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Archive for the ‘General Interest’ Category

The first PetPoint summit of 2010 will be located at the Hilton Hotel and Suites Niagara Falls Fallsview.  To learn more about the 2010 PetPoint Summits  – Visit our Summit Homepage.  Here you will find updated venue listings, agendas, speaker bios, past summit info and more.

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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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It is one of those oddities in life that well fed cats and dogs from loving caring homes, when given the opportunity, will go outside and act like a four-legged version of a lawnmower. No one really knows why cats and dogs eat grass or whether there is a physical need that drives them to do so; veterinarians generally suggest that you allow them to follow their instincts in this regard.

It is perhaps somewhat understandable that our canine companions, being omnivores would have the occasional urge to eat some fresh greens, even though most pet foods are now carefully balanced to ensure that they receive all the required vitamins and minerals. The same, however, does not run true for cats which are exclusively carnivorous in nature and do not have the required enzymes to digest plant material.

This perhaps explains the fact that there are two common methods of eating the grass with a clear divide by species over the preferred eating technique. The first is the “gobble and swallow” technique which almost certainly results in the animal vomiting the contents of its stomach – this method is most favored by cats. The second is a more leisurely and enjoyable “sniff, chew and snack” technique where the animal seems to be taking pleasure in the taste and experience – this method is most favored by dogs and does not generally result in vomiting.

Given that there appears to be no accepted wisdom on the subject and a multitude of theories, we would not advise anyone in the animal welfare community to start planning out their new lawns just yet, certainly not in the cat wing where you may end up with some additional messes to clear up! Should an adopter ask, we recommend that they ask their own veterinarian for guidance but in all instances adopters should be warned that if they do find that their new family member has a penchant for eating grass, they must make sure that they only eat clean grass and avoid grass that has been sprayed with pesticides and weed killers.

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Pethealth Inc. today announced the launch of the PetPoint Lite™ animal management system designed specifically for the needs of Animal Rescue Organizations. PetPoint Lite will be available free of charge to these organizations across the U.S. and Canada, in early June.

PetPoint Lite is a streamlined version of PetPoint®, the most advanced web-based animal management application used by animal welfare organizations today.

Pethealth created PetPoint in 2005 in response to the expressed need of animal welfare organizations for an efficient and intuitive application to run their day-to-day operations. Since 2005, many new modules, reports and applications have been added to support the growing needs of large animal welfare organizations, many of which are over and above the more limited needs of smaller organizations and animal rescue organizations in particular. Pethealths’ desire to offer smaller organizations and animal rescue organizations a similar hosted application, through which these organizations can reduce, or eliminate completely, their IT and IT-related infrastructure costs has lead to the development of PetPoint Lite.

“The additional modules and reports we had added to PetPoint since its introduction in 2005 led to a need for us to develop a scaled-down version for smaller organizations and rescue groups,” said Steve Zeidman, Chief Technology Officer of Pethealth Inc. “Animal rescue organizations have fewer animals in their care and generally have less complex requirements than larger animal welfare organizations and therefore we believe this version will be more suitable to their needs.”

PetPoint Lite allows the full benefit of an online animal welfare management system, as well as the operational advantages designed specifically for animal rescue, including:

  • the management of medical data
  • automatic registration of microchips with the 24PetWatch system
  • registration and intake of animals
  • transfer module allows for seamless migration of pet data between PetPoint organizations
  • automatic uploads of information about adoptable pets to national pet adoption websites, giving immediate access to millions of potential pet adopters
  • online search tool allows organizations to add real-time search functionality to their web sites

To date, PetPoint has been licensed by more than 900 animal welfare organizations, including animal control agencies, humane societies, SPCAs and rescue groups in both the U.S. and Canada. Pethealth estimates that approximately 4 in 10 animal adoptions in the U.S. are now managed through the PetPoint platform. In 2007, animal welfare organizations running the PetPoint application accounted for over 1.1 million animal intakes and over 375,000 adoptions

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North America’s #1 Pet Insurance Program for Adopted Dogs and Cats to Offer Four New Enhancements

Pethealth, owner of ShelterCare® Pet Insurance Program for newly adopted pets, is pleased to announce it has added four new enhancements to its industry-leading pet insurance program designed for those pet parents who choose to adopt their new dog or cat.

