L'Atelier Robert Coane

















Straight Talk About Animal Abuse
Last week, we held a live discussion answering your questions on the real deal behind animal abuse. We were fortunate to have the ASPCA’s Dr. Randall Lockwood, Senior Vice President, Anti-Cruelty Field Services, on hand to discuss how we can fight animal cruelty by better understanding what drives people toward it.

"I've always wondered why and how people can have such disregard for animals. If I could understand abusers more, perhaps prevention strategies would become more clear." — CC

Much animal cruelty is really about power and control, which is why it is so strongly connected to other forms of violence, including domestic violence, child abuse and general criminal behavior. People responsible for intentional acts of abuse can have many different motivations, but often the central motive is to try to show that they can have an impact on others—that they can coerce, control, frighten or intimidate. Often the act of cruelty has been triggered by something that has challenged their sense of power; someone (animal or person) has acted in a way that calls their power into question.…
—Dr. Lockwood

To read the rest of Dr. Lockwood’s answer, and to see how he tackled other tough questions, check out the transcript of this discussion on the ASPCA Online Community . Dr. Lockwood shared his expertise on topics like when to contact the media to stop abuse and what to do when you see a child harming an animal.

P.S. To learn how to report animal abuse, check the Reporting Cruelty FAQs

Can Cats and Dogs Catch Swine Flu?
October 2

Pet parents of dogs and cats can relax for now, say ASPCA veterinarians. While the 2009 H1N1 virus—a faster moving and possibly more debilitating strain of influenza than the typical seasonal flu—has become an international concern, the virus, referred to as swine flu when first identified, appears to present little risk of infecting dogs and cats. However, viruses can mutate quickly and taking important preventative measures remains essential.

“Many species can become infected with influenza viruses, but the current 2009 H1N1 virus, which is a mixture of genetic material from different species, has not been identified in animal populations in the United States to date,” says Dr. Miranda Spindel, Director of ASPCA Veterinary Outreach. “These viruses are notoriously unpredictable, though, and it is important that we remain vigilant.”

In terms of other animals who are susceptible, Dr. Spindel warns that influenza or flu viruses are occasionally transmitted from people to pigs, and the 2009 H1N1 virus has also been identified in turkeys. Pet parents of Vietnamese Potbellies, African Pygmies and other pet pigs should monitor their animals' health closely, notify their veterinarian of any signs of illness and speak to their veterinarian about influenza type A vaccines.

Meanwhile, flu season is upon us and pet parents should take common-sense preventative measures to keep their dogs and cats healthy:

If your dog is exhibiting flu-like symptoms, play it safe and avoid taking him to places like dog parks, where he can pass on germs or come into contact with unvaccinated or sick dogs.
Avoid letting your cat roam freely outside.
If your dog comes into frequent contact with other dogs or is kept in a kennel, the ASPCA recommends that you discuss with your veterinarian whether vaccination against canine influenza may be appropriate.
Note: canine influenza and H1N1 are not the same virus.
Talk to your vet about what flu vaccines are currently available, and be sure all your pets get vaccinated!
Don't let your pet share water bowls, food dishes or toys with other animals.
Make sure your pet is eating, drinking and playing as he normally does each day. If you notice your pet behaving unusually, or if he has flu-like symptoms, check in with your veterinarian immediately.

What to Do for Dogs Who Don't Like Alone Time
October 01, 2009

Most dogs prefer being with their families to being alone. But for pups suffering from separation anxiety , life without their owners -- even for an hour or two -- is almost unbearable. Dogs with this nervous condition are prone to fits of anxiety whenever they are left alone.

What sets it off?
Usually, a major shake-up in the normal routine -- things like moving into a new house, returning from a kennel stay, or adjusting to a new schedule that has an owner away from home more than usual. Symptoms can range from howling and barking to more destructive behaviors, such as chewing, scratching, and even relieving himself in the house.

How can you help your pooch cope?

Desensitization training may help remedy the situation. It works by gradually getting your dog used to your comings and goings, so he feels less overwhelmed. The key is to start small and move slow. Patience is of the essence.

How to Desensitize
Start by pretending you're getting ready to leave the house. Grab your keys, put on your shoes, etc. If your dog starts fussing, stay put and wait until he settles down. Repeat the process until he is calm watching you get ready.

Once he's comfortable with your preparations to leave, start introducing him to slightly greater degrees of separation. Let him get used to seeing you open the front door, and then actually step outside. Once you've gotten that far, start closing the door -- first for just a few seconds, then gradually longer. Remember to keep your entrances and exits calm and low-key, but when you leave, reassure your dog that you're coming back.

If your own efforts to ease your pet's anxiety aren't enough, talk to your vet about other ways you can help your pooch overcome it.

Let’s Stay Together: How to Help Your Pet Overcome Separation Anxiety
September 25

The month of September signifies a time of change: the season turns, school starts and vacations come to an end. Unfortunately, for many dogs, this departure from routine—especially the increased absence of two-legged friends—can be very unsettling. In response, poor Fido may start acting disruptive or destructive when left home alone. He may resort to urinating and defecating in the house, howling, chewing, pacing or trying to escape from the house or yard. When these issues are accompanied by signs of panic, distress or depression, they may indicate that your pet suffers from separation anxiety.

“Dogs re-homed during or after their adolescence are at greater risk of suffering separation anxiety than puppies,” says Jacque Schultz, ASPCA Senior Director of Community Outreach. “This is because lack of life experience has made them less resilient to changes in their routine and environment. They cling to their new guardian and panic when that guardian leaves home to go about his or her daily business.”

Of course, this doesn’t mean you should steer clear of adopting adolescent or elder pooches—especially since they make such great companions—so we’re here to help! When treating a dog with separation anxiety, the goal is to resolve the underlying issue by teaching him to enjoy—or at least tolerate—being left alone. Our experts have put together a list of top tips for helping your pooch overcome separation anxiety.

Here’s a sneak peek at their advice:

Doctor Knows Best:
The first step in tackling pet behavior issues is to rule out any underlying medical problems that might be causing them. For example, if your pet is urinating in the house, he might be suffering from a urinary tract infection, bladder stones, diabetes or kidney disease—all of which can cause urinary incontinence in dogs.

Conquer the Fear: If your pooch suffers from mild separation anxiety, try counter conditioning, or helping your dog associate being alone with something good, like a tasty treat. This might reduce or resolve the problem. To develop this kind of association, offer your dog a food-dispensing toy stuffed with healthy treats every time you leave the house.
Dogs Need Jobs: Providing lots of physical and mental stimulation is a vital part of treating many behavior problems, especially those involving anxiety. Exercise can enrich your dog’s life, decrease stress and provide appropriate outlets for normal behavior. Plus, a tired dog doesn’t have much excess energy to burn when he’s left alone!

Learn more about teaching your dog how to be comfortable being alone—read our complete guide to overcoming separation anxiety.

Urinary Incontinence

What Is Urinary Incontinence?
Urinary incontinence occurs when a housetrained dog loses control of his bladder. This can range in severity from occasional small urine leaks to inadvertent voiding of a large amount of urine.

What Causes Urinary Incontinence in Dogs?
Hormonal imbalance
Weak bladder sphincter
Urinary tract infection
Urinary stones
Spinal injury or degeneration (frequently seen in German shepherds)
Protruding intervertebral disc
Prostate disorders
Presence of other diseases that cause excessive water consumption, such as diabetes, kidney disease, hyperadrenocorticism
Congenital abnormalities
Anatomic disorders
Certain medications

What Are the General Symptoms of Urinary Incontinence in Dogs?
Dripping urine, which can irritate the skin and cause redness, is one of the most recognizable symptoms of incontinence, as is excessive licking of the vulva or penis area. Pet parents may also notice area where the dog sleeps.

What Should I Do If I Think My Dog Is Incontinent?
Consult with a veterinarian, who will confirm the diagnosis and try to determine a cause. The vet will take a thorough history, perform a physical exam and likely conduct a urinalysis to verify whether your dog is suffering from a bladder infection, which requires treatment with antibiotics. Other tests may include a urine culture, blood work, radiographs and ultrasound.

What Are Some Complications of Urinary Incontinence in Dogs?
Some bouts of urinary incontinence ebb and wane, but others can progress and cause more serious bladder and kidney infections.  A skin infection may result in areas that are in constant contact with urine.

Are Certain Dogs Prone to Urinary Incontinence?
Although urinary incontinence can afflict dogs of any age, breed or gender, it is most often seen in middle-aged to older spayed females; cocker spaniels, springer spaniels, Doberman pinschers and Old English sheepdogs are among the breeds often prone to incontinence.

How Is Urinary Incontinence Treated?

Treatment for incontinence will depend on its underlying cause. Medications can often effectively manage this condition and prevent everyday accidents. Some treatments focus on hormone therapy, while others, such as Propolin, strengthen the bladder muscles that control urine flow. Surgery also may be an option if medication alone doesn’t work. Collagen injections, a newer therapy for incontinence, appear to have promising results.

In cases of incontinence due to bladder stones, a protruding disc or congenital abnormality, surgery may be recommended.

How Can I Manage Urinary Incontinence?
Pile clean blankets and towels in your dog’s favorite sleeping spot, or put waterproof pads under her bedding to absorb any moisture.
Take your dog for more frequent walks, including first thing in the morning and shortly after she wakes from a nap.
Consider using doggie diapers, which are available at many pet stores.
Please consult with your vet before limiting your dog’s water intake.
Provide proper hygiene to prevent any related skin infections.
Always monitor your pet’s condition, since it can quickly accelerate to infection, especially in elderly dogs.
Getting Rid of Gas
September 17, 2009

Although the smell may be, um, unpleasant, it's perfectly normal for your pup to pass gas. But if you reach for the air freshener every time Fluffy enters the room, it's time to do something about the stench. Start by making some diet changes:

• Choose a good food. Some brands may contain filler ingredients that, along with causing flatulence, fail to provide much of a nutritional benefit. Ask your vet to recommend a food that's easy for your dog to digest.

• Skip the scraps. Though it's tempting to give a pooch table remnants, resist the urge. People food could spell trouble for your dog's digestion -- and gas could be the least of your problems.

• Divvy up the chow.
If your dog tends to scarf down her food, she's likely swallowing air, which has to make its way out of her system at some point (thus the expression "passing wind"). To prevent your pet from gulping too much at one time, divide a day's full portion into two smaller meals.

If you do all of these things and your pup still has persistent gas, make an appointment with your vet. Your dog could have a food allergy or sensitivity or a health problem.
A Pointed Question: Does Acupuncture Work on Dogs?
September 11, 2009

Some people swear by acupuncture to quell pain from injuries and certain health conditions. But could your best bud benefit from this age-old Chinese therapy? It may be worth a try.

Some vets recommend acupuncture for dogs to speed recovery from surgery, reduce pain from arthritis and other chronic diseases, and treat an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism). According to the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society, acupuncture is virtually painless and is safe when administered by a veterinarian who has the necessary skills. The length and number of sessions depend on the condition being treated.

So just how does it work? By stimulating specific points on the body with special needles, acupuncture is believed to balance the body's energy and restore proper function of vital organs. In the case of arthritis, it is thought that the energy -- or "chi" -- becomes blocked in the affected joint, and that placing the needles in a certain pattern increases blood flow to the area and tamps down inflammation.

Before trying acupuncture for your dog, talk to your vet. If you decide to pursue it, make sure the practitioner is a licensed vet who has formal acupuncture training.

Cancer Prevention in Older Dogs
September 11, 2009

Cancer is not only a risk for human beings—it can affect our canine companions, too. "Veterinary research estimates that the incidence of cancer in older dogs ranges from 50 to 75 percent," according to Dr. Louise Murray, ASPCA Director of Medicine at Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital (BMAH).

Such high numbers of the disease may have to do with innovations in pet health care, such as vaccines and deworming. “Nowadays, more pets are protected from parasites, heartworms and viral disease,” observes Dr. Murray. “As a result, they are living longer and developing cancer in their old age.”

Veterinary oncologists are also detecting cancer more often and at earlier stages with the help of sophisticated diagnostic tools such as ultrasound, CT scans and even MRIs for pets.

