Vaccinating Your Pets: Why It’s So Important

Vaccinating Your Pets: Why It’s So Important

Regular preventative pet healthcare is essential in keeping your furry friend happy and healthy. Vaccines are a simple way to protect your pet from highly contagious and often deadly diseases, and improve your pet’s overall quality of life.

In fact, experts agree that widespread use of vaccines within the last century has prevented death and disease in millions of animals. Some of the most common vaccinations recommended by veterinarians include:

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Dogs

  • Rabies: a fatal viral infection of the brain and nerves that affects mammals – infection usually occurs through bites from infected animals, most commonly skunks, raccoons, foxes and bats
    * Vaccination for both dogs and cats is recommended, and is required in most states
  • Canine Parvovirus: a highly contagious virus that attacks a dog’s gastrointestinal tract; it is transmitted through oral contact with infected feces
  • Canine Distemper: a viral illness that attacks the respiratory, gastrointestinal and central nervous system of dogs; it can be spread through the air, through direct contact with an infected animal or via contaminated objects
  • Bortadella: a bacteria commonly associated with respiratory disease in dogs and a common cause of kennel cough; it is highly contagious and can be transmitted through the air or direct contact.
    * Although Bortadella isn’t one of the “core vaccines” that are recommended for most pets, the vaccine is a common requirement when boarding your dog.

For dogs, an alternative option to routine vaccinations are titer tests. These tests, which can be performed by your veterinarian can help determine if a previous vaccine is still protecting your dog.

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Cats

  • Feline Immunodeficiency virus (FIV): the FIV disease weakens a cat’s immune system, leaving cats dangerously vulnerable to serious infections
  • Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV): a viral disease that weakens the immune system and is often passed from mother to kitten or through exposure to an infected cat’s saliva or other body fluids
  • Feline panleukopenia: Also known as feline distemper, this highly contagious viral illness attacks cells in the lymph nodes, bone marrow and intestinal tract. It is spread from cat to cat through contact with body fluids or contaminated objects.
  • Feline viral rhinotracheitis and Feline calicivirus infection: infectious diseases that often cause upper respiratory disease in cats.

Unfortunately, many people forgo vaccinations and routine healthcare for their pets because they are unable to afford this care. That’s why Rescue Me Ohio (RMO) and Ohio Voters for Companion Animals (OVCA) are sponsoring two upcoming H.O.P.E. Clinics, which offer affordable vaccinations for Ohio pets. The first clinic that we will be sponsoring will be this Sunday, April 30th, in the Columbus area. Please read our press release, or visit our Facebook events page for full details.

Learn more about pet vaccination by visiting the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Vaccination FAQ page. For more information about the H.O.P.E. Clinics that RMO and OVCA are sponsoring, please contact us.

Outside of Ohio? Visit the Humane Society’s website for a directory of organizations that provide financial assistance for veterinary care needs.

 

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What You Need to Know About Spaying and Neutering Your Pets

What You Need to Know About Spaying and Neutering Your Pets

Spaying or neutering is one of the best things that can be done to benefit the lives of cats and dogs. In addition to helping to curb pet overpopulation, it can help make your pet healthier and help to reduce poor behavior. In an effort to spread the word about the benefits of spaying and neutering, the HSUS, the Humane Society International and the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association runs its annual World Spay Day campaign.

Observed on the last Tuesday of February, World Spay Day brings awareness to the impact of affordable, accessible spay/neuter options to save the lives of companion animals, stray/feral cats, and stray dogs who may otherwise be put down in shelters or killed on the street. This year will be the 23rd annual World Spay Day, and will be observed on February 28, 2017.pexels-photo-133069

In honor of World Spay Day, we’re taking a look at some of the invaluable benefits that spaying and neutering your pets can bring:

Reduce the number of homeless pets killed – There are an estimated 6-8 million homeless animals entering shelters every day. Barely half of those animals get adopted. Unfortunately, more than 2.7 million healthy, adoptable cats and dogs are euthanized in shelters each year.

Improve your pet’s health – Pets who live in the states with the highest rates of spaying/neutering also live the longest, according to this USA today study. Neutered males dogs live 18% longer than un-neutered male dogs, and spayed female dogs live 23% longer than unspayed female dogs. The reduced lifespan for unaltered pets can be attributed, in part, to their increased urge to roam, exposing them to fights with other animals, running out into the roads and other mishaps.animal-cute-kitten-cat.jpg

Also to consider is the reduced risk of certain types of cancers. Unspayed female cats and dogs have a far greater risk of developing pyrometra (fatal uterine infection), uterine cancer and other cancers of the reproductive system. Male pets who are neutered eliminate their chances of developing testicular cancer.

