Animals living well

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  • At the Kootenai Humane Society’s cat shelter, Claudette Kasper, a full-time volunteer, plays with a kitten. (Photos by Andreas Braunlich)

  • 1

    Mary Powell has been a dog tech at the Humane Society for most of the last 20 years. Today she is introducing a very calm pit bull to Jim Carroll, a Vietnam War veteran, who is looking for a service dog to be trained through a program from the Veterans of Foreign War organization. Powell rides a Harley Davidson motorcycle and plans to get a sidecar for the dog.

  • 2

    Until little Kaiser finds a permanent home, he will live in a cage just inside the window of the Kootenai Humane Society cat shelter.

  • 3

    Emanuella Bardsley seeks a very specific kind of cat. This one has the letter M on its forehead making it a tabby and that is exactly what she is looking for.

  • 4

    These five siblings are all looking for new homes and families. All cats are spayed or neutered, and receive vaccines prior to adoption.

  • 5

    Tony Cameron has been a volunteer dog walker at the Humane Society for three years. She is working with a shy, scared dog to help him adjust to the shelter.

  • 6

    Live Well talked to executive director Debbie Jeffrey about the fundraising campaign, as well as current community needs and animal issues. (Photo/Joel Riner Photography, LLC)

  • At the Kootenai Humane Society’s cat shelter, Claudette Kasper, a full-time volunteer, plays with a kitten. (Photos by Andreas Braunlich)

  • 1

    Mary Powell has been a dog tech at the Humane Society for most of the last 20 years. Today she is introducing a very calm pit bull to Jim Carroll, a Vietnam War veteran, who is looking for a service dog to be trained through a program from the Veterans of Foreign War organization. Powell rides a Harley Davidson motorcycle and plans to get a sidecar for the dog.

  • 2

    Until little Kaiser finds a permanent home, he will live in a cage just inside the window of the Kootenai Humane Society cat shelter.

  • 3

    Emanuella Bardsley seeks a very specific kind of cat. This one has the letter M on its forehead making it a tabby and that is exactly what she is looking for.

  • 4

    These five siblings are all looking for new homes and families. All cats are spayed or neutered, and receive vaccines prior to adoption.

  • 5

    Tony Cameron has been a volunteer dog walker at the Humane Society for three years. She is working with a shy, scared dog to help him adjust to the shelter.

  • 6

    Live Well talked to executive director Debbie Jeffrey about the fundraising campaign, as well as current community needs and animal issues. (Photo/Joel Riner Photography, LLC)

It’s not all about you, pet owners. In fact, your dog or cat might even be allergic to you. Oh, how the tables have turned!

The vast majority of pet owners want the best for their animals. That means proper food and exercise, of course, but there are plenty of other things to consider. That includes environment, socializing, and yes, allergies.

Dr. Lindsay Isaac, DVM of Prairie Animal Hospital in Coeur d’Alene said pets experience allergies ranging from food, flea allergies, bee allergies and allergies to various trees, grasses, molds, pollens and dust mites.

“Some pets are allergic to other animal species and some are even allergic to human dander,” Isaac said. “Some breeds have a genetic predisposition to allergies. Most dogs with environmental and/or food allergies are allergic to more than one thing.”

In terms of food allergies, Isaac said every pet is unique, which means strict food trials and allergy testing, including testing to rule out other itchy skin conditions.

“There is a lot of hype about grain allergies, and while they are real for some pets it is not as common as the Internet suggests,” Isaac said. “It is actually more common for pets to be allergic to chicken or other meat protein ingredients in the food.”

As for other foods or things pets get into, Isaac said the list is extensive.

“Pet proofing the house is important because we see a lot of toxicity and intestinal obstruction cases every year,” Isaac said.

Toxic foods include chocolate, alcohol, raw bread dough, grapes, raisins, onions and garlic. Other items include certain household plants like sago palms, lilies, yew trees. Chemicals like antifreeze, rat baits and fertilizers are dangerous, as are over-the-counter and prescription medications.

The list also extends to trash, socks and underwear, children’s toys, dental floss and strings, hair bands and scrunchies, and dish towels (especially the ones that smell like lasagna), Isaac said.

Allergies show themselves in different ways, she said.

“Frequently itchy feet, red-stained feet, itchy ears and frequent ear and skin infections can indicate a potential food allergy,” Isaac said. “Pets that are very itchy elsewhere can also have allergies to food, the environment or a flea bite even if the flea is not currently on the pet.”

