The Importance Of Dental Health

 

February is National Pet Dental Month; this month serves as a reminder for pet owners to prioritize the dental health of their beloved pets. Just like us, our furry friends require regular dental care to maintain their overall well-being.
During this month, let’s take the opportunity to check in on our pets and pay attention to their oral health, not just their teeth. Their mouths, including their teeth and gums, play a vital role in their overall health and quality of life. It is through their mouths that they interact with the world – eating, playing, and communicating with us. Therefore, it is crucial that we treat their oral health as an integral part of their overall care.
I encourage you to consult with your veterinarian to learn more about how to keep your pet’s dental health in check. They can provide valuable guidance on dental care routines and recommend appropriate preventive measures. Additionally, consider scheduling an annual dental cleaning for your pet if necessary. Regular dental check-ups can help identify any potential issues early on and prevent them from escalating into more serious problems.
At Laber of Love Pet Rescue, we unfortunately come across many pets that have suffered from neglect, including their dental health. This neglect often leads to two outcomes. The first option is a costly dental cleaning procedure involving extractions. The second option is even worse – pets whose neglected health prevents them from undergoing anesthesia. Neglected teeth can harbor bacteria, which can have detrimental effects on the lungs, heart, kidneys, and liver. Sadly, we currently have three pets, Ruby, Tiny Tim, and Boyfriend, who fall into the latter category. Due to their heart or lung conditions, they are not suitable candidates for anesthesia at this time. As a result, they have to endure the pain caused by dental disease, as we are unable to clean their teeth and remove the affected ones. Tiny Tim and Boyfriend face difficulties in eating normally and require special diets. Moreover, their dental issues can worsen their underlying health conditions. We closely monitor their health to ensure they do not develop upper respiratory issues due to the bacteria in their mouths. In case of any complications, they may require frequent antibiotic treatments.
On the 15th, Rose will undergo a much-needed dental cleaning at Troy Animal Hospital. Given the prolonged neglect she endured, we anticipate several extractions. After the procedure, she will return home the same day, happier and able to eat easier.
I encourage you to take advantage of the services provided by our wonderful local veterinarians and have your pet’s teeth checked. Your pet will undoubtedly appreciate it! For more information on your pet’s dental health, please refer to this informative article:
Nicole Laber, Founder, Fospice Mom, and Board Treasurer

What Is Cushing’s Disease?

Cushing’s Disease
What is Cushing’s Disease?

Cushing’s disease, while rare in people, is very common in dogs. Overall, it’s usually around 600,000 cases a year, and with a disease that can be hard to diagnose, the numbers could be even higher. Despite your species, however, Cushing’s disease is an overproduction of cortisol by the adrenal glands (above the kidneys). Cortisol, or the stress hormone, plays a vital role in regulating immune systems, energy, liver function, and multiple other organ functions. However, when the body produces cortisol in excessive amounts for a long period, it can damage the body drastically.

Most of the time, the disease is a result of tumors on glands that either end up releasing too much cortisol, or overproducing ACTH that then tells the adrenal glands to over-make more cortisol. Another possible reason could be from steroid medication.

Generally, once diagnosed, Cushing’s disease does not get treatment. Cushing’s is likely fatal, but surgery to remove the tumor or radiation therapy has seen significant success.

To help catch signs early, make sure you pay close attention to your pet’s behavior. Generally, most owners can tell when their pet is acting different, or has a different physical appearance, but hone in on these things:

  • Increase in thirst and appetite

  • Increase in urination

  • Increase in panting

  • Reduced physical activity like playing, running, etc.

