Ask a vet: training overprotective dogs, remedies for your dog’s cold and more

Have a question or two about your furry pals? Pets Central’s veterinarian Dr. Pauline Taylor answers your questions.

Q. “How will I know it’s time to euthanise my pet? How does the process work?”

Euthanasia stands for a ‘good’ death performed to relieve pain or suffering. It is important that all pets enjoy a quality of life which includes eating and drinking naturally, and being responsive, not in pain, anxious or distressed. There is no simple answer on the right time.

In my opinion, as the person who has loved and cared for your pet for many years, you are the best person to make the final decision, with input from your vet. When the time comes, your vet will explain the process—it involves the administration of a powerful sleeping drug that stops the brain sending messages to the rest of the body. Shortly after its administration the heart stops, your pet will then be pronounced dead.

Q. “What should I do when my dog gets overprotective of his bone and starts snarling when we try to take it away?”

This is fairly common but can become a dangerous situation and should never be treated lightly. You describe a form of resource guarding or possessive aggression. 

Tensing and pupil dilation are the most direct indicators of physiological arousal, which relates to an underlying anxiety in your dog that the ‘resource’ will be taken away. The behaviour can also apply to toys, food bowls, stolen items, people and places. Avoid taking his bone away; instead, limit access to ‘resources’ to controlled situations that you manage at all times. Remember, anyone could get bitten and this must be avoided at all costs.

Q. “What remedies are there if my dog has a cold?”

I assume ‘cold’ involves mild respiratory tract signs, similar to what humans get—a runny nose, some upper respiratory tract congestion, maybe a cough and some aches and pains. Usually caused by a virus, symptoms last for about one week, the first few days of which your dog can be contagious to other dogs.

The best is for your dog to rest—no hikes, no swimming and certainly no mixing with other dogs. Take them on shorter walks to relieve themselves and avoid very hot or cold temperatures. If their body temperature and behaviour remain normal, the cold should pass. If you suspect a fever or if symptoms persist or worsen, see your vet. Over-the-counter remedies are available but I would caution their use without a diagnosis of the cause.

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