Pet Care Archive

 The Importance of Spaying and Neutering Our Pets

By Alex Pappas

Original Release Date:  February 2016.  I have been asked by countless people why we should ALTER our pets. In Los Angeles county and most other major cities, neutering pets is the law, and while there are exemptions to the ordinance, pet owners could face a fine of up $250 for the first infraction, and if they haven’t taken action within 30 days to fix the infraction, they could face up to an additional 6 months in prison and/or $1000 fine.

Here are 10 REASONS why we should make sure our pets are spayed or neutered, taken straight from the ASPCA website:

Your female pet will live a longer, healthier life.

Spaying helps prevent uterine infections and breast cancer, which is fatal in about 50 percent of dogs and 90 percent of cats. Spaying your pet before her first heat offers the best protection from these diseases.

Neutering provides major health benefits for your male.

Besides preventing unwanted litters, neutering your male companion prevents testicular cancer, if done before six months of age.

Your spayed female won’t go into heat.

While cycles can vary, female felines usually go into heat four to five days every three weeks during breeding season. In an effort to advertise for mates, they’ll yowl and urinate more frequently—sometimes all over the house!

Your male dog won’t want to roam away from home.

An intact male will do just about anything to find a mate! That includes digging his way under the fence and making like Houdini to escape from the house. And once he’s free to roam, he risks injury in traffic and fights with other males.

Your neutered male will be much better behaved.

Neutered cats and dogs focus their attention on their human families. On the other hand, unneutered dogs and cats may mark their territory by spraying strong-smelling urine all over the house. Many aggression problems can be avoided by early neutering.

Spaying or neutering will NOT make your pet fat.

Don’t use that old excuse! Lack of exercise and overfeeding will cause your pet to pack on the extra pounds—not neutering. Your pet will remain fit and trim as long as you continue to provide exercise and monitor food intake.

It is highly cost-effective.

The cost of your pet’s spay/neuter surgery is a lot less than the cost of having and caring for a litter. It also beats the cost of treatment when your unneutered tom escapes and gets into fights with the neighborhood stray!

Spaying and neutering your pet is good for the community.

Stray animals pose a real problem in many parts of the country. They can prey on wildlife, cause car accidents, damage the local fauna and frighten children. Spaying and neutering packs a powerful punch in reducing the number of animals on the streets.

Your pet doesn’t need to have a litter for your children to learn about the miracle of birth.

Letting your pet produce offspring you have no intention of keeping is not a good lesson for your children—especially when so many unwanted animals end up in shelters. There are tons of books and videos available to teach your children about birth in a more responsible way.

Spaying and neutering helps fight pet overpopulation.

Every year, millions of cats and dogs of all ages and breeds are euthanized or suffer as strays. These high numbers are the result of unplanned litters that could have been prevented by spaying or neutering.

(Source: https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/top-10-reasons-spay-or-neuter-your-pet)

While all of these are compelling reasons to spay or neuter pets, according to a study by the LA Department of Animal Services back in 2008 an estimated 500,000 of domesticated pets were not. You may be asking yourself, as I did, why is this? Here are a few of the excuses I have heard over the years:

“It is too expensive.”

ANSWER: Los Angeles along with many other cities partners with low cost spay and neuter clinics. They even offer a $150 voucher that is accepted at a lot of local vets. You can also look for nonprofits that offer free spay and neuter clinics. So money is really not the issue.

“I think it is cruel.”

ANSWER: Neutering is a simple surgical procedure that has many health benefits and will not change the way your dog thinks of you. If you are nervous about surgery, there are other options, such as chemical neutering, although you will have to do your own research on it.

“I don’t want my pet’s personality to change.”

ANSWER: In general, if you see any changes, they will be for the better. Most neutered or spayed animals show less aggression towards other animals, the urge to mark or spray for territory will decrease, and they are less likely to wander.

“I want to breed my pet.”

ANSWER: This is one of my favorites. If this is something you are thinking for doing for extra money, call some of the most well-known breeders and ask them if they make much of a profit. Most will tell you that they are fortunate if they break even. Keep in mind, those breeders are breeding purebreds, and once you factor in the costs of the stud fees, vet care, shots, quality food and the time. You will find that chances are, you lost money. Also keep in mind that once you have a litter, you are very likely to have difficulties finding homes for all your little ones.

Just in Los Angeles, over 900,000 domesticated dogs and cats end up living in shelters each year. I would like to ask that if you have an unneutered dog or cat, please, do not be part of the problem, be part of the solution. Have your furry family member spayed or neutered today!

Coyotes and Other Hungry Wildlife!

By Alex Pappas

Original Release Date:  December 2015.  Due to the record drought in California, we are seeing coyotes and other wildlife being forced into our urban areas in record numbers hunting for food. I was in the middle of San Fernando Valley last night and personally watched four raccoons walk by me in the street. I also saw a coyote walking in the middle of a street up in the hills of Tarzana, California at 10am. While we have always had some interaction with wildlife along the fringes of the city, we need to be aware that in today’s environment, wildlife could be anywhere.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I am always concerned for my 4-legged children and I want to make sure that they live a healthy and happy life. With wildlife encroaching closer to home, we need to do what we can to help minimize negative interactions between them and our pets.

