Category Archives: therapy

Llamas and Alpacas as Therapy Animals? Why Not!

Rojo-HiResFloralBy Julia Williams

First there were therapy dogs. Then came therapy cats. More recently, the list of therapy animals has expanded to include horses, rabbits, guinea pigs, potbellied pigs…even llamas and alpacas! It seems people have finally begun to realize what I have known for most of my life – that virtually any animal has the capability to help our seniors, special needs children, hospital patients, rehabilitation facility residents and others who need cheering up.

When it comes to therapy animals, size doesn’t matter because animals are so pure of heart and willing to lend a paw (or a hoof) to spread cheer. Case in point: a big, shaggy-haired llama named Rojo and an equally hairy alpaca named Napoleon can bring on the smiles every bit as much as a fluffy little dog can!

Admittedly, llamas and alpacas might not be the first species that comes to mind when you think of therapy animals. However, the Mountain Peaks Therapy Llamas & Alpacas don’t let this stop them from visiting schools, hospitals, senior communities and rehab facilities throughout Portland, OR and Vancouver, WA. Offering friendship and a warm hug, these very special therapy animals help alleviate loneliness and reduce stress, and their presence brings a sense of normalcy to institutional settings.

rojoreading revMountain Peaks, a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation, offers therapy teams that have successfully completed the Animal-Assisted Therapy Certification process. Rojo was their first therapy animal; this unusually people-friendly llama received his Certification in 2007. Since then, the Mountain Peaks menagerie – Rojo, Smokey, Beni and Little Chap (llamas), and Napoleon, Jean-Pierre and Andre (alpacas), have completed more than 900 therapeutic visits. Mountain Peaks also provides theme-decorated llamas and alpacas for birthday parties, BBQs, weddings and other private and corporate events.

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What Does a Pet Rehabilitation Center Do?

By Julia Williams

When age or injury makes it more difficult for your dog or cat to get around, many pet owners assume that nothing much can be done. However, thanks to new treatment options and modern technology, our pets don’t have to hobble about in pain anymore. Pet rehabilitation centers are springing up all around the nation, and they’re helping pets regain mobility and get relief from the pain. Rehab can be a great help for humans, so why not for our pets too? Whether the aches and pains are from tendonitis or arthritis, a pinched nerve or surgery, a pet rehabilitation center can help to get your pet back on his paws.

Pet rehabilitation involves using a variety of treatments and technology to help restore normal function to their joints and muscles. Rehab can improve a pet’s flexibility and mobility, enhance limb use and mitigate pain. The pet rehab facility takes a holistic approach to health and considers all factors, including medical history, current issues, body condition, lifestyle, nutrition, supplements and medication. Pets typically visit a rehabilitation center about twice a week, and owners are also taught how to do core exercises with their pet at home.

Pet rehabilitation centers combine the education and expertise of a veterinarian with a doctor of physical therapy. This produces optimum results because vets understand the nature of pet injuries and diseases while physical therapists understand the science of rehabilitation – e.g., how a body moves, joint and soft tissue mechanics and the impact of exercise. Add cutting edge technology to the mix, and it’s easy to see how beneficial this could be for aging or injured pets.

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Snake Aversion Therapy for Dogs

