Adopt a Senior Pet: Lifelong Friends

An aging black and white dog smiles in the sunshine

Senior pets end up in animal shelters for many reasons, usually having to do with some unexpected life change. But whether due to military deployment, divorce, death of an owner, or a move, millions of senior pets wait at shelters for their forever homes.

Sure, puppies and kittens are cute, but adopting a senior pet has its own advantages. Senior pets are usually house trained, calmer than their younger counterparts, and have plenty of love to give. Since November is National Adopt a Senior Pet Month, we could think of no better time to highlight these sweet seniors! 

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The Scary Consequences of Not Doing that Dental

 

Don’t wait for the telltale signs of bad breath before scheduling dental care for your pet. By the time an unpleasant odor is evident they will be well on the way to serious dental disease.

Think Dog Breath = Early Disease. Bad Breath = Bad Disease.

 

    • Gingivitis:   Is defined as inflammation of gum tissue caused by a buildup of plaque and tartar. This is the start of dental disease and provides the perfect environment for bacteria to thrive.  Inflammation, swelling and bleeding gums are the body screaming for dental care before things get worse.

      • Inflammation: The presence of inflammation and bacteria will cue up your pet’s immune system. With chronic inflammation, the immune response never shuts off which can damage heart, lungs and kidneys.

    • Gingival Recession: Untreated gingivitis and inflammation damages tissues causing  gums to pull away from teeth.  This exposes  sensitive tooth roots which do not have the same protective enamel as the crown and are more susceptible to damage.

    • Bone Loss:   Once the more vulnerable roots have been exposed, destructive bacteria release toxins which then eat away surrounding bone.

    • Root Abscess: The combination of inflammation, bacteria, gum recession and bone loss can lead to tooth root abscesses resulting in the loss of affected teeth.

    • Tooth Loss: As the cascade of damage continues, teeth will begin to wobble.  A decrease in appetite, weight loss and general malaise brought on by pain follows.

    • Oronasal Fistula: Severe dental disease can damage enough bone to create an opening between your pet’s mouth and nasal tract. At this stage, chronic respiratory issues are added to dental pain and disease.

    • Jaw Fracture: Continued bone loss can lead to fracture of the lower jaw.

    • Organ damage and Systemic Disease: This is the end game for untreated dental disease. Bacteria and chronic inflammation wreak havoc on the kidneys, liver, heart and overall health robbing your pet of not only quality but quantity of life.

10 Things My Dog Taught Me

 hannah 5

 

  • Today is the only day that counts. camp canine 05-07-11 004

    • The past is already gone and the future isn’t here yet so why ruin the beauty of today. Don’t spend so much time brooding about what’s gone or hasn’t happened yet that you miss the magnificence that is today.
  • Don’t hold grudges.

    • If you’re honest with yourself, there are truly very few things in life worth staying angry about. Forgive and then forget about it.Cooper k9 kindness

  • Food is meant to enjoy.

    • Yes we need to eat healthy food but it can still be enjoyable. Sometimes we get so caught up in what is best for us we forget to add in some of what makes us feel the best.

  • Exercise is important but make sure you have a great time while you’re getting it.

    • Have you ever watched how much fun your dog has playing outside? Don’t forget to put plenty of play into your exercise schedule.agility dog

  • Never be afraid to show someone just how much you love them.

    • Well, OK temper this a little, at least until you really get to know the object of your affection but there is someone special in your life make sure they know it!

  • Play hard, Rest hard!

           When you have fun don’t be afraid to let go and enjoy it for all it’s worth!   After fun, well… after fun there is always time for a good nap in the sun.summertime

  • Sometimes rules are meant to be broken.

    • Everybody needs rules but what we don’t need is to make life so hard and so circumscribed that there is no room left to be us. Go ahead and stray off the path of perfection once in a while. It’s OK. Your dog said so.

  • Growing old is really OK.

    • Dogs don’t waste a whole lot of time on their outward appearance. They may be old or missing an eye or maybe even a limb but they know that the most important thing is having friends who love you.10334375_321584181300002_8022760032003261428_n[1]

 

  • Take time to stop and investigate your world.

    • Take the time to really enjoy the world around you. It’s a wonderful place. As a species, we humans spend way too much time rushing and fussing and fixing but not near enough time just enjoying.ball and dog

    • Don’t be afraid to leave your mark on the world.

      Your mark may be your children, your wood carving, your poetry, music or maybe just the way the way you made someone smile. The point is, that it doesn’t really matter. Just don’t be afraid to let the world know that you are here.underdog

10 GOOD Reasons Why Your Next Pet Should Come From a Shelter

puck and santaIn the spirit of giving this holiday season we thought we would remind you why your next pet should come from one of our local shelters.

