As this writer now wishes to provide enlightenment, wishes to provide for educational and informative materials, rather than the continued horror stories which are far too easily found, I am providing specific information for those persons who are considering adopting an animal for the first time into their family. Those who are already responsible individuals sharing their lives with companion animals are fully aware of the time, the dedication and the
commitment that goes into the well-being of their companion.
For those first time parents, and yes, you are becoming parents, you must fully commit to the process, be fully aware of the implications, the responsibilities and the demands on your time, energy and financial resources. You should do your homework, research, not only on the particular breed or type of animal you wish to bring into your home, but also consider your own lifestyle.
Visit your local SPCA or shelter, speak with the Shelter representatives, volunteers, local veterinarian. Be aware that those animals within the shelter are looking for forever homes, some have been rescued, others have been surrendered; all will have received the best possible care during their stay, the animal will be healthy, immunized and grateful to find a loving new home. For some this might be their last chance at a happy life. Overpopulation due to not spaying/neutering means that shelters are often brimming with those needing loving homes, adopting from an SPCA/shelter means that one animal finds a forever home and there is one space available for another animal in need.
Also please consider the more mature dog or cat. Pups and kittens are adorable, but they do require much training. An older animal usually does not and deserves just as much love and caring as a youngste, they deserve to live out their lives in caring forever homes too. You will be surprised at just how they will show their gratitude in being given another chance.
While that puppy in the window of your local pet store is so very cute, consider that most of these pups and kittens are mass produced in deplorable environmental conditions, their mothers subjected to indiscrimate breedings over and over again until they become too sick to reproduce and are then inhumanely disgarded with the trash as
are those offspring who are too sick to be sold. This type of animal would be far better suited going to a home where the human parent is experienced in animal care, given the many health challenges that could be possible.
What about that neighor down the street whose cat or dog has just had a new litter? Those lil ones look good to take home. If you are very very lucky perhaps they might be. However, do you know anything about the parents of that litter, is the human parent doling out kittens or pups prior to 8 weeks of age? Have the parents received their regular innoculations, their booster kept up todate. Is the mother healthy, well fed, of good coat, temperment, well
cared for; are the premises clean and tidy, are you able to make visits to socialize with your prosepctive adoptee? or was mom chained out back where a roaming male had access to her? If you know the human owners well then that is different. Many a wonderful companion has been found just around the corner.
You may also consider a REPUTABLE Breeder, someone who is Registered with the CKC. I know of one breeder who insists on visiting the prospective new home herself, who intensely interviews prospective parents, who insists that the prospects visit and socialize many times with the adoptee; before she will even consider allowing one of her pups to be placed. Just as she scrutinizes prospective human parents, one would be wise to scrutinize the breeder. Do your homework, enquire with the CKC. Have any complaints been filed. Will the breeder provide Registration Certificate stating Bloodline (Family Tree), verification of immunization?
Whatever your choice, be it giving a deserving shelter animal a second chance at a better life, a breeder or your friend down the street, remember you are making a Commitment for Life.
Now for alittle education:
The term Passive Immunity is likely something which is unknown to many who are considering first time adoption. Passive Immunity is that which the nursing mother passes onto her offspring. She is passing protective antibodies via her milk to her newborns which help to fight off and protect the youngster from disease and infection. To remove a young animal from it’s mother prior to 8 weeks of age, means that this Passive Immunity will weaken much faster than had the offspring remained with their mother for a longer period of time. Passive Immunity diminishes over a period of time, hence it is extremely important for the youngster to be taken to a vet in order to receive the necessary innoculations which will prevent highly communicable diseases such as Canine Parvovirus Enteritis andCanine Coronavirus Enteritis a milder version of the Parvovirus.
Passive Immunity decreases in effectiveness over a period of weeks, so it is therefore necessary to immunize in stages. A young animal with a higher level of maternal immunity will not reap the rewards of the first shot. It is therefore best to begin to give the shots in stages starting at 6 weeks of age and then every 3-4 weeks thereafter to 14-16 weeks of age.
Parvovirus is particularly viable, and a severe and deadly infection. It can survive outside the host victim for up to a year. This virus becomes airborne, can be carried on human clothing,footwear, remain in household furnishings, carpeting, lawns etc. There are 1M infectious virus per 1 gram of stool. Handling one infected animal and then handling another animal will transmit this disease. Walking across a lawn that has been contaminated due to infected excrement and then entering your own home can infect your dog if he/she has not received proper immunization.
Prevention is key. Obtaining the required innoculations spread over the prescribed time frame is crucial in protecting your new companion. Further it is critical that yards and areas where excrement is dropped, be kept clean. The dried feces produces the airborne infectious particles. The virus can remain infective for up to 5 to 7 months or longer depending upon the environmental factors.
Dogs under the age of six months are most at risk. Parvovirus can affect dogs of all ages, most common in dogs less than a year old and young pups less than five months old are particularly at risk. Incubation of this disease is 2 to 14 days, and even if the animal recovers the dog will continue to shed the virus in its excrement for a period of time.
If Parvo is suspected seek veterinary care immediately. Common Signs of this virus are:
a) severe vomiting and diarrhea( blood may or may not be present in the diarrhea, however there is a metallic or coppery odor)
b) a lack of appetite
c) fever (body temp in range of 103-106 degrees Farenheit (39.5 – 41 degrees Celcius)
Further clinical signs:
c) septicemia (a secondary bacterial nfection spread throughout the body)
d) shock and
e) death if not treated in time
The Virus does not cause death in itself nor does it in itself have a treatment. However the resultant effects of this virus i.e. the intestinal tract lining is lost, resulting in severe dehydration due to vomiting and diarrhea, infection of the bloodstream and electrolyte imbalancesoccur; all of which are deadly. It is imperative that if this virus is suspected that immediate veterinary care be given, the dog must receive supportive care by way of intravenous fluids to correct the dehydration and electrolyte imbalances. Both anti-inflammatories and antibiotics are administered as well to prevent and control blood poisoning (septicemia). Additional drugs to control diarrhea and vomiting are also given, as these two symptoms of the virus will perpetuate the dehydration of the animal. I know survivors of this virus, unfortunately I also know those who did not.
Parvovirus is just one of the many infections your new companion could contract if actions are not taken to properly immunize him/her at an early age. More information will be provided in future posts.
Please note that I am not a licensed veterinarian, nor do I practice veterinary medicine. I do however do my research, which you can do as well. The information contained in this article was derived from invaluable course materials which I am now studying. Distance learning courses in Animal Welfare are available which will provide excellent reference and learning materials, such as the course I myself am taking.
Should you wish to enquire about such a course, please do so in the comments section and I will be more than happy to provide you with contact information.
Additional articles will be posted along this line for reference and educational purposes. Educating oneself along with your commitment, time,love and care is essential for the well-being of your companion animal, be it a dog, cat, guinea pig, bunny, bird, ferret, or lizard just to name a few.
Always remember, this is a commitment you are making for life. The life of your companion animal who only deserves the best. The unconditional love, acceptance and loyalty you will receive in return is priceless.
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