Neuter / Spay Your Pet

In most situations a pet available for adoption will either already be spayed/neutered from the shelter or it will be a requirement for adoption. This requirement to spay/neuter is to reduce the number of pets and hopefully reduce the number of pets flowing through shelters and wandering homeless. If the pet “supply” is limited, the thought is that people will take better care of their pets and of course there will be fewer pets abandoned to shelters. This is especially true with cats, where too many unwanted litters cause more kittens than can be adopted.

Neutering/Spaying your pet is good for their health. It reduces the chances for infection of the uterus and it reduces breast cancer in females. In males it reduces testicular cancer and certainly the urge to roam due to females in heat. As a consequence, less roaming reduces injuries from fighting other males or being hit by a car. Neutered males are less aggressive and may also have a decrease in territory marking, or lifting of the leg to urinate leaving their smell.

Neutered pets are better for you, as household companions. They are less likely to develop certain health hazards, are less likely to have aggression, territory and roaming issues and do not have the frustration of heat cycles. Please do not add to the pet overpopulation problem, neuter your adopted pet.

Foster-Adopting a Pet

Just like children need the comfort and help a foster home offers until a permanent home can be found, pets can also benefit from fostering. Many rescue groups are looking for good pet families that are willing to foster a pet and save it from being euthanized.

Adopting a pet, even if temporary, is a great way to keep pets from overcrowding shelters and to improve their socialization skills. A more socialized and well-behaved pet is much easier to adopt, and once adopted permanently, more likely to remain in the household.

Pets in shelters are under more stress than when with a private family where they can be trained, socialized and taught proper manners. My own dogs and cats are so used to foster pets coming and going in our household, they accept them readily. We foster dogs to help them find just the right home. Here are some tips for foster adoption:

If you have pets, always introduce the foster dog or cat in neutral territory and allow them to get used to each other slowly. DO NOT simply bring them home and have them meet the “clan” as I call it. This is simply too stressful and may lead to fighting and long term intimidation. Cats may require longer introduction and socialization periods.

Do not shower the foster adoption with affection, because it may cause a problem when the normal household routine and interaction return.
Be patient – ensure a slow introduction where both the regular pets and the foster pet are able to interact without fear or intimidation. It might be hours or days, but very seldom a few minutes (as most introductions are performed.)

Work with the foster pet on leash training, obedience, basic commands and utilize gentling techniques as presented by Dr. Tripp on this site. Never use physical punishment.

Be certain the foster pet was vaccinated for all the normal contagious diseases that can be prevented and checked for parasites. You do not want to bring a contagious disease or internal or external parasites to your own pets.

Review the veterinary exam for any special health problems.
Be happy when the “right home” is found and spend some time with the new owner on the foster pet’s personality, behavior and needs.

Establishing House Rules for Newly Adopted Adult Dogs

Set house rules from the first day and be consistent. Not being consistent confuses them and only leads to bad results and frustration.

Only greet when they sit. Do not greet or allow jumping on people.
Only allow or not allow on certain pieces of furniture with no exceptions.

They must request permission to exit the house by sitting or waiting before actually exiting.

They must allow any amount of gentle stroking on any part of the body.
Submitted by Dr. Rolan Tripp of the Animal Behavior Network. Visit www.animalbehavior.net to learn more.

How Dangerous is the Dog Flu Virus?

Not long ago, avian flu made international headlines. More recently, swine flu became a major concern. But have you heard of the dog flu? Unlike the avian or swine viruses, this dog virus does not attack people—it’s out to get man’s best friend.

How serious is the Dog flu virus? Could it kill your pet? Yes, there have been some fatalities associated with the dog virus (technically called the H3N8 Canine flu) but they are relatively few.

Should you be concerned about it? Maybe not. It is a particular threat to certain dogs—those with pug-like snouts, including Bulldog, Pekingese, and Shi-Tzu—because it makes it hard for the dogs to breathe.

And although it is described as “highly contagious,” mostly spreading through dog-to-dog contact in kennels and animal shelters, it’s become a serious issue in just a few areas of the country, including Florida, Philadelphia, Denver, and the Northern suburbs of New York City.

But a new vaccine could offer hope to pets at risk from the dog flu virus. According to Veterinary Practice News, just this month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has granted a conditional license to Intervet/Schering-Plough for the first Canine Influenza Vaccine.

VPN says the vaccine, which must be administered by your veterinarian, has been “demonstrated to reduce the incidence and severity of lung lesions, as well as the duration of coughing…” If your dog is infected, the vaccine could also make them less contagious.

In a New York Times article, Dr. Cynda Crawford, credited with discovering the virus, explained that the dog flu virus is often mistaken for kennel cough. Both can cause coughing and gagging, but dogs with canine flu may also have high fevers and runny noses. “A few will develop pneumonia, and some of those cases will be fatal,” said Crawford, adding that antibiotics and fluids reduce the rate of fatality.

While Pets Best Insurance does not cover the Dog Flu Virus vaccine, if your veterinarian recommends it, we strongly urge you to follow the recommendation.

Adopted Pets Replacing Children

More and more people are replacing having children with pets. According to recent survey, more people are choosing not to have children. Many seniors who have raised families are finding that pets can replace that void that hits them after children leave the family. Studies have shown that pets decrease feelings of loneliness, help fight depression and keep seniors more active.

Who needs children when research has shown that certain hormones that increase when we cuddle children also increase when we cuddle our pets. The hormones Oxytocin and Prolactin increase when we play with or pet dogs, as shown from studies where blood samples were drawn prior to playing with a dog and afterwards. The hormones, which are high in pregnant and post birthing women, increased in the blood stream of men and women after petting a dog in one study and playing with a dog in another study. Both Oxytocin and Prolactin play a critical role in the birthing and bonding process of humans and all mammals.

These hormones are found to dampen stress, combat depression and reduce feelings of anxiety. So save a pet by adopting, and feel better in the process!

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