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Critters Corner
By Karen Cunningham
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Critters Corner

This Week’s Featured Pets

First published: December 24, 2014 at 2:09 am
Last modified: December 24, 2014 at 2:09 am
Tank

TANK (6372) is a male juvenile, gray & white Siberian Husky. CINDY (6383C) is a female juvenile, domestic short hair, Calico.

Tank and Cindy are currently available for adoption at the St. Lawrence Valley SPCA. You can learn more about them and the other cats and dogs currently residing at the shelter by telephoning the shelter at (315) 393-5191, visiting the shelter on Tuesdays through Saturdays from 1 to 4 p.m., or on our website at www.stlawrencevalleyspca.org.

PET HEALTH TIP: Dental Care. Commit to keeping your pet’s teeth clean and healthy. What does this entail? First, take your pet to the veterinarian for a checkup, and cleaning if necessary, at least once a year. Second, brush its teeth regularly with pet toothpaste and give it dental chews to help keep its teeth pearly white in between visits. Routine dental care can not only help keep your pet’s teeth clean and healthy but also help prevent painful and costly dental problems in the future.

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So What About The Cat?

First published: December 23, 2014 at 1:55 am
Last modified: December 23, 2014 at 1:55 am

Everyone who knows how many cats are unclaimed in shelters (up to 95 percent in many areas) can understand the importance of ID tags and microchips. A microchip is a critical form of ID for any pet since it can’t be removed. But collars and tags are important, too. People who find pets without a collar and ID often mistakenly think a pet has been abandoned, when in fact they may have just escaped or gotten lost.

Most cat collars now come with a safety feature built in—either a “breakaway” buckle, elastic stretching portion, or an entire collar made of elastic material.

These designs are intended to allow a cat who is caught on an object to twist and safely slide out of the collar. It is important to test the collar. How easily does the buckle come undone?

For collars that stretch, it is enough of a stretch that it will easily slide off over your cat’s head but—and this is so important—can also be tight enough so your cat cannot get its lower jaw under the collar, and get stuck?

The rule of thumb is snug enough so you can just slide two fingers under the collar. Too loose and it is too easy for a cat to get its mouth under the collar. There have been cases where cats that have gotten their jaw stuck panicked and severely mangled their faces with their front and back claws trying to escape from the collar that was partially choking them.

Please, please, please do not put a collar on a cat for the first time and leave them unsupervised.

Even if the cat seems fine at first and ignores the collar, as they move around, try to eat or drink, lie down, or play, they may suddenly become bothered by this new thing around their neck and try to get it off. Watch your cat closely for the first hour and then if you can no longer have your eyes on your cat, take the collar off. Put it back on only when you’ll be able to see immediately if your cat gets its jaw stuck or goes into a panic to get the collar off. Gradually build up the amount of time your cat spends in the collar.

If you notice your cat still trying to chew on or get its jaw under the collar, even after several days of building up how long it has been wearing it, your cat may be one of the few cats who cannot safely wear a collar.

For cats, the safest type of tag is one that is attached to or clips onto the collar. A hanging tag ring or hook can get caught and defeat the function of a safety collar.

So, why not just leave off a collar? The dangers of a cat escaping and not being returned to their owner are much greater than the risk of a cat getting a collar caught. Life is never risk-free.

Limit the collar risks by properly purchasing, fitting, and monitoring your cat’s collar and you’ll greatly reduce the risks of losing your cat, too.

Consider microchipping Your Cat!

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This Week’s Featured Pets

First published: December 18, 2014 at 1:57 am
Last modified: December 18, 2014 at 1:57 am
Fritzie

FRITZIE (6352) is a male adult, black poodle. SQUEEK (6295A) is a tabby, domestic short hair, female adult. Fritzie and Squeek are currently available for adoption at the St. Lawrence Valley SPCA. You can learn more about them and the other cats and dogs currently residing at the shelter by telephoning the shelter at (315) 393-5191, visiting the shelter on Tuesdays through Saturdays from 1 to 4 p.m., or on our website at www.stlawrencevalleyspca.org.

