Watch Tip Classic: Cold Snaps Down South

Posted on December 11th, 2011 by Trish Roman-Aquilino

Watch Tip LogoThis Watch tip was originally written and posted by Anna Nirva.

Urgent: Extreme cold kills outside tethered dogs and cats, especially those animals without heavy coats, the malnourished, the very young and the elderly. Tethered animals in southern regions are at higher risk for hypothermia because they have not grown heavier coats over time like they would have in cooler climates. Watch for animals that don’t have adequate shelter; speak with owners or call the authorities immediately.

Short-hair pets in the south need hay or straw bedding during cold snaps. Fur is not enough! While all dogs and cats have outer fur and inner fur, the quantity of outer hairs of the fur compared to the inner hairs of the fur (ratio) varies by breed and individual. The texture varies as well. Age matters: it takes six months on average for puppies to grow a complete fur covering of inner and outer fur, if they are healthy. Some breeds can tolerate extreme cold if individuals are healthy and shelter from freezing winds is available.

In addition to breed and health, environment matters too. Individual dogs and cats living outdoors in cooler northern climates will grow longer, fluffier inner fur as daylight shortens that will help hold body heat. But pets in the mid- and far south have not experienced wide swings of seasonal cooling. Their sparse, short inner fur is completely inadequate for sudden winter cold snaps, freezing winds, and snow storms. Short-hair dogs are very vulnerable to hypothermia.

In other words, during a cold snap in Mississippi, that bouncy little Boxer puppy down the street that is tied to a tree 24/7 could be found dead in the morning. Those skinny hunting hounds kept in tiny outdoor pens could suffer from hypothermia and frostbite and the old ones might die. And those skeletal, near-feral pit bulls tied to stakes that sleep in hard hollows dug in the earth? They have never known a kindness. They may be released from their long suffering.

Do you have access to bales of hay or straw? Can you give hay beds to short-hair outside dogs in your neighborhood when a cold snap is on the way? A simple bale of hay can mean the difference between life and death to a dog or cat down south when the cold winds blow. Owners probably will not object. Please help those outside animals.

Watch Tip: Christmas Pets Part 2

Posted on November 27th, 2011 by Anna Nirva

Watch Tip LogoIf someone you know is set on purchasing a new puppy or kitten for Christmas, give guidance. They should watch out for greedy backyard breeders of diseased or parasite-infested puppies and kittens. Backyard breeders and puppy/kitten mills maximize profit by reducing costs of care below humane standards. Insist on viewing the parents: are they healthy, socialized and of good weight? Insist on viewing the nursery area: is it clean, comfortable, and warm? If they make excuses why not—run, don’t walk, in the opposite direction.

Continued from last week:

Responsible breeders can be very different. I’d like to describe a few. I toured what might be termed a “commercial” German Shepherd Dog breeder’s operation in  mid-summer. They show, breed and train dogs, sell their puppies, and they run a boarding kennel and retail dog supply store as well. Trophies and ribbons lined the walls. Their puppies start at $1,000 and the litter of twelve 4-week-old puppies that I played with were all spoken for. This business has never placed a newspaper ad to sell their puppies. I toured the entire place; it was a last-minute unplanned tour for guests at a neighboring relative’s party. Without exception, it was clean, bright, and neutral-smelling throughout the facility. The three whelping rooms each featured one large window along the hall, so the nursing mom and puppies could be watched without disturbance. Each included a high-sided box that the mom could step into to get a bit of privacy if she wanted. One unused whelping room was a foster home for two cats needing homes. All of their owned cats were fixed and they wandered freely around the facility. The non-breeding dogs were kept in large chain link pens inside a large metal outbuilding with cement floors. The entire property was well-kept and orderly. The boarding kennels were full.

“Hobby” breeders are small high-quality operations. Typically they show or compete with their dogs or cats and raise one or two litters per year inside of the home; the baby pets are well-socialized as a result.  They hope to raise and train a champion (or several) and have specific breed-furthering goals in mind. They place their “show quality” pets in show homes and their “pet quality” littermates with qualified families (reservations and references usually required). Because they are love the breed, they check the health of parents and grandparents of their breeding dogs to avoid passing along known congenital disorders. Their enthusiasm for their breed could sweep a customer into participating in some new activities with the new pets.

What are the hallmarks of responsible breeders?