Though we cannot prevent all cancers, there are certain steps pet parents can take to greatly diminish the chances of their animal companion contracting the disease:
Spaying and neutering pets before their first heat cycles can significantly reduce the occurrence of mammary tumors and helps prevent ovarian, uterine and testicular cancers.
If you notice a mass on your pet's skin, have it examined immediately by a veterinarian. If it is cancerous, have it removed as soon as possible.
Don't allow your pet to be exposed to cigarette smoke.
Use pet-formulated sunscreen on vulnerable, fair-skinned pets.
Avoid chemical lawn products, which are proven to cause cancers in pets, including bladder cancer and lymphoma.

Read ASPCA veterinary tips on diagnosing, treating and preventing cancer in dogs.

Bold Strokes: Brushing Your Dog's Teeth
September 03, 2009

Wish your pooch could pop a breath mint? Better step up his dental care. Contrary to popular belief, dog breath isn't supposed to stink. If it does, it could be a sign of gum disease.

To keep Max's mouth in optimal health, the best thing you can do is brush, brush, brush. Like their human companions, dogs can have gingivitis, receding gums, and even tooth loss from too much tartar buildup, so regular cleanings are a must. To make the experience go as smoothly as possible, follow these simple steps:

1. Buy the right brush. Get a doggie toothbrush, which is smaller and has softer bristles. You can also opt for one that fits right over your fingertips. For toothpaste, buy one that's made specifically for your furry friend -- the human stuff can upset their tummies.

2. Prepare your pal. To get your dog comfortable with having his mouth touched, gently massage his lips. Next, dab them with a little toothpaste so he'll get accustomed to the taste. (See if he'll lick some off your fingers; if he does, reward him with a treat!)

3. Make your move. Gently lift up his lips, and hold the brush to his teeth at a 45-degree angle. Using small strokes, start by cleaning the upper canines, then finish the rest from top to bottom. Don't fret about brushing the tooth's inner surface -- doing the front is enough to tackle tartar.
Along with home brushing, your vet may recommend regular professional cleanings.
Road Rules for Rover
August 20, 2009

Got a pup who loves hitting the road and feeling the wind on his whiskers? Just as you do with your people passengers, follow a few important precautions to keep him safe while riding in the car.

No riding shotgun. Having your pup up front is way too dangerous and distracting, so he should always ride in the backseat. This helps protect your furry friend from making contact with the windshield or being injured by the airbag in the event of an accident. And don't let him ride in the back of a pickup truck. It's as unsafe as it looks.

Buckle up for safety. Ideally, your dog should ride in a travel carrier or crate that's secured to the seat so it doesn't slide around or tip over. Another option is a travel harness that works like a seat belt -- most pet stores carry them.

Go easy on breezy. Letting your dog catch a little breeze is fine; just be sure to leave your windows up at least halfway so that he can't stick out his head too far. Lock any automatic windows so he doesn't accidentally hit the "up" switch with his paw.

Don't leave him alone. Always keep an eye on your pooch and the temperature inside the car; the mercury can quickly rise, even on days that don't seem terribly warm. Hot temps can put your pup at risk of heat stroke and other health problems.
5 Tips for Tackling Tub Time
August 13, 2009

No, not all dogs bound toward the tub when you mention taking a bath. But you can make tub time less hairy for you and your pooch with these easy tips:

1. Take care of tangles before bathing. Especially mats; they're nearly impossible to comb through once they're wet!

2. Choose the right tub. Depending on your dog's size, use your sink or bathtub or, if weather permits, use a plastic tub outdoors.

3. Use restraints. Have a pup who won't stand still? Try keeping her leashed, or use a leash-like grooming tether that fastens to the tub wall with a suction cup. A rubber bath mat can help prevent slipping or sliding.

4. Set water on warm. Start by wetting down your dog's coat with cupfuls of warm -- not hot -- water. Or use the low setting on the spray head of your sink or shower. Gently work dog shampoo into her coat, massaging her from head to tail, keeping suds away from her eyes and mouth. Rinse thoroughly to avoid leaving any soap residue that may irritate her skin.

5. Apply the finishing touches. Give her a thorough once (or twice) over with a towel. If your pup has longish hair, comb her out while she's still damp. If you use a hair dryer to speed things along, keep it on a low, cool setting.

What's In Your Pooch's First-Aid Kit?
August 06, 2009|

Like parents tending to kids' skinned knees, most dog owners will occasionally have to nurse their pets' scrapes, scuffs, or other minor injuries. Yep, accidents happen. But you can make such mishaps more manageable by following the old scouting motto: Be prepared. That means having a well-stocked first-aid kit on hand at all times. Don't have one? Pick up a waterproof plastic box, and stock it with these essentials:

1. Vital Stats -- Write down your dog's name, breed, and date of birth; any medical conditions and allergies he has; and any medications he's taking (including doses). If he's been microchipped, jot down the number. Also include your home address and phone number; your vet's name and phone number; and your emergency vet clinic's phone number.

2. Important Records --
Make photocopies of important health records, including vaccinations, and seal them in a plastic bag inside your kit.

3. Basic Supplies -- Fill the rest of your kit with alcohol wipes, gauze, cotton balls, nonstick bandages, hydrogen peroxide, scissors, adhesive tape, cotton swabs, tweezers, an eyedropper, hand sanitizer or soap, a digital thermometer, a pair of latex gloves, and a tube of both topical first-aid cream and antibiotic ointment.

Also, look into taking a pet first-aid class. After all, learning how to handle accidents is the best way to help your dog live younger.











It’s summer time, and North Shore Animal League America wants the livin’ to be easy – especially for your pets! But along with fun in the sun comes a few summer hazards.

To ensure that your pet has it made in the shade, the Animal League has some helpful summer pet safety tips.

• Never leave your pet in a car! Parking in the shade and leaving the windows open is not an option. In a hot car, your pet's temperature can rise rapidly. It only takes minutes to reach dangerous levels leading to heatstroke and even death.

• Always make sure your pet has cool, clean water available . Dogs, and even cats, drink more on hot days, and water warms up quickly.

• Do not force your dog into the water if he/she is frightened . Some dogs do not like to swim. If your dog likes to swim, do not leave him/her unattended. Bathe your dog afterwards to remove all sand, mud, and chlorine. Also, be sure all pool chemicals are stored safely out of reach.

• Do not allow your dog to hang out of the window of a moving car . Objects such as rocks or tree limbs could seriously injure your pet, or he/she might fall or jump out.

• Do not allow your animals to ride in the back of a pick-up truck . They could be thrown out, or they may jump out.

• Take your pets inside if there is the possibility of a thunderstorm . Loud thunder may frighten them, or lightening could strike them.

• Do not walk your dog near fireworks . Besides the obvious danger, the loud noise can be very scary.
Have your dog checked for heartworm , and administer a heartworm preventative.

• Check your pet daily for fleas and ticks . Talk to your veterinarian and enquire about flea and tick preventatives to stop these insects from infesting your pet.

If your pet likes to relax in the shade of a yard or deck, watch out for yellow jackets, bees, toads, and snakes. Bite or sting symptoms are usually swelling of the face or affected areas. Once stung or bitten, the pet’s skin may start to look wrinkly or bumpy. This is a first indicator and If not treated by a veterinarian could result in death due to toxins taking over and shutting down the animal’s body or causing airway swelling and suffocation.

Know the signs of heat stress . In these warm summer months it is best to be aware of the signs of heat stress by exposure to extreme temperatures. Check the animal for signs of heavy panting, glazed eyes, a rapid heartbeat, restlessness, excessive thirst, lethargy, fever, dizziness, lack of coordination, profuse salivation, vomiting, a deep red or purple tongue, and unconsciousness.

1 • Move your pet into the shade or an air-conditioned area.
2 • Apply ice packs or cold towels to your pet's head, neck, and chest or immerse him in cool (not cold) water.
3 • Let your pet drink small amounts of cool water or lick ice cubes.
4 • Take your pet directly to a veterinarian.

Itchin’ and Scratchin’: Does Your Pet Suffer from Allergies?
July 24, 2009

According to the ASPCA, more than 20 percent of pets may suffer from some sort of allergy. Allergic reactions in cats and dogs are caused by inhaling, ingesting or having physical contact with an allergen, and the resulting symptoms can cause great discomfort to our furry friends. Furthermore, dogs and cats may persistently lick and scratch itchy areas, causing skin irritation, hair loss and, in some cases, skin and ear infections.

We all want our pets to be comfortable and healthy, so it’s extremely important to determine the source of an allergy and treat it appropriately. Flea allergies are especially problematic during the summer months, and need special attention because they can cause serious health problems like anemia.

If you suspect your pet is suffering from allergies, talk to your vet about determining the exact cause and a specific treatment program. Here are a few .


Tree, grass, weed, mold, mildew and dust pollens
Fleas and flea-control products
Prescription drugs
Cleaning products
Cigarette smoke
Rubber and plastic materials

Removing the offending allergen from your home is the best way to combat allergies. Check out our other expert tips for treatment:

Prevention is the best remedy for allergies caused by fleas. See your veterinarian for advice about safe flea control products for your pet.

If dust is the problem, clean your pet's bedding once a week and vacuum at least twice weekly—this includes rugs, curtains and any other materials that gather dust.
Weekly bathing may help relieve itching and remove environmental allergens and pollens from your pet’s skin.

If your pet suffers from a suspected food allergy, she may need to be given a prescription or hydrolyzed protein diet to determine the exact cause of the irritation.

Drop That Shoe: How to Avoid Teething Mishaps
July 23, 2009

It's a risk all puppy owners take: having a favorite pair of shoes -- or even a sofa -- fall victim to a pooch's teething. Protect your pumps, loafers, clogs, or couch from Fido's developing chompers with these simple tips.

* Give her chew toys. Most puppies chew to ease tooth and gum pain, not to intentionally destroy. So your pup will likely enjoy gnawing on a few good chew toys as much, if not more, than your Jimmy Choo slingbacks. But if she keeps sinking her teeth into one, take it away, firmly tell her "no," and replace the shoe with one of her toys. When she chews on the toy, reinforce the behavior with, "You're a good girl."

* Keep it interesting. Switch out your pup's chew toys every couple of months so she doesn't get bored and seek out alternatives. Avoid confusion by steering clear of toys that resemble household items -- like those squeaky rubber shoes -- until she gets older.

* Puppy-proof as needed. When you're out and about, put your pooch in her crate or an area of the house that's been stripped of all potentially chewable items, except her toys. Move plants and electrical cords out of reach, too.

* Run her around. Give your pup plenty of opportunities to be active and get some exercise. This will help prevent two of the leading causes of destructive chewing: boredom and restlessness.

4 Tricks to Help Break the Jumping Habit
July 16, 2009

A fuzzy little puppy leaping onto your lap sounds downright adorable, no? Now, fast forward a few years, and imagine that dog full grown, jumping on you with all his weight. Or better yet, with dirty paws! Not so cute.

Luckily, you can nip the jumping habit in the bud with a little training. The key is to focus on the times when his desire to jump is often the strongest: when he greets people or other pups.

Try these 4 tactics:

1. Play it cool.
Making a huge fuss when you walk in the door will likely send your dog into a tailspin, leading him to bowl you over with love. Instead, first tell your pup to sit, and when he does, calmly greet him and offer a "good boy."

2. Practice, practice, practice. Get your pup used to your comings and goings by rehearsing your entry; leave through the back door or garage, and come in through the front door. Repeat this as many times as needed, making sure to praise him each time he greets you appropriately.

3. Turn your back.
If your pup jumps up on you, resist the urge to push him away with your hands -- he may think you're trying to play. Instead, turn your body away from him. Once he's back down on all fours, ask him to sit, and then reinforce the behavior by telling him, "That's a good boy."

4. Train your guests.
Always have your dog sit before opening your door to visitors, and kindly ask your guests to hold off on petting your pooch until he is sitting.

Fourth of July Festivities:
Should You Bring Your Pet?

As the country dons its red, white and blue to celebrate Independence Day, nothing says patriotism like a good old-fashioned barbecue with a side of fireworks. But beware pet parents, what's fun for people can be a downright drag for our furry friends.