PET HEALTH TIP: Screening Tests. Since animals can’t talk and tell us what is wrong with them, screening tests are important because they can detect disease before signs and symptoms develop. Depending on your pet’s age, your veterinarian will recommend screening tests to look for problems like diabetes, kidney disease, or thyroid disease. Make sure you get the screening test recommended by your veterinarian even if your pet looks healthy.

Your veterinarian may also recommend screening tests before your pet undergoes general anesthesia to ensure it is healthy enough for the procedure.

If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call your veterinarian—your veterinarian is your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pet.

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Which Is The Right Collar For Your Dog (Part 4)

First published: December 16, 2014 at 2:18 am
Last modified: December 16, 2014 at 2:18 am

Pam Dennison, Certified Animal Behavior Consultant, author of how to right a dog gone wrong, states “Almost without exception, physical punishment, including the use of prong collars and electric shock collars, alpha rolls, and dominance downs can make an already aggressive dog worse. Owners should be discouraged from using these techniques.”

Pat Miller, CPDT, CDBC, owner of Peaceable Paws, author of positive perspectives states “Choke chains, prong collars, and shock collars utilize mild to severe punishment, called “corrections” by trainers who use them to let the dog know when it has done something wrong. I don’t recommend their use. Punishment can be difficult to administer effectively—timing and severity of the correction are critical to effective punishment training—and even when done properly there is a high risk of unintended and undesirable side effects, including aggression. Make no mistake however, those prongs do cause pain—that’s why they work. If you doubt that, slip one over your wrist and give it a solid yank. Then think about doing that to your neck.”

“Do NOT use a pinch collar or any other pain-to-neck device (including especially a bark-corrector or remote shock collar) on any dog with an aggression problem. Pain tends to increase aggression. For dog-aggressive dogs, any pain in the neck can trigger the same fight response as would be triggered by being bitten in the neck by the other dog. So use of neck pain to a dog who is dog aggressive is likely to cause the dog to start a fight as a pre-emptive strike under less and less provocation from the other dog. Additionally, if a pinch collar or chain collar is on a dog that is grabbed by the neck by another dog, the grabbing dog may catch and break a tooth on it, which cause great suffering to that dog and great expense to whoever has to pay for a root-canal procedure.”

Whether it’s a “Prong” (Pinch), “Choke”, or “Shock” collar you need to try it on your arm or leg. You don’t have to try it on your neck. You’ll quickly realize that these are inappropriate corrective devices for your pet.

So, you have an overview of a variety of common collars, harnesses, and head halters. None are perfect. They are all just tools. But some are more likely to cause problems in your pet or may just provide a less than ideal match for your needs.

Your dog is your partner and friend, and will gladly do what is expected of it if you only teach your dog what you want it to do!!

Real fences and positive training methods, in which your dog is rewarded for good behavior, are kinder and more effective!!

Consider microchipping your dog!!

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This Week’s Featured Pets

First published: December 11, 2014 at 2:01 am
Last modified: December 11, 2014 at 2:01 am
Felcia

BINDY, BRANDY, AND SIMBA (5998 ABC) are senior female adult Chihuahuas. FELICIA (6327) is an orange, domestic long hair, female juvenile. Bindy, Brandy, Simba and Felicia are currently available for adoption at the St. Lawrence Valley SPCA. You can learn more about them and the other cats and dogs currently residing at the shelter by telephoning the shelter at (315) 393-5191, visiting the shelter on Tuesdays through Saturdays from 1 to 4 p.m., or on our website at www.stlawrencevalleyspca.org.

PET HEALTH TIP: You shouldn’t overlook vaccinating your pets. Immunizations protect your pet from devastating diseases caused by viruses and bacteria. Ask your veterinarian to advise you on which vaccines would benefit your pet based on its lifestyle and risk factors, and how often your pet should receive booster vaccines.

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Which Is The Right Collar For Your Dog? (Part 3)

First published: December 09, 2014 at 2:10 am
Last modified: December 09, 2014 at 2:10 am

There are cruel “training” devices such as containment shock devices, anti-barking shock collars, and electric (“invisible”) fences—

“Shock” collars can cause dogs physical pain, injury (ranging from burns to cardiac fibrillation), and psychological stress, including severe anxiety and displaced aggression.

