AFB Weekly News Roundup
The Animal Food Bank has rounded up some of the top pet stories this week to share with you!
Aster needs a home
The Calgary Humane Society is sharing the story of Aster, a dog who has been with the shelter for far too long. While her breed is unknown, staff are aware that this eight-year-old pooch has been waiting for more than 460 days to find her fur-ever home. The Calgary Herald recently reported that staff have come to love her as a long term resident but are hoping an experienced owner will come along and adopt her.
According to Aster’s previous foster parents, she is very loving, loyal and smart. She is a huge cuddle bug, is very food-motivated, enjoys playing outdoors and is a fan of walks.
“She’s kind of a gentle giant. She’s super cuddly and settled into her foster home really well,” Anna-Lee Fitzsimmons, the associate director of community engagement with the society told The Calgary Herald. “So, whether her foster parents were curled up reading a book or watching TV, Aster would settle and kind of curl up beside her or lay in her lap.” Walking on a leash is a walk in the park for Aster however, she will require an owner with patience and commitment because she’s very reactive.
Other dogs stress out Aster which means off-leash dog parks aren’t the place for her.
Tips will be provided by Aster’s previous foster parents and society staff on how to deal with her reactivity. She is good with children but not other pets. “She’s very sweet, super affectionate,” Anna-Lee added. The reason she ended up in the shelter was because her previous owners did not have proper housing for her.
During the months she was in a foster home she was not being viewed by people looking to adopt. “We wanted to make sure she was comfortable,” said Anna-Lee. Potential owners will be provided with a free ‘Reactive Rover’ eight-week program to help learn about how to manage Aster. This will include education on how to develop a structured environment for pooches that bark and lunge as well as positive reinforcements.
Aster will be adopted through the Patient Paws program which means her adoption fee will be small. She is up to date on vaccinations, is spayed and has proper identification. Through this program she will also be able to try out a potential home for one week.
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Knowing when it’s time to euthanize your senior pet
ABC News recently interviewed a veterinarian about senior pets and when you should consider euthanization. A Staffordshire terrier named Bruno lived more than 10 years with his loving family before they knew it was time to let him go. “He was the most placid, forgiving dog but very protective as well,” said David O’Connor, Bruno’s owner. And because there are so many ways pet owners can extend the lives of their pets, it can be difficult to know when it’s the right time to make that tough decision. As David’s family got older, so did Bruno.
Eventually the pooch was diagnosed with arthritis in his hips and he began showing symptoms of dementia. “He wasn’t as perky; then, on top of that, he started getting dementia … he was walking around in circles,” explained David. “I noticed he was defecating near his food and throwing up. He was in a lot of pain and I don’t think he was aware of where he was anymore.” That’s when he knew it was time to have a conversation with his family about what needed to happen for Bruno. Veterinarian Marianne Curran says the top thing to consider when thinking about this is your pet’s quality of life.
“In severe cases, your pet will become very lethargic and lose interest in doing the things they used to,” she said.
“They may not want to go for their walks anymore, be interested in eating or playing like they used to, it may be things like incontinence where they are just constantly wetting themselves.”
An animal’s lifespan depends on their breed but usually dogs can live up to 14 and 16 years old. As for cats, this number is typically larger between 16 and 18 years. In some instances, medication can improve your pet’s quality of life.
“But if they are at the point where medication isn’t helping anymore, that’s when it’s time to say goodbye,” she added. Another thing to consider is if your senior pet is experiencing pain and if they are, they will likely retreat from you as an owner when they are ready to let go.
“[That is] a behavioural response that comes from when they were living in the wild, they would go off and separate themselves from the rest of their group so that they’re not endangering them,”
Dr. Curran explained. It can be difficult to determine if your pet is experiencing pain or not but a good indicator is their behaviour. “With dogs, if it’s arthritic pain, you may notice that they take longer to get up from a lying-down position, that they may tire out a lot quicker when they are walking or lying in the yard.” If they are experiencing abdominal pain, they might not have an appetite or they are sensitive to the touch. “If they suddenly seem uncomfortable when you pat them in a way that they would usually enjoy, that’s a good sign that there’s something not right there,” Dr. Curran said. Cats are good pain hiders so detecting problems in felines is even more difficult.
“If they’ve stopped grooming themselves, that’s often a good indication that they are uncomfortable, or the opposite if they are just grooming excessively.” When the time does come to say goodbye, knowing how to properly will be beneficial to your family. One thing that you should not do is lie to your children and tell them that your pet has gone to live somewhere else like a farm.