The ASPCA recommends keeping your pooch indoors as much as possible during backyard parties and Fourth of July festivities, even if he is a pro picnicker. From toxic food and beverages to raucous guests and fireworks, the holiday weekend is a minefield of potential pet problems.

"Even the most timid dog can leap a six-foot fence if he's spooked by loud noises," says Dr. Pamela Reid, Vice President of the ASPCA Animal Behavior Center. If your dog shows signs of distress from fireworks or boisterous revelers, Dr. Reid suggests giving him a Kong toy stuffed with peanut butter. "The persistent licking should calm his nerves," she says.

The ASPCA offers some more expert advice to keep your pet singing, "Oh Say Can You See," all the way to the fifth and beyond:

Keep your pet on the wagon. Since alcohol is potentially poisonous to pets, place all wine, beer and spirits well out of paws' way.

Avoid scraps from the grill. Stick with your pet's normal diet--any change, even for a day, can result in stomach upset. Certain foods like onions, avocado,
chocolate, grapes and raisins are especially toxic to pets.

Skip the sunscreen. Avoid lathering your pet with any insect repellent or
sunscreen not intended for the four-legged kind. Ingestion can result in drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst and lethargy.

Stay fire-smart. Keep your pet away from fireworks, matches, citronella candles and lighter fluid, which if eaten can irritate the stomach, lungs and central
nervous system.

Be cool near the pool. Don't leave pets unsupervised around a pool or lake--not all dogs are expert swimmers! Also, pools aren't large water bowls--they contain chlorine and other toxic chemicals that can cause stomach problems.

As always, if you suspect your pet has ingested something poisonous from the picnic table, please contact your vet or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.
http://www2.aspca.org/site/R?i=YNT-Xhj_R0nnBnrDfL7xDA .

And be sure to check out our more complete list of holiday pet care tips for a safe and happy Fourth! http://www2.aspca.org/site/R?i=qn7o6xTSVAN4ygnQkCgGjg .

Submitted by Marge Escalet
July 1, 2009

Apply a gob of liquid soap to a cotton ball.

Cover the tick with the soap soaked cotton ball and swab it for 15 - 20 seconds.

The tick will come out stuck to the cotton ball when you lift it away.













Summertime... easy living... but watch that heat!
Summer '09 Newsletter

If you even suspect your pet may have heatstroke, is dehydrated, or anything that could be potentially serious -- take him/her to your veterinarian or animal hospital immediately!  Do not wait!
On the way, you could use a cool compress if you suspect your dog or cat is overheated.
What are the signs of heat stroke?
Intense, rapid panting, wide eyes, salivating, staggering and weakness can be signs of heat stroke.  Advanced victims will collapse and become unconscious.  Gums will be pale and dry.  If you suspect heat stroke, take your pet's temperature -- anything above 105 is dangerous, especially if it remains at or above for any length of time.  If your pet seems highly agitated when you return, take him/her immediately to the nearest vet or animal hospital with the air-conditioning at full blast.
What can you do for  heat stroke?
The best thing is to get your pet to veterinary care as soon as possible. If you think that your pet's temperature (taken rectally), is at a dangerous level (above 105) and you feel you cannot get your pet to your vet in time, put him/her in a tub of COOL (not cold) running water or spray with a hose.  Make sure the cool water actually makes contact with the skin and doesn't just run off the fur.

The most important thing is to GET YOUR PET TO QUALIFIED MEDICAL CARE! 
Some cities have Animal EMTs, that you can call.  Have all these numbers listed where you can easily get them in times of emergency. 
What are some ways to avoid heat stroke?
• do not leave pets inside cars or enclosed spaces, in direct sunlight or out in the summer heat too long.  Other things to consider:
 • always provide sufficient water
• keep stress levels low
• do not over exercise in the heat and humidity
• some factors may put certain animals at higher risk: age, obesity, cardiovascular disease, physical condition, animals not use to hot climates, thick fur and undercoats, brachycephalic breeds.
• hot sidewalks and other summer-scorched surfaces can cause heat trauma to your pet's pads.
Ask yourself:
does my pet really want to go to the parade, flea market, picnic with me, or is it what I want?  Is it too hot for him to be out most of the day in the heat and humidity?  If it's going to be hot for you, it is definitely going to be too hot for your pet.  Best to leave your beloved pet in the coolness and safety of home.

Fabulous Fur from the Inside Out
June 18, 2009

If Lady's fur is getting hair-raising looks despite your dogged attempts at grooming, she may need more of these important nutrients: essential fatty acids (EFAs).

For healthy skin and hair, dogs should have sufficient amounts of EFAs, like omega-6 and omega-3 fats. And because the body can't produce the stuff, dogs need to get it through diet. Most pet foods should contain enough EFAs to keep the coat in good shape, but if your pup's is dull, dry, or scaly -- or if you see hair loss or sores caused by excessive scratching -- she may need some extra.

EFAs are found in vegetable oils, such as sunflower, as well as in both fish and flaxseed oils. And you can boost the amount in your dog's diet with supplements, either in liquid or capsule form. But before doing this, your vet needs to check out your pup's coat to assess its condition.

And if it turns out that your dog does have a skin or hair problem, you should ask your vet to suggest the best supplement (and proper dosage) to give to your canine pal.

Besides their fur-boosting benefits, EFAs may ease arthritis and allergy symptoms by reducing inflammation.

Tips for hitting the road with the pets
Unleashed:A blog for animals and the people who love them
June 17, 2009

Guideposts.com recently ran a helpful article with some solid tips on traveling over the summer with your pets.

Here are a few of the things they recommend when taking your pet on a road trip:

1. Pack a goody bag.

You'll need to bring a leash, plastic bags for curbside cleanup, a familiar toy, a container of water and a bowl. Any old plastic container will do. It's also a good idea to put together a basic first aid kit. And see that your pet is wearing a collar with up-to-date ID tags.

2. Exercise before you leave .

Make sure your dog has enough time outside or your cat has an opportunity to use the litter box before you leave. Take your dog for a nice long walk or play vigorously so she'll rest on the trip. Feeding just before you leave only increases the odds of needing more pit stops along the way!

3. Designate a travel place in the car .
Make sure your pet is not crawling all over and distracting the driver. Some pets do well in a crate or pet carrier. Wire barriers can confine a dog to the rear of a vehicle. Other pets enjoy being closer to the action.

4. Plan for breaks.
Don't expect to make record time. If your trip is more than a few hours, you'll need to stop for fresh air and a little exercise.

5. Be mindful of the heat.
Keep the car well ventilated. Never leave your pet unattended in a vehicle. Even with windows cracked open, temperatures build up fast.

Dogs May Need Diets, Too
June 11, 2009

You've no doubt heard about the human obesity epidemic, but did you know that pets have practically caught up with us? Check out this startling statistic: up to 40% of dogs in the United States are overweight or obese. And as a result, there is a government-approved "fat drug" for our four-legged friends.

But before asking about a prescription for your portly pooch, get your dog on a diet and exercise plan. Not only will this help Rex with his weight loss, but it could help you trim down, too.

Case in point: Researchers at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago rounded up 36 obese or overweight people who owned dogs that were obese and put the people and their pups on lower-calorie diets. The researchers also advised owners to get

20–30 minutes of daily exercise. The pup owners exercised more compared with overweight or obese adults who did not own dogs. And because they spent much of their time exercising with their dogs, the pets really ended up dropping the pounds. In fact, most lost about 15% of their body weight!

So do yourself and your dog a favor by staying active and eating healthfully. Both are vital for your -- and your pet's -- long-term health and happiness.
Spring Garden Safety
May 28, 2009

For your pup's safety, fence off your spring garden from the rest of your dog's stomping ground. Otherwise, your gorgeous greenery may pose serious health risks for your pooch.

Problem plants and flowers: If consumed, many garden picks can be poison to your dog, including autumn crocus, azaleas, bird-of-paradise, buttercup, Christmas rose, daffodil, day lily, iris, oleander, foxglove, morning glory, mountain mahogany, lily of the valley, rhododendron, and periwinkle.

Vegetable-patch pitfalls: Onions, chives, and garlic, which pets find quite tasty, contain compounds that can cause anemia. The leafy green parts of potato plants also can be toxic.

Frightening fruits: The seeds or pits in apples, plums, cherries, peaches, and apricots contain cyanide, which can cause seizures.

Chemical concerns: A 3- to 4-foot wire-mesh fence should keep your pooch from munching on your garden favorites. But if you think there's even a slight chance that your pup could jump over or dig under the fence, treat your plants, flowers, vegetables, and vines with products that are pet-safe. All-natural fertilizers and organic weed killers are available at many nurseries. And along with keeping your best friend out of harm's way, you'll be protecting the environment.

Taking Great Care of Your Dog on a Budget
May 14, 2009

Are tough financial times affecting your pet-care budget? Don't worry -- it's entirely possible to spend less and still take great care of your dog. Here are some tips for saving your hard-earned cash without slighting your best bud:

• Ask your vet to recommend a less expensive but equally nutritious brand of dog food.

• Appoint yourself (or a family member) your pup's personal groomer.

• Buy supplies, like treats and food, in bulk whenever possible, and look for toys in the bargain bins.

One thing you should never skimp on is your dog's medical care. Routine checkups may seem unnecessary if he looks and acts healthy, but these appointments give your vet the opportunity to spot not-so-obvious problems. And the best thing you can do for your pup's well-being -- and your wallet -- is to avoid an emergency situation, if possible.

Recent home foreclosures and job losses have forced many people to take their dogs to animal shelters or rescue groups. And with fewer people in a financial position to adopt, some of these facilities are filled past capacity. If you are considering adopting a canine friend, and you have the financial means to do so, please visit your local rescue group or shelter.

“No matter how little money and how few possesions you own, having a Dog makes you rich.”


















Finding Pit Bull Housing
Are you and your pit bull looking to rent a house or apartment? Get the right information from a woman who knows!
By Jessica Smith, Best Friends volunteer
May 7, 2009

It is not easy to find a rental that will accommodate a pit bull. In today’s tough economic times, it is becoming even more arduous. People are losing their homes and are unable to find anywhere to take their pit bulls, so, many are ending up in shelters.

Shelters are not a good place for dogs, especially family dogs that once had a home and a family of their own. Before getting any dog, but especially a pit bull, you truly need to examine your future and make a smart decision on whether or not you will be able to take care of this dog for his entire life. Dogs are a commitment, and pit bulls are an even bigger one.

When you decide to move, make sure to allow yourself enough time to research what is out there. Most commercial insurance policies do not cover pit bulls or any other exploited breeds, but some do. Most apartment complexes do not allow dogs over 30 pounds. With this in mind, options are drastically narrowed down, but there is still hope so do not stop there!

You do not want to have to hide your dog, so be open and honest with landlords. Tell them you have a pit bull and request that they meet him or her so they can see for themselves that you have a good dog. If you are currently renting and your landlord has approved your dog, ask for a referral letter.

You have to think in the future
If your rental agreement clearly states “No pit bulls” and your landlord finds out that you are harboring a pit bull in your apartment, you will undoubtedly be given you two options: 1- Get rid of Fido or 2- Move out. Unfortunately, many people choose the first option, but if you are smart about this process from the beginning, you will never be faced with that ultimatum. If there is a possibility you might be moving, start looking for pit bull friendly rentals now!

Research, Research, Research!

This cannot be stressed enough. Use your resources. Talk to other pit bull owners. Go to a local shelter and see if they have any recommendations. Post an ad on Craigslist or another site. Reach out! Speaking for myself, and a million other pit bull lovers, if someone came up to me and said “I’m going to have to give up my dog if I can’t find somewhere to live with him,” I will drop everything I am doing to help find you a home.

Personally, I posted an ad on Craigslist when I was looking for a pit bull friendly rental and I received an abundance of responses! I was descriptive about my dogs’ breeds, ages, names, history and included my price range. I also attached a couple pictures of the dogs. Most of the responses I received were for houses that were farther than I wanted to drive but, hands down, I would have taken a longer commute to keep my dogs.

