SPCA Treats Pet Owners to Tricks for Keeping Pets Safe This Halloween

October 18, 2021
By: SPCA Chief Communications Officer Gina Lattuca

WITH A FEW EXTRA PRECAUTIONS, PETS CAN HAVE A HAPPY HALLOWEEN TOO!

Halloween is meant to be fun for children of all ages, but according to the SPCA Serving Erie County, pets often experience the dark side of Halloween fun.  With extra precautions, seasonal problems can often be avoided:

-HUNGRY PETS:  CHOCOLATE CAN BE FATAL TO YOUR PET!  Please share this tip with children, who may be tempted to share their Halloween take with their best four-footed friends! The sweet smell of Halloween chocolate and other candy left by a door pleases pets, as do cookies and cakes served at Halloween parties. Sweets can cause diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain or worse.  Purchase Halloween treats made specifically for pets and keep the “people” treats away from where pets can reach them.


-PETS AS VICTIMS:
 
 Halloween is traditionally known for trick-or-treaters…and pranksters.  KEEP ALL PETS INSIDE on Halloween night, and the nights immediately preceding and following October 31.  This will prevent them from being stolen, teased, kicked, blinded by flashlights or abused in other ways.

-NERVOUS/TERRITORIAL PETS:  Constant door-knocking or doorbell-ringing may cause an extremely nervous pet to shake or tremble uncontrollably, or have an “accident” in the house.  Territorial pets may become aggressive at the sound of unfamiliar visitors.  Keep nervous or territorial pets distracted in another room with the door closed.

-CURIOUS PETS:  Keep pets away from costume-making areas, where sequins or buttons can be swallowed.  Scissors used for cutting patterns, or knives used for carving jack o’lanterns, can harm your pet.  Also remember to keep pets away from a candle-illuminated jack o’lantern.  Halloween has become a popular season for decorations as well.  Keep decorations out of your pet’s reach, or securely attached in place to prevent your pet from pulling the decorations down.  Swallowing a decorative object may cause intestinal problems and present a potential emergency.

-KEEP CURRENT ID ON PETS: Exuberant or nervous pets may bolt out doors opened for trick-or-treat candy handouts. Ensure they are wearing proper identification (even if they are microchipped) in case they become lost. Collars are available for purchase at the SPCA Petique, located at the 300 Harlem Rd., West Seneca shelter, and other pet supply shops. If you lose or find a pet, visit the SPCA’s Lost & Found page for tips on what to do next.

Contact the SPCA Serving Erie County with any questions or concerns: 716-875-7360.

SPCA’s ‘Name Your Own Price’ October Adoption Special >>

SPCA DOG ADOPTIONS REOPEN AFTER TEMPORARY PAUSE THIS MONTH

UPDATE, SEPTEMBER 21 — Dog adoptions will reopen today at the SPCA Serving Erie County.

This comes to us from SPCA Vice President of Veterinary Services Melanie Rushforth:

“Starting 9/21, the SPCA Serving Erie County will slowly reopen our canine adoption center to facilitate adoptions of the recovered or exposed and quarantined dogs to help reduce our population.

The SPCA Serving Erie County has recently seen multiple cases of complicated upper respiratory disease including life-threatening pneumonia.  Our testing so far identified Canine Pneumovirus as well as Canine Adenovirus 2 and Mycoplasma cynos on Idexx Respiratory PCR.  These dogs were all vaccinated on intake with a 5-way DHPP and an intranasal trivalent Bordetella vaccine.    With the assistance of Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program at University of Florida we were able to obtain more information on this newer virus, and wanted to share as much information as possible in case this is running through the general population.

Canine Pneumovirus

-First identified in 2010
-Considered part of CIRD (Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex) “kennel cough” which also includes Bordetella, Canine Adenovirus, Canine parainfluenza
-Incubation period <1 week – avg 2 to 5 days
-ShedS <10 days and starts prior to visible clinical signs
-Recovery 1 to 2 weeks
-Isolation of cases is key to preventing additional cases – increases in cases are likely due to importation of dogs from higher density areas and overcrowding in shelter
-There is no vaccine nor likely to be one
-Treatment is symptomatic – treat for cough, secondary infections, pneumonia; most recover with minimal interventionWe treated our shelter dogs’ pneumonia cases with Baytril and Clavamox for 14 days, but Doxycycline seemed to help clear the Mycoplasma. Each dog in our care was quarantined for 10 days minimum to assess for symptoms.  Only one bulldog required in hospital IV fluid and antibiotic therapy as well as nebulization.

