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Archive for June, 2008

Naturally hairless cats and dogs are a rare and, to some, unsettling sight. Wrinkled and bald they look like extraterrestrials set adrift on an alien and inhospitable planet. These unusual animals are so vulnerable to extremes of temperature and excess sunshine that hairless cats are almost always kept indoors and hairless dogs are usually only let out under carefully monitored conditions.

There are a number of recognized varieties of both hairless dogs and cats, and while most of the dog breeds have long and well established histories, the hairless cats are relatively new breeds developed through selective breeding during the past century. For many people their only exposure to the world of hairless cats and dogs is through watching Mr Bigglesworth, Dr Evil’s Sphynx in Austin Powers and Fluffy, the Crested Chinese dog in 102 Dalmatians.

The recognized breeds of hairless cats include:-

Sphynx (Canadian Hairless Cat) first bred in 1978
Don Sphynx (Donskoy) first bred in 1987
Peterbalt first bred in 1994

Hairless cats are said to be unusually social with humans, demonstrating little of the aloof independent nature commonly associated with domestic cats. They usually have soft warm skin coated in downy “peach fuzz” which generally has many wrinkles. Hairless cats are expensive and those who choose them tend to take care of them. However hairless cats may still end up in the care of the animal welfare community due to the fact that two well known ‘facts’ about hairless cats are actually unfounded myths.

Myth #1 – Hairless cats are hypo allergenic – while they are less likely to induce allergic reactions due to the lack of hair and dander, their skin produces large amounts of oil that may also trigger strong reactions in allergy sufferers;

Myth #2 – Hairless cats are easy to care for – although these cats do not require brushing and combing, they do require weekly bathing to remove the oil and dust that builds up on their skin. Their ears need regular cleaning as they have no hair to stop dust and dirt from entering their ears. They have a comparatively high metabolism and require a lot of high quality food to enable them to keep their core temperature up.

The recognized breeds of hairless dogs include:-

Mexican Hairless Dogs (Xoloitzcuintle, Xolos), evidence suggests that their history stretches back thousands of years
Peruvian Hairless Dogs, similarly they are believed to have originated prior to the Incas
Chinese Crested Dogs –they are thought to have arrived in China on trade ships from the African coast, in which they were used to kill rats
American Hairless Terrier – the only “new” hairless breed of dog, first bred in 1972

Hairless dogs may find their way into the safety of the animal welfare community due to a mixture of both health issues and character traits that may not have been properly considered by new dog owners.

1) Both the Mexican and the Peruvian Hairless Dogs demonstrate strong personalities that require training from a young age if their negative traits are not to become a problem. While both breeds are good family dogs they can be overly protective of the family. In addition the hunting instinct is quite strong and may result in the dogs running away from home to chase other small animals;

2) While hairless dogs do not require such frequent bathing as hairless cats, it is recommended that they be washed twice a month to avoid skin irritation. They also need to have moisturizer applied to their skin to keep it from drying out and sunscreen to avoid sunburn;

3) Many hairless dogs have problems with their teeth which can be crooked, crowded, prone to decay or in many cases they will not have a full set of teeth, which can lead to problems eating;

4) Hairless dogs do appear to be less likely to cause allergic reactions in allergy sufferers than hairless cats.

Should one of these cats or dogs end up at your organization we hope that you will find the special someone who will take care of their unique needs and make them part of their Forever Family.

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For those of you who don’t already provide the ShelterCare gift of Insurance to your new adopters, now is the time to reconsider. This 30-day gift of insurance, which has already been given to over 1.75 million new adopters, and through which over $7.2 million in claims has been paid out, has now been improved!

Starting on June 1st 2008 the ShelterCare Gift of insurance was enhanced to offer a number of different options for your new adopters:

1. New adopters may continue to choose to take the existing 30-day gift of insurance which has been improved to offer – increased coverage up to $750 plus an extension to the number of covered conditions, and now includes heartworm!

OR

2. New adopters may call 1-866-375-7387 within 72 hours of adoption to extend their 30-day gift to 45 days.

OR

3. Adopters who are in rental accommodations may call 1-866-375-7387 within 72 hours of adoption to add third party property damage coverage to their ShelterCare 30-day gift. This additional coverage will pay the costs of physical damages up to $500 by newly adopted pets to the interior of the new adopter’s rental unit – a unique feature that we believe will add value during this period of uncertainty in the property market.