Be innovative
If you find a rental home that is perfect for you but they don’t allow pit bulls, ask them why. If their answer is due to insurance, ask them if they would be willing to let you get a quote from someone who does cover the breed. Why not? If there is an increase in the cost of insurance, offer to pay the difference with your monthly rent. Or offer to get your own renter’s insurance policy. I recently obtained a quote from State Farm for a policy and they will cover ANY dog as long as it has not bitten anyone and has not been trained for attack purposes. I have to add; it was very inexpensive coming in at $125 per year which is only about $10.50 per month!

Train your dog!
Take your dog to obedience classes. Walk your dog, run with your dog. If your dog is well behaved, it will make a difference.

Happy hunting!

Can My Pet Catch Swine Flu?
May 1, 2009

Don't worry, pet parents! The recent, rapid outbreak of the H1N1 virus, previously known as swine flu, appears to present little risk of infecting our furry friends. In the past few weeks, only humans have been affected by the new virus, and it's still unknown how the virus will impact other species.

"Currently there's no data demonstrating any risk of dogs and cats contracting this strain of the virus," says Dr. Louise Murray, Director of Medicine at the ASPCA's Bergh Memorial Hospital in New York City. "However, owners of pet pigs, as well as farmers, should monitor their animals' health more closely and take steps to limit transmission from humans to pigs and vice versa."

If you do count a pet pig as your animal companion, please consult with your veterinarian about a Type A influenza vaccine, which is available and recommended for all healthy swine.

Dr. Miranda Spindel, Director of ASPCA Veterinary Outreach, adds: "Swine influenza or swine flu is one of the leading causes of respiratory disease in swine throughout the world. Like most influenza A viruses, swine flu generally causes high levels of illness in pigs, but fatalities are uncommon."  

For the latest information about the outbreak and your pet's health, please visit the Center for Disease Control (http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu). If you suspect your pet is ill or if he exhibits any sudden changes in behavior, please contact your veterinarian immediately.

Read the ASPCA's official statement on swine flu.
Shedding: How to Keep the Fur from Flying
April 30, 2009

A dog that doesn't shed? Not unless it's one that's totally hairless. Shedding is the part of your pup's biology that lets a new coat come in. Fortunately, one simple thing can help keep more fur on Fluffy and less on your favorite sweater.

Brush, brush, brush. The more hair you're able to dispose of, the less of it you'll find on your clothes, couch, carpet, and car seats. Short-haired dogs should be brushed two or three times a week, while medium- to long-haired dogs should be groomed daily, especially during the spring and the summer. If your pooch develops severe mats, take her to your vet or a professional groomer -- careful shaving is the only way to take care of the problem.

And ask what kind of brush is best for your dog's coat.

Let your vet know if your pooch starts shedding more than usual or if you notice bald spots. Excessive hair loss is not a part of normal aging, and it could be a sign of a health condition, including cancer, ringworm, mange, or a skin infection.

A bonus of regular brushing, besides keeping your house as hair-free as possible: It'll keep your pup's coat cleaner, softer, and completely petable!

Secondhand Smoke:
Silent Killer Hurts Pets, Too

April 24, 2009

Health officials often talk about the dangers of living with a smoker, but few pet parents are aware that our animal companions face similar risks—from respiratory problems to cancer—when exposed to secondhand smoke. New research suggests that secondhand smoke is unsafe at all levels—for humans and pets—so it's time to get serious about ditching those butts for good.

One recent study shows that nearly 30 percent of pets live with at least one smoker. This is a grave concern, according to Dr. Sharon Gwaltney-Brant, Medical Director of the ASPCA's Animal Poison Control Center, since secondhand smoke can damage the nervous systems of both cats and dogs.

"Tobacco smoke has been shown to contain numerous cancer-causing compounds, making it hazardous for animals as well as humans," says Dr. Gwaltney-Brant. "Exposure to secondhand smoke can cause many of the same harmful inflammatory changes in the airways and lungs of dogs as their human counterparts."

Cats who live with smokers are prone to developing malignant lymphoma, perhaps as a result of ingesting carcinogenic residue when it settles on their fur. Kitty's canine counterparts are especially vulnerable to secondhand smoke's respiratory effects, and can develop life-threatening nasal and lung cancers.

Nicotine—found in cigarettes and other tobacco products—is also highly toxic to animals if ingested. A dog who accidentally eats tobacco may develop weakness, muscle twitching, decreased breathing rate, and finally collapse, coma and possibly death. The ASPCA strongly recommends keeping your pet away from tobacco as well as secondhand smoke.

In honor of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month this April, why not resolve to avoid smoking around your pet? Smoke outside and preserve the lungs of your two- and four-legged family members. Or better yet, toss those cigarettes in the trash—your pet will thank you! For more information about protecting the health of your furry friend, please visit the ASPCA’s Guide to Pet Care.

How Spaying Helps Your Dog Stay Healthy
April 23, 2009

If you could do one thing to help your precious little Lucy stay healthy, you'd do it in a heartbeat, right? So if you haven't done so already, ask your vet about spaying your pet.

Here are the ways it could help your pup's well-being and give you some peace of mind:

• No worries about reproductive cancers. Since the ovaries and uterus are surgically removed, there's no chance of tumors growing in the reproductive tract.

• Your dog won't be in heat. "Heat," or estrus, is a female dog's mating period.

• During this time, which occurs every 3 to 6 months and lasts up to 4 weeks, dogs will have vaginal bleeding -- that's something you'll have to deal with. And because your pet wants a ready-and-willing male, she may wander off in the neighborhood to find one. If the thought of your pooch on the prowl makes you squirm, picture frisky hounds howling at your door!

• A much lower risk of breast cancer. Animals spayed before their first heat cycle (usually at 6 to 9 months of age) have substantially lower odds of developing breast cancer.

• No uterine infections. Spaying a dog at any age eliminates infections of the uterus, which can be quite serious.

• Spaying helps to reduce pet overpopulation.

Sharing Your Sofa: Set the Rules Up Front
April 09, 2009

Want Daisy to cuddle with you on the couch, or is the sofa reserved for your R&R? Once you make a decision, stand your ground: If you let your pooch have a little leeway, she'll make a habit of lying on your loveseat or curling up in your favorite chair. That's because dogs don't know when they're allowed or when they're forbidden (think they know muddy paws means "no way"?).

If you've decided that the furniture is off-limits, some basic training is in order.

Put a leash and slip collar on your pooch and leave the room. Then, watch what your dog is doing. As soon as you see her leap onto the furniture, grab the leash and tug it while firmly saying "no." And when she's back on the floor, praise her so that she knows it's the proper place. Or say you're lounging in your chaise, and your dog looks like she wants to join you. Use the "sit," "stay," and "lie down" commands.

You can also try giving your pet a dog bed or pillow. With her own place to rest, she may no longer crave your creature comforts.


The 3 P's of House-Training Success
April 02, 2009

Predictability, patience, and praise. These things go hand in hand for successful house-training. Here's how to get your pup to go where he's supposed to:

Set a schedule. Plan to feed and walk him at the same time every day.

Stick to the menu. Don’t change his diet. And give the same amount at each meal. No table scraps!

Pick a spot. Right after eating, take him out to the same spot each time. After he does his business, heap on the praise!

If you catch him in the act . . . don’t have a cow. Firmly tell your pup “No!” or “Stop,” and take him to his designated area -- and remember to praise him when he goes. If you see an accident after the fact, never drag your pup back to the crime scene. He will be confused and hurt, which could set back all of your hard work.

The first 7 to 12 weeks of puppyhood is the ideal time to begin house-training -- that's when your little guy can learn best. But at this age, pups can't fully control their bladders, and accidents will happen. So that throw rug you spent a mint on . . . better put it in a safe place!























March 27, 2009
Can You Tell If an Animal Has Been Abused?
April kicks off Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month—but you can't fight cruelty if you don't know what it looks like. Recognizing signs of abuse is simple, right? Not quite, say ASPCA experts. Many people interpret an animal’s aggression, fear or timidity as a surefire clue that the animal has suffered cruelty—but looking solely at a pet’s behavior doesn’t tell the whole story.

“It’s almost impossible to make conclusions based on a pet’s behavior alone,” says the ASPCA Animal Behavior Center’s Kristen Collins, CPDT. “The best way to tell whether a pet is being or has been abused is to observe his body and the surrounding environment.”
ASPCA Special Agent Kristi Adams agrees. “The clues I look for when investigating a scene," says Adams, "are whether the animal is being provided with adequate food, water and shelter, and whether he or she appears injured or sick.”
Check out our complete list of telltale signs that an animal needs help.
Here’s a sneak peek at some physical and environmental signs of animal abuse:
- Collar so tight that it’s caused a neck wound or has become embedded in the pet’s neck
- Open wounds, signs of multiple healed wounds or an ongoing injury or illness that isn’t being treated
- Extreme thinness or emaciation—bones may be visible beneath the skin
- Pets are tied up alone outside for long periods of time without adequate food or water.
- Pets are kept in an area littered with feces, garbage, broken glass or other objects that could harm them
If you suspect an animal is being abused, don’t keep it to yourself — report it to your local authorities. “Reporting suspected animal cruelty ensures that animals in jeopardy receive prompt and often lifesaving care,” says ASPCA Supervisory Special Investigator Annemarie Lucas. “By making a complaint to the police or humane society in your area—which you can do anonymously—you help ensure that animals in need are rescued and that perpetrators of animal cruelty are brought to justice."
Please read our Reporting Cruelty FAQ for more information, and have a safe and proactive Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month.3. Dog

• • •

Walking 101: Tips to Make Your Outings Safe & Fun
It can be a job or a joy, pet parents, but we’ve all got to do it—yup, we’re talking about walking the dog! The beginning of spring is a great time to consider some ways to reinvent this daily ritual and make it more enjoyable for the both of you. Whether you’re a proud new pup parent or a long-time, experienced dog handler, our experts have got some advice for you. Who says you can’t teach an old owner new tricks?

 Among the tips you’ll find in the complete article:
- "Retractable leashes are best reserved for walks in the park, when it’s safe for a dog to explore a bit further away from her pet parent,” says the ASPCA Animal Behavior Center’s Kristen Collins, CPDT. NOT a good idea if you’re walking in an area with high foot traffic or off-leash dogs, as the long line may get wrapped around your dog, a person’s leg or another dog.
- Walk with buddies. If your dog likes other dogs, consider group walks. You can either borrow a friend’s dog to accompany you, or invite family and friends who have dogs to meet you somewhere.
- Even though popular spring plants like tulips and daffodils add much to our landscape, they can cause significant stomach problems for our furry friends. If your pooch likes to stop and smell—or nibble—the flowers, keep him on a short leash during walks.

Read the complete article Dog Walking 101.

Infectious Water
March 26, 2009

Man's best friend can share more than the good things in life. Dogs can also share a pesky parasite.

The parasite Giardia is contracted by dogs that drink contaminated water, such as that found in puddles or lakes or even on wet kennel floors.

Symptoms include diarrhea, weight loss, and hair loss, and puppies are at highest risk. Keep your dog away from water sources that may be contaminated and from wildlife fecal matter, and make sure to wash your hands after playing with pets.

See your vet if you suspect that your dog has been infected.

Is your dog chewing you out of house and home?
March 19, 2009

Dogs tend to chew or gnaw on inappropriate objects when they're bored, anxious, or craving attention. Designating play zones throughout your house and equipping each with a few pup-friendly chew toys and treats can cut down on the destruction. If you catch your dog in the midst of destructive chewing, take the item from him or her and walk away. On the other hand, if your dog is happily chomping on a toy, stick, or bone, reinforce the good behavior with enthusiastic praise and petting.


Puppies, whose immune systems are not yet fully developed, are most susceptible to parvovirus, which is transmitted through fecal matter and vomit of infected dogs. It can be brought into a puppy's environment on someone's shoes or clothes or even on the tires of their car. It's extremely hardy and can survive in the environment for up to nine months. A pet owner doesn't know a dog is infected until the symptoms develop.

"It's a devastating disease when it hits," says Kathleen Heneghan, past president of the Chicago Veterinary Medical Association.

Symptoms include bloody vomiting and/or diarrhea, which can lead to extreme fluid loss and dehydration until shock and death result. Also, bacteria can invade the animal's entire body, resulting in the formation of septic toxins and death. It is not a threat to humans. With early and intensive treatment the survival rate is nearly 80 percent.





























