Animal Health Foundation Blog

Archive for the ‘Cats’ Category

Benefits of the Elderly Owning Pets

Wednesday, January 16th, 2019

The link below is to an article on Caring.com about the benefits of the elderly owning pets!

https://www.caring.com/senior-living/assisted-living/benefits-of-elderly-owning-pets

Sweet Angel

Tuesday, January 15th, 2019

SCVMA member Monarch Veterinary Hospital in Laguna Niguel, CA received a grant for the Angel Fund to help the Frost family afford needed veterinary care for their cat Angel.  Thank you Monarch Veterinary Hospital!

More Pet Insurance Policies Are Being Sold. But Are They Worth the Cost?

Monday, January 7th, 2019
FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES, JANUARY 4, 2019

YOUR MONEY ADVISER

The New York Times

By Ann Carrns Jan. 4, 2019

Americans are increasingly treating their pets as members of the family, feeding them gourmet food, paying for day care and throwing them birthday parties. Family sleepwear sets sold on PajamaGram.com even include matching jammies for the dog.

So it’s not surprising that an increasing number of “pet parents,” as they are known in the pet care industry, are seeking sophisticated medical treatments for their animals.

Enter pet health insurance, marketed as a way to help defray rising veterinary expenses and avoid “economic euthanasia” — the necessity of putting a pet down because the owner can’t afford treatment. More than two million pets in the United States and Canada (most of them in the United States) were insured at the end of 2017, up about 17 percent from the year before, according to the North American Pet Health Insurance Association.

But consumer advocates say that pet owners should make sure they understand how the policies work before buying them.

More than two-thirds of households in the United States own a pet, according to the American Pet Products Association. Americans spent about $70 billion on pets in 2017, including purchases of animals, food, veterinary care, medicines and other services.

“People are much more inclined to think of their animals like children, and treat them accordingly,” said James Serpell, a professor of ethics and animal welfare at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine.

J. Robert Hunter, director of insurance with the Consumer Federation of America, said pet owners should bring a healthy skepticism when shopping for pet insurance. Purchase of the product is “often motivated by a combination of love and fear,” he said. “So the buyer may be particularly vulnerable.”

Details vary by insurer and policy, but premiums for pet insurance typically depend on factors like the cost of veterinary care where you live and the age and breed of the pet. The average annual premium for “accident and illness” coverage was $516 per pet in 2017, while the average claim paid was $278, according to the pet health insurance association.

Jeff Blyskal, a senior writer with Consumers’ Checkbook, a nonprofit group that rates services in major urban markets, said pet owners should compare policies with a critical eye. When years of payments are taken into account, he said, buying insurance could end up being more expensive for some pet owners than going without it, if their animal doesn’t require much care.

Pet policies typically don’t cover pre-existing conditions, Mr. Blyskal said, so premiums are generally lower when your pet is young and healthy. Even if you start early, though, you may end up paying more over time, he said, because some policies raise premiums as pets get older. This can increase costs substantially, he said, and cause owners to drop their policies as the animals get older — just when they are more likely to need the coverage. Industrywide, the average pet policy is maintained for three years or less, according to an insurer regulatory filing in 2016 in Washington State.

The expenses tied to pet health coverage usually include not only a regular premium but also other out-of-pocket costs, like a deductible — an amount that you must pay before insurance begins paying. Insurance may cover less than 100 percent of costs after the deductible, so you’ll still have to pay for part of the treatment. Some policies may cap payments, so ask if there’s a limit.

Rob Jackson, chief executive of Healthy Paws Pet Insurance, said insurance could protect against budget-busting events costing thousands of dollars. (Healthy Paws said a pet’s age affects premiums at initial enrollment, and also as the pet ages.) The Healthy Paws website cites examples like Fridgey the Bengal cat, who had a $4,600 hip replacement, and Lupa the German shepherd, who needed $52,000 in treatment for tetanus exposure.

One way to pay lower premiums, and possibly get broader coverage, is to buy pet insurance through your employer. Eleven percent of employers in the United States offer pet health insurance benefits, according to a 2018 survey by the Society for Human Resource Management, up from 6 percent in 2014. Typically, companies offer pet insurance as a “voluntary” benefit. It’s uncommon for employers to contribute to the cost of premiums, as they do with human health insurance. But insurers may give employees a break on premiums, or offer better coverage, because their marketing costs are lower.