Share these reasonable expectations for good breeding operations with your family or friends who are determined to purchase a puppy from a breeder. If your family or friends don’t get good advice, they could easily end up perpetuating the abject misery of those poor dogs and cats who are trapped in mills, and worse, they might suffer the loss of a baby pet.

  • The litters are in demand, reserved in advance; waiting lists are typical.
  • They require a purchase contract and references before purchasing one of their offspring.
  • They require sterilization contracts for their pet quality offspring.
  • They run health checks on the parents and grandparents to prevent breeding of known defects (for instance, some gene pools contain defective genes for epilepsy or hip dysplasia which you want to avoid).
  • They allow viewing of breeding parents, kennels, nurseries, whelping pens (the sire might not be on site).
  • Many display ribbons and trophies won by their animals, as well as show or competition photos.
  • They provide all recommended new puppy and kitten shots and de-wormers.
  • They require the return of their offspring if they are no longer wanted and find new homes for them.
  • Many run small rescues or donate to rescues for their breeds. You might adopt a returned pet from a breeder like the Obama family did!

If the breed of dog typically has docked tails or ears, such as a Boxer, be sure to specify in advance if “natural” tails or ears are preferred, because some surgeries may be performed on very young puppies.

Use this questionnaire (pdf) to guide questions that can help identify a responsible breeder.

Local breed club members are excellent resources in a search for reputable breeders. Ask your vet for recommendations. Local shelters and rescues can be good sources of information for which breeders to avoid. If you read the classifieds, look for advertised bloodlines and champions to identify more serious breeders who might be more careful to breed only animals that have passed health checks.

RED FLAGS: When you call, explain that you want to view the breeding parents and the nursery. If the response is “no, you might be carrying diseases,” cross them off your list. This is the standard excuse used by a puppy or kitten mill. (Common sense tells you that if they were seriously worried about you spreading dangerous diseases, they would not let you handle a baby pet or even visit.) Definitely pass over those breeders that do not provide the first round of shots and wormer, which indicates a backyard breeder. Those pickup trucks selling puppies at Walmart? Well, if you’ve read this far, I know you’ll be suspicious about that! Drive on.

Remember that purebreed rescues are active in all breeds and some will have baby pure- or part-bred pets from time to time. Your friend or family member might be surprised at how rewarding the adoption process can be!

Watch Tip: Christmas Pets Part 1

Posted on November 27th, 2011 by Anna Nirva

Watch Tip LogoIf someone you know is set on purchasing a new puppy or kitten for Christmas, give guidance. They should watch out for greedy backyard breeders of diseased or parasite-infested puppies and kittens. Backyard breeders and puppy mills maximize profit by reducing costs of care below humane standards. Insist on viewing the parents: are they healthy, socialized and of good weight? Insist on viewing the nursery area: is it clean, comfortable, and warm? If they make excuses why not—run, don’t walk, in the opposite direction.

Three rules:

  1. Healthy mother with groomed fur, no scratching, no hip bones showing (and father, if possible in this age of artificial insemination)
  2. Clean, fresh-smelling nursery (a few small “accidents” are allowable, but not diarrhea)
  3. Healthy litter of lively bright-eyed puppies or kittens, with shots and wormed

Her new puppy was dead within the week!

Imagine the heartache and the unplanned expenses of trying to save a dying baby pet. I just heard the story yesterday from a new adopter at the shelter where I volunteer. She had purchased a puppy from a disease-infested small country breeder and she couldn’t talk about losing her puppy without tears. She saw one puppy squirt watery diarrhea, a sign of disease, when she was buying hers. Did you know that healthy puppies shouldn’t have diarrhea—they should excrete firm little logs? She did not know that.

“Pudding” diarrhea is not normal either. Brown watery diarrhea with puddles of dark blood is a DIRE emergency; the puppy is likely to die within hours. I resolved to write about this in memory of her puppy and the memory of all puppies who died this week from preventable diseases because they didn’t get their shots. Read my post about puppy shots here.

But even worse is how breeding parents are treated in the mills

The puppies or kittens, if they don’t get sick, are the lucky ones—because they escape the miserable life of their parents. The breeding parents suffer horribly for years confined in small pens or cages. They develop skin diseases, eye and ear infections, dental disease, foot and teeth injuries from wire pens, and parasite infestations. They are usually starved. And they die never having known a kind hand or soothing voice. You’ve likely seen pitiful images of breeding parents with matted fur and vacant eyes. For sensitive animal lovers, these realities inflame and incite armies of activism designed to eliminate abusive breeding practices.

