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Archive for October, 2011

Halloween can be a frightening time for family dogs. Each Halloween, veterinarians nationwide see pet injuries that could have been avoided. Here are some ways we can protect pets:

Wendt Worth Corgis Males

Wendt Worth Corgis Males

* Walk your dog before trick-or-treaters start their visits. Keep a firm grip on the leash; many dogs are frightened by people in costumes.

* Find a secure place in your home to keep your dogs, especially if you’re giving out candy to trick-or-treaters. Many dogs get loose when the door opens, and the presence of little (and big) costumed people often scares animals, increasing the chance dogs will run away or get hit by cars.

* Make sure your dog is wearing an up-to-date I.D. tag.

* Place a dog gate in front of your front door to block access in case someone accidentally lets your pet out of the place where he’s confined. Many dogs will run after trick-or-treaters.

* If your dog has any aggressive tendencies, fear of loud noises, or a habit of excessive barking, place him in a quiet room as far away from your front door as possible at least a half-hour before trick-or-treaters arrive.

* Consider crating your pet, which can make him feel more secure and reduce chances of accidental escapes. Provide chew toys, a favorite blanket, a piece of clothing with your scent on it, or whatever comforts the animal. Play soft music or a recording of soothing sounds.

* If you want to have your dog near the door to greet visitors, keep him on leash. Pets can become very stressed by holiday activities and unwelcome interruptions in routine. A nervous dog might feel threatened and growl, lunge or bite.

* Keep dogs indoors. It’s a bad idea to leave dogs out in the yard; in addition to the parade of holiday celebrants frightening and agitating them, there have been reports of taunting, poisonings and pet thefts. Plus they’re likely to bark and howl at the constant flow of treat or treaters.

* As for cats, as the ASPCA and other organizations advise, keep cats indoors at all times.

* Do not leave dogs in cars.

* Keep dogs out of the candy bowl. Dispose of candy wrappers before your pets get to them, since the wrappers can cause choking or intestinal obstruction. Make sure the dogs can’t get into the trash. Note: Chocolate contains theobromine, which can cause nerve damage and even death in dogs. The darker the chocolate, the more concentrated it is — and the smaller the lethal dose.

* Explain to everyone in your home (including kids) how dangerous treats are to pets. Take young childrenUs candy supply and put it somewhere out of reach of pets. Caution children about leaving candy wrappers on the floor.

* Make sure pets can’t reach candles, jack-o-lanterns, decorations or ornaments.

* Halloween costumes can annoy animals and pose safety and health hazards…so think twice before dressing up the dog. Make sure the dog can breathe, see and hear, and that the costume is flame retardant. Remove any small or dangling accessories that could be chewed and swallowed. Avoid rubber bands, which can cut off the animal’s circulation or, if accidentally left on, can burrow and cut into the animal’s skin.

* If the animal is very high-strung, consult your vet about tranquilizing for the night.

* When walking dogs during or after Halloween, watch carefully for what they might pick up and choke on. Bits of candy and wrappers abound on sidewalks and streets after holidays.

* If you notice these symptoms of chocolate poisoning, go to your vet or an emergency vet right away because your pet’s life may be in danger:

Wendt Worth Haunted Kennel

Wendt Worth Haunted Kennel

Excessive drooling
Excessive urination
Pupil dilation
Rapid heartbeat
Vomiting and diarrhea
Hyperactivity
Muscle tremors and seizures
Coma

If Your Dog Eats Chocolate:
http://www.paw-rescue.org/PAW/PETTIPS/DogTip_EatChocolate.php

First Aid Kit and Guidance:
Keep a pet First Aid Kit in your home and car. Take the one you keep in your car with you on trips with your pet. This webpage lists items to include:
http://www.paw-rescue.org/PAW/PETTIPS/DogTip_FirstAid.php

CPR and Mouth-to-Snout Resuscitation:
Print these life-saving brochures to have on hand!
http://members.aol.com/henryhbk/acpr.html
http://www.rescuecritters.com/cpr.html