Individual animals vary in their temperaments and pain thresholds; a shock that seems mild to one dog might be severe to another. The anxiety and confusion caused by repeated shocks can lead to changes in a dog’s heart and respiration rate or gastrointestinal disorders. Electronic collars can also malfunction, either administering no shocks at all or nonstop shocks.

Electric (“Invisible”)

Fences

Dogs whose yards are surrounded by electric fences may develop fear or aggression aimed at what they believe is the source of the shock (kids riding by on bikes, the mail carrier, the dog next door, etc.).

Dogs have been known to run through electric fences when frightened by fireworks or chasing a squirrel and then be too scared to cross back through the barrier.

Electric fences may actually encourage animals to try to escape. Since dogs only suffer painful shocks in the yard, they might associate the shock with the yard itself—once they get out of the yard, the pain goes away. The fact that the pain returns when they try to re-enter the yard can cause dogs to believe that they are being punished for returning home.

Even when animals are successfully confined to the yard with an electric fence, they are still in danger of attacks by roaming dogs, cruel humans, or other animals that can freely enter the property. Electric fences are a dog thief’s dream come true!

Possible “side effects” of “shock” training—

• Inappropriate urination – “My dog pees every time it hears a digital beeping sound” – when the phone rang, the microwave dinged, or a timer went off, the dog would squat and pee. This behavior did not start until after the owner had begun using a shock collar to control the dog’s barking. The dog associated the beeping sounds with a resulting shock—and urinated in fear at sounds that were similar to those made by the collar.

• Fear of doorways – The owner installed shock mats at the front and rear entries of the home to keep the dog from bolting out the door—after only a few shocks, the dog refused to approach the door—on-leash or off-leash—even after the scat mats were removed.

• Unwanted aggression—The owner used an electric fence to contain her friendly, socially gregarious dog who would rush to the fence line with a wagging tail to greet visitors, only to receive a shock—very soon the dog was growling and barking as people approached because it associated their visit with unpleasant things and had adopted a “the best offense in a good defense” strategy.

Whether it’s a “Prong” (Pinch), “Choke”, or “Shock” collar you need to try it on your arm or leg. You don’t have to try it on your neck. You’ll quickly realize that these are inappropriate corrective devices for your pet.

Which is the right collar for your dog? (Part 4) next Tuesday.

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This Week’s Featured Pets

First published: December 04, 2014 at 1:48 am
Last modified: December 04, 2014 at 1:48 am
Nelson

TANK (6372) is a male juvenile, gray & white Siberian husky. NELSON (5992C) is a black & white, domestic long hair male juvenile. Tank and Nelson are currently available for adoption at the St. Lawrence Valley SPCA.

You can learn more about them and the other cats and dogs currently residing at the shelter by telephoning the shelter at (315) 393-5191, visiting the shelter from 1 to 4 p.m. , Tuesdays through Saturdays, or on our website at www.stlawrencevalleyspca.org.

PET HEALTH TIP: Schedule a yearly veterinary examination. Bring your pet in for a wellness exam at least once a year.

Older pets and pets with medical issues may need to be seen more frequently.

Your veterinarian will examine your pet from head to tail to insure that it is healthy and up to date on immunizations and other preventatives. Taking your pet to the veterinarian for an annual wellness exam is the best way to insure your pet lives a long, healthy life.

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Which Is The Right Collar For Your Dog? (Part 2)

First published: December 02, 2014 at 2:19 am
Last modified: December 02, 2014 at 2:19 am

Note: this column is the second in a series. The first part was published in the Nov. 25 edition of the Journal.

Collars to avoid—

Some trainers use aversive collars to train with correction or punishment. These collars rely on physical discomfort or even pain to teach the dog what not to do. They suppress the unwanted behavior, but they don’t teach it what the proper behavior is. At best, they are unpleasant for the dog, and at worst, they may cause the dog to act aggressively and even bite.

