Welcome to Fetch Forward Insights, where each edition is uniquely created to help you be the best pet parent day in and day out.
Powered by our ground-breaking, patent-pending Fetch Forward technology, we’re able to predict health and disease outcomes with such high confidence that we’re able to provide recommendations to help you ensure that your dog will live a happier and healthier life. Fetch Forward is the place where veterinary care, artificial intelligence and clinical health data (from over half a million dogs) work together to improve the quality of our pets’ lives. We’re proud to take this revolutionary leap forward in pet health.
A multidisciplinary team of veterinary thought leaders and data scientists are the faces behind Fetch Forward. Guiding you through these actionable insights is one of the founding Fetch Forward members, Dr. Audrey Ruple, associate professor at Virginia Tech, licensed veterinarian and veterinary epidemiologist with a board certification in preventive medicine. Each edition you can count on her to break down our relevant tips – all to empower you, an adoring pet parent, to get ahead of your pet’s future health.
If your dog is spending more time inside, that can lead to boredom and mischievous behavior, like nibbling on house plants, sticking their snout into the trash or sniffing out human treats.
Investing in a pet-proof trash can as well as babyproofing locks and straps for your cabinets can help ensure your dog stays out of the garbage and cupboards. Baby gates can also help keep your pup from exploring off-limit areas.
Check to see if your dog is up to date with their routine and preventive care needs. A vet can determine if an underlying health issue is causing your dog to seek out garbage or other inappropriate items. If you're worried that your dog ate something they shouldn't have, check out our go-to guide to help you know which foods are safe and unsafe for your pet to have.
Ensuring your pet is eating a balanced diet (your vet can help you know for sure) and meeting their playtime and attention needs, along with teaching them basic obedience training commands, such as "leave it" or "off," are more ways to help your dog stay healthy and out of trouble.
Giving your pet something to chew on can mentally stimulate them, and in return, curb their seasonal, stuck-inside boredom. Just make sure that whatever you offer up is safe, vet-approved and age and size appropriate.
Cooked bones leftover from your dinner, for example, are dangerous and shouldn't be shared with dogs for any reason. For more info on how chicken bones can cause gastrointestinal injuries in pets, our on-staff veterinarian Dr. Aliya McCullough is sharing everything you need to know.
With less outdoor playtime during the colder months, your pup may be feeling on edge. If you're concerned about your dog's aggressive behavior, here's what to do:
Speak to your vet or a vet behavioral therapist right away.
Behavioral therapy (which we cover!) can offer you an individualized behavior modification plan for managing your dog's behavior. We also recommend keeping up with routine vet visits to catch early signs of illness or injury. Painful medical conditions, like arthritis, can cause pets to become irritable.
Enroll your dog in basic obedience training classes.
The goal is to help you and your dog to communicate better. Just make sure the trainer believes in positive reinforcement. Negative reinforcement through punishments and electric "shock" collars cause fear and anxiety and can create trust issues for your dog.
Stick to a schedule.
Dogs love predictability. Keeping your dog on a schedule can improve their behavior. It's also helpful to fill that routine with regular playtime, treat-dispensing toys and walks to positively stimulate their mind.
Make your pup feel safe.
Look for and respect your dog's nonverbal cues that signal stress or anxiety, like turning the head or body, lip licking, yawning, tensing up and a stiff tail position. Dogs are natural den animals, so providing them a crate, bed or small room that they can consider their quiet, safe space can help them relax and reset. Team Fetch has some tips to help you turn a dog crate into a safe place for your pup.
Introducing the Fetch Health Forecast.
A tidbit from Dr. Ruple
You might think of dog infections caused by parasites as diseases you only need to worry about in the summer months — but Fetch Forward shows that insurance claims related to parasites are more likely to occur in colder months than other times of the year. Here’s why that is, according to Dr. Ruple.
Most pet parents use medications to prevent heartworm infections in their dogs in the summer months because the parasitic worms that cause heartworm disease are transmitted through mosquito bites, and mosquitoes are commonly seen in the summer. With the absence of mosquitoes in the winter, it may seem less important to keep giving your pup preventive medications.
However, many heartworm preventive medications also protect against intestinal parasites like hookworms, roundworms and whipworms. These types of parasites are commonly found in areas that dogs frequent. In fact, a recent study* collected samples from 300 dog parks located across the U.S. and discovered parasites in 85% of parks!
So, even though mosquitoes aren’t as prevalent in the colder months, that doesn’t mean your dog can skip their protective meds. Dr. Ruple says to have your veterinarian prescribe a heartworm preventive that protects against heartworm and other parasites common in your area, so your dog can stay parasite-free year-round.
Here’s a conversation starter for your next park hang.
Out of all the new Fetch-protected dogs in 2021, these were the names we saw the most.
*Stafford, K., Kollasch, T.M., Duncan, K.T. et al. Detection of gastrointestinal parasitism at recreational canine sites in the USA: the DOGPARCS study. Parasites Vectors 13, 275 (2020).
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