Posts Tagged: cat nutrition
Guess who gets hit by cars?? That’s right…intact males. The urge to breed is strong and can put your Romeo in harm’s way. Neutered males don’t develop testicular cancer either.
Every puppy that isn’t born makes the chance of a shelter pet finding a new home that much greater.
It’s a fact. Bacteria from the mouth can harm the heart, kidney and liver.
Painful dental disease can lead to weight loss and poor body condition.
In people periodontal disease has been linked to poor control of Diabetes.
Preventatives can save your dog or cat from the devastating effects of Heartworm disease. Congestive heart failure, pulmonary clots with concurrent damage to the lungs, liver enlargement, weight loss and eventual death are all the results of untreated Heartworm disease.
In cats, just one or two worms can cause death.
Roundworms absorb nutrients, interfere with digestion and can damage the lining of your pet’s intestines.
Hookworms can cause anemia and severe diarrhea. Small puppies can and do perish from Hookworm infestation.
Giardia and Coccidia cause diarrhea and poor body condition.
Fleas and ticks not only feed on your pet’s blood but also carry dangerous diseases such as Plague, Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted fever, Ehrlichia and Anaplasmosis.
Blood work can catch changes in body systems early in the disease process before major damage has been done. The earlier we treat a disease such as diabetes or kidney failure, the better the chance to extend the quality and length of your pet’s life.
Well behaved pets receive better medical care because we can examine them more closely.
Good manners make rehoming a pet much easier should the need ever arise.
Dogs that bite put themselves and others at risk of injury and death.
People who do their research before getting a pet are much less likely to give them up down the road:
Make sure you are ready for the responsibilities of pet ownership before you dive in. Do your homework and choose a pet based on how well they fit your lifestyle not on looks or what your friends have.
Don’t let your pet become a shelter statistic. Use this link:https://www.animalplanet.com/breed-selector/dog-breeds.html to help you find your next dog.
Trick Or Treat, Smell My Feet… please don’t let Scruffy steal chocolate treats! (and a few other Halloween safety tips)
Halloween is one of my favorite holidays BY FAR! Who doesn’t love an excuse to slightly over indulge on lovely chocolate and sweet treats, especially anything with peanut butter (Reese’s are my true weakness)! As much fun as the chocolate can be for us, it is extremely dangerous for our pets and the calls to animal poison control centers increase for chocolate ingestion now more than any other time of year! Listed below are several other potential dangers for your pets during All Hallows Eve. If we become more informed about all of the potential issues, this can save major headaches (and cash money) over the holiday season.
Pick Your Poison:
Chocolate. Everybody’s favorite, and the one that typically leads to the most calls to veterinarians this time of year. As many of you know, chocolate is problematic to cats and dogs. The darker the chocolate, the more toxic, and the smaller the quantity necessary to see effects. For pets with pre-existing heart disease or seizure conditions, the concern is even higher, as these are two of the big ‘target organs’ for the toxic effects of chocolate.
Raisin toxicity. Known to be a problem for some dogs (and possibly some cats), raisins may be found in your child’s candy bag as part of certain chocolate bars, or on their own from well-intentioned neighbors trying to provide healthier Halloween treats. We don’t know which pets will be sensitive to the toxic effects of raisins, nor the number of raisins that must be ingested before problems are seen. It’s best to play it safe and take the necessary precautions to prevent all of your pets from ingesting any quantity of raisins. (Grapes and currants have the same toxic potential as raisins, and so should be similarly avoided.)
The actual treats in your kid’s Halloween bounty aren’t the only potential problem for your pets either. Candy wrappers that are eaten by your pet can also lead to digestive system inflammation and/or obstruction, resulting in episodes of vomiting and/or diarrhea, as well as an unplanned trip to the veterinarian, and possibly the surgery table. Keep candy well out of reach of all your pets. Hang your children’s candy bag high-up on a wall hook or coat rack, and don’t leave the trick-or-treat candy you are planning on distributing sitting out on the coffee table while waiting for the neighborhood kids to start arriving.
It’s bird, it’s a plane…it’s UNDERDOG!:
I don’t know about you all, but I love any chance for an embarrassing photo opportunity for my pet. Case in point…my little Underdog and her look of disgust below. When it comes to costumes for our furry friends, keep these tips in mind:
- Avoid loose pieces of fabric and dangling small objects (such as bells). Pets may be tempted to chew off such objects. And if swallowed, you could be looking at a veterinary bill in excess of $1,500 to have it removed from their stomach or intestines since many of these objects will not pass on their own.