“Prong” (Pinch) and “choke” collars can do much more damage than just yanking and choking a dog. Depending on the size of the dog, how hard the dog pulls, and how forcefully the person holding the leash yanks, choke collars can cause serious injuries, including the following:

• Intervertebral disc protrusion

• Partial or complete fore- or hind-limb paralysis from spinal cord injuries

• Damage to the vagus nerve, affecting the function of major organs, including the heart, lungs, liver, bladder, spleen, and kidneys

• A crushed trachea, with partial or complete asphyxiation

• Crushed or fractured bones in the larynx

• A bruised esophagus

• Sharp increases in pressure inside the head, which can cause brain or eye damage and sometimes prolapse of the eye

• Bruising and damage to the skin and tissues in the neck, resulting in the formation of scar tissue

• Fainting

Dogs that are repeatedly yanked and choked may become resentful, aggressive, and fearful of hands.

As the name implies, the “choke” collar is made of metal links and is designed to control the dog by tightening around the dog’s neck. There is no way to control how much the choke chain tightens, so it’s possible to choke or strangle the dog.

If you insist on using a choke collar, consult an experienced trainer to learn how to properly size, fit, and use it. And never leave a choke chain on the dog as a regular collar; the chain could catch on something and choke the dog!

Stated quite simply, “prong” collars are an aversive device that will cause pain to your dog. Sure, they can be a quick fix, but

• your dog is only walking nicely to avoid punishment

• your dog is not being taught WHAT to do, in that the old behavior will return with the prong collar is removed

• anything present in the environment when your dog experiences pain can take on a negative association, including other dogs, children, and strangers

• in NO WAY, does a prong collar emulate the correction of a mother’s teeth to a puppy—this is a MYTH plain and simple

Regarding the quick fix, why not invest a little time and extra effort in positive reinforcement training, so you will not have to hurt your dog?

We owe it to our dogs to communicate clearly to them WHAT we would like them to do, instead of automatically punishing undesired behaviors. Reinforced behavior becomes automatic behavior to your dog, and when a behavior is learned, requires only occasional reinforcement to remind your dog that he is doing what you want.

Which is the right collar for your dog? (Part 3) next Tuesday.

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This Week’s Featured pETS

First published: November 26, 2014 at 1:21 am
Last modified: November 26, 2014 at 1:21 am
Felix

CHIEF (6374) is a male adult, tan German shepherd dog mix. FELIX (6329 B) is a domestic long hair, orange and white male adult. Chief and Felix are currently available for adoption at the St. Lawrence Valley SPCA.

You can learn more about them and the other cats and dogs currently residing at the shelter by telephoning the shelter at (315) 393-5191, visiting the shelter on Tuesdays through Saturdays from 1 to 4 p.m., or on our website at www.stlawrencevalleyspca.org.

IMPORTANT FACTS FOR DOG LOVERS NEVER TO FORGET: Love me when I’m old just as much as you did when I was young. I might not be the cute puppy that I once was, but I still love you just as much now as I did then. Please take care of me when my body doesn’t work like it used to.

Come with me on my final journey. I know it will be difficult, but I need you by my side when the time comes for me to leave this world. Every moment down to my last breath is easier if I have you with me.

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This Week’s Featured Pets

First published: November 20, 2014 at 1:54 am
Last modified: November 20, 2014 at 1:54 am
Fritzie

FRITZIE (6352) is a male adult, black Poodle. SNOWFLAKE (6344) is an orange and white domestic long hair, female adult. Fritzie and Snowflake are currently available for adoption at the St. Lawrence Valley SPCA.

You can learn more about them and the other cats and dogs currently residing at the shelter by telephoning the shelter at (315) 393-5191, visiting the shelter on Tuesdays through Saturdays from 1 to 4 p.m., or on our website at www.stlawrencevalleyspca.org.

Important Fact For Dog Lovers Never To Forget: Pay attention if I don’t seem like myself. It might seem like I’m just being lazy or stubborn, but I might not be feeling well. I can’t get help for myself, and I need you to look out for me.

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