House dust from homes with dogs appears to protect against infection with a respiratory virus that is associated with the common cold and the development of asthma in children. Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco, presented their findings today at the 2012 General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology.

“In this study we found that feeding mice house dust from homes that have dogs present protected them against a childhood airway infectious agent, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). RSV infection is common in infants and can manifest as mild to severe respiratory symptoms. Severe infection in infancy is associated with a higher risk of developing childhood asthma,” says Kei Fujimura, a researcher on the study. In the study Fujimura and her colleagues compared three groups of animals: Mice fed house dust from homes with dogs before being infected with RSV, mice infected with RSV without exposure to dust and a control group of mice not infected with RSV. “Mice fed dust did not exhibit symptoms associated with RSV-mediated airway infection, such as inflammation and mucus production. They also possessed a distinct gastrointestinal bacterial composition compared to animals not fed dust,” says Fujimura.

Pet ownership, in particular dogs, has previously been associated with protection against childhood asthma development, says Fujimura. Recently she and her colleagues demonstrated that the collection of bacterial communities (the microbiome) in house dust from homes that possess a cat or dog is compositionally distinct from house dust from homes with no pets. “This led us to speculate that microbes within dog-associated house dust may colonize the gastrointestinal tract, modulate immune responses and protect the host against the asthmagenic pathogen RSV,” says Fujimura. “This study represents the first step towards determining the identity of the microbial species which confer protection against this respiratory pathogen.”

Identification of the specific species and mechanisms underlying this protective effect represents a crucial step towards understanding the critical role of microbes in defining allergic disease outcomes and could lead to development of microbial-based therapies to protect against RSV and ultimately reduce the risk of childhood asthma development, says Fujimura.

Shared from www.LifeWithDogs.tv

Helping pets in need doesn’t always mean adopting a dog or even donating money (although these are always good too). Fostering a dog is wonderful way to support overcrowded shelters and rescue organizations and get a pup ready for finding his forever home. It’s the perfect opportunity for you to help dogs in need without taking on the commitment of a lifelong pet adoption or to see if another dog is just what you need. And did we mention the unconditional doggie love?

How Fostering Works. Shelters often have dogs that need a little extra socialization before they’re ready for adoption, or those that need time away from a crowded shelter for personalized care after a medical procedure. Or in the case of rescue organizations, which typically do not have a facility to house the dogs they rescue, there’s simply a need for foster homes while permanent homes are found for the dogs through adoption efforts.

What Foster Parents Do. You’ll be responsible for the basic daily care for your friend in your home. In other words, your job is to shower him with the love and attention he needs to prepare him for adoption into a permanent home. The shelter picks up the cost of any medical expenses and in some cases, all costs for food. You’ll be asked to bring your foster dog to adoption events, medical appointments, and training classes if his manners need work.

Who Can Foster. Like any parenting situation, quantity and quality time are essential, so shelters and rescues prefer foster arrangements where at least one adult is home during the day. Also, the shelter will consider other pets and your lifestyle to make sure the match is the right for everyone involved. In most cases, it’s fine if you already have a dog, as long as your dog and the foster dog are both healthy and well behaved around other dogs.

How long does a foster dog stay? Based on the individual needs of the pup, the time can range from days to months. Upon initial placement, you’ll likely get an idea of the probable length of the stay. But be prepared – your foster just may need you for awhile.

Foster it Forward. Like anything worth doing in life, fostering will require patience, dedication and tender loving care. The dogs you welcome into your home may need to be housetrained or learn their manners. They may be rambunctious or very shy. But these issues are far outweighed by the benefits and rewards of fostering – the honor to save little lives one pup at a time.

Check with our local shelters to find out more about their Fostering Programs:  www.charlestonpetconnect.com

Re-posted from WoofReport “Give a Dog a Second Chance by Fostering”

Are you the owner of a Bossy cat?

