Listen to the National Dog Week Interview with NDW Pet Health Consultant, Patrick Mahaney, Laura Nativo and me on Sunday, October 16th on Healthy Pets and People with Dr. Patrick  as we talk about the relevance and potential of Will Judy’s National Dog Week Movement.  It also happens to be Laura’s birthday, so we wish her much success and happiness on this occasion. Congrats to Dr. Patrick, too, as he em-barks on his new role as Vet Team Contributor to PetMD.com!/notes/patrick-mahaney/dr-patrick-mahaney-joins-the-daily-vet-team-on-petmd/258711987497815  and on his most recent post at

We also are so happy to welcome singer/songwriter Van Preston who will be collaborating with us for a dedicated NDW song for its 84th observance next September and a music video, too.  I thank Robert Cabral for this special introduction!

Princess and be captured on the canvas of Donald Brown

We also want to announce that we have our official winner of the Canines on Canvas Contest that ended on October 7.!/pages/National-Dog-Week/218596591491974Congratulations to Amanda and David Haddock of Cedar Falls, Iowa. David’s entry was randomly selected and now the family pugs, Princess and Pugslee will have their portrait painted by Donald E. Brown, our NDW 2011 Artist. Donald has so generously offered his time and talents and done a lot of good.  Help support Donald’s work…visit his website and perhaps you will be commissioning a pet portrait of your very own! Dont forget to go and give us some Licks and LIKES~

Before I present Patrick’s first official interview as our NDW Pet Health Consultant, here is a word from Nikki Moustaki, Founder of the fabulous Pet Postcard Project and supporter of National Dog Week…Nikki has been a frequent guest of our blog.

“The spirit of National Dog Week is a celebration of our canine best friends, which those of us who live with dogs celebrate every day, all year long. It’s nice to have a week where we think about our dogs as more than just furry roommates. They are our protectors, our friends, our foot warmers, our eyes and ears. We look down on them every day (because they are shorter than us!), but this is a week to look up to them as paragons of faithfulness and gratitude, two concepts sorely lacking in human society these days. Our dogs know how to do both naturally. If we took a page out of their proverbial book, we’d be better to each other and to them.”–Nikki Moustaki, founder of The Pet Postcard Project, dog trainer, and author of several books on dogs and their care and training

The topic of Spay and Neuter Initiatives is no stranger to this blog.  Related posts can be seen in the Archives of June 2 and 8 of this year-interviews with Animal Advocate “Willie Wonka.”

Patrick, as we heard in our interview, you have an exciting role “My Cat from Hell”…Please tell us about your work on Animal Planet. Jackson Galaxy, the (human) star of Animal Planet’s My Cat From Hell, asked me to lend my veterinary perspective on some of the cats he is behaviorally evaluating this season. As many feline behavior problems have root in medical conditions, it is important to diagnose or rule out potential causes to best manage their issues. For example, inappropriate urination is typically not merely due to your cat being upset with you for spending too much time at the office instead of at home. Urine crystals, bladder stones, bacterial infection, feline interstitial cystitis, cancer, arthritis, kidney failure, or other causes could play a role.

I am not yet sure of the air date, but I will make sure to give fans of NDW plenty of notice. Perhaps we can have a special National Cat Day feature.

As you are aware, one of the themes of this NDW is “Spay and Neuter so Every Dog can have its Day.” (This goes for cats too, of course) In your experience, why do some people fail to S/N their cats and dogs. When you have someone who is resistant to the procedure, how do you advise? In my experience, people fail to spay or neuter their dog for a variety of reasons. Ethnic or societal perspectives, economic hardship, general laziness, lack of awareness of the consequences of not having a pet spayed or neutered, or other reasons may contribute.

Upon encountering a dog or cat suffering from a disease that would otherwise have been prevented by performing a spay or neuter, I always stress the importance of performing the procedure instead of allowing the pet to suffer the consequences from neglect to do so. Many times I have performed a pyometra surgery to remove an inflamed and infected uterus from an unspayed female dog or cat’s abdomen. If the owner would have elected the ovariohysterectomy procedure within the first few months or years of life, the pet would never have gotten sick from such a life threatening and preventable condition.

Do you believe that dogs that are altered can make “better” pets? Why or Why Not? I do believe that altered animals can make better pets, as the role that sex hormones play in determining a pet’s behavior are drastically reduced post-spay or neuter. Without the biological urge to find a mate, our pets have less motivation to roam away from your home or get into hierarchical altercations over potential mating partners. Additionally, they will discontinue having estrus (female) and be less likely to show dominance behaviors (male or female).

I am aware that S/N procedures can represent over 30% of a Veterinary practice. What do you say to the practice in general that addresses the fact that many families who are struggling financially cannot afford S/N? The health benefits of performing a spay or neuter procedure greatly outweigh the costs of neglecting to do so. The fees associated with resolving a female dog or cat’s pyometra via emergency surgery, pursuing treatment for mammary/prostate/testicular cancer, or properly managing the health of a litter of puppies or kittens far outweigh the cost of the alter procedure. If a pet owner claims to not have the money to have their pet spayed or neutered, then they improperly suited (be it temporarily or permanent) to properly care for their pet. Pet ownership is a luxury that is not appropriate for all individuals or families.

Low cost S/N clinics seem to provide some relief…how can people find them and how can more vets provide their services for this initiative. People can connect to low-cost spay and neuter clinics by communicating with their local animal shelters, rescues, and veterinary facilities. Having a referral to a place where the operation is done for a cost-effective price while still practicing high quality surgery improves the likelihood your pet will have a successful procedure.

Chemical Sterilization is being introduced as a way to affordably reduce the number of unwanted litters in the Nation. Have you seen any of your colleagues exploring this option?  No, I am not aware of any of my veterinary colleagues in Los Angeles or other parts of the country performing the procedure. It will likely take considerable time to get the general population of practicing veterinarians to undertake this novel, non-surgical procedure.

Thank you Patrick, we look forward to your future posts! While I do agree with Patrick that Pet “ownership” or guardianship, can be viewed  as a “luxury,” I would hate to see socioeconomic factors deprive some young person of all the benefits pet care brings.  While the privilege of pet ownership should not be abused, and people should be aware that it entails a lot of time and some financial output, it shouldn’t just be for the well-to-do.  We all know that in these difficult economic times, our fates and life situations can turn on a dime. To that end, I think a post on affordable ways to maintain healthy and happy pets (and keep them in their homes) might be a good topic…Don’t you agree?  Here is a link for those who want to read about one form of Chemical Sterilization.