  • A potbelly, and different skin issues

These issues are not all necessary for a diagnosis, they’re just the general reports of pets who have Cushing’s disease. If your dog or cat starts to have symptoms similar to these, make sure to monitor their behavior to see if they may have more than one, and bring them to a vet for an evaluation.

https://sashvets.com/diseases/canine-cushings-disease/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19153526/#:~:text=This%20is%20in%20contrast%20to,muscle%20atrophy%20and%20skin%20changes.

https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/cushings-disease-in-dogs

Clara Brown, Junior Board Member

Bonded Pairs (Losing One)

Heaven and Nevaeh presented me with several new experiences as a pet Mom, including having a bonded pair. That’s not something I had any prior experience with, and these girls were definitely bonded. They loved each other very much, and when they came to us, that was all they had – each other. They huddled together to sleep and never let each other out of sight. They went outside together, to the Vet together, and to the groomer together. We tried to make sure they were never separated while they became comfortable with us. Thankfully, they quickly came to understand that our home brought them much more than just each other to count on. They now had a new Mom and Dad, as well as other furry siblings who were there for them. The girls blossomed in our home, and I am forever grateful that they were able to join us. They taught me so much, and I will treasure those lessons and memories forever.
As time went on, I saw that the girls relied less on each other. But there were times when they did still need to know the other was there – like trips to the Vet or groomer, or other stressful situations. They still slept together at night, and we often found them sleeping together during the day. It was the sweetest relationship but wasn’t without arguments. They had their little fights – usually over food when Heaven would get possessive. They always became friends again very quickly though and would be the first to defend each other.
When the time came to say goodbye to Nevaeh, one last decision needed to be made – should Heaven be present for the euthanasia? Never having a bonded pair before meant that this was never something I had to think about. I researched for hours to find something to give me an answer, but nothing fit our situation. What I ended up doing was taking parts from different sources and coming up with my own process to make a decision. I wanted to share this with you in case anyone else is struggling with this same situation.
Whether you decide to have your other dog(s) present is a decision only you can make, and each situation may be very different. This is just the process I used.
Deciding whether to have Heaven present during Nevaeh’s euthanasia was a personal choice that depended on various factors. Here are some considerations that helped me make the decision:
Assess Heaven’s temperament: Consider Heaven’s personality and how she typically reacts to stressful or emotional situations. Some dogs may become distressed or anxious when witnessing the euthanasia process, while others may find comfort in being present with their companion. If Heaven is generally sensitive or easily stressed, it may be better to have her in a separate location during the procedure.
Consult with your Veterinarian: Discuss your concerns and options with your Veterinarian. They can provide guidance based on their experience and knowledge of Heaven’s behavior. They may be able to offer insights into how Heaven might react and whether it would be beneficial for her to be present.
Consider the impact on Heaven’s grieving process: Dogs can experience grief and loss when a companion passes away. Some experts believe that allowing surviving pets to witness the euthanasia process can help them understand and process the loss. However, it’s important to consider Heaven’s emotional well-being and whether being present during the euthanasia may cause more distress or confusion.
Create a peaceful environment for Heaven: If you decide to have Heaven present, ensure that the environment is calm and supportive. Consider having a familiar blanket or toy nearby to provide comfort. You may also want to have a trusted person present to provide support and reassurance to both Heaven and yourself.
Trust your intuition: Ultimately, trust your instincts and what feels right for both Nevaeh and Heaven. You know your pets best and can make the decision that you believe will be most beneficial for their well-being.
Remember, there is no right or wrong answer in this situation. It’s a deeply personal decision, and whatever choice you make, it should be based on what you believe is best for both you and your pets.
Ultimately, we decided not to have Heaven present. We felt that her protectiveness of Nevaeh would make the procedure very stressful for Heaven. I am glad that was the decision I made. Heaven had spent a great deal of time with Neveah in the days leading up to her final appointment and I believe had already said goodbye. Dogs know things long before we do, sometimes. Thankfully, Heaven seemed to take the transition of being without Nevaeh pretty well. I really think that she did most of her grieving before Nevaeh passed; she knew long before we did that it was Nevaeh’s time. Dogs are much more attuned to the health of their housemates than I ever imagined. Now Heaven has us and the other pups in the house to fill that void, and she is doing very well. Her personality is blossoming even more, and we love her so much!
Nicole Laber, Fospice Mom, and Board Treasurer

