The Top Ten of must knows to keep your beloveds healthy and happy.

Every year when you visit your vet with your beloveds, the top 10 killers are the most likely to be what will take your joy out of your life and cause an early death. So be aware, these are real dangers, and it’s not only in your best interest to keep your animals safe from these diseases but it’s also important to keep the community at large protected from being infected by a few of them. So for the greater good, lets all do our part in protecting our beloveds by doing our due diligence in keeping them safe through proper vaccinations and treatments. The top 10 list according to cattime.com is:

10. Kidney disease: Kidney disease is common in senior cats, but also seen in cats and dogs of all ages. It can be congenital or develop as the pet ages. While cats with kidney disease can be treated and kept healthy for several years in most cases, dogs typically deteriorate more quickly. Kidney health is typically evaluated with annual bloodwork at your veterinarian.

9. Diabetes: Just like with humans, pets can develop diabetes as part of the aging process. While diabetes in cats and dogs can often be controlled by a plan of diet and exercise, some pets will require regular insulin shots.

8. Arthritis: Arthritis is often seen as a rite of passage for our older pets. They may seem slow to rise in the morning, or a bit reluctant to jump up to their favorite spot on the couch. Your veterinarian can diagnose most forms of arthritis during a routine exam, but they may also recommend an x-ray to rule out other issues or evaluate how seriously inflamed the joints are. While there is no cure for arthritis, there are joint supplements, and even treatments like acupuncture, to help keep your pet as mobile as possible for as long as possible.

7. Flea and tick borne diseases: Fleas and ticks are certainly undesirable guests on your pets fur, but they are more than just unwelcome creepy crawlies. These tiny passengers can carry serious diseases that can cause profound illness in both pets and people. Want to keep your cats, dogs, and human family healthy? Use a monthly topical flea and tick preventative, vacuum regularly, and always check your pets and yourself after playing with other animals or in grassy fields.

6. Rabies: Rabies is the disease made famous in the hearbreaking scene in Old Yeller. Thankfully, the widespread use of the rabies vaccine in recent years has made its occurrence in pets in the U.S. quite rare. However, it is still present in wild animal populations, and because rabies is always fatal, it’s critical to make sure that your pets are current on their rabies vaccination.

5. Distemper: Distemper is a tragic, often fatal disease of dogs and puppies. While the distemper virus is part of the typical puppy vaccine series, puppies too young for vaccination and dogs who were never vaccinated are most vulnerable. The virus typically comes along with neurological symptoms, nasal discharge, and high fevers. It also has a high mortality rate, and the rare dogs who survive infection often bear long-term effects, such as seizures and hardened paw pads.

4. Parvovirus: Commonly called “parvo,” this virus is terribly common in parts of the country with low vaccination rates and can be seen in cats and dogs (although the disease cannot be spread cross-species). Parvo is most frequently seen in puppies and kittens who have not yet been vaccinated. The mortality rate depends on how quickly the symptomsare caught by the owner and addressed by a veterinarian and the strength of a pet’s immune system. Most survivors of parvovirus do not harbor long-term effects.

3. Dental disease: While everyone dreads “dog breath,” a stinky mouth is no joke. Both cats and dogs can develop tartar, gum disease, and cavities that require a professional dental cleaning. Dental disease is the perfect example of “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” because bad oral health can also lead to dangerous heart and kidney conditions in pets. Teach your kittens and puppies that brushing their teeth is a normal part of your grooming routine and save your pet a dental procedure down the line.

2. Heartworm: Heartworm is a disease spread by mosquitoes and it has been diagnosed in all 50 states. While it is much more common in dogs, cats can also acquire the disease. If the infection is caught early enough in dogs, it can generally be treated, but there is no cure for feline heartworm disease. Therefore, the best way to keep your pets heart free of potentially deadly worms, is through a monthly preventative, prescribed by your veterinarian.

1. Obesity: Obesity has become as serious of a problem in our pets as it is in the human population. Sadly, overweight pets are more prone to heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and premature death. But while underlying disease or slow metabolism might be a factor, all too often, pet obesity is caused by doting pet parents who overfeed and underexercise their cats and dogs. There is no quick fix for obesity, but, just like with a human diet, check with your veterinarian for feeding and exercise guidelines. It might be as easy as swapping the dog treats with green beans or giving your cat a five-minute run with the laser pointer before bed. It might sound crazy, but when it comes to obesity, we can love our pets to death. You can help your dogs and cats live long lives by giving them the tools to stay light on their paws.
And never forget, it’s only through you the Randolph County Humane Society continues to save lives, one by one.