When traveling, you can find a nearby veterinarian using AAHA’s Animal Hospital Locator:
http://www.healthypet.com/hospital_search.aspx

——

For more Dog Tips and other information about pet
care, adoption and the work PAW does, visit our
website at:  www.paw-rescue.org

Partnership for Animal Welfare
P.O. Box 1074, Greenbelt, MD 20768

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You’ve undoubtedly seen them in your mailbox. Cute little reminder cards from your vet that it’s time for Beauregard’s annual vaccinations. But after looking a bit closer at the risks and benefits of these vaccines, you might want to paws before making that appointment.

Could these vaccines not only be unnecessary, but actually harmful to your pet’s health?

Absolutely.

We overvaccinate our children — but at least we eventually stop after puberty. But with our pets, we continue vaccine boosters until they are well into their senior years.

As adults, we don’t assault ourselves with annual boosters, and we certainly wouldn’t do this to our elderly family members. So why do we inflict this upon our pets, regardless of their immune status or age, when common sense would tell us those vaccines should last longer than a year?

Additionally, there are no adjustments in dose for size or age of your animal. Your five-pound Miniature Pinscher receives the same size vaccine as your 150-pound Rottweiler. Your 10-pound housecat gets the same amount as a 400-pound lion.

All of these vaccines are overwhelming your pet’s immune system. Vaccine reactions are at an all-time high.

A study of more than 2,000 cats and dogs in the United Kingdom by Canine Health Concern showed a 1 in 10 risk of adverse reactions from vaccines. This contradicts what the vaccine manufacturers report for rates of adverse reactions, which is “less than 15 adverse reactions in 100,000 animals vaccinated” (0.015 percent).

Additionally, adverse reactions of small breeds are 10 times higher than large breeds, suggesting standard vaccine doses are too high for smaller animals.

A few bold veterinarians have paved the way for ending overvaccination, but the research is sparse and the opposition is great, just as with the human vaccine industry — and for similar reasons.

In this article I will be addressing three main points:

1. There is no scientific evidence that annual vaccines are necessary, and in fact once animals achieve immunity from their initial vaccines, they appear to have immunity that lasts for many years, and often for life, without boosters.

2. There is growing alarm that overvaccination appears to be causing a multitude of serious medical problems, particularly with the immune system, including allergies, seizures, anemia and cancer.

3. Vaccines are a very profitable part of veterinary care — in fact, some vet practices are built around them. Long-term studies of animal immunity would require a substantial outlay of money — the kind of money that only the drug companies have, and Big Pharma is much more interested in selling more vaccines than challenging the need for them.

How Current Vaccine Schedules Were Determined

The current recommendation from many veterinarians is for dogs is to receive rabies, parvovirus, distemper, adenovirus, parainfluenza, leptospirosis, coronavirus, hepatitis, lyme (borelia), and annually, bortadella (kennel cough) sometimes being recommended every 6 months.

Cats are advised to have rabies, feline leukemia (FeLV), distemper (panluekopenia), rhinotracheitis, and calcivirus annually–and depending on risk, chlamydia, feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), and ringworm can be added.

Many vets advise both puppies and kittens get their “core vaccines” at ages 6 weeks, 8 weeks, 10 weeks, 12 weeks, 14 weeks, and 16 weeks. Then, they get boosters at one year, and annually thereafter.

All of these shots add up to a tremendous vaccine load over your pet’s lifetime!

How did these recommendations for annual vaccines come about?

One of the veterinary pioneers, Dr. W. Jean Dodds, president of the nonprofit animal version of the Red Cross called Hemopet, reported that the recommendations for annual vaccines were just that — recommendations. They were not based on any scientific evidence.

The recommendations for annual vaccination were put forth jointly by the United States Department of Agriculture and the drug companies, more than twenty years ago. And veterinary medicine has continued to do it that way because, well, that’s the way it’s always been done.

And it’s a good deal for them financially. So far, protests to annual vaccines have been mild.

