Preventing the Spread of Canine Parvovirus

 

Who doesn’t love the fun and excitement of a new puppy? While you are bound to enjoy countless days of fun and laughter, a new puppy comes with significant responsibility and this includes providing proper veterinary care.

Cases of canine parvovirus are not uncommon in our city, and we see it from time to time in dogs who are brought to the RHS. The most effective way to protect your new puppy from contracting preventable diseases is to provide them with their core vaccines, and to maintain them as they grow older. In the case of canine parvovirus, an “ounce of prevention” can save more than just a “pound of cure:” it can save a life!

What is Canine Parvovirus

Parvovirus is a highly contagious virus that can cause life-threatening infections in dogs and puppies. The virus attacks the lining of the intestine and many immune system cells, including some in the bone marrow. The virus is shed in large quantities in feces and vomit from infected dogs. It is spread to other dogs through direct contact or contact with contaminated surfaces.  Parvovirus is a very robust virus and can contaminate just about anything it comes into contact with including shoes, hands, collars, leashes, feeding bowls, indoor and outdoor surfaces and your dog’s paws and fur. The virus can persist on all of these surfaces for months, even after visible contamination is gone. This means that there is an ever-present risk of virus exposure in most public places that dogs frequent, as well as in yards and homes where dogs suffering from parvovirus infection have previously been housed.

Signs of Parvovirus Infection

The most common and noticeable symptoms of parvovirus infection are loss of appetite, lethargy, vomiting and diarrhea, which can be bloody. Parvovirus can be fatal, with young puppies typically at the highest risk. Aggressive veterinary treatment is required and is successful in most cases. Unfortunately, even with the most advanced and intensive care, some dogs and puppies are unable to survive the infection. While parvovirus is not the only ailment that may cause these symptoms, it is important to seek veterinary care promptly if they occur. 

Treatment of Parvovirus

There is no specific treatment for a parvovirus infection – ultimately, the dog’s immune system must eradicate the virus. Treatment is required to manage dehydration and secondary bacterial infections while the immune system recovers and does its work. This can include hospitalization for IV fluid therapy, medications to control vomiting, intensive medical monitoring, and potentially antibiotics if required. Veterinary care for dogs and puppies with parvovirus infections can be costly due to the need for extensive care, isolation procedures to prevent disease spread, and potential multiple-day hospitalization.

Preventing Canine Parvovirus Infection

Vaccination is extremely effective in preventing parvovirus infection. Protection is achieved through a series of initial vaccinations, followed by regular booster vaccinations to ensure that immunity is maintained throughout the pet’s lifetime. It is rare for a dog that has received all recommended vaccinations to develop an infection. It is important to understand, however, that puppies must not be considered protected until after they have received all of their initial doses of vaccine. It is recommended that unvaccinated dogs and puppies be kept out of public areas to reduce their risk of exposure to parvovirus when they are most vulnerable. We recommend that you consult your veterinarian about when it is safe to start taking your pet to these areas after it has been vaccinated.

Keeping your pet’s vaccinations up to date is an important way to help keep them healthy, so that you can look forward to a lifetime of enjoyment and companionship.

Keep Your Energetic Cat Happy – Indoors!

 

Keeping your cat happy indoors is 100% possible. This can be achieved through “catifying” your home, providing a variety of enrichment items, and having a regular play schedule.

“Catifying” Your Home

Catifying means making your home a space that your cat enjoys and feels safe and comfortable in. There are a few really important features that help to achieve this:

Provide a Window Seat

Create a place for your cat to perch and look out a window. This can be amplified by placing bird feeders, or squirrel feeders in your yard to increase the amount of wildlife your cat will get to see each day.

Provide Vertical Space

Ensure there are lots of spaces that your cat can perch on that are up and off the floor. This can include cat trees, cat shelves on the wall or window perches. Cats naturally enjoy being elevated from the ground, and feel safest when able to observe their surroundings from a space that is higher up. This is one of the most important things you can do for your cat, but it also helps them to do what they would do outdoors, which is climb trees or fences.

