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5 Common Illnesses That Occur in Puppy Mill Dogs and Why You Should ALWAYS Adopt

There’s no denying it: puppies are adorable. With their wiggly bodies, clumsy footing, and their adorable puppy breath, it’s easy to understand why everyone gushes over them. Having a puppy is exciting, and from teaching a child about responsibility to wanting a “certain” type of dog, many people like to buy puppies, instead of adopting from their local shelter. 

A dark past comes with dogs from puppy mills. Puppies that are bought from pet stores almost exclusively come from large-scale commercial dog breeding operations, also known as puppy mills.

There are between 2,000 and 3,000 USDA-licensed breeding facilities (puppy mills) in the United States. However, this number does not take into consideration the number of breeders not required to be licensed by the USDA or the number of breeders operating illegally without a license. The size of these facilities varies from having only a few breeding dogs to having a thousand.

Even though it’s difficult to get an exact number of how many puppy mills are in the United States, the miserable lives of these dogs is certain. Rescuers have consistently found puppy mills filled with feces, over-bred mothers, as well as diseases running rampant.

If you or someone you know is considering buying a dog from a puppy mill, please consider the following common illnesses and rethink your decision to buy, instead of adopting. 

1. Overgrown Toenails

Dogs that are well-cared for in shelters and homes have their nails trimmed on a regular basis (regular exercise also wears down the nail). But, in puppy mills, long nails can grow or get caught around the wire of the cage, trapping the dog. It’s even possible that the toenail can painfully grow back into the dog’s skin. Even the most basic of grooming practices are commonly neglected in puppy mills.

2. Health Problems

Puppy mills and breeders have one thing in mind: maximizing profits. Female dogs are bred at every opportunity, with little to no time to recover in between litters. According to the ASPCA, “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.”

Health problems on puppy mills can include:

  • Epilepsy
  • Heart disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Musculoskeletal disorders (hip dysplasia, luxating patellas, etc.)
  • Endocrine disorders (diabetes, hyperthyroidism)
  • Blood disorders (anemia, Von Willebrand disease)
  • Deafness
  • Eye problems (cataracts, glaucoma, progressive retinal atrophy, etc.)
  • Giardia
  • Parvovirus
  • Distemper
  • Upper respiratory infections
  • Kennel cough
  • Pneumonia
  • Mange
  • Fleas
  • Ticks
  • Intestinal parasites
  • Heartworm
  • Chronic diarrhea

3. Emaciation

Because they are confined to such small cages, their fur mats catching urine and feces in the process. This excess of matted fur makes the dogs look bigger than they actually are, and once they are shaved, their emaciated bodies are revealed.

Not only do these unsanitary conditions contaminate their food sources, but they infect the dogs themselves. Most of these dogs aren’t give the necessary medication or doctor’s visits. It isn’t uncommon for them to go undiagnosed and untreated. The puppies that are ultimately sold to consumers are commonly sick before they even arrive at their forever homes, and sadly, some die shortly after they are purchased and brought home.

4. Behavior Issues

It isn’t uncommon for a dog from a puppy mill to lack socialization and to exhibit fearful behavior with humans and other animals. Puppies are typically removed from their littermates, as well as their mothers at just six weeks of age. But, the first months of a puppy’s life are critical for the socialization of puppies, and spending time with their mother and littermates helps prevent puppies from developing problems such as:

  • Fear
  • Aggression
  • Anxiety
  • Extreme shyness

5. Genetic Issues

Genetic deformities such as cleft palate or an overly large underbite are frequently discovered in dogs who have been rescued from puppy mills. Needless to say, these unfortunate animals are not the ones breeders decide to show to the public. Only the cutest puppies are considered worthy of being put up for sale, while the rest have to remain in cages, being used as breeder dogs until their “productivity” declines … at which point they are usually killed.

That would have been the fate for Lily, an Italian Greyhound in the photo above, who was rescued from a puppy mill by non-profit National Dog Mill Rescue.

Save a Life: Adopt

Many pet stores will say that they get their puppies from “licensed USDA breeders” but often pet stores use this to provide a false sense of security when in reality, they do in fact get their puppies from puppy mills. Being registered or “having papers” means nothing more than the puppy’s parents both had papers, according to the ASPCA.

