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Newsletter

The staff at the Angel Refuge Pet Cemetery & Crematory Inc. are pleased to provide you with an online newsletter. This fact-filled newsletter is updated on a regular basis.

Included in the newsletter are articles pertaining to memorial and burial services, end-of-life care, grief counseling and more.

Current Newsletter Topics

February is National Pet Dental Health Month

Dental care is vital to your pet's health. If you've already established a dental care program for your pet, you're off to a great start. But if your pet hasn't received a dental exam from your veterinarian, it's time to get started. February is National Pet Dental Health Month, the perfect time to schedule a dental exam for your pet and develop a home dental care regimen for your best friend.

Why is dental care so important for your pet? Periodontal disease is the number one diagnosed problem in pets. By the age of two, more than 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats have periodontal disease in one form or another. The buildup of plaque and tartar on your pet's teeth leads to bacterial infections that can enter the bloodstream and infect other parts of your pet's body. Periodontal disease has been linked to heart attacks, strokes, kidney disease, osteoporosis and other problems.

The good news is that periodontal disease is easily prevented. Regular dental cleanings and a home dental care regimen can eliminate the plaque and tartar that lead to gum disease and oral infections. During a dental cleaning, your veterinarian also performs a complete oral examination of your pet. This includes screening for oral cancer, broken teeth and cavities. Spotting these problems early makes them easier to treat and improves your pet's overall oral health.

Your pet's dental cleaning is more involved than the same process you go through at your dentist's office. Anesthesia is required to keep your pet still and comfortable during the procedure. Because of this, your pet undergoes a thorough physical examination before each dental cleaning. Laboratory blood tests, as well as other diagnostic procedures are also used to screen for potential problems and risks before anesthesia is administered. Using these results, your veterinarian develops a safe anesthetic protocol specifically for your pet.

A Cat's Teeth Before and After a Dental Cleaning

During a dental cleaning, tartar is removed from your pet's teeth with a hand scaler. Next, a periodontal probe is used to check for pockets under the gumline - where periodontal disease and bad breath start. An ultrasonic scaler is used to clean above the gumline and a curette is used to clean the teeth under the gumline and in the crevices. Finally, the teeth are polished and an anti-bacterial solution is applied to help delay future tartar build-up.

Dental care doesn't end in your veterinarian's office. Brushing your pet's teeth at home is an added level of protection against gum disease. In order to be most effective, brushing must be done at least three times a week; however, daily brushing is ideal. Brushing your pet's teeth can be supplemented with antiseptic rinses. Some pet foods and treats are also effective in preventing plaque and tartar buildup. However, there is no substitute for regular brushing and professional dental cleanings.


Call your veterinary hospital to schedule a dental examination and cleaning for your pet today. Your best friend will thank you!

Keeping Your Dog Healthy

Maintaining your dog in top physical shape and optimum health is the goal of every responsible dog owner. It is also your veterinarian's goal, and together, you can ensure that your pet stays healthy for years to come. Crucial to maintaining your dog's good health is the routine physical examination that your veterinarian performs on your pet.

Check-ups are important because they provide an opportunity to prevent diseases or even avoid them altogether. Unfortunately, many pet owners tend to underestimate the value of these visits because their pets appear to be healthy. However, this may be deceiving, since many diseases are often not evident in the early stages.

What Happens During A Wellness Examination?

Before the physical examination begins, your veterinarian asks you questions concerning your dog's state of health. This is very important for determining whether or not there are problem areas that need to be addressed. After obtaining a history, your veterinarian performs a physical examination on your dog. Starting at the head, your veterinarian examines the eyes, ears, face, and mouth. Examining the teeth is especially important since up to 85% of all dogs and cats over four years of age have some degree of periodontal disease! Early detection of periodontal disease is important, not only for effective treatment but also future prevention.