Provide Great Places to Scratch

It’s important to understand that scratching is a normal feline behavior. It is a means for cats to mark their territory both visually and with scent. Scratching also assists with nail conditioning, whole-body stretching and maintenance of necessary claw motion used in hunting, climbing and defense.  Providing your cats with a scratching post they like is critical to keeping them happy indoors. A great scratching post is: sturdy, ideally vertical so the cat can stretch out as they scratch, and provides a rougher surface (like corrugated cardboard, or sisal). (link to 2.9 Scratching)

Providing Stimulating Enrichment Items

Much like humans, cats enjoy some variety in their life. There are plenty of things you can do to help keep your cat entertained and engaged!

Provide Scent Enrichment

Cats enjoy a variety of scents beyond the standard catnip. Some great options for scent enrichment for cats are:

  • Silvervine
  • Valerian Root
  • Tatarian Honey Suckle
  • Chamomile

Treat Puzzle Toys

Cats are natural-born hunters, so having to work to get their food is part of their nature. Having a treat ball or treat puzzle for your cat is a great way to keep their mind working.

The following provide good DIY treat puzzles for your cat.

https://cattime.com/cat-facts/how-to/18621-7-diy-cat-food-puzzle-toys-that-will-keep-your-kittys-brain-active

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TlHCVirZ-AQ

Create a Cat Garden:

Bring the outdoors inside by creating a “cat garden”. Cats love to eat, and smell plants, so providing safe plants that they can eat helps to mimic the feeling of being outdoors. Some safe options for a cat garden indoors or out include:

  • Cat nip (very easy to grow)
  • Cat Grass
  • Barley Grass
  • Wheat Grass
  • Lemon Grass
  • Mint
  • Parsley
  • Thyme
  • Rosemary
  • Spider plants (cats love these!)

The following is a good resource for creating an amazing cat garden. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9bS1Zxa5WmI

Having a Regular Play Schedule

The amount of time to spend playing with your cat depends upon many factors, such as age and activity level. But generally, a couple of 10-15 minute play sessions per day is a good goal. There are many great ways to play with your cat.

Play is best done a few times daily, ideally before each meal.  A cat’s natural cycle is: play, eat, and sleep. If you want to have your cat sleep when you’re sleeping, having a good play session, then feeding them is a great way to help lull them into a nap.

The following are great playtime tips:

  • Keep a variety of toys on hand. Just as with children’s toys, one of the keys to success is to rotate toys, putting them away for a while after playtime. If the toys are available to your cat all the time, they soon become boring, mundane items. Whether elaborate or simple, toys give your cat exercise, mental stimulation, a chance to act on hunting instincts, and a way to bond with you.
  • With so many cat toys on the market, it can be tough to pick ones that are both safe and appealing. Cat toys can range from free homemade items to battery-powered devices, but regardless of the cost, safety comes first. Cats should never have any toy that includes loose string or yarn which can easily be drawn into the cat’s throat and digested leading to serious or deadly problems with the digestive tract.
  • There are plenty of items around the house that make safe and fun toys for your cat, starting with a plain brown paper bag – especially if it is large enough to crawl inside. Empty boxes are also cat magnets. Boxes too small to hold your cat can contain small cat toys or treats accessible by cutting small holes in the boxes so cats will be challenged to dig out these rewards. Paper towels and toilet paper rolls make fun puzzle toys for your cat. Try putting your cat’s food in the middle and watch as they figure out how to get at it.  Wine corks, milk carton caps, ping pong balls, plastic bottles – the list of everyday household items that make great toys to bat and chase are limitless.
  • Felines are the only creature on earth that hunt for fun. Making sure you’re allowing your cat to express this natural behavior in your home is paramount to your feline being happy indoors. Fishing rod or teaser-style toys with a wand that allow you to easily move the toy and keep it just out of your cat’s reach are great options for interactive play which mimic the predator/prey chase. You can give the toy lifelike movements with slight jerks, pauses in movement, changes in speed, etc. to engage the hunting instincts of your cat. Ensure these types of toys are put away after use to prevent strangulation. Laser pointers are another toy that keeps you part of the game!

 

Safety First – Be Sure Your Dog is Leashed! And, Pick Up the Poo Too!

 

As the Animal Bylaw enforcement agency for the City of Regina, there are two complaints we hear often when it comes to owners with their dogs in public spaces – dogs who are let off-leash in areas not designated for off-leash and defecation not being picked up. There are some rules and etiquette which when observed, will help ensure you and all other pets and owners enjoy their time outside too.

