C Companion animals are part of our families, but it is inevitable that we have to say goodbye to them because of their age or illness.
Many animal lovers choose to bury their pets in the backyard. However, there are some hidden risks, and there are other options that will help other pets and even the owners who love them.
Research and veterinary training can help hundreds of pets by providing their bodies to science
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Why the Backyard is Not Best
Backyard burials seem to be the easiest way to watch your pet's respect. Unfortunately, it can be dangerous for other pets and wildlife. Most pets are euthanized with an extremely concentrated anesthetic, resulting in a very peaceful death (hence the term euthanasia, meaning "good death"). However, this drug, pentobarbital, remains in the buried body of the pet for up to a year. Any animal caught in the remains is poisoned by the euthanasia solution.
In my career, I have seen two cases in which this happened, with serious consequences. In one case, a family dropped their pet mouse and buried it in the backyard. The family's terrier dug up the mouse and ate the mouse and spent almost a week in intensive care. In another case, two farm dogs have stolen some bones from a cow that had been euthanized on a farm months ago. One dog died and the other was seriously ill for several days.
If your pet dies of a disease that can be transmitted to other animals or even to other people, his or her body can also pose a risk. While the vaccine has reduced the number of dangerous pet diseases in the community, some diseases, such as the parvovirus, are still outbreaks and very robust and easily spread between dogs.
This virus causes severe and sometimes fatal gastrointestinal disease in puppies and young dogs. Fortunately, there are not many diseases that we can catch from our pets, but some ̵
What to do?
One possibility is crematoria and cemeteries of domestic animals. The services are very professional and cover a variety of options and price ranges that suit most pet owners. The cost may vary depending on the size of the animal.
Professional burial or cremation helps prevent the risks of environmental pollution or disease that can occur at a backyard burial. For my own deceased pets, I chose to cremate, which normally costs $ 200-300, and then buried their ashes under a commemorative tree in my backyard.
However, there is another way. As a veterinary pathologist, my job is to perform autopsies on animals to determine their cause of death. We also use the knowledge and samples obtained from the autopsies for research to improve our understanding of diseases and treatments in animals and humans.
Our pets are excellent "models" of disease for both pets and humans, allowing scientists to do so studying the development and progression of a disease and developing new therapies.
Cancer is the leading cause of death in dogs. Many popular breeds get the same cancer at high rates and provide plenty of valuable research material. These cancers are similar in appearance, behavior, treatments and genetic causes to many human cancers.
However, as dogs share our home environment, they age faster and show faster cancer progression than people do. In the United States, dog cancer studies are already informing about studies on new human treatments.
Another area where dogs are valuable scientific allies deals with the study of rare genetic and developmental diseases in children. Since we bred dogs for certain appearances, from strange bulldogs to boring greyhounds, we have unknowingly created genetic anomalies. Some of them are close to each other in rare genetic disorders in children. Thus, dogs can be used to identify the genetic mutations that are behind the disease and how the defective gene affects human children.
Universities have strict ethical reviews for this type of research. However, it is imperative that we have the ability to harvest both common and rare pet diseases to form tissue banks. Most of the samples are taken during an autopsy after the animal has died or been put to sleep. These tissue samples are used to explore better treatments.
If you are interested in donating your pet's body, your vet may alert you to possible local options. In most major cities this will be the veterinary school of the local university. Alternatively, you can contact the veterinary faculty directly via their website or by calling the general telephone number.
Most schools are interested in all types of lessons. My institution takes everything from mice to horses and exotic pets like snakes and lizards. All of these species offer the opportunity to learn about their anatomy and their diseases.
In addition to human disease research, veterinary schools require animal donors to teach anatomy, surgery and pathology. In its ethically most ethical manner, this training is performed on the bodies of animals that have died from natural causes.
The donated pets give my students a valuable understanding of how diseases affect the body. In addition, we report the results of the autopsy to the vet of the animal. This information is crucial for veterinarians who want to confirm diagnoses and for the closure of distressed owners.
If you decide to bury your euthanized pet, consider placing its remains in a container that prevents other animals from accessing the body. Many councilors also have restrictions on pet burial, and it is worthwhile to follow the guidelines of your area.
Ultimately, however, I urge you to donate your pet's body to science. Loss of a pet can be heartbreaking, but there are many ways to create a significant legacy from this loss that will help both pets and humans.
This article was originally published by Rachel Allavena in The Conversation. Read the original article here.