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Tag: anxiety

Cannabis oil treats might help your dog chill out during fireworks, storms, air travel

A Portland woman who launched a line of pet treats and supplements laced with a type of cannabis oil found what seemed the perfect place to market her products this week — a chain of fireworks stands in Oregon.

MaxDaddy treats contain CBD oil, a derivative of cannabis that company founder Carol Gardner says can help dogs with anxiety issues — including getting scared at the sound of loud fireworks.

CBD oil, which unlike THC, does not gets pets or people high, is believed by many to have relaxing properties.

md-home-nuggets-8oz-543x600MaxDaddy products include Bark Nuggets treats and Bark Dust, a powdered supplement that also contains CBD oil. The company is named after her English bulldog who suffers from anxiety.

“He’s the reason we actually started the company,” Gardner told KGW-TV in Portland. “It doesn’t zonk them out, it just makes them a lot calmer.”

Gardner said she hired two scientists and consulted with veterinarians when coming up with the product. CBD is a herbal supplement and therefore not regulated by the Food & Drug Administration.

How well it works to reduce anxiety in dogs, and whether it has ill effects, haven’t been fully studied.

But Gardner maintains the organic treats and dust can help dogs who panic during fireworks, thunderstorms and other high-stress events, like air travel or going to the groomer.

Gardner, 72, this week was selling MaxDaddy products, also available online, at all Mean Gene Fireworks Stands in Vancouver.

Selling fireworks-anxiety-reducing remedies at a fireworks stand makes a certain amount of sense — much like selling hangover treatments in a liquor store — and we won’t bother to state the obvious. (Namely, that skipping the culprit lessens the need for the remedy.)

According to the MaxDaddy website, MaxDaddy is a rescued English bulldog who has been with Gardner since he was five. He has suffered from joint pain due to arthritis, inflammation, anxiety and mobility issues.

Gardner was introduced to CBD, a natural product derived from agriculturally grown hemp plants, when she began looking for solutions for MaxDaddy’s health issues.

My dream about selling out

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When a dark-colored sedan slows to a halt beside you as you walk down the sidewalk, and a tinted window powers down, it’s usually not a sign of good things ahead.

Especially not when all you can see inside is a gun barrel pointing out at you, and a face in the shadows that says only, “Get in.”

Such was the somewhat cliched opening of an actual dream I had the other night.

I got in, as instructed, and the grim and leathery-faced man in the passenger seat beside me told me were going for a ride, in a tone that suggested I neither disagree nor ask too many questions.

windowWhen we arrived at a cabin in some remote woods, he ushered me inside, sat me down and explained the situation.

He was a hit man, hired by some people whose identities he was not allowed to divulge, as that, too, would necessitate killing me.

His working orders were to convince me to sell my website to those people, and to kill me if I refused.

I could see no reason to debate any terms and I was about to agree when he told me I would get two days to think about it.

For the next two days, he sat in a straight-backed chair with a gun in his hand. He put it down only to make meals. He was mostly quiet, seemed to lack any emotions at all, and every once in a while he would hit me, slap me, kick me or verbally abuse me.

Yet, for a few minutes both days, he would let some humanity show through. We’d actually talk a little and make jokes and a tiny part of me came to actually like a tiny part of him, but that’s all beside the point, I think.

Still, I spent more time thinking about him than I did about selling the website. I’d never considered it, and as far it’s value, I figured that was up to the man with the gun to decide.

Coping-With-Anxiety-and-Depression-722x406As he had requested, I withheld any decision until he announced that the deadline had come.

“What is your decision?” he asked. “I will sell the website,” I responded, suspecting I was going to die either way.

At this point, you need to know two things.

First off, I’ve never really thought about selling ohmidog!, and don’t expect it would be worth much. My website, back when it ran advertising, once brought in a tiny bit of money, but now it operates at a loss. Now it is officially a hobby — because the money-making side of a website, as opposed to the creative side, all involves work that either bores me to tears or violates my outdated journalistic principles. For the purposes of writing this I checked a couple of those websites that profess to tell you what a website is worth, and they estimated $6-$7,000. (Interestingly both of those websites, when you typed their own domain name, in, were unwilling to estimate the value of themselves.)

Maybe it’s worth even more than that, I like to sometimes think. I’m not one to overestimate my worth, or my website’s. But I am a bit of a dreamer and this was, after all, a dream.

Just last week, the company that makes dog food with Rachel Ray’s name on it had just sold for $1.9 billion — and who’s to say her kibble is worth more than my daily writings?

You also need to know now about my fear of large bills, for I suspect it is from those anxieties that this dream sprung. I do not like possessing anything larger than a $20 bill.

