Davenport, Iowa Veterinary Clinic Lists 10 Reasons People Take Pets to the Humane Society.

 

According to the ASPCA, “approximately 5 million to 7 million companion animals enter animal shelters nationwide every year, and approximately 3 million to 4 million are euthanized (60 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats). Shelter intakes are about evenly divided between those animals relinquished by owners and those picked up by animal control. These are national estimates; the percentage of euthanasia may vary from state to state.” 

That is a really sad statistic.  We work closely with many of our local shelters at Animal Family and are always surprised at the quality of the pets we see.  These animals are neither worthless nor dangerous.  In fact, often the opposite is true.  Many are pure bred and almost all are loving, healthy animals who through no fault of their own end up homeless.

The 10 most common reasons owners give when surrendering a pet at the Humane Society of Scott County are:

  1. The owner is moving and is not able to take their pet with them
  2. The pet is too active for the owner to handle.
  3. The owner does not have enough time to devote to pet care
  4. The owner has encountered problems with housebreaking
  5. The animal is too expensive to care for.
  6. The animal is too young, too old or has developed health issues.
  7. The owner or a family member is allergic to the pet.
  8. The pet does not get along with another animal in the household.
  9. The pet belonged to a child who no longer lives in the home.
  10. The pet has become pregnant

Do you see a common thread among many of the reasons for pet relinquishment listed above?   How many of these problems could be avoided by a little research and planning before acquiring a pet.  For all the information on specific breeds that is available, it seems that people still jump into pet ownership on impulse.

So, please, before you bring a pet into your life, do your research. Think about your lifestyle, future plans, and overall health.  How busy are you?  Can you even afford a pet at this time?  Do you have the time or interest for training, walks and general health and coat care.  Don’t pick your pet based on looks.  Don’t assume you have to have a puppy and never, ever give a pet as a gift without a thorough discussion with the prospective new owner first.

Next week, we will go over what you need to think about before you add a new pet to your family.

Davenport IA, Veterinarian Talks Explains Diseases You Could Share With Your Pet…but Shouldn’t

 

According to the AVMA, in 2007 there were 72 million pet dogs, 82 million pet cats and over 4 million pet birds. At least 3% of the US households own a reptile. Almost one half of those pet owners consider their pets to be a member of the family. We are a pet loving country. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that we can share more than love with our pets. Did you know that according to the Center for Disease Control that almost 14% of the US population has been infected with Toxacara (roundworm of dogs and cats). That’s because up to 30% of dogs fewer than 6 months of age and 25% of all cats are infected with roundworms.

Cats and dogs can carry Roundworms, Tapeworms, Hookworms, Leptospirosis, Ringworm and Rabies to name a few. Pocket pets and reptiles can carry Salmonella. Birds can also carry Salmonella as well as Psittacosis (a bacterial disease).

Who is most at risk? According to our friends at CAPC (Companion Animal Parasite Council), it is generally those who come in contact with the soil the most often. That includes, gardeners, plumbers, sunbathers and of course children. Immune compromised individuals need to be particularly careful.

So should we get rid of all of our pets? No need to get so carried away. Following are some relatively simple measures you can take to control the risk of zoonotic transmission in your family.

  1. Wash your hands after handling pets, soil and feces. Be especially vigilant with youngsters.
  2. Don’t eat or smoke while you handle your pet. Especially if it is a reptile, bird or pocket pet.
  3. Pets and food preparation do not go together.
  4. Keep your pets on a regular schedule of deworming. Dogs and cats should be on broad spectrum, year round anti-parasitic products.
  5. Get annual fecal parasite checks. That’s because you may give your pet his preventative but he may either spit it out or throw it up later on.
  6. Treat pets and their surroundings for fleas.
  7. Dispose of pet feces on a daily basis.
  8. Cover up your children’s sandbox when it’s not in use.
  9. Feed only cooked, canned or dry dog and cat food.
  10. Don’t allow birds or reptiles to roam loose in the house.
  11. If you are scratched by your pet, wash the area thoroughly.
  12. Vaccinate. Yes, there is some risk (1/10,000) of soft tissue sarcomas in cats with the use of Rabies and Feline Leukemia vaccines. We try to make it safer by vaccinating every 3 years. However, our biggest concern is that Rabies is out there and it kills all of us all the time.
  13. Immune compromised individuals should not own reptiles or amphibians.
  14. Don’t let your dog or cat drink from the toilet bowl. According to CAPC this can spread human adapted strains of parasites to pets

