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How Service Dogs Help and Bring Hope to Veterans
Free-Roaming Cats with Tipped Ears and What You Should Know
What is Bloat in Dogs and What You Can Do?

How Service Dogs Help and Bring Hope to Veterans
The bond between service dog and veteran is immeasurable. Oftentimes, after arriving back home after serving, especially those returning from a war-torn area, a veteran may have physical impairments and/or emotional issues ranging from bad dreams and flashbacks to fear and depression. Many veterans have been able to bring a service dog into their life to help with the sometimes-crippling aftereffects of war.

Service dogs differ from emotional support dogs and therapy dogs. “Service dogs help people with disabilities perform tasks, which helps the handler attain safety and independence,” according to the article, “Service Dogs: Helping Those Who Served Our Country” at Companions for Heroes. “And PTSD and psychiatric service dogs provide emotional support with people that have PTSD and other mental health conditions.”

When it comes to PTSD and service dogs, however, the Veteran’s Administration at this time “does not necessarily endorse their use,” according to the article, “Service Dogs for Veterans with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder” at AMA Journal of Ethics.

Service dogs are not considered pets but rather working dogs. Because they have specialized status, the Companion for Heroes article said, they are allowed to go most places that the veteran goes, which includes restaurants and grocery stories. Their status is protected by federal and state laws as well, and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) breaks down where they are allowed.

Service dogs go through very specialized training but also continue to be friends with their veteran; they are a team.

There are a variety of programs nationwide that train service dogs for veterans. The mission of PatriotPaws “is to train and provide service dogs of the highest quality at no cost to disabled American veterans and others with mobile disabilities and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in order to help restore their physical and emotional independence.”

Free-Roaming Cats with Tipped Ears and What You Should Know
Have you seen any community cats in your neighborhood with something strange about their ears? Maybe you’ve noticed and something doesn’t seem quite right. What’s it all about?

Community cats, or feral cats, are mostly wild and live in colonies. According to the article, “A Closer Look at Community Cats,” at the ASPCA.org, community cats are “born and raised in the wild” and typically “have been abandoned or lost and turned to wild ways in order to survive.” They should not be confused with stray cats, whom the ASPCA describes mainly as pets who have been abandoned or lost and are typically tame and OK around humans.

Oftentimes, community cats are cared for by people who manage their colonies, which begins with instituting Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR). With TNR, cats are spayed or neutered, vaccinated against rabies, and returned to their colonies where a “caretaker” feeds, monitors health and provides shelter, the ASPCA article said.

In order to identify a colony cat who is spayed or neutered, ear-tipping (whereby an ear tip is snipped) is provided by a licensed veterinarian when the cat is under sedation. It is done so that future rescuers know which cats are fixed. “This is a painless and risk-free procedure,” the ASPCA article said, adding that it “identifies them as being part of a colony with a caretaker.”

Ear-tipping helps those who manage cat colonies know from a distance if a cat is spayed or neutered, according to the article, “Ear-Tipping Cats: What It Is and Why It’s Done” at BestFriends.org.

Ear-tipping “lets animal control officers know that a cat benefitted from TNR and has been seen by a veterinarian,” the Best Friends article said.

Cats whose ears have been tipped then do not have to deal with the stress of being trapped again for no reason.

What is Bloat in Dogs and What You Can Do?
Have you heard of bloat? It’s very serious and all dog parents should know about it. Dogs most affected are the larger breed dogs with deep chests, including Great Danes, Irish setters and German shepherds among others.

Bloat happens “When a dog’s stomach fills with gas,” according to the article, “Bloat in Dogs: Symptoms & Prevention” at petMD.com. “The expansion of the stomach puts pressure on the diaphragm, which then makes it hard for the dog to breathe.” Additionally, the dog’s stomach twists, causing shock and quick death.

“In certain instances, bloating is noted when the dog exercises immediately after eating,” the petMD article said, adding that an enlarged abdomen is the most obvious symptom. Other signs can include:

• labored breathing
• excessive drooling
• vomiting
• weak pulse
• paleness in the nose and mouth

Oftentimes, bloat follows after a dog eats a large amount of food, according to the article, “Bloat in Dogs,” at Pet Health Network. It happens fast and only your vet can determine bloat and what steps to take. “Sometimes bloat can be complicated by a deadly condition called gastric dilation/volvulus (GDV) or ‘stomach twisting.’ ”

Along with certain breeds, older dogs or those who have a family history of bloat can be at a higher risk. Because food is a major part of bloat, it is important “to keep your dog’s food under wraps to prevent accidental gorging,” the Pet Health Network article stated. Although there are no real ways to prevent bloat or GDV, the article said to talk to your vet to see if the following tips can help:

• Feed smaller meals more often
• Offer smaller amounts of water more often
• Limit exercise right after eating
• Keep your dog away from garbage or unknown food sources

Most important, if you suspect bloat, call your vet immediately.

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