Bossy cats establish hierarchies – hierarchies that include not only all the kitties in the household, but often the owner as well. If your cat has promoted herself to CEO, you, as an employee of her organization, will be expected to follow her rules and meet her expectations … and you may be dealt with harshly if you step out of line. Feline control freaks often show aggression at meal time … while being petted … if disturbed while napping … if they’re stared at, picked up or held … and when admonished for their behavior.

Fortunately, help is available for owners of pushy, aggressive kitties. The first thing you must do is learn the signs of impending aggression. Next on the list is learning to avoid situations in which your cat may become aggressive. Avoidance, retraining, limit setting and natural remedies beneficial to felines are the keys to dealing with and overcoming the problem with your bossy kitty.

Signs of impending kitty aggression include: Narrowed eyes,  Furtive glances at the obstacle or irritant (for example, your hand),  Ears swiveled sideways and flattened against the head,  Twitching tail.

• If you happen to be holding your cat when any of these signs appear, stop what you’re doing, stand up if you’re seated, and let the cat drop gently to the ground. If you’re standing, bend forward from the waist and release kitty either to the floor or onto a piece of furniture.

• Increasing your grip on a cat about to show aggression – even when your only intent is to lower her from your lap or arms to the floor – can exacerbate the situation.

• If your cat is aggressive at feeding time, you’ll need to prepare her meals while she’s out of the room. Place her food bowl in its usual spot and then let kitty into the area to eat.

• If your cat bites you to wake you up in the morning, he’ll need to be kept out of the bedroom at night.

• Cats who aggressively respond when picked up should not be picked up, except when absolutely necessary.

• Physical punishment is a bad choice with any cat, and with aggressive felines it serves only to increase aggression.

The next phase is to train your pet to obey commands to receive things she values, like food. Believe it or not, with the proper incentive (food), cats can be clicker trained fairly easily to perform certain behaviors like Sit!

Reposted from “Is your Cat the Boss of you?” by Dr. Becker. Dr. Becker is the resident proactive and integrative wellness veterinarian of HealthyPets.Mercola.com

If your pup is doing the dreaded scoot across the grass or your favorite Oriental rug, take heed. Chances are she’s trying to solve a problem with one or both anal glands. She may resolve the problem herself if it’s a once in awhile thing, but if she can’t or the problem is recurrent, a trip to the vet is in order.

What are Anal Glands? Anal glands or sacs sit just inside the rectum of dogs and cats (and other animals), one on either side of the anus at about 8:00 and 4:00 o’clock. The glands secrete a very smelly, oily substance thought to be a territorial marker. Anal glands are part of the natural design of your dog or cat, and as such, they should do their thing without any assistance from your pet, her groomer, her vet or you. After all, canines and felines in the wild have anal glands and no one around to squeeze them!

A bowel movement of normal consistency should be sufficient to empty the contents of the sacs. But in the case of domesticated dogs and cats, there is often interference caused by stool that is too loose and doesn’t press against the glands during evacuation. This action is necessary to trigger expression of the contents of the sacs. Overweight pets can have anal gland problems due to insufficient muscle tone and too much fatty tissue. Certain skin disorders and infections can also affect sac emptying.

In my experience, there are three main reasons anal glands develop problems:

Cause #1: Diet Without question, the most common cause of anal gland problems is the food you feed your pet. Since your dog’s or cat’s anal sacs are at the very end of his digestive tract, anything that irritates or causes inflammation of the GI tract can do the same to the anal glands.

The grains in commercial pet food are known allergens and inflammatory agents. If your pet is having recurrent anal gland issues, the first step you should take is to eliminate all grains from his diet. Read the labels on the food you’re feeding your pet. Stop feeding any formula that contains corn, potato, oatmeal, wheat, rice or soy. Also change the protein source. A steady diet of just one or two types of protein can trigger an allergic inflammatory response in many animals. Unaddressed food allergies are a very common reason for chronic anal sac issues. If your dog, for example, has been eating exclusively beef and chicken, transition him over to bison, venison or fish.

