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Allergies

5 Ways Pets Help Kids & Families

1. Learning – Studies have shown that children can learn in a relaxed fashion when in the presence of a pet. Since pets are non-judgmental, children feel safe exploring and trying new things, rather than fearing they will be critiqued if they make a mistake. Chestermere’s Listening Tails program operates on this finding, a program designed to improve children’s reading skills and confidence by having them practice reading out loud to dogs. For more information on the program visit http://ctds.ca/listening-tails/.

2. Comfort – After a difficult day, sometimes there is nothing better than returning home to a wagging tail or a purring cat to curl up with. Pets often instinctively sense when we need some extra comforting, and it can be a relief to just snuggle up with a pet who isn’t going to ask you a lot of questions. The act of petting has even been shown to foster a sense of relaxation, inducing stress relief and even reducing blood pressure.

3. Nurturing – Pets provide children with an opportunity to practice caring for something other than themselves, helping to plant the seeds of parenting skills for when they are adults. Learning to feed, walk, brush fur and teeth, encourages responsibility. Nurturing animals is especially helpful for boys, as they tend to have less practice than girls using their nurturing skills. Girls are encouraged to play house, play with dolls, and become babysitters more often than boys do.

4. Health – Studies have shown that having pets reduces a child’s risk of developing certain allergies and asthma. Particularly during the first year of life, exposure to pets helps a child’s immune system to develop protection against allergies.

Pets can also encourage the family to be more active, whether taking the dog for a walk, hike, or playing fetch.

5. Bonding – Have you ever taken your dog out for a walk only to be approached my someone wanting to pet your dog or ask questions about him? Pets are great social magnets, and allow us to bond with other people that have pets and make new friends.

Having a pet also encourages family bonding. Even picking out a pet in the first place, is something that can bring a family together, and even involve children in making a large decision with the family. Many people consider the pet as part of the family, and every family member enjoys being involved in the care for the pet. Everything from going on family walks, to buying Christmas presents for the pet!

Make sure your pet is healthy by visiting Chestermere Veterinary Clinic for their wellness examination and vaccinations or any time you have concerns, call us at 403-272-3573, or visit http://www.chestermerevet.com.

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Source:
Strickland, Bill. “The Benefits of Pets.” Parents Magazine. Web February 16, 2015. http://www.parents.com/parenting/pets/kids/pets-good-for-kids/.

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Coconut Oil for Pets

Coconut oil is very popular these days and has been attributed to many healthy uses for humans. A quick internet search will also bring up dozens of purported healthy uses in pets, but unfortunately there is not a lot of scientific evidence to support these claims.

What we do know, is that coconut oil, like most oils, is a saturated fat. Feeding a saturated fat to a pet can be dangerous, especially to those that are sensitive to fat, having conditions like pancreatitis. Others may experience gastrointestinal issues from consuming coconut oil. Consuming a saturated fat can also lead to excess weight gain if a pet is fed too much, and their regular diet is not reduced to account for the extra calories being consumed from the oil.

The most successful use of coconut oil that has been reported by veterinary professionals appears to be for topical use for skin allergies or yeast. Coconut oil does have anti-fungal properties, explaining why it may be successful in helping to treat yeast infections. Coconut oil also helps to safely increase hydration of dry skin, and can aid in faster wound healing. This topical use of coconut oil has not been thoroughly scientifically studied in pets, so consult your veterinarian to see if they feel a trial may be successful for your pet’s particular condition, and the best way to apply.

Coconut oil is also considered a very safe cooking oil as it has a high smoke point and does not degrade like other oils may do when cooked. So for those pets on specific home-made diets, coconut oil may replace your other cooking oil.

If you have questions, contact us at Chestermere Veterinary Clinic 403-272-3573, or visit us at http://www.chestermerevet.com.

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Sources:
D O Ogbolu, A A Oni, O A Daini & A P Oloko. J Med Food. June 2007; 10(2): 384-7. “In vitro antimicrobial properties of coconut oil on Candida species in Ibadan, Nigeria.”

Anna Liza C Agero & Vermén M Verallo-Rowell. Dermatitis. September 2004; 15(3): 109-16. “A randomized double-blind controlled trial comparing extra virgin coconut oil with mineral oil as a moisturizer for mild to moderate xerosis.”

K G Nevin & T Rajamohan. Skin Pharmacol Physiol. January 2010; 23(6): 290-7. “Effect of topical application of virgin coconut oil on skin components and antioxidant status during dermal wound healing in young rats.”

The Causes of Skin Conditions in Dogs

Signs of a skin condition include redness, irritation, flaking, being excessively dry or oily, and patchy hair loss.

There are several common causes for skin conditions in dogs, they include:

Allergies to food or environmental factors like pollen, mold or dust.

Parasites like fleas, lice or mites.

Hormonal Imbalances

Bacterial Infections

To determine which if any of these factors may be causing your dogs skin condition, a veterinarian must first examine your dog and may require a skin or blood sample to further investigate and find the cause. Call us at Chestermere Veterinary Clinic 403-272-3573 to book an appointment for an examination.

Allergy testing can be performed using a blood sample or intradermal testing, and can help you find out exactly what your dog is allergic to. This allows you to try to limit your dogs exposure to those specific allergens. Or if you choose, immunotherapy can be preformed, which exposes your dog to their allergens in small doses and builds their tolerance up against the allergen.

To find parasites on the skin, your veterinarian may require a skin scraping which they will view under a microscope. Some parasites are also visible to the naked eye. If a parasite is found, your dog will be started on an anti-parasitic drug to kill the parasites.

Hormonal imbalances can also be identified from a blood test. The best course of action for hormonal imbalances will depend on the cause of the imbalance, sometimes surgical intervention will be necessary (spaying/neutering, or removal of the gland), and sometimes hormone therapy (medications/supplements) may be the solution.

Bacterial infections can be found by skin scraping and will usually require antibiotics.

All skin conditions can benefit from a high quality diet.

Look for a diet that has:

High quality protein – provides building blocks for natural cell repair

Essential Fatty Acids – omega 3 & 6 help nourish and protect skin and prevent dryness

Antioxidants – Vitamin E promotes healthy immune system and protects from cellular oxidation caused by free radicals

If you have further questions about skin conditions in dogs e-mail us at chestvet@telus.net or visit us at http://www.chestermerevet.com.

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Source:
Hill’s Pet Nutrition Inc. “Allergic Dermatitis – What Causes Skin Conditions in Dogs?” Hill’s Pet Nutrition Inc. 2013. Web April 16, 2013. http://www.hillspet.ca/en-ca/dog-care/dog-disease-allergic-dermatitis.html

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