- Avoid masks on pets. Masks can obstruct your pet’s vision and/or their ability to breathe. If your pet can’t see well they’re at greater risk of traumatic injuries – such as broken bones from stepping in holes or falling off curbs, as well as from being struck by a passing car. Broken bones require expensive surgeries to repair, and hit-by-car injuries can result in prolonged intensive care hospital stays and/or death.
- If you plan on taking your pet with you around the neighborhood for your night of Halloween fun, be sure to include some reflective or self-illuminating material on your pet’s costume. The earlier it gets dark out, the less visibility cars have overall so anything you can do to increase your pet’s visibility to passing cars will help to ensure that they won’t wind up getting hit by one of them. Also consider putting a flashing light on their collar for nighttime walks, at Halloween and throughout the year.
While we’re on the topic of trick or treating, for pets that will join you around the neighborhood, keep them on a leash the whole time. A leash will not only keep your pet from darting in front of a passing car, but it will also help you prevent them from eating dropped candy which could be potentially toxic. Leashes also prevent dog fights and keep spooked dogs from running off. Little children in costumes can set up a potentially terrifying situation for some of our more anxious pets. Importantly, don’t let a young child be the only one holding on to your pet’s leash during the walk. This is good advice throughout the year, but even more so on Halloween when passing trick-or-treaters are an additional factor that can cause pets to slip their collars or pull away from their leash.
Keep your cats inside on and around Halloween. Aside from all the normal dangers that outdoor cats face daily, Halloween (and the even more dangerous ‘Mischief Night’ that precedes it) potentially carries with it the additional dangers of twisted kids (and sadly, adults too) intentionally traumatizing, mutilating, or otherwise torturing cats on these nights, especially black cats. Though such incidences sadly occur throughout the year, there may be an increased risk associated with this holiday. Don’t take the chance – keep ‘em inside.
The constantly opening doors associated with gobs of tiny trick-or-treaters also pose a significant danger to pets. Pets with access to opening doors may take advantage of the opportunity to bolt out of the house, not only putting them in danger of the typical outdoor hazards unrestrained pets face, but also of having a paw, tail, or other part of their body caught in the door as they make their escape. Such traumatic events can cause injuries significant enough to warrant an expensive orthopedic surgery or a prolonged hospital stay. Confine your pets to a ‘safe area’ of the house to prevent their access to open doors. Use pet crates, baby gates, or closed doors to do so. Providing them with food, water, litter boxes, and anything else that will be necessary to minimize their stress (perhaps an interactive food toy or a turned on television or radio) will also help to decrease the likelihood of destructive behaviors or loud barking.
With a little effort, our pets have the potential to have just as much fun as their people this Halloween season. As long as we take the necessary precautions to keep our pets safe, there’s no reason we all
have a HOWLING good time! Happy Haunting everyone!
I don’t know about you, but fall is my favorite season: The changing leaves, the cool, crisp breeze at night which is a perfect excuse for bonfires and s’mores, and most of all, PUMPKIN!!! I’m sure I’m not the only one who waits for Pumpkin flavored EVERYTHING to hit the shelves, but did you know that pumpkin can actually have some great health benefits for our pets?
Pumpkin contains nearly three grams of fiber per one cup serving. Fiber promotes a sense of fullness and can potentially enhance weight loss by reducing the urge. Additionally, fiber can help with feline constipation. As cats mature into their adult and geriatric years, constipation is a serious problem. The primary emphasis of treatment is placed on diet. Increasing fiber levels helps increase motility through the colon by creating a bulkier amount of stool, which stimulates the colon wall to contract thereby helping your pet eliminate waste appropriate.
Increased dietary fiber can also help pets suffering from diarrhea (opposite of constipation). Both cats and dogs are prone to different forms of diarrhea, but most often the primary offender is changes in diet or eating something the animal is not supposed (dietary indiscretion, aka our garbage lovers).
Diarrhea is can be classified as large or small bowel diarrhea, depending on a number of characteristics of the patient and their feces. Large bowel diarrhea comes from the colon and is also known as colitis. The nature of large bowel diarrhea appears vastly different from its small bowel counterpart and may have one or all the following characteristics: mucus, blood, urgency to defecate, flatulence, and large or small volume. Small bowel diarrhea relates to the small intestine, which is the part of the digestive tract that connects the stomach to the large intestine (colon). Small bowel diarrhea often takes on a pale appearance, lacks urgency in its production, and has a mushy consistency.