Employees at Ollie, a specialty dog food company, receive a 15 percent discount on premiums from the insurer Healthy Paws, said Gabby Slome, a co-founder of Ollie. (Ollie also offers workers benefits like “pawternity” leave when they take a new dog home.)

“We had a strong belief that pets are a part of one’s family,” she said.

Scott Liles, president and chief pet insurance officer with Nationwide, said half of Fortune 500 companies offer their employees pet insurance from his company. Nationwide’s employer-based plans now underwrite by species — canines vs. felines — but not by age or breed, Mr. Liles said. That means, he said, you won’t pay a higher premium if your pet is older, or if its breed is prone to certain illnesses, unlike policies sold in the open market.

Here are some questions and answers about pet health insurance:

Do some animals cost more to insure than others?

Cats are generally less expensive to insure than dogs. The average accident and illness premium in 2017 was about $45 a month for dogs and $28 a month for cats, according to the pet health insurance association. Because some purebred animals are prone to certain health problems, some insurers may charge higher premiums for them.

What if I can’t afford pet insurance?

Local animal shelters may offer basic services, like rabies vaccinations or spaying and neutering operations, at a discounted rate. The Humane Society of the United States lists groups that can help owners who can’t afford medical care for their pets.

Another option is to put money away each month — perhaps the amount of the premium you would pay — into a dedicated savings account so you will have some funds available for pet care if you need it.

What if I’m unhappy with my pet insurance policy?

Insurance products are generally regulated by state governments, so you may want to contact your state insurance commissioner about your concern. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners offers information about pet insurance and links to regulatorsin each state.

Correction: 

An earlier version of this article, using information supplied by Healthy Paws Pet Insurance, misstated how a pet’s age affects premiums for the company’s policies. The pet’s age affects the premium at the time of enrollment and as the pet gets older, not just at enrollment.

Hospice Care For Dogs

Saturday, January 5th, 2019

From iheartdogs.org

Animal Health Foundation Board Member, Dr. Alice Villalobos, is quoted in this article!

Hospice Care For Dogs: Is It The Right Choice For You & Your Pooch?

Hospice care for dogs is a relatively new concept. Sadly, the word hospice often carries a negative stigma. It reminds us of lonely, sterile rooms and the fear of impending death. In reality, hospice care can be a wonderful gift for terminally ill people and pets. Rather than focusing on invasive medical procedures, hospice provides physical and emotional comfort to end-of-life patients and their families.

hospice care for dogs

What is hospice care for dogs?

Hospice care is based on the philosophy that people and pets deserve to die with dignity. When a dog is suffering from a serious illness and a cure is not possible, hospice care provides a temporary alternative to euthanasia. The goal is to make their remaining days comfortable with pain medications, dietary strategies and human interaction.

Dr. Alice Villalobos is a world-renowned veterinary oncologist. She coined the term “pawspice,” which she describes as supportive care in evaluating and managing quality of life in the time leading up to a pet’s death.

“In-home ‘pawspice’ care is a wonderful next step,” Dr. Villalobos says. “It should be introduced as an interval between the thought and the final act of euthanasia, if the owner really feels that their pet still has a quality of life.”

Hospice care for dogs also allows families to come to terms with the impending loss of a beloved friend. In keeping a terminal pet comfortable, the human family members have time to come to terms with the situation. Hospice allows them to plan special moments with their dog, take family photos, and seek emotional and spiritual support.

2018 Was a Busy Year in Pet Food

Friday, December 28th, 2018

By 

Pets, Asbestos Exposure, and Mesothelioma

Wednesday, December 5th, 2018

From www.mesothelioma.net

For more information and to sign up to receive resources by mail, go to:

https://mesothelioma.net/pets-asbestos-exposure-mesothelioma/

Pets, like their human caretakers, are susceptible to becoming ill from asbestos exposure. Dogs, cats, and other animals can develop mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses, with devastating consequences. As with humans, mesothelioma in pets is an aggressive and deadly type of cancer. The treatment options are even more limited and the hope of survival minimal.

