Owning a Pet Can Deliver Big Health Benefits and Much More!

We all know pets can be fun, but they can also have physical and mental health benefits. There are some surprising health benefits for pet owners. If you are not able to own a pet, volunteering or simply visiting a local animal shelter can give you a boost.

In this video report, Jim Morelli looks at the impressive medical evidence that owning a pet can deliver big health benefits. This includes babies who may receive extra protection against allergies from having a pet around.

There are many opportunities to get involved in pet therapy. For example, The Animal Protective Association of Missouri or APA offers an active PetReach Program. Since 1983, PetReach has sent APA staff, volunteers and their pets into senior care facilities, psychiatric units, convalescent centers and children’s hospitals. PetReach was the first no-fee, pet-assisted activity program in the St. Louis area. You can get more information about volunteering at the APA website.

Both of my health and mood boosting pals, a pair of Maltese, were adopted from the APA. Many shelters have purebred dogs and wonderful mixes from good homes who are looking for a second chance.

Both of these adorable pups with Santa came from the Animal Protective Association of Missouri. Many shelters have purebred dogs.

Both of these adorable pups with Santa came from the Animal Protective Association of Missouri. Many shelters have purebred dogs.


Skin Cancer in Dogs: One Owner’s Fight and What You Should Look For in Your Pet

My two dogs are very important to me and I treasure each day with them. My Maltese have been members of the family since I was fortunate enough to adopt them from a local shelter. Some people call them “rescues”. An appropriate name because each day they rescue me from the mundane with their lively antics and companionship.

I saw a story about another Midwest family and their rescue, Marsha, a 5-year-old American Bulldog mix. The video below on Marsha’s life before adoption and what she now faces touched me and prompted me to learn more about skin cancer in dogs.

I learned skin cancers are the most common tumor in dogs, accounting for approximately one third of all tumors.

As in almost any form of cancer in dogs, but especially with certain types of skin cancer, it is critical to identify and treat skin cancer in its early stages. Examine your dog monthly by separating the fur with your fingers and closely look at the skin.

Look for:

• Tumors, areas of color change, or scaly, crusty lesions

• Any suspicious lumps or areas of discoloration under the tail

• New growths or a change in color or size of an existing growth calls

• Tumors that bleed easily or areas that do not to heal

• Any area the dog is continually licking or scratching

• Swelling in the breast tissue or discharge from a nipple

• Any masses or tissue that seems different from surrounding areas in the mouth

The cause of most skin cancers in dogs is unknown. Exposure to the sun has been shown to cause a higher incidence of three types of skin cancer: squamous cell carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma and hemangioma.

• Light-colored dogs with thin fur coverage that spend time in the sun have a higher risk of developing certain forms of skin cancer.

• Some breeds of dogs (Boxers, Scottish Terriers, Bull Mastiffs, Basset Hounds, Weimaraners, Kerry Blue Terriers and Norwegian Elkhounds) have been found to have a higher incidence of skin cancer thereby raising the distinct possibility of a genetic link. Male dogs that have not been neutered have a higher incidence of perianal tumors. Generally, the age of a dog also plays a role as middle age to older dogs are more likely to develop cancerous growths

Please take a moment and see how one family is fighting for Marsha and making every day special with a “canine bucket list”.

If you were making a “bucket list” for one of your pets, what would be at the top of the list? Please let me know and take part in the poll.


My Teen is Losing Her Sweet Smile! What You Should Know About Bad Breath in Dogs and Cats

ImageMy sweet and adorable teenager has terrible breath and is losing her smile. This perky and inquisitive thirteen year old Maltese suffers from dental disease. I knew her kisses and breath were not as sweet as they once were, but I was not prepared for the condition of her teeth and gums at a recent check-up.

Director of Veterinary Services for the Animal Protective Association of Missouri, Denise Dietsch D.V.M. showed me the toll tartar build up has taken on my tiny pet. Dr. Dietsch was not surprised at the damage; she says dental disease is the most common disease in dogs and cats, affecting 91 percent of dogs and 85 percent of cats over the age of 3.

If your pet has bad breath be aware it is most likely due to tartar buildup on the teeth, which often leaves odor-producing bacteria behind. Small bits of food can remain in your pet’s mouth and these particles create an environment where oral bacteria flourish.
There are other indications your cat or dog could be suffering from dental problems:

• Difficulty chewing
• Decreased appetite
• Increased salivation
• Changes in food preferences

Dental issues range from mild inflammation and tartar, to significant inflammation and tooth loss. Left untreated, severe dental issues can lead to bacterial infections that can spread through the bloodstream and damage other organs including the heart, kidneys and liver.

Professional dental assessments and cleanings are important for pets. There are also some daily treatments at home aimed at prevention:

• Dental chews
• Specially formulated food to combat tartar
• A schedule of regular pet teeth brushing- daily or at least three times a week

Specially formulated pet toothpaste and brushes are also available from your veterinarian or pet store. Professional teeth cleaning should be done annually by your veterinarian.