Reduce poor behavior – Unneutered dogs are much more assertive and prone to urine-marking than neutered dogs. Although this behavior is most-commonly associated with male dogs, females can do it too. For cats, the urge to spray is extremely strong in an intact cat. The simplest solution is to have yours neutered or spayed by four months of age, before there’s even a problem.

Neutering solves 90 percent of all marking issues, even in cats that have been doing it for a while. It can also minimize howling, the urge to roam, and fighting with other males. In both cats and dogs, the longer you wait, the greater risk you run of the surgery not doing the trick because the behavior is so ingrained.

Other behaviors that spaying and neutering can alleviate include:

  • Roaming, especially when females are “in heat”
  • Aggression; studies show that most dog bites involve dogs who are unaltered
  • Excessive barking, mounting or other dominance-related behaviors

And despite what many may think, while getting your pets spayed/neutered can help curb undesirable behaviors, it will not change their fundamental personality, like their protective instinct.

Given these reasons, it would seem that it doesn’t make sense to not have your pet spayed or neutered. But still, many pets are left unaltered. One of the most common reasons that people skip out on this critical part of their pet’s health is due to cost. What many may not consider, however, is the costs of caring for litters of puppies or kittens, medical costs for cancers of the reproductive system, and the medical costs associated with fights involving unneutered or unspayed pets. In the long run, having your pet spayed or neutered is more cost-effective.

If you or someone you know is looking for an affordable option to spay or neuter a pet, the Humane Society can help you identify low-cost options in your area.

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For more information on World Spay Day, visit http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/spay_day/

Will You Be My Valentine? 10 Reasons Why Pets Make The Best Valentines

This year, why not skip out on all of the fancy dinners, expensive wine and stress of planning the perfect evening? Here’s a fool-proof plan for the perfect Valentine’s Day: spend some quality time with your pet! Keep reading to learn 10 reasons why pets make the absolute best Valentines.

1. They are pretty cheap dates. Your pet won’t expect to eat at the fanciest restaurant in town, or to be given extravagant Valentine’s Day gifts. All they’re looking for is some of their favorite food and snuggles from you!dog.jpeg

2. They’ll let you pick the movie. As long as you’re snuggling on the couch right next to them, your pet doesn’t care what you guys watch. So, bring on the Rom-Coms!

3. No reservations required. Skip out on the hassle of making reservations, or dealing with overcrowded restaurants. Your pet is happy just hanging out at home with you or taking a stroll through the park!

4. Forget the fancy clothes. You don’t need to buy a new dress or put on the three piece suit to impress your furry friend – they won’t ever judge your outfit choice!

5. Pets are easy to shop for. If you want to surprise your pet with a little something, you won’t have to search high or low for the perfect gift. You know what your pet likes, but they will also love anything that you give them.

6. No need to share your chocolate. Actually, don’t share your chocolate with them! Chocolate poisoning is harmful for both dogs and cats, so you can keep that giant heart-shaped box of chocolates all for yourself.

7. There’s no way that you’ll feel awkward, or suffer through small talk. Unlike a blind date or new crush, your pet is your best friend. You’re totally comfortable together and hanging with them on Valentine’s Day is sure to be a stress free time.

8. They’re good for your health! Studies have shown that pet owners exhibit decreased blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels – all of which can help minimize your risk of having a heart attack down the road. Not to mention the impact your pets can have on your overall mood and happiness.

9. They give the BEST snuggles. Want to curl up on the couch and watch a season of your new TV addiction? There’s no one better to snuggle with than your furry friend.

10. They love you unconditionally. Valentine’s Day is all about celebrating the people (and animals) that you love. Pets will love you unconditionally (as I’m sure you love them), and what a good way to spend your Valentine’s day!

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So, put on your favorite pair of sweatpants, turn on a Rom-Com (or thriller, it’s up to you!), snuggle up with your pet and get ready for the best Valentine’s Day yet!

 

 

New Year’s Resolutions: Keeping Your Pet Happy & Healthy This Year

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If you’re anything like me, you probably went into 2016 with a few New Year’s resolutions and the best intentions for keeping them. While my resolve to stick with my resolutions often trickles off slowly throughout the year, there is one that I know I will keep: doing everything I can to make sure my cat remains happy and healthy all year long! Our pets play such an important role in our lives and in our families, so it’s up to us to make sure they’re living the best life possible.