The ShelterCare Pet Insurance Program was first introduced in 2002. More than 1.8-million dogs and cats have been enrolled in the program to date. The program features a 30-day pre-paid gift program provided by animal welfare organizations to those adopting dogs and cats from their facilities. Over $7-million in claims has been paid out under the first 30 days of coverage alone.

Expanded Coverage
Coverage under the program has been expanded significantly to include all accidents, eye and ear illnesses, flea allergy related dermatitis, heartworm disease and tick borne diseases. Previously, the coverage had been limited to 11 specific perils.
“Extending the coverage available under the ShelterCare gift program to include all accidents and these additional illness coverages has been made in response to our shelter partners’ desire to provide greater value added to those pet parents who choose to adopt their dogs and cats,” said Mark Warren, President and CEO, Pethealth Inc.

Extended Coverage Period
The second announced change is that adopters can now extend the pre-paid gift period from 30 to 45 days by making a simple phone call to the ShelterCare call centre between 9.00 a.m. and 1.00 p.m. (EST) Tuesdays through Saturdays.
“Extending the gift period from 30-45 days is an additional change desired by our partners in the shelter community that we have been happy to make based on the generosity they have exhibited,” added Warren.

Increased Coverage Limit
The coverage limit per event under the gift program has now been increased from $500 to $750. A corresponding increase in the deductible from $50 to $75 has also been made.
“Since 2002, veterinary fees have increased in line with or ahead of inflation rates in general,” said John Warden, Vice President. “As a result, it seems sensible for us to increase the dollar limit per event under the ShelterCare program during the gift period to $750.”

ShelterCare for Renters
Pethealth also announced that pet parents living in rental accommodation can choose to add a renters’ endorsement to their 30 day gift of ShelterCare by calling the ShelterCare call centre. This endorsement will cover any damage the newly adopted pet causes to the pet parents’ rental unit.

“Our increasingly strong relationship with the animal welfare community has made us cognisant of a couple of significant trends,” said Warren. First, organizations have had difficulty attracting potential adopters who live in rental accommodation due to concerns about the ability to obtain landlord permission for the pet. Secondly, with the current crisis in the housing market, we are concerned that pet owners who currently own their own homes may soon become renters and we want to make sure that our friends in the animal welfare community are not suddenly inundated with dogs and cats who are unable to relocate with their pet parents,” added Warren. “Given our success to date in promoting pet health insurance to those that adopt dogs and cats, adding coverage for renters made good sense.”

Animal welfare organizations that wish to inform their community of this new renters’ endorsement may do so by using the prepared release – click here to access release http://www.pethealthinc.com/pr_15_may_08.htm

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One of the frustrations for workers in the animal welfare community is that “looks can be deceiving” and in many cases an animal with a wonderful nature is overlooked by potential adopters due to his or her looks.  One of the issues that is off-putting but should not be is that of reddish brown tear stains on the fur of white or light furred animals.  This problem affects both dogs and cats, pure and cross breeds, and is particularly prevalent in bulldogs, Bishon Frise, Cocker Spaniels, King Charles Cavaliers, Poodles, Himalayans, Persions and Scottish Folds – to name but a few!  Potential adopters should be informed that in most cases these stains are quite normal and can be simply and easily dealt with once the new pet has been taken to his or her new home.

All healthy cats and dogs produce tears on an ongoing basis to help keep their eyes healthy, clean and well lubricated.  Unlike humans, the tears of cats and dogs are not clear because they contain pigments called porphyrins which are the usual cause of the common reddish/brown stain.  In most cases regular cleaning with fresh water is sufficient to remove the stains and keep them under control.

There are however instances where the stains will be caused by medical or environmental conditions and in these situations the pet should be taken to a veterinarian to determine the underlying cause.  Problem tear stains appear to occur mainly in animals which are producing too many tears.  There are many potential causes including:-

Genetics
Cutting Teeth
Blocked Tear Ducts
Eye irritations
Ear Infections
Allergies

Other possible causes of the reddish/brown staining include:-

Fleas and ear mites
Mineralized water
Food

Having ascertained what the root cause of the problem is the veterinarian should make a recommendation on treatment and may give some suggestions with regard to how to clean the fur around the face. There are numerous cleansing solutions that are sold through pet specialty retail stores, on-line pharmacies and in some cases may be made by the new pet parent at home.  Given the close proximity to the eyes pet parents are advised to follow the instructions carefully.  Additionally If clipping hair around the eyes is recommended it would be wise to seek the assistance of a professional groomer.

