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Critters Corner
By Karen Cunningham
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Critters Corner

Monitoring Your Pet’s Dental Health Is Essential!

First published: March 03, 2015 at 1:21 am
Last modified: March 03, 2015 at 1:21 am

Your pet companions may have dental issues, and as their caregiver, it is necessary for you to monitor their dental health throughout their lifetime. A good time to have a pet’s teeth checked is during its yearly visit to your veterinary professional to update vaccinations.

The following is some basic information that may be helpful to you in caring for your pet:

How many teeth do cats/dogs/humans have? Cats have 30 adult teeth and 26 baby teeth. That’s far fewer than dogs (42 and 28) and less than humans (32 and 20).

When do cats/dogs get their baby and adult teeth? The first teeth to erupt in a kitten are the tiny front teeth or incisors and the long, pointy canines. The primary (or “baby”) incisors and canines become visible around three to four weeks of age. The teeth immediately behind the canines, the premolars, quickly follow the front teeth. This typically occurs when the kittens are around five to six weeks old. The permanent teeth erupt around 11 to 16 weeks of age, beginning with the incisors followed by the canines at 12 to 20 weeks. The premolars are in place by 16 to 20 weeks of age. The difficult-to-see, way-in-the-back molars emerge around 20 to 24 weeks.

A puppy’s deciduous (or “baby”) incisors typically erupt between 4 to 6 weeks of age and the permanent incisors are in place by 12 to 16 weeks. The canines (or “fang”) teeth emerge at 3 to 5 weeks and the permanent canines by 12 to 16 weeks. By the time the permanent molars are present, the dog is 4 to 6 months of age. In general, once a dog reaches six months of age, all or at least most of its permanent teeth are visible.

Do cats/dogs get cavities? Dental caries (or “cavities”) are rare in cats and dogs. This is due in part to a cat’s/dog’s relatively low-sugar diet, differences in oral bacteria, and the shape of the teeth. When cavities occur, they can be treated the same way as human cavities: drill out the damaged part of the tooth and fill it with special dental compound. In severe cases involving tooth root exposure, endodontic procedures will be performed such as root canal and capping. Extraction of the affected tooth is required in certain cases.

Can cats/dogs regrow adult teeth? Cats/Dogs can’t regrow lost or damaged teeth. If they lose an adult tooth, they lose it forever. This is why it’s so important to take good care of your pets’ teeth. They’ve got to last a lifetime.

Do small or large dogs have more problems with their teeth? Dogs both large and small can develop serious oral and periodontal problems. Small and large dogs can develop issues with plaque, tartar, and dental calculus buildup. Both small and large breed dogs may chip or break teeth, break jaws, and wear teeth surfaces. If the tooth root becomes exposed, this results in severe pain and death of the tooth.

Can cats/dogs get mouth cancer? Sadly, yes. Oral tumors in cats/dogs are very serious and require immediate treatment. Malignant oral tumors in cats/dogs can be very aggressive and quickly spread throughout the body if untreated. If you observe any lumps, swelling, or discolored areas in your cats’/dogs’ mouth, have it examined immediately by your veterinarian.


This Week’s Featured Pets

First published: February 26, 2015 at 1:58 am
Last modified: February 26, 2015 at 1:58 am

FURBY (6431) is a female adult, domestic long hair tabby. TEDDY (6525A) is a male adult, black w/white markings poodle mix. Furby and Teddy are currently available for adoption at the St. Lawrence Valley SPCA. You can learn more about them and the other cats and dogs currently residing at the shelter by telephoning the shelter at (315) 393-5191, visiting the shelter from 1 to 4 p.m. on Tuesdays through Saturdays, or on our website at

SIMPLE DOG TRAINING TIP: Understand the basics of how animals, including people, learn. Behaviors that are reinforced are more likely to be repeated, and behaviors that are ignored are more likely to be stopped because they bring no benefit to the dog.


Beware Of Puppy Mills And Backyard Breeders

First published: February 24, 2015 at 1:13 am
Last modified: February 24, 2015 at 1:13 am

Puppy mills are breeding facilities that mass-produce dogs (and cats in cat mills, although cat mills do not receive as much publicity) for sale through pet stores, or directly to consumers through classified ads or the internet. Roughly 90 percent of puppies in pet stores come from puppy mills. Backyard breeders are also motivated by profit. Ads from these unscrupulous breeders fill the classifieds in newspapers and on the internet.

In most states, these breeding kennels can legally keep hundreds of dogs in cages their entire lives, for the sole purpose of continuously churning out puppies. The animals produced range from purebreds to any number of the latest “designer” mixed breeds. Cat breeding occurs under similar conditions to supply pet stores with kittens.

