Monday, March 18, 2013

Before you read today’s column, take a look at your dog and realize how grateful he is for you providing him with a comfortable home, a warm bed, plenty of food and water and lots of love.  You can’t even  imagine your best friend  lost and ending up in a shelter.  Confused, lonely and scared.   You certainly can’t even imagine abandoning your dog at a shelter.  But the sad truth is that according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA ), approximately 5 million to 7 million companion animals enter animal shelters nationwide every year, and approximately 3 million to 4 million are euthanized .  Shelter intakes are about evenly distributed between those animals relinquished by their owners and those picked up as strays.   These numbers are troubling.  These numbers are unacceptable for a civilized society in 2013.

Enough about the problem.  What is the solution ?  Perhaps the solution is not so easy  but what I would really like you to consider today  is fostering.  You can save lives by providing a temporary home for a shelter dog until it is adopted.   All too frequently as shelters fill up, they have to make painful decisions on which dogs are put on “the list.”  Unfortunately, it’s a numbers game; over capacity.  Sometimes a dog may need only a short term stay in a foster home until it is transported to his forever home. By providing the dog a home for a couple of weeks , you free up space in the shelter for another dog so that he is “safe.”  Other foster dogs may stay with you for a couple of months.  Your home, your time and your love are invaluable in developing the dog’s confidence and ability to trust again.  There is nothing more satisfying than “springing” a dog from a stressful shelter and seeing  the joy on his face as he gazes out the car window and hearing  that first sigh of relief when he steps into your home and realizes that he can finally sleep without fear.   So be a part of the solution. Buy a crate, fluff up a bed , and fill a dish with some food and water.  Open your heart and your home to a foster dog.  You won’t regret it.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

February is National Pet Dental Health Month

 Admit it.  You leaned over to give your dog  a big kiss and ARRGGH…..bad breath !   Not only Is bad breath unpleasant, but it could also signal the presence of a more serious problem .  More than 85% of dogs and cats over the age of four show signs of oral disease.  The problem starts when bacteria builds up on the teeth and begins to form plaque and tartar, the precursors to gingivitis and periodontal disease. Left untreated, periodontal disease  can contribute to tooth loss and more systemic  health complications if the bacteria travels to the heart, lungs, kidneys, and nervous system.  To screen for dental problems, check  your dog’s mouth for bad breath, tartar build up, decaying teeth, or gums that are swollen, bleeding , receding or abscessed.  A yearly vet visit will help keep your dog’s teeth and gums in check.  Your vet may recommend a cleaning under anesthesia at a certain age as tartar begins to build up with age.  You can help delay dental problems by brushing your dog’s teeth with a  commercial toothpaste 3 times per week.  It’s best to start brushing his teeth in the puppy stage so he gets used to brushing as a normal part of life just like nail trims and brushing out his coat.  With an older dog, start by choosing a toothpaste made just for dogs that is both palatable and digestible.  Start by having him smell the toothpaste and eventually lick the toothpaste.  Gradually work toward having the dog let you put the toothbrush in his mouth for a short period of time.  It’s important that the dog does not feel anxious and restrained so you should attempt to pair the toothbrushing with a positive experience like a special treat or a massage.   Now is the time to start maintaining that great doggie smile !
Lisa Beals, Co-Owner
Camp Bow Wow Carmel