OR

4. Adopters who choose to upgrade their ShelterCare Gift insurance policy within 10 days of adoption will receive an $8.95 credit towards any one of the annual ShelterCare pet insurance programs.

Shelters and rescue groups that have started promoting the new and enhanced ShelterCare gift have already indicated that their adopters appreciate the changes and we have received hundreds of calls to take advantage of the new options available to adopters. Help us to help your adopters by telling them about the options available to them by calling 1-866-375-7387 within 72 hours of adoption.

PetPoint users please make sure that you go through the “New” ShelterCare Gift Checklist as this is of critical importance in making sure that your new adopters understand the true value of the ShelterCare gift. We are here to provide financial support to the adopters of animals from your facility – work with us to ensure that your animals have a future – tell your adopters about the ShelterCare gift of insurance and how important it is to prepare today for what the future will bring.

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Animal vaccination is a topic that affects all of those who care for animals including both those in the animal welfare sector and those in the veterinary community. However, as some of you may know, the ShelterCare requirement with regards to the vaccination of insured cats and dogs is open-ended, reading only that “As a condition of insurance the Insured’s pet must receive an annual physical exam and all licensed vaccines as recommended by the Insured’s veterinarian.” The reason for the open ended nature of this requirement is that, despite extensive debate on the subject, there remains no accepted protocol within either the animal welfare community or within the veterinary sector for the vaccination of cats and dogs.

Much of the discussion about vaccination will take place between the new adopter and their chosen veterinarian once the animals have left the care of your organization. However, a vaccination protocol is something that many organizations in the animal welfare community consider implementing in order to avoid outbreaks of contagious and deadly diseases within their organization. In our recent PetPoint Journals #17 and 18 it was noted that approximately 45-55% of all adopted dogs are vaccinated while they are in the care of the animal welfare community. The percentage of adopted cats that are vaccinated is higher, approximately 55-65%, perhaps reflecting the desire to contain outbreaks of Upper Respiratory Infections in cats. Approximately 80% of vaccinations given by animal welfare personnel are administered within 24 hours of intake, indicating pro-active protection measures being taken to prevent the introduction of disease into the facility.

Attempts by veterinarians to create a “one-size-fits-all” protocol for the vaccination of cats and dogs have been consistently thwarted by the complicated and ever changing set of considerations that must be assessed. As the amount of historical data builds up, veterinarians have access to an increasing knowledge base concerning the immune response of cats and dogs to vaccination (both positive and adverse effects). In addition, each year additional research is carried out to understand the nature of infectious diseases and improved veterinary technology is allowing domestic animals to live longer lives. Added to this is the fact that the prevalence of various diseases changes based upon location and the administration of vaccines to different species and breeds has been shown to have differing effects.

In the face of this abundance of information, some of it static and some of it changing, and after years of research, the AVMA Council on Biologic and Therapeutic Agents (“COBTA”) concluded that inadequate data exists to scientifically determine a single, “one-size-fits-all” protocol for vaccination or revaccination of dogs and cats.

The AVMA recommendation for individual veterinarians is to create a core vaccine program for the majority of animals in their practice. Core vaccines include those that protect against diseases caused by agents that are highly infectious, virulent, and widely distributed and for which highly effective vaccines exist and may be required by law. Veterinarians may choose to administer noncore vaccines to a minority of animals who are at special risk due to lifestyle, breed or other individual circumstances. Non-core vaccines are for diseases that represent a less-severe threat and/or for which the vaccine benefit-risk ratio is too low for general use.

Vaccination has consistently proven itself to be a life-saving tool in the day-to-day health management of domestic animals. We encourage you to advise new adopters that this is something they will need to discuss with their veterinarian to ensure that their new family member gets the protection it needs. The ShelterCare Gift will cover adopters against costs associated with the most common contagious diseases frequently found in newly adopted animals, thereafter ShelterCare offers QuickCare Optimum and QuickCare Complete to help cover the cost associated with providing all required vaccinations.

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