Pets may become exposed to asbestos in many of the same ways people are. Older homes with worn and exposed asbestos insulation, for instance, can send fibers into the air that humans and animals alike may inhale. If the owner works around asbestos and brings fibers home on clothing, this too can lead to exposure in pets. Mesothelioma in pets is rare, but it is possible. It is important to minimize exposure risks for people and animals in the household.
mesothelioma in pets

Asbestos Exposure Causes Mesothelioma in Pets

Evidence that points to asbestos as a cause of mesothelioma in humans is already overwhelming. Research into pets with mesothelioma is much more limited, but it does exist. One study, for instance, examined the tissues of dogs that died from mesothelioma. Researchers saw pleural, peritoneal, and pericardial mesothelioma in the population of dogs studied and even some that had cancerous tissues in more than one part of the mesothelium. Most of the dogs in the study were found to have asbestos in the affected tissues, providing a link between the cancer and exposure to asbestos. Dogs in a control group had far fewer fibers.

Stories of animals suffering and dying from mesothelioma are rare, but heartbreaking.  In the United Kingdom there was a case reported of a dog that died from mesothelioma. The devastated owners reported that their dog had sniffed asbestos-containing materials that had been dumped at old building sites in the woods where they regularly walked. After thousands of dollars in vet bills the dog could not be saved.

How Pets May Be Exposed to Asbestos

Although mesothelioma is rare, it is strongly linked to exposure to asbestos so pet owners need to be aware of the asbestos risks and should take steps to minimize any possibility of exposure. One of the most likely ways in which an animal may be exposed is through secondhand contact. If you come home from work with fibers of asbestos on your clothes, your pet is likely to inhale those fibers or even ingest them.

Pets may also be exposed to asbestos that is in the home. Homes built before the 1980s most likely contain asbestos in insulation, HVAC systems, flooring, siding, ceiling materials, and other areas of the house. If that asbestos is disturbed, worn down, or damaged, the fibers can become airborne where they can be inhaled by anyone in the house, including pets.

This risk is especially high during renovation or remodeling projects. This kind of work can disturb previously encapsulated asbestos. The best way to protect animals during home projects is to keep them temporarily out of the home, at someone else’s house or at a kennel or boarding facility. While humans can wear protective gear, animals cannot. Also, dogs may lick things on which asbestos dust has settled.
Like the dog in the United Kingdom that died after being exposed to asbestos on walks, exposure outside of the home is a rare but possible risk for pets, especially dogs. Dogs that go outdoors for walks or spend a lot of time out in the yard may be at risk for exposure from any nearby demolition, construction, or mining.

Symptoms of Mesothelioma in Pets

If your pet has been exposed to asbestos, you may see signs of illness. If you catch these early and have your dog or cat diagnosed and treated, you may be able to extend the life of your beloved pet. There is no way to cure mesothelioma in cats or dogs, but early detection can give you more treatment options and a better chance of giving him or her a better quality of life for as long as is left. Dogs are more likely to develop mesothelioma than cats.

With pleural mesothelioma, a pet may exhibit signs such as labored breathing, rapid breathing, or shortness of breath, and a cough. With peritoneal mesothelioma, an animal may display abdominal discomfort, abdominal swelling, or vomiting. Other symptoms of any type of mesothelioma may include fatigue and lethargy, an enlarged scrotum, and unusual sounds in the abdomen or chest.

Diagnosing and Treating Mesothelioma

If you see any unusual symptoms in your dog or cat, you should take your pet to the vet immediately. If you have any reason to believe your pet may have been exposed to asbestos, inform your veterinarian so that your animal will get a complete diagnosis. As with humans, diagnosing mesothelioma can be tricky. Your vet will begin with a physical exam and likely a blood and urine analysis. From there your vet will probably want to do imaging tests, like an X-ray, to look for tissue abnormalities. The next step would be a biopsy to remove fluid or tissue for examination.