 

  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.singing beagle

    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.singing dog 3

  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 singing dog 5good 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 cats prefers children or other pets.singing dog4

  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 and ferrets and rabbits and birds .

    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.sing along

    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.

Here are links to our local shelters:

Humane Society of Scott County

Quad City Animal Welfare Center

K-9 Kindnessprince and Santa

King’s Harvest

Rock Island County Animal Shelter

Animal Aid

9 Ways to Help Your Pet Live Longer

  • Spay and neuter:

    • Spayed females have a greatly decreased risk of ovarian and breast cancer and zero chance of an infected uterus.  The earlier you spay, the greater the benefits.

    • 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.

  • Good dental care makes for a longer life:

    • 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.

  • Preventative vaccines save lives:

    • Every year thousands of pets die from diseases such as Parvovirus and Distemper which can easily be prevented by a vaccine and let’s not forget Rabies which kills almost without exception.

  • Heartworm disease causes permanent damage to the heart:

    • 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.

  • Parasites rob your pet of more than just food:

    • 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.

  • Obesity kills:

    • Excess weight damages joints, the heart, liver and kidneys.  Many diseases such as diabetes are closely correlated to obesity.  Yes Virginia, you can love your pet to death.

  • Yearly blood profiles can spot problems before they become serious:

    • By the time many problems are visible through decreased activity or other behavior changes your pet may be very sick.  They can’t tell you that they don’t feel well but blood work can speak for them.

    • 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.

  • Obedience Training  Saves Lives:

  • Having a good “down” on your dog can save them from becoming a “Hit by Car” statistic.

  • 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.

10 Reasons People Take Pets to the Humane Society.

 

We see lots of new puppies at Animal Family this time of year.  Everybody loves them!  They are sweet little bundles of  fuzzy cuteness!  They make coming to work wonderful!

We also do a lot of  spays and neuters for the Humane Society of Scott County.  From past experience, we know that when fall rolls around there will be an uptick in surrendured young adult dogs.  Fortunately for us, we will only see those that are lucky enough to be adopted.

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 local shelters 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.

Thanks for taking the time to read this.  Most importantly, thanks for taking the time to learn why we need to research before bringing any new pets into our life.

The Best Place To Bury a Dog

This essay is a favorite. We hope you appreciate it as much as we do.  

There are various places within which a dog may be buried. We are thinking now of a setter, whose coat was flame in the sunshine, and who, so far as we are aware, never entertained a mean or an unworthy thought. This setter is buried beneath a cherry tree, under four feet of garden loam, and at its proper season the cherry strews petals on the green lawn of his grave. Beneath a cherry tree, or an apple, or any flowering shrub of the garden, is an excellent place to bury a good dog. Beneath such trees, such shrubs, he slept in the drowsy summer, or gnawed at a flavorous bone, or lifted head to challenge some strange intruder. These are good places, in life or in death. Yet it is a small matter, and it touches sentiment more than anything else.

For if the dog be well remembered, if sometimes he leaps through your dreams actual as in life, eyes kindling, questing, asking, laughing, begging, it matters not at all where that dog sleeps at long and at last. On a hill where the wind is unrebuked and the trees are roaring, or beside a stream he knew in puppyhood, or somewhere in the flatness of a pasture land, where most exhilarating cattle graze. It is all one to the dog, and all one to you, and nothing is gained, and nothing lost — if memory lives. But there is one best place to bury a dog. One place that is best of all.

If you bury him in this spot, the secret of which you must already have, he will come to you when you call — come to you over the grim, dim frontiers of death, and down the well-remembered path, and to your side again. And though you call a dozen living dogs to heel they should not growl at him, nor resent his coming, for he is yours and he belongs there.

People may scoff at you, who see no lightest blade of grass bent by his footfall, who hear no whimper pitched too fine for mere audition, people who may never really have had a dog. Smile at them then, for you shall know something that is hidden from them, and which is well worth the knowing.

The one best place to bury a good dog is in the heart of his master.

by Ben Hur Lampman

Tips for Choosing the Right Puppy

 

            Spring is in the air and so is puppy love. This is the time of year when many of us yearn for a new puppy… what could be cuter?  Dogs make wonderful companions.  Just remember not to jump into pet ownership thoughtlessly. There are many factors that should be considered to ensure that your new puppy is the proper fit for your family.

