Nearly 85 million households in the U.S. that own pets want to live where their beloved companions can enjoy long, healthy lives without breaking the bank. The American Pet Products Association projects that in 2018, pet ownership will cost Americans over $72 billion.
I’ve always been a dog person, so you can imagine my surprise when I learned that cats have idiosyncrasies no self-respecting dog would ever engage in. For instance, why do cats insist on waking you up before the alarm goes off?
Contrary to popular belief, cats are not nocturnal. “Nocturnal” refers to animals that are awake at night and sleep during the day. However, cats sleep at night, as we do – just not as long. Cats are “crepuscular,” which means they are most active at dawn and dusk. This is because their ancestors’ natural prey was most active at these times. Although cats have good night vision, they can’t see without light, so they do sleep at night.
A recent study conducted jointly from Monash University in Australia and Pedigree Petfoods found that the bond between a human and a dog may actually cause their heartbeats to sync with one another.
The researchers connected three pairs of dogs and their owners to heart rate monitors. After separating the dogs from their owners for a period of time they brought the pairs together again and observed their heartbeats. They found that within a minute both heartbeats dropped significantly and “even appeared to mirror each other.” Continue reading “You can prevent dog bites by Ed Boks”
I moved to beautiful Prescott, Arizona from sunny Los Angeles in June of last year. Being an outdoors enthusiast, I love the quality of life provided by my adopted community. However, being a Southern California boy, I was a bit unprepared for the dramatic drop in temperature. So I thought I would review for all our cold climate resident pet owners the cold weather dangers for our pets. Be aware of these cold weather safety tips for your pets:
* Remember: If it is cold for you, it is cold for your pets, too! A common mistake people make is to assume our pets are better equipped to handle cold weather just because they are animals. They are not just animals; they are pets. They are the result of thousands of years of genetic reengineering that has left most companion animals completely dependent on our common sense.
* Although YHS believes all pets should be kept indoors, if you must keep your dog outside for any period of time, provide a dry, draft free dog-house. It should be large enough for your dog to sit and lay down comfortably but small enough to hold his body heat. The floor should be off the ground and covered with cedar shavings or straw. Turn the shelter away from the wind, and cover the door with a waterproof burlap or heavy plastic.
* Make sure all outside water sources don’t freeze over. Pets can’t burn the calories they need to stay warm without a fresh supply of water.
* Be aware of salt and other ice-melting chemicals on the streets and sidewalks. They are an irritant to your pet’s paws and may cause injury if ingested. Use a warm, moist cloth to clean off any salt or chemical residues after a walk. Be the first on your block to provide your dog with a set of booties to protect his paws from these harsh and cold chemicals.
* Check your garage and driveway for antifreeze. Antifreeze tastes sweet to your pet and most brands are poisonous. Contact your veterinarian immediately if you suspect your pet has consumed antifreeze.
* Grooming is important; a matted coat will not protect your pet from the cold. Be watchful of ice or salt that may become entangled in long hair and remove it immediately.
* Don’t let your pet venture onto frozen bodies of water. The ice may be too thin to support his weight and water rescues are both difficult and dangerous for the both of you.
* Be a good kitty Samaritan and slap the hood of your car before starting it. Cats often climb next to a warm engine during the night.
* Keep snowdrifts from piling up next to your fence, providing your pooch a way of escape. Make sure your dog is wearing a current dog license. In the event your dog does get away during this dangerous weather and YHS is able to rescue him, you will be assured of his return. If you love your pet, please license him or her.
* If you are flying with a pet, make sure the airline provides for your pet’s safety and warmth. Some airlines restrict pets from flying when the temperature dips below a certain point. Call ahead to confirm.
Pets are part of the family; keep your family warm, and the winter months can be filled with wonderful memories. If you are looking for a pet to keep you warm this winter, come on by your local animal shelter and they will help you select your next best friend.
