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My Favorite Pet Sitter

Newsletter

May 2009 Newsletter

Service Announcements

A couple of holidays are approaching – Memorial Day and 4th of July. We still have room in our schedules for visits. Please let us know if you have travel plans over the summer.

Why Spaying or Neutering is Important for Your Cat’s Health
Courtesy of Folsom Feline Rescue

Each year, approximately 5,000,000 healthy animals are euthanized in our country's shelters due to lack of homes for them. According to Spay USA, two unaltered cats and their offspring can produce 370,000 kittens in 7 years, and more than 2 million in 8 years. It's clear that spaying and neutering your pets is crucial for reducing animal overpopulation, decreasing the number of otherwise healthy animals who must be euthanized.

But did you know that there are several serious illnesses and diseases that can affect your unaltered pet? The odds that your cat will contract one of these diseases can be drastically reduced, or eliminated entirely, with a simple spay or neuter procedure.

Female Cats

Spayed females are happier, healthier pets. The more heat cycles an unspayed kitty goes through, the more susceptible she is to certain serious diseases.

Pyometra

Pyometra is a deadly infection of the uterus, caused by normal hormonal fluctuations experienced by all unspayed female cats and dogs. In a pyometra, the uterus begins to react abnormally to these hormonal fluctuations, resulting in a bacterial infection inside the uterus. The uterus then begins to fill with pus. Toxins and bacteria within the uterus then begin to leak into the bloodstream, creating serious toxic effects.

Spaying your pet will completely eliminate the risk that she could contract this frequently fatal disease.

Uterine and Ovarian Cancer

Did you know that cancer accounts for nearly 50% of pet deaths each year, and it's the #1 natural cause of death in older pets? By having your kitty spayed, which removes the uterus and ovaries, you ensure that she will not develop uterine or ovarian cancer.

Mammary (Breast) Cancer

Mammary cancer is the third most common cancer in cats; it accounts for 17% of all feline tumors. Approximately 86% of feline mammary tumors are malignant. The incidence of cancerous mammary tumors decreases to almost zero if your cat is spayed before her first heat cycle.

Male Cats

Statistics show that neutered males are healthier pets. Many diseases and health problems are related to the presence of testosterone, a hormone secreted by the testicles. Neutering removes the source of testosterone.

Prostate Disease and Hernias

Neutering reduces the risk of prostate enlargement as well as related infections and cysts. Neutering also decreases the incidence of hernias; one long-term effect of testosterone is that it weakens or atrophies the group of muscles near the anus.

Testicular Cancer

There are several types of tumors, both benign and malignant, that can appear within the testicles. Neutering eliminates the risk of testicular cancer.

The High Cost of Not Spaying or Neutering

The price for treating any one of these serious medical conditions, especially if not caught early, can easily be several thousand dollars or more.

The price for spaying or neutering your pet, on the other hand, can be as little as $20 for your cat or $40 for your dog. Many low-cost spay and neuter programs are available throughout the Sacramento area, including one offered by Folsom Feline Rescue. Sacramento County residents can learn more about Folsom Feline Rescue's spay and neuter program by visiting www.folsomfelines.org/snyp.shtml.

And while the cost to your bank account may be substantial if your pet must be treated for one of these diseases, the cost to your pet is even higher: studies show that spayed and neutered cats have twice the average life expectancies as unaltered cats.

Older Dogs, Aged Minds - Dealing with Dementia
Courtesy of Drs. Foster and Smith

After a lifetime of excited tail wags, faithful companionship, and memorable tricks, it is no wonder your senior dog is beginning to show her age. Maybe her hearing isn't as refined as it once was. Maybe her muzzle has grayed and her coat has begun to thin. Or maybe, she is slow to rise and not as spry as she was in her younger days. Unfortunately, natural aging can slightly change appearances, decrease mobility, or dull the senses. But if your older dog's personality has changed, she may be experiencing something much more serious than the passage of time. In fact, if your dog seems confused, distant, or lost, she may be showing signs of a severe thought processing problem known as Canine Cognitive Dysfunction, or CCD.

Possible Signs of Canine Cognitive Dysfunction
Similar to Alzheimer's disease in humans, Canine Cognitive Dysfunction is caused by physical changes in the brain and its chemicals. Past studies have shown that some older dogs with CCD have brain lesions similar to those that physicians see in Alzheimer's patients. The result of these changes is a deterioration of how your dog thinks, learns, and remembers, which causes behavioral changes that can disrupt the lives of both you and your dog. If your senior dog doesn't seem to be herself, she may be part of the large percentage of dogs age 10 and older who experience some symptoms of CCD, which include various stages of confusion and disorientation. Your dog may have CCD if she has a number of the following behaviors:

  • Becomes lost in familiar places around the home or backyard

  • Becomes trapped behind familiar furniture or in room corners

  • Has trouble finding and using doors and negotiating stairways

  • Does not respond to her name or familiar commands

  • Is withdrawn and unwilling to play, go for walks, or even go outside

  • Does not recognize or is startled by family members, toys, etc.

