplement, like NuVet Plus, are positive steps you can take to make sure that Fido is receiving proper nutrition. Exercise is also extremely important. If your dog seems to struggle with certain forms of physical activity, speak to your vet about potential options.
Humans aren’t the only ones who can benefit from alternative remedies. Many dog parents are deciding to provide their beloved canines with acupuncture to help with their joint issues. They feel strongly about acupuncture’s benefits. The idea is that acupuncture allows the body to release its own natural beneficial substances. Speak to your veterinarian if you think acupuncture might be right for your pooch.
If your dog’s joints prevent him from exercising like he used to, consider seeking out lower impact exercises for your pup. Swimming is an excellent exercise for dogs with joint issues. In the colder weather it may be possible to find a swimming pool for your pet devoted just to dogs. Some pet owners have added doggie treadmills to their home just for Fido. This allows them to provide their pooch with lower impact walking. When it comes to finding the best low impact activity for your pup it is always a good idea to consult your vet.
Many dog parents are turning to high quality joint supplements to help their dog’s joints this fall. Several pet parents have witnessed great success after starting their fur babies on a regular regimen of joint support supplementation. Dog parents everywhere have shared the benefits their pups have experienced with NuJoint Plus dog hip and joint supplement.
We hope that you found these tips helpful when it comes to finding assistance for your dog’s joints this fall. Here at NuVet Labs we are committed to the creation of high quality pet products, like NuVet Plus and NuJoint Plus. Proper nutrition and joint support have been shown to enhance and improve the quality of life for pets everywhere. We regularly receive testimonials from dog parents who happily witness their dogs looking and feeling better than ever after being on a daily regimen of NuVet supplements.
Learn more about NuVet Labs and their supplements here!
Socialization is an important part of the healthy development for puppies. Dogs tend to have malleable personalities, which means they can end up aggressive or more docile, nervous or more outgoing, depending upon a variety of factors.
The most influential factor is the dog’s socialization, beginning from the time they are very young puppies. Although factors like breed and genetics can also play a role, socialization has the largest influence in the final outcome. Fortunately for new dog owners, it is also the easiest of the factors to control.
When it comes to raising a well adjusted dog, socialization is essential. Dogs tend to make very strong associations to particular situations and base their behavior upon their previous experiences. This applies to both positive and negative behaviors. These experiences will influence how the dog will react to children, noise, people in certain clothing, different types of dogs, and more.
Socialization involves introducing the dog to a wide variety of situations in a positive way. The goal is to help them develop a calm and friendly personality as an adult. Interestingly, researchers have found that puppies are the easiest to expose to new situations. As the dog grows up, they naturally become more wary of new situations and the process of socialization can be much more difficult.
Whenever possible, new puppy owners should begin the process of socialization between three and twelve weeks old. Some may be nervous about exposure to other dogs before the pet has finished their shots.
However, it is possible to begin in controlled environments with dogs that have been certified as healthy by their veterinarians. Also check that the other dogs are up to date on their vaccinations thus far. After twelve weeks, dogs will become increasingly more fearful and difficult to socialize. The experiences they have had leading up to this point will greatly influence their future personality.
Many dog owners recognize a second critical period in the dog’s development. This begins after four and a half months and can continue up to two years. Some refer to this period as the dog’s ‘adolescence’. During this period, dogs can become more hostile to new situations and experience more anxiety. Offering treats and a calming presence are often good ways to help the dog move past these difficulties.
Remember, the dog will progress through various personality changes as he ages. Therefore, it is important that socialization continues throughout the dog’s lifetime. Owners should look for ways to help dogs adjust to new situations and keep them calm when meeting new people. The more positive experiences they have, the greater the chance of having a friendly dog and an excellent companion.
Begin during the critical period between three and twelve weeks. The puppy should be exposed to as many quality situations involving different people and different animals as possible. Some professional breeders mention that they take the time to move new litters to a variety of rooms in the home. This helps to expose them to different textures and environments.
Inviting children to interact and play with the puppies under careful supervision is another excellent technique. In general, puppies should be well exposed to humans touching them and handling them. Seclusion in yards or kennels should be avoided.
Some areas may offer ‘puppy kindergartens’ where dogs can begin interacting with one another and even be exposed to different sounds and smells. Those who do not have access to these options can reach out to other local pet owners and organize ‘puppy play-dates’.