Much of the treatment given to an animal for mesothelioma will be palliative, to keep the pet comfortable. However, there are some cancer treatments that may slow the progression of the disease and give you more time with your pet. In one small study, a specific combination of chemotherapy drugs allowed a dog to go into remission, although other animals in the study did not. Palliative treatments for an animal with mesothelioma include medications for pain and procedures to drain fluid from the abdomen or chest cavity.

Help Your Pet Live with Mesothelioma

A diagnosis of cancer in a pet is devastating news, especially when the prognosis is not favorable. There are things you can do to make sure your pet lives the rest of his or her days in the most comfort possible. Limiting activity is important, especially for a pet with pleural mesothelioma. Taking slower and shorter walks can give your dog a chance for exercise and fresh air without overexertion, for instance.

Your pet should also be given a quiet and comfortable place in the home to rest. Make this area easy to access, but out of the way of noise or disruption so that he or she can rest as needed. Regular visits to the vet are also important so you can be sure that you are doing the best for your animal and providing all the care that is necessary for maximum comfort. When the time is right you may need to make the difficult decision about letting your pet go, but your vet can help you make that choice. The loss of a pet to a disease like mesothelioma is terrible and the only way to prevent it is to keep your pet safe from asbestos.

 

Surgery Returns Baby Kitty to His Idyllic Outdoor Life

Thursday, July 12th, 2018

Baby Kitty – a beautiful Siamese cat – had “a few issues with eating and tummy problems” in 2016, owner Cherry Simkins recalled in an interview.  “I didn’t worry about it that much.”

But the two-year-old feline’s condition worsened.  And one day, Cherry could not find him, despite a long search of all his favorite haunts in the yard of her Torrance home.  By this time Baby Kitty had stopped eating entirely, she said, and she was worried.  Her veterinarian, Dr. Alice Villalobos of Pawspice and Animal Oncology in Hermosa Beach,  suggested that she search places “where you know he couldn’t be – every crack and crevice.” And she found him in a stack of wood that he had crawled inside.

“He realized that he couldn’t eat and he had crawled in there and decided that he would die there,” she said. “He was turning into a skeleton and his food was not being processed by his body.”

She took Baby Kitty to Dr. Edward M. Leeds at Surgical Group for Animals in Torrance, referred by Dr. Villalobos, who had diagnosed the cat with a diaphragmatic hernia.  Cherry thinks that the condition may have been the consequence of a fall.  Many of his abdominal organs had crowded into his chest cavity, impinging on his lungs and heart and threatening his life.

The Surgical Group performed corrective surgery and guided Cherry to Angel Fund, which provided a grant of $500.  The hospital contributed $1,938.  “It wasn’t something I could take care of,“ Cherry said. “I had had some really hard times financially.”

She was told that the likelihood was that her cat would not survive. But she said, “everyone was pulling for Baby Kitty. There was no doubt in my mind that he would pull through.”  He did.  And now, she said, “he is a much sweeter cat.  He’s the most loving cat.  It really shows how thankful he was that he was saved.  He’s really touched a lot of hearts and that makes him all the more special.”

Baby Kitty’s recovery was not without its problems.  He and his brother Poofa are outdoor cats and they want to keep it that way, Cherry said.  He hated being in a cage where he needed to be confined for a month, she said.  “He just went crazy.  It meant I couldn’t work like a needed to.  He needed a lot of love and care. I had to hold him and calm him and keep him settled because he wanted out.  Even wearing a cone, he figured out how to get out of that cage. He was able to lift the edge of it and slide out – and it was a heavy cage.  He flattened his body like a rat.  He didn’t want to be in there.”

Today, life is back to normal for Cherry and her two cats.  “They’re pretty spoiled,” she said.  “They have lots of places to go, here and at the neighbors, I’m sure.  They share a big lot with possums, raccoons, rats and the occasional coyote.

She doesn’t see coyotes as a problem for Baby Kitty and Poofa, who previously lost a leg to surgery.  “I have amazing crows here who love the cats. After the surgery, a coyote came to eat cats on my property. Believe it or not, the crows went insane.

“All of them descended on this area and I came out [wondering] what is all this ruckus? And they were telling me that the coyote was there, glaring at Baby Kitty and Baby Kitty was glaring back. I shooed the coyote off.  It happened one other time. And I came out and sure enough there was a coyote here again.  So the crows take care of the kitties and the kitties catch rats for them.”

