Despite the barrage of messages to the public from animal welfare groups and celebrities about the benefits of pet health due to pet spaying and neutering, there are still holdouts.
Until recently, William O of Elgin, Illinois was one of them. “I used to think that spaying/neutering pets was inhumane, but my position has changed because of the practical import in having such procedures done,” said O, a lawyer who is starting an animal law practice.
In addition to the problem of pet overpopulation (6-8 million pets wait for homes in shelters annually and at least half that number are euthanized each year), O sees another side of pet neutering and spaying– a lawyer’s point of view: housing, pet behavior issues, and noise complaints between tenants, landlords, and neighbors.
“For the most part, nuisance/noise complaints are caused by female outdoor pets in heat and their noisy, persistent suitors. Many of these problems could be avoided by spaying/neutering pets,” said O.
Another pet owner recently changed her mind about spaying a neutering.
Rasheda Williams of Detroit got her first cat this year, a kitten named Domingo. She didn’t want to put her kitten through any unnecessary pain, be it cat neutering or declawing. But when her friend, who owned multiple cats, told her she should have Domingo neutered, Williams began to wonder if she was in the minority.
“I went around asking pet owners and all of them agreed. I was so focused on my cat’s rights being violated that I didn’t see the big picture,” said Williams. “Once they explained to me the preventative benefits of the procedure, I changed my mind.” Domingo was neutered six months ago, is happy and healthy, and still has his claws.
Spay and neuter clinics abound, and many pet insurance providers even cover the procedure. Getting pets fixed is easier today than ever before.
Whether you travel with your pet all the time or you just take your pet with you on vacation once in awhile, having pet insurance is good idea. Pet insurance will allow you to get treatment for your pet if it gets sick or hurt while traveling. Pet transportation itself can be stressful for you and your pet. Give yourself one less thing to stress over while traveling knowing that your pet is covered if anything should happen.
When traveling make sure that you have copies of your pets vaccination record as well as any other important information you may need like the names of any medication your pet takes or the names of any medication your pet is allergic to. Keep your pet insurance claim forms with you so that you can fill out the form with the correct information.
Once you get home, file your claim form and any additional paperwork needed with your insurance company. Filing your claim in a timely manner will ensure that you get your payment back from the pet insurance company quickly. Some pet insurance companies, like Pets Best Insurance, even offer direct deposit reimbursement.
It is important to have pet insurance, like Pets Best Insurance, that allows you to see a veterinarian when your pet needs care without having to worry about how you will be able to afford it.
By: Dr. Fiona Caldwell
For Pets Best Insurance
Descriptions of rabies infections go back thousands of years, and most places in the world have had reports of this deadly disease. It is highly fatal, with no known predictable cure. While there have been recent reports of human survival after becoming infected, this is uncommon.
Many people don’t realize how fast death can occur once signs of rabies develop. The law, while regional in its specifics, generally requires all pets and most farm animals to be vaccinated against this disease. Even though vaccination is readily available, every year the U.S. reports several human deaths from rabies, not to mention hundreds of dog and cat deaths. Worldwide deaths from rabies are thought to be around 55,000 per year.
Rabies virus is an RNA virus called Lyssa virus. It is very unstable in the environment, meaning it can’t survive on its own and needs fresh contact with broken skin to survive. It is almost exclusively transmitted by bite wounds, but there have been reports of aerosolized transmission in bat caves also. Once the infected animal’s saliva is in the muscle tissue the virus works its way to nerve fibers where it slowly travels up nerves towards the brain. The farther away from the brain the animal or person is bitten, the longer it will take for them to show clinical signs. In general it can take weeks, months or even years to show signs. Once the virus reaches the brain, clinical signs begin within 3 days and the person or animal can become infective and spread the disease.
There are actually three stages once an animal is infected. Most people know the ‘mad’ or ‘furious’ stage, where animals become aggressive, but this is actually the second stage. The first stage generally involves a subtle behavior change. Social animals may become shy. Vocal animals may undergo a voice change. In the second stage the animal has no fear, may hallucinate and will attack. The last stage is a paralytic stage. Most animals will become weak and start to drool or foam at the mouth as the muscles in the throat are paralyzed. This is the most common stage for people to become exposed, as they approach an animal in distress.
In the last century, the number of human deaths from rabies in the U.S. has fallen from 100 or more per year to an average of a few per year. This is due to control and vaccination of pets and farm animals and to the development of effective post exposure treatment and vaccines. Even though human deaths from rabies are now rare in the U.S., approximately 16,000 to 39,000 people come in contact with potentially rabid animals and receive post exposure prophylaxis each year. Wild animals have accounted for over 90% of reported cases of rabies in recent years. Raccoons continue to be the most frequently reported rabid wildlife species, about a third of cases, with bats at about 25%, followed by skunks, foxes, and other wildlife.
If a person is exposed to rabies or bitten by an animal, quick treatment can prevent infection. Prompt washing of the wound with soap, water and iodine or alcohol can help. It is important to seek medical attention immediately; a series of vaccinations can prevent the disease. Most people working with wildlife or animals for a living are encouraged to be vaccinated against rabies.