It is important for the owners to take the socialization process slowly and listen to the responses from their dog. If the dog is showing signs of anxiety, such as backing into a corner and not wanting to play, then help them calm down. This can be done by sitting with them a little further from the action, offering treats, and slowly reintroducing them to the environment as they become more comfortable.
Remember to keep the experiences as varied as possible, from people of all ages, to people in uniforms, on bikes, loud noises, crowds, and more. The more environments and types of people the dog interacts with during the early weeks and beyond, the better off your pup will be.
Dog socialization is a critical part of developing a healthy personality and temperament for the animal. Their ability to adapt to new situations and interact with people and animals is largely defined by their experiences in the first several weeks of life. Proper socialization is an important part of being a dog owner. Hopefully the above will help those adopting an animal get started on this critical aspect of animal rearing.
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The human-animal bond is an incredible interspecies connection. For generations, people have referred to dogs as ‘man’s best friend’. Yet, few people realize how true that statement really is. The bond that exists between pets and their human owners has far reaching benefits for people of all ages.
Psychological studies have found that there are a wide range of psychological, emotional, and even physical benefits of adopting an animal. Understanding the depths of this bond can help people make sense of the excitement and attachment they experience when they take the initial steps to adopt a new pet.
Humans tend to demonstrate their love and affection for their pets the same way they would for other humans. They invest time and money in caring for the animal, spending time with the animal, and being affectionate with them. According to sociologist David Blouin, 93 percent of dog owners and 77 percent of cat owners bring their animal to the vet each year for a check-up. 80 percent of dog owners and 67 percent of cat owners will also spend two hours or more each day with their animal. Nearly all of the surveyed pet owners said they spent at least some of their day with their pets. Humans also seem to focus around building their bonds with their animals through touch and physical affection. For many people, their natural desire to give physical affection can be offered through petting and cuddling.
The strong, innate desire of humans to take care of their animals, evidenced by their maintenance of their pet’s health through vet visits and regular care, also is what motivates companies like NuVet to develop products dedicated towards improving pets’ health. Unlike wild animals, pets are animals who have integrated into families, with many owners looking upon them as ‘children’. It is only natural that these owners seek products to supplement their pet’s nutrition the same way they do for the humans in their family.
When speaking of the benefits of animals, the emotional and psychological benefits are often the first that come to mind. For children, animals help to encourage a sense of responsibility. For secluded individuals, animals offer an intense emotional connection that is missing from other areas of their lives. Pets are wonderful because they allow humans to love them without fear of rejection. Studies have shown that the presence of pets helps children remain calm while awaiting a dental examination or completing a reading evaluation. This demonstrates the calming emotional presence the animals can have.
What many people may not realize are the actual physical effects bonding with an animal can have on a human. For example, pet ownership has been associated with a lower heart rate, lower blood pressure, and general stress relief. Studies have also shown that pet ownership leads to improved health through encouraging physical activity. When dogs were introduced to elderly people suffering from mobility problems, the dogs were able to improve mobility in the humans by 28 percent, which was more than six times the improvement seen when humans were paired with other humans to walk with.
Cultivating the human-animal bond from the beginning is an important step to getting started on the right foot. Proper care for the animal, including tending to proper nutrition and making sure the animal receives regular health care are excellent first steps. It is equally important to spend quality time with the animal. This can be done by playing, walking, petting, cuddling, and training them when necessary to further develop the emotional connection. These steps together will go a long way towards beginning a lifelong bond and friendship.
Pets offer a valuable relationship to the humans in their lives. They provide social support, an outlet for affection, unconditional friendship, stress relief, and more. The human-animal bond continues to be a source of fascination for many in the psychological community. Continued studies will seek to understand this unique and profound relationship.
The first trip down the pet store aisle can be overwhelming for any new dog parent. The wide variety of products and brands, all expertly marketed to make it appear as though they are ‘must haves’, can leave one wondering how much is actually necessary to properly raise their new canine companion. NuVet Labs created a new puppy checklist to help you be ready before you bring your new pup home!
The new puppy checklist identifies the most important items when adopting a new dog and some tips for selecting the perfect one for the family. Get more pet information by following the NuVet Twitter page.