As for Bruno, his family said their goodbyes at their local veterinarian clinic but Dr. Curran says this isn’t the only option for families. Alternatively, you can have a veterinarian visit your home where they will euthanize your pet. This can be easier for families and the pet. “They’re able to say goodbye in their own environment, it also avoids moving them around too much if they’re in pain,” said Dr. Curran, adding that anyone who has concerns about euthanization should speak with their vet. “We can give you guidance on what we can do to help them get that quality of life back and help decide when it is the right time for them.”
New Telus app offers telemedicine for pets in B.C.
Telus has officially announced ‘Telus Health MyPet’ in British Columbia, offering veterinary care to pet owners through the app. The app works similarly to their app designed for human virtual medical care but just for pets instead! All pet parents have to do is download the app where they create a profile for their pet at no cost. Following this, they will be offered the opportunity to schedule a video appointment with a veterinarian. Dr. Koharik Arman, the lead veterinarian with the program spoke with CBC News about the app’s benefits and how it will particularly help people in rural locations who otherwise couldn’t access veterinary care. “So many new adoptions occurred, pets and pet dogs and cats in Canada and the veterinary profession already was experiencing that shortage prior to the pandemic,” she explained. “The pandemic exacerbated an already existing issue and essentially meant that people were unable to access medical care when they needed it in a timely manner for their pets.” It will also benefit pets with anxiety who have a hard time visiting clinics. “My own cat and dog both … require sedation for visits to the clinic and so for things that can be addressed virtually from the comfort of home, that is an absolute blessing,” said Dr. Arman. The program has roughly 20 veterinarians and appointments cost $95. If it is determined that a pet should see a veterinarian in person, all costs are refunded. The app can help with issues related to nutrition, weight, allergies, stomach problems, behavioural issues, chronic disease management, minor infections, parasites, palliative care and post-surgery care. Dr. Marco Veenis from Kelowna spoke with CBC about how telemedicine cannot accommodate a wide variety of situations where an animal requires in-person care. “You can’t get your pets spayed over the phone, so you know there is a limit to what you can do telemedicine-wise,” he said. Despite this, he does support the app as any improvement to veterinary access is a step in the right direction. “Lately there is a great shortage of veterinary technicians and that has led to waiting times going up and telemedicine might be another way of expediting services and also making those services a little bit more accessible for people that may have trouble bringing [their] dog in,” he explained. However, he does still recommend pet owners seek in-person assessments for their pets regularly if possible.
“I think telemedicine is definitely another tool in our toolbox.” Telus has partnered with the BC SPCA to help pets in their care and they’ve committed to donate $2 to the SPCA for each download the app receives until Nov. 26th up to a maximum of $20,000. As the animal welfare organization relies strongly on donations, this initiative is extremely important. Some BC locations are also offering discounts on the app to people who adopt a dog or cat.
Cat thrown from moving vehicle gets a second chance at life
A poor senior cat who was recently thrown from a moving vehicle is getting a second chance at life after being adopted by a woman with a soft spot for older felines. Merlot the 16-year-old cat was taken into the BC SPCA after a woman saw him get tossed out of a moving car on Vancouver Island.
Thankfully he did not receive any major injuries but he was left bruised and scraped following the incident. The animal welfare organization also found he was suffering from dental disease, likely because of his age. Weeks later after he was fully healed, Merlot was listed for adoption.
“Although they make amazing pets, senior dogs and cats are often overlooked by people looking to adopt a furry family member,” explained Kim Monteith, BC SPCA’s manager of animal welfare. A woman named Lana gave Merlot a well-deserved second chance at life after she adopted him.
She says her home has transformed into a retirement centre for old cats. Prior to Merlot, she adopted two senior cats who were bonded but sadly one of them passed away in August from kidney disease.
Since then, she was searching for another cat to give Merlin a companion. That’s when she saw Merlot on the SPCA website. “When I went to meet him, he immediately got off of his cat bed in the catio to get a pet and when he gave me a head butt, it sealed the deal,” she said, adding that she ventured from north Vancouver all the way to Nanaimo.
And despite some people saying that cats spend their golden years just sleeping, Lana says Merlot and Merlin get the case of the zoomies at 3 a.m. and they still act like kittens. “They have so much to offer, and they are so grateful. It is a real honour to share their last years with them,” she said.