The SPCA Serving Erie County worked with local municipalities and foster homes to halt the physical intake of dogs on 9/9 when we identified multiple cases.  We have been diligently monitoring the situation, treating aggressively and no new pneumonia cases have been identified in more than a week.   We have rescheduled local dog surrenders due to this issue and will be prioritizing the local community needs before we consider bringing in transport dogs from other states.

Concerning cats, Panleukopenia is also currently going through the stray/public feline population at a significant rate.  We experienced an exposure situation in the shelter a few weeks back but were able to quickly identify and isolate.  Our cat adoption center is open and currently doing well.  We are being vigilant with intake testing for this disease to prevent exposures.  (Incidentally, ringworm has also been seen at increased rates in the stray/public population.) ”

In an effort to properly address the pneumonia affecting our shelter population, the SPCA consulted directly with Clinical Assistant Professor in Shelter Medicine and Director of the Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program Dr. Cynda Crawford at the University of Florida. Dr. Crawford’s areas of expertise include diagnosis, treatment, management, and prevention of infectious diseases in dogs and cats in sheltering facilities. She focuses on the diagnosis and management of viruses and bacteria that cause respiratory infections in shelter dogs. Dr. Crawford’s accomplishments include discovery of canine influenza virus and development of the canine influenza vaccine. Educational achievements include partnering with Dr Julie Levy to develop the Professional Certificate in Shelter Medicine for advanced training of veterinary students in the knowledge and skills to serve as veterinarians in shelters.

Rushforth added, “In learning about the situation affecting animal health at the SPCA, Dr. Crawford commented that this is not unique to our facility, and nationwide, shelters are facing significant challenges with infectious diseases and overpopulation issues as well as staffing shortages. Dr. Crawford also commended our quick response to the medical situation faced at our shelter, and called our ability to reopen adoptions in this period of time good news and a sign that the situation is being managed properly.”



September 9, 2021
— This week, we experienced more than one case of dog pneumonia at the SPCA Serving Erie County.

The SPCA is responding to this in a number of different ways, including a change in how staff members and volunteers interact with animals in the building.

We are carefully observing the animals for any early signs of illness and immediately administering early treatment if necessary, and expanding our deep-cleaning protocols to rectify this situation.

There’s quite a bit involved in containing and clearing the shelter of an infectious disease, but it’s imperative we do so to protect our current population while not putting animals outside the shelter at risk. This is why we’ve chosen to pause dog adoptions.

“Outbreaks of this nature are unfortunately not uncommon in animal sheltering, especially when part of our mission is to serve sick and injured animals,” says SPCA Vice President of Veterinary Services Melanie Rushforth. “Our team of professional caretakers has increased safety protocols to ensure we contain this, and our quick response will have a positive effect on the health of both our current and future population.”

Some unfamiliar with infectious diseases may consider pausing dog adoptions an over-the-top response to the situation, but SPCA Serving Erie County representatives believe the situation calls for this extreme of a response. We cannot take a chance on someone transporting the virus on shoes or clothing simply by walking through our kennels, thus putting animals at home at risk. And we know we cannot place our dogs in homes right now if there is a chance they may have been infected.

The choice to pause dog adoptions for a minimum of one week gives us time to monitor the health of our dogs while fully clearing the shelter of this illness.

“We encourage all pet owners to stay up-to-date on preventive medicine for their pets,” Rushforth added. “We all play a role in decreasing a pandemic of any nature.”

At the end of next week officials at the SPCA will reevaluate the situation and determine whether dog adoptions need to remain paused beyond September 19. While it’s possible the pause date may have to be extended, we of course are hoping this will not be necessary.

Thank you for your patience and understanding in this matter.

–Gina Lattuca, SPCA Serving Erie County Chief Communications Officer

Hot Dogs and Cats and What to Watch for During the Summer!