“Backyard” breeders are small-scale puppy or kitten mills (or horses or other commercially-viable animals).  Typically an inexperienced animal lover will decide to begin breeding to make some extra money. I worked with someone who bred Boston Terriers and Miniature Horses for a few years. They provided decent care to their breeding animals. The family incurred large veterinary bills for unplanned cesarean sections of the Boston puppies. (This breed usually requires cesarean births.) They had buyers suddenly returning unwanted dogs and horses. Because this family wasn’t experienced, they made beginners mistakes and suffered troubled relationships with customers. They eventually sold all of their animals, even their house pets, and moved into town. It’s hard to make money selling animals. Some backyard breeders don’t give up–they just cut back expenses every way possible, leading to abuse.

To be continued next week.

Watch Tip: First-time Pet Owners

Posted on November 13th, 2011 by Anna Nirva

Watch Tip LogoFirst-time pet owners, especially those who have not grown up with a pet in the family, may lack the knowledge needed to keep the pet safe and healthy.  They may not understand the physical and emotional needs of their a young puppy or kitten. If your neighbors or friends are first-time pet owners, watch and listen for signs of problems. Offer friendly advice, loans of pet-related items and even pet sitting to the new family. Be a voice for that pet; you could even save a life.

Puppy was dangerously neglected by an ignorant owner

A reader recently wrote to me about how her sister made a dramatic, life-saving rescue of a neglected puppy; the story is now posted on our stories page. I love hearing from readers with true-life rescues like this. Sometimes hearing a new story like this enriches my understanding of the root of neglect, which is ignorance. The short-haired puppy was chained continuously to a picnic table in a northern climate and winter was coming on. The chain was very short and it was deeply embedded in her growing neck. I won’t spoil the story by telling you more; read it. It does have a heart-warming ending.

I imagine that the puppy’s original owner made an impulsive decision to adopt a cute, free puppy offered at a yard sale or something like that. The owner was not prepared nor knowledgeable nor even thoughtful. The owner was flatly oblivious. If the kind-hearted rescuer had not been curious about source of the pitiful whining on the other side of the fence, that puppy would have certainly died of exposure within a few hours. This type of scenario is unfortunately all too common. And while I don’t recommend theft as a solution to neglect, certainly the owner violated state animal neglect laws. It was a tricky situation. I know I would not have turned my back on that suffering puppy either.

Does a first-time dog owner know that a picnic table is not safe shelter?

We all have learned one way or another that a picnic table is not shelter for pets. A deck is not a dog house, nor is a clothesline pole. A tree trunk is not a dog house. The side of a house is not shelter. A hole under a porch is not shelter either. A proper shelter in most climates is a dog house; it has a raised floor and a roof and walls and a doorway. (Read my Watch Tip about adequate shelter.)

But first-time pet owners might see dogs living in neglectful conditions and make the assumption that it is acceptable thereby perpetuating the practice. That’s one of the ways we learn, through observation. If that learning is not reinterpreted by someone more knowledgeable, we remain ignorant, sometimes dangerously so. And so puppies continued to be tied to picnic tables with chains that are too short. So first-time owners don’t understand that puppies need their collars expanded weekly while they are growing. They have not been taught so.

First-time owners might not know how to house-train their puppies

I wonder if the puppy in the story above was banished from the house for peeing on the carpet. It happens so often! Many dogs end up in pounds and shelters because their owners didn’t learn how to house-train them, or for intact male dogs, they didn’t learn that neutering prevents territorial marking (if house-trained). In the shelter where I volunteer, we have had three recent toy dog strays, all intact male dogs, all extremely cute. Today I photographed two of them and they both marked spots within seconds of entering the room. Nothing more need be said.

First-time owners might not understand the importance of spaying and neutering

Our nation is experiencing a crisis in feral cat overpopulation. Cats, both feral and domesticated, are more likely to be euthanized in pounds and shelters than dogs. Inexperienced cat owners likely don’t understand how quickly young cats can reproduce. Even experienced dog owners might not provide sterilization surgery to cats, who are second-class pet citizens in some families. First-time owners might not understand that kitten shots and parasite treatments are absolutely necessary as well.

I’m so grateful that kittens raised with litter boxes nearby easily train themselves! That instinct alone has saved millions of lives I think.

Share your knowledge of pet care, house-training, and your love of companion animals with neighbors and friends, especially first-time owners. You’ll be bringing so much good into the world!