Helping Our Pets Through The Holidays

Heading into the holiday season, our thoughts are pulled into many directions. From our holiday menu to the guest list or even where to be and when. And just think, we know it’s the holidays and that our schedules are going to be different and quite possibly chaotic.
Now think about our pets. They are going to have no idea what is going on until it happens. I mean, you can try to explain it to them, but I have a feeling that conversation will go nowhere.
So how do we make the holiday season as normal and the least stressful as possible for our furry family members? There are several ways to help comfort our pets in order to reassure them that their world is not falling apart and, in all reality, might help us feel less stressed.
Keep the routine as normal as possible
Feeding times, walks, naps, and bedtime should all stay on the same schedule as much as possible. If this means you have to leave early or show up a little late, what better excuse than my dog needed me. Don’t forget when they start talking politics that the dog needs a walk.
Create a safe, relaxing space
When guests come over to our home, we need to remember it is our pet’s home, too, and that they might feel invaded or super excited to share their home with others. Be ready with a plan. Both these issues are over stimulating and should be addressed in order for your animal to be able to enjoy company as much as possible. Don’t hesitate to give your pet a break in a room of their own that is comfortable. Have a special treat or favorite toy waiting for them so that everyone can relax, knowing that there are going to be no bad choices made. Keeping the dog on a leash until they are comfortable is even an option.
Be aware of decoration overload
Our pets can stress about your holiday decorations. We move furniture and add smells from wherever the decorations come from. This can be a very big concern for some pets. Although they are beautiful and calming for us, the decorations might be a threat to our pets. Just new stull that our pets need to leave alone. A pet might need time to get used to the decor change of their domain, Take it slow, decorate in sections, or maybe spread out the amount of time you bring everything out, allowing them time to get used to everything bit by bit.
Table scraps are not necessary
Be educated on what table scraps are okay for our pets to have. Don’t hesitate to tell Uncle Bob that your animals are not allowed to have turkey skin or bones. Have a container of appropriate treats for guests to feel free to give the animals.
As a trainer, my first question for clients when they tell me their dog is acting differently is, “What has changed?”. The holiday season is a rollercoaster of change from smells, routines, and activities. None of us are perfect, so when your pet starts to act up just realize, they have no idea Santa is coming to town and just want their life back to normal. Give them grace and as much normalcy as possible.
These are just a few tips to get started thinking about how the holidays can affect our furry friends. I know the holidays can be busy and overwhelming but remember that your pet doesn’t understand and is waiting for you during this time of year just like the other 10 months out of the year, and we owe it to our best friends to make it the best holiday season for them also.
Happy Holidays! Stay safe, and as always, thank you all for your love and support,
Chastity Crowder, Fospice Mom, and Board President

Mammary Cancer

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month for us humans, a very important reminder for us. However, it can also be an important reminder for our pups as well; they can get mammary cancer too. We have dealt with this many times here at Laber of Love. Our first case was with Jedi, who came to us with mammary tumors that needed to be removed right away because they were partially ruptured. Unfortunately, her cancer spread to her lungs.
Right now, we have 4 pets that came to us or developed mammary tumors while in our care – Ginger, Ruby, Rose, and Nevaeh. While we are hopeful that we have been able to catch these masses early on for this group of dogs, there is no guarantee that the Vet will be able to remove all of the cancerous cells; cancer could very easily spread to other parts of their bodies as it did with Jedi. With Nevaeh, we aren’t able to remove her masses at all because she would more than likely not even make it through the surgery. This is what we face when we get these dogs at the end of their lives. Not only do we hold them and care for them through any surgery they face along with the effects of cancer ravaging their bodies, but we also bear the burden of the cost as well.
But what if this didn’t have to happen? What if I told you that simply spaying your female dog when it is young can lessen the risk of your dog having this form of cancer? In fact, if you spay your female before its first heat cycle, you can reduce the chances of her developing mammary cancer to less than 1%. If spayed after the first heat cycle, the risk is still small – 7%
Who wouldn’t take those odds?
Mammary masses aren’t the only danger though. Pyometra is a dangerous infection of the uterus that can be life threatening if left untreated. This is another complication that can be avoided altogether if your dog has been spayed appropriately.
Finally, dogs can develop tumors in their uteruses. Although 85-90% of these tumors are non-cancerous, they generally develop during middle age to older dogs and are still dangerous. Another complication that would be completely avoided if the dog had been spayed at a young age.
Not only does spaying your female dog at a young age reduce the risk of mammary and uterine cancer or a pyometra, but the surgery is so much less invasive, and the recovery is easier for your pup as well. As an added bonus, you will be helping to control the pet population which is currently out of control. There are simply not enough loving homes for the dogs being bred right now. This is the easiest way that everyone can help the situation.
So help your dog live a much more fulfilling and happy life – spay her early in her life! This will save heartache, time, and money down the road for you too.
Nicole Laber, Fospice Mom, and Board Treasurer