She said that her cats are the welcoming committee for her clients who visit the office she built outside her house.  And, she said, “Babby Kitty loves to make me laugh.  He’s a funny creature and he has personality.  He loves to play tag.  He wants you to pet him and if you try to step away, he’ll reach around – without claws – and whack you, like you’ve got to pet him some more.  It’s a game.”

Her experience with Angel Fund, Cherry said, “has helped me to share with all my clients the benefits that are out there – the people, the loving way that they went about it, their generosity.”

AHF Helps the Pets of the Homeless in Orange County

Thursday, July 12th, 2018

Listen as the AHF Board of Trustees President, Dr. Mark Malo (owner of Garden Grove Dog and Cat Hospital).

It speaks about the fnancial grants we are providing to help the pets of the homeless in Orange County with mobile clinics once a month.  These clinics provide vaccines, flea and tick treatments, ear infection treatments, and other minor treatments.

Listen and learn a bit more about what your donations support!

 

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN

 

 

What You Should Have in Your Pet’s First-Aid Kit

Friday, May 18th, 2018

From the Humane Society

Learn what supplies you’ll need to keep your cat, dog, or other pet safe and healthy

Everyone who shares a home with a pet should have a basic pet first-aid kit on hand.

Keep your pet’s first-aid kit in your home and take it with you if you are traveling with your pet.

One way to start your kit is to buy a first-aid kit designed for people and add pet-specific items to it. You can also purchase a pet first-aid kit from a pet-supply store or catalog. But you can easily assemble your own kit by gathering the items on our lists below.

Pet-specific supplies

  • Pet first-aid book
  • Phone numbers: your veterinarian, the nearest emergency-veterinary clinic (along with directions!) and a poison-control center or hotline (such as the ASPCA poison-control center, which can be reached at 1-800-426-4435)
  • Paperwork for your pet (in a waterproof container or bag): proof of rabies-vaccination status, copies of other important medical records and a current photo of your pet (in case he gets lost)
  • Nylon leash
  • Self-cling bandage (bandage that stretches and sticks to itself but not to fur—available at pet stores and from pet-supply catalogs)
  • Muzzle or strips of cloth to prevent biting (don’t use this if your pet is vomiting, choking, coughing or otherwise having difficulty breathing)

Basic first-aid supplies

  • Absorbent gauze pads
  • Adhesive tape
  • Antiseptic wipes, lotion, powder or spray
  • Blanket (a foil emergency blanket)
  • Cotton balls or swabs
  • Gauze rolls
  • Hydrogen peroxide (to induce vomiting—do this only when directed by a veterinarian or a poison-control expert)
  • Ice pack
  • Non-latex disposable gloves
  • Petroleum jelly (to lubricate the thermometer)
  • Rectal thermometer (your pet’s temperature should not rise above 103°F or fall below 100°F)
  • Scissors (with blunt ends)
  • Sterile non-stick gauze pads for bandages
  • Sterile saline solution (sold at pharmacies)
  • Tweezers
  • A pillowcase to confine your cat for treatment
  • A pet carrier

Pre-assembled first-aid kits

The hassle of creating a kit for your pet can be reduced by purchasing one pre-assembled.

Other useful items

  • Diphenhydramine (Benadryl®), if approved by a veterinarian for allergic reactions. A veterinarian must tell you the correct dosage for your pet’s size.
  • Ear-cleaning solution
  • Expired credit card or sample credit card (from direct-mail credit-card offers) to scrape away insect stingers
  • Glucose paste or corn syrup (for diabetic dogs or those with low blood sugar)
  • Nail clippers
  • Non-prescription antibiotic ointment
  • Penlight or flashlight
  • Plastic eyedropper or syringe
  • Rubbing alcohol (isopropyl) to clean the thermometer
  • Splints and tongue depressors
  • Styptic powder or pencil (sold at veterinary hospitals, pet-supply stores, and your local pharmacy)
  • Temporary identification tag (to put your local contact information on your pet’s collar when you travel)
  • Towels
  • Needle-nosed pliers

Common-sense advice

In addition to the items listed above, include anything your veterinarian has recommended specifically for your pet.