You’ll also need to address stool inconsistencies. If your dog’s stool is frequently soft or watery, his anal sacs may not be getting the firm pressure they need to empty properly. Feeding your pet a species-appropriate diet will address both food allergies and poor stool consistency. My cookbook, Real Food for Healthy Dogs and Cats, contains recipes for both raw and cooked meals plus loads of tips for how to get started providing an optimum diet for your pet. Many health concerns disappear as if by magic – including chronic anal gland problems — once your pet is eating the type and quality of food nature intended him to eat.

Cause #2: Gland trauma Trauma to an animal’s anal sacs is usually caused by a well-meaning but misguided vet, groomer or pet owner.

Some groomers express every set of anal glands they encounter as a part of the service they provide. This is overkill, so make sure your pet’s groomer isn’t doing anal sac expression on your animal. Some vets assume every scoot is cause for manual anal gland expression. This approach treats the symptom but not the cause – so the symptom will quite likely return. Some pet owners with no aversion to the process decide it’s in their animal’s best interest to express their anal sacs for them. This is also overkill, especially if you don’t know what’s causing your pet’s anal glands not to empty on their own.

Your pet’s anal sacs are delicate little glands. In a healthy pet, they should empty themselves as nature intended without outside ‘help.’ Unnecessary squeezing and pinching can quickly cause trauma to these tender little sacs. Trauma causes inflammation. Inflammation causes swelling, and swelling can close up the exit duct in the gland that allows the smelly, oily secretion to be expressed during normal bowel activity. The trapped secretions accumulate and thicken in the injured glands, sometimes leading to impaction.

Routine manual emptying of the glands will ultimately diminish the body’s own ability to do its job. The condition of the glands becomes compromised, and eventually they become completely ineffective.

Cause #3: Position of the anal glands Some dogs’ anal sacs are situated very deep inside their rectums. As feces fill the large intestine, the pressure should cause the glands to release their contents onto the stool. If your dog’s anal glands aren’t located where the greatest amount of pressure builds in her colon, they won’t express properly. Unfortunately, this situation usually requires corrective surgery, which should always be the option of last resort.

Get Help from a Veterinarian. A holistically-oriented practitioner will determine the cause of your pet’s anal gland problem and work to resolve the situation at its root, rather than symptomatically. He or she will work with you to try to re-establish the tone and health of the glands, if necessary, using a combination of dietary adjustments, homeopathic remedies and natural GI anti-inflammatories. The goal should be to fix the underlying cause and bring your pet’s anal glands back to a healthy, self-sufficient condition. Check out our website for local veterinarians:  http://www.charlestonpetconnect.com

By:  Dr. Becker

Dr. Becker is the resident proactive and integrative wellness veterinarian of HealthyPets.Mercola.com. You can learn holistic ways of preventing illness in your pets by subscribing to MercolaHealthyPets.com, an online resource for animal lovers. For more pet care tips, subscribe for FREE to Mercola Healthy Pet Newsletter.

HERE’S A GREAT HERBAL TICK REPELLENT FOR DOGS BY ANNIE B. BOND

I dug deep in my herbal formula books for this recipe out of desperation, given that I live in the epicenter of the tick-generated Lyme disease epidemic. I tested the essential oil that is recommended for ticks, Rose Geranium, by putting a few drops — no more! — on our dogs’ collars, to see if it would repel ticks. Lo and behold, we went from 20 ticks a day on each dog to none. The second best essential oil for repelling ticks is American Pennyroyal (also called tickweed).

INGREDIENTS 2 tablespoons vegetable or nut oil (almond oil contains sulfur, a repellent in its own right) 10 to 25 drops Rose Geranium essential oil

Combine the ingredients in a glass jar; shake to blend. Make: 2 tablespoons with a shelf life of about six months.

Dab a few drops on your skin or clothing, and your pet’s collar, making sure to avoid eyes.

