Top 10 Pet Health Issues Seen by FACE and our Veterinary Partners

We are often asked about the kinds of pet health emergencies that are seen by our veterinary partners and referred to FACE, so that we may help qualified pet owners pay for life-saving veterinary treatments for their companion animals.  There are many common pet injuries and illnesses that we and our partners see on a monthly or even weekly basis.  Here’s a list of the top pet health issues helped by FACE grants.  Be sure to check out our website for more detailed information on each medical condition!

  1. Fractures

Broken bones are a very common pet injury that we see on an almost weekly basis.  Fractures of a dog or cat’s long bones are like human arm or leg fractures.  Some young or small pets can even sustain fractures from a jump off a couch or bed.  The most common signs of fractures are lameness, as well as pain and swelling at the injury site.  Be sure to get your pet to the vet as soon as possible.  Falls from high places (or being hit by a car) can cause serious, life-threatening internal injuries besides broken bones, like internal bleeding and ruptured organs, so quick diagnosis and treatment are critical.

  1. Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD)

Most commonly seen in dogs, especially Dachshunds and other breeds with similar body types, IVDD occurs when the cushions between your dog’s spinal bones swell or rupture.  This can damage the spinal cord and lead to lameness, loss of sensation, incontinence, and even paralysis.  Mild IVDD can be treated with non-invasive measures, but a serious case requires surgery to decompress the spine.  Sadly, vets may often recommend euthanasia if a ruptured disc is left untreated.

  1. Foreign Body Obstructions

Dogs, cats, and other pets will often get into mischief and eat things they shouldn’t.  A gastrointestinal obstruction occurs when the object is not vomited up or passed through the intestinal tract.  Many common household items can cause an obstruction:  toy pieces, strings, rubber bands, coins, pieces of bone, etc.  An object stuck in the upper GI tract can be removed via endoscopy, but many stomach and intestinal obstructions require surgery.  Untreated obstructions can be fatal.

  1. Urinary Obstructions

A very common veterinary emergency, often seen in male cats, urinary obstructions occur when crystals or mucus form in the kidneys and enter the bladder and urethra.  Mild obstructions can cause your cat discomfort and distress, but complete obstructions (and the inability to pass any urine) cause deadly toxins to build up in your cat’s body, leading to death if left untreated.  Your cat’s urinary system will need to be flushed.  Chronic obstructions often require surgery.  Your vet will talk to you about dietary changes to prevent the formation of crystals in the future.

  1. Pyometra

Besides leading to unwanted litters of puppies and kittens, leaving your female dog or cat unspayed can also lead to a life-threatening medical condition called pyometra.  It is a bacterial infection of the uterus, occurring in one quarter of unspayed female pets.  Signs include lethargy, vaginal discharge, and anorexia.  A seriously infected uterus can be fatal, and the recommended treatment for pyometra is removal of the uterus and ovaries.

  1. Rattlesnake Bites

Here in San Diego, rattlesnake bites are a fairly common pet emergency that can happen year-round because of the warm climate.  Dogs are 20 times more likely to be bitten by a snake than us humans, mostly due to their inquisitive nature when they are exploring the great outdoors.  A bite from a venomous snake can be fatal to your pet, and immediate treatment with antivenom is crucial.  Your pet will also require additional treatment for pain, infection, and inflammation.

  1. Emergency C-Sections

Emergency Caesarian sections are sometimes required if your pet is experiencing distress during the birthing process.  Certain dog breeds with large head/small body size (like some bulldogs and terriers) can be especially vulnerable to problems.  It is critical to bring your dog to the vet as soon as possible if she is experiencing intense contractions with no sign of puppies.

  1. Enucleations

Enucleation is the removal of an eye due to an injury or illness that causes your dog or cat discomfort.  In pets, enucleation is often the best solution to relieve pain.  Conditions that may require removal of the eye include glaucoma, cancer, severe infection, and trauma.   Your vet will perform the operation to remove the eye under anesthesia, stitching the skin closed when done.

  1. Laceration Repairs

A laceration is a cut or tear in the skin, with severe lacerations often involving blood loss and damage to underlying structures like muscles, tendons, blood vessels, and nerves.  Surgery under general anesthesia is often required to repair significant lacerations.  Lacerations should be treated as soon as possible to avoid infection of the wound.

  1. Severe Dental Work

Rounding out the list of the most common pet health issues we assist with is a relatively new addition…severe dental work.  Serious periodontal disease in dogs, cats, and other pets can lead to life-threatening health conditions.  Left untreated, diseased teeth and gums can lead to loss of tissue and bone in the mouth and the bacteria can enter the bloodstream and travel throughout the body, leading to bone infection and organ damage.  Talk to your vet about prevention strategies like home tooth brushing.

 

Key Findings from 2017 Pet Population and Ownership Trends Report

Did you know that 55% of all American households have pets?  Are you interested in learning about the latest dog, cat, and other companion animal trends?  The website reseachandmarkets.com has recently announced the publication of the market research report Pet Population and Ownership Trends in the U.S.: Dogs, Cats, and other Pets (2nd Edition).  The report is available for purchase, but we’ve taken a sneak peek at some of the more thought-provoking findings, sure to be of interest to all pet parents and animal lovers!