Now the USDA puts the annual vaccination recommendation right on the product label.

Veterinary Vaccines are Big Money for Many Vets — and Even Bigger Money for Big Pharma

Without some driving force for change, there is no motivation for the industry to change the most lucrative part of its practice.

Many vets cling to annual vaccine schedules because of economic dependence more than maintaining a “cautious” standard of care. This is particularly true for the typical small vet practices (1-3 people, non-specialty, non-emergency practices).

Consider this …

One dose of rabies vaccine costs the vet about 61 cents. The client is typically charged between $15 and $38, plus a $35 office visit. The markup on the vaccine alone is 2,400 percent to 6,200 percent — a markup equivalent to charging $217 for a loaf of bread.

According to one estimate, removing the one-year rabies vaccination and consequential office visit for dogs alone would decrease the average small vet’s income from $87,000 to $25,000 — and this doesn’t include cats or other vaccinations.

According to James Schwartz, author of Trust Me, I’m Not a Veterinarian, 63 percent of canine and 70 percent of feline vet office visits are for vaccinations.

Clearly, radically changing the vaccine schedule for dogs and cats would result in a huge economic loss for any veterinary practice that is built around shots.

And chances are the vaccines you are paying so much for are creating even more income for vets, because the adverse reactions and other medical issues caused by the vaccines keep Fluffy coming back often!

The profits for vets pale in comparison to the profits being enjoyed by vaccine manufacturers. Veterinary vaccine sales amounted to more than $3.2 million in 2004 and have risen 7 percent per year since 2000. This figure is projected to exceed $4 billion in 2009.

Six companies account for more than 70 percent of world veterinary vaccine sales. The market leader is Intervet, with sales of almost $600 million in 2004. That’s a whole lot of 61-cent vaccines.

The United States has by far the largest share of the national market with revenues of $935 million, and Japan comes in second with $236 million.

Medical Risks Outweigh Benefits

In 1991, an unfortunate observation led many vets to begin rethinking the vaccine protocol.

A lab at the University of Pennsylvania noted a connection between a troubling increase in sarcomas (a type of cancerous tumor) and vaccinations in cats. Mandatory annual rabies vaccinations were leading to an inflammatory reaction under the skin, which later turned malignant.

At about the same time, researchers at University of California at Davis confirmed that feline leukemia vaccines were also leading to sarcomas, even more than the rabies vaccine.

Further investigations led to alarming statistics: vaccine-induced sarcomas were estimated to be one cat in 1,000, or up to 22,000 new cases of sarcoma per year.

It wasn’t long before veterinary professionals began to suspect vaccination as a risk factor in other serious autoimmune diseases. Vaccines were causing the animals’ immune system to turn against their own tissues, resulting in potentially fatal diseases such as autoimmune hemolytic anemia in dogs (AIHA).

Delayed vaccine reactions were also the cause of thyroid disease, allergies, arthritis, tumors and seizures in both cats and dogs.

These findings led to a 1995 article in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association that concluded:

“There is little scientific documentation that backs up label claims for annual administration of most vaccines.”

And then there’s the issue of adjuvants.

Thimerosal, mercury, and aluminum-based adjuvants are still being allowed in veterinary vaccines. So, your pet is being exposed to potential antigens that could abnormally stimulate his immune system, but last a lifetime and cause chronic disease. The less of this, the better.

For more on thimerosal, mercury, and aluminum, please visit Dr. Mercola’s site.

Is Non-Vaccination a Greater Danger?

Giving your dog or cat a vaccine when it is already immune does not give any additional immunity, and it creates an unnecessary risk to your animal.

Evidence suggests that, like humans, dogs and cats could be vaccinated with certain vaccines early in life and be protected for a lifetime. With the exception of rabies, the core vaccines probably last at least seven years and should not be given more often than every three years.

In one study, the antibody levels of more than 1,400 healthy dogs of all ages were measured for parvo and distemper. Nearly all the dogs were immune (95-98 percent), suggesting that annual revaccination may not be necessary.