By Melanie Rushforth, Vice President of Veterinary Services

With the higher temperatures in the summer months, our dog walks might be a little shorter. When it is hot outside, it can be a struggle to get proper exercise, and when humans are too hot to exercise we can often overlook how necessary it is for your dog. There are several ways that your dog can still get some great exercise without overheating in the warm summer months.

Have a backyard? Put a kiddie pool out for him to romp around in, or a sprinkler for him to chase the water through. Near a lake, beach, or dog park with a pond? Let him go for a swim. This will help cool him off while ensuring he is still getting the exercise he needs to stay healthy. Remember to bring clean, fresh water and do not let him drink from the source.

With exercise comes panting. Panting is a perfectly normal way for your dog to cool down. However, sometimes panting is a sign that something else is going on. Any concerning behavior or condition should be a topic of discussion with your veterinarian, and this article will outline some of the top reasons your pet might be panting. You’ll notice this article is centered around dogs, and that is no accident. If you live with a cat, and notice that the cat has begun panting, contact your veterinarian right away. A cat’s normal breathing rhythm should be smooth and unlabored. Panting is usually a sign that something isn’t right with your cat. Cats only breathe hard with their mouths open when they are very stressed, extremely hot, or a disease process is occurring.

Overheating, or heatstroke, will cause heavy panting in dogs, which can quickly lead to dehydration and death if untreated. Treating heatstroke requires emergency veterinary care. Dogs who are overheated pant very heavily and will likely appear uncomfortable in some way. They could be restless, laid out flat, and/or not responding to you because they are so focused on cooling themselves.

If you see your dog panting, take note of their body language. Are their eyes wide and weary? Are they looking away and yawning? These are some common body language cues that indicate your panting dog is stressed. Panting should correlate with the outside temperature or activity. Healthy dogs usually don’t need to pant in the absence of exercise or excitement.

If you are ever concerned that the panting you hear is excessive, contact your veterinarian immediately. It’s never safe to take a guess when it comes to your dog’s health, and your veterinarian can help you determine if something is wrong or not. Your veterinarian can also help you create a plan on addressing heavy breathing if your dog has a medical condition. You want to enjoy your time with your dog and keep him healthy, so pay attention to those breathy pants, and your pooch will thank you. If you are a new pet owner and looking to establish a home veterinarian, keep the Lipsey Clinic at the SPCA Serving Erie County in mind. Please visit the Lipsey Clinic’s website to see what services we offer for cats and dogs. Like you, we want your furry friends to live a long and healthy life. Regular veterinary care and appropriate diagnostic tests will set everyone up for success.

The SPCA’s Shauna Green to Participate in Apprenticeship by Maddie’s Fund

By Melanie Rushforth, Vice President of Veterinary Services

The SPCA Serving Erie County is proud to announce that Veterinary Services Coordinator, Shauna Greene, has been accepted into a highly competitive apprenticeship presented by Maddie’s Fund.  Through Maddie’s University, animal welfare professionals can come together to inspire, engage, and save more lives.

Shauna, who serves as the Veterinary Services Coordinator, will be participating in the Shelter Clinic Management apprenticeship. The Lipsey Clinic provides wellness and incremental care for privately owned animals in the Western New York region. Affordability and access to care have been a primary focus for the Lipsey Clinic, and the skills gained from this apprenticeship will only make our service offerings stronger for the benefit of our clients.

The Veterinary Department within the SPCA believes that innovation is possible when we put our heads together with the goal of saving more lives and improving the industry. We are so proud of the work we do as a team and we can’t wait to see what innovative techniques can be implemented in Western New York to help families and pets live healthy lives together.

Maddie’s Fund is a family foundation established in 1994 by Dave and Cheryl Duffield and is the fulfillment of their promise to their inspirational dog, Maddie. She provided them much joy from 1987 – 1997 and continues to inspire them today.

The Foundation has awarded over $255 million in grants toward increased community lifesaving, pioneering shelter medicine education and establishing foster care as a standard across the U.S.

Maddie’s Fund proudly offers the industry a national voice, important funding opportunities for bold ideas, learning resources and access to collaborate and share innovative solutions. The Foundation invests its resources in a commitment to keeping pets and people together, creating a safety net of care for animals in need and operating within a culture of inclusiveness and humility.

