Sunday, December 7, 2008

Pet Taxidermy

Used to be an extremely esoteric practice, but does stuffing your beloved pet or subjecting them to taxidermy after they die a symptom of pet owner’s insanity?

By: Vanessa Uy

“Civilized people bury their dead.” - or so everyone with a Western / Christian orientation were lead to believe. But does stuffing your beloved pet or having then worked by a taxidermist after they die in order to have them displayed on your living room like they are still alive a symptom of their owner’s insanity? After all, isn’t letting go a part of one’s loving devotion?

The practice of taxidermy used to be the preserve of big game hunters and museum curators exhibiting unusual animals usually acquired during an “African Safari”. But during the last twenty or so years ago, the practice of stuffing your deceased pets or pet taxidermy had gained popularity in the United States. Were pet care practices that are deemed “too unusual” in the rest of the world, is seen as just business as usual.

Given that the practice of taxidermy would have become extinct decades ago because of relatively recent International Wildlife Conventions had made the wholesale slaughter of endangered animals – especially from exotic locales like continental Africa - a criminal act. The practice of pet taxidermy could be seen as a godsend to every professional taxidermist.

Maybe it is just that I find being in close proximity to dead animals – no matter how well preserved – really freaks me out. To me at least, taxidermy has its place in museums and the like – but not in my living room. If pet taxidermy is your thing, by all means have your beloved dog, cat, or any other pet stuffed and displayed on your own living room. You could be commended for keeping the endangered trade of taxidermy alive and well. Maybe those ancient people who invented “civilization” were on to something when they chose to bury their dead?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Pet Vaccinations: Too much of a Good Thing?

Though increasingly a necessity for our four-legged friends living in an environment optimized for humans. Are we vaccinating our pets more than is absolutely necessary?

By: Vanessa Uy

Pet vaccinations – especially for one’s beloved dog or cat – are there to protect them from viral infections which could easily spread in the confines of an increasingly urbanized environment that is optimized for humans than canines and felines. But recent studies have shown that pet owners had been inadvertently endangering their pets by either giving them duplicate vaccinations due to lax record keeping. Or by not sufficiently spacing their shots.

Studies also show that poorly managed vaccination schedules that can lead to duplicate doses and / or insufficient spacing schedule of vaccination can cause a range of problems like your dog or cat suffering from allergies. In some cases, cancerous growths can develop in the area between the shoulders were the vaccination shots are given.

Majority of vaccine doses usually lasts three years and giving them too often will certainly cause reactions, even the possibility of your pets going into an anaphylactic shock. At present, most veterinarians have already cut back their vaccination schedules to once every three years for the de rigeur or standard vaccines like the dog staple rabies, distemper, parvovirus; While for cats it’s a vaccination against panleukopenia.

To me, this serves as good news, given that our pets are not very fond of needles. Just as well because imagine your dog or cat acquiring a 40 dollar-a-day heroin habit. This could be a less of a problem if your dog or cat has a lucrative – preferably seven figures worth in American currency - recording contract from a major label executive. But seriously, less frequent vaccination jabs does translate to a less traumatic impression of your pet to your friendly neighborhood veterinarian. This also spells as good news if you are mindful about maintaining the size of your carbon footprint to the most sensible minimum if you live fairly far away from your veterinarian and must take the family car to commute.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Your Pet Thanks You for Not Smoking

Our General Practitioners and successive US Surgeon Generals has warned us since the 1960’s about secondhand tobacco smoke as a serious health hazard. But can it hurt our pets too?

By: Vanessa Uy

Scores of US Surgeon Generals - together with the rest of the medical community – has been warning the general public for almost 50 years now about secondhand tobacco / cigarette smoke being a serious health hazard to humans. Unfortunately, the health-related hazards posed by secondhand tobacco smoke can also seriously undermine the long-term health of pets owned by smokers, especially if these pets are in close proximity to their nicotine-addicted masters.

Dogs who live with owners that are regular cigarette smokers has twice the risk of developing lung cancer and also nasal or sinus cancers compared to their counterparts being kept in non-smoking households. Dogs are not alone in having the misfortune of acquiring tobacco use related cancers from their nicotine-addicted owners. Cats exposed to tobacco smoke had an increased risk of developing malignant lymphoma and oral cancers.