Check the supplies in your pet’s first-aid kit occasionally and replace any items that have expired.

For your family’s safety, keep all medical supplies and medications out of the reach of children and pets.

Pet Disaster Preparedness from Red Rover

Friday, May 18th, 2018

Make sure your pets are protected when disaster strikes. Download our 5 Animal Disaster Preparedness Essentials checklist (PDF):

[English]  [Espanol]

Get more details on emergency planning for specific types of disasters:

Planning ahead is the key to keeping yourself and your pets safe if disaster strikes. Follow these tips to make an emergency plan for your pets:

1. Microchip your pets
Microchip identification is one of the best ways to ensure that you and your pet are reunited if you are separated. Be sure to keep the microchip registration up-to-date, and include at least one emergency number of a friend or relative who resides out of your immediate area.

2. Keep a collar and tag on all cats and dogs
Keep several current phone numbers on your animal’s identification tag. Identification on indoor-only cats is especially important. If your home is damaged during a disaster, they could easily escape.

3. Plan a pet-friendly place to stay
Search in advance for out-of-area pet-friendly hotels or boarding facilities, or make a housing exchange agreement with an out-of-area friend or relative. Never leave your pet behind if you evacuate!

Search for pet-friendly accommodations at:

4. Use the buddy system
Exchange pet information, evacuation plans and house keys with a few trusted neighbors or nearby friends. If you’re caught outside evacuation lines when an evacuation order is issued, your neighbors or friends can evacuate your pets for you.

5. Prepare an emergency kit for each animal
Stock up on the items you may need during a disaster now so you do not get caught unprepared. Below are basic items you should include in your pets’ disaster kits. Store your disaster kit supplies in an easy-to-grab container.

  • One-week supply of food. Store it in a water-tight container and rotate it every three months to keep it fresh. If you use canned food, include a spare can opener.
  • One-week supply of fresh water. If officials declare your household water unfit to drink, it’s also unsafe for your pets. Follow American Red Cross guidelines for storing emergency water for your family and your pets.
  • Medication. If your animal takes medication, a replacement supply may not be easily available following a disaster.
  • Copies of vaccination records
  • Photographs of you with your pets to prove ownership
  • Photographs of your pets in case you need to make “lost pet” fliers
  • Pet first aid kit
  • Temporary ID tags. If you’ve evacuated, use this to record your temporary contact information and/or the phone number of an unaffected friend or relative.
  • Carrier or leash for each animal. Caregivers of multiple cats or other small animals can use an EvacSak, which is easy to store and use for transport.

Get more details on emergency planning for specific species:

6. Identify emergency veterinary facilities outside of your immediate area
If a disaster has affected your community, emergency veterinary facilities may be closed. Pets may become injured or ill during the disaster, so make sure you know how to access other emergency facilities. You can also check with your veterinarian to find out if they have an emergency plan that includes setting up in an alternate, emergency facility.

7. Plan for temporary confinement
Physical structures, like walls, fences and barns may be destroyed during a disaster. Have a plan for keeping your animal safely confined. You may need a tie-out, crate or kennel.

Often, when animals are evacuated to unfamiliar locations, their stress and fear can lead to illness injury. Read more tips for ensuring your pets’ safety during an evacuation.

8. Comfort your animals
Your animals will appreciate your calm presence and soft, comforting voice if they are stressed following a disaster or while evacuated, and you may find it comforting to spend time with them, too. Some animals, especially cats, may be too scared to be comforted. Interact with them on their terms. Some animals may find toys, especially long-lasting chew toys, comforting.

9. Know where to search for lost animals
When animals become lost during a disaster, they often end up at a local shelter. Keep handy the locations and phone numbers of the shelters in your area.

10. Get children involved in disaster preparedness plans. The book Ready or Not, Here it Comes! by RedRover Responders Team Leader, Howard Edelstein, discusses how to prepare for all types of disasters to safeguard families and the animals in their care.


If a disaster hit your town, would you be prepared to care for your pet? Assemble your kit, then join our “We’re Ready” campaign:

Post the “We’re Ready” sign on your Facebook page to show everyone that you and your pet(s) are evacuation-ready.