Weight Loss: Shedding Pounds With Our Pets!

ImageLosing weight is a challenge for both people and their pets.  With obesity levels at an all time high in North America, how can we reverse the trend and start shedding those pounds?  The good news is that working out with your pet has definite advantages!

They might not understand the aerobics instructions and they can’t use free weights, but it’s possible that our pets may be just as valuable as expensive exercise machines in helping us humans lose weight.

A twelve month study recently completed has shown that exercising with your dog has several positive benefits for both owner and pets.  The People and Pets Exercising Together (PPET) study showed people who are trying to lose weight often need a positive support system of friends, co-workers and relatives.  Unfortunately, these same people can negatively affect an individual’s exercise plan by sabotage and even negative influences.  Exercising with your pet however, brings unique encouragement and fun not seen in other programs.


Animal Dangers in Our Own Backyard!

ImageFor many people, the sight of deer in their backyard on a brisk autumn morning is a wonderful start to the day.  But, as we continue to encroach into formerly “wild” areas, are we putting ourselves and our pets at risk?

Wildlife fascinates us.   Whether it’s the sight of a fox along the roadside or a raccoon ambling across a yard, people often stop in amazement, enthralled by these encounters with nature.

However, there is a darker side to this fascination.   As we build more homes in formerly rural areas, contact with wild animals increases.  Much of this new interaction has unfortunate consequences for the wildlife.  This is evident by the number of dead skunks, raccoons, and possums along the roadside.


When Disaster Strikes, Animal Rescuers Respond.

Image In the event of natural disasters, millions of people rely on the “first responders” of police, fire and paramedic squads.  Until recently, our animals were often left out of evacuations or rescues.  But today, first responders will have help from some very special “animal response teams”.

When wildfires ravage the West, they are there leading horses and livestock to safety.  When floods drown the Midwest, they are there rescuing pets and settling them in temporary shelters.  And, when the fierce winds of hurricanes and tornados devastate whole communities, once again they are there to help with animal rescue efforts.  “They” are the thousands of volunteers who put aside their jobs and family to help save animals when Mother Nature, or human folly, wreaks havoc.

Finding people to help pets has never been difficult, but recent rough storm seasons and continuing wildfires have taught us that disaster responders and temporary shelters are often woefully unprepared to cope with both people AND their pets.  Many animal welfare groups and official Veterinary Medical Assistance Teams (VMATs) are often available to lend aid, but coordination with authorities is often lacking.


Internet Reunites Lost Pets and Owners

ImageWith our impressive array of technologies, like GPS and “smart” phones, you might think that finding a lost pet is getting easier each year. Sadly, the odds are still against many missing pets ever making it back home.  Isn’t there some way to insure that your pet will return safely from his wandering?

Everyone loves the amazing stories of dogs and cats who travel long distances to find their way back home or even locate their owners in a new city.  Unfortunately, these happy tales are the rare exception to the rule.  For every pet that makes it back after leaving, there are tens of thousands who never live to see home again!

Humane groups and pet industry experts estimate that more than 5 million pets will be lost this year.  One pet in every three will be lost at some point in his or her lifetime.  According to the American Humane Association (www.americanhumane.org), of those that roam away from home, less than 17% of the dogs and only 2% of the cats ever make it back to their owners.  Sadly, most of the rest will be euthanized in over-crowded animal shelters.  Newspapers and on-line ads still tell the sad story of some youngster’s lost pet every day.  Why do we see a continuation of this problem year after year?


Saying Good-bye With Dignity – Hospice Care for Pets

ImageWhen faced with a disabled pet or one with a terminal illness, many owners opt for euthanasia in order to spare their beloved animal any pain and discomfort.  But a recent movement in human medicine has some people re-thinking that decision.  Palliative care helps to alleviate pain but does not focus on finding a cure.  Many terminal people spend their remaining months in hospice.  Can hospice care also provide a higher quality of life for pets, even if it’s just for a few days or weeks?  Read how this movement is helping pets and their families find peace at the end of life.

It’s never easy to let go of a loved one, whether they have two legs or four.  Pet owners often console themselves by saying they are “easing their pet’s misery” when they ask for euthanasia after diagnosis of a terminal illness.  But, are these “premature euthanasias” good for the whole pet family?

Ending a human life is not legal, so people with terminal illnesses and less than 6 months to live often enter hospice care.  This relatively recent development in medicine focuses on the comfort of the patient and less on heroic medical or surgical measures.  In other words, caregivers put the patient’s comfort first, not an attempt at any type of cure.  Another important aspect of hospice care is that the whole family is included.  Relatives and friends can say good-bye in peace rather than sitting in hospital lobbies or crowded waiting rooms.