Davenport IA Veterinary Clinic Explains How Socializing Your Pet Makes Them Better Citizens

All dogs can bite.  We like to think that we can avoid any difficulties with our pets by simply choosing the “right” breed; not so.  Although you may not actually cause behavior problems in your pet, you can unknowingly reward them.  Since we know that it is always easier to prevent rather than change an established behavior: developing ways to make your pet a good family member and citizen should be an important part of pet ownership.

Biting is not the only thing we complain about.  Barking, jumping up, digging, house soiling, chewing on inappropriate items, food aggression and fear of strangers are just some of the things we don’t like.  Can these behaviors be prevented?  Of course they can.  Sometimes it is simply a matter of management.  Others require an active effort on your part to train and socialize your pet. Here are some ideas for keeping making your pet a good citizen.

  1. Teach your dog to sit.  This should be the first thing a puppy learns.  Any pup old enough to go to a new home is capable of learning to sit.  It’s OK to teach the command by using a treat.  The ASPCA has a great site that will show you how to teach a sit.  The importance of this command in your relationship with your pet is that sitting quietly is a prerequisite before any kind of interaction with you. That means that you don’t unthinkingly pet your dog should they bump or rub against your hand. Believe it or not if you are consistent about requiring a quiet sit first and socializing second, it will set a solid base from which to build your relationship with your new dog. 
  2. Better yet, try an obedience class.  There are very few dogs that won’t benefit from obedience training.  It doesn’t have to be a competitive obedience class and it doesn’t have to involve harsh methods.  Look for something that will help you with basic commands and routine maintenance such as nail trimming, tooth brushing and socialization with other pets and people. The key is to establish good communication with your pet from the beginning.
  3. Get your pet out in the world.  You can’t expect your dog to comfortable in the world if they never get beyond your backyard.  Once your pet is properly immunized, wormed and protected from fleas, get them out to parks, for car rides and long walks.  If your schedule is extra busy, consider putting them in doggie daycare but please don’t just lock them in the backyard.
  4. Spay or neuter your pet.  This can’t be said often enough.  The reasons for keeping a dog intact are very few indeed.  Hormones will always get in the way of training. Worse, they can cause dog to dog aggression and lead to health problems later in life.
  5. Children and dogs should always be supervised.  Obviously this is not only important for the safety of the child but for the pet as well. Children can’t read animal body language.  They are often at eye level with a pet and may be seen as lower in social ranking than adults.  Children need to be taught to how handle their pet gently yet assertively.   Even when pet and child are both trained, they never be left alone together.
  6. Take your pet to the vet for something other than vaccines.  If you happen to be driving by the vet’s office, stop in.  Bring the dog inside for some treats.  Let the staff pet them and then go home.  You will be surprised how much more relaxed your pet will be if you do this a few times. 
  7. If you run into a problem you can’t handle, call a professional.  There is nothing wrong with asking someone more experienced to help you with your pet. The key is to go for help before a problem gets out of hand.

This is only meant to get you started thinking in the right direction.  Talk to your veterinarian about trainers in your area if you’re unsure where to go.  Just remember to have fun and always keep your pet social.

Davenport Veterinarian’s Guide to Pocket Pets, Part 2

Last post, we covered some general information on pocket pets.  This week we are introducing you to some of the small but mighty critters we see at Animal Family Veterinary Care Center.  Of course, this is just an introduction, so, if you’re interested,  feel free to facebook us with any questions you may have at Animal Family

Each type of pocket pet has its own requirements.  Hamsters are nocturnal and sleep through much of the daylight hours.  In addition, many don’t get along well with others of their kind and will need to be housed separately. Hamsters will bite if frightened.  Our experience at the clinic has been that the larger Teddy Bear hamsters are generally much easier to handle. Most hamsters live 2 – 3 years.   Like all rodents, hamsters can be prone to respiratory and GI troubles.  All rodents have teeth which grow continually which causes dental problems when malocclusion is present. Rodents with malocclusions will eventually stop eating if their teeth are not cared for.

