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Archive for the ‘Wellness’ Category

Those of you who are regular readers of the PetPoint Journal will recall that in our first issue, published August 21 st 2007, we indicated that the intake of animals through shelters using PetPoint was generally evenly split between cats and dogs. While shelter staff generally acknowledge the existence of a “Kitten Season” and the impact that has on intake levels of cats, fewer seem to acknowledge the fact that there is a “Dog Season” as well.

The following graph represents the percentage of dog intakes versus cat intakes on a month by month basis from January 2006 to October 2008. For the purposes of this graph we have used intake data from animals that were surrendered or returned by their owners together with those that were stray; we have not included animals that were designated transferred in, seized, clinic, wildlife or service at intake.

The most noticeable facet of the graph is the regularity of the pattern.

The chart demonstrates a cyclical pattern with higher dog surrenders and returns during the colder months December, January, February, and March (“Dog Season”) and higher cat intakes during the warmer months May, June, July, August, September, and October (“Cat Season”). November and April are the “Cross Over months” where we see equal intakes of cats and dogs.

Animal welfare workers who are responsible for planning, purchasing and staff information sessions can use the cyclical nature of species intakes to plan ahead more effectively.

The winter Cross Over month – November – is the perfect time to remind staff and volunteers of your intake protocols for dogs, including medical and behavioral assessment, preventative care, warning symptoms for communicable diseases, vaccination, identification, quarantine, spay and neuter. Check out your supplies to make sure that you have sufficient supplies and prepared housing facilities for an increase in dog intakes.

Similarly the summer Cross Over month – May – is the perfect time to remind staff and volunteers of your intake protocols for cats, including medical and behavioral assessment, preventative care, warning symptoms for communicable diseases, vaccination, identification, quarantine, spay and neuter. Check out your supplies to make sure that you have sufficient supplies and prepared housing facilities for an increase in cat intakes.

With Dog Season now upon us, don’t forget to check that you have adequate supplies of our Dog-Eared product to make your life easier when cleaning the new dog intakes.

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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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Busy adoption center? Lots of information to give new adopters who can’t wait to take their new pets home? How do you make sure that adopters get all the key information that they need to be able to care for their new pet and to ensure that the animal will have found its “Forever Home”?

It is difficult, and many of you have created packages for adopters to take home to read at their leisure which may include information about heartworm, fleas and ticks, vaccinations, separation anxiety, training tips and nutrition. One item that may not be included in your information package, but perhaps should be, is an information sheet about the importance of an annual wellness check up.

Given that cats and dogs age seven times faster than human beings, an annual assessment for them is the equivalent of a human being going to the doctor or dentist once every seven years! Consequently an animal’s health profile may radically change in a year. For that reason an annual check up should be considered the minimum. Many veterinarians recommend two check-ups per year, particularly for senior pets. Most pet parents are unaware of how quickly their pet’s health may deteriorate and untrained eyes can easily miss subtle changes in their pet’s behavior that may be symptomatic of an underlying health issue.

If you are interested in including an information sheet about the importance of Annual Wellness check-ups please click here. As Children often play a role in reminding parents about their pet’s veterinary needs – click here to download the October coloring sheet.

For those adopters who choose to extend their ShelterCare Insurance Gift into an annual policy – it is a requirement and a condition of ongoing insurance that insured animals be taken for an Annual check-up.

Lastly, our new pet insurance options QuickCare Optimum and QuickCare Complete offer pet owners $150 Annual Coverage for Wellness.

The Pethealth Family

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