What's the saying? Happy Pets, Happy Wife? Oh Wait. That's Something Else.

Bel Air -Red Background-DSC_3097Credit: akaporn: http://www.flickr.com/photos/91197154@N00/433269304Ah, pet parents. Some of the greatest people on the planet. Pets aren’t LIKE family, they ARE family, thank you very much. Some parents will plan a pet party complete with gifts to celebrate their furry friend. Many pampered pets are included in the family portrait. Heck, sometimes they get a solo shot! Caregivers go to great lengths to have a happy pet that is safe and healthy. That includes staying abreast of the information that could have a negative impact on them. Below are four pet facts that you may not know about.

Fido and Fluffy Need Passports to Cross State Lines

Actually it’s more like a certification. The state departments of agriculture along with other state agencies want to insure that Fido and Fluffy are disease free, so they have developed importation regulations for cats, dogs, birds, rabbits, ferrets, horses, cows and other animals. Known as a “Certificate of Veterinary Inspection,” this documentation is required for companion animals (i.e. cats and dogs) when they cross state lines. The certificate, which is signed by a veterinarian after a pet has been evaluated validates that the animal has received the appropriate vaccines (i.e. rabies). There are exceptions to this requirement such as travelling for a short visit or being transported to a veterinarian in another state. In addition, like many laws, regulations may vary by state.[1] Chances are, police won’t pull you over in your car and ask for your certificate, but if you are travelling longer term with your pet or moving, you’ll want to have the appropriate documentation.

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Neutering Your Dog May Cause Disease

All responsible pet parents try to do right by their kids. For instance, owners know that unless they plan to breed their dogs it’s better to have Bruiser or Bella neutered to prevent unwanted litters and overpopulation. Neutering also protects pets from the perils of running away and roaming, things dogs are apt to do to find a mate when they haven’t been neutered. In many cases, your dog will be much better behaved and won’t do things like mark its territory by urinating all over your house! Other benefits include the prevention of testicular cancer in your male canine if neutering is done by the time he is six months old.[2]

As great as this is, new research is showing that it’s really important to take your dog’s age and breed into consideration when neutering because we may be unintentionally setting them up for future health woes. What kind of illnesses? How about hip dysplasia, knee injuries, and cancers such as one which originates in the lining of the blood vessels and spleen, or in a blood cell?[2] That’s horrible, right? But that’s exactly what research is indicating. Early neutering in dogs made some more prone to certain illnesses, and late neutering made some more prone to other diseases. It’s important to do your homework and speak to your veterinarian to decide what time period is best for your dog to be neutered, so that Bruiser and Bella have long, happy, healthy lives!

Puss-in-Boots and Woofy Can Get Alzheimer’s TooWhat are you doing here?Credit: willgame: http://www.flickr.com/photos/28659077@N00/50229647

Sad, but true. Pets are similar to their human care givers in that as they get older they can slow down and even turn a little gray. However, some pets have a serious decline in their cognitive functioning, which is not a normal part of the aging process. For some pets this may be Alzheimer’s. Known as “Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS),” this pet equivalent to human Alzheimer’s can affect 28% of dogs aged 11-12 and 68% of dogs aged 15-16. Twenty-eight percent of cats aged 11-14 and over 50% of cats age 15 or older had symptoms.[3]

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Signs and symptoms of CDS include but are not limited to, disorientation, soiling, trembling, not recognizing family members, and sleep disturbances.[3] If you suspect something is wrong, it may be time to see your veterinarian. The bad news is that like Alzheimer’s there is no cure for CDS. However, there are treatments, such as “enrichment therapies,” dietary changes and prescription drugs that may help.[4]

Cigarette Smoke is Bad for Pets Too

It is common knowledge that smoking cigarettes and second hand smoke is dangerous, can cause cancer and heart disease in adults and makes children susceptible to illnesses such as asthma and other respiratory infections. It stands to reason that it could also be harmful to your pet. Research has shown that dogs who breathed in cigarette smoke had an increased risk for nasal and lung cancer. Cats were two to five times more likely to develop cancer. Birds brown puppyCredit: Sigma.DP2.Kiss.X3: http://www.flickr.com/photos/44529998@N03/5844062896/were more likely to contract pneumonia, get cancer, and have eye, skin, heart and fertility problems. 

Second hand smoke can also cause problems for pets because the poisons that are emitted from the lit cigarette can settle on their fur. Think about what could happen when Fifi the cat licks her fur to groom herself. She is ingesting the toxins from the cigarette and that could lead to health problems.

Many pet parents who smoke do so outside as to not bring the danger into the house. That’s awesome. It’s still important to note that when comparing tobacco levels in homes of people who smoked outside, to homes where the occupants did not smoke at all, homes of “outside smokers” had tobacco levels that were five to seven times higher.[5] If you smoke, have a pet and have been wanting to quit, here’s another great reason to do so.

Pet parenting can be a wonderful and rewarding experience for your entire family. It is not, however, all fun and games as there is always something new to learn and something we wish we knew. Keep up the great work because millions of people everywhere have wonderful, happy pets!