#ThanksToMaddie, the SPCA continues to make learning a priority. In a world that changes as quickly as ours, it is our responsibility as professionals to be as informed as possible to keep our collective communities healthy, safe, and armed with the resources needed to navigate the challenges faced by families daily. We are proud to be recognized as an integral piece in the overall mission to keep pets in their homes, and provide equitable access to care for families.

By Melanie Rushforth, SPCA Serving Erie County Vice President, Veterinary Services

Today is World Zoonoses Day! So, what the heck does that even mean?

World Zoonoses Day has been observed on July 6th since 1885 to honor the success of French biologist Louis Pasteur, who administered the first vaccination against zoonotic disease on this day. A zoonosis, or zoonotic disease, is an infectious disease that has jumped from a non-human animal to humans. Zoonotic pathogens may be bacterial, viral or parasitic, or may involve unconventional agents and can spread to humans through direct contact or through food, water or the environment. They represent a major public health problem around the world due to our close relationship with animals in agriculture, as companions and in the natural environment. Zoonoses can also cause disruptions in the production and trade of animal products for food and other uses.

Zoonotic diseases range from minor short-term illness to a major life-changing illness. Certain ones can even cause death.

Zoonotic pathogens can spread to humans through any contact point with domestic, agricultural, or wild animals. People living adjacent to wilderness areas or in semi-urban areas with higher numbers of wild animals are at risk of disease from animals such as rats, foxes or raccoons. Urbanization and the destruction of natural habitats increase the risk of zoonotic diseases by increasing contact between humans and wild animals.

Simple hygiene practices will drastically reduce, if not eliminate, the risk of zoonotic spread of disease from pets to people. Some of the things you can do include:

– Make sure that any sign of illness or disease in your pet is diagnosed and treated promptly by your veterinarian.

– Bathe and groom your pet. This will increase the chance of early detection of any skin lesions.

– Give your pet a broad-spectrum deworming product on a regular basis. The simplest way to do this is to use a monthly heartworm product that includes a dewormer. Prevention is key!

– Wear gloves when gardening or working in areas where dogs, cats, or other animals may have urinated or defecated.

– Pick up any feces on your property and stoop and scoop when you take your dog for a walk. Dispose of all waste materials promptly and safely.

– Always ensure you wash your hands after handling any animal.

– Provide separate food and water dishes for your pet, and wash and store them separately from your family’s dishes.

– Wash pet bedding frequently.

– Use flea and tick control products on a routine basis.

People can come in contact with animals in many places. This includes at home and away from home, in places like fairs, schools, stores, and parks. Insects, like mosquitoes and fleas, and ticks bite people and animals day and night. Thankfully, there are things you can do to protect yourself and your family from zoonotic diseases. A regular vaccination schedule and good hygiene practices will set you and your pets up for good health and a long life. If you are in search of a veterinary home, consider the Lipsey Clinic at the SPCA Serving Erie County. With monthly wellness plans including a preventative package, you will be in good hands for the long-term care of your four-legged friends. More information can be found on lipseyclinic.com.

SPCA Serving Erie County LVT Constantino is Nominee for 2021 American Humane Hero Veterinary Nurse Award

Vote for Marisa each day >>

June 18, 2021 — The annual American Humane Hero Veterinarian and Hero Veterinary Nurse Awards™ honor the heroes who dedicate their lives to making a difference in animals’ lives, and this year, the SPCA Serving Erie County’s Marisa Constantino, LVT and Dr. Allison Kean, DVM were both nominated for these awards and recognition!

Constantino, pictured here, is one of five veterinary nurses selected to advance to the voting round!

Voting for the 2021 American Humane Hero Veterinarian and Hero Veterinary Nurse Awards™ ,  sponsored by Zoetis Petcare, is now open!  From now until 12 p.m. Pacific Time on July 29, 2021, you can vote for your favorite vet and vet nurse each day. Your votes will determine the winners that will be featured on Hallmark Channel this fall.