Gerbils and mice are both a little friendlier than hamsters although again, in our experience, both will bite if frightened.  They are small, fast and agile and can easily slip through your fingers making them a poor choice for small children.  They are susceptible to the same health issues as hamsters and have about the same life span.  All of the pocket pets which were originally bred to be used as lab animals are especially prone to tumors as well

Rats are extremely smart, gentle and social.  Most can be taught to perform tricks and can become quite attached to their owner.  Rats generally get along great with each other as well but it is a good idea to house same sex pairs unless you want a lot more rats.  Sadly, rats are more prone to develop tumors than any other pocket pet. We don’t see as many dental problems with rats but they can be susceptible to respiratory infections.  The average rat lives to 2-3 years of age.

Guinea Pigs make wonderful pets.  Nonaggressive and social, they will quickly become accustomed to handling. Unlike other rodents, guinea pigs must receive supplementation of Vitamin C on a daily basis or they become ill.  Even though most foods formulated for guinea pigs contain added vitamin C you need to make certain it is fresh or the Vitamin C will degrade.   Guinea Pig’s larger size means that they require more room to move around. However, unlike mice and gerbils, guinea pigs are not climbers.  They come in a large variety of different coat types and colors.  On the down side, guinea pigs have very small lungs for their size and will become quite sick if they contract any respiratory disease.  In general guinea pigs live 5 – 6 years.

Rabbits, like guinea pigs also make wonderful pets.  Rabbits are not rodents but lagomorphs.  They come in a huge number of varieties, coat colors and sizes.  Most housetrain easily and will use a cat litter box.  In general, females tend to be the most cantankerous but are better behaved if spayed.  Unaltered females housed together will fight.  In addition, females can develop mammary tumors and reproductive tract disease if left intact.  Unaltered males will spray urine to mark territory.  They do well on a diet with large amounts of timothy hay and small amounts of rabbit pellets and veggies.  They are susceptible to respiratory and dental problems and generally live 5 – 8 years or more.

Ferrets are a Mustelids and the clowns of the pocket pet world.  Smart, active, agile and a little stinky, ferrets are endlessly entertaining.  They require lots of exercise but can get into trouble if left out unsupervised.  Of the small mammals, ferrets are the guys we see the most often for foreign bodies. Unlike the other small pets discussed so far, ferrets need to be vaccinated for distemper and rabies.  Not everybody loves ferrets.  They are banned in some states while others require that they be registered.  Ferrets can be taught to use a litter box and will learn to walk on a leash and halter.   They are true carnivores and unable to handle fiber.  Fortunately there are several commercial ferret diets available.  Although they have a lifespan of 5 -8 years, ferrets are prone to developing adrenal tumors and insulinomas as they mature.

Chinchillas were once used for the fur trade but have recently become popular as pets.  They are considered nocturnal but can be active during the daytime.  They prefer a diet of hay and pellets with small amounts of fruit, nuts and veggies added in. They are active but enjoy being cuddled and rarely bite.  Their housing requirements are similar to a rabbit but their optimal temperature is 50 – 60 degrees.  They are very susceptible to heat stroke, and don’t do well in high humidity.  They also require access to a dust bath 2 -3 times a week.  Common chinchilla problems include dental malocclusions, respiratory and GI disease. They can live 9 -17 years.

Hedgehogs are insectivores.  We generally see the African Pygmy Hedgehog in practice.  There a few commercial diets available for hedgehogs. They require a diet that is high in protein and low in fat.  Dog and cat foods alone are not adequate and will need to be supplemented with mealworms, crickets, fruits and veggies. Don’t feed too much or leave food out all the time or your hedgehog can become obese.  Although cute, hedgehogs are solitary and generally not too happy with being held.  They require a 20 gallon or larger aquarium or other smooth sided enclosure and 75 – 85 F temperature year round. They don’t like toys but will use exercise wheels if one is provided. Hedgehogs will develop tartar and gingivitis if you don’t take care of their teeth.  We also see them for obesity, tumors and fatty liver syndrome.