Food allergies and intolerance can also cause gas production and flatulence, diarrhea and vomiting. Isacc said pets can also get anaphylactic reactions, such as swollen eyelids, puffy face, bumps, hives and trouble breathing.

“These can be life-threatening and the pet should be seen immediately,” she said.

Animals should visit a veterinarian annually, but there are also other instances when you might consider having them see a professional.

“Everyone has an off day and the same can be true of pets, but you know your pet best and if anything is concerning you, even if you aren’t sure what it is or why, it is always best to bring them in for a check-up,” Isaac said.

She said some of the things to watch for include: Lethargy, not eating as much or not eating as vigorously, drinking more water than normal, weight gain, weight loss without an active diet and exercise plan, vision changes, new or changing lumps, getting stiff or having trouble getting up or laying down, bad breath, changes in the quality of the coat, changes in stools or urine (color, volume, amount, frequency, urgency), scratching or licking more than normal, or a change in how they smell to you.

Regular bathing and grooming can help your animals with many health issues. Baths can help remove environmental allergens, remove painful mats that pull the skin, and remove parasites and bacteria, Isaac said.

“Be careful not to over-bathe, as this can strip the natural oils in the skin and hair, which can lead to dry skin, a brittle coat and increases risks for skin infections,” she said. “For most dogs, daily or twice-daily brushing and a bath every two to six weeks is adequate.”

Most cats have good hygiene habits, but Isaac said that isn’t always the case.

“If a cat used to be a good groomer and then becomes a not-so-good groomer, it may mean there’s something wrong with the mouth, or that the cat is nauseous, or it may have a medical condition, such as arthritis,” Isaac said. “The other thing to watch at home is their claws. Cat claws can get trimmed just like dog toenails, and claws that get too long can get caught in the carpets or can curl into their toe pads.”

Before they even come home

Pet care begins well before the animal enters the home. In many cases, the key to happy healthy pets begins with how well an animal may fit into your home in the first place.

Debbie Jeffrey, executive director of the Kootenai Humane Society, said families should have realistic conversations about what it takes to bring home a rescue animal, or any animal for that matter.

“For a dog, consider lifestyle - how much time will they be able to spend with the dog, where they are going to keep the dog when they work, if it will be an indoor/outdoor dog, and if it’s an outdoor dog will it have shelter, food, water available?” Jeffrey said. “With cats, we encourage them to make them indoor cats, but if they are going to be outdoors then again, consider shelter, food and water needs.”

At the Humane Society, people interested in adoption will fill out an application, which is reviewed and submitted for input.

“People can come out and go into our meet-and-greet areas for dogs, and Grace’s Place for cats,” Jeffrey said. “If they decide to adopt a dog and they have other dogs at home, we require them to do a meet-and-greet with both dogs.”

Jeffrey said there isn’t any good reason for someone to not consider a shelter animal for a new pet.

“Historically, shelters have gotten a bad name, but many times a shelter pet is so much better because they have survived the elements and have stayed alive in unsafe environments,” Jeffrey said. “The main thing (animals need) is love and time to adjust to a new environment. Most times we do not know anything about the animal coming in.”

More common pet care needs

Dr. Isaac said obesity continues to be a major problem with pets.

“Sometimes there is an underlying medical condition that predisposes them to weight gain, but a lot of the times it is truly an over-feeding situation,” Isaac said.

Obesity can lead to early or more severe arthritis, as well as diabetes and shorter life spans, Isaac said.

“Malnutrition can occur even with over-feeding too, because the diet may not be balanced,” she said. “For instance, too much fat in the diet may lead to pancreatitis, which is a painful digestive problem that needs immediate medical attention and can be fatal.”

Diets too high in protein can be stressful on the kidneys, Isaac said. Too much salt leads to hypertension. A grain-free diet may increase a pet’s risk for dilated cardiomyopathy, an irreversible heart condition, she said.

“The quality of food does matter, and quality is not dependent on the price tag of the food,” Isaac said. “The best thing to do is to have a discussion with your veterinarian about food recommendations specific for your pet’s needs.”

Dental care is also essential to a long and healthy life for pets.

“The gold standard is now for people to brush their pets’ teeth,” Isaac said. “Always use a pet-friendly toothpaste, never a toothpaste for people.”

Dog owners can use a very soft-bristled toothbrush for people or a pet toothbrush, which come in animal friendly flavors like poultry. Isaac said to start introducing the concept of brushing on just one or two teeth for a few days, then gradually introduce more teeth.

“If any of the teeth are wiggly, or if there is quite a bit of plaque and tartar, then your pet needs a full dental cleaning,” she said.