Dependent upon the root cause of the tear staining there are some ongoing maintenance recommendations that may prevent the re-occurrence of the problem as follows:-

Root Problem

Recommendation

Allergies

In addition to veterinarian’s recommendations increase the amount of Essential Fatty Acids in the pet’s diet – check pet supply store for recommended products

Minerals in water

Provide the pet with bottled or distilled water to drink

Fleas

Treat with veterinarian recommended products and keep the area around the eye dry

Teething

Keep the area around the eye dry and make sure that the pet has plenty of toys to chew

Ear mites

Treat as per veterinarian’s recommendations and keep ears clean and dry

Food

Dry food is recommended

Bacteria or Red Yeast

In addition to the veterinarian’s recommendations some breeders suggest that you change the pH of the pet’s water by adding a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar

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The question for pet parents over whether to allow their cats outdoors or to keep them indoors is one which elicits a barrage of responses from proponents on both sides of the debate.

The HSUS and most members of the animal welfare community are unequivocally in favor of keeping cats indoors, in addition two out of three veterinarians recommend keeping cats indoors* . Despite this, the idea of keeping a cat indoors is one that remains difficult to sell to many pet parents.
*Veterinarian study conducted by Jacobs Jenner & Kent in June 2001 for The HSUS.

There is strong evidence to support the view that indoor cats will live longer, safer lives. Indoor cats are estimated to live 12-14 years on average compared to a lifespan of less than 5 years for outdoor cats as outdoor cats are exposed to many dangers including:-

•    Death or injury from vehicles;
•    Accidental or intentional poisoning (including many lawn care and garden maintenance products);
•    Death or injury while hunting wildlife (not to mention the death or injury that the cat itself causes);
•    Disease transmission from other cats and wildlife;
•    Exposure to and infection with parasites;
•    Death or injury from dogs or other cats;
•    Wandering away from home (the chances of a cat getting back to its original pet parents are not good,    particularly as many cat parents do not microchip their cats, thus leaving the cats unidentifiable)

Despite these real and quantifiable risks, many pet parents remain swayed by their preconceived conceptions of the emotional needs of cats.

The following is a list of some of the arguments forwarded by proponents of allowing cats to go outside, together with some suggested responses:-

It would be cruel to keep a cat inside

The outdoor experiences that cats have been through priorto finding sanctuary in the care of the animal welfare community are, in general, unknown. However by the time a cat is ready for adoption it has become used to the security of an indoor environment and It would be cruel to put it back outside to revisit its past fears and experiences.

Cats are free willed animals and should not be kept indoors

The independent nature of cats is one of the characteristics that cat parents often find very attractive, however pet cats are domesticated creatures and rely upon their human caretakers to provide them with food, security and health care. Cats can (and will) demonstrate their free-willed nature inside quite happily, it is not necessary to expose them to the danger of the outside world to do so.

Cats will not scratch the furniture if they are allowed outdoors

This is not true. Scratching their claws is a fundamental requirement for a healthy cat, all cat owners should invest in an indoors cat tree/post to allow them to do so.

Outdoor cats do not need a litterbox

Again untrue, all cats should be provided with a litterbox inside the house to ensure that they maintain proper elimination habits – even outdoor cats will need to have annual trips to the veterinarian and may need to go to a cattery while their family is away.

Cats are lazy and will get fat if they stay indoors

As long as an indoor cat is given the correct amount of food, toys and other stimuli it will not get fat. In the wild cats are nocturnal hunters so will naturally sleep more during the daytime, their domesticated cousins have retained this trait.

Cats like to go outside

Cats like to be indoors sleeping safely in a warm and comfortable spot away from the noise and dangers of the outside! That having been said – an indoor cat’s enjoyment of the outside world does not have to be eliminated – just managed. Indoor cats generally love to sit and watch the outside world – window hammocks, cat trees with a view out of the window and screened in areas and windows all offer indoor cats a safe way to enjoy the outside world. Those who feel that their cat must actually go outside can investigate the various outdoor options such as leash walking and carrying baskets.

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