17 Plants that Poison Pets
March 13, 2008

The approach of Spring is a perfect time to learn what’s poisonous to your pet. In 2008, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center handled more than 140,000 cases of pets exposed to toxins, many of which were everyday household items.

Some of the worst offenders were those living things that keep your home fresh and green—household plants!

Remember, if you suspect your pet has ingested something poisonous, please contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.

Members of the Lilium spp. are considered to be highly toxic to cats. While the poisonous component has not yet been identified, it is clear that with even ingestions of very small amounts of the plant, severe kidney damage could result.


Ingestion of Cannabis sativa by companion animals can result in depression of the central nervous system and incoordination, as well as vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, increased heart rate, and even seizures and coma.

Sago Palm

All parts of Cycas Revoluta are poisonous, but the seeds or “nuts” contain the largest amount of toxin. The ingestion of just one or two seeds can result in very serious effects, which include vomiting, diarrhea, depression, seizures and liver failure.

Tulip/Narcissus bulbs
The bulb portions of Tulipa/Narcissus spp. contain toxins that can cause intense gastrointestinal irritation, drooling, loss of appetite, depression of the central nervous system, convulsions and cardiac abnormalities.

Members of the Rhododenron spp. contain substances known as grayantoxins, which can produce vomiting, drooling, diarrhea, weakness and depression of the central nervous system in animals. Severe azalea poisoning could ultimately lead to coma and death from cardiovascular collapse.

All parts of Nerium oleander are considered to be toxic, as they contain cardiac glycosides that have the potential to cause serious effects—including gastrointestinal tract irritation, abnormal heart function, hypothermia and even death.

Castor Bean
The poisonous principle in Ricinus communis is ricin, a highly toxic protein that can produce severe abdominal pain, drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst, weakness and loss of appetite. Severe cases of poisoning can result in dehydration, muscle twitching, tremors, seizures, coma and death.

Cylamen species contain cyclamine, but the highest concentration of this toxic component is typically located in the root portion of the plant. If consumed, Cylamen can produce significant gastrointestinal irritation, including intense vomiting. Fatalities have also been reported in some cases.

This plant contains components that can produce gastrointestinal irritation, as well as those that are toxic to the heart, and can seriously affect cardiac rhythm and rate.

Taxus spp. contains a toxic component known as taxine, which causes central nervous system effects such as trembling, incoordination, and difficulty breathing. It can also cause significant gastrointestinal irritation and cardiac failure, which can result in death.

Common garden plants popular around Easter, Amaryllis species contain toxins that can cause vomiting, depression, diarrhea, abdominal pain, hypersalivation, anorexia and tremors.

Autumn Crocus
Ingestion of Colchicum autumnale by pets can result in oral irritation, bloody vomiting, diarrhea, shock, multi-organ damage and bone marrow suppression.

These popular blooms are part of the Compositae family, which contain pyrethrins that may produce gastrointestinal upset, including drooling, vomiting and diarrhea, if eaten. In certain cases depression and loss of coordination may also develop if enough of any part of the plant is consumed.

English Ivy
Also called branching ivy, glacier ivy, needlepoint ivy, sweetheart ivy and California ivy, Hedera helix contains triterpenoid saponins that, should pets ingest, can result in vomiting, abdominal pain, hypersalivation and diarrhea.

Peace Lily (AKA Mauna Loa Peace Lily)
Spathiphyllum contains calcium oxalate crystals that can cause oral irritation, excessive drooling, vomiting, difficulty in swallowing and intense burning and irritation of the mouth, lips and tongue in pets who ingest.

Pothos (both Scindapsus and Epipremnum) belongs to the Araceae family. If chewed or ingested, this popular household plant can cause significant mechanical irritation and swelling of the oral tissues and other parts of the gastrointestinal tract.

Schefflera and Brassaia actinophylla contain calcium oxalate crystals that can cause oral irritation, excessive drooling, vomiting, difficulty in swallowing and intense burning and irritation of the mouth, lips and tongue in pets who ingest.

How Does Your Garden Grow?
March 12, 2009

Gardeners who use cocoa mulch unwittingly put dogs at risk.

Cocoa mulch
Cocoa beans

The mulch is made from the hulls of cocoa beans and contains theobromine, an ingredient also found in chocolate, which can be harmful to dogs. Attracted by the scent, some dogs eat the mulch, consuming quantities large enough to be toxic. To keep your dog safe and your garden green, use bark mulch as an alternative.


















Why Dogs Howl: A Howling Primer
Elizabeth Wasserman
March 8, 2009
A few years ago, veterinarian Sophia Yin took her Australian cattle dog, Zoe, to a horse ranch and let the dog sleep in the stables overnight. In the middle of the night, Dr. Yin was startled by a strange, loud howling sound. "It sounded like the loneliest dog in the world," recalls Dr. Yin, DVM, a certified applied animal
behaviorist who works at San Francisco Veterinary Specialists. She then realized it was her own pet, Zoe. “She thought she had been left and abandoned,” Dr. Yin recalls.

Your dog may howl when you least expect it -- as you’re warbling a tune at the piano, when a fire engine siren sounds or if your dog is left alone in a strange place. Howling may not be music to your ears, but to your pooch, it is a throwback to its wolf instincts. The purposes, meanings and triggers of howling may surprise you.

Why Dogs Howl
Howling -- like barking -- is one of the ways that dogs communicate with other dogs, and to a lesser degree, with people. Studies have found that dogs bark for different reasons. While less research has been done on dog howling, researchers believe that dog howling is a throwback to wolf heritage and that howls also have a variety of meanings.

Dogs often howl out of boredom or loneliness, seeking to communicate with others, as was the case with Dr. Yin’s dog. They also may be trying to summon other dogs or alert them as to their location, identity, territory and more. In the wild, wolves howl in an attempt to reassemble the pack after individuals travel far and wide. Dogs -- descendants of wolves -- may sometimes be trying to do the same.

“Because howling is long and sustained, its carrying distance is further than a bark, which is short and brief,” says Lisa Peterson, communications director for the American Kennel Club. “It’s like a ‘long distance’ doggie telephone call, since the long, drawn-out sound can travel for distances of several miles."
Howling may be triggered by sirens, singing or other noises the dog finds similar to howling, says Dan Estep, Ph.D., a certified applied animal behaviorist in Colorado and co-author of Help! I'm Barking and I Can't Be Quiet (Island Dog Press 2006). Social facilitation convinces dogs to copy another dog's behavior, such as when one pooch barks at the mail carrier and the rest of the dogs on the block do the same.

Prolific Howlers
Some dog breeds tend to howl more than others, such as hound dogs or Northern breeds, like Siberian huskies or Alaskan malamutes. That’s because humans have encouraged this type of vocalization over the years for hunting, sledding and other activities. “The hunter needs to hear them, so they want to breed a dog with a loud bay or howl that they can hear over distances,” Peterson explains.

On occasion, dogs will preface a howl with a few short barks. Researchers believe that this type of howl is meant to try to attract extra attention, sort of like tapping a fork on a glass in a crowded room. Other research has found that dogs have distinctive barks, and the same is likely true of howls. “With wolves, the thing about howling that makes it different from barking is that it’s not only longer but more musical in tone,” Dr. Yin says. "It can be carried farther and carry more of an individual characteristic.”

How to Control Howling
If your pup’s howling gets on your nerves or your neighbors complain, you may want to try these tips:
Mask triggers If the doorbell or a noon siren from the firehouse causes your dog to howl, leave the television or radio on to mute the other sounds, Peterson suggests.

Try an anti-bark collar If you live in an apartment and need to curtail the howling or else, Estep suggests trying a training collar that either sprays citronella oil or emits an ultrasonic sound when the dog tries to vocalize.

Behavior modification Desensitization to triggers may work, Estep advises. Set up training sessions during which you keep your pet calm and reward it with treats while exposing your dog to what makes it howl -- the ringing of a doorbell or a telephone, for example. You can also avoid situations in which you know your dog may howl. After hearing Zoe's plaintive howl once, Dr. Yin let her dog sleep in her car whenever they went away on subsequent trips. Given the familiar environment and Dr. Yin’s frequent safety checks, Zoe napped in peaceful silence.

Night Watch
Does your veterinarian provide around-the-clock care following surgery?
March 5, 2009

Problems associated with surgery are most likely to arise during the first 24 hours of recovery. If your dog needs surgery that requires an overnight stay, make sure a vet or trained assistant is available to monitor your pet throughout the night. If staffing is unavailable, look for another facility or ask your veterinarian if your pet may benefit by recuperating at home under your watchful eye.
Consider a Canine Massage
February 26, 2009

Few things in life feel as good as a massage, so your pooch would probably love one. And just as people can benefit from a massage's mind-body
effects -- like stress reduction, better blood circulation, and improved muscle tone -- so may your furry friend.

If you think your dog would enjoy a massage, run the idea by your vet. It may not be appropriate for pets with health problems such as arthritis, fractures,
cancer, or certain skin conditions.

Look for a certified massage therapist who has been trained in animal massage, or ask your vet if he or she has training in animal massage.

Another option is to learn how to do it yourself. Massage therapy schools in your area may offer animal massage classes. Not only will you gain a new skill, but also you'll get more bonding time with your buddy. A massage also provides an opportunity to check your pet for unusual growths and lumps.
Nolé Marin keeps 'em wagging
By Amy Sacks
Saturday, February 21st 2009

For fashion guru Nolé Marin , picking a winner on the new show "True Beauty" will come down to which contestant radiates true inner beauty.

Allowing inner beauty to shine is also what matters to the reality show judge when it comes to caring for his 10 charming pooches.

"My dogs all have the most incredible personalities," said the former Elle magazine fashion director and " America's Next Top Model " judge. "I work hard to make them happy and healthy, and it shows."

Marin's brood - including two French bulldogs, three Pomeranians, a Chinese crested, a Maltese, a Yorkie, a Brussels griffon and a Chihuahua - range in age from 1 to 12 years old.

He credits a natural diet and an integrative approach to pet care for maintaining their good health.

With the increase of natural health care and alternative therapies for animals in recent years, many pet lovers are seeking natural approaches for their pets.
The veterinarian Marin turns to is Dr. Babette Gladstein , a Manhattan house-call doctor, who practices both traditional and alternative medicine.

"Addressing the primary fundamental issues, like nutrition, helps to avoid a lot of diseases down the road," said Gladstein, who has created a unique food plan for each of Marin's dogs.

She recently changed the diet of 12-year-old Pomeranian, Guinevere, to include whitefish and sweet potato, which was successful in treating bouts of pancreatitis.
Among the arsenal of natural supplements she uses is garlic, to treat worms and parasites, Omega-3 fatty acid supplements for allergies, and lysine, which can be used to heal upper-respiratory viral infections, particularly in cats.

In addition to nutrition, Gladstein uses a combination of treatments including acupuncture, chiropractic, ultrasound, massage therapy and laser therapy.

Prolotherapy, a lesser-known treatment of weak and torn tendons and ligaments is considered a promising option that is becoming mainstream in her practice.
The treatment involves injecting a solution (lidocaine and dextrose) into the affected ligaments and bony junctures, which causes the growth of new connective tissue. Pain is alleviated as the tendons and ligaments tighten and grow stronger.

The therapy, which has been used in humans since the 1950s, can also be used to treat arthritis, hip dysplasia, back pain, neck pain and other musculoskeletal ailments commonly found in dogs.

Alternative and natural treatments can also be used to treat some of the most common ailments in both cats and dogs.

Last week, Veterinary Pet Insurance released a list of 2008's top pet maladies.
Top canine claims, in order, include ear infections, skin allergies, hot spots, gastritis, diarrhea, urinary tract infections, skin tumors, osteoarthritis, eye inflammation and hypothyroidism.

For Marin, inner beauty also requires giving his dogs a lot of love. "It's really what makes them beautiful."

Tackling Ticks
February 12, 2009

Ticks aren't just annoying little bugs. They can infect your dog with Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and other tick-borne diseases.

So if your pooch loves the great outdoors -- particularly if she wanders into wooded areas -- make sure to check her coat thoroughly and often, especially around the ears and neck. If you spot the bloodsuckers, remove them as soon as possible!