Watch Tip: Doggy Dumpster Diving

Posted on November 9th, 2011 by admin

Watch Tip LogoKeep those tempting garbage bins and cans fastened or locked, out of reach of curious pets. Inside garbage receptacles especially kitchen waste is very attractive to many dogs and cats. Enclose bins inside of closets or cupboards. Outside garbage can attract unwanted visitors too. Garbage can be highly toxic: spoiled foods, old cleaning containers, light bulbs, expired prescriptions. Prevent those preventable problems!

Dumpster Diving Doggy Style

We all have had that sinking feeling of walking in the house and seeing the overturned garbage can. There’s nothing like being met with the sight of banana peels and discarded food carton packages strewn across the kitchen floor to make you feel good about being home. But as bad as the sight makes you feel, doggy dumpster diving can make them feel MUCH worse. In fact, this bad habit can literally kill your furry friend.

Sure, those dinner leftovers can smell great to your dog. But yummy smelling garbage could contain things that could kill him. Things like chicken and turkey bones could stick in their throats or guts, causing them to bleed to death. Sharp items like broken glass and even staples can get eaten with discarded and old food. What about discarded home cleaners or other poisons? Your dog might not pay any attention to caustic cleaners when they are on your counter or under it but what happens when food residue gets mixed in with the garbage? Dogs may not notice the poisons as they go after the tasty bits. Then, just like poisoning mice with peanut butter your dog could take the deadly bait.

Let me tell you a sad story of two beloved dogs and a Thanksgiving dinner. A few years ago a friend of the family had two very loved Weimaraners. He and his wife had friends over for Thanksgiving and planned the usual extravagant feast. The only problem was that the friends didn’t like dogs. (No accounting for taste I guess). So his wife made the family friend put the two dogs in the backyard. That would have been the end of the story except that there was one other item in the backyard with the dogs – the garbage can. In the rush and excitement of the feast the family left the garbage can in the yard with the dogs. No problem until after dinner when the wife put the turkey carcass in the can. The Weims took the opportunity to get the carcass and they paid the ultimate price for it. Cooked bird bones are extremely dangerous because they can splinter in dogs’ guts. These did and the family was too slow in getting the dogs to the vet to save them.

With just a little more thought to keep the dogs and the garbage safely separated the dogs would have lived many more years and Thanksgiving could have continued being a happy time for all.

The point is, keep your dogs and your garbage safely separated. Save yourself the heartbreak of a preventable death. Keep your garbage behind a locked fence, closet door or put a chain and lock on the garbage can. Don’t discard attractive things like dinner leavings or old food in a garbage can that is easily turned over by dogs or other household pets. Teach children in your home that they must be careful too, and not throw things in the garbage that could hurt their furry family members. Make sure that compost piles are protected from pet incursions as well. Odiferous old food could be a real temptation to a nosy dog.

With just a little planning you can keep your floors garbage-free and your dogs safe for many holidays to come.

Watch Tip: Pets in Costume

Posted on October 22nd, 2011 by Trish Roman-Aquilino

Watch Tip LogoWatch for pets out in costumes that constrict, restrict, or impair them in any way. Pets that are stressed out by their costume or the festivities should be removed to a quiet, safe place, and their costumes removed.  Set the example by making sure your own pet, if dressed in costume, is outfitted appropriately and is tolerating the ensemble well.

Halloween costumes on pets can be a hazard if care is not taken.

Halloween is a favorite holiday for many a pet parent, and there are few things that are more adorable than your furry friend dressed up as a pirate, a clown, or Yoda.

But just as you would exercise caution while dressing two-legged children, you want to exercise caution dressing up four-legged ones. Some tips to keep your pet safe:

  • If your pet is participating in a costume contest or some other type of Halloween event, definitely have them try on the costume beforehand – check to see if your pet shows any signs of being distressed or allergic to their costume. A distressed pet can chew or tear at their costume, and ingest pieces of it, making them sick. If they do not respond well, or have an allergic reaction, maybe a festive collar or bandanna would be a better choice.
  • Costumes should not restrict your pet’s ability to move, see, breathe, or hear.
  • Ensure that the costume does not have temptingly small, dangling, or easily chewed pieces that could be a choking hazard, especially if they are prone to chewing.
  • Make sure your pet’s costume fits appropriately, and will not get twisted on external objects or your pet, possibly leading to injury.
  • If your pet has never worn a costume, teach them to enjoy it, the way you would teach them to enjoy anything new – by getting them used to it a little bit at a time, reinforced with yummy treats. Put it on them for short increments of time, praising them and treating them to make it a positive experience.
  • Always supervise your pet at all times while they are in costume – if you will not be able to do so, remove the costume.
  • No matter what they are wearing, do not remove their ID. If something spooks them and they get away from you, they will absolutely need their identification, and make sure your contact information is up-to-date.
  • Know your pet: does he or she have the temperament, patience, and personality for getting dressed up and actively participating in the craziness of Halloween? Be realistic, and don’t put your pet through the stress of dressing up if they are not up for it – no matter how fun you think it would be.