Caution: Skip the Pennyroyal if there is anyone pregnant (including pets) in the home, as it can induce miscarriage. And as always, use essential oils with caution as they can burn the skin and harm eyes. Don’t use these essential oils around cats.

Annie Bond  is a renowned expert in non-toxic and green living. Named one of the top 20 environmental leaders by Body and Soul Magazine, Annie has authored four books, including “Home Enlightenment” (Rodale Press, 2005) and “Better Basics for the Home” (Three Rivers Press, 1999).

Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI) received almost 2,000 medical care claims in 2010 for pets that ingested foreign objects. The following is a list of some of the most unusual items swallowed by a family pet. As you’ll see from the list, some pets ingested multiple bizarre objects at or around the same time. Fortunately, all the dogs and cats that swallowed these items made full recoveries. The same can’t be said for their owners’ bank accounts, however. VPI policyholders spent almost $3 million in 2010 getting help for pets that swallowed foreign objects.

• Jellyfish • Razor blades • Glue • Uncooked rice (1 lb.) • Estrogen patch, make-up brush • Wallpaper paste • Tube of denture adhesive • Squirrel • Dead poisoned vole • Balloon ribbons • Bikini • Bird (whole) • Ink pen • Butter, sand • Plastic nose from teddy bear • Deer antler (partial) • Magnetic purse clasps • Extension cord • Baseball Leash, three sticks of butter • Glass Christmas ornament • Pin cushion • Hearing aid • Portion of wool rug • Bed sheet • Tobacco • Box of pencils • TV remote control • Popsicle stick, 12 coins, 3 arcade tokens • Avocado pit • Foot-long sub sandwich • Dental floss • Fire log • Coffee filter, coffee grounds • Wooden toy train  • Fishhook • Pine cone • Pain relief tablet, B.B. pellet, highlighter • Round chew bone (whole) • Tent door • Caulk • Toy squeaker • Eye glasses • Watch • Money (paper) • 16 steel wool pads•  Oil-soaked dirt • Pseudoephedrine, sponge, snail poison, tampon • Sand • 20 cherry pits • Rosary crucifix • Light bulb • 25 to 30 soiled diapers • Barbeque brush • Bath bubble mix • Frisbee • Bathtub cleaner, outdoor plants • Jumper cables • Duck bone

 

RePosted from Healthypets.Mercola.com

A Dangerous Trend in Pet Health: Fat is the New Normal

By Dr. Becker

A survey of veterinarians conducted by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) found that 53 percent of adult dogs and 55 percent of adult cats are officially overweight or obese. In terms of how pet owners view their overweight four-legged companions, not surprisingly, fat has become the new ‘normal.’ 15 percent of cat owners and 22 percent of dog owners view their too-heavy pets as being of normal weight. Oddly, over 90 percent of pet owners are aware pet obesity is a problem, yet many don’t acknowledge the furry obesity statistic living under the same roof with them.

Commercial pet food and treats may be one factor. A typical dog treat fed to a 20 pound dog is the equivalent of a human eating 2 double-stuffed fudge cookies. A pig ear fed to a 40 pound dog is like a human drinking a six-pack of 12 ounce sodas.

Overweight and obese pets suffer from weight-related diseases including osteoarthritis, diabetes, hypertension, respiratory problems, kidney disease, and a reduction in both quantity and quality of life. Extra weight on a cat or dog causes more immediate health problems than it does in humans. It’s not just about extra fatty tissue … it’s about important metabolic and hormonal changes in the body that can damage or destroy an animal’s health.

Some common sense tips to help your dog or cat get started on a weight loss plan:

• Feed a balanced, species-appropriate diet to your pet. Regardless of her weight, your dog or cat still needs the right nutrition for her species, which means food that is high in animal protein and moisture, with low or no grain content. • Practice portion control — usually a morning and evening meal, carefully measured. A high protein, low carb diet with the right amount of calories for weight loss, controlled through the portions you feed, is what will take the weight off your dog or cat. And don’t forget to factor in any calories from treats. • Regularly exercise your pet. An overweight body gets back in shape by taking in fewer calories and expending more energy. Daily exercise, including at least 20 minutes of consistent  aerobic activity, will help your pet burn fat and increase muscle tone.