In order to make sticking to this resolution even easier, here are a few tips and tricks to help you ensure a happy and healthy year for your furry friends!

Focus on creating a stress-free, loving environment for your pet

Ensuring your pet is in a happy, loving home will have a positive impact on your pet’s health.  According to this All Animals magazine article, “insecurity causes stress, while boredom and lack of sufficient exercise can lead to obsessive or destructive behaviors.”

Regular playtime and affection for your furry friends will exercise their bodies and their minds. Giving them opportunities to “hunt”, wrestle and chase toys around can help prevent your pets from developing behavioral problems. And, we’re able to build a stronger bond with our pets through playtime and interaction.

Help your pet maintain a healthy weight

Excess weight can bring on an array of health problems for your pet. Obesity increases the risk for other serious health problems like osteoarthritis, heart and respiratory diseases, diabetes and many types of cancers. So, we should be mindful of how much our pets our eating each day, and also what they are eating.

Not sure what your pet should be eating? Your vet can help you find out what the ideal body weight is for each of your pets, as well as provide accurate information about the types and correct amount of food they should be eating. Be mindful of feeding your pet table scraps, too, as food and portions that may be appropriate for humans to eat may not contribute to your pets balanced diet in a positive way (although, I know we all want to share with our furry friends!).

Make sure your pet is properly hydrated

Keeping your pets well-hydrated makes a world of difference in their health. Water helps your pet digest food, regulate body temperature, eliminate waste and allows salt and other electrolytes to pass through the body. Keep them looking and feeling good all year, by ensuring their proper hydration. This is especially critical in those summer months when temperatures are high!

You can ensure that your pet is getting adequate water by making sure clean water is always available throughout the house, and in several places. Additionally, a water bowl with a recirculating fountain may be a good way to encourage your pet to drink more, as many pets enjoy the running water.

Don’t skip out on regular vet visits

Regular checkups for your pets are extremely important. In addition to keeping your furry friend up-to-date on all the vaccinations they need to stay healthy, regular visits allow the vet to identify underlying conditions early on that may affect your pet later in life. They allow you to establish a relationship with your veterinarian, and for your veterinarian to get to know your pet – which is critical in helping them understand when something is wrong and identify the cause. And your vet can provide valuable guidance on things such as the ideal body weight for your pet, how much you should be feeding them, and how much exercise your pet should get.  

How often should you take your pet to the vet? Dr. Barry Kipperman (DVM, DACVIM) recommends at least once per year for animals under the age of 10, and twice yearly after that. By incorporating regular check-ups into your pet’s care, you can ensure your pet is in tip-top shape all year round!

So, as you’re focusing on keeping your New Year’s resolutions, think about making one more – to keep your furry friend happy and healthy this year. These tips will help you and your pet have the best year yet!

Ready For a Dog? Consider These 5 Points First!

Ready For a Dog?  Consider These 5 Points First!

Soooo, you’re finally ready to start one of the best, most rewarding relationships of your life.  One that will forever change your life and heart, in the most wonderful way possible.

You’re ready for a dog!

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Great!  Having a dog has been one of the best experiences of my life thus far, and I bet all other dog lovers will say the same.  It’s one of those things you can’t truly understand until your heart has been captured by a four legged, furry bundle of love that barks, plays fetch and greets you every day like it’s Christmas.

As wonderful as my life is with my dogs, I have to say there are some things I would encourage people to understand before jumping right into getting one.  This is a commitment that can last you 15-20 years so it is crucial to be aware of what’s to come!  Here are 6 points that I think are important to understand.

“I’m sorry, I need to go home now and let my dog out.”

There will be times when you will to need leave happy hour or a holiday party early to go home and let your dog out.  Some of us like having a reason to leave a social gathering after a few hours and in that case, no need to worry!  But if you think you will be gone all day or all night you will need to make arrangements for someone to check in on your pup.

A dog is not meant to be chained up outside for his whole life.

Not all dog lovers may agree that a dog should be allowed on your couch or in your bed, but I think the vast majority of us will agree on this:  no dog should be chained up outside his whole life.  A dog deserves the safety of a warm house and bed of its own.  When we love a dog we quickly learn their needs become our needs, and protecting them against conditions that can harm them is a must.

