Impact of Change on our Furry Friends!

Relaxin' after a busy day!

Relaxin’ after a busy day!

My husband, Eddie, is active duty military.  He’s frequently away from the home for days or weeks or months for that matter, for training or deployments.  His schedule can change depending on his mission and his change in schedule, impacts our whole family.  For those military folks, we know ‘going out to the field’ means and there being a lack of regularity to their schedule is commonplace. For those that are not military affiliated, ‘going out to the field’ is just another way of saying ‘my husband, wife, father, mother will be away from home for a few days for work related matters’.  Change is a fact of life and for military families, it happens on a dime at times!  Lately, I’ve seen how the change in routine effects Jack and Bernie.

For our family, every Monday for the past 3 weeks, Eddie left for the field for several days. Without fail, every Tuesday morning, Bernie began exhibiting loud stomach gurgling and refusing to eat breakfast. By the end of the day he would be back to normal and looking for dinner, or in our home, its din din! He didn’t have any other symptoms, so this had me thinking about the impact of stress on our dogs.

I did some research and found stomach gurgling is referred to as borborygmi.  Borborygmi in dogs, while its normally quiet, its just the sound of the intestines chugging along.  If the borborygmi increases in frequency or is audible or is accompanied by other symptoms, please consult your veterinarian, as this could be a sign of serious illness.  In Bernie’s case, borborygmi was an outward sign of stress.  How do I know, well, I kept a mental note of when this symptom began and what events preceded it and since I’m not an expert in diagnosing or treating animals or humans for that matter, I spoke to my veterinarian about Bernie’s situation.  Make sure to talk to your vet for any sudden changes in your dogs.

Like us, dogs can experience stress and our dogs show us they are stressed in a variety of ways.  Signs of stress can be destruction, incessantly barking, sickness or even change in demeanor as some examples.

What a dog to do!  The same way we cope with change is the same way our dogs will too…..by maintaining the consistent and clear routine!  Since your dog depends on you for leadership, you keep the routine with your dog.

Since Eddie left for the field again on Monday, I was already anticipating Bernie’s stress. Jack and Bernie already have a pretty consistent routine.  We get up in the morning and I take them out to potty.  We return home and they have breakfast and rest.  During the middle of the morning, I’ll take them for a 4 to 6 mile run.  When we get back, they rest. Later, we’ll work on some obedience training and go for a walk and then we come home eat dinner and rest.  Before we go to bed, we go out again.  In helping Bernie cope with the stress of Eddie not coming home for a few days, I made sure we stuck to our routine.  I also emphasized working his brain more with training.  Not only is this a great way to reinforce good behaviors, its also another way to get your dog tired and relaxed!

I’m happy to report today, Bernie exhibited some borborygmi, but not to the same extent as he had during the last 2 weeks and he ate breakfast.  He was a little hesitant to eat at first, he kept seeing where I was as though I was about to leave him too 😦 but within a few minutes he came around and finished everything!

My suggestion is for all those pet parents out there, if you don’t have a routine in place, make sure to get one started.  This will be a huge asset to your dog and your family!  It will help during any life events and transitions which you all may experience at one time or another.  Let me just say too, structured exercise and dog training are a necessity in that routine.

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