Sugar Gliders are marsupials.  They are nocturnal, highly social animals.  Please don’t keep one all by itself.  If handled from a young age they can develop a bond with their owners.  They are primarily insect eaters but also consume tree sap in the wild.  They do not eat foliage or fruit in the wild. A good diet is composed of 50% commercial insectivore diet and 50% “Leadbeaters mixture “(your veterinarian can provide you with the recipe). Diced fruits, worms and crickets can be acceptable treats in captivity. Sugar gliders can be hard to keep healthy in captivity.  They suffer from stress related disorders and one of their main health problems is malnutrition.   Because they glide they are also susceptible to trauma. Pneumonia, diarrhea and blindness are other problem seen in captive sugar gliders.

One final reminder; just like your dogs and cats, pockets pets need to checked annually for parasites. It is also a good idea to bring them in yearly for an overall health check.  Since most exotic pets mask illness, this is one way to help us diagnose any medical problems early enough to treat them. Our aim is to keep them healthier and you happier.

Remember, this is just a quick overview of the world of pocket pets.  If you are considering adding one of these charmers to your home, please do your research first.  Shelters are already seeing an increase in the number of little critters that are thoughtlessly acquired then just as thoughtlessly discarded.  Please don’t add to the problem.

Davenport Veterinarian’s Guide to Pocket Pets – Part 1

Just what exactly is a pocket pet? We use the term to describe small mammals.  These include rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, mice, rats, gerbils, ferrets, sugar gliders, chinchillas and hedgehogs.  Some have been around for years and others such as sugar gliders and hedgehogs are relatively new to pet owners.  Each has its own specific set of needs and health issues and all have become a growing part of veterinary medicine.  We certainly enjoy having them as patients at our clinic.

One of the key differences between the pocket pet owners of today from those of the past is the desire to provide better care for their pets. No longer satisfied with just replacing one pet with another should illness occur, they insist on quality care.  Pocket pets have become near and dear to our hearts, often assuming the same importance as dogs and cats to many owners.  Often one of the biggest hurdles in small mammal ownership is finding a veterinarian who is well versed in the specific requirements of their unusual pet.

Why choose a pocket pet? They can be a great option for those with limited space or a rental situation where larger animals are not allowed.  They are generally housed in a cage and so are much less likely to damage your home or apartment. Even better, the cost of feeding and caring for a little critter is generally about ½ or less than that of a traditional pet.  For the most part, most pocket pets are nonaggressive and will adapt quite well to handling.  They each have individual personalities, are quite playful and generally fun to have around.  Some, such as rats and ferrets, are highly trainable and capable of learning tricks and other complex behaviors.

Like any other pet, small mammals have specific housing, feeding and care needs. Not all of them may be appropriate for young children.  The small size of many pocket pets makes them fragile and particularly susceptible to injury if dropped or handled roughly.  Others, although cute to look at,  require much more detailed care than others.

One final reminder; just like your dogs and cats, pockets pets need to checked annually for parasites. It is also a good idea to bring them in yearly for an overall health check.  Since most exotic pets mask illness, this is one way to help us diagnose any medical problems early enough to treat them. Our aim is to keep them healthier and you happier.

Remember, this is just a quick overview of the world of pocket pets. If you are considering adding one of these charmers to your home, please do your research first.  Shelters are already seeing an increase in the number of little critters that are thoughtlessly acquired then just as thoughtlessly discarded.  Please don’t add to the problem.

We will take a closer look at each of the individual pocket pets in upcoming blogs.  So, be sure to check back in.