Spring is in the air and with this beautiful season follows the arrival of rattlesnakes. If you live in the US, you’ve probably had at least one experience with snakes, and if you live in the Southwest, you’ve probably had a few. 
If you’re out hiking with your dog and stumble across a rattler, what is the best course of action? First off, you should have your dog on a leash at all times – even while on a trailhead. This will help, but oftentimes, it won’t be enough. Snakes have a tendency to lie across the trail or out in the open where they can absorb the heat from the sun. They can be difficult to see if you’re not paying attention, so try to always pay attention. 
If you’re dog attacks or doesn’t see it in time, and is struck by the snake, try not to panic. Get out of there, and if possible, carry your dog out. Adrenaline will increase heart rate, which will increase the spread of poison. Chances are good that your dog was struck in the throat, and if that’s the case, you need to ensure he or she can breathe. The poison will cause intense swelling, which can close off your dog’s airway. Get him or her to the vet as soon as humanly possible. Do not stop and try to suck out the poison (it doesn’t work and can end up killing you). Just get to a vet. 
Of course, the best thing to do is teach your dog to avoid snakes altogether. This can be done through a series of snake aversion training by a certified trainer. 
There are many ways to train a dog to avoid snakes, but aversion therapy is one of the best I’ve seen. Yes, it uses static electricity collars. Yes, it’s difficult to watch. Yes, it will likely save your dog’s life in the long run. The good thing is that it only needs to be done once in most cases. It’s a lesson they’ll remember for the rest of their lives. 
A good trainer will teach dogs to avoid snakes using sight, sound and smell. Ensure that the trainer you use has a long line of references and positive feedback from previous clients. They will lead your dog through a “rattlesnake” course, using snakes that have been rescued from the backyards of terrified homeowners. The snakes should later be released into the wild – ensure you find a humane trainer who handles the snakes humanely. 
Depending on the dogs reaction, there are several events that can occur. These depend on the training methods used. Snake aversion therapy is one of the few training events I would ever use a collar for, because it’s that important for the dog to associate a strong reaction with seeing or hearing or smelling a snake. 
If you’re interested in taking your dog in for “snake aversion” therapy, check your local listings for a qualified, accomplished trainer who offers humane methods of training. Ensure that they treat the “volunteer snakes” well, and you’ll be in good shape. 
It might just save your dog’s life….
ASPCA Poison Control Hotline
Note:  There is a $60 charge for this service.
The National Animal Poison Control Center (NAPPC)
Note: If you call the 1-900 number, the charge is $20.00 for the first five minutes, then $2.95/minute thereafter. If you use the 800 number, the charge is $30.00 per case.

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

What is Your Pet’s Normal Heart Rate and Temperature?

Have you ever called the veterinarian worried about your pet, only to have the good doctor ask you if your pet is running a fever? Or what if he or she has an elevated heart rate? More than likely, you didn’t have an answer to that question, or you reached down and felt your dog’s nose to see if it was “cold and wet” like all the books say it should be. Well, here is the opportunity to bone up on a little Pet Med 101. The following information will help you come up with the correct answers for your veterinarian, and help you make a better informed decision on whether your pet needs immediate medical assistance or whether you’re just overreacting.

The Averages Temperature Heart Rate
Dog (30 lbs or less) 100.5 – 102.5 100-160 bpm
Dog (30 lbs +) 100.5 – 102.5 100-160 bpm
Puppy 100.5 – 102.5 120-160 bpm
Cat 100.5 – 102.5 120-220 bpm

How to Check Your Pet’s Heart Rate
  1. Allow the animal to stand naturally, keeping pet calm by petting or talking to it. (A stressed animal’s heart rate will increase, creating a higher reading.)
  2. Place the stethoscope over the animal’s heart. If you have problems locating the heart rate, this is a simple way to find it:
    1. Ask the animal to lie on its right side.
    2. Gently bend the animals left front leg at the elbow, allowing it to touch their chest.
    3. The area where the elbow touches the chest is the place where you should place your hand or a stethoscope, as it is the best place to hear a strong heartbeat.
      1. Note: Make a mental note of this area and allow the animal to regain it’s feet and relax, as forcing it to lie down could create stress. Taking an animal’s heart rate while it is stressed will occur in an increased rate and a false reading.
  3. Count the beats that hear or feel for 15 seconds by watching a second hand on a clock or watch.
  4. Multiply the number of beats that you counted by 4.
  5. This is the BPM or Beats Per Minute.
  6. Using the chart above, you will be able to determine whether your pet’s heart rate is within normal range. If it is below or above the normal range, contact your veterinarian immediately for further instructions.

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.