In the quest to achieve No-Kill (applying the same criteria a loving pet guardian or conscientious veterinarian would apply when deciding a shelter animal’s fate), one of the challenges we must overcome is the widespread belief in many myths regarding shelter animals.
The fact is some shelter animals have issues. Equally true is the fact that these issues are seldom the animal’s fault and they can almost always be resolved. Knowingly adopting an animal with special needs is one of the noblest acts you will ever perform; you are truly saving a life.
Let me give you an example of a myth responsible for unnecessarily killing far too many animals: “cats infected with Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) should be euthanized.” The truth is FIV cats often live long, healthy lives with no symptoms at all.
FIV is an endemic disease found in domestic cats worldwide; it is a lentivirus, meaning it progresses slowly, gradually affecting a cat’s immune system. Cats are typically infected through a serious bite, usually inflicted by a stray male cat – earning it the moniker the “fighting cat” disease (a good reason for keeping your cat indoors).
The most well-known lentivirus in humans is HIV – but there are major differences between FIV and HIV. HIV cannot infect cats and FIV cannot infect humans – in fact, there is no evidence that FIV has ever infected a human in the 6,000 years humans and cats have lived together.
The fear concerning FIV cats came to my attention recently when my shelter rescued a loving 3-year-old American shorthair named Pushkin. Pushkin was surrendered by a family not because of his disease, but because they were moving out of state and sadly could not afford to take him along. Pushkin is so sweet that my team fell in love with him and tried earnestly to find him a new home. However, when potential adopters learn Pushkin has FIV, they immediately lose interest in him.
Being the proud guardian of an FIV cat named Oliver who lives happily with my other cat, Beau Bentley, I am distressed by the apprehension I find among so many cat lovers regarding FIV.
As long as FIV cats are not exposed to diseases their immune system can’t handle, they can live relatively normal lives. When kept indoors, as all cats should, health risks are significantly reduced. FIV is not easily passed between cats either. It cannot be spread casually – in litter boxes, water or food bowls, or when snuggling and playing. It requires a serious bite to transmit the disease.
Before we knew FIV existed, shelters routinely placed these cats into loving homes where they often lived long, normal lives. With the discovery of FIV in 1986 came an undeserved stigma that has since made placing them unduly difficult.
Dr. Susan Cotter, professor of hematology and oncology at Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine, is helping counteract these misinformed fears. “I would not advise getting rid of a cat that tests positive for FIV,” she says. “If the cat is young and healthy, it could be years before anything changes.”
Best Friends Animal Society veterinarian Dr. Virginia Clemans says “the one important thing is to keep your FIV cat healthy.”
That, of course, is good advice for all cats. In fact, the very advice we offer FIV cat owners is equally appropriate for all cats. That is, all cats should be kept as healthy as possible; kept indoors and free from stress; fed a high-quality diet; and medical problems should be treated as soon as they arise.
If you already own a cat, ask your veterinarian about early detection to help maintain your cat’s health and to help prevent the spread of this infection to other cats.
Although many FIV cats live long, happy lives, some may need periodic medical care or ongoing medical management. This is why adopting a special-needs animal is such a noble and selfless act. If you can find the room in your heart and home for a cat like Pushkin, please contact your local shelter – because every animal counts.
Every year animals die due to inappropriate transportation methods by air and car. LA Animal Services recommends that animals not be transported during extremely warm or cold temperatures. When necessary to do so, appropriate measures must be taken to ensure the health and well-being of the animal.
When traveling by air, only reputable airlines that have a written policy on animal transportation should be used. Transportation should be scheduled when ambient temperatures are more likely to be within animal health and safety margins.
When traveling by car, an animal should be confined within a crate or restrained with a seatbelt.
No animal should be transported in the back of a pick up truck or allowed to hang out of a window without being secured.
It is cruel, inhumane, and illegal to keep an animal in a parked vehicle without air-conditioning for any amount of time when outside temperatures represent a risk to the health and well-being of the animal.