Please always adopt and never buy. With millions of animals waiting in shelters and over 1.5 million dogs and cats being euthanized in U.S. shelters every year because they don’t have a home, adoption is always the best option. Shelters and rescue groups do have puppies and purebred dogs, so it’s not necessary to go through a breeder when there are already so many animals looking for a loving home.

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activism · animal · animal cruelty · facts

How to Keep Your Cat From Scratching Furniture – and Why You Should Avoid Declawing at All Costs

As much as we adore them, it can drive cat lovers crazy to see their beloved feline claw at their furniture. Cats are capable of precious snuggles, amazing acrobatics, and hilarious antics but watching furniture get torn to shreds is not fun! 

Of course, clawing is a completely natural behavior for cats. According to PAWS, cats will scratch at furniture, carpet, and other objects for numerous reasons, such as to remove the dead outer layer of their claws, to mark their territory by leaving a visual mark and scent (cats have scent glands on their paws), as well as to stretch their bodies and paws. Unfortunately, for some inexperienced guardians, a cat’s need to claw might drive them to return or abandon their new feline. 

70 percent of shelter cats end up being killed including strays, feral and surrendered cats, so it’s important we keep cats happy and safe in their home by any means possible, and keep them out of shelters. So, if your cat is scratching at furniture and other items in the house, here are some tips for how to deter them.

Cat Trees and Scratching Posts 

I’ve invested in a cat tree so that my two kitties will have a place to scratch that is all their own (and of course, they love to lay and play on the cat tree!).  Scratching posts are another great investment. You may want to consider offering different materials like carpet, sisal, wood, and cardboard, as well as different styles (vertical and horizontal). You can use toys and catnip to help entice your cat into using them for scratching.

If your kitty has an appropriate outlet to get their scratching out, they are less likely to terrorize other less desirable targets.

Use Special Tape

If even with the cat tree and the scratching post, your cat still prefers your sofa for scratching, don’t worry, there are still ways to deter them. There is a special tape, such as Sticky Paws, that you can place on furniture to deter your cat away from scratching. It’s safe for furniture, as well as drapes and carpets.

Trim Your Cat’s Nails

Trimming your cat’s nails is important for maintaining their health. The ASPCA and the Humane Society of the United States both offer detailed tips for how to trim your cat’s nails, but if doing it yourself is out of the question (personally, I wouldn’t even attempt it for fear they would bite or scratch me!), many groomers will trim a cat’s nails, as well as veterinarians. Trimming your cat’s nails is also a humane and effective alternative to declawing a cat.

Whatever You Do, Please Don’t Declaw

While removing a cat’s claws may seem like an easy, harmless way to avoid scratches or damaged furniture, this practice is actually extremely harmful to one of our favorite four-legged friends and the process is far more serious than cat guardians may perceive.

Declawing is not a manicure. Declawing, also known as onychectomy, is performed across veterinarian offices across the United States, despite growing awareness of the practice as inhumane. Most people think that declawing just involves pulling a claw out which, if you can imagine having all of your fingernails yanked out, is frankly, awful enough. Declawing is actually 10 separate amputations of the last bone and nail in each toe. If performed on a human being, it would be like cutting off each finger at the last knuckle, warns the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).

These procedures risk long-term lameness and behavioral problems, including making it less likely for a cat to use the litter box or more likely to bite. Declawing also can cause lasting physical problems for your cat. Side effects of declawing include pain in the paw, infection, tissue necrosis (tissue death), lameness, and back pain. Removing claws changes the way a cat’s foot meets the ground and can cause pain similar to wearing an uncomfortable pair of shoes. There can also be a regrowth of improperly removed claws, nerve damage, and bone spurs.

For those of us who love cats enough to have one (or more) in your home, please love them for what they truly are – claws and all. They shouldn’t be penalized for doing what comes naturally. Instead, love their wild side and give them more options that are acceptable.

Do you have any tips for deterring a cat from scratching furniture or other items in the house? Leave a comment below to share with other cat lovers!

This article was originally published on One Green Planet.