Dogs Are Sensitive to Our Emotions

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014

All of us worry about our dogs at some point. Some to a greater extent, some to a lesser, but only people who shouldn’t have dogs will breeze through dog ownership without ever feeling that pang of doubt, or worry when the dog seems not quite right. So, how worried should you be?


My world includes a daily deluge of emails from very, very worried dog owners. I get it. I worry as well, but I learned something along the way that might help you: fear that immobilizes puts your dog at risk. I can point to myself as a shining example of how this works by taking you back to about 15 years ago when our Zoey was sick enough that we were advised to consider euthanasia. She was only 9 months old at the time, and wasn’t responding to treatments, or dietary changes. Needless to say my heart was breaking and I was afraid of losing her, but also afraid to try certain medications with nasty side effects. I’m amazed that I didn’t consider the side effect of euthanasia as the bigger problem! Being so scared made me think poorly. Our vet at the time snapped me out of it by saying ” Decide on something before she dies”…whoa! That got my attention. It was exactly what I needed to hear. Anything more gentle, and I’m fairly sure I’d have continued to waffle.



As it turned out, the answer was simpler than I’d anticipated. I said yes to prednisone (for a while, not forever), and took Zoey’s diet into my own hands. She thrived.  There’s no question that seeing the veterinarian sooner rather than later can change the course of your dog’s life, but remaining calm enough to make good decisions is important as well. Panic can lead to poor choices, and while I’m not suggesting that we ignore the possibility of bad scenarios, focusing on them isn’t helpful.