National Pet Week

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National Pet Week, created by the American Veterinary Medical Association, is May 3-9. It celebrates the pets in our lives and promotes responsible pet ownership. Veterinarian William Griswold of the Emergency Animal Clinic in Gilbert will tell us more.

TED SIMONS: This is national pet week, a paw-print on the calendar created by the American veterinary medical association. National pet week is designed to celebrate pets and promote responsible pet ownership. Here now is veterinarian William Griswold, director of medical management at the emergency animal clinic in Gilbert. Good to have you here.

WILLIAM GRISWOLD: Same here, thank you.

TED SIMONS: National pet week. What are we talking about here?

WILLIAM GRISWOLD: It's an event started back in the early 80s by the American Veterinarian Medical Association to promote responsible pet care and celebrate the benefits that pets provide in our lives.

TED SIMONS: Good things that pets provide.

WILLIAM GRISWOLD: All of the good things.

TED SIMONS: Responsible pet ownership, what does that mean?

WILLIAM GRISWOLD: It means a number of things. It goes beyond basics of food and shelter. AVMA on their web site has a great list of what they consider guidelines for responsible pet ownership but they include things like commitment both in terms of choosing wisely. Not making impulsive decisions when we get a pet, but also for committing to the life's duration of any pet that we take on as well. Investment of both time and money to provide the things they need including of course food and shelter, but also appropriate training, medical care and also budgeting for an emergency. And finally preparedness whether it is for disasters say a forest fire and what to do with our pets if we have to evacuate our homes or in the event that we can no longer take care of them. And also looking down the line for their quality of life begins to decline and preparing for providing them with what they need at the end of life as well.

TED SIMONS: I think we all have been through that. Obviously, finding a vet, you're a vet. You know how important it is to get these little creatures in there. How best do you find a vet and how best do you vet a vet?

WILLIAM GRISWOLD: The best way I find is to ask friends and relatives. Particularly people who feel the same way about their pets as you do. You know it's one thing if you're crazy about your pets and you ask your neighbor who has a back yard dog, what veterinarian they would recommend. If you can find a family member that shares that same sort of bond with their pets, word of mouth referral is one of the best ways to go. The emergency animal clinic has a list of general practice veterinarians that we partner with to provide after-hour emergency care for their cases. People can go to our web site and get a list of veterinarians throughout the valley who are engaged with the emergency animal clinic as well.

TED SIMONS: Back to national pet week here. As a veterinarian, do you see differences between dog owners and cat owners?

WILLIAM GRISWOLD: Not so much.

TED SIMONS: You don't?

WILLIAM GRISWOLD: I own both, so maybe they are not as pronounced, the differences aren't as pronounced to me. There can definitely be differences I think between the true cat lovers or only, you know, those folks who prefer cats over dogs and vice versa. Dog owners tend to be a little more outgoing and louder, like the Labrador puppy crashing through the gate.

TED SIMONS: I read that vets are less likely to see cats on a regular basis than they are dogs.

WILLIAM GRISWOLD: Yes, that is sadly true. Cats are the most popular pet by numbers in the United States these days, and only 20 to 30 percent of veterinary visits made up by cats.

TED SIMONS: I can tell you one reason why folks don't take cats to the vets quite as often, it's a disaster scene in the vehicle trying to drive that cat to the vet. What can you do to make that less stressful?

WILLIAM GRISWOLD: There are a number of things you can do. Easiest with cats or best with cats is get them used to the carrier before you need it. Things as simple as feeding them in their carriers, providing a bed or comfortable resting place within the carrier. A lot of cats prefer the soft-sided duffle bag style over the hard plastic carriers. And oddly enough, the smaller the carrier, the more comfortable a lot of cats are. They feel safe and enclosed in a small space. They may be less stressed in a smaller carrier than in larger one.

TED SIMONS: As far as dogs are concerned, along with cats, but for all pets, dogs and cats specifically, spaying and neutering, how important?

WILLIAM GRISWOLD: Critically important. Particularly, for reducing pet overpopulation. There also are several health benefits from reducing certain types of cancers to eliminating unwanted behaviors in both cats and dogs, in both sexes, assisted with surgical sterilization.


TED SIMONS: What side do you fall on the neuter and release ideas?

WILLIAM GRISWOLD: That is a tough problem. There are, like you said, two sides. There are on the one hand, the cat proponents and on the other hand to some extent environment proponents. Striking a balance between the needs of native wildlife and the overwhelming number of stray and feral cats in America is a challenge.

TED SIMONS: You are basically right there in the middle.

WILLIAM GRISWOLD: I think there is evidence to support both positions. That is where the challenge runs in. It's very easy for both sides of the matter to mount a compelling argument. 23:18

Arizona, not in the top 10 for the most pet friendly or not in the top 10 for the least pet friendly.

Everybody has a fence or wall around their yard, generally speaking, Metro Phoenix area a lot of businesses that welcome pets, restaurants with dog-friendly patios and that sort of thing.

In the summertime we know you have to watch your pets. In the wintertime, there are nights you have to watch your pets. Do you see a lot of that?

Not so much in the winter, because even our coldest nights most dogs, you know, can huddle up and stay warm. But during the summer, and actually more so even during this part of the year where the days are moderate, but heating up is where we tend to see a lot of exertional heat stroke. Just like with children, dogs accidentally getting left in cars any time of the year. Early part of the summer, initiation of the monsoon when the humidity spikes, we start to see increase numbers of heat stroke in the emergency rooms because the dogs just aren't prepared for the environmental changes and haven't had a chance to get used to it.

I think humans have that problem as well. Don't realize how warm it is and how much longer the sun is out.

Congratulations on being a successful veterinarian and taking care of our little furry friends and we will continue to celebrate national pet week.

Thank you.

Thank you for being here.

Wednesday on "Arizona Horizon," we'll have a state and national economic update. And we'll hear about a traditional European folk dance. That's at 5:30 at 10:00 on the next "Arizona Horizon." For more information on tonight's show, if you want to watch it again, previous programs, or check what we have on the future, azpbs.org/horizon. That's where you can find us. azpbs.org/horizon. That is it for now. I'm Ted Simons. Thank you so much for joining us. You have a great evening.

William Griswold:Veterinarian, Emergency Animal Clinic;

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