While it’s nice to offer your pet a soft, cushy bed to lie in while you are around, a crate is an important part of training your puppy. The crate will become a safe, secure place for your pet. It will help you immensely as you potty train your dog. Entice your pup to enter the crate by making it as comfortable as possible. Consider adding a blanket or a fun toy.
The ideal crate will be large enough for the dog once he has reached his adult size, but also capable of being partitioned while the dog is still a puppy. While not all puppies require partitioning, some may be tempted to use a portion as a bathroom if the crate is too large. It is really only necessary for the dog to be able to stand up, turn around, and lay down within the crate. While some people find that dogs seem to prefer plastic crates, they are more difficult to partition.
Especially when the dog is young, avoid using bowls that are excessively large. Controlling food and water can often play a large role in house training. Since many dogs enjoy playing in water, finding a water dish with a splash area can prevent a potential mess. Choosing stainless steel dishes can also allow the bowls to be easily washed in the dishwasher.
You probably have picked out a high-quality pet food for your new dog. However, you might not realize that it won’t give your pet all of the vitamins and nutrients that it needs.
Pet nutritional supplements, such as NuVet Plus, are essential to helping build your new puppy’s immunity. The chicken liver in NuVet Plus K-9 wafers makes them taste great. You can even use them as a training treat! Learn why these supplements are an important part of your new puppy checklist on YouTube. They give your puppy the best start in life, and give them all of the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that it needs.
There are a wide variety of collars on the market. Most people only need to get a standard flat collar to hold the dog tags and attach to a leash. The collar should be fitted to allow for two fingers underneath. Certain types of dogs, such as greyhounds, or dogs who are particularly talented at slipping out of their collar, may be better served by a martingale collar.
If you decide to purchase a training collar, it is best to do so with the guidance of an experienced trainer. It is very easy to misuse the various collars such as shock collars, choker collars, or pinch collars and cause serious harm to the pet. If absolutely necessary, most professionals believe the pinch collar to be the least dangerous.
For new dogs, it will be best to buy a leash that allows four to six feet of walking distance. The popular ‘flex’ lead leashes can hamper training efforts. When puppies are very young, the martingale collar or slip lead leash can help prevent them from escaping their collars and putting themselves in danger.
Identification is an important aspect of the puppy checklist ‘must haves’. Dogs should have up-to-date, personalized ID tags at all times. This is necessary in case the animal should ever become separated from the owners. Some professionals also recommend putting phrases such as, “this dog requires regular medication” on the tag to prevent people from being tempted to keep the pet.
It is becoming increasingly popular to microchip dogs as another form of identification. These electronic database tags contain your contact information so that your pet can be returned to you in the event that you both are separated. While some people like to put this information on the dog tag, they should also be aware that this can alert thieves to the microchip and make them less likely to bring the dog to a vet where the chip could be discovered.
Keeping a variety of chew toys and bones around can help keep dogs occupied, improve oral health, and help protect the furniture. There are a variety of chew bones available. Some are toys that allow food to be put inside whereas others are fully edible bones. Those who prefer the more natural approach can get frozen raw marrow bones from a butcher. Do not give dogs regular cooked bones from a plate, especially not chicken bones. These bones can break and swallowed pieces can cause internal damage. If you prefer rawhide, only buy chunks that seem too big for the dog to avoid having pieces break off and cause injury.
This item on the puppy checklist is less for your new pup, and more for you. These products can be a lifesaver for a carpet that has been exposed to dogs. Between grass stains, accidents, and other natural hazards of having pets, a quality enzymatic cleaner can make an enormous difference. For safety and efficiency, find one that is marked specifically for pet use.
Dogs, like children, love to play in mud, roll around, and can quickly make a mess of themselves. Dog shampoos and regular baths will help keep them clean. In an absolute pinch, baby shampoo can be a suitable substitute. However, a dog shampoo will be the best suited for the animal’s fur and skin. It is also important to regularly groom dogs, so pick up a quality brush, metal comb, and nail clippers to help keep your new friend looking sharp.
Some owners will find it easier to buy special ‘poop bags’ that often come in easily transportable rolls. Others will be fine simply saving their garbage bags and using them on walks. Whichever scenario applies, it is important to remember to always clean up after dogs. It is often required by law and out of courtesy for others in the neighborhood.
