[PODCAST] Common Heath Issues Affecting Shelter Pets

Blog, Podcast

Activ4Pets first ever podcast!

Dr. Clayton Jones sitting in the recording studio

Hanging out in the recording studio with Activ4Pets Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr. Clayton Jones, discussing pet health topics and trending pet news.

October is a big month for animal lovers – it is National Pet Wellness Month and National Adopt a Shelter Dog Month!

Common Issues Affecting Shelter Pets

What are some of the health common issues affecting shelter pets?

When adopting pets, you should always consider a shelter or rescue group. They are screened for behavior and health, vaccinated, spayed and/or neutered. Even if you are partial to a certain breed of dogs, you can find a rescue group that can connect you with animals that need a good home.

There’s a misconception about shelter and rescue animals – they are not always abused and are rarely dangerous or wild – they are well-deserving pets that need a good home and a little TLC.

What are some questions that people considering adopting a pet should have prepared when they go to the shelter?

One important thing would be to ask if they know how the pet was living before hand. Were they kept kenneled or did they have a lot of room to run? This will give you some background regarding your pet’s activity level and can be a good indicator of future behavior.

Are breeders really the best place to go if you’re looking for a specific breed?

Breeders are a great option, but a lot of times you can find particular breeds in a shelter or a breed-specific rescue that are purebred or even only a little bit mixed – which can be healthful because a variety of genes imparts something called hybrid vigor, which tends to make pets a little healthier.

How important is getting a pet’s medical history?

The medical history is very important. It generally revolves around routine health care, because a shelter or rescue will not adopt out a seriously ill animal except under special circumstances.

A lot of pets get surrendered don’t necessarily have a back story. What are some things you can look for, or that the shelter workers could pick up on, that you should ask about?

It’s very common for recuse pets to be what we call timid, which really has more to do with socialization- sometimes they haven’t interacted with people very much. So take the time and don’t worry, because with dogs respond very quickly to socialization training, because dog behavior comes from people!

How long does that take, normally?

There’s no exact time, but usually just a few months. There are some dogs that are timid their wholes lives, but that’s pretty rare and usually not in an extreme way.

Excellent. Activ4Pets is very supportive of animal adoption, so if you have space in your home and in your heart we strongly urge you to adopt an animal in need.

Pet Travel

You may have heard about the Air Canada pilot that rerouted a plane to save a dog that was in the cargo hold when the temperature controls malfunctioned. The delay cost the airline $10,000 and delayed passengers 75 minutes (not that anyone cared).

As a pet parent that has traveled internationally with my dog, I know it’s nerve-wracking – for both of us. What are some things we can do to make that easier?

Probably, the biggest thing you can do is plan ahead. I’ve had instances where people have called the day of their flight to pick up their health certificate, believing is just a piece of paper that you can pick up at any time. It’s not.

Give yourself some time- generally a month. You pet requires a full examination to document that your pet is healthy and up to date on vaccinations. Especially when traveling overseas, you may need different test including blood work. Even traveling to Hawaii, there are special rules because it’s an island.

When were talking about health certificates, we’re talking about public health. There are places that do not have rabies – and they want to keep it that way. So when traveling with a pet there has to be documentation that there is no sign of disease.

What’s up with quarantines? Why would they need to hold you pet for any amount of time, much less a whole month?

Quarantines have to do with documentation. Documentation errors are more than whether a box was checked, everything has to exactly meet all the requirements as proof to health.

I know my dog would be freaking out if we were separated for any amount of times, never mind being on an airplane. Do you recommend sedation?

Generally, I don’t not recommend sedation for travel. There are exceptions to the rule – and there are drugs that can be given in the rarest of cases. Unfortunately, most of the animals that had trouble while traveling in an airplane were the ones that were sedated.

It’s pretty common sense:

  • travel on an empty stomach, so if they get nervous they won’t get sick
  • if you can keep your pet with you, that will have a calming affect
  • if you have an extreme example of a dog with anxiety issues then talk to your vet

Healthy Eating

Since we touched on the subject of not eating, National Pet Obesity Awareness Day was this month, and Clay, there’s has be so much in the news about pet food – between the recalls, going organic or gluten free…

Really my question is… what should I be feeding my dog?

I use the common sense approach when it comes to food. Keep it simple. Crunching dry food helps prevent dental disease. Also, while you and I would go crazy if we ate the same thing every day, its best if you can keep your dog on the same type of dry dog food, as long as they are doing well on it.

Keep it simple for yourself- major pet companies spend a lot of time and money researching pet nutrition and making sure that their food is balanced and contain all the nutrients dogs need.

I’ve been reading a lot about feeding schedules, could you explain the difference between grazing vs scheduled meal times?

That’s not as much of an issues unless you have an medical condition. If your dog or cat is diabetic, they may need to be fed more often to regulate their glucose levels, but in general a healthy dog or cat can be fed once or twice a day.

The biggest contributors to pet obesity are over feeding and the high caloric value of food. Leaving food down all day can put your pet at risk for over feeding, as do high calorie foods like a rich,dense wet food or treats.

Just like people!

Exactly. I have encountered pets over the years where their entire diet is treats. If your pet eats a high calorie diet, they are at risk for obesity. And it’s very true, saying “the leaner you are the longer you live,” especially for pets.

The way I look at treats, treats should always use treats as a reward for behavior. Always require some kind of behavior for the treats.

Now, there are a few uncommon diseases that we know about that even if your dog or cat gain weight even if they eat a healthy diet

What are the best treats for dogs?

Keeping it healthy – carrots and popcorn (non buttered)

Do you have any tips for pet parents for who’s dogs beg for treats?

Hide them (Laughing) What else do you want me to say?

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