Puppy mills usually house dogs in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions, without adequate veterinary care, food, water, and socialization. Puppy mill dogs do not receive adequate attention, exercise, or basic grooming. To minimize waste cleanup, dogs are often kept in cages with wire flooring that injures their paws and legs. It is not unusual for cages to be stacked up in columns. Breeder dogs at mills may spend their entire lives outdoors, exposed to the elements, or kept inside indoor cages all their lives. Adult animals are continuously bred until they can no longer produce, then destroyed or discarded.

Fearful behavior and lack of socialization with humans and other animals are typical of puppy mill dogs. Puppies born in puppy mills are typically removed from their littermates and mothers at just six weeks of age. The first months of a puppy’s life are a critical socialization period for puppies. Spending that time with their mother and littermates helps prevent puppies from developing problems like extreme shyness, aggression, fear, and anxiety.

Illness and disease are common in dogs from puppy mills. Because puppy mill operators often fail to apply proper husbandry practices that would remove sick dogs from their breeding pools, puppies from puppy mills are prone to congenital and hereditary conditions. These can include: epilepsy, heart disease, kidney disease, musculoskeletal disorders (hip dysplasia, luxating patellas, etc.), endocrine disorders (diabetes, hyperthyroidism), blood disorders (anemia, VonWillebrand disease), deafness, eye problems (cataracts, glaucoma, progressive retinal atrophy, etc.), and respiratory disorders.

On top of that, puppies may have other diseases or infirmities that need to be addressed with proper veterinary care: giardia, parvovirus, distemper, upper respiratory infections, kennel cough, pneumonia, mange, fleas, ticks, intestinal parasites, heartworm, and chronic diarrhea.

How can you tell if it’s a puppy mill

• The breeder has many types of purebreds or “designer” hybrid breeds being sold at less than six weeks old

• The breeder is reluctant to show potential customers the entire premises on which animals are bred and kept or agree to drop the dog/pup or cat/kitten at a location off-site (i.e., mall parking lots)

• The breeder cannot or will not show potential buyers the medical records for the parent animals

• The breeder doesn’t ask a lot of questions of potential buyers

• The breeder fails to provide veterinary records for the animal for sale

• There are “No guarantees”—responsible breeders make a commitment to take back the pet at any time during the animal’s life, no matter the reason

The only way to stop the suffering of animals in puppy mills and with backyard breeders is to not purchase from them either directly, online, or at a pet shop. In most states, puppy mills are legal. It is important that future pet owners seek rescue dogs from their local shelter or buy pets from a trusted breeder in order to put mills out of business.

Please make adoption your first option. Purebred dogs end up in shelters just like mixed breeds—typically 25% of the animals in shelters are purebred. Breed rescue groups exist for just about every breed possible. If you have your heart set on a purebred, please be sure to visit your local shelter or find a breed rescue group before searching for a breeder. When approaching a rescue group use the same cautions, to avoid hoarders.

If you can’t find what you want through a shelter or breed rescue group, be a responsible, informed consumer and go to the reputable breeder who:

• Will show you where the dogs spend their time and introduces you to the puppy’s parents

• Explains the puppy’s medical history, including vaccines, and gives you their veterinarian’s contact information

• Doesn’t have puppies available year-round, yet may keep a waiting list of interested people

• Asks about your family’s lifestyle, why you want a dog, and your care and training plans for the puppy

• Doesn’t use pressure sales tactics


This Week’s Featured Pets

First published: February 19, 2015 at 1:33 am
Last modified: February 19, 2015 at 1:33 am

BELLE (6516) is a female adult, black and gray bluetick coonhound mix. ELLIOTT (6491B) is a domestic short hair, male adult, orange & white Tabby. Belle and Elliott are currently available for adoption at the St. Lawrence Valley SPCA. You can learn more about them and the other cats and dogs currently residing at the shelter by telephoning the shelter at 315-393-5191, visiting the shelter from 1 to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, or on our website at

SIMPLE DOG TRAINING TIP: Remember that your dog wasn’t born understanding human speech and can’t read your mind. Dogs “speak” to each other using body language and various types of vocalizations, so learning to understand what your dog’s signals mean can lead to a stronger relationship.


Top 10 Reasons To Spay Or Neuter Your Pet

First published: February 17, 2015 at 1:08 am
Last modified: February 17, 2015 at 1:08 am

Whether you’ve recently adopted a pet or you’re considering it, one of the most important health decisions you’ll make is to spay or neuter your cat or dog. Spaying—removing the ovaries and uterus of a female pet—is a veterinary procedure that requires minimal hospitalization and offers lifelong health benefits.