Health & Behavioral Risks to Consider

• Heartworm- Heartworm disease is a serious threat that causes cardiovascular weakness and lung incapacity. Caused by Dirofilaria immitis, these worms plug up blood vessels, which places an increased workload on the heart, along with restricted blood flow to the lungs, kidneys, and liver. This can eventually lead to multiple organ failure, including heart failure and death. Visible signs of the disease often do not appear before the infection has caused significant and irreversible internal damage. As part of an annual physical examination, your veterinarian can perform a simple test to detect heartworm disease and prescribe an easy-to-use preventive.

• Obesity- Your veterinarian can also determine whether or not your dog has an obesity problem. Obesity affects almost one out of every three pets, making it the most common nutritional disease among dogs and cats. Through visual assessment and palpation, your veterinarian can advise on whether or not your dog could benefit from a weight-reduction program.

• Diet- Diet is one of the most important considerations in health maintenance. Its importance lies not only in optimizing a pet's health, but also in the prevention and management of many diseases. Nutritional counseling is an essential part of the veterinarian's checkup and many owners use the opportunity to gain valuable advice on what to feed their pets.

• Obedience- Training is important for your pet's health because behavioral problems account for more deaths in dogs than any known disease. In fact, a well-trained and obedient dog is more likely to live to a ripe old age than a poorly trained one. Obedience-trained dogs are less likely to be involved in car accidents and dogfights, tend to be happier, and are less likely to have behavioral problems. The checkup provides an opportunity to discuss training techniques and behavior concerns with your veterinarian.

10 Common Questions Asked after the Loss of a Pet

The loss of a cherished animal companion can cause extreme sadness, intense guilt and a whirlwind of other emotions. Often, you will seek answers to questions that may not be black and white. Below, you will find some of the most common questions pet owners ask of themselves while grieving the death of a pet.



1. When is the right time to euthanize a pet?

Your veterinarian will make a recommendation based on your pet's physical condition and long-term outlook. You, however, have the unique insight into your pet's daily quality of life. By evaluating your pet's health honestly, you will be able to work with your veterinarian to come to the most humane decision for your individual pet. The decision to euthanize will never be easy, but is often the final act of love you can provide a pet who is suffering.


2. Should I stay with my pet during euthanasia?

This is a completely personal decision that you will need to make. Many pet owners want to be there for their pets and witness it so they can see it happened peacefully and without pain. This can be traumatic, but not witnessing the death may make it harder to accept that the pet is really gone. Also, you want to gauge your own emotional strength- if you have an uncontrolled outpouring of emotions before your pet passes, it may be upsetting for him or her to witness. Euthanasia can sometimes be performed at home. Discuss your options with your veterinarian beforehand.


3. I've heard of the stages of grief, but what are they?

The grieving process is often illustrated by five stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Typically, you will move through them progressively, but everyone grieves in different ways. You'll know you're beginning to heal when you're thinking more rationally and more often of the good times you shared with your pet rather than of the "what-ifs" and the guilt.


4. How can I cope with my feelings?

Having someone to share your feelings with will help you not have to keep them locked up inside. Don't deny how you feel or simply put on a brave face. You must acknowledge your feelings to work through them. Some of your thoughts may be misguided and as time passes you will be able to realize this. Do whatever works best for you as a means of emotional expression – go somewhere secluded and scream, cry, talk, write, paint, create a memorial, or find a new activity to fill the time you previously would've spent with your pet.


5. Should I just get over it?

It is common to hear the phrase "it was just a pet" when others find your emotions to be too extreme or too long-lasting. These people aren't aware that the death of a pet creates the same emotional response as the loss of a human friend or family member. Grieving is natural and thousands of pet owners can attest to that.


6. Who can I talk to?

Share your feelings with family or friends who have pets. Reminisce about your pet. Or, speak with your veterinarian or local humane association to identify pet loss counselors or support groups. Hospitals and churches also often have resources for grief support.


7. Should I do burial, cremation, or disposal?

This is another decision which should be based on your personal wishes. It can be easiest to have a clinic dispose of your pet's remains (often for a fee), but many prefer something more formal. Based on your living situation, a burial at home may be a good choice. However, both burial and cremation depend on your personal or religious values, finances and future plans. Your veterinarian or an online search will provide options available in your area.