By checking all of the above items off of your puppy checklist, you can ensure you are prepared before you bring your new puppy home.
Blue-green algae are some of the most nutrient-dense foods on earth, bursting with high concentrations of vitamins, proteins, and nutrients. Now this superfood is available for your pets as an active ingredient in NuVet Plus.
Several of the bioactive components in blue-green algae, such as carotenoids, fibers, γ-linolenic acid, phycocyanin, and plant sterols, promote optimal health. Research shows that these various components can help reduce cholesterol and triglycerides, as well as inhibit free radicals in humans. The powerful bioactive components in blue-green algae are also being utilized to promote optimal health for pets.
Blue-green algae (BGA) are among most primitive life forms on the planet; humans have consumed these algae as food or as medicine for centuries.
Some types of blue-green algae are inedible. Most of these inedible types grow in stagnant water. However, running water provides a safe source of food-grade blue-green algae, fit for consumption by humans and by pets. Harvesting of blue-green algae typically occurs during the summertime, from June to November. Filtering preserves the most vibrant algae blooms, and centrifugation further purifies the supplement.
BGA delivers a one-two potency punch – an abundance of nutrition in a highly absorbable form. Two varieties, aphanizomenon flos-aquae and spirulina, are the most consumed forms of this unique ingredient because of their high concentration of nutrients. From the Aztecs to modern day, humans have been consuming spirulina and enjoying its various beneficial properties.
BGA is made up of 50 to 70 percent vegetable protein. It contains a high concentration of nutrients and a wide spectrum of amino acids, including the essential and nonessential amino acids that pets need for good health.
Blue-green algae also contains antioxidants, which means it aids in the fight against dangerous free radicals that damage the bodies cells. Dangerous free radicals form as the results of cellular function and environmental stressors. They damage tissue by “stealing” electrons from nearby molecules, thereby destabilizing the cellular makeup of body tissue. The antioxidants in BGA provide health benefits by neutralizing free radicals and helping to maintain tissue integrity.
The edible algae also have beta-carotene, which can improve eyesight, especially at night. Beta-carotene has also been shown to help improve the intensity of a dog’s coat color. BGA also contain chlorophyll and trace minerals. It promotes intestinal regularity, helps maintain a healthy weight, aids in purifying the blood and assist in stabilizing proper blood sugar levels.
Incorporating a canine supplement containing premium blue-green algae into any dog’s nutrition program encourages a healthy immune system and promotes longevity of life. The NuVet Plus immune system builder incorporates this crucial nutrient, as well as many other unique ingredients in it’s canine and feline formula. NuVet Plus contains over 30 ingredients; including cat’s claw, chicken liver, bet-carotene, evening primrose oil, and vitamin b complex, that work simultaneously to provide superior immune system support. Visit the NuVet Labs website to start your furry friend on NuVet Plus right away.
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It can be a bit disconcerting to snuggle into bed at night and find your pet has already drifted off to sleep and begun to snore. A partial obstruction of air as it flows over the soft palate and uvula in the back of the throat generates a vibration. The vibration causes the noise we call snoring. Depending on the degree of the obstruction, it may be a gentle snuffling sound or a very loud rumble.
There are several common physical reasons that cause snoring in dogs. Identifying which one is causing your dog to snore is important. While there is no reason for concern for some, causes related to a health issue may require veterinary attention.
All dogs can snore but the problem is more typical in some breeds than others. Dog skulls are categorized by their shape, and the shape of a dog’s skull can be a major factor in whether or not he snores.
Brachycephalic skulls are quite wide with very short muzzles. These are seen in the Pug, English Bulldog, Boston Terrier, and Boxer. These dogs are prone to have difficulties with nasal breathing and proper occlusion of teeth. It is almost universally true that all brachycephalic dogs snore. Their very short muzzle and very soft palate tend to cause collapsed nostrils and other anatomical features that lead to snoring.
Dolichocephalic skulls are long and narrow, which are found in the Greyhound, Borzoi, and Collie.
Mesaticephalic skulls are intermediate in length and width. Mesaticephalic skulls are typical of breeds like the German Shepherd, Irish Wolfhound, Beagle, and Irish Setter.
Dolichocephalic and mesaticephalic dogs may snore for reasons quite different than those of brachycephalic breeds. For example, a very common cause of snoring in these dogs is too much weight and too little activity. Weight gain and waning fitness levels are particularly seen in aging dogs. Too much fat around the throat causes obstruction.