Animal Family’s Easy Guide to House Training Your Puppy

  1. When it comes to puppy training consistency is the key. Always use the same door to take your puppy outside to eliminate.
  2. Take him or her to the same area. Hopefully once that area smells like urine and stool their sense of smell will help stimulate them to eliminate.
  3. Go out with them, so you can praise while they are going and give a treat right afterwards. Don’t give them their treat once they are in the house.  If you do,  you praised them for is coming back in, not going potty outdoors.
  4. Always use the same word for elimination, Start talking as soon as you take them out of the kennel and continue until you get to the designated place outside.  Choose a word.  It can be “go potty”, “do your business” or any other phrase that works for both you and your puppy.
  5. If your puppy starts going to the door on his or her own, ask them to let you know it’s time to go out. An easy way to do this is to hang a bell by your door. You can teach the pup to touch the bell or simply reward them when they do it inadvertently.
  6. If your puppy goes outside and doesn’t get down to business (within 5 minutes or so) bring them back indoors and put them in their kennel (yes I do recommend crates or kennels).  Wait about 15-20 minutes and try again.
  7. Make a big deal about it when they go outside (“YEH!!! GOOD PUPPY, GOOD JOB….LOOK HOW SMART YOU ARE!!!!!”) Go ahead and give a treat as well. (Remember,  give the treat while they are outside.)
  8. Anytime your puppy has been playing for more the 30 minutes go outside again…… Puppies can’t engage in more than  30-50  minutes of active play without needing to eliminate!
  9. Puppy stays in the kennel when you can’t give them 100 % of your attention!!!! That way they can’t sneak off into another  room.  Use it like a play pen or crib for babies .  As they get better, try using the kennel less and less.
  10. If your puppy makes a mistake in the house, clean it up thoroughly and be more vigilant. The fewer mistakes your puppy makes indoors the faster he or she will learn.  No corrections unless you catch them in the act. If you see your pup going potty in the house, startle and redirect.  Yell, shake a penny can or throw a toy towards them and then quickly take them to their designated area outdoors.  Spankings just scare and confuse the puppy.
  11. Repeat as needed for good house breaking…. If you put all of your work in at the beginning you and Rover WILL SUCCEED!
  12. I love house breaking in the winter!!! I find that you and your dog spend very little time outside, so the puppy really learns what you want.  Whereas in the summer, when both people and pets want to spend a lot of time outside,  puppy can potty any time and may have a much harder time understanding the actual mission.

Animal Family’s 10 Good reasons to Adopt From A Shelter

  1. You know what you are getting. Unlike a puppy, if you adopt an adult animal, he/she will already have a fully developed personality.  In addition, most shelters temperament test their animals before putting them up for adoption so there is little chance of bringing home an unstable animal.
  2. Some animals receive extra training and socialization. How great is it to get a pet that is already house trained!  Even better, if you adopt through an agency that utilizes foster care, your pet may have received some basic obedience training as well.  Shelters will generally be willing to help you should problems develop post adoption.
  3. Your new companion wants and appreciates the chance to bond with you. Ending up in a shelter is a scary process.  Pets may arrive there due to the death of a previous owner, financial difficulties, or simply because they got lost.  These are usually great animals who just need a second chance and will be forever grateful to their new owner.
  4. Shelters are a better option than a puppy mill. You have no idea about the breeding, or socialization of animals that come from a puppy mill. You may pay a large amount of money for a pet that has spent its entire life in a small kennel with little human contact.  When profit is the main motivator, you can be sure that little attention is paid to preventing inherited disorders either.
  5. You are saving lives. When you adopt a pet from a shelter you are not only saving the pet you bring home but making room for another animal in that facility or foster program as well.  It feels pretty good to save one life but it’s even better when it’s two.
  6. You are helping your community. When you adopt from your local humane society the fees you pay help to fund all of their programs. Most shelters also provide community education, patrol for strays and lost pets and ensure animals they adopt out are spayed or neutered.
  7. You will have help finding the right animal for your family. Shelters want their placements to work and they will work hard to help you find the right animal for your home environment.  Unlike buying from a pet store, you get to know ahead of time if your dog or cat prefers children or other pets.
  8. Yes, you can find a purebred animal. A surprising number of purebred dogs and cats can be found at your local humane society.  Being a purebred does not make them immune from circumstances that can land them in a shelter.
  9. Shelters also have puppies and kittens. If you really love having a baby in the house, shelters usually have young animals up for adoption too. They can also be a great place to find your next rabbit, guinea pig or ferret.

10. Your pet may already be spayed or neutered. Because all shelters are concerned about pet overpopulation, your pet will most likely already be altered. If you adopt an animal that is too young most provide vouchers for later spaying and neutering.  That’s one less thing for you to worry about.

Humane Society of Scott County