8. What should I tell my children?

Be honest with your children and provide as much information as they seek in a way that matches their age and maturity level. Saying their pet was "put to sleep" is not advised, as they may begin to fear bedtime. Allow your children to grieve in their own ways and be open about your own emotions around them rather than teaching them to keep it all inside.


9. Will my other pets get depressed?

Your other pets may notice a change in the household. Based on their relationship, some may search for their companion, eat less and seem to be grieving. Giving your surviving pets extra love and attention during this time will be beneficial not only to them, but to you as well.


10. Should I get a new pet right away?

Generally, it is best to allow yourself time to work through your grief and loss before introducing a new pet into your home and life. A new pet is a unique individual, not a replacement. Try to avoid getting one that looks the same or naming it the same as your deceased pet, and don't expect it to behave exactly the same either. Getting a new pet too soon may lead to resentment or feelings of disloyalty because you still want your old pet back.

Burial Options for Your Beloved Pet

How you wish to handle your pet's remains after death is a personal choice dependent on many factors. Although cremation has become a popular option, other pet parents still prefer burial – either at home or in a nearby pet cemetery. Burial provides the bereaved with a sacred spot where they can go to visit with their deceased companion. It also allows the owner to feel that his or her pet is still present, still at home and not soon to be forgotten.

A burial site can be adorned with flowers, a personalized headstone or grave marker, or even a statue. Many pet parents will plant a flower or tree atop their pet's grave, or bury their pet beneath an existing and protective tree or shrub.

The Options

Home Burial

Home burial is not always an option. For pet owners who rent, move frequently, or live in an urban area, it may not make sense or it may be forbidden or illegal. Many cities prohibit home burials because of the potential hazard it may cause to public health.

If you do opt for home burial, ensure that your grave site is in an area that won’t be disturbed, is at least three feet deep, and that your pet's body is wrapped in or placed in something which is biodegradable.



Pet Cemetery Burial

Some pet owners prefer the formality of a cemetery burial – with or without an accompanying service. Others simply do not have the space of their own to bury a pet at home. Having your pet's remains buried in a pet cemetery comes with the assurance that the grave site will always be cared for and will never be disturbed. This can be reassuring for older pet parents or those who may move in the future and not be able to relocate their pet's remains.

Burial in a cemetery comes with many options for headstones and other decorative add-ons for your pet's grave or casket. Additionally, many companies exist that can pick up your pet's remains and help make arrangements for a complete funeral and memorial service if that is what you desire. Most states have several pet cemeteries. To locate the one nearest you, consult with your veterinarian or visit the International Association Of Pet Cemeteries & Crematories or the Pet Loss Professionals Alliance websites.

Are Rawhide Chews Safe For Dogs?

Rawhide chews have been the treat of choice for dogs and their owners for more than fifty years. They were introduced as a healthy alternative to chewing on shoes or furniture, and as a way to keep the dog's teeth and gums healthy. Many veterinarians recommend rawhide chews to help with your dog's dental health with a few cautions. However, some vets are very much opposed to the practice of giving these treats to dogs, citing cases where pieces of rawhide became lodged in the throat or intestines of dogs.

"Research has show that chewing rawhide helps clean teeth and can reduce the development of dental disease, and rawhide treats are much less likely than bones or hooves to damage a dog's teeth. And chewing rawhide is fun for most dogs," cites an article in the San Francisco Chronicle written by Dr. Brennen McKenzie of Adobe Animal Hospital in Lost Altos.

The article continues, "Concerns about dangerous chemicals in rawhide treats do not appear justified. However, as with any good product, there is a possibility of bacterial contamination, and rawhide products are sometimes recalled for this reason."

And when it comes to rawhide causing intestinal blockage or being a choking hazard? With precautions, rawhide can be a safe treat for your dog. "Rarely, rawhides cause obstructions in the throat or stomach of dogs that swallow large pieces.," writes Dr. McKenzie. "Dogs that tend to do this should be given rawhides too large to swallow, and the treats should be taken away when the dog has torn off chunks or softened..."