Dr. Becker is the resident proactive and integrative wellness veterinarian of HealthyPets.Mercola.com. You can learn holistic ways of preventing illness in your pets by subscribing to MercolaHealthyPets.com, an online resource for animal lovers. For more pet care tips, subscribe for FREE to Mercola Healthy Pet Newsletter.

Statistically speaking, over 6,000 of us will die tomorrow… What will happen to our pets? Probably, not many of us have made arrangements for the care of our fur family. Have you?

None of us would like to see our beloved pets turned over to an animal shelter after our death! We all know that there are as many kill shelters out there as no-kill, and that many shelters are either neglectful of the animals due to time and money constraints, or they put the animals down that seem stressed, sick, anti-social and/or shy. When an unwanted cat or dog is euthanized every eight seconds in this country, the odds are truly against our pets. With no prior arrangements we take a risk that our pets may become abused, neglected or homeless.  There have been many news reports and rescue stories of animals that were simply turned out in the neighborhood by relatives after their owners died!

So what are our options? How can we plan for them?

Two options are a ‘Pets Trust‘ or a ‘Last Will & Testament,’ which are documents requiring legal input. A ‘Pets Trust‘ is much like a trust you make for children where the Trust is funded with assets and a Trustee is appointed to watch over the pet’s caregiver. Legalzoom.com has a ‘Pet Care Trust Agreement’ form that can be found on their website. The other option is to include your pet in your ‘Last Will & Testament. But this comes with it’s own problems. As much as you love your pet, you can’t force it on anyone else. All you can say is you would like “Uncle Earl” to have her. It’s also a good idea to have a substitute “beneficiary”. The chances are the dog will die before you do, so it’s also best to phrase it “any pet I own at my death” not a named animal.

A more affordable option might be a ‘Pets Letter of Wishes‘, a document for pet owners to express their wishes and name a care-giver for their pet in case they should become ill or die. A letter of wishes is quite simply what it says it is ~ a letter from you saying “In the event of my death this is what I would like to happen to my pets… this is who I would like to take care of them… this is how much money should be used to care for them… etc. ” Of course, it’s very important that you discuss this with the persons named prior to writing the letter. The letter should be kept with your will.

And no matter which option you choose, it would be a good idea to write an additional document. One that includes information such as what your pet eats, habits, likes, toys, medical conditions, medical records, and vet information. Be certain to add how your pet behaves with other people, pets, and situations. Is your pet afraid of fireworks or thunder? This would be good knowledge for someone taking over his or her care.

It is also very important to carry a card in your wallet with your pets listed and the address where they can be found. This is important in the case of a sudden death or injury such as a car accident. Make a list of their toys, beds, medications, etc, and where in the house they can be found.

I am sure your pets are a very important part of your life, and sometimes, your whole life! You need to take steps now to insure their well-being if something should happen to you tomorrow!

By Dr. Karen Becker

In a perfect world, every kitty would instinctively know which surfaces to scratch, and which are off limits. In a perfect world, cat owners (or people owned by cats, depending on your viewpoint) could easily train their felines to sharpen their claws “here” but not “there.” In this not so perfect world we inhabit, where humans share living space with animals not designed by nature to treat expensive furniture, drapes or carpet any different than outdoor surfaces, accommodations must be made so man and beast can live together in harmony.

The Controversy

Declawing of domesticated cats is a hotly debated topic here in the U.S. and in other countries as well. A procedure once thought by cat owners to be simple, painless and without negative consequences, is now widely criticized as an unnecessary and cruel mutilation that undermines the quality of a cat’s life. As is the case with any polarizing subject that generates extreme opinions on both sides of the argument, the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

Scratching to a Cat is as Natural as Breathing

Scratching is a normal behavior for your cat. It conditions and sharpens his claws, allows him to get in a good stretch, and it’s also how he marks his territory — which is why cats return to the same place again and again to do their scratching. Since scratching is a natural instinct, if you haven’t provided your cat with his own scratching surface and convinced him to use it, telling him “no” will not put a stop to the damage he’s doing to your couch.