  •   The first thing you need to look at is YOU.  How active are you?  Do you have children?  How old are they?  How old are you?  Do you live in an apartment, single family home or in the country?  Is your yard fenced?  What is your personality like? Are you assertive, passive or somewhere in between?  Do you have any disabilities or health issues?  Do you mind spending time or money on grooming your pet? How picky are you about your house?  Do you think pets should even be in the house?  The list goes on but the point is the first thing you need to look at is your life and lifestyle.  

 Once you have an idea of your parameters, it’s time to start looking at the dog. 

  •  What size of dog fits you?  Large dogs require more space. They can be more difficult for a petite or older person to handle. They are more expensive to feed, medicate, spay or neuter.  They can be a heck of a lot more work to exercise as well. As for small dogs: they require less of everything but activity.  Size does not relate to activity level.  There are some VERY busy small breeds. 
  • How about activity levels.  You need to be very honest with yourself about what activity level you can tolerate in your pet. Age and general health may dictate a small, quiet, older animal.  Are you interested in taking your dog to the dog park or out for a walk or run every day?  Even with a large backyard, most active breeds will require additional exercise.  If you’re a couch potato, many of the hunting and herding breeds may be too high energy for you. Think about your children as well.   If they are too boisterous and rowdy, they may terrify some of the more timid breeds. 
  •   Then there’s sociability.  Do you want a dog that loves everyone or a more reserved animal that may bond only to you or your immediate family?  If you love entertaining or traveling, be sure to get an animal that will enjoy it as well.  Clearly, a one person dog would not be a great idea if you usually have your children as well as all the neighbors’ kids running through the house.
  •  Emotional stability is just as important.  Some breeds are very easy going and unflappable.  Others are less so.  That includes many of the smaller breeds but some of the big guys as well. Again, this is particularly important if you have small children or an active social life. Do your homework and make certain you find a breed that will tolerate busy little hands and bodies.
  • Trainability.  Don’t confuse intelligence with trainability.  Many of the so-called smart breeds can actually be quite difficult to train.  Trainability should be thought of as the “will to please”.   So, if you insist on perfect behavior, do your homework and plan on spending some time in obedience classes as well.  But, if what you really want is a pet that will simply sit, lie down and not eat up the house there are plenty of contenders out there.  PLEASE just don’t buy a highly motivated Border collie or other overachiever if you don’t have the time to keep them busy. When not kept occupied these doggie geniuses may end up destroying your home out of boredom and frustration.   
  •  Dominance.  Unfortunately many people confuse dominance and aggression.  Most of the biting dogs we see in veterinary practice are actually fearful in nature.  Dominant animals are generally confident if they have a calm, assertive owner. In the simplest terms dominance can be thought of as the how hard your dog will work to get his or her own way.  Dominance is variable.  Some dogs may just be dominant over other dogs but submissive to people.  Dominance is not related to size either.  There are a lot of pint sized Napoleons out there.  Be sure to match your will to rule to that of your future pet.
  •   Hardiness.  Pay special attention to hardiness when selecting a breed.  Bulldogs and some of the short-faced (brachycephalic) breeds don’t do well in the heat.  Chihuahuas, Greyhounds and other short coated dogs are not suited to outdoor life in the colder climates.  Matted coats, burned skin, heat stroke or frost bite may all be the consequences of wrong choices made on your part.  Then again, some breeds have been so completed altered by human kind that they are born with an array of health problems just waiting to happen.  No matter what, it’s still best to know ahead of time.
  •  Grooming.  Do you mind brushing your dog every day?  How about a grooming bill once a month?  How about a really big grooming bill once a month? Would you prefer a non-shedding coat? How about a dog with almost no coat at all?  Do you know how to care for eyes and ears or nails and matted hair?  What about anal glands?  Every breed has different grooming care needs.  Don’t overlook this when selecting your dog.

 Great dogs can be found in a lot of places.  That includes shelters and rescue groups.  We wish you good luck in your search and hope that you have figured out that picking the right puppy involves a lot more than who’s got the cutest brown eyes.  Hopefully, you now know that it takes a well thought out plan that combines your needs with those of your future pet.  So be sure to use all of the resources available to you.  Read books, attend dog shows, ask your veterinarian, talk to your friends, talk to breed associations, do whatever it takes to make yourself aware and educated.  Then go ahead and take the big leap into puppy love.