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The question is not can they reason but can they suffer and the Supreme Court says YES!

Stop Abuse

Stop Abuse

Long time readers may remember when I wrote about that the Texas Supreme Court was going to hear a case that would have significant ramifications in the future treatment of animals. Those that lined up on the opposing lines drawn in the sand were a surprise to me because the names you would automatically think of as in the pocket of animal rights, were not. Well, that case came down in the manner I expected but not as I had prayed. The decision was that animals are worth their market value, not their sentimental value to their family, so a “stray” that is adopted from a shelter has a market value of its adoption fee. It was a kick in the stomach to those of us that feel this are like our children and in an egregious case of abuse want the abuser to pay. But there is hope yet. According to TheDoDo.com:

The Oregon Supreme Court this month passed a landmark ruling that will change the way animals are treated under the law in the state for the better. The ruling will ensure that any animal can be seen as a legal “victim” in a case, affording animals more basic rights to protect them from abuse. The ruling was made on the case of a man who was convicted of starving 20 horses and goats on his property. The judge’s decision allotted a separate count of second-degree animal neglect for each animal, noting that each animal was a separate victim on his own. The distinction might sound obvious — but it wasn’t legally accepted at the time that Arnold Nix, the defendant, was first convicted in 2009. During his case, Nix argued that the law defines animals as the property of their owners, so the word “victim” shouldn’t apply to them. As of this month’s hearing, the word “victim” does apply. “To acknowledge that animals are victims of crime, that’s really common sense to us,” said Lora Dunn, staff attorney for the Animal Legal Defense Fund in Portland. And the ruling could lead to longer prison sentences for those convicted of animal abuse in the state. This isn’t the first time the issue has been addressed in law. According to a Michigan State University report: It is not a novel idea that entities other than humans can be considered crime victims. Businesses, corporations, neighborhood associations, and government entities have been defined as crime victims in state statutes. Including protections for animals as crime victims is a natural progression in the development of the law. It’s not the first time animal advocates have sought greater legal protections. Recently, an organization called the Nonhuman Rights Project has waged a campaign seeking “legal personhood” to be extended to a chimpanzee. In a blog post for The Dodo, the group says: Traditionally, Lady Justice is portrayed as wearing a blindfold as she holds the scales of justice. The idea is that justice should be blind — impartial and dispensed without regard to the classes of persons who appear before her. Ironically, however, justice has been blind in another way, too: blind to all living beings except humans. To this day they remain invisible to the legal system.

I personally find it egregious beyond words that a corporation has more right to humane treatment than an animal, but perhaps with forward thinking decisions such as that from the Oregon Supreme Court there is hope for our future yet.

And never forget it is only through you that the Randolph County Humane Society continues to save lives, one by one.

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Head butting or head pressing? The difference is life or death.

head pressing

head pressing

I read recently of a behavior that I had never thought of as being dangerous, and if I had never heard of it I’ll bet you haven’t heard of it either. If you see your dog or cat standing against the wall, pushing their head against any solid surface, it is an immediate cause for concern and get them to their Vet ASAP. This is known as head pressing and it generally indicates damage to the nervous system or a neurological condition or illness and it is very important that you take your dog or cat to a Veterinarian for diagnosis. According to Dogheirs.com, the illness that can cause this behavior are:

-prosencephalon disease (in which the forebrain and thalamus parts of the brain are damaged)

-tumors (eg brain or skull)

-liver shunt

-toxic poisoning (e.g. lead poisoning)

-metabolic disorder, such as hyper or hyponatremia (too much, or too little sodium in the body’s blood plasma)

-stroke

-encephalitis (inflammation of the brain and spinal cord. Many things can cause encephalitis. Infectious causes include bacteria, viruses, parasites, fungi and tick-transmitted disease).

-hepatic encephalopathy (metabolic disorder as result of liver disease)

-infection of the nervous system (rabies, parasites, bacterial, viral or fungal infection)

-head trauma

Head pressing can be just one symptom among other behaviors and symptoms of neurological or metabolic distress. Other behaviors and symptoms can include:

-constant pacing

-walking in circles

-face rubbing (pushing head into ground)

-damaged reflexes

-visual problems

-seizures

-getting stuck in corners

-staring at walls

By recognizing head pressing and other neurologically-related symptoms in your dog or cat, you could potentially save their lives!

This is not to be confused with the head butting your cat does to show affection. This is an out of the ordinary behavior that you notice in your pet. Whenever your beloved starts to act in a manner that is out of the ordinary, don’t wait, get it checked out. With these illnesses time is of the essence in saving them from permanent damage and perhaps the difference between having them with you.