If you’ve just adopted a very young kitten (under about eight weeks of age) or are planning to, don’t make the mistake of waiting to see if he’s a scratcher. He is! Forewarned is forearmed — get your living space set up ahead of time so you’re ready the first time your kitty extends his claws. Whether you hope to train an older cat or a kitten to use an appropriate scratching surface, prepare to make an investment of time and patience.

How to Convince Your Kitty to Use a Scratching Post

Invest in or build a good quality scratching post or climbing tree, one that is heavy and very stable. Depending on its size, your cat should be able to run up and down it, jump on and off it, sit or lie on it, and pull on it without causing it to tip, move, or even wobble. Any amount of movement of the tree, especially when your cat is first getting used to it, could scare her away for good.

If your floors are carpeted, choose a post covered with a different texture carpet than what’s on your floor, so your cat can easily distinguish between the two surfaces. Another option is to buy a post covered with sisal, a rough-textured material made of rope that cats like to dig their claws into. A third alternative is to cover the post in a fabric that provides resistance as your kitty pulls down on it. Make sure you place the post or climbing tree in the area where your cat is most likely to use it. Depending on whether your kitty is sociable or shy, that could be your busy family room or a quiet corner of a spare bedroom.

If you’re training an older cat that is already scratching a surface in your home, his territory has been “marked.” In this case, you’ll want to put the post close to the surface he’s begun scratching. Cover the surface you want to protect with deterrents (more about that shortly) and reward your kitty for switching to the post. Once he’s using the post, you can move it a few inches at a time over several days to a location you prefer. Once you’ve got your post or climbing tree ready to go, encourage your cat to explore it using a cat toy or some catnip rubbed on it as an enticement. Offer praise and treats each time she uses the post and especially when she digs her claws into it. Pet her while she’s using the post, and give her any other kinds of positive reinforcement she responds to. The idea is to make it an appealing experience each time she uses her post or tree.

Preventing Destruction of Your Valuable Belongings

Especially if you’re retraining a cat that is already scratching around your house, you’ll need to make the surfaces you want to protect unattractive to him. Depending on what surface you want to protect, consider using some or a combination of the following kitty scratching deterrents: Aluminum foil ~ Double-sided tape (your kitty cannot stand the feel of sticky tape on his paws) ~ Plastic sheeting ~ Plastic carpet runners ~ Car or chair mats with the spiky sides up ~ If you’re covering surfaces you need to use frequently, like furniture, you can attach the foil, tape or plastic to pieces of cardboard and easily move them in and out of position.

You can also buy an herbal spray deterrent that, when applied to your furniture or other surfaces your cat likes to scratch, will replace his territory scent markers with an odor that will discourage him from returning.

If you catch your kitty scratching anything other than her post, take the following steps: Hold your temper ~ Stay out of sight of your cat ~ Squirt her with water from a spray bottle ~ You want her to associate scratching that patch of carpet or couch corner with the unpleasant sensation of the spray of water. You don’t want her to connect you with the water, because that will only encourage her to scratch when she thinks you’re not around.

Another trick you can try is to blow a whistle or make some other loud, startling noise from around the corner or another room when you catch your cat scratching where he shouldn’t. If your kitty is scratching when no one’s home, you can inflate balloons and attach them to the surfaces you want to protect. The presence of the balloons may be enough to deter your cat. If not, he’ll likely get the message the first time he pops a balloon with his claws.