In addition to the above costume safety tips, remember to always keep candy out of your pet’s reach, keep stressed pets safely crated or in a quiet room away from the hubbub, and make sure they do not have the opportunity to escape during the constant flow of trick-or-treaters at the door. Happy Howl-o-ween!

Watch Tip: Roaming Cats and Dogs

Posted on October 16th, 2011 by Anna Nirva

Watch Tip LogoThe single most important factor contributing to accidental injury or death of companion animals is roaming. If a dog or cat is roaming, it is likely to encounter a serious problem sooner or later. Vehicle traffic, wild predators, deranged persons and many other unseen dangers are out there. If your neighbor allows a pet to roam continually, say something. You may save a life.

Door hangers make it easy to send a life-saving message

Sunbear Squad now has free “Loose Dog Dangers” and “Loose Cat Dangers” door hangers available for downloading. These files when printed and cut out will enable you to communicate simply and quickly with others in your neighborhood and community. The dog and cat door hangers list the many dangers that a roaming pet may encounter. For the uninformed, the list may be a powerful deterrent.

Download door hanger files here.

Watch Tip: Physical Punishment

Posted on October 9th, 2011 by Anna Nirva


Watch for physical punishment of cats, dogs and other helpless companion animals, such as swatting, whipping, kicking, beating, and throwing. Frustrated owners who don’t know how to train their animals lose their tempers and become violent. Some frightened animals will defend themselves with teeth and claws, some will escalate their unwanted behavior, some will panic and defecate, and others will utterly collapse in terror. They may be traumatized for life. Please intervene to calm the situation or call law enforcement immediately.

Excessive physical punishment teaches the pet that his owner is dangerous

The pet likely has no idea why his beloved owner turned on him. His protector is suddenly crazed, dangerous, and hurtful—the very opposite of a protector. His owner is unpredictable and can’t be trusted. The pet might extend that distrust to all people, or all men, or all children. The pet might begin to see the world as a dangerous place because he doesn’t have a protector anymore. He must fend for himself.

A puppy waited in the back seat of a sedan in a Colorado Walmart parking lot for his family to return, worried. Finally he saw them. He watched them approach and grew more fearful by the moment. He trembled and circled uneasily on the seat. He started to whine. Finally he defecated in panic. He tried to crawl under the seat. The door opened and his owner picked him up by the scruff of the neck and threw him to the ground while still gripping his neck, shouting obscenities. Again the puppy was picked up and thrown to the ground, and again and again. The puppy flung his head from side to side, trying to bite the big hand that held him by the neck. The family watched unhappily.

Two woman ran up, screaming at the abuser to stop. He stopped and held his dirty trembling puppy, breathing hard, red-faced. He shouted in frustration that he beat his puppy because “he always shits in my car!” (Very understandable!) He told his family to get in the car with the puppy and they drove away fast. But the women got the license plate number and reported the incident to police, who promised to follow up.

I worry about the fate of this dog today and about the fate of many thousands of dogs and cats treated similarly. If they end up in municipal pounds, their lives of terror and neglect will finally end in the “euthanasia hold,” a method of restraining a struggling animal that shelter workers use to reduce the likelihood of being bitten.

Keep in mind that frustrated pet owners beating their animals are likely not criminal-minded individuals but they are out of control and could be dangerous to you as well as the pet. Use all care when approaching them or call 9-1-1. Animal abuse is a felony or misdemeanor in all 50 states.

Watch Tip: Contaminated Water

Posted on October 2nd, 2011 by Anna Nirva

Watch Tip LogoWatch out for standing water—don’t let your dogs and cats drink it, especially young and baby pets or pets with compromised immune systems. Avoid puddles: antifreeze, ice melt chemicals, cleaners can poison your pet. Stay away from livestock tanks and buckets. Don’t let dogs swim in unknown ponds or streams. Be proactive and bring fresh water from home for both of you when visiting a dog park or hiking trail because algae, parasites and bacteria may be present.  Many of the same water-borne diseases affect people too.