If you are a U.S. resident at least 18 years old, please vote for Marisa each day right here >>

Marisa was nominated due to the outstanding care she provides. Her nomination at AmericanHumane.org reads as follows: 

Marisa demonstrates the characteristics of an American Hero Veterinary Nurse on a daily basis. She demonstrates the perfect balance of professionalism, compassion, logic, curiosity, and reason. Marisa approaches each animal she is presented with as if that animal is the only one she will treat that day, and may not see again. For a large, open admission, multi-species shelter, and public-facing clinic, Marisa does the work of 3 technicians. She has taken on the role of trainer and mentor to a large number of 4th year veterinary students on a regular shelter rotation, and does so with the knowledge that she has been influenced by preceptor mentors like her, and strives to pay it forward, also with the knowledge that these future veterinarians will depend on the talents and skills of technicians as they settle into their career, and knowing how to navigate that partnership with grace and professional respect is crucial.

 As animal welfare shifts to a true social service initiative, the ability to serve people with the same respect as animals in need is a skill that Marisa demonstrates without even trying. She sees the big picture, and works to undo much of the oppression and discrimination that many clients seeking services have experienced at some point in their lives. Marisa sees only solutions, not barriers. 

Animal welfare needs to care about people as much as it cares about animals, and Marisa is a perfect vision of that goal. 

The SPCA’s Vice President of Veterinary Services, Melanie Rushforth, says, “It is an honor to work with someone like Marisa on a daily basis.  She is a humble caretaker and an innovative veterinary nurse who represents the industry with the utmost professionalism.  She helps others be better.” We couldn’t agree more!

One winning Hero Veterinarian and Hero Veterinary Nurse will be featured on the 2021 American Humane Hero Dog Awards® broadcast on Hallmark Channel this fall!

Please take this opportunity to vote for Marisa as recipient of the American Humane Hero Veterinary Nurse Award™, and encourage your friends and family members to do the same! 

–SPCA Chief Communications Officer Gina Lattuca

 

April is Canine Fitness Month!

By: Shauna Greene, Veterinary Services Coordinator and Lipsey Clinic Manager

Western New Yorkers get pretty stir crazy this time of year and with a world-wide pandemic stretching into its second year, a lot of us are feeling extra cooped up. Humans aren’t the only species feeling the call of the outdoors – your dog wants in on the action! This month gives you the perfect excuse to get out in the sunshine and shed some excess winter/covid weight.  April is Canine Fitness Month!

Taking your dog for a walk around the neighborhood is a great way for them to explore and satisfy their need for mental stimulation while giving you some exercise and the chance to socialize (from a safe distance, of course). If your dog is nervous or anxious around people or other dogs, consider using a yellow leash (or tying a yellow ribbon around their leash) to indicate your dog requires space from others. Here’s a little more information about this movement:

If you want to explore somewhere a bit more exotic, consider one of these dog friendly hiking trails in the WNY area: Guide to Dog Friendly Hiking Trails – Step Out Buffalo

And if you are stuck in the house, there are a lot of ways to exercise your dog indoors (remember, mental stimulation is just as important as physical stimulation and can help prevent destructive behaviors).  Use props made from common household objects like laundry baskets, hula hoops, buckets and exercise steps to build obstacle courses for your dog to work through.  My Australian Cattle Dog, Tex, LOVES it when I set up different tricks for him to figure out:

We’ll talk more about other ways to keep your dog fit throughout the month.  Until then, get outside!

The SPCA’s Lipsey Veterinary Clinic offers veterinary services for cats and dogs! To see all available services, please visit LipseyClinic.com. To make an appointment, please call 716-531-4700.

April 10 is National Hug Your Dog Day!

By: Melanie Rushforth, Vice President, Veterinary Services SPCA Serving Erie County

Some clever dog lover has deemed April 10th to be National Hug Your Dog Day. In case you needed a reason to hug your dog (besides the obvious), we have come up with several!

In both humans and dogs, oxytocin is released when you hug your dog. Oxytocin is sometimes referred to as the “love hormone,” because levels of oxytocin increase during hugging. Oxytocin also has social functions. It impacts bonding behavior, the creation of group memories, social recognition, and other social functions. Basically, hugging your dog is way better than any prescription!

Hugging your dog also gives both of you a sense of unconditional love and connection. Unconditional love, simply put, is love without strings attached. It’s love you offer freely. You don’t base it on what someone does for you in return. You simply love them and want nothing more than their happiness.  I think that sounds just like a dog.