  • Frequently trembles or shakes, either while standing or lying down

  • Paces or wanders aimlessly throughout the house

  • Has difficulty learning new tasks, commands, or routes

  • Frequently soils in the house, regardless of the frequency she is brought outside

  • Sleeps more during the day, less during the night

  • Stares at walls or into space and is startled by interior lighting, the television, etc.

  • Seeks less and less of your attention, praise, and play

  • Is hesitant to take treats, drink fresh water, or eat fresh food

Coping With Canine Cognitive Dysfunction
An older dog who develops geriatric behavior differences isn't a rare occurrence. For years, veterinarians have attributed these symptoms to senility or normal aging and few treatment options were available. But continued scientific advances are changing both the views about and treatment of Canine Cognitive Dysfunction.In fact, if you suspect your dog has CCD, make a special appointment or tell your veterinarian during one of the recommended twice-yearly visits for senior dogs. Many people simply do not mention their dog's changed lifestyle to their veterinarians, believing it is just "old age." But a combination of a number of the above symptoms are not normal to the aging process and certain options are available to help treat or curb both this syndrome in its entirety and its individual components.

Your veterinarian will take a behavioral and medical history and conduct a thorough physical and neurological exam. Many CCD symptoms are shared with other serious ailments. For instance, decreased activity could be a sign of advanced arthritis, inattentiveness could be a result of acute hearing or vision loss, and incontinence could stem from a serious urinary infection or kidney disease. But once your veterinarian has eliminated other conditions and has made a diagnosis of Canine Cognitive Dysfunction, you and your veterinarian can explore treatment options.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for CCD. But a prescribed drug is readily available and, though expensive, has shown significant effectiveness towards improving your dog's life and her enjoyment of it. This drug, selegiline or L-deprenyl (brand name Anipryl) increases the amount of dopamine in your dog's brain. Dopamine is a chemical substance that transmits nerve impulses within the brain during normal function. Though it doesn't work in all dogs, it may help your dog think more clearly and remember more, thereby allowing her to enjoy more of her life. As with all medications, however, side effects do exist and this drug does interact with other prescribed medications. Your veterinarian will discuss these problems with you.

In the meantime, you can help your dog cope with CCD by considering her needs when it comes to your home, its surroundings, and the environment it creates for your dog. By incorporating a little care and a modified, veterinarian-recommended lifestyle, you may be able to increase your dog's brain activity and halt further CCD advancement. In fact, the latest studies have found that regular, moderate physical activity, mental stimulation with interactive toys, and a diet rich in antioxidants may help maintain your aging dog's mental health. Again, your veterinarian should be consulted before changing any of your dog's exercise or feeding regimens; but also try to keep your senior dog's environment familiar and friendly, and:

  • Try not to change, rearrange, or even refurbish furniture

  • Eliminate clutter to create wide pathways through your house

  • Consider purchasing or building a ramp for any stairways

  • Know your dog's limits when introducing new toys, food, people, or other animals

  • Develop a routine feeding, watering, and walking schedule

  • Keep commands short, simple, and compassionate

  • Encourage gentle and involved, short play sessions

Most importantly, keep your patience and compassion. Your dog's world has changed, but every effort should be made to show her that your love, respect, and pride of her past and present abilities has not changed and never will.

Litter Box Avoidance: Not Always a Behavior Problem
Courtesy of Drs. Foster and Smith

The owner of Ricki, a five-year-old calico cat, woke up one morning to find Ricki had dug up one of her plants, leaving a mess on the living room carpet. The owner dismissed the behavior as simply a reaction to the stress of having company the previous day.

Veterinary Perspective...
(Factors Contributing to Inappropriate Elimination)

Medical Conditions: Cats avoiding the litter pan should be examined by a veterinarian to rule out a medical condition. Laboratory tests will need to be performed in most cases, however, if a condition does exist, immediate treatment will help resolve the behavioral problem. Possible medical conditions include: colitis, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), diabetes mellitus, hyperthyroidism, kidney or liver disease, or feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD). Medical conditions such as arthritis, FLUTD, anal sac disease, and some forms of colitis, which cause pain urinating or defecating may also result in inappropriate elimination.

Stress: Cats of all ages experience stress at some point in their lives (just like us). Stress can be a major cause of inappropriate elimination, and known stressors such as moving, changes in routine, or changes within the family structure (new members added or family members leaving home) can result in inappropriate elimination. Reducing these stressors or decreasing their impact on the household will benefit your cat and you, too.

Box Location & Contents: Some cats may not like where their box is located; too close to their food or water, in a high traffic area, or on a different level of the house than where they spend most of their time. Some cats are very particular and will not defecate in the same box in which they urinate or go into a box which has been used by another cat. Most cats do not like a dirty litter box. Clean out waste from their litter boxes at least once daily, and wash the litter boxes weekly so that they don't decide to eliminate elsewhere in your home.