Neutering—removing the testicles of your male dog or cat—will vastly improve your pet’s behavior and keep him close to home.

A local low-cost spay/neuter program for low-income households and those caring for strays/barn cats is Spay/Neuter/Now, Ltd. Applications and the cost of surgery packages are available on their website: Spay/Neuter/Now can be contacted at (315) 486-0094 and (315) 489-0541 or through email at Their mailing address is P.O. Box 802, Canton, NY 13617.

Check out this handy and persuasive list of the top 10 reasons to spay or neuter your pet!

1. Your female pet will live a longer, healthier life. Spaying helps prevent uterine infections and breast cancer, which is fatal in about 50% of dogs and 90% of cats. Spaying your pet at as young an age as possible, preferably before her first heat, offers the best protection from these diseases.

2. Neutering provides major health benefits for your male. Besides preventing unwanted litters, neutering your male companion prevents testicular cancer. For best protection surgery should be performed as young as possible, preferably before six months of age.

3. Spaying and neutering is the only responsible way to 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.

4. 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.

5. Your pet doesn’t need to have a litter for the 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.

6. Spaying and neutering your pet is good for the community. 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.

7. Your spayed female won’t go into heat. While cycles can vary, female felines go into heat four to five days every three weeks during the breeding season. In an effort to advertise for mates, they’ll yowl and urinate more frequently—sometimes all over the house!

8. Your neutered 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.

9. 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.

10. 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!

As you consider a new pet companion consider adopting from a reputable animal shelter or breed-specific rescue, as in most cases the animal will be spayed/neutered and have received proper vaccinations before release to you. In addition, the organization may have provided additional services in preparing the animal for adoption.

Avoid puppy/kitty mills and backyard breeders!


This Week’s Featured Pets

First published: February 12, 2015 at 1:24 am
Last modified: February 12, 2015 at 1:24 am

Daisy Duke (6509) is a female adult, brindle pug/English bulldog/Boston terrier mix. Jumper (647b) is a domestic short hair, gray & white tabby, male adult.

Daisy Duke and Snowflake are currently available for adoption at the St. Lawrence Valley SPCA. You can learn more about them and the other cats and dogs currently residing at the shelter by telephoning the shelter at (315) 393-5191, visiting the shelter on Tuesdays through Saturdays from 1 to 4 p.m., or on our website at

SIMPLE DOG TRAINING TIP: Always be positive when working with your dog. Dogs enjoy learning if they don’t feel unduly stressed and you want to focus on building a positive relationship with your dog.


Making The Decision To Euthanize Your Pet

First published: February 10, 2015 at 1:48 am
Last modified: February 10, 2015 at 1:48 am

Your veterinarian is the best judge of your pet’s physical condition; however, you are the best judge of the quality of your pet’s daily life.

If a pet has a good appetite, responds to attention, seeks its owner’s company, and participates in play or family life, many owners feel that this is not the time. However, if a pet is in constant pain, undergoing difficult and stressful treatments that aren’t helping greatly, unresponsive to affection, unaware of its surroundings, and uninterested on life, a caring pet owner will probably choose to end the beloved companion’s suffering.

Evaluate your pet’s health honestly and unselfishly with your veterinarian. Prolonging a pet’s suffering in order to prevent your own, ultimately helps neither of you. Nothing can make this decision an easy or painless one, but it is truly the final act of love that you can make for your pet.

A decision concerning euthanasia may be one of the most difficult decisions you will ever have to make for your pet. As a loving pet owner, though, the time may come when you need to help your pet make the transition from life to death, with the help of your veterinarian, in as painless and peaceful a way as possible.

Many caregivers feel that staying with their pet during euthanasia is the ultimate gesture of love and comfort you can offer your pet—the last hands your pet will feel are those of its beloved companion.


You’re giving me a special gift,

So sorrowfully endowed,

And through these last few cherished days,

Your courage makes me proud.

But really, love is knowing

When your best friend is in pain,

And understanding earthly acts

Will only be in vain.

So looking deep into your eyes,

Beyond, into your soul,

I see in you the magic, that will

Once more make me whole.

The strength that you possess,

Is why I look to you today,

To do this thing that must be done,

For it’s the only way.

That strength is why I’ve followed you,

And chose you as my friend,

And why I’ve loved you all these years….

My partner till the end.

Please, understand just what this gift

You’re giving, means to me,

It gives me back the strength I’ve lost,

And all my dignity.

You take a stand on my behalf,

For that is why friends do,

And know that what you do is right,

For I believe it too.