Hugging your dog calms and relieves stress no matter how bad of a day you had. Stress and anxiety are common experiences for most people. In fact, more than 50% of adults in the United States say they feel stress or anxiety daily. Adopting a dog (and hugging that dog…once the dog is properly introduced to a new environment) could certainly help lower that number!

The many health benefits of companionship are priceless. Dogs can decrease our stress, help relieve our anxiety, and can aid in the treatment of depression. They keep us active, lower our blood pressure, and make us feel safe. I can’t think of any one thing, other than a dog, that can do all of that. That alone deserves a hug.

Do you hug your dog?

The SPCA’s Lipsey Veterinary Clinic offers veterinary services for cats and dogs! To see all available services, please visit LipseyClinic.com. To make an appointment, please call 716-531-4700.

Have a Heart and Get Ahead of Heartworm! 

By: Melanie Rushforth, Vice President, Veterinary Services SPCA Serving Erie County

Heartworm disease is a serious and potentially fatal disease in pets in the United States and many other parts of the world. It is caused by foot-long worms (heartworms) that live in the heart, lungs, and associated blood vessels of affected pets, causing severe lung disease, heart failure and damage to other organs in the body. Sounds awful, right? There are preventive measures that all pet owners should be aware of. Read on!

Heartworm disease is far more prevalent in dogs, since the dog is a natural host for heartworms, which means that heartworms that live inside the dog mature into adults, mate, and produce offspring. If untreated, their numbers can increase, and dogs have been known to harbor several hundred worms in their bodies. Heartworm disease causes lasting damage to the heart, lungs, and arteries, and can affect the dog’s health and quality of life long after the parasites are gone. For this reason, prevention is by far the best option, and treatment—when needed—should be administered as early in the course of the disease as possible.

The mosquito plays the main role in the heartworm life cycle. Adult female heartworms living in an infected dog, fox, coyote, or wolf produce microscopic baby worms called microfilaria that circulate in the bloodstream. When a mosquito bites and takes a blood meal from an infected animal, it picks up these baby worms, which develop and mature into “infective stage” larvae over a period of 10 to 14 days. Then, when the infected mosquito bites another dog, cat, or susceptible wild animal, the infective larvae are deposited onto the surface of the animal’s skin and enter the new host through the mosquito’s bite wound. Once inside a new host, it takes approximately six months for the larvae to mature into adult heartworms. Once mature, heartworms can live for five to seven years in dogs and up to two to three years in cats. Because of the longevity of these worms, each mosquito season can lead to an increasing number of worms in an infected pet. For something as small as a mosquito, those little insects can really wreak havoc.

In the early stages of the disease, most dogs show few symptoms or no symptoms at all, which is why it is particularly important to take preventative precautions. The longer the infection persists, the more likely symptoms will develop. Active dogs, dogs heavily infected with heartworms, or those with other health problems often show pronounced clinical signs which may include a mild persistent cough, reluctance to exercise, fatigue after moderate activity, decreased appetite, and weight loss. As heartworm disease progresses, pets may develop heart failure and the appearance of a swollen belly due to excess fluid in the abdomen. Dogs with large numbers of heartworms can develop a sudden blockages of blood flow within the heart leading to a life-threatening form of cardiovascular collapse. This is called caval syndrome and is marked by a sudden onset of labored breathing, pale gums, and dark bloody or coffee-colored urine. Without prompt surgical removal of the heartworm blockage, few dogs survive.

The American Heartworm Society recommends that you “think 12:” (1) get your pet tested every 12 months for heartworm and (2) give your pet heartworm preventative 12 months a year. Some states do have a higher disease risk than others, but heartworm has been reported in all 50 U.S. states and dogs and some cats did test positive for heartworm disease in New York State last year. The mosquito population is determined by climate, mosquito species, and local wildlife. As more animals travel nationally and internationally, the risk of heartworm disease is increasing in each state.

Heartworm disease is easily preventable. There are several excellent products that when given monthly year-round prevent and control common intestinal parasites as well as heartworm disease. If your dog is not currently on heartworm prevention, please contact your veterinarian immediately to establish a preventative treatment schedule or contact the Lipsey Clinic!

The SPCA’s Lipsey Veterinary Clinic offers veterinary services for cats and dogs! To see all available services, please visit LipseyClinic.com. To make an appointment, please call 716-531-4700.