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Latest health and behavior news and advice from the veterinarians at Tufts University.

December 2017

Full Issue (PDF)

December 2017 - Full Issue PDFSubscribers Only

Features

New Vaccination Guidelines Published

For the first time in six years, the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) has come out with a new set of guidelines for vaccinating dogs. And those guidelines are changing with the times. For instance, with this edition they are now produced as an online education resource that will allow ongoing updates to be made whenever new research information comes in. No longer will there be “gaps of years between versions,” says Link Welborn, DVM, DABVP, CCRT, chair of the AAHA’s Canine Vaccination Task Force. In fact, he says, “the online format will also be accessible on mobile devices, which will improve functionality greatly.”   More...

Assessing Caregiver Burden for Pet OwnersSubscribers Only

When researchers turned to social media to recruit people for a study that would look at the extent of the psychological and social burdens that come with caring for a sick pet, the overwhelming majority of those who responded to the call were women. Tufts veterinary social worker Eric Richman, MSW, LICSW, isn’t surprised. Mr. Richman, who used to work in the human healthcare system, says that “when talking about human medicine and chronic illness, the caregiver is often female.” And that role, rightly or wrongly, often extends to caregivers for dogs.   More...

One Woman’s StorySubscribers Only

Northrop terrier Chili was only five years old when she was diagnosed with a cancerous tumor on her abdomen last May. “Cancer” was not a word Marilyn Davison wanted to hear. Her husband had died of cancer very quickly, and a previous dog she had adopted just a few months after his death to bring some warmth into her life developed cancer and died after six months of treatment. She brought Chili home soon after, and now Chili, too, was diagnosed with the disease.   More...

Tips for Giving a Proper Diet History to the Vet

Once your dog grows out of puppyhood, most veterinary visits include scant to no discussion of diet. Sometimes, however, something is wrong that would lead either you or your dog’s doctor to prompt conversation about what your pet is eating. Or your dog’s primary care vet may refer you to a veterinarian who is board-certified in nutrition because she discovers or suspects your dog has a health issue that requires dietary intervention overseen by an expert in the field. Or you on your own decide to go to see a board-certified veterinary nutritionist simply because you’re concerned that what your dog eats might be affecting his overall health.   More...

How to Behave So Your Dog BehavesSubscribers Only

When most people see a behavior in their dogs that they dislike, “they automatically ask, ‘How can I stop that behavior?’” says late veterinarian and applied animal behaviorist Sophia Yin, DVM, MS. Instead, Dr. Yin deftly posits, it is more useful to ask, “How has the undesirable behavior been reinforced, and what behavior would I reinforce instead?” By which she means, every time we interact with our dogs, they’re learning something. Each interaction is, in effect, a training session. We’re just not always training the way we intend.   More...

Classical Conditioning Versus Operant ConditioningSubscribers Only

In How to Behave So Your Dog Behaves, veterinarian Sophia Yin, DVM, MS, explains that when animal behaviorists talk about the ways dogs learn, they talk about two main types of conditioning: classical conditioning and operant conditioning. What is the difference? Classical conditioning is learning by association. Operant conditioning is learning by trial and error. These two approaches actually guide learning in all animals, including humans. How does it work?   More...

News & Views

Can You Remember What Your Dog Had for Lunch Yesterday?

Hmm, let’s see…two small pieces of American cheese so he wouldn’t feel left out when his “sister” Rosie got her bladder-tightening pill wrapped in cheese, another two small pieces when she got her second pill later in the day (I forget the brand of cheese just now), a dental chew (not sure which — my wife buys them), I-don’t-know-how-many 5-calorie tiny Milk Bone biscuits that he demands when we take our walks or which I dispense because he has come back to me when I called, the licks of ice cream he managed to squeeze in before I pulled him away from the cup someone left outside the ice cream shop…   More...

Expert Advice

Dear Doctor: The Dog Won’t Stop Eating his own Poop

I have not been successful in finding information on cause and remedy for a dog who eats his stool. Can you provide some information? I work with families who adopt our kennel dogs, and a family is currently having problems with this.   More...

Dear Doctor: Pacing at Night

My 14-year-old rat terrier sometimes becomes very anxious at night. He paces and pants; goes upstairs then down; digs at boxes and corners; and will shred anything paper-like. This happens only at night, which made me think of sundowner syndrome common in humans. Is this possible? If so, how is it treated, or how can I make him more comfortable? I’ve tried sleeping with all the lights on, which helps some.   More...

Dear Doctor: Chasing His Tail

My puppy has taken to chasing his tail. It was kind of cute at first, but he seems to be doing it more and more. Is this something we should be concerned about, or is it just one of those dog habits nobody understands but that he will grow out of?   More...