If excess weight is the cause of your dog’s snoring, check with your vet to establish an appropriate feeding regime to encourage weight loss. Also increase your pup’s activity level a little at a time to get him fit. Consider adding a nutritional supplement, like NuVet Plus, to your pet’s diet to help improve digestion and energy. The snoring may correct itself once your dog reaches and maintains an appropriate weight.
Weak throat muscles, a misaligned jaw, or a tongue that drops back into the throat can all cause partial obstruction of the airways and be the source of snoring. Some dogs have a blockage in their nasal passages that is responsible for the snuffling snore. Dogs that are sensitive to pollen, dust, and mold can experience congestion, which is just one more potential reason for a night-time serenade.
Identifying these reasons is more complicated. Your veterinarian may need to perform diagnostic tests to determine if one of these problems is the cause of snoring and if intervention is required.
Like some people, some dogs experience sleep apnea, which causes shallow breathing or a brief, complete pause in breathing. The next breath is a gasp that generates a snoring noise. This condition is potentially dangerous and should be checked out by your veterinarian.
No matter the cause of snoring, it is sometimes helpful to change your pet’s body position during sleep. Put his head on a pillow. Elevating his head may open his air passages. At least, it may make him feel very special. A round bed encourages your pet to sleep in a curled position that discourages snoring by allowing airways to expand more easily.
If your pet snores, track down the cause and determine if it requires veterinary intervention. You may get peace and quiet by helping an overweight dog slim down. Brachycephalic dogs and others that snore due to peculiarities in their anatomy simply need love, understanding, patience, and perhaps a set of ear plugs. The earplugs would be for you, not the dog.
Learn more interesting pet facts by visiting the NuVet Labs Facebook page!
C. Sue Furman, Ph.D. spent 40 years at several major universities including the University of Maryland, School of Medicine and Colorado State University, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biological Sciences teaching future physicians and veterinarians and conducting research involving nerve and muscle. Learn more about Dr. C. Sue Furman here.
Dogs are known to suffer in silence. This makes recognizing joint issues difficult. Therefore, dog owners and veterinarians tend to discover mobility issues only after they’ve progressed significantly. You may have seen commercials about the many benefits of chondroitin for your canine companion. If you haven’t added this valuable nutrient to your canine’s diet, the following information may help you understand why it’s so important for every dog.
Chondroitin, along with its common supplemental partner glucosamine, is classified as a nutraceutical. These are additives to food and supplements that are often used in lieu of traditional drugs. Although the benefits of nutraceuticals tend to take longer, they have far fewer side effects.
Chondroitin and glucosamine are building blocks of normal cartilage, which acts as a pillow between the joint and bone. Both building blocks come from natural sources. Glucosamine is pulled from shellfish while chondroitin is commonly sourced from sharks or cows.
It is beneficial for dogs of all ages, even puppies, to add chondroitin to their daily diets. Pups can use a supplement containing this nutrient as a preventative measure, while older dogs can help replace the chondroitin that is no longer being naturally produced by their body due to age.
There are several reasons for joint issues to arise, like diet and environmental concerns. However, some breeds are more prone to joint and hip issues than others. For example, large breeds face more hip and joint concerns than small to medium sized breeds.
If your dog is having trouble getting around, your canine companion may be experiencing hip and joint issues. Thankfully, there are several natural ways you can help your dog.
Chondroitin has long been used to help humans with joint complaints. However, it is also beneficial to dogs, horses and other pets. Unlike other drugs, Chondroitin can help prevent injuries to the bones and joints, and help improve damaged tissues after an injury. Chondroitin can also help keep cartilage hydrated, cushion joints for impact, and protect cartilage from further breakdown.
Chondroitin is often paired with glucosamine in supplements. Studies suggest the combination produces greater results from both substances when paired. A supplement like NuJoint Plus, containing chondroitin and glucosamine, works to expand your dog’s mobility, lubricate for fluid movement, strengthen hips, rebuild cartilage, and promote quality of life.
