Drs. Josh and Marya Teders
Who couldn't use a little advice when it comes to making the lives of their pets a little better?
With that in mind, The Dispatch is excited to welcome Drs. Josh and Marya Teders, the married owners of NorthArlington Animal Clinic in Upper Arlington, who will be writing a monthly column answering any and all questions from readers about their furry friends. Both are graduates of the Ohio State College of Veterinary Medicine.
In their debut column, the Teders have addressed some common questions that they receive from their clients. To send questions to them for a future column, please write to email@example.com.
Question: When the pandemic started and I began working from home again, it seemed like the perfect time to get a dog. At first I had plenty of time to play with him and take him on long walks, but now I'm being called back to work and he isn't handling less "me" time well. Help!
Answer: There likely are two sources of your dog's stress. One is that most dogs require an energy outlet — and lots of it! The other is that his social needs are not being met while you are at work. Dogs are pack animals by nature, and they crave interaction with people or other dogs. If your dog was previously able to enjoy long walks outside and playtime with you, you will have to find a substitute now that you are back to work. Is there a neighbor who isn’t back to work yet and would like to socialize with your dog and share a walk each day?
Before the pandemic, there was a booming at-home pet care industry that was filled with animal-loving, entrepreneurial individuals who would be happy to fulfill your pet’s daily wish list of exercise and interaction in your home. Those small-business owners certainly would be happy to get a call from you to start visiting with your dog.
If in-home care is not appealing to you, you have many doggy daycare facilities available as well. You can drop off your dog on your way to work. He can play and socialize to his heart's content until you pick him up on your way home. Those facilities have workers who will gauge your pet's temperament and activity needs before placing him in a play group. It is especially important to make sure that your dog is current on his vaccines and parasite prevention to ensure a safe play day for all the dogs in the facility.
For some pets or some pet parents, those options might not work logistically or simply not be as effective as hoped. In that case, consider talking with your veterinarian about separation anxiety. Your veterinarian will discuss a treatment plan with you. Sometimes that includes puzzle games for the dog that will entertain him for a longer period of time, with a treat as a reward for completion at the end. Your veterinarian also might discuss desensitization techniques with you so that your pet does not start to see a pattern developing as you start each workday. That pattern can serve as a “stress-riser” when he observes your routine.
Lastly, there are effective medications that are FDA labeled as treatments for separation anxiety, and your veterinarian might consider starting your dog on a trial course. It is important to follow the dosing regimen closely, and for the proper amount of time, before judging your dog's response to therapy.
Q: What is the ideal weight for my dog?
A: This is a tough question because it depends on on many things, including your dog’s breed, size and age.
A good way to think about your pet’s weight is to use the body condition scoring system. During every routine examination, your veterinarian will assign your pet a body condition score, or BCS, ranging from 1 to 9. A BCS of 4 or 5 is ideal. In that case, you will be able to feel your dog’s ribs without seeing them; your dog will have a waist just behind the ribs when viewed from above; and when viewed from the side, you should see a tuck in the abdomen area. It’s always good to talk to your veterinarian about your dog’s BCS at each visit.
Once your veterinarian has assigned a BCS, you can adjust your dog's feeding to achieve a 4 or 5. For us, it works best to feed two meals each day and adjust each meal by raising or lowering the volume of food at each feeding. After each month, you can assess your progress by determining a new BCS and adjust the feeding volume accordingly to reach your goal.
One thing that is surprising is the differing amounts of food that one dog can eat and achieve a perfect BCS of 4, while another dog would balloon to a BCS of 9! For example, our 25-pound French bulldog, Griffin, eats one heaping cup of food twice daily, and he has an ideal BCS. Our Cavalier King Charles, Betsy, also weighs 25 pounds, but she eats only a half-cup twice daily to achieve the same BCS. Betsy eats less than half of what Griffin does but has the same weight and BCS.
So as you use the body condition scoring system, you can pinpoint your individual dog’s exact daily food requirements to achieve the healthiest body condition.