Pumpkin can add a healthy amount of moisture (water content) to any cat or dog diet, but especially those that consume highly processed and dehydrated kibble. According to the University of Illinois Extension’s article, Pumpkin Facts, this healthful fruit (yes, it’s a fruit and not a vegetable) is composed of 90% water. Adding pumpkin to each meal or serving it separately as a snack can promote a pet’s improved state of hydration and reduce heat in the body.
Miscellaneous, Healthful Benefits of Pumpkin
Pumpkin provides a natural source of many beneficial substances involved in the day to day cellular functions, especially potassium. Pumpkin even has more potassium content than a banana! Potassium is an electrolyte essential for muscular contraction and recovery from activity. Pumpkin is also rich in Vitamin C, as one cup contains at least 11mg. Vitamin C is a substance vital for its antioxidant and immune system supporting effects. Additionally, pumpkin is a great, whole-food source of carotenoids, such as beta-carotene.
If you don’t want to go through the efforts of carving, cooking, and pureeing/mashing your pumpkin, then purchase the canned or glass bottled version to give your pet. Avoid pumpkin pie filling due to fat, sugar, and other ingredients (spices, flavorings, or other preservatives) that could cause digestive tract upset. Below is an easy, fun fall dog treat recipe involving pumpkin that you can try out for your furry friend!!!
Peanut Butter and Pumpkin Dog Treats
2 ½ cups whole wheat flour
½ cup canned pumpkin (NOT PUMPKIN PIE MIX)
2 tablespoons peanut butter
½ tsp salt
½ tsp ground cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Whisk together flour, eggs, pumpkin, peanut butter, salt, and cinnamon in a bowl. Add water as needed to make the dough workable, but the dough should be dry and stiff.
- Roll dough into a ½ inch thick roll. Cut into shapes or ½ inch pieces.
- Bake in preheated oven until hard, about 40 minutes.
Here’s a link for healthy pumpkin treats for people.
Much of this information was compiled from an article written by Dr. Patrick Mahaney.
1. How old were you when you decided to become a veterinarian?
Like a lot of my colleagues, I wanted to become a veterinarian ever since I was a little kid, around 5 years old. It was the idea of what a veterinarian actually was that changed for me over the years. When I was in high school, I got to job shadow through the Interact program and Key Club and got a much better idea of what the job entailed and I fell in love with the career. My work as a zoo keeper at Niabi Zoo solidified my want to work with wildlife and exotic species.
As much as I love the work with the variety of species I see on a daily basis, what I love most about the job is giving back to the community and working with the owners of all these pets. Establishing a relationship with my clients and their family and getting to know them is a lot of fun.
3. What’s the most interesting case you’ve ever had?
During my last year of vet school, a large male Rottweiler came into the clinic with a swollen abdomen and we took x-rays, thinking the dog had a twisted stomach. When we began surgery, there was nothing wrong with the stomach at all and everything appear normal within the abdomen. During surgery, the dog’s right hind leg began to swell and he did not recover well from surgery. We ended up having to keep him in the ICU and do several more surgeries and through diagnostic testing and bacterial culture, we discovered that he had flesh eating bacteria, necrotizing fasciitis, and was unfortunately unable to recover. I will probably never see a case like that again in my lifetime.
4. What’s the most difficult part of your job?
Humane euthanasia is always the most difficult part for me. It is such an emotional time for the owners and I’m a crier anyway, so it doesn’t help the situation. The blessing of working with animals is that we have the ability to alleviate their suffering in cases of severe, incurable disease or when it’s time for them to cross that rainbow bridge, but it’s never a happy experience and doesn’t get any easier.
5. Why become a vet when you could have gone into human medicine and made more money?
Because of the variety of species I work with, every day brings something new and challenging. With the exotic animals that I see, as well as the animals from Niabi Zoo, the database of knowledge in some of these critters is extremely limited and brings about my “MacGyver” skills, trying to find new ways to treat patients that have never been done before as well as diagnose their diseases. More money would be nice, but I think I would get bored. I love what I do, so the money really isn’t a factor to me.
6. We know you have to like animals for this job but what are the other unique requirements?
Communication skills, creative thinking, and flexibility. Not every patient presents the same way, even if they have the same disease and not every owner has the same budget so approach do disease treatment and animal management is always different.
7. How has veterinary medicine changed since your parent’s time?
8. Even though both jobs require the same amount of education; how does veterinary medicine differ from human medicine beyond the obvious question of species?
