When I started out in veterinary practice, I had the opportunity to care for army dogs and horses at the local army barracks. The best thing about it was that there were never any surprises. The animals I had to see were always lined up and ready when I arrived, and the dogs in particular were temperamentally very similar, rather like their human handlers I guess. This is why I like studies using military dogs. It eliminates much of the inevitable variability between pet dogs, their owners and their environments. This allows the collection of less cluttered and cleaner data sets. A potential disadvantage, of course is that the dogs may all be the same breed and sometimes from the same, potentially small, genetic pool. This could mean that the results of the study may not reliably reflect what one would expect to find in the general dog population.
But, I argue that studies looking at the maternal care of puppies are always interesting, especially when the results can be compared with other similar studies.
These are the words of a Father trying to save the life of his Son, Harrison. It is the title of the story about a controversial advertisement that appeared in the press in 2015 (Harrison’s Fund. 2015). You will need to visit the Harrison’ fund website to read the full story around this advert, CLICK HERE, and make a donation while you’re there.
Recently, I reviewed a new study on critical and sensitive periods in puppies (Morrow et al., 2015) HERE and came to the conclusion that is was an important addition and update to Scott and Fuller’s seminal work done in the 1960’s.
With Halloween and firework season fast approaching and New Year coming up fast behind, now is the time for dog owners to start preparing themselves and their dogs for the parties, bangs and flashes. There is already plenty of good information available about the behavioural and environmental management and rehabilitation of dogs* around fireworks, and cats**, so this is not covered again here. This blog is divided into 4 parts.
In the first article, I looked at how the ‘fear system’ works as a normal, adaptive neurophysiological network essential for the survival of an organism. In this article, I explore the neuropathology of how the ‘fear system’ goes wrong and the serious consequences this has on the animal’s welfare when it does.
In the first and second article of this series, I looked at how the normal ‘fear system’ works and how this emotional system can become a long-standing, maladaptive anxiety and depression disorder. In this third article of the series, I take an evidence-based approach to selecting and using prescription pharmaceuticals as part of a well-constructed behavioural therapy plan for dogs whose lives have been ruined by fireworks.
In Part 3 of this article, I presented an evidence-based summary of how and why psychoactive prescription medicines can – and in some dogs – should be used to manage fear and anxiety around fireworks. I described fear as an experience generated in the brain, so any effective therapy, regardless of what it is and how it is delivered, MUST ultimately interact with specific receptors in the brain that modulate the fear circuits in some way.
In this fourth and final part of this series on fear and fireworks in pets, I take a broad look at products that are marketed as ‘alternative remedies’, or ‘therapies’ for managing fear in pets.