Peaches’ Story: Why Microchipping Matters

April 26th, 2022 | Posted by Ronai Rivera in Humane Pennsylvania | Humane Veterinary Hospitals | Microchipping - (Comments Off on Peaches’ Story: Why Microchipping Matters)

If ever you had any doubts about microchipping your pet, let Peaches’ story change your mind!

Peaches, a five-year-old spayed female pug, was surrendered to the Freedom Center for Animal Life-Saving last week after a construction worker found her onsite, wrapped in a blanket outside with small bowls of food and water. The worker brought Peaches to the Freedom Center in Berks County, where she was immediately taken in and cared for – the shelter staff made sure to check for a microchip right away as part of the surrender protocol.

Luckily, Peaches was microchipped and they were able to locate her owner’s information through HomeAgain within a few minutes. Upon contacting the owner, the Freedom Center staff was taken aback. The owner emotionally explained that Peaches was actually stolen from her three years prior and she thought she’d never see her again! Freedom Center staff quickly made arrangements for the owner to come in and see Peaches and assist her as much as possible with this sudden news. The owner came into the Freedom Center the very next day to confirm that Peaches was her dog.

While the owner had to make the very difficult decision to officially surrender Peaches due to irrefutable challenges with her current living arrangements, she made peace knowing that Peaches was doing well and was in safe hands at the Freedom Center. Although Peaches and her owner didn’t head back home together, the closure made possible because of that microchip is why it’s so important. Think of that scene in Cast Away when the wife realizes the husband she thought she lost forever had survived the plane crash and was, in fact, alive. While life’s circumstances couldn’t allow them to be together, both found peace in knowing that the love they shared was real and they no longer had to wonder.

Unfortunately, stories like Peaches are more common than you might think; animals become lost or stolen often, and most end up not being reunited with their owners simply because they aren’t microchipped. Microchipping your pet could truly save its life. By completing this quick and painless procedure, you’re ensuring that your pet will have a stronger chance of finding its way home.

Schedule an appointment to microchip your pet at https://hvhospitals.org/contact-us/.

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Adopt A Shelter Pet

April 26th, 2022 | Posted by Ronai Rivera in Adopt A Shelter Pet | Adoption Story | Animal Welfare - (Comments Off on Adopt A Shelter Pet)
By: Melanie Reynolds, Humane Pennsylvania Animal Care Technician

Is adopting a shelter pet the way to go? Does adopting an animal really make that much of a difference? For some, the answer is simple and automatic. For others, it’s not.

A little over 13 years ago, my family faced these exact questions. Our first dog had passed away. He was one of those Heinz 57 dogs. You know the ones I’m talking about.

When he passed away he left a void that, to me, felt like the size of a small crater. Coming home without him to greet us when we came in the door, seeing the spot where his bed was kept — now sitting empty — felt like a wound that wouldn’t heal.

Everyone’s grieving period is different, but two months of feeling emptiness when I came home was enough for me. I needed another dog. A discussion with my parents revealed they felt the same.

Then came the aforementioned questions. Our first dog had just kind of fallen into our laps. A dog of someone we knew had an accidental litter of pups, so finding him was easy. We’d have to do a little more work to find dog number two. My parents wanted a puppy. I wanted to adopt from a shelter. Finding a middle ground was going to take some work and research.

13 years ago, I was working my first job in animal care. I knew of puppy mills, but the image in my head was that of animals in unsanitary conditions and cramped cages. Research opened my eyes to the different types of puppy mills that were out there.

There’s the “breeder” with several different breeds, instead of focusing on one. The “breeder” who won’t show you the young animal’s parents. Or the “breeder” who won’t take the animal back if there’s a medical or behavioral problem. These are all signs of a potential mill — and the last thing anyone in my family wanted to do was inadvertently support one.

After our research, we agreed adopting from a shelter would be the way to go for us. Though we still wanted a puppy or a very young dog, we didn’t realize all the advantages that would come with adopting an animal from a shelter.

Did you know the vast majority of shelters won’t adopt animals out until they’ve been spayed or neutered, unless there’s a medical reason to not do so? That’s potentially hundreds of dollars saved for you. They’re also most likely already fully vaccinated or as up-to-date on vaccines as they can be, depending on their age and length of stay in the shelter.

Depending on the shelter, they may have even been given a dewormer and flea and tick preventative. If the shelter has any medical or behavioral history on the animal, they’ll disclose that at the time of adoption as well.

Does all this mean the animal will never have medical or behavioral problems? Of course not. But you get a ton of information about the animal right from the start. If you get an animal from a mill, or even a reputable breeder, they most likely will not be spayed or neutered, and they might not even be started on vaccinations.