Many of the non-core vaccines are bactrins, vaccines created to treat non-viral infections (Lyme disease and Chlamydia, for example) and may have a shorter duration; about one year. But not all animals are at risk of exposure, and the vaccines have proven to be significantly more reactive to the immune system, so assessing risk versus benefit is very important before considering these very reactive vaccines. .

Researchers say there has been no increase in disease rates among dogs who have gone to vaccines every three years. And there is ample evidence that the dangers of repeated vaccinations are real.

A study published by Purdue in 2005 found correlations between vaccine reactions in dogs and variables such as age, size, and number of vaccines given. The study found:

  • Smaller dogs are more prone to vaccine reactions than larger dogs
  • Risk of reactions increased by 27 percent for each additional vaccine given per office visit in dogs under 22 pounds, and by 12 percent in dogs over 22 pounds
  • Risk increased for dogs up to 2 years old, then declined with age
  • Risk increased for pregnant dogs and dogs in heat
  • More reactions were found in small dogs given Leptospirosis vaccine

As in humans, one of the reasons why dogs and cats need vaccine protection at all is that they aren’t eating an ideal diet. The better your pet’s nutrition is, the healthier his immune system will be, and better able to fend off pathogens.

My Vaccine Recommendations

  1. Wellness visits are important for other reasons than vaccines, such as checking for heartworm and tumors and assessing general health status. I do recommend continuing these checkups every six months, although I do not recommend annual vaccines.
  2. Rabies vaccines are required by law. There are approved 1-year and 3-year rabies vaccines. They are the same product. Please ask for the 3-year vaccine, if you opt to vaccinate your pet against rabies. I also recommend you consider finding a holistic vet that will provide you with the homeopathic rabies vaccine detox, called Lyssin.
  3. Ask for a Vaccine Titer Test: this is a how you can determine if your pet has adequate immunological protection from previously administered vaccines (puppy or kitten shots). Antibody levels can be measured from a blood draw, in place of revaccination. The type of titer that best assesses immune system’s response to vaccinesis called IFA, or indirect immunofluorescent antibody.

    Please discuss with your vet the risks versus benefits of the diseases you are considering vaccinating for, before you automatically assume additional vaccines are necessary.

  1. Indoor housecats should not be vaccinated annually, especially if they never go outside or have access to other cats (potentially exposing them to infectious disease). I believe overvaccination is one of the main reasons the general health of our feline patients is deteriorating.
  2. Do not vaccinate your dog or cat if it has had a serious life-threatening vaccine reaction.
  3. Do not patronize any boarding facility, groomer, training facility or veterinarian that requires you to vaccinate your pet more than necessary.

The decision by some vets to come forward with the truth about pet vaccines is a positive step toward changing our animal health care system. Veterinary vaccines are one more unfortunate example of the corporate greed that permeates the pharmaceutical industry.

 

Dr. Becker is the resident proactive and integrative wellness veterinarian of HealthyPets.Mercola.com. You can learn holistic ways of preventing illness in your pets by subscribing to MercolaHealthyPets.com, an online resource for animal lovers. For more pet care tips, subscribe for FREE to Mercola Healthy Pet Newsletter.

 

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By Dr. Becker

Puppies go through several development stages on their way to adulthood.

The goal of any breeder or pet owner should be to take maximum advantage of each sensitive stage by providing the puppy with age-appropriate social and learning opportunities.

  • Between 4 and 8+ weeks, puppies learn best how to interact with other dogs.
  • Between 5 and 10+ weeks, they grow adept at interacting with humans.
  • Between 5 and 16 weeks, they are most able to investigate new environments and stimuli. And in fact, a puppy not given a full range of socialization opportunities by about 10 weeks can develop fear of the unfamiliar.
Wendt Worth Corgis Litter

Wendt Worth Corgis Litter

How a Puppy Learns Dog-to-Dog Skills

Prior to about 8½ weeks of age, puppies are primarily working on their dog-to-dog skills. It’s beneficial and therefore preferable during this period for a puppy to remain with his parents and littermates. The better your puppy’s social foundation with other dogs, the more equipped he’ll be to manage a brand new world – your world.