Feline Leukemia

We usually talk all things dog, but today I wanted to discuss cats because cats are important too and we love them too here at Laber of Love Pet Rescue. Today’s topic is feline leukemia. Feline Leukemia (FeLV) is a fatal disease found only in cats; it cannot be passed to people or to dogs. It is passed from cat to cat through fluids, usually saliva. It can also be passed from a mother to her kittens at birth. This disease virtually wipes out a cat’s immune system leaving them open to many other infections/diseases. It’s not the leukemia that ends up killing the cat, it is some other secondary infection or disease. If caught early, the cat is properly cared for, it is kept inside and taken to the Vet regularly, and the cat can live a relatively long and normal life.
We had the privilege to be the final home for a FeLV positive kitten, Tilly, recently. She was a tiny little thing who came to us with a poor prognosis. She was already sick and had an ulcer under her tongue. Our best guess is that she is one of the unlucky ones that was passed this disease from her mom during birth. She was found as an only kitten by a good Samaritan and taken to the Shelby County Animal Shelter. Thankfully that was the case so that she could find comfort and peace in her last weeks. Too many stray cats and kittens don’t have this good fortune; they die alone.
We had the privilege to be the final home for a FeLV-positive kitten, Tilly, recently. She was a tiny little thing who came to us with a poor prognosis. She was already sick and had an ulcer under her tongue. Our best guess is that she is one of the unlucky ones that was passed this disease from her mom during birth. She was found as an only kitten by a good Samaritan and taken to the Shelby County Animal Shelter. Thankfully that was the case so that she could find comfort and peace in her last weeks. Too many stray cats and kittens don’t have this good fortune; they die alone. are available, is it something you can do on your own? There are plenty of resources online that will walk you through how to get started.
Please see the attached article for more info: 
Let’s all be part of the solution; we can do it together.
Nicole Laber, Fospice Mom and Board Treasurer

Kids And Pet Responsibility

When having pets with a family, it’s important to teach your children responsibility and how to respect animals. As someone who grew up, and is still growing up with animals, I learned quickly that not all animals will put up with being treated roughly. Both dogs and cats alike will let you know if something is bugging them by leaving, running away and hiding, or nipping and scratching. Although this will eventually teach your child how to be respectful of your animal’s space, it’s still a good idea to teach your child how to be mindful of your pet.

Whenever you get a pet, it’s a good idea to teach your child that pets are not toys. Like people, they eat, sleep, and need exercise. The best way to teach a child this is by involving them in feeding, walking, and training of your pet. Involving kids in the process of caretaking helps casually teach them the basics of walking and feeding your pet. It is not a good idea to get a pet for your child and leave them to take care of a pet unsupervised. As your kid gets older, you can start to

give them jobs related to the pet, like walking your dog, or changing your cat’s litter, or feeding your animals.

When it comes to respecting an animal, most pets will let you know when they’ve had enough, but you still want to monitor your kids with pets. You don’t want your child to tug on your pet too hard and risk your kid getting nipped or scratched, or hurting your pet. You most likely wouldn’t let your child pull and tug on another kid’s arms or hair, so don’t let them do that to your animal, either. It’s okay to pet and play, and as you continue taking care of your pet, you’ll begin to bond with them and get an understanding of their boundaries and what they like and dislike, but you still need to be aware of general respectfulness of your animal and their space. Hitting, constant tricking, or neglecting your animal is bad pet ownership.