Food, Water, and Healthcare

Providing food, water, and healthcare are non-negotiable aspects of owning a dog.  And let’s be honest, annual check-ups, nail trimming, grooming, food, treats and toys (because, hey, they need toys!) all add up.  It can be expensive owning a dog, so please make sure you can financially provide for them before you decide to adopt one.  If you can, this is about the only thing that you will glady accept kisses, snuggles and happy homecomings as a “return on your investment.”

Exercise and Training

I’ve read many times that “time is love” and I can handsdown tell you, it’s true when it comes to training and exercising my dogs.  Some days I don’t want to do it.  I’d rather be doing this or that or anything but teaching my pit bull how to walk with me and playing fetch with my Ridgeback.  I do it, however, because they need it and because I love them.  Also because it makes life a lot easier knowing they are healthy and well-behaved.  Two things to truly consider before adopting a dog!

Love and Companionship

There’s no doubt having a dog takes up a lot of time and energy.  Between trips to the vet and trips to the park and trips to PetSmart to pick up carpet cleaner, it may seem like your life revolves around them.  But there’s truly no greater love than the love of a dog.  It’s the thumping of their tail when you walk into a room and the happy cries you hear when you walk through the door after a long day at work and the comfort you feel as they rest their head (or whole body) on you when the day is done.

There is a big price to pay to love a dog but I tell you, for anyone who has ever fallen in love with one… 15-20 years isn’t nearly long enough.  If you feel you are ready and able to adopt a dog, I hope you enjoy one of the best relationships you will ever have!

What to do when your dog walks you

What to do when your dog walks you

Managing a leash-reactive dog

    If you’ve ever owned or fostered a dog, more than likely you’ve been on more than a few walks where the roles are reversed and your pooch walks you. Lunging, barking, growling, and other behaviors your dog may show on the leash can be frustrating and embarrassing.  Nobody enjoys walking their dog when it becomes a constant struggle. Luckily, there are many techniques available to help create an enjoyable walk. Let’s go over just a couple exercises you can practice to help build a relationship between you and your dog and to help you get in control of the leash in a positive manner. 


Things you’ll need:

  1. Zero or low distraction area to work in (indoors)
  2. I recommend using a 10 ft leash
  3. High value treats and treat bag
  4. Front-attachment harness (a harness with the option to clip the leash on the chest) or a head harness like Gentle Leader or Halti


Introducing our training fundamentals

    These are the crucial building blocks that will give your dog the tools to be an all-star on the leash. These are exercises that should be worked on daily with your pup if you want to see strong results.  I recommend fast paced, 10-20 minute training sessions 1-2 times daily.  As with any training, remember to be patient and consistent with your pup!

  • Focus on handler (eye contact)
  • Sits on cue

    You will want to practice these fundamentals in a low distraction area initially. I suggest inside with the leash on. Once your dog is very reliable with these cues and no distractions, we will gradually increase our distractions.  Move outside and repeat the fundamentals where there are a low level of distractions such as your backyard or a low traffic area of your street. 
   

   Once Sparky knows her cues and has gotten the hang of our training fundamentals, we are ready to begin incorporating these new found skills into our walk. Our goal here is to start to teach a different reaction to the things that normally make her uncomfortable and cause an extreme reaction on the leash. 

  The most important thing we can do for our dog is to help them manage their experiences and interactions with the world. Now is the time to learn our dogs triggers while on the leash. The things that make our dog uncomfortable or scared. 

Common triggers include: 

  • people
  • dogs
  • bicycles 
  • cars
  • animals

Some signs to look for in your dog that would indicate it is being triggered would be:

  • body tension
  • perky ears
  • whining
  • stiff or straight tail 
  • undivided focus on something other than you     

These are the signs to look for to catch the behavior before it can escalate to barking, lunging and growling. If any of these occur, you need to get some distance between your dog and the trigger as soon as possible. These are all distance-getting behaviors and indicate you are too close to a trigger.

The Walk
    

   Now that we know our dogs triggers, we can begin our walk. Let’s say Fluffy sees another person walking a dog. It’s apparent by her stiff body language, whining and pulling that this is a trigger. We need to stop and begin to walk backwards away from the trigger while using our own body language to help make it clear what we are asking all while holding our dogs focus. This is where our fundamentals and practice come in. As we continue to walk backwards we are maintaining eye contact and having Fluffy sit down every few steps. I recommend using treats and a treat bag to aid with the process. If your dog is not taking treats, continue to walk away from the trigger until they seem more responsive. 

This is me walking Silva with a stationary dog ahead of us.
Here, Silvas’ body language tells me she notices the dog ahead of her.

I begin to walk backwards and repeatedly have her sit while keeping her focus.
 