And never forget, it is only through you that the Randolph County Humane Society continues to save lives, one by one.

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“Dignity consists not in possessing honors, but in the consciousness that we deserve them.” Aristotle

Guess what? The very thing I’ve been saying here in Tail Talk since its inception in 2008 has been confirmed by the greatest scientific minds of our times! WhooHoo! Animals are capable of consciousness just as we are and live in a conscious state of being. Hmmmm. In my head that means we have obligations to these animals. Does that mean we’ll see a shift in consciousness amongst our human counterparts now that we’ve been educated so we can no longer claim ignorance as our mantle of protection to proceed? I doubt if I’ll see it in my lifetime, but I’m ever hopeful. Here is the report for your information and dissemination to those that are not as socially conscious. They can no longer argue with your instincts. Even Stephen Hawking says it’s so:

An international group of prominent scientists has signed The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness in which they are proclaiming their support for the idea that animals are conscious and aware to the degree that humans are — a list of animals that includes all mammals, birds, and even the octopus. But will this make us stop treating these animals in totally inhumane ways? Prominent scientists sign declaration that animals have conscious awareness, just like us. While it might not sound like much for scientists to declare that many nonhuman animals possess conscious states, it’s the open acknowledgment that’s the big news here. The body of scientific evidence is increasingly showing that most animals are conscious in the same way that we are, and it’s no longer something we can ignore. What’s also very interesting about the declaration is the group’s acknowledgment that consciousness can emerge in those animals that are very much unlike humans, including those that evolved along different evolutionary tracks, namely birds and some cephalopods. “The absence of a neocortex does not appear to preclude an organism from experiencing affective states,” they write, “Convergent evidence indicates that non-human animals have the neuroanatomical, neurochemical, and neurophysiological substrates of conscious states along with the capacity to exhibit intentional behaviors.” Consequently, say the signatories, the scientific evidence is increasingly indicating that humans are not unique in possessing the neurological substrates that generate consciousness. The group consists of cognitive scientists, neuropharmacologists, neurophysiologists, neuroanatomists, and computational neuroscientists — all of whom were attending the Francis Crick Memorial Conference on Consciousness in Human and Non-Human Animals. The declaration was signed in the presence of Stephen Hawking, and included such signatories as Christof Koch, David Edelman, Edward Boyden, Philip Low, Irene Pepperberg, and many more.

The declaration made the following observations:

The field of Consciousness research is rapidly evolving. Abundant new techniques and strategies for human and non-human animal research have been developed. Consequently, more data is becoming readily available, and this calls for a periodic reevaluation of previously held preconceptions in this field. Studies of non-human animals have shown that homologous brain circuits correlated with conscious experience and perception can be selectively facilitated and disrupted to assess whether they are in fact necessary for those experiences. Moreover, in humans, new non-invasive techniques are readily available to survey the correlates of consciousness.

The neural substrates of emotions do not appear to be confined to cortical structures. In fact, subcortical neural networks aroused during affective states in humans are also critically important for generating emotional behaviors in animals. Artificial arousal of the same brain regions generates corresponding behavior and feeling states in both humans and non-human animals. Wherever in the brain one evokes instinctual emotional behaviors in non-human animals, many of the ensuing behaviors are consistent with experienced feeling states, including those internal states that are rewarding and punishing. Deep brain stimulation of these systems in humans can also generate similar affective states. Systems associated with affect are concentrated in subcortical regions where neural homologies abound. Young human and nonhuman animals without neocortices retain these brain-mind functions. Furthermore, neural circuits supporting behavioral/electrophysiological states of attentiveness, sleep and decision making appear to have arisen in evolution as early as the invertebrate radiation, being evident in insects and cephalopod mollusks (e.g., octopus).

Birds appear to offer, in their behavior, neurophysiology, and neuroanatomy a striking case of parallel evolution of consciousness. Evidence of near human-like levels of consciousness has been most dramatically observed in African grey parrots. Mammalian and avian emotional networks and cognitive microcircuitries appear to be far more homologous than previously thought. Moreover, certain species of birds have been found to exhibit neural sleep patterns similar to those of mammals, including REM sleep and, as was demonstrated in zebra finches, neurophysiological patterns, previously thought to require a mammalian neocortex. Magpies in articular have been shown to exhibit striking similarities to humans, great apes, dolphins, and elephants in studies of mirror self-recognition.