Many veterinarians “do everything” still, even though we have specialists. There are so many general practitioners in the veterinary world that act as surgeon, dentist, nutritionist, physical therapist, Chiropractor (wink, wink Dr. Meredith), radiologist, and many more. Your role changes so frequently based on your patient and it’s needs. This is much different than practitioners in the human world.
9. What do you think the new horizons for veterinary medicine will be?
Holistic medicine is becoming more prominent, as well as animal nutrition. Owners are becoming much more aware of the nutritional needs of their pets and asking a lot more information about appropriate diets.
10. If someone gave you a magic wand and you could go back and do it over again, would you still become a vet?
Yes, but I’d never want to do vet school again!
Once you have determined that your pet is overweight what is the next step? First you need to determine what weight your pet should be. We can help with that at the clinic. There is an actual measuring system that will provide an accurate result.
- Decrease caloric intake
- For real weight loss to occur, your pet must eat at least 30% fewer calories than what it would take to maintain their ideal weight not their current weight.
- Keep your pet out of the kitchen and away from the dining table. This will decrease begging and you will be less likely to cave in to big, sad eyes.
- If your household has more than one pet be sure to feed them separately.
- Meal feed. Don’t leave food down all the time. There is no way to keep track of intake
- If your pet seems hungry in between meals, divide the same amount into smaller portions and feed more frequent smaller meals. Just remember begging is simply a learned response to getting, not requiring food.
- Feed a diet that is formulated for weight loss. Diets have become much more advanced and feeding the right diet can be a huge help. Science Diet recently added Metabolic Diet to their line of weight loss foods. Our clients who have tried it have been pretty happy with the results so far.
- Increase Activity
- Take your dog for a walk. It’s good for both of you! Don’t just stay on the street. Try varying the surfaces. Use sand, water or even snow, in the winter, for resistance. Add some obstacles like logs, hills or ditches.
- Try introducing fetch, fly ball or agility to your routine. It’s fun, great exercise and a wonderful new way to bond with your dog.
- If you have access to water, try swimming. However, please be careful with the strong current in the local rivers. Stick to areas that are safe for both of you.
- Don’t forget Day Camp. This provides plenty of activity for your pet while you are at work. It’s the best cure for working owner’s couch potatoes we have come up with in a long time.
- What about cats?
- Cats are problematic. Most are indoors and many also very thrifty when it comes to calories.
- Pay attention to what you feed. Yes, cats can be meal fed and they generally don’t require near as much food as you think. Again we have had very good results with Hill’s Metabolic Diet.
- Cats do better with canned food. It is generally higher in protein and lower in carbohydrates than most dry kibble.
- But…stay away from canned foods with gravy. They are almost always higher in calories.
- Use a food specifically formulated for weight loss in cats.
- Never, ever starve your cat to induce weight loss. They are particularly susceptible to fatty liver disease and not eating for more than 24 hours or too rapid of weight loss can cause this syndrome in cats. 1% or 0.2 to 0.4 pounds per week is plenty for a 20 pound cat.
- Weight loss and cats is tough and cats are way harder to induce into activity. It may be that the best exercise for a cat is simply adding another cat.
Has the U.S. become the nation of too much? When it comes to weight, yes we have! Pet obesity has become a huge, no pun intended, health issue for both dogs and cats in this country.
How to Tell if Your Pet is Over Weight
1) Run your hands down the side of your pet with medium pressure. You should be able to feel ribs under a thin layer of subcutaneous fat. If you can’t your pet is probably too heavy.
2) If you feel your pet is too heavy bring them in for a more precise body measurement. This set of measurements can determine exactly how over weight your pet is and what a good target weight is.
Causes of Obesity
1) Sometimes obesity is just a matter of too much food and too little activity.
2) However, obesity can also be rooted in other issues.
- Cushing’s Disease
- Diabetes: Diabetes can be caused by too much weight but can also be the cause of weight gain if an animal develops non-insulin dependent diabetes. Confusing but ultimately weight loss will help both.
- Any disease process that affects the hypothalamus or pituitary gland: The hypothalamus regulates appetite and the pituitary gland regulates most hormone production in the body.
- Breed: Beagles, Labs, Bassets, Cattle dogs, Cockers, Chihuahuas, Dachshunds, Golden Retrievers and most cats to name a few.
- Age: Just like us as pets age their metabolic rate slows and the tendency to become over weight increases.
- Neutering and Spaying: When they are not hormone driven animals will put on weight more easily. That said the benefits of altering your pet far outweigh the negatives.
- Activity level: Too many pets spend all their time inside with too little activity. This is a particular challenge for cat owners.