When the trigger has been forgotten we can continue walking in either direction, but if she is triggered again, we must repeat our leash training exercise and turn around, walk backward while maintaining focus and sitting every few feet.


What to do if a trigger is approaching you
   

   If you are on your walk and are being approached by a trigger, we are going to do the same walking backward and sitting technique with a bit of a twist this time. When we notice our dog engage with the trigger at a comfortable distance before she can show distance getting behaviors such as lunging, barking, and growling we will start walking backward and make a 90 degree turn with the dogs back to where the trigger will pass. Continue to repeat the sit cue while walking backward until the area is clear to continue your walk. 

 

I know there is a potential trigger ahead of us, so I keep her focus as we walk closer to the other dog.
At this point, I feel silva is as close as she can get before she may react to the other dog. I make a right turn to the side and begin our exercise.

 
Using my body language and my treats I keep her focus and walk backwards away from the trigger, giving her the cue to sit repeatedly.

 
I continue to keep her focus while sitting until the other dog has passed and is at a comfortable distance.
 
    

   Now that you have your tools and some direction on what to do when your dog is leash reactive, PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE! The more you practice, the better your results will be. It will take a lot of work to get a perfect walker, but it will be so worth it! Remember to use every opportunity you can to practice excellent walking techniques. Consistency and patience are key.

    I’d like to leave you with a reminder that Fidos attention span will only last around 15 minutes. Don’t forget to take breaks to avoid frustration on both parts. Happy walking! 

Take a Chunk Out Of Dog Obesity: one meal at a time

I can’t tell you how many times I have declared, “No more table food for the dogs!”  Only to slowly give into those big puppy dog eyes and sneak one of my dogs part of my dinner.  There’s something about finding their cute little faces tucked under my arm or staring straight at me, while they lick their lips, that I cannot resist.  And because I love my dogs so much I think it’s okay to give them whatever they want, but we all know feeding dogs table scraps isn’t the best idea, especially if it’s on a regular basis.

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I have justified that most of the food I give them is actually really healthy for them — eggs, sweet potatoes, carrots, broccoli, kale — but becoming dependent on table food can cause real issues; refusing to eat regular dog food, unwanted habits of begging, raiding the trash and obesity.  In fact, it’s estimated that over 50% of dogs are overweight or obese!  Most owners don’t recognize it, but we can’t turn a blind eye to the tragic effects of obesity in dogs.  Here are the most common consequences.

  • Damage to joints
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Diabetes
  • Liver damage
  • Heat intolerance
  • Decreased stamina
  • Hypertension
  • Decreased immune system
  • Increased risk of cancer
  • Decreased length of life 

I know it’s hard to imagine that feeding your pup a few bites of your dinner every night will result in him developing diabetes or liver damage, but the truth is: it can.  And over time, it most likely will!  We’re all guilty of it at some point or another, especially when their faces are so cute eating next to you!  But it would be ideal for you and your dog to stop the habit of feeding table food now!

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Here are some ways that can help.

  • Stop feeding your dog immediately It sounds simple, but it’s not!  These four-legged pups of ours know exactly how to get what they want when they want it.  But if we are truly committed to breaking this habit, this will be the first step.  We need to stop feeding them any table scraps immediately.  Right this second!  It won’t be easy at first, but soon your dog will learn there are no rewards for begging.
  • Ignore when your dog is begging If you want to teach your dog that begging will not result in getting him the attention he wants, ignore him when he starts begging!  Don’t talk to him, look at him, or pet him..  Any amount of attention will strengthen his belief that begging will get him what he wants. 
  • Redirect your dog elsewhere Teaching your dog to “go to his spot and stay” is helpful in more ways than one, but especially when creating new habits during dinner time.  If you can designate a spot for him, he will learn to occupy himself by chewing a bone or playing with a toy in that area.  This will help to keep him busy when you eat, thus eliminating the begging!
  • Don’t let guilt get in the way You love your dog and he knows it!  Don’t feel guilty for setting up boundaries when it comes to eating human food.  Loving your dog also means doing what’s best for him, so try to remember why you are refusing him table scraps and hopefully that helps to ease some of your guilt.   
  • Be consistent and patient Doing something once or twice won’t change anything.  Be consistent!  Consistency is the key when training your dog.  Stick to your guns and make sure everyone else in your house is on board too.  Also, be patient.  Habits don’t change overnight but with each day that passes,  your dog will start to understand dinner time for YOU doesn’t mean dinner time for HIM!