In humans, the effect of certain hallucinogens appears to be associated with a disruption in cortical feedforward and feedback processing. Pharmacological interventions in non-human animals with compounds known to affect conscious behavior in humans can lead to similar perturbations in behavior in non-human animals. In humans, there is evidence to suggest that awareness is correlated with cortical activity, which does not exclude possible contributions by subcortical or early cortical processing, as in visual awareness. Evidence that human and nonhuman animal emotional feelings arise from homologous subcortical brain networks provide compelling evidence for evolutionarily shared primal affective qualia.

And never forget, it’s only through you the Randolph County Humane Society continues to save lives, one by one.

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In the arms of an Angel lies the bridge between what was and what can be.

I read a poem by Diane Morgan today about fostering dogs. It is: I am the bridge, between what was and what can be. I am the pathway to a new life. I am made of mush, because my heart melted when I saw you, matted, sore, limping, depressed, lonely, unwanted, afraid to love. For one little time you are mine. I will feed you with my own hand. I will love you with my whole heart. I will make you whole. I am made of steel, because when the time comes, when you are well, and sleek, when your eyes shine, and when your tail wags with joy then the hard part. I will let you go – not without a tear, but without regret, for you are safe forever – A new dog needs me now.

When I read that I immediately thought of the person that supervises the kennels at Randolph County Humane Society shelter, Luella. She is a special soul.  She has to be. She has the most thankless job of any person I know. Her journey with us began years ago as a volunteer and turned into the only paid position within the entire organization. Everyone else that works with RCHS does it as a volunteer but we simply could not ask Lu to continue to be here, day in and day out, week after week, year after year, hour after hour, and not compensate her for her time except what she is paid is not compensation for the job she performs. When she walks through those doors RCHS is her home. Those are her dogs. Not figuratively, literally. She knows them intimately as only a mother knows their child. She knows their diet, their meds, their temperament, their nuances, and the pain they’ve suffered. She recognizes it in their eyes. She has empathy from the pain of loss she has suffered in her own life. She knows what it is to have suffered the loss of a beloved and she understands the pain of separation, so when they come to her after being part of a family and then having that love suddenly removed, she is the one that can hold them in her arms and give them the caring and understanding that imparts the implicit understanding of having been there. When they are in pain she climbs into their cage with them to comfort them. She cries tears of compassion of one that understands the cries of loneliness and fear they feel when they first come through our doors. That’s the first stage of their healing, from her heart to theirs, in her loving arms. They know she knows them intimately from their poop, just like their mamas did when they were babies, checking by smell for parvo and by sight for worms. She corrects them for bad behavior and encourages them when they do it right, making the choices that will make them good dogs for a new family to love and be loved. When they are sad and confused, she comforts them as only a loving mother can. It’s amazing that she finds the time to heal any of them that come through our doors considering that she has the responsibility of walking the dogs that fill our 14 cages and play with the inhabitants of 6 cat cages with 2-3 in each cage and no daily volunteers to depend on for help. Her day begins with moving the dogs to outside cages, running water, picking up dirty laundry, doing wash, picking up dishes, washing dishes, cleaning and scrubbing cages, doing the same in animal control if they are short handed or on vacation, because the animals are living, breathing beings and their needs don’t stop just because we have other things to do. In case you’re not getting the big big picture here, she could use some help from like minded, loving individuals. There are two teenage girls, Brea and Makayla, that volunteer two days per week and a pure blessing to Lu, dependable and loyal, everything she is, but she needs more. These two girls are going back to school and now Lu is going to be left in a lurch. Surely there are more people out there that can help with the least of them than 2 teen age girls? Volunteering is not easy, so come prepared to work. Sometimes there are special need dogs. Mopping floors cannot be beneath you. Scoop poop out in the yard, just like at home, should be something you should expect.. Wash outside pens till they shine. Anyone out there like to mow the yard and weed eat? Our yard needs that every week too, so you could volunteer here and really help us out. The building desperately needs to be repainted. So much is needed and so little time for Lu to take care of everything because she has bigger and better things to attend to, like sniffing poop to insure there is no major parvo outbreak and seeing to it that the animals in emotional crisis are comforted, as only a loving mother can do. Someone has to. The person that promised to love them into eternity, then didn’t, certainly isn’t coming back to take care of their obligations so the only person that can prepare these broken hearts for a new home is Lu. That’s why we need you to help with all the other things. So please, please, don’t you have a couple of hours in your week when you can step outside of your comfort zone and do something really meaningful for those that appreciate it so much but can’t do anything in return for you, except in the knowledge that you’ve helped another living soul go onto a good life? There is no greater reward than that. There are so many that need us, so please, be that angel that comes to their aid. Please…

And never forget, it is only through you that the Randolph County Humane Society continues to save lives, one by one.

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