The currency-holding part of my wallet is divided into two sections. In one I keep twenties, in the other I keep smaller denominations. I rarely go to a bank anymore, instead getting my cash via the cash back option at my grocery store. I usually get one hundred dollars, insisting on nothing larger than twenties.

On a few occasions, though, they have run out and had to give me fifties. I put those in with my twenties. And before I know it, they are gone. I will struggle to remember using one of them, and I’m unable to recall handing anyone a fifty. I can’t remember ever getting change back from a fifty. Handing over a $50 would be act of some significance for me. Surely I would remember that.

I suspect I unwittingly hand over fifties, thinking they are twenties, and that the cashiers, equally unwittingly, hand me back change for a twenty.

Where else could they be going?

So whenever I have a fifty in my wallet, I am anxious. I have to check on them frequently

Just as I am no high roller, I had no high hopes that my website would fetch big bucks, so I was greatly surprised when, in my dream, the hit man informed me that I was to be paid $2 billion. One catch, it had to be cash.

I signed the paperwork, in triplicate, and he handed me two $1 billion bills. I nervously stuffed them in my wallet, in the twenties section.

He told me I could leave.

Ninety percent of me expected that I would be shot in the back as I left, and that he would retrieve the $2 billion, along with my twenties and tens and such. A small part of me thought, just maybe, despite his cruel streak, he was a man of his word.

Turned out he was. I walked out, through the woods, back to the highway and started hitch-hiking.

It took three different rides to get me home, and during each I worried that the driver would somehow sniff out the large bills held in my wallet and rob me.

But I returned home safely, the bills intact, telling myself that tomorrow I would deposit them in the bank.

Tomorrow came and, even though I had nothing to do, nothing to write and post on the website anymore, I didn’t go to the bank. I kept putting it off. And the rest of the dream was just a series of anxious days each one just like the previous one.

It got to the point that I was checking my wallet every 30 minutes. Are they still there? Should I put them somewhere safer, or will I forget where I put them if I do?

As for investing the $2 billion, that didn’t even enter my thoughts. Nor did how I might spend it.

Eventually, the dream became so boring — just me continuing checking my wallet — that I woke up.

I’m not sure what it means, or what I learned, but the next day I took that check that has been lingering around the house to the bank — a state income tax refund of $25.

A lap that’s always there for your lap dog

lap dogA Reddit user has come up with a pretty brilliant idea for dogs who get a little anxious when their human isn’t home.

The man, who posts under the name Unoiseau, constructed an artificial lap for his lap dog.

Normally, we’d say he should have gotten a patent before he shared it with the world, but it looks like a project that anyone with an extra pair of jeans could easily accomplish at home.

The inventor didn’t specify what he stuffed the jeans with, but it seems some dirty clothes that smell like you would do the trick.

Your dog might not be convinced it’s really you, but because it looks and smells like you — or at least part of you — he might find it a comforting and reassuring place to curl up.

Unoiseau stuffed the jeans, and crossed the legs to create a pocket for his dog to lay in. The dog isn’t “totally convinced with the makeshift lap I made for him,” the dog owner said, and he looks a little confused when he’s sitting in the lap and looking at his owner across the room at the same time.

But Unoiseau is hoping the artificial lap will keep his dog from experiencing separation anxiety when he’s not there.

The Reddit post has attracted more than 15,000 upvotes and made it to front page of the site.

(Photo: Posted to Reddit by Unoiseau)

Music to their ears: Musician’s song for edgy dogs seems to near instantly soothe them

A musician who calls himself “gnash” researched, composed and recorded a song he hoped would calm his own rescue dog’s restlessness, and he says it’s working — not just for Daisy, but for entire rooms of shelter dogs.

Daisy — the dog Garrett Nash, or gnash, shares with his girlfriend — is prone to becoming “super snippy when she’s not medicated,” he says, and at those time she’s prone to nipping almost anyone within reach.

“I’m a dog lover and I make music, so I was trying to connect the two,” he explained. “I was just thinking maybe, since Daisy was hanging out with me every day in the studio, well then maybe there’s a way that I could make her calm down a little bit.”

He talked to an animal behaviorist, then contacted the team at Glasgow University who had done a study on music that calms shelter dogs — one that found reggae seemed to work best.

He learned what sounds most appealed to dogs, what tempos and tones and repetitions showed evidence of calming them.

gnashThen he headed to studio with friends and got to work, ending up with Daisy’s Song — a soothing, restrained and not too reggae-like number that incorporated what he’d learned and, more important, seemed to work on Daisy.

When they tested it out, with Daisy seated next to a friend she’s always seemed particularly prone to nipping at, it was nearly magical.