That being said, what can we do? Remember that there are many different animals that we have to be aware of: snakes, coyotes, hawks, owls, raccoons, and skunks, just to name a few. The first thing is that it is good idea to be aware of your surroundings. If I am hiking on a trail, or I am up in the hills, there is more of a chance that I might run into something. Being aware of what is going on around me can help me avoid unnecessary interactions. Keep in mind that coyotes are mainly looking for a meal, small and medium sized animals such as dogs and cats are more likely to be attacked if left unsupervised. Large dogs have been known to be attacked as well, although they are rarely killed.

A second way to minimize your risk is going outside at night with your dog. If you must have your dog(s) off leash, make sure the area is well lit, and that you stay relatively close to them. Remember, predators are looking for quick low risk meals. Coyotes are extremely smart, and they know that being injured is a risk to their survival, so if a meal doesn’t look easy or safe, chances are they will move on looking for something easier.

Leash control is the third way to keep our pets safe. While hiking, I know a lot of people like to take their dogs off the leash, but if your dog is 20 feet away from you and comes across a rattlesnake or sees a coyote, can you guarantee that your dog will not investigate it? I train dogs for a living, and I cannot guarantee my dogs will ignore them. So keep your dog on a leash, to help minimize the risk. If you want to let your dog off the leash, make sure it is in safe environments and do your best to stay close to them as possible.

Unfortunately there are a lot of outdoor cats, which fall easy prey to coyotes. While I am not telling you to limit your cat’s outdoor time, I would try to have the cat come inside at night. But be aware, coyotes are being seen during broad daylight more and more. My cat is strictly an “indoor” cat, unless she is put on a harness and leash. Again, leash control helps me ensure that my cat remains safe.

The fourth step we can take is preventing the animals from coming into our area. Think about what coyotes eat: small mammals, fruits and vegetation; however they will also eat our garbage and pet food left outdoors. So make sure your trash is secure, and try to avoid feeding animals outside. Keep in mind, if you are feeding your animals outside, you are placing a red flag to a predator. Feeding your cat or dog indoors and ensuring there are no snacks to be found may keep coyotes and other wildlife from seeing your property as a place where they can find food.

Last but not least, what do we do if we come across a coyote while walking our dog(s)? Try to pick up or hold your dog close to you before the coyote gets close. Make loud noises and act threatening by kicking dirt or moving your arms around in the air to remind the coyote that you are the bigger threat. Slowly remove yourself from the area, and make sure that you keep an eye on him. Turning your back on a coyote might be his cue to try to attack, although this is very, very rare. Remember while most people see coyotes as pest, they do help keep the rodent population down, so just work on avoiding them as much as possible. In other words, killing coyotes will not help solve our problem. Keeping your fur family safe by following these tips is the best thing to do. Stay safe and have fun with your fur babies!

Even Small Efforts Can Make a Big Difference

By Alex Pappas

Original Release Date:  October 2015.  It is impossible to discern what exactly the future holds however at the current pace of events affecting natural habitat and wildlife conservation efforts it looks rather grim. Is there anything we can do to prevent a complete environmental and wildlife catastrophe?  My argument is YES! Like countless others, I wanted to help contribute to a better world where natural habitat and wildlife could flourish but was unsure as to how to go about it or even where to begin. Therefore, I wrote this blog as a means to help others in the same predicament understand what he or she can do to help conserve the dwindling resources so vital to the maintenance of current wildlife populations worldwide.

I grew up with animals my whole life; in fact my earliest memories have always involved pets particularly dogs sitting faithfully by my side. Whether it was a toy poodle, a golden retriever, or countless variations of terrier breeds, my life is simply incomplete without an animal to share it with. There is a large part of our population who own animals for the same reasons I do. If we look at the history of how we view pet animals for instance, the common household dog would fit that description as he dutifully stayed outside and ate table scraps. Today, however, pets are considered our surrogate children or siblings, and I thank my parents for instilling that philosophy in me at an early age. I loved them so much that I decided to follow my passion and become a dog trainer to help ensure that pets and their families have a positive symbiotic relationship.

Another meaningful part of my life while growing up involved the Boy Scouts which I fully support. It provided me an opportunity as a child to appreciate the outdoors while exploring the vast reaches of our country.  I had countless amazing experiences such as canoeing 50 miles down the Colorado River, backpacking in the mountains of New Mexico and the High Sierra Mountains as well as, spending summers working at a youth camp on Catalina Island.  Those early childhood experiences proved invaluable, as I acquired a deep appreciation for natural habitat as well as the wildlife that is dependent on it for their survival.

I feel that if we look at the issues affecting natural habitat and wildlife differently we can go a long way to protecting our precious natural resources for future generations to enjoy. There are action items that each and every individual can easily adopt and use to help better the environment.  First, practice common sense which means picking up after ourselves and not discarding our trash whenever we see fit.  Second, we must abide by all established state and federal laws concerning natural habitat preservation by not igniting campfire where campfires are not permissible. Third, recycle; it’s easy, it’s useful and it is cost effective insofar as limiting the large amount of waste that a society creates.  Furthermore, exhibit decent wilderness manners which mean staying on trails and not defacing trees or rocks which many species of birds and animals use for purposes of nesting, hiding and procreation.  On a larger scale, we need to bring attention to the individuals, companies and the federal and state agencies that are doing the right thing to promote conservation and preservation of our natural resources while encouraging other who are not to follow suit. That is why I have joined the Think WI-SH team; we know that change is difficult, and by recognizing and promoting preservation goals in industry, we hope to have a big impact on preserving and restoring natural habitat while protecting wildlife species everywhere.