A tick that has burrowed into your dog's skin may be tricky to take out. Here's how to do it:

1. Slip on a pair of gloves to avoid direct contact with the tick.

Use tweezers to grasp the tick by its head at the point where it's attached to your pet's body.

Gently pull the tick away from the skin, but do not twist. Make sure you remove the entire tick -- anything left under the skin can cause an infection.

Clean the bite area with antiseptic, and wipe your tweezers with rubbing alcohol. You can kill the tick by placing it in a glass jar that contains at least several inches of the alcohol.

Contact your vet if the skin around the tick bite remains irritated. And to protect your pet during tick season (generally April through September), use a tick-preventive product that your vet recommends.

Battling a Flea Circus
February 5, 2009

FLEAS! Those pesky parasites that every dog owner dreads. Because they're so tiny, the first thing you may spot is their droppings. This 'flea dirt"; -- black debris -- is typically found around your pet's neck and tail.

If you see fleas or flea dirt on your dog, promptly contact your vet for a flea-control plan. If your pup starts scratching up a storm, he could wind up with sores or a skin infection. Plus, fleas can carry tapeworm larvae, which may cause infection in your pet.

Your vet will probably tell you to bathe your dog in order to drown some of the fleas. A topical treatment, pill, or flea collar should do in the rest.

Any place your pooch parks himself should also be thoroughly cleaned. Wash his bedding in hot water, vacuum all carpets and upholstered furniture, and don't forget the inside of your car if he goes along for rides.

If those measures don't take care of the problem, you may need to "de-flea"; your house with insecticides. And depending on the severity of the flea problem, you may want to treat your yard as well. Ask your vet to recommend products that are safe for pets and children.
County Times
Dogged dental care
Wed Feb 4, 2009

WILLINGBORO - Pets need their teeth brushed too - every day. That's the message the Willingboro Veterinary Clinic hopes to convey as it participates in the 15th annual Pets Need Dental Care Too, part of the 2009 pet dental health campaign.

Willingboro Veterinary Clinic dental technician Vicki McGonigal said ideally pet should have their teeth brushed every day.

"Like your teeth, it keeps them from getting tarter buildup, getting gingivitis. In pets, if they get a lot of tarter buildup it can actually deteriorate the tooth causing it to become mobile," she said.

McGonigal added that pets are prone to tarter buildup, which can lead to kidney and heart problems.

According to the Pets Need Dental Care Too campaign's Web site, "oral disease is the most frequently diagnosed health problem for pets. Although daily tooth brushing is advised for dogs and cats, the reality is that only 2 percent of dog owners follow through."

McGonigal said the Willingboro Veterinary Clinic has staff on hand to tend to pets' dental needs, but dental care starts at home.

Pets should have their teeth brushed two-to-three days a week at a minimum, she said.
McGonigal said it is best to start young. She suggested pet owners train their pets, letting them lick toothpaste off their fingers or a finger brush so they get used to the flavor.
She also recommends brushing a few teeth, then rewarding with a treat.
Special toothpaste can be purchased at any pet store, or children's toothpaste without fluoride can be used, McGonigal said.

Bad breath can be a sign of dental problems. McGonigal said, adding other signs of dental health issues are appetite loss and excessive drooling.

The campaign is a partnership between Hill's Pen Nutrition Inc., American Veterinary Medical Association, American Veterinary Dental Association, Academy of Veterinary Dentistry, American Veterinary Dental College, Academy of Veterinary Dental Technicians and the Veterinary Oral Health Council.
Pet Therapy Helps Young Patients Cope
Callie Starnes - Eyewitness News Reporter
Feb 2, 2009

CHATTANOOGA - Ten-year-old Shaneka Perkins shows her scars proudly. Diagnosed with bone cancer last year, Neka has spent countless days at T.C. Thompson Children's Hospital.

"She was really, bad sick, but they told us we are going home tomorrow," said Susanne Pressley, Neka's mom. "She has recovered really quickly."

It's not only the doctors who have helped Neka fight her illness, Chloe the therapy dog has also helped.

"They jump in your bed, and you get to feed them," said Neka. "It's even more fun if they know tricks."

Chloe is just one of the hospital's three dozen therapy dogs. She visits patients daily to offer a sense of comfort and normalcy through what can be a scary time for any child.
It's these pets that Oncology Child Life Specialist Ashley Williams says bridges the gap between patient and doctor.

"Some kids never talk to me, but when I have Chloe, it's like if I can't make a relationship with [the patient] my dog can make a relationship for us," said Williams.

It's a type of treatment that has been around for more than a decade and continues to work. For Susanne Pressley, a daily visit serves as a reminder that her daughter Neka is a fighter.

"After they leave she falls because she has pushed herself so hard," said Pressley. "But it's good for her to push herself because then I know she can fight this out."

With another round of chemotherapy just days away, Neka is still smiling knowing that when she returns a friend will be by her side.

Therapy dogs are screened twice a year by a veterinarian. The screening process tests how a dog interacts in a crowd and around children.
Thrifty dogs in a tight economy
by Shelley Frost, SF Dogs Examiner

January 31, 2009

In a recent survey done by the American Veterinary Medical Association, 7.6 million U.S. households added pets to their families.  In 2006, Americans spent more than $36 billion on food, shelter, veterinary care and toys for their companion animals.

Times have sure changed since then.  Today's paychecks, if you have one, need to go a lot further than ever before.  Just as you've switched to generic brands of shampoo, toilet paper and cereal, the family dog can also get by using lower cost or home made items.  
Whether it's dog food, annual vaccinations or the monthly trip to the groomers, here are some tips to help you curb your canine's costs.

Keeping your dog healthy on a daily basis can keep you away from the veterinary office.  Brushing your dog's teeth a few times a week can reduce the onset of tooth decay and gum disease.   Take your dog for daily walks to maintain a healthy weight which can prevent diabetes and heart disease.  This holds true for your physical fitness too!

A trip to the emergency vet hospital can set you back thousands of dollars.  Avoid this trauma to your dog and your wallet by practicing prevention.  Is your house dog proof?  Prescription medications out of reach?  The backyard fence in good repair?  
Make sure your dog is spayed and neutered before the age of 6 months.  This will prevent breast, uterine and testicular cancer.  Plus, unaltered animals have the urge to roam and mate, which makes them vulnerable to cars and traffic.

Except for the more complicated haircuts, learning how to groom your own dog can save you hundreds of dollars each year.  Do-it-yourself dog washes are affordable and easy to use.  They provide shampoo, warm water, towels and blow dryers.  

Skip the toy section of your dogs favorite pet supply store, and make him homemade toys instead.  Stuff an old sock with fabric, knotting it then tossing it.  Make several so you can machine wash one while your dog is playing with the others.

Of all the cost saving measures, dog food is probably one area you won't want to skimp.  A poor quality food can end up costing you more in veterinary bills should your dog's health suffer the consequences.  A good quality dry dog food should always list a meat protein as one of the first two ingredients.  To save money, try to buy the food in bulk rather than small bags.

ASPCA Guide to a Pet-ASPCA Guide to a Pet-Friendly Valentine’s Day
Furry valentines across the country will be party to all sorts of romantic evenings at home this February 14—are you prepared to keep your pet safe?
January 30, 2009

Two common holiday hazards to stay alert to are chocolate and lilies, warn our poison control experts. In the week prior to Valentine's Day 2008, cases involving chocolate ingestion increased by 74%—a number comparable only to cases seen during the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. And bouquet senders and receivers alike are often unaware of the dangers of lilies.
Says ASPCA pet poison prevention expert Dana Farbman, CVT, "We do see an increase in calls regarding traditional holiday gifts, particularly in the few days leading up to and after Valentine's Day—right when those bouquets and lovely boxes of chocolate arrive." 

Here are some helpful tips from the ASPCA Guide to a Pet-Friendly Valentine’s Day :

- When sending a floral arrangement, request that it contain no lilies, as all species within the plant genera Lilium are toxic to cats. And please de-thorn your roses, as their sharp, woody spines can hurt your pet if chewed, stepped on or swallowed.

- Stow chocolates in paw-proof drawers and cabinets. The darker the chocolate, the more likely a pet who’s ingested it will suffer vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, seizures and an elevated heart rate.

- Spilled wine is nothing to cry over—until a curious pet laps it up. Because animals are smaller than humans, a little bit of alcohol can do a lot of harm, causing vomiting, lack of coordination, difficulty breathing and even coma.

- Gather up tape, ribbons, cellophane and balloons after you open presents—long, stringy and “fun-to-chew” items can get lodged in your pet’s throat or digestive tract.
How to Prevent Serious Doggie Illnesses
January 29, 2009

Seeing your pooch sick is no fun. You feel powerless. Fortunately, some of the most common and serious canine diseases can be avoided with vaccinations starting in the first few months of your pet's life, with updates as she grows. It also helps to know red-flag warning signs of some of the most life-threatening diseases -- cues that you should call your vet immediately:

Caused by: Canine distemper virus (CDV)
Symptoms: Eye discharge, either watery or pus-like.
Symptoms escalate to coughing, diarrhea, vomiting,
lethargy, and fever. If virus spreads to nervous
system, it can cause seizures and possible

Caused by: Canine parvovirus type 2 (CPV-2)
Symptoms: Vomiting, diarrhea (may be bloody), loss
of appetite, dehydration, lethargy, and fever. Most
infected dogs die within 2 to 3 days of the first
signs of infection, so take immediate action.

Coronavirus (Corona)
Caused by: Canine coronavirus (CCV)
Symptoms: Diarrhea, vomiting, reduced appetite,
increased thirst, and weight loss. Similar to
parvovirus, but generally more treatable.

Caused by: Leptospira bacterium
Symptoms: Fever, diarrhea, vomiting, and jaundice.
Dogs who recover may have permanent kidney damage.

Caused by: Canine adenovirus 1 (CAV-1)
Symptoms: Fever, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain;
can also cause lasting kidney damage.

What should you do if you see an animal being hit by a car?
16 January, 2009

“Regardless of how serious the injuries appear, any animal hit by a car needs immediate medical attention,” says Dr. Robert Reisman, ASPCA Medical Coordinator of Animal Cruelty Cases. “Internal injuries may not be visible, but in all instances may be life-threatening.”

More tips from Dr. Reisman:
“If there is external bleeding, apply pressure to the wound to limit loss of blood.”
“Because you may further aggravate a serious injury while moving an injured animal, he or she should be carefully placed on a board—or at the very least, a blanket—and carefully, but quickly, transported to the closest animal hospital.”

Additionally, the ASPCA reminds you to be extra alert when crossing the street with your dogs—keep them close, and never use extension leashes near high-traffic areas.

HOW DOGS SMELL: Dogs' noses are such sensitive chemical detectors that they can detect a target compound in the presence of other odors at much higher concentrations; they can even identify odors concentrated in a small object or piece of ground as small as a dime. They can even discriminate between a target odor and one that is closely related. Scent comes from an object in a plume that swirls and eddies so there are patches of dense odor and areas of faint odor. A dog will scan back and forth with its nose along those varying densities to try and locate the source of a smell.

INSIDE THE NOSE: When the dog inhales, a fold just inside its nostrils opens to allow air to flow through the upper part of the nose where mucus-covered scent receptors grow. Once inside the nose, chemical vapors dissolve in those receptors, and the chemical interactions are converted into electrical signals that travel along the olfactory nerve to the olfactory bulb and then to the dog's brain, which processes the data according to recognized patterns of odor signals. Dogs have around 220 million such receptors y´ 40 times more than humans -- which can become sensitive to many different unrelated chemicals.

Hidden Danger: Keep Your Pet Safe from Electric Shock
January 9, 2009.

Winter’s chill may have settled in your neighborhood, but your energetic pooch still wants to go for walks in the great outdoors. Take it slow and steady, pet parents. According to our experts, the danger of stray voltage on city streets can turn a simple stroll into a devastating event for our furry friends.