How Do You Decide?

It’s safe to say there are negatives and positives to the practice of giving these treats to your dog. The best advice will come from your veterinarian, who knows the size, age and breed of your dog. Here are some pros and cons, and some steps you can take to make sure your dogs are safe if you and your vet decide to allow them to chew rawhide.

Pros

• Satisfies the urge to chew

• Helps keep teeth clean

• Enjoyable for the dog

Cons

• Can break into small pieces that are a choking hazard

• Can get soft and mushy, and stuck in the throat because they mold to the shape of the throat

• Can cause intestinal blockage

• Not regulated by FDA because they are not classified as food

Precautions

There are risks involved whenever a dog chews on items that can break into small pieces or become lodged in the throat or intestines. Taking some simple precautions will help keep your pet safe.

• Always supervise when allowing your dog to chew on a rawhide dog chew or rawhide dog bone, and remove the treat when it becomes small enough for the dog to swallow.

• If you decide to purchase rawhide chews, be sure to get top quality rawhide dog chews and rawhide dog bones produced within your country to reduce the possibility of contamination.

• Offer rawhide chews that are appropriate for the individual dog's size and weight.

• If a dog shows evidence of skin or gastrointestinal problems after chewing on rawhide chews or rawhide bones, discontinue the rawhide product and if symptoms don’t clear up, be sure to consult with your veterinarian.

Alternatives

If the vet indicates that rawhide chews are unsafe for your particular dog, there are many alternatives on the market that are made of rubber, nylon or beef. You can buy beef shank or marrow soup bones at the grocery store, cook them, and give these to the dogs to chew on. Some of the other great alternatives you may want to consider include:

• Nylabones

• Healthy Edibles Natural Dog Chews

• Dental Chews

• Pigs' ears

• Deer antlers

Crematory Options for Your Cherished Companion

How you wish to handle your pet's remains after death is a personal choice dependent on many factors. While some pet parents still prefer burial, cremation has become the most popular option. This may be because more people are renting or living in urban areas where home burial is often prohibited. Some believe that a body is merely a receptacle for a spirit and that more attention should be placed on honoring the memory of a pet than on its remains.

Whatever your beliefs may be, cremation offers the bereaved the option of having a pet's remains returned. They can be kept in a keepsake urn or spread somewhere sentimental. Some veterinarians perform crematory services or there are many crematories who cater just to pets. Since it has become so popular, there are several affordable options.



Private & Viewing

A private cremation ensures that your pet will be cremated alone and that the ashes you receive will be solely his or hers. Viewing cremations are sometimes possible, where you and your family can witness the process from a separate viewing room. This often provides the bereaved with the reassurance they their pet's remains were treated properly and with respect.

Semi-Private

In a semi-private cremation, several deceased pets are placed in the same chamber and divided by a partition. While the majority of the ashes you receive back should be those of your pet, some co-mingling of ashes does occur. Be sure to clarify which option you desire (and are paying for) as semi-private is sometimes labeled as private.

Communal

If having your pet's ashes returned to you is not something you desire, a communal cremation may be the best option. It results in the co-mingling of several deceased pets' ashes who are cremated together without any partitions separating the bodies.

Helping Pets in Grief

Although it isn’t known for sure if pets grieve the loss of an animal or human companion in the same way humans do, many do express their awareness that something has changed. Depending on how long your pets spent together and what their relationship was like, a death can create a significant void within the home that your surviving cat or dog may notice.

Symptoms of Grief

The ASPCA studied pet behavior after the loss of a pet companion during the nineties and found that 66 percent of dogs exhibited four or more behavioral changes. Some of these changes included:

• Loss of appetite
• More needy for attention
• More or less vocal than normal
• Restless during sleep
• Searching for deceased pet
• Wandering aimlessly



Allowing Your Pet to Say Goodbye

Many pet owners will attest to the searching behavior their surviving pets seem to exhibit after the death of a companion. When a friend suddenly leaves the house and doesn't return, he or she may anxiously wait for their return or search the house and yard hoping to find them. It has been suggested that allowing your pet to see the deceased pet's body can help him or her understand what has happened.

