Who here remembers what I do for work?Who here has a dog or a cat right now, or you did when you were growing up?Keep your hand up if you consider that pet one of your all time best friends andultimate secret and feelings keeper and source of unlimited unconditional love. It is no wonder that Mark Twain felt the way he did.(This and all other images arefrom Google Images, which I accessed on November. 21st).A couple weeks ago, Kyle told us about how we can find the perfect pet for ourneeds, and now I’m going to talk about what to do now that you’ve chosen that pet.Primarily I will be talking about what to do if you’ve chosen a cat or dog, because Imainly work with cats and dogs and occasionally get to see other critters if I happento be working with a particular vet. However, much of this advice can be applied toany animal that you decide upon. I have learned a lot in the last few years workingfor a veterinarian, and I would like to pass along a few of the things that I havelearned so that you can become a more responsible pet owner. I think we can allagree that we want our pets to live a long, happy and healthy life, and none of uswant to see millions of animals euthanized each year due to overcrowded shelters.I’m going to show you a couple of things you can do to be a more responsible petowner, beginning with where you get your pet, why you should spay or neuter thatpet, and if I have time I’d like to tell you how you can prevent heartworm, which is aparasitic worm invasion of your dog’s heart that is lethal.Where to get a cat or dogThroughout my research for this speech, if you go to any website about the petoverpopulation, backyard breeders and puppy mills are always listed as the topcontributors to the overrun shelters. And because there are so many breed-specificrescue organizations, you do not necessarily need to seek out a reputable breedereither, as your pet may already be waiting for you to find them. Let me tell youwhere to avoid getting a pet, and suggest some alternatives that will help save a life.Backyard Breeders Backyard breeders are those who breed two dogs together for reasons thatare generally based on looks and with intent to make money. For example, have youheard of designer breeds, such as the Labradoodle or Puggle? I have a feeling thatthis wasn’t the Humane Society’s idea. The demand for these hybrid breeds, or thedemand for the newest trend in breed is resulting in more and more dogs in theshelters.Many backyard breeders are not bad people; they just do not know howmuch that they are actually contributing to the problem of our overrun shelters.
Puppy Mills Puppy mills, on the other hand, are just plain evil. They often start breedingtheir females during their first heat, and breed them every subsequent heat. A “heat”is essentially a female dog’s period, only they have one twice a year and they reallyshouldn’t be bred before they are at least two, because otherwise in human years it’slike a 12-year-old girl having a baby. This practice of maximizing breeding potentialis like forcing a dog into child prostitution and breed the equivalent to MichelleDuggar, that lady with 20 kids, all while living in a small, filthy cage without anysocialization.Avoid Breeders Though there are reputable and caring dog breeders, there are many who donot have the dog’s best interest at heart, and breed as a source of income. In myexperience, a good breeder is quite knowledgeable about breeding programs andknows about genetics, and will be more concerned about the health of the puppiesand mother than they are winning shows or making money. I know several breedersfrom back in the day that may go an entire year without a litter of pups if they do nothave the appropriate pair to breed. If you’re looking for a specific breed, there areothers means than seeking out a breeder. I’ll get to that in a minute.So, instead of helping to contribute to the millions of pets that are needlesslyeuthanized each year, you can find your ideal pet in a variety of other means. Here’swhere you can look:Shelter a.k.a. “The Pound” El Dorado County Animal Services All kinds of other animals too: bunnies, hamsters, guinea pigs, turtles, sheep,alpacas, horses, lizards, birds…if you’re searching for something in a particular andhave access to a computer, odds are you can find that animal in local or surroundingshelter. According to the El Dorado County Animal Services website that I accessedon Nov. 24th, for $120 (plus license fee) for a dog and $80 for cat, you get all of thefollowing: Spaying or neutering Heartworm test (dogs) Leukemia/FIV test (cats) First set of vaccines, including rabies
First round of de-worming (most puppies and kitties will definitely need) Microchip Flea prevention treatment One-year county license (dogs) I think that this is a great deal because where I work we would charge atleast $120 for a spay or neuter alone, not to mention all the other stuff.Local Rescue Organizations Animal Outreach – cat adoptions galore Homeward Bound Golden Retriever Rescue Central California Lab Rescue Other Breed-Specific Groups (Irish Wolfhound story) Grace Foundation – horses, dogs, chickens, cows, goats…Check your local paper & Craig’s List A great source for dogs and cats of all ages that need relocating because their family is moving, an older person can no longer manage their pet, or a variety of other reasons.Any of these places can help you find your ideal pet. Not only will you be adopting anew friend, again you will be saving a life, not contributing to deaths.Spay & Neuter Now that you have gotten your pet, it’s time to make an important decisionabout spaying and neutering. First, let’s talk about what that means: Definitions: According to the American College Dictionary:Neuter: Latin meaning “neither” It is the process of removing the reproductive organs It is also known as “fixing” your animal. In males it is also referred toas castration, and in females it is known as spaying. Why do we want to do that?