Something just wasn't right...
The next day, however, Ricki had dug in the plant again, but this time, the owner smelled urine in the soil. Upon further inspection around the house, another spot of urine was found – this time on a rug in one of the bedrooms. Since Ricki had displayed no problems urinating outside her litter box previously, the owner began to suspect something was wrong.

Careful observation pays off...
She kept a close eye on Ricki all day, witnessing her squatting in her litter box many times and seeming to have difficulty urinating. When Ricki did go, she produced very little urine. At other times, Ricki eliminated in off-limits areas like a pile of laundry, a soft rug, and even on a sofa. Ricki also meowed in pain when picked up.

Getting help...
She brought Ricki in to our clinic right away and we examined Ricki, suspecting she had a urinary problem. We performed a urinalysis, which confirmed our suspicions: Ricki had a bacterial bladder infection.

Home again...
We sent Ricki and her owner home with antibiotics, instructions to provide the cat with plenty of fresh water, and an appointment for a month later. When we performed a urinalysis at her next visit, Ricki's infection had cleared up. The owner also reported that Ricki was back to her lively self, eliminating in her litter box again, and eating and drinking normally.

Pets of the Month

Congratulations to May’s pets of the month: Autumn and Daisy! Autumn is an Italian Greyhound and Daisy is a Min Pin. They were recently interviewed by their mom, Sandy, and had this to say.

Autumn

 

Daisy

How we met our family:

Daisy:  Mommy and daddy discovered me at a local pet store.  It was love at first sight. I gave them my signature puppy love glance, and I instantly melted their hearts.  I was sad when the store wouldn't let me go with them that day since it was late, but when I woke up the next morning mommy and daddy were already there to take me home.

Autumn:  I came from the local IG rescue when I was almost 4 years old.  Mommy and daddy wanted to find a buddy for Daisy since she had separation anxiety.  I'm glad they found me since I was very lonely in Redwood City before I moved to Folsom.

What we have to say about the companion human(s) we share our home with:

Daisy:  I know my mom and dad love me very much.  They tell me every day and smother me with hugs and kisses.  I especially like how my humans know when I want them to make me a little cave in their lap to snuggle in.

Autumn:  I am so in love with my mom.  Daddy says I'm obsessed with mommy since I watch her every move.  My favorite is watching her in the kitchen when she's cooking.

Our favorite hobbies:

Daisy:  I'm a very athletic pup.  I love to play fetch and soccer.  Mom and dad try to kick the ball past me, but I'm far too quick for them.  And if anyone says the word "racquetball" my ears perk up like I'm receiving satellite signals.  I am also a master squirrel hunter in my spare time.

Autumn:  I have a long list of activities that I do throughout the day (not in any particular order).  I sleep, sunbathe, get a drink of water since I'm dehydrated, sunbathe some more and then may fancy a game of tug of war if I'm not exhausted from previous activities.

Our favorite foods:

Daisy:  Mommy and daddy leave the Food Network on for us when they have to go to work to support our treat habit.  I think that's why I don't discriminate against any food.  But I do love my yogurt drops that look just like chocolate chips but made for dogs.

Autumn:  I eat anything edible and everything non-edible for that matter.  Us IG's always look like we're starving.  So I'm trying to pack on some extra pounds.

Our favorite toys:

Daisy:  I love any type of ball that I can chase.   Recently my favorite toy was a Sherpa sheep that had a voice box that would make funny sheepish sounds when I pressed on it.  But mommy had to take it away since I took the last bit of life out of it.

Autumn:  I love soft, plush toys.  I love playing tug o war with my squeaky squirrel.  He doesn't put up much of a fight anymore.

Our most exciting adventures:

Daisy:  Everyday is an adventure for me.  I like to go exploring and protect my family from intruders (a.k.a. heckling squirrels and evil kitties).

Autumn:  I like walking the perimeter of the backyard like an OCD pup and hunt for dried earthworms.  I find them highly delicious and nutritious.

Our idea of a perfect day:

Daisy:  Sitting by the window sunbathing and then mom and dad letting me out in the backyard to chase away the squirrels and blue jays.

Autumn:  My perfect day is when both mommy and daddy are home and take turns rubbing my head while I sleep.

Secret skills or abilities that few people know about us:

Daisy:  I have an infinite number of facial expressions, most of which involve my eyebrows.  I also like to stand on my hind legs like my humans particularly  when I know I'm getting a treat.

Autumn:  I am skilled in the art of burrowing under mounds and mounds of blankets and then only sticking out my nose for air occasionally.  I also have the ability to make everyone fall in love with me with just one glance.

What we like most about our pet sitters:

We like that our pet sitter comes to us and keeps us entertained while mommy and daddy are away.

Focus on Fundraising

Folsom Feline Rescue will be participating in a used book sale fundraiser, to be held the weekend of
August 8-9. We are looking for donations of gently-used hardback and paperback books in resellable condition. All book subjects can be accepted except for school textbooks. Please, no magazines or movies.

If you'd like to make a donation of your used books, please email info@folsomfelines.org.

Thank you for your support!

   
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