So one last time, I breathe your scent,

And through your hand I feel,

The courage that’s within you,

To now grant me this appeal.

Cut the leash that holds me here,

Dear friend, and let me run,

Once more a strong and steady,

My pain and struggle done.

And don’t despair my passing,

For I won’t be far away,

Forever here, within your heart,

And memory I’ll stay.

I’ll be there watching over you,

Your ever faithful friend,

And in your memories I’ll run,

… and happy once again.


This Week’s Featured Pets

First published: February 05, 2015 at 2:18 am
Last modified: February 05, 2015 at 2:18 am

SHEA (6495) is a female adult, blonde Siberian Husky mix. ADAM (6472) is a domestic short hair, black, male adult. Shea and Felix are currently available for adoption at the St. Lawrence Valley SPCA. You can learn more about them and the other cats and dogs currently residing at the shelter by telephoning the shelter at (315) 393-5191, visiting the shelter on Tuesdays through Saturdays from 1 to 4 p.m., or on our website at

PET HEALTH TIP: Teach an old dog a new trick. Muscles are not the only things that need to be exercised; stimulate your pet’s brain. This can be as simple as giving it interactive toys that stimulate its mind or teaching your pet a new trick. If you have a dog, consider enrolling it in an obedience course or sign up for agility training. While it is important to keep your pets physically healthy, it is equally important to keep their minds stimulated and sharp. Don’t forget that dogs are always capable of learning.


Coping With The Death Of Your Pet - Part 2

First published: February 03, 2015 at 2:11 am
Last modified: February 03, 2015 at 2:11 am



Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water, and sunshineand our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who have been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind. They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; his eager body begins to quiver. Suddenly, he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from yourlife but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross the Rainbow Bridge together . . . . .


Author Unknown

To my dearest family, some things I’d like to say.

But first of all, to let you know, that I arrived okay.

I’m writing this from the Bridge.

Here I dwell with God above.

Here there’s no more tears of sadness.

Here is just eternal love.

Please do not be unhappy just because I’m out of sight.

Remember that I am with you every morning, noon and night.

That day I had to leave you when my life on earth was through,

God picked me up and hugged me and He said, “I welcome you.

It’s good to have you back again, you were missed while you were gone.

As for your dearest family, they’ll be here later on.”

God gave me a list of things, that he wished for me to do.

And foremost on the list, was to watch and care for you.

And when you lie in bed at night the day’s chores put to flight, God and I are closest to you . . . in the middle of the night.

When you think of my life on earth, and all those loving years, because you are only human, they are bound to bring you tears.

But do not be afraid to cry; it does relieve the pain.

Remember there would be no flowers, unless there was some rain.

I wish that I could tell you all that God has planned.

If I were to tell you, you wouldn’t understand.

But one thing is for certain, though my life on earth is o’er.

I’m closer to you now, than I ever was before.

There are rocky roads ahead of you and many hills to climb; but together we can do it by taking one day at a time.

It was always my philosophy and I’d like it for you too; that as you give unto the world, the world will give to you.

If you can help somebody who’s in sorrow and pain; then you can say to God at night … “My day was not in vain.”

And now I am contented … that my life was worthwhile.

Knowing as I passed along I made somebody smile.

God says: “If you meet somebody who is sad and feeling low; just lend a hand to pick him up, as on your way you go.

When you’re walking down the street with me on your mind;

I’m walking in your footsteps only half a step behind.”

“And when it’s time for you to go … from that body to be free.

Remember you’re not going … you’re coming here to me.”


This Week’s Featured Pets

First published: January 29, 2015 at 1:15 am
Last modified: January 29, 2015 at 1:15 am

HARLEY (6482C) is a tan and white, male senior adult pug/beagle mix. MIMI (6448) is a female adult, domestic short hair calico. Harley and Mimi are currently available for adoption at the St. Lawrence Valley SPCA. You can learn more about them and the other cats and dogs currently residing at the shelter by telephoning the shelter at (315) 393-5191, visiting the shelter on Tuesdays through Saturdays from 1 to 4 p.m., or on our website at

PET HEALTH TIP: Exercise is the best way for your pet to stay trim and healthy. Pets can suffer from obesity and the problems associated with being overweight such as arthritis and diabetes. Make sure you exercise your pet and maintain their level of activity. For dogs, go on longer walks, play fetch, and, if available, let them run off-leash in a dog park. If you’re a runner, check with your veterinarian to find out if it’s okay to run with your dog. For cats, have them chase a laser pointer and play more with them. Exercise is the best way to keep your pet physically healthy and mentally stimulated.

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