Most common in northern climes and urban areas, stray voltage occurs when dormant utilities leak excess electricity. Combined with wet streets and salt-based ice melts, this current can shock, injure or even prove fatal for those in its path. “Since salt used to treat icy streets is a great conductor of electricity,” says Dr. Louise Murray, ASPCA Director of Medicine and author of Vet Confidential , “the risk of shock from stray voltage is that much higher during the winter months.” The ASPCA offers the following tips to help you avoid potentially hazardous areas, and advice on what to do if your pet has suffered an electrical shock:

Keep your dog away from metal fixtures, such as lampposts, grates or manhole covers. While these spots may be your pet’s favorite place to relieve himself, they may also conduct hazardous electricity.

Your dog's snazzy, rubber rain boots may look good, but they won't protect your pooch from a strong current. Don’t depend on them to keep your pet safe. Some boots—those with metal studs, for example—may even make the situation worse.

Observe your dog’s behavior. Is he skittish, frightened, angry or upset for no apparent reason? These sudden behavioral changes could be an indication of electric shock.

If your dog is incapacitated due to shock, don’t try to touch or move him without protective gear. Your pooch may pass the current to you, rendering you both incapable of seeking help. Instead, call your local fire department immediately.

Know of an area in your neighborhood that could be affected by stray voltage? Contact city services—in New York City, dial 311—to alert the proper authorities.

For more information about keeping your pet safe during the winter months, please read our cold weather tips .For more information about keeping your pet safe during the winter months, please read our cold weather tips .

Wax on, Wax out: The Safe and Healthy Way to Clean Your Dog's Ears
January 8, 2009

Ear cleaning is not a tail-wagging event for many dogs, but occasional gentle cleaning is the best way to keep infections away. Here are a few pointers:

Have your vet recommend an ear wash solution and demonstrate how it should be used. Also, ask how often and how thoroughly you should be attending
to your dog's ears, since overcleaning can be harmful.

Wash your hands before beginning -- you don't want to introduce any new nasties to the ear canal.

Place the tip of the bottle of ear wash just a few millimeters inside the ear canal, and slowly squirt in the recommended amount.

Rub lightly around the base of the ear with your fingers to help the solution settle in.

Reach into the ear with a cotton ball or gauze pad, but don't dig, and don't use cotton swabs. Gently wipe away any discharge or wax that's within your reach.








Shelter Tails: Dog's cancer fight shows importance of spaying/neutering
January 02, 2009

Lila is a happy and healthy little dog, maybe for the first time in her life of about 10 years. The sad part is all of her health problems could've been prevented.

Lila was abandoned in 2007 in the basement of an empty house. While at the Sullivan SPCA, it was discovered the Jack Russell terrier suffered from an old burn wound injury and a mammary gland infection.

After only a few weeks at the shelter, she was adopted by Janice Fotopoulos and her fiancé, Robert LaBianco. They already had two Jack Russells at their home in Middletown.

"We thought that she would be a nice addition to our family," said Fotopoulos. "We decided to fill out an application to adopt Lila, despite her issues."

Lila's issues were worse than originally diagnosed. Janice's own veterinarian, Dr. Yelena Berlinrut of Middletown Veterinary Hospital, discovered breast cancer and recommended immediate surgery to remove the tumors. The tumors revealed cancer in her mammary glands. Lila's prior malnutrition from being abandoned meant she couldn't have a full mastectomy. There just wasn't enough fat to put her back together after surgery.

"At that time," said Fotopoulos, "our vet estimated that Lila had two to three months to live." Lila had other plans. Almost two years and another surgery later, she is doing well.

"We are treating her from the inside out," said Fotopoulos, who gives Lila anti-inflammatory pills and holistic capsules to boost her immune system. "I'm so glad that it's slowing down again and in remission. I pray to God it stays that way. She is the most thankful, grateful little dog that I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.

"I am extremely thankful to the Sullivan County SPCA for giving Lila the chance to be adopted and not euthanizing her because she was older and ill. I give Dr. Berlinrut a lot of credit for keeping her alive."

Lila now wears a pink ribbon on her pink collar in support of breast cancer awareness.

"When people ask me about her," said Fotopoulos, "I tell them that she has breast cancer. People are shocked, and their response is, 'I never knew that dogs could get breast cancer.'"

After finding out that Lila had breast cancer, Sullivan County SPCA Vice President Manon Fortier spoke to several veterinarians and did some research on the subject.
"I was shocked to find out that breast cancer in female dogs is not only common but also highly preventable only by spaying the animal before her first heat cycle," she said. "As if preventing unwanted pregnancy wasn't enough, now we have another very important reason to spay early."

Because of Lila's struggle, Fortier checks her own dog's mammary glands every month, even though she is spayed. "I urge your readers to do the same and to contact their veterinarian immediately should they find a growth or lump," Fortier said.

SPAY USA reports that sterilization of your cat or dog will increase his/her chance of a longer and healthier life. Altering dogs will increase their lives, on average, one to three years; cats, three to five years. Altered animals have a very low to no risk of mammary gland tumors/cancer, prostate cancer, perianal tumors, pyometria, and uterine, ovarian and testicular cancers.

SPAY USA has affordable spay/neuter programs and clinics in 1,000 locations nationwide to make it affordable to those who might not otherwise spay/neuter their pets.

"Please," Fotopoulos warns, "if you love your pet and want to prevent them from developing this dreaded disease, spay them."

Cancer is not the only reason to spay/neuter your pets. The No. 1 reason is to control the pet overpopulation in our shelters and rescues.

Suzyn Barron, president of the Warwick Valley Humane Society, reports her shelter currently has about 75 young kittens and cats and about 50 adults. "We've had a lot of adoptions," she said, "but they just keep coming in. It's not letting up because of the warm weather. It's just never ending."
Barron also reported that the Chester/Warwick Spay/Neuter Fund is available for 2009. The fund refunds Town of Chester and Town of Warwick residents $50 for having their pet spayed/neutered.

"It's the kindest thing you can do for your animals," she said. "There is no need for domestic animals to produce litters and litters and litters, because ultimately, there aren't enough homes."
Coping with Pet Loss Over the Holidays
January 2. 2009
he holidays, chock full of family gatherings and much-needed downtime, can be tough for those of us who are grieving over the death of a pet. Memories and feelings of loss come up strongly, but remembering furry loved ones who’ve passed away doesn’t have to take the joy out of your holidays. Accepting your feelings, talking about them and doing creative things such as making scrapbooks of your pets and volunteering at your local animal shelter can help you to begin the New Year with your memories in the right place.

For advice about coping with feelings of loss, please call our Pet Loss Hotline at (877) 474-3310—and if you have children who are missing old pets, take a look at our ways to help kids better understand their feelings .









Animal Poison Control
Top 10 Pet Poisons of 2008
January 2, 2009

With various dangers lurking in corners and cabinets, the home can be a minefield of poisons for our pets. In 2008, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) in Urbana, IL, handled more than 140,000 cases of pets exposed to toxic substances, many of which included everyday household products. Don’t leave it up to Fido or Fluffy to keep themselves safe. Below is a list of the top ten pet poisons that affected our furry friends in 2008.

Human Medications
For several years, human medications have been number one on the ASPCA’s list of common hazards, and 2008 was no exception. Last year, the ASPCA managed more than 50,000 calls involving prescription and over-the-counter drugs, such as painkillers, cold medications, antidepressants and dietary supplements. Pets often snatch pill vials from counters and nightstands or gobble up medications accidentally dropped on the floor, so it’s essential to keep meds tucked away in hard-to-reach cabinets.

In our effort to battle home invasions of unwelcome pests, we often unwittingly put our pets at risk. In 2008, our toxicologists fielded more than 31,000 calls related to insecticides. One of the most common incidents involved the misuse of flea and tick products—such as applying the wrong topical treatment to the wrong species. Thus, it’s always important to talk to your pet’s veterinarian before beginning any flea and tick control program.

People Food
People food like grapes, raisins, avocado and certain citrus fruit can seriously harm our furry friends, and accounted for more than 13,500 cases in 2008. One of the worst offenders—chocolate—contains large amounts of methylxanthines, which, if ingested in significant amounts, can cause vomiting, diarrhea, panting, excessive thirst, urination, hyperactivity, and in severe cases, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors and seizures.

Last year, the ASPCA received approximately 8,000 calls about pets who had accidentally ingested rat and mouse poisons. Many baits used to attract rodents contain inactive ingredients that are attractive to pets as well. Depending on the type of rodenticide, ingestions can lead to potentially life-threatening problems for pets, including bleeding, seizures and kidney damage.

Veterinary Medications
en though veterinary medications are intended for pets, they’re often misapplied or improperly dispensed by well-meaning pet parents. In 2008, the ASPCA managed nearly 8,000 cases involving animal-related preparations such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, heartworm preventatives, de-wormers, antibiotics, vaccines and nutritional supplements.

Chemical Hazards
In 2008, the Animal Poison Control Center handled approximately 7,500 cases of pet exposure to chemical hazards. A category on the rise, chemical hazards—found in ethylene glycol antifreeze, paint thinner, drain cleaners and pool/spa chemicals—form a substantial danger to pets. Substances in this group can cause gastrointestinal upset, depression, respiratory difficulties and chemical burns.

Common houseplants were the subject of nearly 6,500 calls to the Animal Poison Control Center in 2008. Varieties such as azalea, rhododendron, sago palm, lilies, kalanchoe and schefflera are often found in homes and can be harmful to pets. Lilies are especially toxic to cats, and can cause life-threatening kidney failure even in small amounts.

Household Cleaners
Everybody knows that household cleaning supplies can be toxic to adults and children, but few take precautions to protect their pets from common agents such as bleaches, detergents and disinfectants. Last year, the ASPCA received more than 4,000 calls related to household cleaners. These products, when inhaled by our furry friends, can cause serious gastrointestinal distress and irritation to the respiratory tract.

Heavy Metals
It’s not too much loud music that constitutes our next pet poison offender. Instead, it’s heavy metals such as lead, zinc and mercury, which accounted for more than 3,000 cases of pet poisonings in 2008. Lead is especially pernicious, and pets are exposed to it through many sources, including consumer products, paint chips, linoleum, and lead dust produced when surfaces in older homes are scraped or sanded.

It may keep your grass green, but certain types of fertilizer can cause problems for outdoor cats and dogs. Last year, the ASPCA fielded more than 2,000 calls related to fertilizer exposure.

Prevention is really key to avoiding accidental exposure, but if you suspect your pet has ingested something lawn-side, please contact your veterinarian or the Animal Poison Control Center’s 24-hour hotline at
(888) 426-4435.

10 Ways to Sniff Out the Perfect Doggie Doctor
January 1, 2009

our choice of veterinarian is one of the first and most important decisions you'll ever make about your dog's health. Make it a good one by considering the following factors:

* Credentials: Is the doctor a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association or any other professional organizations?

• Hours: Do they mesh with your schedule?

• Location: Is it convenient to home and work? (Especially in case of emergencies.)

• Facilities: Do they seem clean and well-organized?

• Availability: How easy is it to book an appointment?

• Staff: Do they seem friendly and knowledgeable?

• Prices: Do they fit your budget?

• Experience: How savvy is the vet about any special health conditions your dog may have?

• Services: Do they perform diagnostics, such as x-rays and ultrasounds, in the office, or do you need to be referred to a specialist?

• Reputation: Ask friends, family members, and colleagues for recommendations.

The Best Holiday Gift for Pets:
Keep ‘Em Safe from Accidental Poisoning

We’re all for keeping holiday spirits high with fancy decor and bow-topped presents galore, but the best gift you can offer your pets this season is to steer them clear of unhealthy foods, dangerous decorations and holiday plants that can be toxic .

Dr. Louise Murray, Director of Medicine at the ASPCA'S Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital and author of Vet Confidential: An Insider's Guide to Protecting Your Pet's Health , reports, "Over the holidays, veterinary hospitals often see an influx of pets affected by a variety of seasonal hazards, from cats vomiting after swallowing ribbons to dogs who’ve indulged in pilfered chocolates. It's important to keep our animal companions safe when celebrating."

The following tips will help keep everyone—furry and two-legged—in good cheer:
O Christmas Tree: Securely anchor your Christmas tree so it doesn’t tip and fall, causing possible injury to your pet. This will also prevent the tree water—which may contain fertilizers that can cause stomach upset—from spilling.