Clipping or Covering Your Cat’s Claws

Clipping the tips of your cat’s front claws once or twice a month will make them less destructive when she scratches. It’s best to get your cat used to having her paws handled while she’s still a kitten, but no matter your cat’s age, start the process by simply stroking your kitty’s paws regularly to desensitize her. I strongly recommend incorporating paw massages into your daily routine to keep your cat feeling comfortable about nail trims.

Purchase a set of claw trimmers from your veterinarian or a pet supply store, or just use a regular sharp (human) nail clipper. Small mammal (guinea pig) nail trimmers can be used with kittens and small cats. Do the following:

• With your cat in a calm, relaxed mood, take one of her paws and gently press a toe pad to extend the claw. You’ll see the nail on the end (clear or white) attached to pink tissue called the quick (which contains the nail’s blood supply). Cutting into the quick will cause pain and bleeding, so you want to avoid this area of the claw. • Holding the clipper in a vertical position, cut each nail about halfway between the sharp tip and the point where the quick begins.       • Avoid cutting at a right angle across the nail, as this may cause splitting. • If you do happen to cut into the quick, don’t panic. Just focus on soothing and reassuring your kitty. Any bleeding should stop on its own very quickly with a little pressure or you can also use Kwit Stop styptic powder. • If your cat is fearful, impatient or uncooperative, try trimming just a nail or two each time. You’ll get to them all eventually. • If you want to take the trimming one step further, there’s a product available called Soft Paws. These are nail caps you can glue over your kitty’s trimmed tips, virtually eliminating the damage she can do when she scratches. Drawbacks are they are tricky to apply, have a tendency to fall off or be pulled off by your kitty, and need to be replaced frequently.

The Decision to Declaw

The decision to have your cat declawed should never be taken lightly. It should always be a measure of last resort to eliminate destructive scratching (of belongings, humans and/or other household pets), and should be arrived at only after careful consideration of all the facts. Your veterinarian’s view of declawing should complement your own. If your vet sees declawing as “no big deal” or worse yet, promotes or markets the procedure as a pre-emptive move, I recommend you find another vet.

Surgery of any kind carries inherent risks. And removing something nature supplied, whether it’s an internal organ or an external appendage like a dog’s tail or a cat’s claws, has an effect, however subtle. Declawing, also known as onychectomy, involves the amputation, either by scalpel or laser, of a digit on each of a cat’s front toes. The procedure is often compared to cutting off a person’s fingertip at the first joint (knuckle). The skin is then pulled over the exposed joint and fixed in place with either glue or stitches.

An alternative procedure is to sever the tendons that allow the cat to extend his claws. With this method, the claws continue to grow and must be kept trimmed to prevent them from penetrating the skin and pads of the cat’s feet, which can cause pain and become infected.

Opponents cite as some of the reasons not to declaw, the pain of the procedure, the risk of infection and the possibility of long-term consequences such as lameness, back and shoulder problems, litter box aversion and depression. The results of surveys of cat owners who opted to declaw their pets, however, point to an overall high level of satisfaction in the outcome. Current surgical techniques and modern anesthetic and pain medications have greatly reduced the pain and discomfort associated with cat declawing.

If you choose to declaw your cat, follow your vet’s aftercare instructions very carefully, including switching to shredded newspaper in the litter box until your kitty’s paws are completely healed. After the procedure, you will have a special responsibility to your cat for the rest of your lives together to ensure she’s never in a situation where she needs her claws to protect or defend herself. Living indoors is safer for all cats, but it’s critically important for a declawed one. A cat without claws is in grave danger outdoors.

The Lesser of Two Evils

Cats are banished to the outdoors, abandoned or relinquished to shelters most often for behavioral reasons, among them, destructive scratching. The number of cats turned in to shelters is escalating. Over half the cats in animal shelters never find a new home and are euthanized. I agree with Gail Golab, AVMA director of animal welfare, who says, “I don’t think there’s any comparison between cats enjoying a life in a household and putting them in a shelter to avoid declawing.”

