Vol. 17, No. 05 – Nov 29 – Dec 12, 2023 – The Pet Page

• Santa Paws is returning to Ventura County Animal Services after a 3-year hiatus due to the pandemic! Join us at the Camarillo Animal Shelter, 600 Aviation Drive, on Saturday, December 2nd, 2023, from 10:00am to 12:00pm for a festive professional photo session with the one and only Santa Claus!

Capture the magic of the season with your furry friends at the most anticipated holiday photo event of the year! Embrace the holiday spirit and come dressed in festive attire, casual wear, or even matching pajamas – it’s all about capturing those heartwarming moments!

To ensure a paw-sitively delightful experience for everyone, please ensure pets are on-leash or safely secured in carriers, are fully vaccinated, healthy, and exhibit good behavior around people and other animals.

Photo sessions are limited to the first 50 groups! We kindly ask all participants to arrive before 12:00 pm as we cannot guarantee portraits for latecomers.

We are asking for a $25 donation to the shelter, 100% of which goes directly to supporting the animals and programs that fuel our life-saving efforts.

•Pet Science

Growing up, I watched my mom always leave the lights on for our cat and dog whenever we left them home alone. She insisted she did this for their comfort, but my dad always said it was really for hers. There’s just something about leaving your beloved animals in a dark, empty house that feels wrong, but how do they actually fare?

Carly Fox, senior veterinarian at the Schwarzman Animal Medical Center in New York City, reveals whether our pets actually need the lights on when left to their own devices.

Should I keep the lights on for my pet?

Contrary to your impulse, your pet doesn’t need good lighting when alone.

“You can absolutely leave the lights off,” Fox writes to Inverse in an email. She does add that you should, however, leave the blinds or curtains open for your pet to get any natural light filtering through. While they don’t need a fully lighted room, there’s no reason to go out of your way to plunge them into total darkness.

Pets are also equipped for waning light. “Just like people, dogs are diurnal,” Fox writes. “That means they get the majority of their sleep at night and are most active during the day.” They take their cues from the changing light outside. Keeping a dog in constant brightness could actually impact them negatively, according to Fox.

Cats, on the other hand, are crepuscular, which means they’re most active at dawn and dusk while sleeping throughout the day. They also tend to be somewhat active at night, so darkness isn’t foreboding to them.

What’s most important, Fox writes, is “keeping things consistent, if possible,” so as long as you’re not throwing the odd night rave or making your home into a cave for days at a time, your pet will be fine. She adds that pets do need natural sunlight during the day, and artificial light is no substitute.

How well does my pet see in the dark?

We know that our pets outperform us when it comes to senses like smell and hearing. Even if eyesight isn’t their forte, cats and dogs “see much better in the dark than people do,” Fox writes.

Both dogs and cats have abundant rods, the photoreceptor that picks up dim light, in their retinas. While they may lose out in the cones department, leaving them numb to about a third of the visible color spectrum, their stacked rods and superior night vision make up for it. Both types of fur babies also have a tapetum, which is a reflective layer in the back of the eye off which light bounces, allowing the retina to receive more light than is available. The tapetum is also the reason your cat or dog may look possessed in certain photos you take of it because light reflects off it.

Cats also have dilating pupils that can go from slits to marbles in a matter of seconds, letting them modify how much light their sensitive eyes take in. Fox also writes that cats have a more sensitive tapetum than dogs, as well as more rods.

Fox also recognizes that leaving pets alone in the dark could encourage destructive behavior, particularly in those with separation anxiety. “Perhaps it’s not the dark that is the problem for them, but rather what the dark signals,” she writes. Even if you’re simply going to bed, your pet may perceive this as abandonment, which speaks to larger behavioral issues that may need to be addressed.

Even if you get an ominous feeling looking at the outline of your dog sitting in a darkening house as you shut the door before leaving, know that your dog is looking back at you with a much clearer image.

•The majority of first responders don’t have comprehensive training in how to handle animals, said Dr. Elisa Mazzaferro, a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care, even though they may likely encounter them at the scene of an accident.

Helping an injured pet can be daunting because the animal may be in pain and aggressive.

“It is important to remember that even the most friendly, well-trained animal can potentially bite when afraid or when injured,” Dr. Mazzaferro said. “Humans should approach the animal with caution and put a blanket or towel gently over the animal’s face and head to help prevent bite injury.”

Each year at the International Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Symposium (IVECCS), there is an on-site first-aid class for first responders. Firefighters, K-9 officers, and others attend a day-long presentation with emergency veterinarians and criticalists as part of the Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Society’s (VECCS) mission to promote emergency care for pets.

The residents of the Ventura Marina Mobile Home Park gathered to walk their dogs and walk off all the food they ate for Thanksgiving.
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