Does Your Dog Have What it Takes to Be An Assitance Dog?
Have you ever thought your own dog would make a great assistance dog? That crosses many of our minds. Although you may have an amazing dog, not every dog makes the cut or is right for the task.
From August 7-13, we celebrate International Assistance Dog Week (IADW), which “was created to recognize of all the devoted, hardworking assistance dogs helping individuals mitigate their disability-related limitations,” according to the IADW website. These amazing dogs help “transform the lives of their human partners with debilitating physical and mental disabilities by serving as their companion, helper, aide, best friend and close member of their family.
There are some things to take into consideration
when deciding whether your dog should become an assistance dog. According to Assistance Dogs International, a variety of dog breeds can be good service dogs, even though many programs use Golden Retrievers and Labradors. The website said, “A good service dog is not protective, is people orientated, not overly active, confident but not dominant or submissive. Service dogs should not require complex grooming as this could be a problem for their owner.”
When it comes to what makes a good hearing dog, there are programs that have used shelter dogs that are mixed breeds, and therefore of various sizes and shapes. Requirements include a good temperament and personality as well as energetic and “ready to work in an instant when a sound occurs,” the website said. “They must be friendly and people oriented.”
It is very important to note that assistance dogs are not for protection. Their job “is to make a disabled individual more able,” the website said. “The dog’s presence is a natural deterrent. Because disabled people take their Assistance Dogs into public places and many are not able to physically restrain their dogs, the Assistance Dog must be safe for the public.”
Monsoon Season Is Here! Be Aware of Valley Fever and Your Dog
Here in Arizona, we have many things of which to be aware and watchful. Along with excessive heat and scorpions and snakes, Valley Fever can be cause for concern in humans and pets.
Valley Fever is common to Arizona and “is a disease caused by a fungus that gets into your body through your lungs,” according to WebMD. It is contracted by breathing “in the fungus (Coccidioides immitis) that causes the disease.” Since it is found in the soil, it is easily contracted when the soil is disturbed, such as by dust storms and during monsoon season.
Although cats can contract Valley Fever, dogs in Arizona are more susceptible, especially those dogs who spend much of their time outdoors in dusty and dirt-filled areas, according to PetMD. The condition can go from mild to severe and be extremely costly for pet owners. “It is estimated that valley fever costs all Arizona dog owners at least $60 million per year,” according to The University of Arizona, Valley Fever Center for Excellence.
According to PetMD some of the symptoms include, fever, lethargy, lameness, coughing and difficulty breathing. Because Valley Fever can be very serious, it is important to have your dog (or cat) under your veterinarian’s care. “Your veterinarian will want to monitor antibodies every three to four months, or until they are in a range that can be considered normal,” according to PetMD.
It is also important to keep your pets indoors, especially during dust storms and monsoon season, and, of course, when it is very hot
FIV in Felines: What It Is And What You Should Know
Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) “is a lentivirus, the same class of virus as HIV,” according to Best Friends. It lives in various tissues in the body and weakens a cat’s immune system, the website said.
However, it is not necessarily a death sentence. Cats who have the disease can live long, productive lives if under the care of a vet and living in a safe, clean, indoor environment.
According to the ASPCA, symptoms may not show in cats for many years, but once they do progress, it is important for your cat to be under a veterinarian’s care. Some of the symptoms include:
- Enlarged lymph nodes
- Weight loss
- Disheveled coat
- Poor appetite
- Skin redness or hair loss
- Wounds that don’t heal
FIV is determined by a blood test, and every cat should
have one. It is transmitted from cat to cat and cannot be passed to humans. Prevention can begin with keeping your cats indoors so that he or she does not come in contact with felines who are infected. If you bring other cats into your home, make sure to have them tested first, according to the ASPCA website.
With regard to FIV treatment, it “focuses mainly on extending the asymptomatic period or, if symptoms have set in, on easing the secondary effects of the virus,” the website said.
The ASPCA recommends keeping an eye out for any changes in your cat’s health and/or behavior, keep your cat inside, feed a nutritionally balanced diet, keep up on vet visits, and, as always, make sure your cat is spayed or neutered.