Dogs

  • Dog ownership has risen 29% in the past decade
  • Both millennials and baby boomers are driving the growth in dog ownership
  • Number of unmarried and childless dog owners is growing
  • Half of U.S. dog owners live in the 25 largest metropolitan areas of the country
  • Most pet owners favor smaller dogs but boomers tend to prefer larger dogs

Cats

  • 59 million Americans own cats
  • Cat owners are more likely to add other cats to the household than other kinds of animals
  • Cat ownership among seniors has risen 43% in the past decade
  • Number of Hispanic cat owners has been markedly increasing
  • Females tend to drive growth in cat ownership numbers

Other Pets

  • 15 million households have non-canine/non-feline pets (23% of all pet owners)
  • There are 86 million “other” pets in the U.S.
  • Latinos are most likely to have pet birds
  • The presence of children in the household is a deciding factor in “other” pet ownership
  • 73% of fish owners are under the age of 50
  • 47% of reptile owners are millennials

Check out the Research and Markets website for even more pet ownership facts and figures.

 

San Diego Union Tribune Profiles FACE Success Story Cece the Cat

Meet Cece, a beautiful Siamese cat who escaped from home a few months back.  Cece was struck by a car and suffered a fractured back.  The surgery to save her life was more than her family could afford, but they applied for a FACE grant and Cece was able to have her surgery.  We’re happy to report she’s doing great now!  Check out this VIDEO about Cece and her family on the San Diego Union Tribune website.

FACE co-founder Dr. Keith Richter with his pups Mr. Piggy and Bloopus

Accompanying the video is an ARTICLE about Cece and the work that we do to save pets in need of critical veterinary care in the San Diego area.  With the cost of diagnostic services and specialty treatments for unexpected pet illnesses and injuries often running thousands of dollars, FACE provides hope for pet owners faced with the sad reality of economic euthanasia.

Thank you San Diego Union Tribune, for the wonderful profile of Cece and FACE!

 

FACE Friend Linda Michaels Publishes “Do No Harm™ Dog Training and Behavior Manual”

A few months ago, we introduced you to FACE friend and supporter Linda Michaels of Del Mar Dog Training in a blog post.  Linda is a top-rated dog trainer and behavior expert who created the Hierarchy of Dog Needs® approach to force-free behavior modification.  Linda has expanded the ideas she outlined in the Hierarchy into a brand-new eBook called the Do No Harm™ Dog Training and Behavior Manual.  The manual is a great resource for anyone interested in learning about force-free solutions for common dog behavior problems (pet parents, trainers, animal welfare workers and volunteers, groomers, and more).  The book is available for purchase in pdf format HERE.

The manual covers both basic obedience and more advanced behavior issues like aggression and separation anxiety.  Topics covered include advice on finding the right dog for your family and lifestyle, as well as step-by-step training how-tos for many key behavior areas, such as:

  • Housetraining
  • Socialization to people and other dogs
  • Dog safety and body language
  • Good manners and impulse control
  • New puppy training
  • How to avoid “treat dependence”
  • Teaching the basic commands
  • Protocols for dealing with serious behavior problems

Linda has an MA in Experimental Psychology and has worked not only with dogs, but also wolves and wolfdog hybrids in need of treatment for aggression.  The foundation of her approach is to avoid the use of harsh, dominance-based training methods and aversive collar devices (shock, prong, choke).  Linda believes that these methods are often counter-productive and can in fact increase aggression in dogs.

The Hierarchy of Dog Needs® concept is based on the idea that dogs (just like people) have fundamental needs that should be met both in the training process and throughout their lives.  Besides basic physical needs like food and shelter, dogs also need to feel safe, secure, and loved.  Linda’s training methods take these important emotional needs into account, leading to optimal results.

As Linda notes, traditional dominance training methods and devices can inflict irreversible psychological damage on our dogs.  “This manual was written for ‘the heartbeats at our feet’ with their well-being and best force-free care and training practices in mind,” says Linda.  “We no longer leave the door open for any justification to use aversive/punitive methods of training with dogs.”  The key to effective training is the proper use of force-free methods…now easier than ever thanks to Linda’s contributions to the field!

 

FACE Grants Help Service Dogs in Need of Critical Veterinary Care

Recently FACE received a wonderful thank you letter from a truly special grantee.  Meet Kenneth and his service dog Sampson.  FACE provides financial assistance for emergency veterinary care to qualified pet owners…and some of these pets happen to be service dogs like Sampson!  Ken receives life-saving support from Sampson.  Ken has multiple health challenges, and Sampson provides comfort and assistance on many levels.  Not only is Sampson a diabetic alert dog, he also helps Ken get around in his motorized wheel chair and provides emotional support too.  Ken is hard of hearing and taught Sampson American Sign Language, so Sampson alerts Ken to the phone and doorbell as well.

Meet a few more FACE success stories who also happen to be very special assistance animals like Sampson!

Bella Amia is a registered service dog for her disabled owner.  Bella developed a cancerous tumor and the cost of surgery was more than her owner could afford on a fixed income.  FACE stepped in to help Bella…thanks to generous pet cancer grant funding from the Petco Foundation and Blue Buffalo.

Pete provides emotional support to a young girl who has cerebral palsy.  After he broke his leg, Pete’s owner, a single mom, needed some financial assistance for his surgery.  With a FACE grant, Pete was able to get his surgery, much to the relief of his loving family.

Rascull is an emotional support dog for a disabled senior who struggles with some mental health issues.  Rascull swallowed something he shouldn’t have and needed surgery his owner couldn’t afford.  Knowing how important Rascull was to his mom, his vet called FACE and we were able to provide assistance to save his life.