Let’s look at defecation first. City of Regina Bylaw 2009-44 states that should an animal defecate on public property, or on private property with the consent of the property’s owner, the owner of the animal shall immediately remove the defecation.  Seems pretty cut and dry, doesn’t it?  Besides being against the law, pet defecation left in public areas can lead to the spread of disease (such as canine parvovirus), nasty odours and unsightliness.  And, who among us has not had to try and scrape doggy-doo out of the tread of our new spring shoes after inadvertently stepping in some unknown dog’s calling card?  Always be sure to have a healthy supply of poop bags on hand and ready for when they are needed.

The other big complaint can be much more serious. City of Regina bylaw requires all dogs, when on public property, to be completely under their owner’s control by means of a leash at all times (note: there is some provision for owners to have complete control of their pet by verbal means however, the control must be complete and this typically exceeds the capability of most pet owners and their pets).  Many of us have seen unleashed dogs frightening other pets and people or harassing or even killing park wildlife.  Additionally, many dogs experience reactivity to other dogs and can be greatly over-stimulated at the sight of dogs running free.  This can cause anxiety in both the dog and their owner, and hurt their ability to enjoy the public space as they should be able to. While some dogs do not engage in negative behaviour when off-leash, it is still against bylaws in almost all cases.  However, seeing other dogs running off-leash emboldens other pet owners to allow the same for their pets. We often hear statements like, “I see others let their dog run free in the park, why can’t I?”.  Sooner or later, it’s really a matter of when, not if, a dog who has no business being off-leash is allowed to do so.  The results can range from dog fights, frightened pets and owners and people being bitten.  Many of our parks include play areas for small children who are put at risk when dogs are not restrained.  Your ability to keep your dog safe from other animals will also be compromised if it is not under your control, regardless of your pet’s behaviour.  The City of Regina does provide several off-leash dog parks where dogs are not required to be on a leash and can run freely.  When using these parks be sure to monitor your pet’s behaviour at all times and never leave them unattended.

Animal Bylaws are in place to help ensure the safety and well-being of all pets and people in our community.  By being a responsible pet owner, being courteous and respecting others’ right to enjoy our wonderful outdoor spaces, you will be part of the safety solution, not the problem.

Help Save Lives – Become a Foster Parent

 

There are many helping hands when it comes to caring for the animals who come into the care of the RHS.  Some of the most needed, and critical, are those of our foster families.  Fosters provide temporary, in-home care to pets who are recovering from illness or surgery, are too young to be adopted or simply need some rest and time away from the Shelter environment on their journey to their forever home.

Whether you’re fostering young puppies and kittens, providing a sanctuary to a feline mom and her kittens or helping a dog recover from an illness or injury in the comfort of your home, many foster parents have expressed that caring for animals in need is a highly rewarding experience that changes their life, and the lives of the pets they care for, at the same time.

As an RHS Foster, you’re never alone in your foster parent journey. We know that being a foster is rewarding, but it does have its challenges too. We’ll provide you with all of the supplies you need, a guiding hand and all the support you need to be successful and an awesome foster parent.  What we ask you to bring to the table is the willingness to learn, patience and an understanding of the potential challenges that fostering an animal can bring.  While most outcomes are very happy, on occasion due to medical and other reasons, things don’t go the way we all hope. But, knowing that you helped a homeless pet get a chance for a long and happy life because you cared, can be the best reward ever.

Becoming a foster parent can be a fulfilling experience for both the pet and the foster family and our fosters are true heroes and critically important to our ability to care for animals.  The RHS has the need for fosters of all kinds, ranging from those who are able to provide short-term care to one or two pets, to those willing to bottle-feed newborns or care for pets over an extended period of time as they recover from illness or injury.  Fostering is always based on the foster’s available time, space, experience and comfort level.

To learn more about fostering and register for the program, click here.

From Freezing Cold to Southern Sun – An Update on Blaze

 

We are so happy for Blake!  From nearly perishing in the cold of a Saskatchewan winter, to basking in the warm Arizona sun! He asked us to thank you for giving him a second chance at a long and happy life!

At the airport.

Cruising at 35,000 feet!

Home Sweet Home!

Sure looks different here!

Life is good.

I love boxes!