- Food quality: The quality of food we feed has improved. Pets need less to stay fit and healthy. Conversely if you have a finicky pet who has trained you to only feed them high caloric “junk food” they will quickly become overweight.
- Medications: Glucocorticoids, Anti-seizure drugs and tranquilizers can all contribute to weight gain.
Health risks associated with obesity
2) Heart and blood pressure disease: The heart has to work much harder in overweight pets. That leads directly to high blood pressure and heart disease.
3) Bone/Joint damage: Extra weight leads to increased stress on bones and ligaments. Almost all of our cruciate repairs could use a little weight loss.
4) Respiratory problems: Too much fat makes for a greater work load and puts extra pressure on the lungs and trachea. If you own a dog or cat with a shortened, also known as brachycephalic, facial structure this can cause serious health problems. Likewise, many of our collapsing trachea dogs show improvement with weight loss.
5) Increased anesthetic risk: What happens if you have a lot of fat and your anesthetic is fat soluble? You wake up more slowly. How much harder is it to perform surgery in an abdomen that is full of fat? A lot harder. Has obesity been shown to decrease resistance to bacteria? Yes.
6) Decreased lifespan and quality of life: Everything mentioned above will shorten your pets’ life. It will also seriously impinge on their ability to enjoy the life they have.
On the next blog we will talk about strategies for weight loss.
Pet foods have undergone enormous changes in the last 10 years. There are more choices than ever before. Some companies cater to the size, life stage and even the breed of our pets. At the other end of the spectrum are those who claim their food is appropriate for all life stages. It’s confusing and when you add in the scares caused by the constant stream of recalls. So how can we decide what is best for our pet?
Pet food standards are set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). Using these guidelines the nutritional adequacy of pet food is determined by either
Formulation: With this method, the diet is not actually fed to animals so there is no guarantee of pet acceptance or the bioavailability of nutrients.
Feeding Trial: This method substantiates that a given food used as the sole source of nutrition provides a complete and balanced diet for the life stage of that animal.
Let’s look at a few other definitions.
“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Not so when it comes to pet food labels. If the label says:
- Chicken, beef, seafood and there are no other modifying terms like entrée etc…it must contain at least 95% of that ingredient.
- When dinner, entrée, platter are added it need only contain 25% of that ingredient
- If the label says “with” chicken etc… it need only contain 3% of that ingredient
- If it simply says flavor it doesn’t even have to have a % it just needs to disclose the source of the flavor.
There has been an explosion pet food labeled as natural, organic or holistic. Let’s look at exactly what that means.
- Organic: Grown with only animal or vegetable fertilizers, such as bone meal, compost, manure etc… Only pet foods which meet these requirements may be labeled as such. However, keep in mind that this does not stop a company from putting the term organic in the name or making a big deal out of using one or two organic ingredients without having a wholly organic food. Look for the USDA organic label. That means that at least 95% of the food is organic. A diet labeled made with organic must contain at least 70% organic ingredients.
- Natural: According to AFFCO (American Feed Control Officials) this label applies to food that consists of all natural (what is found in nature) without any chemical alterations.
- Holistic: Who knows? This term has no legal definition and any manufacturer can label their food holistic regardless of the ingredients.
By-Products are not all created equal. We have a tendency to see the term By-Products as bad. A by-product is really just an ingredient that is produced while making something else. Vegetable oils, liver, beet pulp and Vitamin E are all by-products. Both animals and humans include by-products in their diet. The key is quality.
Preservatives can be natural such as vitamin E, spice extracts or citric acid or synthetic such as BHA and BHT. Both types of preservatives are found in human and animal foods. They help keep food from spoiling as fast.
Guaranteed Analysis: This number gives the maximum and minimum amount of each an item such as protein. Protein is simply measured as a % of Nitrates. This does not tell us what the actual nutrient content of protein really is. Make sure you know the difference. The manufacturer is not required to put the actual nutrient content on the bag. You should be able to get this by calling and asking for that information. Just be sure that is what you actually are given.
Ingredient Statement: This is a list of ingredients by weight. Again, it does not tell you anything about the quality of those ingredients.
Ash: Ash is not really ash. It is a combination of calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, potassium sodium and other minerals that remain after a food has been processed. Ash content can affect urinary health in cats.
Dry Matter Basis: Comparing dry and canned foods can be very difficult if we look at only the “as fed” numbers. This is because canned food can contain up to 75% or more in moisture. Learn to compare all diets on a dry matter basis. To do this you will need to do a little math.