Responsible breeders keep new litters for at least 8½ weeks and sometimes longer if they plan to begin housetraining and socialization before sending the pups to their new homes.

The biggest advantage to leaving your puppy with the breeder until she’s at least 8½ weeks is to allow her to develop socially with other dogs.

Other ways to socialize young puppies (those receiving timely core vaccines and other preventive healthcare) include play dates with other puppies and puppy day care or kindergarten.

An older dog in the family can also be a great teacher for a new pup. Just make sure the current dog is well-behaved, or puppy will learn the older pet’s bad habits!

It’s not a foregone conclusion a puppy who doesn’t receive the right experiences at the right stages of development will grow into a dog with behavior problems. But why take the risk? Why not try to do everything right, right off the bat, with your new furry bundle?

I can’t guarantee you’ll wind up with a perfect pet. But I can promise your efforts will accomplish two things:

  • You’ll reduce your dog’s risk of developing behavioral problems.
  • You’ll dramatically increase your chances of sharing your life with a balanced, confident canine companion.

Your Job Once Puppy Comes Home: Socialization and More Socialization

In his first two months with you, your puppy should:

  • Learn to accept being handled and having all his body parts touched.
  • Be introduced to as many healthy and safe people, animals, places, situations, sights and sounds as possible.
  • Be encouraged to explore and investigate his environment, with supervision.
  • Be exposed to lots of toys, games, surfaces and other stimuli.
  • Take car rides with you to new, unfamiliar environments.

One of the most important challenges in socializing your puppy is to minimize the fear he feels while you expose him to a wide range of unfamiliar stimuli he will encounter in his new life with you. This means you need to recognize and understand puppy fear.

 

Graduation Day

Graduation Day

How to Recognize Puppy Fears and What to Do About Them

Your pup may act a bit startled when she encounters someone or something new or unfamiliar. This is fine as long as she recovers quickly, remains curious, and is willing to continue on with the adventure. This indicates she’s adapting normally to strange stimuli.

If, however, she doesn’t recover within a few minutes, it’s not okay.

And certainly if your puppy is so upset she starts crying, pees or poops out of fear, or tries to find a place to hide, it’s not okay. It’s also never okay to ‘toughen up’ a puppy by deliberately scaring her. This will only intensify the problem.

Other signs of fear in your dog can include:

  • Whining
  • Avoidance
  • Salivating
  • Withdrawal
  • Excessive panting
  • Refusal to eat
  • Trembling
  • Vomiting; diarrhea
  • Scanning
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control
  • Vigilance

Research shows puppies can inherit fearful tendencies which can be spotted as early as 5 weeks of age.

And pups who are anxious worriers at 3 months will grow into worried, anxious adults without proper intervention.

The earlier you recognize and seek help for fear-related behaviors in your puppy, the better the outcome. I recommend you talk with your holistic vet, a responsible breeder, and/or an animal behavior specialist about how to help an abnormally fearful or anxious puppy.

Please don’t make the mistake of assuming if you continue to expose your dog to a fearful situation she’ll overcome her fear. In fact, the opposite will happen and you and your furry companion will end up dealing with a long-term, intractable problem.

When Your Puppy is Ready for Housetraining

Among the many things your puppy needs to learn in his first months of life is that his bathroom is outdoors.

The age to begin house training your puppy is around 8½ weeks. Before 8 weeks of age, most puppies haven’t yet developed the neurological control to hold back eliminating –they have no choice but to go when nature calls, wherever they happen to be at the moment.

At 8½ weeks, your pup will be at the right age to select his preferred surface (for example, grass or cement or another outdoor substrate) and take action.

