This week has been rather difficult for us as we found out one of our older, beloved dogs is very unwell. Our little terrier has always had her fair share of health problems, coming as she did from a puppy farm and not very understanding home. She was then rescued and we took her in.
Many rescue dogs are rehomed through no fault of their own. In this case it was hard to tell, but this little scruffy bundle arrived from her foster home with lots of suspicions about humans and their ways. She would bite, not hard, but enough, so we had to work with her for a long time and even now she finds some things difficult to cope with.
Why have I mentioned this in an article about health?
Often, we get so used to our pets behaving as they do that we don’t always notice when they aren’t just being tricky to manage. I don’t like the word ‘naughty’, but people I work with often use it when their pets aren’t doing what they expect.
What this means is that maybe your dog or cat has learned something you don’t really want them to repeat, but it could be that they actually aren’t feeling very well.
Pain and illness can change any animal’s behaviour. Are you the same person when you’ve got a stomach bug or a headache? What about when you are tired or perhaps a bit run down by life? It’s the same with our pets.
With my terrier, she suddenly started whining and crying for more food. Odd, since she has always been slim and never overate. The whining continued even after she had been fed. All she wanted to do was sit on someone’s knee, again, unusual. Now, we could have just assumed she was being a bit needy and greedy! Instead, we monitored her for a short while and then took her to the Vet, described the changes in her behaviour, and the Vet (Priory, in Stamford), gave her a blood test and called me back that day. Yes, our little dog has kidney problems and is now being treated.
My point is this. If you see your dog or cat change, or if they persistently do something, don’t simply assume that it’s just their personality. Don’t assume it’s ‘just old age’ or that your pet is slowing down somehow. Don’t assume they are ‘naughty’ and then take them to a trainer who doesn’t ask you to have a Vet check first – this is essential for their care. Our pets don’t really show illness like we humans do, so be their best carer ever and get that change checked out!
To read more about how you as an owner can understand your dog better, my book What Your Dog Wants discusses this and more. Click the image for more info.
– Karen Wild