During this visit, your pet may: sniff, paw at, or try to "bury" the body; lay beside it; howl or whimper; invite play by bringing over a toy; or do nothing at all.

If letting your pet say goodbye in this way is not possible, consider clipping a lock of your deceased pet's hair for your surviving pet to smell. If your pet is showing any signs of grief, provide plenty of extra love and attention.

Canine Troubles: How to Win Over Your New Love’s Dog

You've fallen in love and nothing can interfere with your new budding relationship until you meet the dog.

Your initial introduction with Dog goes terribly awry. Instead of tail wagging and face licking, he greets you with growls and snarls of aggression. Is there couples therapy for dogs and new significant others? Dog likes the mailman and the UPS driver. So why do his hackles go up at you?

Winning over your partner’s new pup is much like trying to impress your future in-laws—it’s a relationship that requires time and nurturing. Before despair sets in, review these tips and revel in a newfound furry friendship.


Couple with Dog


• Retreat, Reacquaint, Renew  

So the first introduction didn’t go well. You physically retreated with Dog’s initial greeting, so an emotional retreat seems appropriate, too. Try re-introducing yourself to Dog, but this time on neutral turf. How about a park? Anywhere is fine as long as it's not at Dog’s home. He is protective and territorial, and he sees you as a trespasser. Have your “Meet & Greet” in a quasi-Switzerland and watch neutrality provide positive results.

• Bow - Wow

Bow down to Dog on his level. Establish those ground rules by literally getting down on the ground and then wow him with his love language—a Frisbee, a tennis ball, a peanut butter stuffed Kong. As long as your partner gives you the go ahead, pack your pockets full full of treats. Dog will soon equate your presence with treats, quickly moving you up his ladder of affection. The sooner your competitor (and that’s how Dog views you) can change his perspective, the sooner you will be able to carry on your human love connection.

• Speak the Right Love Language

Healthy relationships require time and attention. Once you’re allowed on the sofa (but not in Dog’s favorite spot, of course), invite Dog onto your lap (assuming he is not a St. Bernard), and give him a rub behind the ears. Other ways to heighten your appeal?  Become his primary food distributor, engage in fun interactive games (fetch, fetch and fetch!), assume pet routines and duties and best of all, get to know him.

• Teach Your Children Well

Dogs are trained to follow a pack leader, so be that leader. Make eye contact and stay the course. Your significant other can help by immediately nipping any aggressive behavior in the bud. The sooner Dog learns that you are his new Alpha (or at least his Beta), the happier life will be for you both. 

• Dog Eat Dog World

Despite your best intentions, it is possible that Dog will just not learn to like you. A dog’s trust and respect are not always automatic. And even the best laid plans can’t guarantee that his canine heart will be won over. 

In the end, if your human love relationship is worth continuing, Dog may have to permanently move in with a friend, a cousin, a neighbor. Beware of the possible resentment this might provoke on the part of your significant other; both of you must agree that this is the best choice for your future as a couple.

Hopefully, with dedication and effort, you will find yourself enveloped in a happy and accepting trio: your significant other, Dog and you. And you’ll feel like Top Dog.

Exotic Pets You Can Call Your Own

The following is a list of nontraditional pets for those who want something other than a cat or dog. Remember, exotic pets are not for everyone. Contact your veterinarian and/or a local zoo before purchasing any exotic species.

  • Domesticated rodents like guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils, chinchillas, mice and rats
  • Domesticated rabbits
  • Captive-reared birds like budgies (parakeets), cockatiels, small parrots, canaries, finches and domesticated doves
  • Pigeons, ducks and geese
  • Captive-bred exotic birds like large parrots
  • Tropical fish
  • Ferrets
  • Hedgehogs
  • Selected species of reptiles (preferably captive-reared), avoiding large constrictors, poisonous species and members of: the crocodilian family; selective captive-reared amphibians and selected species of invertebrates.

Most other wild or exotic species should not be considered as pets.