You can view the results in the video at the end of this post. Suffice to say, before the song ended, Daisy was relaxed and nuzzling up against the chest of that friend she seemed so fearful of minutes earlier.

Exactly what Daisy’s condition is I can’t say. In the video below, gnash seems to be saying the dog has “a thing in her brain called a shiner (?) that makes her super snippy when she’s not medicated”

I’m no vet, though, and I couldn’t find any references to a disorder known by that name. (Those with a better grasp or understanding are welcome to comment and fill me in.) The closest I could come was progressive retinal atrophy, which can cause a shining to appear in a dog’s eyes, can affect behavior and can lead to eventual blindness.

After the song seemed to work on Daisy, gnash took the track to the adoption center of No Kill LA, a shelter operated by Best Friends Animal Society.

There, too, the song seemed to have a calming presence. During a listening session, the dogs in the room grew less frantic, seemed more restful and content.

The song, and the video about its making, were posted last week on YouTube last week, where those leaving comments are reporting varying results:

“Both of my dogs were anxious-one about a storm, and one tearing up a toilet paper tube,” wrote one. “I played this, and both are now peaceful, laying down and sleeping. I am impressed. I’m thinking of a nap myself.”

“My boxer went from licking everything in site to snoring in 4 minutes,” wrote another.

“My dog is really hyper he never sits for too long on my lap, but this actually made him sit for 10 minutes and I could tell he was listening… Loved this.”

Some dog-less comment leavers reported it put them asleep, some said they loved it whether it works or not, and one said all his dog did was lick his privates.

But weed out all the goons and trolls, and the response seems mostly to affirm that gnash achieved what he was trying to do, and more.

I played it for my dog Jinjja. He was lying down when it started. He lifted his head, his ears perked up, and he started gazing around the room and ceiling. His breathing seemed to slow down. He came over to be petted, looked out the window and laid back down, his muzzle between his paws. He lay still for the next eight minutes of the song, eyes closed and his ears periodically flicking back and forth, then finally got up and exited the room at the 12-minute mark.

“Going into this, my hopes were that I was gonna make the song, play it for Daisy and a couple of other dogs and hopefully they would react in a way that would make them a little more chill,” gnash said.

Already, the results seem to be going beyond that, and raise hopes that it could serve to calm dogs in shelters, which only increases their chances of adoption.

“It’s cool because maybe like humans will be able to find this on YouTube and show it to their friends, and then maybe they’ll play the song for their dogs and then maybe humans will love it and pets will love it too and it will make everybody smile a little bit more and that’s all I care about.”

Nervous dog owners = nervous dogs

nervousdogs

Leave it to scientists to confirm what we already know, and to do so using words we don’t begin to understand.

Case in point: Nervous dogs often have nervous owners. This is not to say a nervous dog can’t have a cool as a cucumber (coolus cucumberus) owner. Nor is it to say some highly twitchy (humanus nervosa) folks can’t have calm dogs.

Only that, as anyone who visits a dog park knows, nervous owners tend to have nervous dog at the end of the leash.

The new study buttresses the concept that our dogs tend to take on our personalities, and that tension — while it may not actually “flow down the leash” — is picked up on by our dogs, and often reflected in their own behavior.

It looks at the chemistry behind that.

The study at the University of Vienna — published in the journal PLOS One “investigated dyadic psychobiological factors influencing intra-individual cortisol variability in response to different challenging situations by testing 132 owners and their dogs in a laboratory setting.”

You might understand that, or, you (like me) might not know spit — or that cortisol levels can be measured through it.

In the study, the researchers measured the levels of cortisol — and the variability of those levels — in the saliva of dogs and owners put through stressful situations.

In addition, they assessed the personality of both dog and human participants — ranging from highly sensitive and neurotic to secure and self confident.

“We calculated the individual coefficient of variance of cortisol (iCV = sd/mean*100) over the different test situations as a parameter representing individual variability of cortisol concentration,” the study’s authors wrote. “We hypothesized that high cortisol variability indicates efficient and adaptive coping and a balanced individual and dyadic social performance.”

For a more reader-friendly account of the study, check out Stanley Coren’s Psychology Today blog:

“You can think of people who are high in neuroticism as being sensitive and nervous while people who score low in neuroticism are secure and confident. In this study, the dog owners who scored high in neuroticism had dogs with low variability in their cortisol. This suggests that dogs with highly neurotic owners are less able to deal with pressure and stress.”

“Conversely, dog owners who were more laid back and agreeable had calmer dogs. Those folks have greater variability in their cortisol response, suggesting that they are better able to cope with situations involving tension and strain.”