Experts say that to lessen the likelihood of your pets getting tobacco smoke related cancers, cigarette-smoking pet owners should smoke outdoors and away from their pets. Or open their windows to vent out their cigarette smoke outside. Or for the benefit of both the owner and his or her beloved pet, why not quit smoking altogether, both you and your pet could be enjoying a healthier life altogether. If you’re not quitting for yourself then do it for your beloved pet. It could well save you thousands on unnecessary veterinary bills, not to mention medical / hospitalization bills later on.

Friday, September 5, 2008

How Earth Friendly Are Your Pets?

Keeping really way-out-there-types of exotic pets really make great conversation pieces, but what if the upkeep of their “life support system” makes their carbon footprint larger than your entire household. Are they still worth it to keep?

By: Vanessa Uy

There had been rumors spread around the hobby aquarist’s world of an eccentric IT billionaire who has the world’s most far-out aquarium that replicates the environmental conditions found at the bottom of the Mariana’s Trench or similar abyssal zone / hadal zone marine ecosystem. This IT billionaire “hobby aquarist” was rumored to have kept several breeding pairs of abyssopelagic / hadal zone flatfishes native to those depths. Down there, the water pressure averages around seven tons per square inch. I don’t know about you, but power required to run an aquarium like that could probably run a typical suburban neighborhood. Never mind the electric bill that could regularly go through the roof. An aquarium like this is even probably too expensive to set-up in some communities in the United States.

The issue of drastically minimizing one’s carbon footprint in order to mitigate the environmentally destructive effects of global warming can become somewhat contentious when the time comes in auditing your beloved pets own carbon footprint. After seeing first hand a hobby that’s been slowly gaining popularity in the past 25 years – keeping tree frogs in your home terrarium – makes me wonder that if we don’t restrain our carbon-intensive lifestyles, we’ll be condemning these creatures to extinction. Tree frogs that are native to tropical rainforests will probably be only be found in domestic terrariums in future decades since global warming caused by our unrestrained greenhouse gas emissions will certainly alter the native environment of these tree frogs to a point that they can no longer survive there.

In highly urbanized areas, folks under 30 are likely to have grown up never ever seeing a fish swimming in its native pond. The giant aquarium found in their local community center is probably their only memory of the natural world. All of this had come to a point of cognitive dissonance where replicating and maintaining these creatures native habitats in our homes is slowly – but inexorably – destroying the ever shrinking patches of these creature’s native habitat. Is it now high time to reevaluate our pet obsession? Or do we wait for the inevitable extinction, which its arrival will be heralded when the commonest tropical fresh water fish and even the most mundane tree frog will be retailing for several thousands of dollars each.

Pets as Best Friends: Better Than People?

Despite sounding overtly callous, do pets make better best friends than people because they can neither throw wise cracks at you nor verbally abuse you?

By: Vanessa Uy

Probably many had said their views regarding this somewhat perennially thorny issue time and time again. As a pet owner doing fly-on-the-wall-style observations on other pet owners, the best thing about – if not the only thing – keeping pets and lavishing enough money on them to send someone growing in a third-world country through college is that your pet can never say anything bad about you.

This might serve as a consolation for anyone whose hobbies include cross-dressing like the late and former FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, or the former mayor of New York City Rudi Giuliani. Even the mouthiest Chihuahua can easily pass muster the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. Some pets are even pampered by their hedgefund billionaire owners to the point that their pets acquire a carbon footprint rivaling that of a typical Indian Air Force ace combat pilot. Yet many still wonder if the pet care / pet accessories industry has been lucrative enough in single-handedly keep our ailing global economy afloat?

First of all, it’s not easy to resist the cute and cuddliness factor of de rigeur pets such as cats and dogs and the “novelty factor” of more exotic pets like brightly colored species of iguanas. Our worldwide pet obsession has even spawned a black-market industry in the trade of animals that belong in the endangered species list. Even dangerous wild animals that are practically unsuitable as pets – like highly venomous snakes, big cats like lions and tigers are still routinely traded on-line by unscrupulous hucksters despite the crackdown by the wildlife trade regulatory agencies.

The appeal of owning pets is even bolstered by recent studies that even the most common type of pets – cats and dogs – both have therapeutic properties to their owners by relieving stress and lowering one’s blood pressure. Proving yet once again that humanity always has an inexplicable link to the animal world.