The Humane Society of the United States estimates that 6-8 million cats and dogs enter shelters each year and 3-4 million of those are euthanized. Our local animal shelter, BARCS, takes in over 11,000 animals each year, approximately 5,000 find new homes. The Maryland SPCA places 3,000 pets in new homes each year. Since June is “Adopt a Shelter Cat Month”, it’s a great time to consider giving a cat in need a wonderful home! Both BARCS, and the Maryland SPCA, waive their adoption fees for cats during the month of June.
So maybe you’ve adopted a wonderful new feline friend…now what? It’s important to make their environment comfortable, fun and to reduce stress and anxiety. Food and water should be kept in quiet places and should not be near litter boxes. Cats often prefer multiple food and water stations, bowls should be clean, and water should be fresh at all times. It’s important to feed diets formulated for the age of your feline friend, and to measure out specified quantities each meal to help prevent obesity.
Ok, let’s talk litter boxes. Inappropriate urination and defecation in cats is often a result of stress and anxiety and many of these cases can be prevented with proper “litter box etiquette”. The general rule is that there should be one more litter box than the number of cats in the household. Cats generally prefer unscented clumping litter. The litter should be scooped at least once daily, and the boxes emptied, cleaned, and refilled with new litter once every 1-3 weeks depending on the type of litter being used. Some cats do prefer covered litter boxes, but the majority of cats do not.
Cats should also have access to several scratching posts. Scratching is a normal behavior for cats. The scratching post should be sturdy and be tall enough for the cat to stretch out full length. You can use catnip to encourage your cat to use the scratching post.
Play time is a great way to provide exercise and mental stimulation for cats. Having a variety of toys available and rotating them so your cat doesn’t get bored is helpful. Laser pointers, feather toys, toy mice and toys stuffed with catnip are popular. There are food-dispensing toys available as well that cats often enjoy. Outdoor bird feeders can be very entertaining for cats. Cats also enjoy having elevated perches available. Cat trees and ledges or beds that attach to window frames are readily available at pet stores.
Most cats adopted from shelters will already have been spayed or neutered, and received some if not all needed vaccinations. It’s important to have your new feline friend examined by a veterinarian shortly after you adopt them. They can make sure your new cat is healthy and determine if any further vaccination, deworming or lab tests are required. You can consult your veterinarian for any further questions about caring for your new cat. You can also visit www.catalystcouncil.org/ for more helpful information on a variety of topics relating to cats.
We’ve all seen those heartbreaking flyers with pictures of lost pets and wonder whether or not they were ever reunited with their owners. Most pet owners worry about their pet becoming lost and what they would be able to do to find them. Hopefully you’ll never be faced with that situation but there are measures to consider taking in case you are. Microchipping your pet is one way to help ensure that you will be reunited with your pet in the unfortunate event they are ever lost.
A microchip is a small electronic chip, about the size of a grain of rice, implanted just underneath the pet’s skin. This chip carries a unique identification number that cannot be altered or duplicated. When a scanner is passed over the chip, the chip is activated by the radiowaves from the scanner. When the microchip is activated by the scanner the identification number can be read and is displayed on the screen of the scanner.
Once an animal is microchipped, the owner and pet information is registered with a database. Once the scanner reads the microchip number the owner contact information can be obtained from the database. The owner can then be contacted and the pet returned to the owner. It is very important this contact information be kept current.
Ideally all microchips would conform to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) global standard for microchipping, but historically this has not been the case. The ISO standard for microchip frequency is 134.2 kHz. There are microchips, as well as scanners, that do not follow these standards. The concern is that a microchip in a lost pet may not be detected because not all scanners read all microchips. There are forward-and-backward compatible, or universal scanners, now available that can read any frequency microchip. Most shelters and veterinary practices have these universal scanners.
Microchipping is not meant to replace collars or tags. Your pet should have a collar with identification tags that are legible and have accurate contact information. Tags and collars can however be lost so microchipping is a permanent identification system that increases your chances of finding your lost pet.
The hot, humid days of summer are almost upon us and we’re all looking forward to outdoor picnics, street festivals, fireworks and long weekends. The outdoor activities and nice weather that we enjoy may not be so enjoyable for our furry friends. It’s important to keep our pet’s needs in mind during the hot summer weather.