Laws regarding rabies vaccination and biting dogs are very regionally dependent. Your area may differ, but in general, if your dog bites someone and isn’t current on their rabies vaccine, the law requires you to have them confined at an authorized facility for at least 10 days, and then vaccinated. If the dog had rabies at the time of the bite, they would likely die in that time.
You can help prevent rabies by keeping all of your pets vaccinated. Contact animal control to remove stray animals, or suspicious wildlife. Don’t approach sick or dead wildlife. If you are bitten, wash the wound and seek medical attention. The rabies vaccine is very effective, and with proper administration and common sense, rabies deaths should continue to decline. If you have questions about the vaccine status of your pet, contact your veterinarian.
Dogs age gradually—so much so that they are often far into their senior years before we even realize they are seniors. On average, small dogs become seniors around the age of 10, and large dogs become seniors around the ages of 5-7.
It’s important to realize the changes that may begin occurring and how to deal with them, notably to protect dog health care and well-being during the cold winter months.
Changes in Weight
As a dog’s body slows down, he may put on weight due to being less active, or he may lose weight due to less muscle mass. You may want look into pet insurance for older dogs and re-evaluate food intake and activity levels at this time. Pet insurance companies like Pets Best Insurance don’t have any upper age limits, and will insure a pet whether it’s 7 weeks old or 17 years old! Check out the feeding chart on your dog’s food or use a dog food calculator to determine if you need to feed less or switch to a food with fewer carbohydrates.
Remember that all dogs can benefit from exercise. Don’t let your dog turn into a couch potato just because it’s cold outside. Play and teach him new tricks indoors! According to the website for Hudson Highlands Veterinary Medical Group in Hopewell Junction, New York, “walks and play keep your dog in better shape, both mentally and physically,” and prevent your dog’s body from deteriorating faster.
Just like humans, senior dogs can experience a loss of vision, hearing, smell, and may begin reacting slower to stimuli or become easily startled. They can also become confused, forgetful, and unsure of their surroundings. This means senior pets may be more libel to wander, lose their way, and react slower to moving vehicles.
In the darker, colder winter months, dogs should be spending less time outdoors exposed to cold, ice, and salted concrete. But when outside, make sure your senior dog always wears identification, and consider reflective collars and leashes, or devices such as the Puplight. With three ultra bright white LEDs, the Puplight attaches to your dog’s collar and makes them visible from all angles for up to a mile away. This will help light her path if she’s losing vision, drivers spot her sooner, and you find them if they stray.
Beware of Too Much Change
Changes happen naturally as dogs age, but normal changes occur gradually. When signs of aging begin, consider dog insurance plans to help prepare you for sudden changes which may require a trip to the vet. According to the American Animal Hospital Association, such changes include:
• Loss or increase of appetite or thirst
• Vomiting or diarrhea lasting more than a day
• Sudden increase in abdomen size
• Chronic coughing or breathing problems
By: Jack L. Stephens DVM
Pets Best Insurance President
I must admit I was more than skeptical when my wife proposed taking one of her miniature horses to the local senior care facility she visits regularly with our therapy dogs.
Working in the pet insurance industry and having worked with animals for years before that, my wife and I know the importance of the animal-human bond. And we love to share our service animals with as many people as possible.
Although the mini horses were a huge hit at a local elementary school’s first and second grade reading classes, I was hesitant to see how the senior residents might react to a tiny horse. At the school, true miracles happened as children that could not read publicly; in an instant could read flawlessly when the horse was looking over their shoulder. They were also popular with the special education high school students. But the senior care facility had fragile, bed ridden and wheelchair patients!
She insisted that “Thunder Pants” was so gentle, stoic and calm that he would be great. After calling to be sure our liability policy was in force and that the staff was up for it, off she went to the facility. I’m seldom effective in restraining her enthusiasm when it comes to sharing the value of therapy pets.
When she got there, residents were already waiting at the door to see the mini horse. Senior residents were lined up and wheelchairs lined the lobby in anticipation of Thunder Pants’ arrival. Immediately, everyone flocked to him. Each resident wanted to touch and rub him. Everyone, including the staff, wanted their photo taken with him.
When Thunder Pants reached over and kissed Vicki, everyone burst into laughter and applause. He whinnied at the resident cockatiels and again everyone applauded. What was supposed to be a very brief trial visit ended up lasting over an hour. After the visit, some of the residents even walked Thunder Pants to the lobby to say their goodbyes.
Whoever says dogs are the only good therapy pets has likely never encountered a mini horse like Thunder Pants. But one thing is for sure, the tiny horse was a hit and a blessing for the residents and staff. Thunder Pants’ visit was a welcome pleasure for bedridden residents.
As my wife drove home, she called me crying. She was crying for the joy she felt in bringing enjoyment to those at the senior care facility and for sharing the wonderful magic of the human-animal bond. Schotzie, our wheelchair bound Daschund, still holds the inspirational title but he now has a competitor for most entertaining therapy pet.