1. Avoid pet over-population-According toa recent article from Family Dog, a publication from American Kennel Club, there will be nearly 4 million unwanted dogs and cats euthanized this year.This table from the Sacramento SPCA website, which I accessed Nov. 14th, shows the potential for offspring produced from one dog can number into the hundreds with five years, and within the ten thousands in four years for cats. 2. Health benefits- Believe or not, dogs get breast cancer. We call them mammary tumors and they are usually seen in unfixed females. In an interview conducted on November 14th with my boss and owner of Slate Creek Animal Hospital, “spaying your female before her first heat will considerably reduce the chances for mammary tumors later in life”. In fact, she said the only mammary tumors she has seen in the last 23 years were from dogs that had never been spayed or were spayed after they had come into heat. In an issue of Dog Fancy from August of this year, neutering your male dog will prevent or minimize their chances for particular cancers, as well as the “treatment of trauma-related issues that may be driven by the influence of testosterone”, or in other words save you some vet bills because your dog’s not a fighting other dogs or getting injured in the process of seeking out a female. In the same interview, my boss said that males can sniff out a female in heat over 2 miles away and have been known to scale fences and walls, and break through sliding glass doors to do so. 3. Personality benefits-Neutering males helps to minimize the less than ideal traits like aggression, which will in turn make them play nicer with other animals and people too. Also, male cats will be less likely to spray to mark their territory, especially if they are neutered before they develop this trait. 4. Safety- Neutering your male will significantly reduce his urge to roam. Many intact males are hit by cars while trying to take the path of least resistance to the lure of the female’s smell. Also, spaying your female will reduce unwanted and potentially aggressive males from seeking out your beloved pet and having his way with her. 5. Bob Barker said to.Why don’t people want to do it?
In my personal experience, women do not usually have a hard time withdecision, but men are often less enthusiastic. I can understand their hesitation, as itsounds about as fun as giving birth, but I assure you that your dog will not hold agrudge. In fact, more often than not, they do not even notice that anything hashappened after the day of the surgery. But for those of you that just can’t stand thethought of an empty sac, then I have a solution for your problem.Neuticles Neuticles are testicular implants and I’m not joking, they totally make these.You can find them at neuticles.com., which I found these examples on Nov. 14th. Youcan arrange for your dogs testicles to be replaced with implants made from eitherpolypropylene or solid silicone that feels like it’s liquid-filled to give the sensation ofan actual testicle. They even have an implant that includes the epididymis, whichyou can hopefully figure out basic anatomy based on the picture presented. Also, ifyou and your dog’s insecurities are extreme, you could try getting the implants thatare the next size up.Heartworm Prevention What is heartworm? A parasitic infection that is spread by mosquitoes, not from contactwith other dogs. It is fatal in both dogs and cats, though treatable in dogs.Apublication in Trends in Parasitology states that he larvae of the roundwormDirofilariaimmitis is contracted thought the bite of an infected mosquito, and theworms travel through the bloodstream to the heart where they will continue togrow inside the chambers of the heart. If left untreated, the worms will cause theheart to become less and less efficient, which can result in fluid accumulation in thelungs and will result in death. Treatment is not only very painful for your dog, it ispainful for your wallet. It costs around $700-$800, that’s generally after a round ofblood tests and x-rays to diagnose, which generally add up to several hundred more.For cats, there is not available treatment. This is definitely a situation where anounce of prevention is worth an pound of cure. Monthly heartworm tablets such asHartgard or Interceptor are affordable, especially through companies like 1-800-PET-MEDS. There is also an injection for dogs that they get every six months as analternative to the monthly tablet. Cost depends on size, but for example I have a 55pound dog and I pay $57 for a six month supply, which is about ten bucks a month.Unfortunately, El Dorado County has one of the highest rates of incidence ofheartworm in the state. Even if you have an indoor dog, they have to go outside topee (or at least they should) and that is when they are most susceptible to mosquitobites.I’d like to leave you by urging you to do at least one of these things I talked about. Ifyou’re searching for a pet, make responsible choices. If you’re pet isn’t spayed or
neutered, consider the potential health benefits that it could have. And lastly, talktoy your vet about heartworm prevention. Any or all of these things can lead to yourpet having a long and healthy life, as well as helping to alleviate the overburdenedshelters and rescue organizations. By making informed and responsible decisions,you can help end the needless killing of millions of unwanted pets each year.Thank you.Works CitedGoogle ImagesEl Dorado County Animal Services. Pet Adoption. Web. 24 Nov. 2011.http://www.edcgov.us/Government/AnimalServices/Pet_Adoption.aspx“Neuter.” The American College Dictionary.15th ed. 1962. Print“Spaying and Neutering Programs Reduce Shelter Deaths.” Family Dog. Sept./Oct.2011: 8. Print.“Why Spay or Neuter Your Pet?” Sacramento SPCA. Web. 14 Nov. 2011.http://www.sspca.org/page.php?sid=113Gray, Betsy, DVM. Personal interview. 14, Nov. 2011.“FAQ’s: Neutering with Neuticles.” Neuticles. Web. 14 Nov. 2011.http://www.neuticles.com/faq.phpLanglois, Cherie. “Cutting Costs.” Dog Fancy. Aug. 2011: 43. Print.