 

Veterinarians Guide to Hedgehogs

We recently added a new pet to our educational animals at the Animal Family.  “Gnomeo” is an African Pygmy Hedgehog.  In spite of his prickly nature, he is not related to porcupines.  Even though Hedgehogs spines are quite sharp, unlike porcupines, their spines do not shed and will not become lodged in the skin. If frightened, a hedgehog will defend itself by rolling into a tiny, prickly ball.  In the wild, they are generally solitary in nature.  They seem to prefer solitude in captivity as well. Although Hedgehogs can be handled with bare hands, gloves are recommended.

As a pet, Hedgehogs are a small, reasonably clean, relatively odor free and non-aggressive. They will vocalize through quiet snorting, whistling or huffing sounds.     If handled on a routine basis from a young age most will become quite friendly.  It is easy to see why we are seeing more of them in practice

The average pet hedgehog can be expected to live from 3-8 years. In captivity Hedgehogs are nocturnal but will emerge during the day. They hibernate in the wild but this is not necessary in captivity and will not occur as long as temperatures are maintained at 75 to 80 F.

Hedgehogs have some unique qualities. They have a unique protein which inhibits the activity of snake venom.  This allows them to attack and eat snakes in the wild. Another unusual hedgehog trait is “anointing”.  If a hedgehog is exposed to a strong smelling substance, they will produce large amounts of saliva which they use to coat their spines.  Nobody knows why they do this but if you find your hedgehog covered in the cat’s fishy food, don’t become alarmed.

Hedgehogs require smooth walled, enclosure with a minimum floor space of 2’ X2’.  They can climb so make any enclosure tall enough so that the animal can’t reach the top with its front feet.  Do not put your Hedgehog in a wire enclosure. Regular cleaning is important if you wish to keep your pet healthy.  Newspaper, about 3” in depth, either shredded or pelleted makes good bedding. Corn cob or alfalfa pellets can also be used.   Do not use any bedding that clumps or any aromatic wood product such as cedar or pine.  Give your hedgehog has a place to hide that is not much larger than he is and easy to disinfect. Plants or rocks can be added as well but should be non toxic and easy to clean.  Provide a shallow pan of water for bathing as well as a sipper bottle. Make sure your hedgehog understands how to drink from his bottle.

Hedgehogs require regular exercise. Either a commercial exercise ball that is suitable for Guinea Pigs or an exercise wheel will work.  If you choose to let your Hedgehog run loose, be careful of carpets and other cloth material which can get caught up in feet as well as anal/genital areas causing injury.

Your hedgehog can be maintained on either low calorie dog or cat food or commercial hedgehog diet (2 -3 Tsp /day).  Make sure to add in small amounts of fruits, veggies (1 tsp) and insects (1 tsp).  Do not feed nuts and grains or milk. Like so many of our exotic pets, low calcium is always a concern as is obesity.  Clean and refill food and water on a daily basis. To prevent your Hedgehog from becoming overweight make sure to check its weight frequently.

Like all exotics, Hedgehogs will mask illness.  Therefore it is important for you to remain vigilant. In general, Hedgehogs are prone to dental disease including oral cancers, Ringworm, obesity and overgrown nails. They can also acquire Leptospirosis, Rabies and Distemper like virus although there are no vaccines available at this time. Mites are the most common external parasite we see in Hedgehogs.  A regular health check with a fecal examination is important to maintaining your hedgehog’s health. 

This is not meant to be an all inclusive guide to Hedgehogs.  We do hope it has answered some questions for you.  Feel free to ask us questions and to come in and meet Mr. Gnomeo.

Why We Love What We Do!

We really do understand that sometimes you wonder what motivates the people who care for your pets.  Is it just a business?  Do they really care as much as they appear to?  What really goes on behind the scenes?

The truth is that although we wish we could help every animal regardless of the circumstances.  Sometimes we can’t.  It is frustrating for us too.  So, instead, we try to work with rescue organizations, shelters and others. Of course, we do try to do our best by all our clients and to us…they often, really do become family.

But…sometimes, a case comes along where we can do something really  special.  That is what makes the story of the “Faceless Kitten” aka Jax, important to Animal Family. 

Jax came in terribly injured but we didn’t have to put him to sleep.   Doctor Rob donated his time and medical skills, the clinic donated the supplies, the technicians and assistants fostered and provided care while he recovered and Lacey welcomed him into her family.

Faris, one of our technicians, made the video that comprises our blog this week. It can be a little graphic because Jax had a severe injury but he healed perfectly so the ending is wonderful.

Are we blowing our own horn?  Yeah…a little but mostly, we just wanted to share one of our happier stories with some of our favorite people.

 

Just click on the link below to see the story of the Faceless Kitten.

The Incredible Story Of The Faceless Kitten At Animal Family Veterinary Care Center

The Faceless Kitten