The study says the male dogs of female owners often have less variability in their cortisol responses and are often generally less sociable and less relaxed than male dogs belonging to male owners.

(That’s the study saying that females generally score higher on measures of anxiety and neuroticism — not me. I would be way too nervous to say that.)

“Owners behave differently because they are pessimistic or neurotic, and perhaps dogs read the emotions of their owners and think the world is more dangerous — so they are more reactive to it,” the study says. “It looks like people who are pessimistic have dogs which are worse at coping with stress than others.”

Of course, where a dog was before ending up with its owner can play a pretty big role, too.

I, for example, am the cool as a cucumber owner of a nervous dog. He came from a farm in Korea where he was being raised to become meat. That would tend to instill some nervousness in anyone.

Three months after being adopted by me, he still gets pretty nervous — around large groups, when hearing loud noises. I don’t know about his cortisol levels, but at these times he whimpers, sheds profusely — is there such a thing as projectile shedding? — and pees in inappropriate places, such as on my leg.

He is making great strides in every way, but Jinjja still needs to chill, and get less worked up by new situations.

Of all the factors that shape our dogs — genetics, environment, owners — time (and its cousin, patience) may be the most important ones of all.

So my game plan is to provide him with plenty of both, expose him to new settings and situations, and show him that not all the world is a dangerous place — all while being a mellow role model.

In other words, impossible as it might be, I’m going to have to become EVEN cooler.

Stress can turn dogs prematurely gray

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Young dogs who are especially anxious and impulsive can grow gray hair on their muzzles prematurely — just like humans, a new study says.

Scientists involved in the study, published in the journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science, said they had long suspected stress led to premature gray around the muzzle in dogs, even though little research exists on the topic.

SONY DSC“Based on my years of experience observing and working with dogs, I’ve long had a suspicion that dogs with higher levels of anxiety and impulsiveness also show increased muzzle grayness,” said Camille King, a Denver area veterinarian who led the study.

Author Temple Grandin also took part in the study, according to a press release from Northern Illinois University, King’s alma mater.

To investigate, the researchers traveled to dog parks and veterinary clinics in Colorado, giving questionnaires to the owners of 400 dogs, CBS reported.

The owners answered 42 questions about their dogs’ behavior, age and health, while the researchers took photos of each dog.

The researchers excluded dogs with light-colored fur. They focused just on dogs between ages 1 and 4, as older dogs could have gray fur simply from aging, the researchers said.

To gauge anxiety levels, the researchers asked about whether the dog destroyed things when left alone, had hair loss during vet exams or when entering new places, or cringed or cowered around groups of people.

To rate impulsivity, the researchers asked if the dogs jumped on people, whether they could be calmed, if they had difficulty focusing, and if they continued to be hyperactive after exercising.

Female dogs tended to have higher levels of grayness than male dogs did, the researchers found, and dogs that showed fearfulness toward loud noises and unfamiliar animals and people also tended to have increased grayness, they said.

In contrast, they said, grayness had nothing to do with the dog’s size, whether it was fixed and whether it had any medical problems.

(Photos by John Woestendiek)

You’re just the cutest little audience ever … Yes … Yes … Yes, you are!

A business professor at American University is using dogs to help students overcome their fear of public speaking and hone their oratorical skills.

Bonnie Auslander, the director of the Kogod Center for Business Communications, started the program on a trial basis last year, pairing anxiety-prone business school students with patient canine listeners.

The thinking behind it is similar to that of programs around the country in which much younger students read to dogs to gain confidence in their reading skills.

“Addressing a friendly and nonjudgmental canine can lower blood pressure, decrease stress and elevate mood — perfect for practicing your speech or team presentation,” says the program’s promotional material.

For now, evidence of the benefits is mostly anecdotal, reports the New York Times.

With therapy dogs arriving on campus regularly during finals, Auslander got the idea to use dogs as a practice audience and she recruited six dogs with calm personalities.

They included Teddy, a Jack Russell terrier, and Ellie, a Bernese mountain dog.

We think it’s a great idea — assuming the dogs are willing to put up with all those speeches. On top of gaining confidence, students can learn the importance of inflecting their voices and gesturing to hold audience attention — though treats are proving to work better than either of those.

Auslander joked about having “an audience cat program some day that will be for speakers who are overconfident and need to be taken down a peg. The cats will turn away and lick their paws.”

Although we feel a little sorry for them, we wish the best to those dogs taking part in the program. And having had our own issues with public speaking, we wish great success to those students taking part.

We’re confident they will get their MBA’s and become great orators — identifiable only by their tendency to throw Milk Bones to their audiences.