If your child is old enough, it’s a good idea to teach them a general understanding of space and what their responsibilities should be with your pet. Knowing how to take care of a living animal is a great skill for your child to have. Owning a pet is a great way to teach kids empathy and appreciation for life in general. (But this is not just a learning experience for your child, it is also the life of an animal so you MUST keep that in mind when taking on a pet.)

Overall, growing up with a pet is an invaluable experience for your entire family if done responsibly. Remember to be mindful of the commitment of getting a pet for your entire family during the adoption process. Again: this is a living thing, treat them like one.

For more information on the relationships between children and pets you can visit these websites:

https://www.aacap.org/AACAP/Families_and_Youth/Facts_for_Families/FFF-Guide/Pets-And-Children-075.aspx#:~:text=Children%20should%20be%20reminded%20in,by%20observing%20their%20parents’%20behavior.

https://www.aprilaire.com/blog/responsible-pet-ownership-teaching-kids-dos-donts/

https://texashumanenetwork.org/teaching-kids-to-be-nice-to-animals/

Clara Brown, Junior Board Member

How To Care For A Blind Dog

As a fospice mom currently fostering a blind, elderly Yorkie, I thought I’d share my experience as well as some advice on how to care for a dog who is visually impaired. I currently have Muffin in my care with Laber of Love, and over the last 17 months with her, I’ve found it amazing how she adapted to my home after just a few short days. She knows exactly which end I sit on the couch, the side of the bed I usually lay on, right where her bed is, her food bowl, the ottoman, the step down on the patio, the outdoor furniture, etc. Muffin is my second blind dog with Laber of Love, and my experience has been the same with both…absolutely wonderful!
Just like humans, dogs can be affected by blindness as well as other conditions like glaucoma, infections, and cataracts. Although a dog’s eyesight can deteriorate in senior dogs, it’s not safe to assume that their deterioration is just due to old age. There may be underlying issues, so please speak with your vet if there are concerns.
Visually impaired animals depend on consistency in their environment without big changes. Once in their environment, they create a scent map and a mind map of where things are, such as the furniture. Moving furniture can be distressing as they are dependent on one less sense, although their remaining senses are heightened.
Talking to your blind dog and using your voice all the time is also important. Consistent communication allows them to be independent while also caring for and reassuring them that they can do the things of a sighted animal with just a little more caution. Using commands like “step up,” or “step down,” or “stop” will alert them to a situation that is different than their normal routine or path.
Sometimes getting down on their level and doing a crawl around your home will give you a sense of what they experience on a daily basis. Are there obstacles that can be moved to make their path easier and/or safer? Are there sharp objects or table corners that you should be aware of?
Try to keep their routine and schedule the same. Knowing their feeding times, walks, etc., will help your pet feel comfortable and know what to expect each day.
Please remember that blindness doesn’t always mean your dog won’t want to play or interact! Toys that make noises or provide a scent will allow your dog to be involved and play as he/she used to!
With a little extra care and caution, don’t forget to treat your dog just like you would any other pet because that’s exactly what he/she is!
Nicole Patrizio, Fospice Mom and Board Member