There’s also the emotional aspect of adopting an animal. This may seem obvious — the animal you adopt no longer has to spend their time in a small cage or kennel — but there’s an emotional aspect for you as the adopter, too. You will always be the one who changed that animal’s life and gave them their forever home. It creates a bond that you will always feel.

My family ultimately did end up adopting our second dog from a shelter, and yes, he was a puppy. He recently celebrated his 13th birthday. When I walk in the door, he’s always there to greet me, even if he is being snobby and turns up his nose at me as soon as he smells the animals from the shelter on my clothes. He made our home complete once again.

April 30th is a day every shelter anxiously anticipates each year; it’s National Adopt a Shelter Pet Day! It’s a day when the spotlight is on the animals in their care. It’s a day when hundreds of animals find their soft place to lay and spend the rest of their days. Is it the way to go for you? That depends on what you want, but I can tell you this: it most certainly makes a difference — and not just for the animal, but for you too.

Learn more about the animals in our care and make one yours today at https://humanepa.org/adoption/.

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National Pet Parents Day

April 20th, 2022 | Posted by Ronai Rivera in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on National Pet Parents Day)
By Ronai Rivera, Humane Pennsylvania Media Coordinator, and Chelsea Cappellano, Donor Relations Manager

April 24 is National Pet Parents Day! To celebrate, we asked our Media Coordinator, Ronai Rivera, and Donor Relations Manager, Chelsea Cappellano, what they love about being pet parents.

Ronai & Athena:

National Pet Parents Day is a holiday that’s very special to me. Truly, one of my greatest joys in life is being a dog mom to Athena, my 6-year-old American Staffordshire mix. Every day is a mini adventure, and I’m always looking forward to what she can teach me.

Athena found me in January 2016, when I was searching for the perfect pup to call my own. I had grown up with lots of animals and, as I was living alone across the country, I felt it would be the perfect time to find a companion to share my life with. A family friend mentioned they had a puppy that they loved but could no longer care for. I immediately went to meet Athena, and I fell in love with her instantly.

Every day since has been filled with so much love and many life lessons. From understanding her communication style to educating myself about her environmental allergies, and the everyday experiences that come along with being a dog parent, it’s safe to say that no dog-day is the same — and every day is very much worth it.

Athena has seen me through many life experiences and, every time, she gave me a shoulder to lean on (literally, she would just come up by me and sit). She has traveled across the U.S. with me and explored many parts of different states — waggin’ her tail happily along the way.

Athena is, in my own dog mom opinion, a very unique pup with many fun(ny) characteristics to love. Some of Athena’s great loves include:

  • Dressing up (yes, I’m serious!)
  • Swimming
  • Eating (of course)
  • Attention (and lots of it!)
  • Cuddling (she thinks she’s a teacup pup)
  • Playing with her best friends Lola (dog) and Aliyah (human)

Athena is certainly a character all her own. She is so full of love and life, and she brightens the day of everyone she comes across. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about how thankful I am to share my life with my pawsome pup.

Thank you, Athena, for choosing me to be your dog mom!

Chelsea & Fur-riends:

As a pet parent to many furry and feathery creatures, National Pet Parents Day is a holiday that hits very close to home for me. There were always animals in our house when I was growing up, and I knew that when I had the opportunity to have my own space, I would always have an animal companion by my side.

I very much exceeded that expectation and desire for my life. Our home sits on a lot of land, and our family currently includes dogs, cats, and chickens, and goats are coming soon!. Like people, each animal in our household has their own personality.

The dogs:

  • Zea: 3-year-old female Belgian Malinois. Full-time Police K9. Off the clock, she is a complete goofball and squeaker-ball lover. When she wants to snuggle, she must be touching one of her humans.
  • Duke: 2-year-old male American Pitbull Terrier mix. Definite mama’s boy. Usually, he is a couch potato, but he occasionally gets bursts of energy and wants nothing more than to play.
  • Kuma: 6-year-old male Shib Inu. Enjoys playtime with his fur siblings, but is always trying to plan his next great escape.

The cats:

  • Reuben: 8-year-old male orange tabby. Super affectionate and loves lap cuddles.
  • Bronson: 8-year-old male white and orange tabby. Very vocal and craves human attention. Prefers his feline friends over canine friends.
  • Paw Newman: 8-year-old male orange tabby. A little more independent, but loves feeding time.
  • Milo: 8-year-old male white and brown tabby. Friendly, but prefers to be the big man in charge.
  • Luna: 8-year-old female tortoiseshell. The only female feline, she holds her own through her sass. More independent than not, but appreciates occasional pets and playtime.

The chickens:

  • The chickens are a bit more independent, but occasionally allow us to stroke their feathers. They absolutely love spending their time free-roaming. Burrowing, digging around in the dirt, and eating fun snacks are a few of their favorite activities while exploring the yard.

