Devocalization of Dogs and Cats

Yesterday I did a radio interview about the devocalization of dogs and cats.

In 2010 a small grass roots group, of which I am a member, pushed legislation through the State of Massachusetts Legislature in record time.  This legislation banned convenience devocalization of cats and dogs.  They said we would never win, but we did…actually, we didn’t win.  The dogs and cats who won’t have their vocal cords cut in this state won!

For those of you who aren’t familiar with devocalization, it is the cutting or punching of the vocal cords of dogs and cats in order to silence them from barking and meowing normally and to forever alter their ability to communicate as dogs and cats are designed to do.

Most frequently, the procedure is performed on dogs.  Devocalization has also been called debarking or bark softening.   The term, “Bark softening”, I find particularly heinous.  It is a deceptively beige description of a devastating form of multalization.

The part that no one talks about in this procedure is the pain and lifelong suffering the devocalized dogs endure.  Scar tissue often grows in their throats restricting their airways and requiring further surgery; they have been known to die of heat stroke because they can’t pant adequately to cool themselves down.  They can aspirate vomit into their lungs (that means they suck vomit into their lungs), subsequently dying agonizing deaths from aspiration pneumonia.  There are documented instances of dogs bleeding to death during or after the procedure.

At the very least, they can no longer communicate.  They try to bark, and instead they wheeze; they sound like 3 pack a day smokers.

There is a movement afoot to “encourage” the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) to alter their stance on devocalization.  Many vets, although refusing to perform the devocalization procedure, are reluctant to take a stand in opposition to the AVMA’s official position.

By the way, it doesn’t matter what vet with what qualifications and expertise performs this procedure.  Scar tissue doesn’t care what the vet’s credentials are…

This issue is much bigger and much more complicated than can be explained here in this blog.  Perhaps, however, this will be your introduction to the subject.

Why would anyone do this to man’s best friend?  Follow the money, baby…

 

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So…How Sick Was Your Dog After Thanksgiving?!

Sometimes sharing is not a good thing.  Case in point…that rich thanksgiving turkey and all the fixings.  So tempting to share with Fido, and he loved it so…right up until the vomiting and diarrhea started – Oh yes, I’ve been there, too.

Good opportunity to talk about changing your dog’s diet suddenly and how it’s not a good thing.  With very few exceptions, a dog’s diet, if changed, should be done so gradually.

Unless you have a medical situation where your dog is experiencing problems and needs to go on a vet recommended diet to help him, most vets and experts will suggest a gradual diet change.

Changing kibble for instance…first day, introduce no more than ¼ of the new kibble with ¾ of the current kibble being fed.  Do that for a couple of days, and then increase the blend to ½ and ½ for the next couple of days.  You get the idea.

What to do if your dog is already suffering from the thanksgiving leftovers and can’t get himself straightened out?  Think pink!

No kidding!  Think pink as in bismuth or Pepto Bismol.  The liquid is not going to be an easy sell to your pooch, but one bismuth tablet in a piece of bread or cheese will disappear quickly and will most probably do the trick.  You might need to repeat one more time, but we’ve found with our chow hound it works wonders!

Lesson learned here is that no matter how much you love your dog and want to share the goodies, a shared cracker or piece of bread will be better in the long run than that rich turkey and gravy.

Trust me, I know!!

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Senior Dogs and Incontinence…there is help!

Senior pets provide us with great joy and a few challenges along the way. 

One of the challenges can really impact your own living conditions and the health of your dog.  With an impatient and uninformed pet guardian (I prefer “guardian” to “owner”) this information can be the difference between a long life and the decision to euthanize.

Older dogs, especially spade females, often have issues with incontinence.  I have been through this with my 17 year old shelter rescue dog, Chloe.

We first noticed the drips which turned in to “do I smell pee?”   Lots of cleaning of rugs and laundering of pet beds…

The vets have a couple of drugs that are prescribed to “tighten up that pee-pee” as I call it.  Proin is one of the drugs.  It was used as an anti-histamine in humans but was found to cause strokes; it was discontinued as a human drug.  Don’t ask me how, but they found it helps with incontinence in dogs.

We tried Proin for Chloe, and it worked quite well.  We had to adjust the dosage however, as the prescribed amount for her level of incontinence was one tablet per day.  One of the side effects is hyper-activity, and once we got to the point where we were peeling Chloe off the ceiling and ready to shoot ourselves from the constant (and I mean constant) unrelenting pacing and barking, we knew the dose was not acceptable for her.  We adjusted it downward so she was on ¼ tablet per day, and this worked for quite a while.

Eventually, the Proin wasn’t cutting it, and if we increased the dose to tighten the pee-pee, the hyperactivity would kick in.

Our vet suggested DES which, although effective in this case, can eventually cause mammary tumors in dogs within about 4-5 years.  It does help manage incontinence, and Chloe was nearing the age of 17 at the time. After weighing the options and taking into consideration that by the time it might cause her problems, she would be about a 22 year old dog, we decided to try DES.

The DES worked for a while, but eventually was not stopping the leaking even with doubling the dose at the vet’s direction.  The problem was mostly at night, and I was resigned to wash her bedding every morning.

We were soon faced with another problem the incontinence was causing…Urinary Tract Infections or UTIs.  We treated two of them a month’s time.  This showed up as dripping blood across the kitchen floor and was a very scary experience!

All this was very discouraging as Chloe (although quite deaf) was doing great in so many ways.  Happy, going for 3 walks a day, still wanting to play…

One morning when I checked my emails, I saw an offer from HomeoPet for a bottle of drops called “Leaks No More”.  It was all natural with no drugs at all.

I sent the email to my vet who is very progressive and includes chiropractic, accupuncture and herbs in his regular vet practice.  He though it looked good, and as we really had nothing to loose (but about $12), I ordered it.

Long story short, it has been a miracle!!  Her bed was completely dry in the morning after just a few days on the drops.  We cannot have her on the lowest dose and have had to adjust it to the middle range of dosage, using it with the minimum dose of DES to manage her incontinence.  On that combination her bed is dry and so far, no more UTIs!

Chloe is now moving confidently toward 18 years old, and is off Proin and back to the minimum dose of DES!

 

 

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