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/

Walking….Unleashed!!!

imageWhat exactly happens when you unclip your lead and let your dog run free in public areas? I think we all get the idyllic image of a free running, happy faced dog with his tongue hanging out the side of his mouth. Yet letting Fido off lead can unleash a whole host of horrors. What you don’t see is the sheer terror experienced by others—by dogs and people, the hidden dangers for your dog, and the ugly aftermath that may ensue for a lifetime.
Impact on Others
Even if your dog is the friendliest four legged on the planet weighing in wet at 20 pounds, he can set others into panic. As responsible dog owners we must remain cognizant of the fact that not everyone loves dogs or your particular dog. As well as the fact that dogs –no matter how well trained—are not predictable. No dog or human is.
Consider The Two Leggeds Around You
Many people are afraid of dogs and simply seeing a loose dog can induce fear let alone having the dog barrel up to them no matter the dog’s intent. I’ve also unfortunately seen elderly people knocked over, their thin skin bruised and large dogs joyously pounce up on pregnant women. I’ve seen countless children screaming & crying because an overly exuberant Fido followed them around…not even making contact. The fact is you don’t know everyone’s story or history and we need to be respectful of other’s rights to enjoy a stroll.
Consider the Other Four Legged Friends
As an owner of a dog fearful of other dogs, walks are always a precarious event. I might have to walk a mile or more out of my way to turn around and avoid a loose dog—hoping I don’t encounter another in the other direction.
As a trainer I work with many dogs that have this very same issue. It only takes ONE negative experience to traumatize many dogs. Your friendly dog could be that one. A loose dog approaching a fearful dog is enough to cause severe stress.
And each time after, the dog becomes more highly sensitized fearing a negative encounter. Ever had someone zoom past you on the highway just narrowly side swiping you? It’s unnerving and can set you on edge every time another car passes in somewhat close vicinity. Another dog doesn’t have to make contact with a scared dog to set them into panic. Now the owner has days, weeks, or months of behavior modification work ahead. As a trainer, I see some dogs who can never fully recover from negative off lead dog experiences. It is very sad they cannot enjoy being out in the world for the few who have infringed upon their rights to walk unaccosted.
There are so many tragic cases of dogs being bitten as well as their owners who were trying to break it up. Sadly, some end in death. Most frequently heard by the owner of the loose dog is “he’s never done that before!”
It is not only dogs who are afraid of other dogs we need to be concerned about. As with people, dogs may be suffering from any number of physical illnesses or rehabilitating from injuries that you cannot see and most are so very stoic. And let’s not forget our sweet seniors who often move slower, are weaker and prefer not to be charged by an exuberant youth. If you are not feeling well, would you want to be rushed up upon?
Impact on Your Own Dog
Letting your dog off lead also opens a Pandora’s box of problems for her.
Harm from Dog or Human
There are many dogs who do NOT take lightly an invasion of their personal space. Whether afraid or simple dislike, dogs can and will react defensively aggressive. So now you have put your dog at risk of getting bit and injured.
People too, will naturally act defensively. I will never ever forget the day my young social dog ON LEASH excitedly jumped on a man to greet him and was kicked in the chest. I was very angry and thought it inappropriate, but ultimately I had no one to be angry with but myself for not having better control of my dog to keep him safe. Make no mistake that when an off lead dog is approaching one’s safely leashed dog or child that the person will go all “Mama Bear” to all means and extents to keep their dog or child safe—even if that means harm to your dog. Wouldn’t you do the same?
Lost!
Dogs will never be 100% reliable –ever, no matter what. It only takes once and your dog can be gone forever. I’m sure you’ve heard the same countless tales I have that “My dog NEVER did that before!” from a surprised owner. There’s always a first time and sometimes that first time is the last time.
Environmental dangers
When your dog is roaming free you cannot foresee environmental dangers such as poison ivy, blue-green algae in the water, dangerous garbage or foods like gum with deadly xylitol lying around that can quickly be ingested, broken class, fishing hooks and more that can seriously harm her.
Impact on Wildlife
While it may be the least of your concerns, we need to remember we share this world. From birds to bunnies and every creature in between they comprise our ever important mutually shared ecosystem. Wildlife can be impacted by direct predation but even a dog chasing an animal “for fun” endangers it. Energy is very expensive and animals conserve it wisely. Escaping a dog can exhaust the animal’s energy leaving it unable to search for food or feed it’s young which is obviously detrimental to survival. Other considerations include transmission of diseases (it goes both ways) and competition for resources, especially water.
The bottom line is this: let’s all be respectful of each other’s space and the land we share. Everyone has the right to walk without feeling threatened. Your dog does not need to be off lead to have fun! Dogs love to spend time WITH us! Walking side by side is one of the greatest bonding activities we can do with our dogs!

Advice from the Cookie Lady

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I hear it all the time, “My dog will do anything for you because you’re the cookie lady.” It’s true and it’s wonderful! I take pride in being a what Kathy Sdao calls “a good feeder.”

Let’s stop the shame game. There is no reason to be embarrassed for treating your dog for good behavior! I recall so many times walking through our local parks with my wonderful Pumpkin, happily heads up heeling by my side—his gorgeous amber eyes looking into mine as we passed a barking lunging dog. The owner of the other dog notice the treats I was delivering and shouted out, “I see your dog has you trained! How many treats does he eat?! That’s bribery” followed by derisive laughter. Well, laugh away I say. If I hadn’t been busy focusing on my gorgeous good dog I would have retorted, “It’s not a lure, it’s reward—big difference.” And I would have been happy to go into details had he been a willing listener. Instead I smiled, nodded and moved on. Now I have time to explain if you’re willing to listen.