I hope you never face a situation in which your only choice is to declaw your cat or drop him off at a shelter. But if you do, please choose your cat over his claws. With appropriate trimming and training, I believe declawing can and should become a thing of the past.

 

Check out more great articles by Dr. Becker @: healthypets.mercola.com/  © Copyright by Dr. Karen Becker, 2012.

 

Pets are like children – they’re curious about everything! And just as a new parent would child-proof their home for a toddler’s safety, pet parents should be concerned with the safety of their four-footed children.

Consider this – most parents spend nine months preparing for the arrival of a new baby, taking classes on child safety and child proofing the home. But how many “pet parents” prepare the same way for the arrival of a new cat or dog?

An Ounce of Prevention Whether you are thinking about getting a pet, or already have one, take the time to implement some safety precautions both in- and outdoors. A bit of forethought may save your pet from trouble, and can save you hundreds or thousands of dollars in emergency veterinary costs.

With kids as well as pets, most injuries occur where you and your family feel safest – at home. While you can’t prevent any and every danger, you can minimize the possibility of your pet getting hurt or sick by always being aware of his in- and outdoor surroundings and regularly examining his body for injuries.

To truly pet proof your home, you should start by literally getting down on “all fours” and pawing your way through the house and yard, looking for possible pet hazards. If something looks interesting, a child will investigate – if it looks or smells vaguely interesting, a pet will investigate!By exploring your home from your pet’s perspective, you’ll be much more likely to spot dangerous conditions such as sharp branches or broken wire on fences.

Steps to Protect Your Pets While kids remain inquisitive for many years, they eventually learn to avoid potential hazards like a hot stove or broken glass. Unfortunately, we cannot say the same for our pets–they will remain childlike for all of their life! So be prepared to look for possible pet hazards on a regular basis.

Here are 10 simple pet proofing tips to get you started:

• Plants and pets don’t mix. Many common house plants are poisonous to pets when chewed or ingested, and almost all lilies are toxic for cats. Eliminate toxic house and garden plants or move them to a safe area. Because they’re usually very easy to knock over, place house plants up high to keep them from falling on your pet (and creating a big mess!). • Secure your toiletries. Keep medications, lotions and cosmetics off of accessible surfaces and well out of your pet’s reach. These items may contain ingredients, dyes or chemicals potentially harmful to pets if swallowed. • Check your cabinets. Use cabinet locking devices, like those used to keep young children from opening doors, to keep your pets from getting into food or household and lawn chemicals. Evaluate all lower shelves to make sure there are no unsafe items within easy reach. • Set boundaries. Keep doors closed or install toddler safety gates to keep animals out of rooms you don’t want them to sniff around in. But be sure to consider the type of gate you are installing with respect to its intended location.For example, you wouldn’t want to install a pressure mounted gate at the top of the stairs where a pet might lean on it and topple down the stairs. • Hide trashcans. Unless you want garbage scattered all over your home, it’s a good idea to hide your trash receptacle in a cabinet or large drawer, or at least keep it tightly lidded. While most food is not hazardous, wrappers can be. Most pet owners know that chocolate and anti-freeze are harmful to pets, but many probably don’t know that grapes and raisins also can be deadly for dogs. • Check your curtains. To avoid the risk of strangulation, make sure cords from blinds and curtains are well out of your pet’s reach. • Beware of wires. Tuck away electrical wires and cords from lamps, DVD players, televisions, stereos and telephones so they’re out of the reach of chewers. Consider installing electric cord shorteners, outlet covers and window cord safety locks. • Protect your knick-knacks. Remove any precious or valuable items from tail wagging level to prevent them from being accidentally toppled by an enthusiastic wagger. • Clear the floor. Keep children’s toys and games and everyone’s shoes and clothing off the floor unless you want Fido to have a field day with them. • Eliminate temptation. If you want to be extra-cautious, consider keeping your pets in a crate when you have to leave the house.

For more tips on safeguarding your pet at home, contact a veterinarian:  www.charlestonpetconnect.com, or visit www.aspca.org