Water can carry diseases that affect pets, domestic animals, wildlife, and people too!

Even when the water looks clean, don’t trust it. The cleanest streams tumbling down polished rocks can carry tiny protozoa like Giardia, Leptospira or Campylobacter, which infects companion animals, domestic animals, wildlife and people. These organisms may live for long periods in certain conditions. Many animals and people become carriers, never showing signs of illness while others get diarrhea and other symptoms, sometimes extreme.

Don’t trust water from wherever animals congregate, unless you have good reason to. Those invisible organisms find their way from old feces in the grass to running paws to water containers, and infected animals might never show a sign of illness. But the very young, old, or already-compromised cat or dog might become deathly ill or could develop dangerous complications.

Always wash your hands with soap after petting or handling unknown animals to reduce transmission of diseases to your pets or your human family. Be sure to disinfect your vehicle or home surfaces if you have rescued or helped a stray animal; a solution of tablespoon of bleach to a gallon of water will likely kill those organisms on surfaces. Wash your clothes too!

Watch Tip: Prevent Puppy-Kitten Diseases, Vaccinate

Posted on September 25th, 2011 by Anna Nirva

Watch Tip Logo

Deadly pet diseases are everywhere these days. Prevent tragic death of puppies and kittens by following a strict schedule of vaccinations recommended by your vet. If you can’t afford vaccinations immediately, don’t get a baby dog or cat until you can. DO NOT let your puppy or kitten paws touch the ground or floor in parks, public places, pet stores or vet clinics until a week past the day that vaccinations are completed. Don’t surrender your unvaccinated baby pet to any pound or shelter or they will likely contract disease and die or be killed after falling ill.

Deadly germs are common, live for months, and are very hard to kill

With the economy challenging millions of families, pet illnesses are spreading like never before because more families are trying to reduce money spent on pet care. Your personal health rule for adopting a puppy or kitten should be to start vaccinations immediately. Get that series of vaccinations started because you will track home deadly viruses on your shoes and tires. Remember, some deadly germs are only killed by harsh chemicals.

Germs live up to a year in dirt, grass, roads, sidewalks, store floors, parking lots. Some veterinary health experts question if annual vaccinations may be necessary, but don’t be misled by this. Virtually all experts insist that puppies and kittens absolutely NEED their baby shots to survive those early months. Do not doubt it. Do not delay.

Follow these rules:

  • Vaccinate your kittens and puppies, following your veterinarian’s recommendations carefully.
  • No paws on the ground in ANY public place until a week past the final vaccinations. If you see a baby pet playing on the floor of a retail store, go speak with the owner. You may save a life.
  • Clean the soles of your shoes with bleach & water mixture after visiting vet clinics or stores with vet clinics inside, until after your baby pet has finished final vaccinations plus one week. Some keep a plastic dish tub near the house entrance door with a folded towel and bleach-water mix to step into upon entering. It’s simple and quick.
  • Visiting baby pets must follow the same rules or don’t allow the visit to your home.
  • Don’t accept free kittens or puppies from Craig’s List, backyard breeders, or “oops” litters as they are likely to be already infected with disease, parasites, and fleas, and treatment is expensive. Good breeders always vaccinate their baby pets. (Don’t ever buy puppies or kittens from a pet store because they acquire them from puppy and kitten mills.)
  • If you adopt a baby pet from a pound or shelter, ask about vaccinations. If the baby has not had vaccinations, go to your vet immediately with your new pet. Adult pets for adoption are likely to have developed immunity to the common baby pet diseases.

In addition to diseases, parasites are extremely common. You must actively prevent disease and parasite infestation in young puppies and kittens so they survive to adulthood, and you must guide others to do the same if they have not been taught about the extreme dangers of puppy and kitten germs and parasites.

This post is written with great sadness to memorialize all puppies and kittens that have died in the past week of preventable diseases, especially sweet shepherd mix puppy Tawny in Indiana, who contracted parvovirus in a city pound and died, despite dramatic efforts by her rescuer Tara Harris and volunteers to save her. RIP in peace, Tawny. She showed first symptoms on Thursday morning and was dead by Saturday morning.

Read one vaccination schedule for puppies and kittens here. Vaccinations may vary; follow your veterinarian’s recommendations.