Building A Happy Pack From The Start

Initially, this blog was meant to be about how to introduce a new dog into your home with your already existing dog(s). But I would like to shape this objective a bit differently. Let’s begin by Building a Happy Pack from the Start. Think of it as the blueprint to your future’s steady pack.
This leads to the question, are we ready to add a fur-ever family member? Do you have a plan in place to set yourself up for success?
Good questions to discuss and answer are:
Do we foresee any significant changes concerning time or lifestyle in the future? This isn’t even about the near future this involves a decision that will affect many years down the road. I know we’re not fortune tellers and life happens but if you are uncertain about what the future holds for any reason give yourself some time before making this decision.
Are you aware of the services that will be needed with the addition of the new fur-ever friend? Do you know which border, groomer, trainer, dog walker, or daycare you will be using if needed? Are you prepared for the cost of veterinary bills?
Do you have a current pet? Is it ready for a new friend? Is it up to date on vet care? Are there any behaviors that might need to be addressed before adding that new fur-ever friend to your family? Most people do not consider the fact that an unaltered animal can be more difficult to adjust to another animal, altered or not. This is a genuine issue when it comes to behaviors regarding animals getting along for a novice dog owner.
These questions are valid and only fair to ask yourself when you’re planning on changing not only your life but the life of your furry companions. And the first step to a solid foundation when building a happy pack. Some of the most responsible pet owners are the ones that know to wait.
So, let’s say you feel confident that now is the right time to add a fur-ever friend to your family, now on to the next level of planning.
Be ready with a routine. Have a training method ready to incorporate into the routine that will create consistency for everyone involved. This creates security for the current dog and the new dog. I personally prefer crate training because that is what works best for my home. Setting up a solid routine will give you something to fall back on if everything seems to be falling apart. There will be times when going back to this routine will remind the dog(s) that you know what you are doing and are in charge without having to question yourself. It is a positive but effective way to set boundaries without having to get frustrated. This will save your sanity.
There are many How To videos and articles involving how to introduce a new fur-ever friend into your life. They all have most of the same advice so follow that and confirm what works best for your lifestyle. Remember it doesn’t have to be hard. Take it slow to build your confidence in order to become the leader your pack needs. These choices are molding the future of your pack and you will reap the benefits for years to come.
I believe that if people would ask questions first before adding that new fur-ever friend then maybe, just maybe we would have a few more responsible pet owners in society. This would allow our shelters and rescues the ability to help those people and pets that are really in need and not just those who see pets as less than a lifelong commitment.
Laber of Love Pet Rescue is dedicated to loving our pets until the very end with respect, compassion, and dignity. Thank you all for your continued support and love.
Chastity Crowder , Fospice Mom and Board President

Potty Training A Senior Dog

 

 

Bringing home any new dog can come with challenges, senior dogs are no exception. However, one benefit of senior dogs is many of them are already housetrained (to me that is a huge benefit!) That is not always the case, though. And even if it is, the dog may need a refresher when entering a new home. So how do you potty train a senior dog? It is much the same as any other dog, but there can be some subtle differences. One is how stubborn the dog is or how willing to learn. I’ll be the first to admit some seniors are really stubborn, like our little sassy girls Heaven and Nevaeh. However, some are so eager to please that potty training is a breeze! The other consideration with senior dogs is health issues. If potty training doesn’t go as planned, it is always a good idea to visit your vet to make sure there aren’t any underlying health issues. Urinary issues become more prevalent as our pets get older and affect their frequency of urination and the urgency with which they need to go. Kidney issues can also have an effect. There are other health issues that cause “leakage” and hinder the pet’s ability to even know when they are urinating. It’s very important to be aware and talk to your vet if you are seeing any of these issues. Personally, I use a combination of a crate/playpen and keeping the dog tethered to me when I first bring a new one home to potty train. This gives me more control over where the dog goes and what the dog does. I can also keep a close eye on them and start to recognize their “cues” shown when they need to go potty. Some dogs prance around, some start sniffing more, some turn circles and some start staring at me more. Seems every dog has a different “cue”, and it’s important to recognize your dog’s. Keeping the dog tethered to you also helps form a bond with the dog. I treasure the bond that I make with each and every one! This combined with frequent trips outside and establishing a schedule are the keys to my household. Unfortunately, potty training isn’t always a possibility for senior dogs though. This may be because of past experiences that we know nothing about or because of health issues. If that is the case for you and your dog, there are tools that can help! Diapers, belly bands, and puppy pads have been life savers (and flooring savers) for Laber of Love fospice parents! Hopefully, the attached article can help you if you choose to bring home a senior pet. Be patient, don’t give up. The love of a senior dog is well worth a little time, angst, paper towels, and floor cleaners! https://www.petmd.com/dog/training/ins-and-outs-potty-training-older-dogs-0?

Nicole Laber, Fospice Mom and Board Treasurer