Smaller dog breeds typically have more crowding of teeth, which can lead to more dental disease. Even with diligent at-home care, those pets may need regular professional cleanings, Isaac said.

Oh, and don’t forget about cats.

“Cats can get some very different kinds of mouth problems,” Isaac said. “Watch for any changes in grooming habits, or if they’re having trouble chewing their kibbles, or if you notice redness on or around the teeth.”

Dr. Isaac said most of the things even good pet owners forget are the things they can’t see. Not everyone looks in their pets’ mouths for dental disease, for example.

“Things you might take for granted, like scented cat litters for a cat that has sensitivities to scents, or scented laundry detergents and fabric softeners when washing dog beds for an allergy dog,” Isaac said.

“We want our pets to live forever, but they age so much faster than we do,” she continued. “While we get our teeth cleaned every three to six months, many pets are going years without even home brushing, which can be a large portion of their lifetime.”

While owners can’t make their pets live forever, Isaac said we can help them live their lives to the utmost.

“This may sound cliché, but one very simple thing to remember is: Don’t take a single day for granted, because that’s about a whole week in pet time,” Isaac said.

Prairie Animal Hospital is located at 920 W. Prairie Ave. in Coeur d’Alene. Call (208) 772-3214 or visit PrairieAnimalHospital.com for more information.

• • •

The Kootenai Humane Society is located at 11650 N. Ramsey Road in Hayden. Call (208) 772-4019 or visit www.KootenaiHumaneSociety.com.

What’s happening at the Kootenai Humane Society

The Kootenai Humane Society is a busy place. Animal care, pet adoptions, educational outreach all play a part, and the group is also in the midst of a capital fundraising campaign to develop a new 24,000 sq. ft. facility on a parcel west of the Coeur d’Alene Airport on Atlas Road. It will accommodate thousands of animals annually who need medical care and rescue from life-threatening conditions. The goal is to raise $6.5 million to complete the shelter, which will include a veterinarian clinic and the ability to expand for future growth.

Live Well talked to executive director Debbie Jeffrey about the fundraising campaign, as well as current community needs and animal issues.

LIVE WELL: What is the current need for adoption right now in our area?

JEFFREY: We have a bigger need getting adult cats adopted because when it is kitten season everyone wants the cute little kitten, but they do grow in adult cats. We move out dogs pretty quickly.

LIVE WELL: If people cannot adopt a pet, how can they help support the Humane Society?

JEFFREY: They can donate money, food supplies, litter for cats and many other things that are needed on a daily basis to run the shelter. Visit our website for a listing of items that we need and use daily to take care of these animals.

LIVE WELL: How is the capital campaign going, and why is it important for the Kootenai Humane Society to have a larger space and additional funds?

JEFFREY: The campaign is going very well. Our current facility is 40 years old and in need of consistent repair. We need more space with the growing population in Kootenai County and other local areas.

LIVE WELL: Tell us about your care team.

JEFFREY: We currently have 20 full-time and part-time employees and more than 100 volunteers. We currently have a veterinarian come in two days a week and every other Friday to do public spay/neuters, vaccine clinic and owner requested euthanasia. She is also available in emergency situations to take care of the animals.

LIVE WELL: What should someone do if they are aware of an animal in need of rescue?

JEFFREY: Report it to your local Animal Control office. We have four animal control agencies in Kootenai County - Coeur d’Alene, City of Rathdrum, City of Post Falls, and Kootenai County Animal Control. We cannot take stray animals at the Shelter; they must go to the local agency where the dog is found. Animal control does not pick up cats, the only exception being is if they are injured or abandoned.

LIVE WELL: What do you see as the biggest issue for pets/animals in Kootenai County, and how can animal lovers help the cause?

JEFFREY: The biggest issue currently is cats/kittens. Too many cats are not being spayed/neutered and this leads to many unwanted kittens being born. We take all kittens under four months of age with no questions asked, but we encourage people to have the momma cat fixed. Promoting spaying/neutering is the key to stopping this overpopulation of cats.

LIVE WELL: Anything else you’d like to share with the public about pet health needs and adoption?

JEFFREY: Once someone has adopted, then it is their responsibility to take these animals to the vet for yearly vaccines. If they are sick or injured take them in to get treated before it gets worse. Keep them in a safe and protected area away from predators that can harm them.

• • •

The Kootenai Humane Society is located at 11650 N. Ramsey Road in Hayden. Call (208) 772-4019 or visit www.KootenaiHumaneSociety.com.

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