Lures can sometimes be used initially to get a behavior started. With a lure, you are using the food (or toy) to manipulate the dog’s behavior. Common are pulling a treat above the head to get a “sit” and bringing a treat from the dog’s nose to yours to get eye contact or a “watch me” cue. Lures precede the behavior. They can get a behavior started but must be faded out quickly or the dog can become dependent on seeing the treat in order to perform the behavior. A reward on the other hand comes after the behavior is performed. Rewards too will be lessened in time, but perhaps never faded out. Before you panic– That wasn’t a typo. Let me explain.
If your employer stopped issuing you a paycheck, how long would you continue to work? Generally speaking, regardless of how much we enjoy our jobs we won’t work for free. Neither do dogs. Gasp! Yes I am saying dogs don’t work simply because they love us. Much of what we ask of dogs is completely unnatural and it is indeed work. Heeling, staying, leaving a treat on her paws and more—very unnatural. We all know how much work it is to modify our own behaviors such as eating healthfully, saving money, or quitting bad habits. Science tells us for humans and animals a reward system increases success in behavior modification programs. Look at your bank or credit card company. Does getting rewards increase your use of the card? Does your employer offer a gift for perfect attendance or safety records? We get tokens, points, and various other rewards for repeating certain behaviors. Dogs get treats and toys. There is no shame in rewarding good behavior! In time, we do put the rewards on a variable schedule so they will not be constant but that’s another topic.

Speaking of rewards, remember it should be something the dog wants. Not what you think is nice. Dry cookies are rarely motivating enough for any dog besides the biggest chow hounds. Having spent decades in human resources, I think of compensation scales. The more complex the work, the higher the pay. I apply the same to dogs. Sit at the door may equal a piece of kibble. Walking past another dog may equal a chunk of fresh chicken. Yes, fresh chicken—from the frig. I often chuckle that the same wonderfully caring clients who labor over reading labels and research the very best food to feed –insisting it have fresh human grade ingredients– are appalled at the thought of using “people food” as treats. Food is food. Fresh, healthy food is a nice reward and addition to your dog’s diet. Be a good feeder. Use food wisely. So often we give dogs table scraps or special treats just because we love them. While there’s nothing wrong with that, simply reserve them for extra special behavior!

A friend I see only seldom comments how her dog will do things for me that she does for no one else even though I may see her only twice a year. And I don’t have to give her treats. But as my friend points out, “she remembers you as the cookie lady.” Yep, she sure does. I have a history with this dog of being a good bet that she didn’t forget.

So my advice to you? BE THE COOKIE LADY!! Or COOKIE MAN! Enjoy the rewards YOU get—good behavior! 

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There is a great misunderstanding perpetuating—even from veterinarians—that “tough” dogs like Pits need harsh training. Nothing could be farther from the truth! All dogs deserve to be taught with patience and respect. Linking an animal’s physicality to his cognitive learning abilities is simply illogical. Should college students be sorted into separate classes based on the size and shape of their bodies? What about temperament you ask? If you’ve taken time to get to know any Pit you know most of these strong muscular bodied dogs have an ooey gooey sweet center. In fact, they are one of the highest scoring dogs in the American Temperament Test Society Inc’s rankings. The UKC description of heir characteristics reads: “the APBT is not the best choice for a guard dog since they are extremely friendly, even with strangers. Aggressive behavior toward humans is uncharacteristic of the breed and highly undesirable.”

Positive reinforcement training is scientifically sound and successful for much larger and stronger animals that bully breeds! Lions, elephants, walruses, rhinos and more are all trained using positive reinforcement. Could you even imagine trying to put a training collar on a walrus & physically manipulating it?! How about trimming the nails of a 400+ pound male lion? The same nails that are his natural weaponry and could shred you in seconds? It is regularly done using positive reinforcement! Please don’t fool yourself that your bully breed or other “tough dog” needs a harsh hand.

Then the question is: do you want to physically punish your dog via pinch, choke, or shock your dog? Besides, physically you cannot control your dog when he is not wearing the aforementioned. Your dog is likely stronger & definitely faster than you. Always. Really.  So then what? What happens when your dog isn’t wearing the collar? You cannot correct him. In over a decade of training, I have heard countless people say “I don’t want to hurt my dog” The good news is you don’t have to, not even for your Pit Bull.

Rather than physical coercion, we want mental cooperation. We want a dog who is willing—downright happy to comply! That is achieved through working his mind. Pits are described in the UKC standard as “this breed does very well in performance events because of its high level of intelligence and its willingness to work. “

I will absolutely agree that physically strong dogs do make leash walking & manners more difficult. Though I’ve known many a small dog that can pull your shoulders out. While developing your working relationship and mental compliance with your dog, there are tools that can gently help you physically manage your strong dog on leash. Thankfully there are many no-pull harnesses on the market that work wonderfully.

Surfers ride with the wave, not against. Train with your dog’s intelligence, not against it! Rather than punishing your dog for doing something “bad” show them what they SHOULD be doing instead and reward the good behavior. Don’t want your dog to jump? Teach them to sit under distractions. Don’t want your dog to eat something or sniff something he sees? Teach him a “leave it” cue. Telling the dog what to do and rewarding his correct choice will yield you much greater results.

In the end, ask yourself one simple question: “how would I prefer to be taught?”  That is your answer.