The goats:

  • While we’re still trying to come up with their names, these kids will be the newest addition to our little farm! They are Nigerian Dwarfs and tend to be very lovable and gentle in nature.

The passion and love animals have to offer is something I hope everyone gets to experience. It is a feeling of fulfillment that I can’t even begin to explain. I am so thankful I get to experience it every day through all breeds, shapes, and sizes.

Make one of the pawsome animals in our care yours by visiting humanepa.org.

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Preventing Heartworm Disease In Dogs

April 12th, 2022 | Posted by Ronai Rivera in Animal Health | Healthy Pets | Heartworm in Dogs | Heartworm Prevention | Humane Veterinary Hospitals - (Comments Off on Preventing Heartworm Disease In Dogs)
By Dr. Alicia Simoneau, Humane Pennsylvania Chief Veterinary Officer

April is National Heartworm Awareness Month! To make sure all dogs are protected from this serious disease, Dr. Simoneau has provided some valuable information for you and your pets.

A pervasive, serious medical condition, heartworm disease affects more than 1 million dogs in the U.S. every year. The disease can cause irreparable organ damage, but it can be both treated and prevented. Cats and ferrets may also be affected by heartworms, but usually not to the same extent as dogs.

What Causes Heartworms?

Heartworm disease is caused by an internal blood parasite, Dirofilaria immitis. Adult heartworms produce a pre-larval stage of the parasite, called microfilaria, which is passed from one dog to another by mosquitos.

How Does Heartworm Disease Spread and Develop?

In geographic areas where mosquitos thrive year-round, heartworm disease remains endemic. Heartworms are diagnosed nationwide, but the Southeastern states harbor mosquitos that carry heartworm. Dogs are frequently taken from the south to the northeast, and people take their pets on vacation.

When a mosquito has a blood meal from a dog that has adult heartworms, the microfilaria is taken in by the mosquito and undergoes transformation to a larval stage, which can now be a source of infection for another dog. This larval stage parasite is injected from the mosquito to another dog with the next blood meal the mosquito takes.

Inside the canine host, the larval stage parasite matures into the adult stage. If not prevented by medication, the worms continue developing. As the parasite molts in the dog, it migrates through its tissue and travels into the bloodstream. The parasite finds the heart and blood vessels to the lungs, where it stays permanently lodged and is now a mature adult. The process from the larval stage to the adult stage takes about 7 months, and adult heartworms can live for 5 to 7 years.

Untreated heartworm disease results in congestive heart failure in the dog. However, the heartworm infection causes scar tissue and severe inflammation to develop even before the end-stage disease. These effects can occur as early as 7 to 12 months after a dog is bitten by an infective mosquito.

How Can Heartworms Be Prevented?

The larval stages are susceptible to medication known as heartworm preventative, which kills them and prevents them from developing into adult worms. Heartworm preventatives work to kill the heartworm larva in the dog’s tissues the day they are given. The aim is to prevent the current infection from advancing, i.e., prevent the parasite larva from developing into adults.

Heartworm preventatives do not have lasting effects, however. They clear larval heartworm infections once every 30 days. As such, they must be administered to the dog every 30 days.

It is recommended to work with a vet to get a dog on a testing schedule and give medication that kills the larval stage of the heartworm before it has the chance to mature into an adult worm and cause excessive damage.

Screening tests look for antigens that are produced by adult female heartworms. The heartworm doesn’t make the antigen the test is looking for until the heartworm is mature, and maturity occurs 7 months after an infective mosquito transmits the larval stage of heartworm via a blood meal. This is why puppies don’t need a heartworm test to start the medication that kills the larval stage.

There is no way of knowing if immature worms exist, so testing is recommended 4 to 7 months after exposure. In young dogs at higher risk, testing twice in the first year is recommended. For adult dogs that are given year-round heartworm preventative monthly, or for other lower-risk patients that are given the preventative yearly, testing is often the recommendation.

How Is Heartworm Disease in Dogs Treated?

Once a dog is diagnosed with adult heartworms, the treatment is a year-long process. A series of oral and injectable medications are administered under the observation and guidance of a veterinarian, and stringent exercise restriction is necessary for many months.

Once the active infection is cleared, the dead adult heartworms continue to break down and be removed by the dog’s body. Scar tissue will always remain in the dog’s lung vessels and heart.

The Bottom Line

This internal blood parasite has life-threatening consequences for dogs — and those who consider them to be a family member — and it is prevalent in the United States. Heartworm disease in dogs is much easier to prevent than treat, so it is imperative to work with a veterinarian to develop a heartworm prevention plan specific to your dog to keep them healthy and happy.

Schedule an appointment and develop a heartworm prevention plan by visiting https://hvhospitals.org/contact-us/!

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