Potential Health Problems for Animals Living with Hoarders

William Fullmer DVM By William Fullmer DVM, 10th Jan 2012 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/mw8nuazn/
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Pets>Other

Recently I watched an episode of Animal Planet’s Confessions: Animal Hoarding. As a veterinarian this series is very difficult to watch. The state that these animals are in is appalling. Most species have a natural limit as to how many animals can congregate together before they have to break up and form smaller groups. In nature part of this has to do with resources such as food, water, and mates, but part of it is due to the stress that an increasing number of animals put on the group.

Advocate for the Animals

Recently I watched an episode of Animal Planet’s Confessions: Animal Hoarding. As a veterinarian this series is very difficult to watch. The state that these animals are in is appalling. The stress that they are in alone is enough to cause health and behavioral problems.

Most species have a natural limit as to how many animals can congregate together before they have to break up and form smaller groups. In nature part of this has to do with resources such as food, water, and mates, but part of it is due to the stress that an increasing number of animals put on the group. In the wild most groups of carnivores don’t form large social groups and many, such as most wild felids, are primarily solitary. Granted through domestication we have changed some behavioral characteristics of domestic animals. I do think however, that we can extrapolate from wild behavior that there is obviously some critical point at which any given area has lost its ability to sustain a healthy population of animals.

Population stress also causes behavior problems, such as house soiling, which are very difficult to treat even when animals are removed from the stressful environment. The current standard of practice to provide a litter box for each of your casts plus one. If you have too many cats to provide that many litter boxes you may have too many cats.

The second area of concern for these animals is the increased disease state that a high number of animals create. This is especially true for gastrointestinal parasites. The higher concentration of animals you have the worse that parasite problem. One of the key points to controlling parasites is hygiene, especially cleaning up feces. Most of the homes in which hoarding occurs are filthy, the majority not even fit for human habitation. Due to the fecal contamination in most of these homes it would be impossible to adequately control gastrointestinal parasites.

Parasite infestations also tend to be worse in high stress situations. Many parasites of dogs and cats are transmissible to humans and can cause life threatening diseases, therefore not only creating an animal health concern, but a public health issue as well. Viruses and bacteria are also much more difficult to control when there are higher numbers of animals present. For instance Cats are prone to upper respiratory herpes viruses. These herpes viruses can remain dormant for extended periods, but are more of a problem when the animals are stressed.

I realize that all of these people suffer from some form of mental illness and therefore their situation may never be rectified. Removal of the animals is no guarantee that they will not get more. There must be constant oversight with these obviously ill people in order to protect the animals that they collect. Most are well meaning and loving, but they have lost the ability to control themselves or their actions. Even though it is a painful and stressful situation someone, whether family members, governmental agencies, or both, must step in and do what is best for the animals. They have no way of advocating or changing the situation for themselves.

Tags

Animal Abuse, Animal Cruelty, Animal Planets Confessions Animal Hoarding, Animal Rescue, Animal Welfare, Animals, Bacteria, Bacteria And Viruses, Bacterial Infection, Bacterial Infections, Bacterium, Hoarders, Hoarding, Hoarding Buried Alive, Parasites, Public Health, Viruses

Meet the author

author avatar William Fullmer DVM
Dr. Fullmer graduated from Washington State University with a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree. He also graduated from the University of Idaho with a bachelor's degree in Veterinary Sciences and f

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Comments

author avatar ppruel
10th Jan 2012 (#)

This is healthy article Dr. Fullmer. Thanks - I bookmarked this page and sent it off to twitter and facebook...

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author avatar William Fullmer DVM
10th Jan 2012 (#)

Thank You Very Much.

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author avatar Denise O
10th Jan 2012 (#)

It is so sad for both the human being and the animals, just awful. When dealing with a mental disorder, the family really needs to get involved and how these people out. Nice read. Thank you for sharing.:)

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author avatar ittech
10th Jan 2012 (#)

nice MSG

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
10th Jan 2012 (#)

I think you can be so right in this we already know of the health risks for the humans and it is right to point out the health hazards for pets.

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author avatar William Fullmer DVM
10th Jan 2012 (#)

Thank You All.

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