- Subtract the moisture content from 100%
- X diet has 75% moisture: subtract 75% from 100% = 25% dry matter basis
- If the label states the diet contains 10% protein “as fed”
- Divide 10% by 25= 40% dry matter basis.
Finally who’s a carnivore? Not your dog. In spite of all the colorful ads on TV which hint otherwise and in spite of our desire to see the wolf in our dog. When it comes to food dogs are omnivores just like us and coyotes. Cats are true carnivores in the house.
- Much of the information for this blog was derived from the Nutrition Manual published by Hills Science Diet.
On any given day we take in far more information than we could ever possibly process. We are bombarded with a multitude of claims from television and print media in the form of news, entertainment and advertising. If that’s not enough, we also have the internet. Everybody seems to be telling us what is best for our pets. It can be so hard to sort through the noise that sometimes we just listen to whom ever says it the loudest and the most often. That’s why advertising works so well.
One of the more current popular theories circulating is that a diet that is meat first and/or grain free is better for your dog. The assumption being that your dog is simply a wolf with a collar and an inside bed. Not really.
Scientific study has indicated that excess proteins, fat, calcium and phosphorus can harm your pet over time. That’s what feeding a diet primarily comprised of meat does. The popular BARF or raw meat diet compounds that further by not cooking the protein source. It is important to understand how the diet you feed your pet effects them. If you’d like to get a better understanding of how the emphasis on meat first can affect your pet please read the two articles we have linked below. Then make up your own mind.
Wedekind/Richards PhDs : Avoiding mineral excesses for optimal pet nutrition.
Brian Mckenzie in Science Based Medicine on the BARF diet:
Have you ever wondered what motivates someone to become veterinarian? We have. So this week we decided to find out why Animal Family’s Dr. Scott Bernick chose his career path.
- How old were you when you decided to become a veterinarian? ” I was nine years old.” Really? That’s very young to be so certain what you want to do. “I grew up on a farm and spent a lot of time working with the animals there. I always admired our farm vet.” So why small animals? I raised hunting dogs when I was young and that sparked my interest in small animals.”
- What is the best part of your job? “You get to interact with many wonderful pets and their owners. We see a lot different species and have clients from all different walks of life. It’s really the best of both worlds.”
- What’s the most interesting case you’ve ever had? “Addison’s disease is very rewarding to treat. The dog’s present as very sick. Often they are almost flat out. As the veterinarian we provide the proper medication and treatment and the pet is nearly back to normal within hours!”
- What’s the most difficult part of your job? When the pet can’t tell you what is wrong. Sometimes it would be so much help if they could just speak. We learn to rely a lot on our owners, on blood and other lab work and of course on our experience.”
- Why become a vet when you could have just as easily gone into human medicine and made more money? ” You get to deal with animals that cannot help themselves. That may sound like a simple statement but it means the world to those of us in the profession.”
- We know that you have to like animals for this job but what are the other unique requirements? A veterinarian absolutely must be able to communicate with the animal’s owner. They are an integral part of the success of any diagnosis we make or treatment we undertake. Veterinary medicine is as much about people as pets.”
- How has veterinary medicine changed since your parent’s time? More specialists. Even though a veterinarian still wears many hats, there are now more specialty practices we can turn to when we have a more complex case.”
- Even though both jobs require the same amount of education; how does veterinary medicine differ from human medicine beyond the obvious question of species? “Human medicine has easier access to specialty practices, however, veterinarians are often required to be the general practitioner, surgeon, ophthalmologist, internist, dentist, etc. This makes our practice both more interesting and more difficult. In veterinary medicine we still see the bulk of our cases through from start to finish. That is often not the case in human medicine. I think that allows us to develop strong relationships with our clients and their pets. We become very invested in the well being of our patients.
- What do you think the new horizons for veterinary medicine will be? Cancer treatments are becoming more common and we are seeing more successful outcomes. Today, pets are a part of the family. Their owners want to do more to both extend and improve the quality of their pet’s lives.
- If someone gave you a magic wand and you could go back and do it over again, would you still become a vet? ‘Absolutely!!”
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:
- The owner is moving and is not able to take their pet with them
- The pet is too active for the owner to handle.
- The owner does not have enough time to devote to pet care
- The owner has encountered problems with housebreaking
- The animal is too expensive to care for.
- The animal is too young, too old or has developed health issues.
- The owner or a family member is allergic to the pet.
- The pet does not get along with another animal in the household.
- The pet belonged to a child who no longer lives in the home.
- 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.