Pets can easily become overheated and dehydrated in hot weather. Pets should not be left in cars for any period of time in hot weather. Make sure to limit your pet’s exercise to early morning and late evening when the temperature is cooler. Even then, limit the amount of activity to make sure your pet does not become overheated. Animals are not able to dissipate heat from their body as easily as humans can. They pant to help give off excess heat and can sweat a small amount from their paw pads, but that’s it. It is very easy for animals to become overheated and suffer from heatstroke. Heatstroke is very serious and life threatening. Symptoms of heatstroke include weakness, labored breathing, frantic panting, a glazed look to the eyes, vomiting, rapid heartrate, and collapse. Any animal suspected of having heatstroke needs to be seen by a veterinarian right away.
Water, water, water!! Make sure your pet has plenty of fresh, cool water available at all times. If you’re going on a walk, even a short one, have water with you and offer it to your pet often. Try walking in the shade or at least take breaks in shaded areas during walks.
As much as we all like to show off our dogs and take them out in public for everyone to meet, street festivals and firework exhibitions are not the place. These situations are usually very stressful for animals and very hot; often with little to no shade, or water, available. Please leave your dogs at home during these events.
Of course summer is a very popular time for us humans to vacation so make sure your pets are taken care of too. If you’re planning to kennel your pet make sure the vaccinations are up to date. Most boarding kennels book up quickly in the summer so be sure to make your reservation as far in advance as possible.
And don’t forget that mosquitos, fleas and ticks like warm weather too. So make sure your pet is on monthly heartworm and flea and tick prevention. Pets should be on these preventatives all year, but make sure not to skip any of the warmer weather months.
Have a safe and happy summer!
As the heat dips down and walks in the park become a pleasant way to enjoy an evening, dog owners may spend extra time walking their dogs and giving them more opportunities to socialize with other dogs in the neighborhood. And as the holidays approach and planning for vacation and visits becomes a priority, dog owners may begin considering which facility provides the best place and community to house their dogs during time away from home. These activities and considerations raise certain questions about the health risks dogs face as their level of social contact with other dogs increases: What types of illnesses can a dog be exposed to? How can dog owners prevent their dogs from getting sick? What health issues should owners consider when selecting where to board their dogs during their travels? These questions are important and dog owners are right to have them. Although contact with other dogs is a necessary and beneficial part of a dog’s life, there are risks dogs face when socializing with other dogs. To help raise awareness of the risks and alleviate any worries they produce, this article will focus on a serious, yet preventable risk you and your dog face during times of increased contact with other dogs: Canine Influenza Virus.
Canine Influenza Virus (CIV) is a highly contagious respiratory infection which causes persistent coughing, green or yellow nasal discharge, and low-grade fever, and, in some cases, facilitates the development of the more serious illness, pneumonia. First observed in 2004 in greyhounds at racing tracks, CIV has spread across 30 states and the nation’s capital. It can be transmitted through direct contact with infected dogs or virus-contaminated clothing and hands as well as through airborne carriers generated from coughing and sneezing (yet it is not communicable to humans). Despite its presence across the country and its high risk for contraction, CIV can be prevented and contained through awareness and vaccination.
As with the seasonal flu virus among humans, the key method of protecting your dog from contracting the infection is vaccination. In 2009, the USDA approved the first CIV vaccine, H3N8. This vaccine introduces an inactivated virus into a dog’s body in order to increase the dog’s immunity to the virus. Although the vaccine may not always prevent infection, it does lessen the effects of symptoms, decrease the duration of illness, and reduce the possibility of spreading the virus to other dogs. In short, it is the best method to protect your dog and other dogs from Canine Influenza Virus.
All dog owners, especially those owners whose dogs are in frequent contact with other dogs, should get their dogs vaccinated against CIV. If you are a new pet owner or you and your dog are new to the area, we offer the vaccination, as well as other veterinary services, at CityPets (please contact us for more information). Otherwise, contact your veterinarian for more advice concerning the CIV vaccine and how you can protect your dog throughout the year. And always remember that awareness and preventative measures are the best ways to keep your pets safe, healthy, and happy!
Jill Shook, DVM, and Mike Lang, Associate Writer
CityPets Veterinary Care and Wellness