A dog at 8½ weeks is able to make a mental connection between the scent and surface of his potty spot and the act of going potty. And nature has arranged it that this is also the age at which your puppy becomes aware he can control when and where he piddles and poops. It’s fine to begin the process of housebreaking a puppy the minute you bring him home, but he may not begin to fully understand the process until 8½ weeks of age.

The goal of house training is actually two goals:

  1. Teaching puppy to go in his potty spot
  2. Teaching him to wait to go until he reaches that potty spot

Not every 8.5-week-old puppy is the same. Some puppies will pick up the whole outside potty thing quickly. Others will take more time, effort and patience.

You should anticipate and prepare for the occasional accident as your canine youngster learns this crucial but complex skill.

Remember — your new puppy is much more than an adorable ball of energy. He’s also a furry little sponge, ready to soak up everything you can show him about how to get along in his new life with you.

Make those precious first six months of your puppy’s life really count. You’ll be so glad you did!

Dr. Becker is the resident proactive and integrative wellness veterinarian of HealthyPets.Mercola.com. You can learn holistic ways of preventing illness in your pets by subscribing to MercolaHealthyPets.com, an online resource for animal lovers. For more pet care tips, subscribe for FREE to Mercola Healthy Pet Newsletter.

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By Dr. Becker

Here’s more proof puppies need to stay with their families of origin (their litters and the mother dog) for at least the first two months of life …

A study done in Italy and just reported in Veterinary Record, the official journal of the British Veterinary Association provides yet more evidence puppies should not be separated from their mother and littermates too early.

The study, titled Prevalence of owner-reported behaviours in dogs separated from the litter at two different ages, involved 140 adult dogs. Half were taken from their litters at 30 to 40 days of age and half were removed at 60 days.

Half the dogs were purchased at pet shops, a third came from a friend or relative, and the rest came from breeders.

The study results indicate the puppies separated early from their litters were significantly more likely to develop behavior problems as adults than puppies who stayed with their littermates for at least two months.

The ‘Sensitive Period’ in a Puppy’s Development

There is evidence certain behavior tendencies in dogs — anxiety, fearfulness, noise phobia, aggression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, for example – have a genetic component.

However, researchers and experts in the field of canine behavior believe it is a combination of genetics, environment and experience (nature and nurture) that contributes most significantly to behavioral development.

Wendt Worth Corgis Litter

Wendt Worth Corgis Litter

We know for a fact puppies pass through a sensitive stage during which it is critically important they be well socialized to other dogs, humans, and a wide variety of stimuli in their environment.

During this important period, generally agreed to be from around 2½ to 3 weeks through 12 to 14 weeks, a puppy’s brain is primed to accept new experiences with minimal fear. The experiences the pup has during this sensitive time actually have the capacity to modify the brain. What your puppy experiences (or doesn’t experience) during this stage of development has a profound impact on his adult character, temperament and behavior.

Since part of a pup’s socialization is learning appropriate dog-to-dog interaction, it is in the best interests of puppies to remain with the mother and littermates until they are at least 8 to 8½ weeks old.

Research suggests many of the social and behavioral problems seen in adult dogs have their roots in too-early separation from the litter.

Purpose of the Italian Study

The intent of the study was to determine if and how early separation from the litter plays a role in undesirable behavior in adult dogs.

The measured behaviors:

Aversion to strangers Toy possessiveness Stranger aggression Paw licking
Excessive barking Food possessiveness Owner aggression Shadow staring
Fear during walks Attention-seeking Play biting Pica
Reactivity to noises Destructiveness Tail chasing House soiling

The dogs in the study ranged in age from 18 months to 7 years, and the information about their behavior came from a questionnaire their owners completed.

Intriguing Results

Two behaviors were the most frequently reported among all dogs (those removed early from litters and those removed at 60 days) according to their owners:

  • 68 percent of the dogs were attention seekers – they nuzzled, pawed or jumped up on family members looking for attention and physical contact
  • 60 percent showed signs of fear when exposed to loud noises

Also in terms of the entire group of dogs, age played a factor in two behaviors. Dogs under 3 years of age were significantly more prone to tail chasing and destructiveness than older dogs.