All joints have been shown to benefit from chondroitin supplements, but hips are the most common targets. If you notice a persistent limp or lameness in your dog, particularly after sleeping or in cold temperatures, chondroitin may be an effective alternative to a drug regimen. NuVet Labs reviews are full of stories of dogs of all ages who went from limited mobility to climbing stairs and jumping on beds after taking NuJoint Plus alone or in conjunction with NuVet Plus.
The best way to ensure your dog gets the appropriate amount of nutrients they need is to add a high-quality supplement to their daily diet. NuJoint Plus comes in regular and double strength formulas to help each dog live life to the fullest. Each NuJoint tablet is flavored with real chicken liver so your dog will look forward to this daily treat. In addition, each tablet has 250mg of glucosamine sulfate and 125mg of chondroitin sulfate, which work simultaneously with other ingredients to give your canine companion a better quality of life.
A family pet provides unconditional love. A service dog provides unconditional love and helps their partner overcome obstacles that impede their ability to perform certain tasks.
Most are aware of guide dogs for the blind. However, there are service dogs that provide many other types of assistance. There are hearing dogs, mobility dogs, response dogs, and psychiatric service dogs (PSDs) to name a few. Service dog training qualifies them to enter grocery stores, restaurants, planes, or basically any establishment their partner needs to enter.
The non-profit organization, Guide Dogs for the Blind (GDB), was started in 1942. They formed to help World War II servicemen who had been blinded in battle. Blondie, a German Shepherd, was the first graduate of the program and was paired with Sgt. Leonard Foulk. Until 2007, German Shepherd dogs were the primary breed trained as guide dogs.
Today GDB has a healthy breeding program of Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers and Lab/Golden crosses. They demonstrate a willingness to work, a high desire to please, intelligence and have an easy to work with temperament. Puppies are trained for 13 to 15 months before being matched with a compatible legally blind person who is suited to work with a dog.
Hearing dogs are trained to alert their hard of hearing partner to a variety of sounds. These include the doorbell, door knock, timers, smoke alarms, horns, emergency vehicles, a baby crying, and a host of other sounds. We know of no specific gene that can be bred for to encourage a good hearing dog. Nevertheless, some of the best candidates are rescue dogs or dogs that come from shelters. Obedience training is followed by three to six months of sound response work before being matched with a hearing impaired partner.
Some dogs are trained to assist people with physical impairments that affect their mobility. They can help a person transfer in and out of a wheelchair. If their partner is ambulatory, the pup may assist by bringing a cane or walker. They can also aid him with stability and balance while walking. A mobility dog is trained to help their partner in many ways. They can retrieve dropped items, flip light switches, open and close doors, tug off clothing, and many other chores. A dog’s set of tasks can be customized to their person’s needs.
Mobility dogs are selected for their body size (a Chihuahua couldn’t do the job), temperament, desire to please, and work drive. Training takes 18 to 24 months after a dog’s growth plates have closed to avoid injury to the dog during balance and stability work.
Service dogs first assisted veterans blinded in World War II. Consequently, a group of dogs are now being trained to help the many men and women returning from modern day war zones. It is estimated that about 20% of the veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). They are plagued with flashbacks, bad dreams, difficulty sleeping, guilt, depression, fear, and worry.
Therefore, a service dog can assist their partner by utilizing their body weight as a grounding mechanism to reduce panic or provide tactile interruption of flashbacks or nightmares through nudging, pawing or licking. The dog can turn lights on or open and close doors, especially during nightmares or before the veteran enters the home. Some service dogs retrieve a bag of medication or a drink. Furthermore, they can remind the veteran to take medication on time or to perform certain exercises and workouts.
As a result, veterans who have a service dog report lower levels of depression and anxiety and fewer hospitalizations. They also report feeling safe, protected, and loved unconditionally. These veterans often return to work, go to college, and comfortably care for their families.
There are service dogs that alert their human partner if their blood sugar levels drop, some that assist autistic partners to interpret information, and many that perform a variety of other services. Dogs are incredibly intelligent and willing helpers when they are given the proper training and paired with a loving partner who needs their assistance.
Our canine companions help us in numerous ways. Learn how to help your four-legged friend by visiting the NuVet Facebook page.
C. Sue Furman, Ph.D. spent 40 years at several major universities including the University of Maryland, School of Medicine and Colorado State University, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biological Sciences teaching future physicians and veterinarians and conducting research involving nerve and muscle. Learn more about Dr. C. Sue Furman here.