A much larger proportion of early separated dogs demonstrated all listed behaviors with the exception of pica (eating non-food material), owner directed aggression, shadow staring and paw licking.

Also, dogs separated early and purchased from a pet shop showed much greater tendency toward toy possessiveness, fearfulness on walks, attention-seeking, stranger aversion, excessive barking, destructiveness and play biting. Dogs from pet shops not separated early from their litters had fewer of the same behavior issues, which leads to one to conclude early separation combined with temporary housing at pet stores is particularly inhibiting to a puppy’s social development.

What It All Means

The conclusion we can draw from the Italian study is that early separation from the litter sets the stage for behavior problems in adult dogs. And if the early separated puppy is also moved directly to a pet store-type environment, the problem can be exacerbated.

To illustrate the significance in a puppy’s life of time-sensitive, appropriate socialization, the study authors offer the following:

Much of what is learned during the sensitive period results in stimulus-specific and long-lasting behavioural changes, potentially providing a foundation for many adult behaviour patterns and problems (Fox 1978, Godbout and others 2007), aversions, social responsiveness (Scott 1958), patterns of active and passive agonistic behaviour (Fox 1966), general activity levels (Wright 1983), reactions to separation (Pettijohn 1977), approach-avoidance patterns (Fox 1966), the development of social hierarchical relationships (Scott and Fuller 1965), anxiety (Ramos and Mills 2009) and functional fear responses (Melzack and Scott 1957).

As you can see, the ‘sensitive period’ is a powerful molding process for puppies.

There’s enormous benefit to be gained or potentially lost in how a very young puppy is handled – whether she’s old enough to leave the litter, her first environment away from her mother and littermates, and how and to what degree she’s socialized by her human family to a new life full of unfamiliar people, animals and other stimuli.

The Dam Provides a Secure Base from Which Her Puppies Can Explore the World

When a puppy remains with her mom and siblings during the earliest part of socialization (2½ – 4 weeks to 8 weeks), she is able to learn dog-to-dog social development from them.

Wendt Worth Corgis Litter

Wendt Worth Corgis Litter

According to study authors:

During the socialisation period, puppies are normally exposed to novel environmental stimuli within the context of the guidance and reassuring presence of their dam. From about three weeks of age, puppies become extremely distressed if they are placed in a strange situation without their dam, littermates and nest sites (Elliot and Scott 1961).

The authors go on to say that absent the security of their mother and siblings, the early separated dogs were much more likely than the other group to exhibit avoidant and fearful behaviors. Specifically they were:

  • 15 times more likely to be fearful on walks
  • 7 times more likely to have attention-seeking behaviors and noise reactivity
  • 6 times more likely to bark excessively

Study authors also found behavioral problems were more likely to develop in dogs obtained from shelters and pet shops, as well as in strays.

It can be reasonably assumed puppies in these groups aren’t adequately socialized. They are also often the result of poor breeding practices. In addition, the pet shop or shelter experience may have lasting effects, as would being homeless.

How We Can Use These Study Results

Some important potential benefits of this study:

  • It provides further evidence that early separation from the litter influences specific problem behavior patterns in adult dogs.
  • With this knowledge, we can continue to stress the importance of keeping litters together with the mother until the puppies are at least 8 weeks of age.
  • It may generate ‘early behavior intervention’ information and ideas for owners of early separated puppies.
  • It re-emphasizes 1) the potentially harmful effects of housing puppies in pet shop and shelter environments, 2) the critical importance of appropriate and time sensitive socialization of puppies, and 3) the need for behavioral intervention for early separated dogs and those who’ve spent time in pet shop and shelter environments.

Dr. Becker is the resident proactive and integrative wellness veterinarian of HealthyPets.Mercola.com. You can learn holistic ways of preventing illness in your pets by subscribing to MercolaHealthyPets.com, an online resource for animal lovers. For more pet care tips, subscribe for FREE to Mercola Healthy Pet Newsletter.


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