Tinsel-less Town: Kitties love this sparkly, light-catching “toy” that’s easy to bat around and carry in their mouths. But a nibble can lead to a swallow, which can lead to an obstructed digestive tract, severe vomiting, dehydration and possible surgery. It’s best to brighten your boughs with something other than tinsel.

Toy Joy: Stuff your pet’s stockings with gifts that are safe:

Many a dog has been known to tear her toys apart and swallow the pieces, which can become lodged in the esophagus, stomach or intestines. Stick with chew toys that are basically indestructible, digestible chew treats or Kongs that can be stuffed with healthy foods.

Ribbon, yarn and loose little parts that can get stuck in a cat’s intestines often necessitate surgery. Surprise kitty with a new ball that’s too big to swallow, a stuffed catnip toy or the interactive cat dancer—and tons of play time together.

Forget the Mistletoe & Holly: When ingested by pets, mistletoe can cause gastrointestinal upset and cardiovascular problems. Holly can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, and many varieties of lilies can cause kidney failure in cats. Opt for just-as-jolly artificial plants made from silk or plastic, or choose a pet-safe bouquet .
For more poison prevention tips, please visit ASPCA online .
Table-Scrap Scares
December 18, 2008

Sure, you'd like Fifi to share in the joys of the holiday table, but resist the urge to be generous.

Foods and drinks you digest easily, like the following, can cause trouble for your pooch:

Dinner rolls -- Dough expands in the stomach, creating distressing gas.

Onions and garlic -- These flavor enhancers contain a compound that could damage a dog's red blood cells, causing anemia.

Rich sauces -- Gravy upsets the stomach and may lead to pancreatitis.

Bones -- Sharp pieces of bone can choke a dog or pierce or block her gastrointestinal tract.

Alcohol -- Even slightly spiked eggnog can be toxic, so don't leave any drinks unattended.

A Best (and Jealous) Friend
December 16, 2008

Re “With Treats, Dogs Seem to Know What’s Fair” (Dec. 9):

What is the most surprising about this finding is that anyone actually finds it surprising. The reluctance of humans to acknowledge emotions in nonhuman species is what astonishes me.

Jane Shakman, Ossining, N.Y.

Original article follows

With Treats, Dogs Seem to Know What's Fair
Published: December 8, 2008

To the list of the qualities of dogs — enthusiastic and steadfast come to mind — can be added another. That pooch of yours, researchers say, may be envious. Scientists in Austria report in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that a dog may stop obeying a command if it sees that another dog is getting a better deal.

In this way dogs may be showing a sensitivity that is similar to, although perhaps more primitive than, that shown by chimpanzees and some monkeys. Until now those primates were the only nonhumans to show what is called “inequity aversion” in the absence of a reward.

The finding may come as no surprise to some dog owners, and it didn’t completely surprise Friederike Range, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Vienna who led the study.

“We have a dog at home,” she said, “and I know how jealous she is of different people and situations.”

The study tried to quantify the behavior by using well-trained dogs that readily offer a paw on command. The researchers used two dogs side by side but treated them differently, giving one a better reward (sausage) and the other a lesser one (bread) when the paw was given, or giving one dog no reward at all.

They found that the quality of the reward made little difference. But in the case in which one dog got no treat at all, that dog became less and less inclined to obey the command.

Fact or Fiction: Are Poinsettias Poisonous?

December 12, 2008

With daylight at a premium and fall color a thing of the past, a vibrant poinsettia plant  is a great way to brighten your home this holiday season. But aren’t poinsettias super poisonous to pets, you ask? Not so, says the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center. According to our experts, rumors of the plant’s toxicity are exaggerated—perpetuated by a longstanding myth.

A subtropical shrub indigenous to Central and Southern Mexico, the poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) first appeared in the United States in the 1820s. The myth of the plant’s toxicity spread in the early 20th century when the two-year-old child of a U.S. Army officer allegedly died from eating a poinsettia leaf. In truth, a 50-pound child would have to eat more than 600 poinsettia leaves to exceed experimental doses that produced no toxic effects.

In the last 12 months, the Animal Poison Control Center managed 84 cases involving ingestions of poinsettias, but the most common result was an upset stomach. According to Dana Farbman, CVT, ASPCA Senior Manager of Professional Communications, “Ingestion of poinsettias typically only produces mild to moderate gastrointestinal irritation in pets, which may include drooling, vomiting and diarrhea.” Because of the plant’s low toxic potential, veterinary treatment isn’t usually necessary, Farbman reports, but in certain situations it may help to give your pet a few sips of water or milk to diminish stomach upset.

To prevent digestive problems, pet parents should keep poinsettias out of reach, but it’s not necessary to banish the festive plant altogether. Lilies, on the other hand, are also common holiday flowers , but many of those varieties — including tiger, Asian, Japanese show, stargazer and the Casablanca—can cause kidney failure in cats, even in tiny amounts.

As always, if you suspect your pet has eaten something toxic, please contact your vet or the ASPCA’s 24-hour hotline at (888) 426-4435. For more information about toxic and nontoxic plants, please visit APCC online .
Doggone Good Gift Ideas
December 11, 2008

Got a special canine on your holiday gift list? Here are a few goodies guaranteed to keep her tail wagging:

A rubber treat toy stuffed with a few of her favorite biscuits will distract her from your
holiday buffet.

Give an older dog the gift of comfy naps this winter with a memory-foam bed; or keep her
toasty with one that's heated.

Resolve to control your pooch's weight -- invest in a ball launcher to get her running and fetching.

Also, consider picking up a few extra toys or packages of treats and donating them to less fortunate dogs at your local animal shelter.








Why Animals Do Not Make Good Gifts
December 4, 2008

Animals, like us, require love and proper care to flourish. Although people who give animals as gifts invariably have good intentions, it is unfair to give an animal to anyone unless you are absolutely certain that the person wants that particular animal as a companion and is willing and able to give a lifetime of proper care.

Think Before Giving
Adding an animal companion to the family is an important decision. It means making a permanent commitment to care for and spend time with the animal and to provide for his or her lifelong care.  

Before adopting, consider the time and money involved in proper animal care. Will your loved one have the time and patience to exercise and housetrain the animal? Is he or she prepared to pay for food, accessories (such as toys, grooming supplies, leashes and harnesses, and bedding), inoculations, and veterinary care, including spaying or neutering, flea treatment, deworming, and emergency care?

If a family decides to adopt an animal, every member of the family should go to the local animal shelter together to choose the animal, having already discussed the obligations and long-term commitments involved. Please, never buy from breeders or pet stores, and always practice your ABCs— animal birth control . For every animal purchased from a breeder or a pet shop, a potential home is taken away from a homeless dog or a cat at a local animal shelter.

Children May Not Be Ready
Small children may unintentionally harm animals, even breaking their fragile bones or causing other fatal injuries, when they think they are playing. Puppies, kittens, bunnies, chicks, baby ducks, and other young animals are especially vulnerable.

We have heard too many stories about families in which the child has lost interest in an animal, and the adult is forced to make the difficult decision on the best way to "solve" the problem. Often this means turning the animal over to a crowded shelter or pound or—worse—passing the animal on to a series of homes, causing trauma, psychological scarring, and behavioral problems.

Too Few Happy Endings
Animal shelters are filled beyond capacity with homeless animals, many of whom were former "pets" who, for one reason or another, didn't fit into someone's lifestyle. No matter how much they would like to, many people who receive animals as gifts find that they are unable to make the lifelong commitment to care for their new companion.
Sadly, many people end up turning animals they received as gifts over to an overburdened humane society or animal-control agency that is likely filled to capacity. In worst-case scenarios, some people even abandon animals on the road or in the back yard when they move away.

What You Can Do
Don't ever give an animal as a gift.  

If you have discussed the idea with the prospective recipients and know that they have the time, willingness, ability, and resources to properly care for an animal and make that serious commitment, consider offering them a gift certificate from the local animal shelter.

If you attend a fair, flea market, or other event at which animals are being given away, educate those who are responsible. If people are offering free kittens or puppies, for example, explain the risks of giving animals to unknown passersby—some people sell dogs and cats to laboratories or dealers, and others abuse, neglect, or abandon them.

Deck the Halls with Caution
December 4, 2008

Spruce up your home for the holidays, but play it safe. Let the following dog-healthy decorating do's and don'ts guide you:

Hang all ornaments, tinsel, and tree trimmings above your pup's nose; swallowing pieces of any of these can cause painful intestinal blockages.

Keep all electrical cords out of Bowser's reach, and check for exposed wires.

Don't let the tree water become a watering hole, since harmful bacteria and fertilizer from the tree bark collect in it.

Be aware that some holiday plants are toxic to dogs. For example, mistletoe can cause
cardiovascular and breathing problems, and poinsettias can lead to upset stomachs.
Winter Skin-Saver
November 20, 2008

Know how your skin gets dry and itchy in winter? Your dog's skin struggles with cold weather, overheated houses, and low humidity, too. Here's how to keep your pooch itch-free:

Brush her often. Even shorthaired dogs need help sloughing off dead skin cells. Brushing stimulates circulation and kicks up production of natural moisturizers from oil glands.

Shampoo less often. Experts warn that weekly baths remove much-needed lubricating oils. Keep your own shampoo -- even the gentle one -- on the shelf, and use a moisturizing doggie-formulated one.

If dry skin persists, take Fluffy to the vet. Itching can be a sign of something more serious


















Julia Szabo
November 16, 2008

President-elect Barack Obama faces many challenges, chief among them making good on his K9 campaign promise to get daughters Malia and Sasha the puppy they’ve been lobbying for — despite Malia’s pet allergies.

Here’s great news for the soon-to-be first family or any family with an allergic child: It’s a misconception that you need to get a “hypoallergenic” breed. With a few simple safety measures, allergic kids can breathe easy around a Mutt. (Say it with me, “Yes, they can!”)

“Even nonshedding or hairless breeds have skin,” points out veterinarian Dr. Shawn Messonier, author of “The Natural Health Bible for Dogs and Cats.” When Doggie skin becomes dry, it releases more allergy-triggering dander into the air, so keeping Spot’s skin soft and nourished is the real key to avoiding allergic reactions.

Messonier recommends supplementing a Dog’s diet with drops of fish oil or olive oil, which will moisturize the pup from the inside. He also suggests washing the dog frequently with a chemical-free emollient shampoo such as Dr. Shawn’s Pet Organics and Organix South’s TheraNeem Pet Shampoo.

Frequent bathing with organic shampoo also removes other environmental allergens that could trigger an allergic reaction, such as pollen and dust mites, which cling to a Dog’s hair and paw-pads. “Being so close to the ground, Dogs are exposed to more stuff than we are,” Messonier explains.

A great way for kids to combine hand-washing with paw-wiping after playing outside is with Clean Well hand-sanitizer wipes. Clean Well contains an effective botanical germicide that was formulated for the company founder’s son Connor, who was born with a compromised immune system. The boy, now 10, lives happily with his family’s pug, Frankie.

Regardless of all these precautions, no Dog, no matter how clean, should sleep in the allergic child’s bedroom. There’s just no need to increase exposure to any amount of allergens during sleep. This way, the child’s body can build strength to further combat the allergens during the day.

Finally, White Housekeepers should deploy a reliable air filter and a powerful vacuum cleaner to remove microscopic traces of dander from the Obama Dog — not to mention pet particles lingering from previous administrations!

Contact: js@pet-reporter.com






Talkin’ Turkey:
ASPCA Experts Offer Thanksgiving Safety Tips

November 14, 2008

Friends, family and feasts—the main ingredients for holiday fun can actually result in distress for pets. Not only can too many table scraps set furry tummies a-rumble, but many animals get anxious at the change in household routine. Says the ASPCA’s Dr. Steven Hansen, Senior Vice President, Animal Health Services, which includes the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center in Urbana, IL, “As you begin to prepare for a festive season, remember to be wary of activities that can be potentially dangerous to pets.”

The following safety tips will help to ensure a safe and ful filling Thanksgiving for you and your pets:

Talkin’ Turkey: Giving your pets a little nibble of turkey is okay, just be sure that it’s boneless and fully cooked. Raw or undercooked turkey may contain salmonella bacteria. And dogs can choke on the bones, which splinter easily.

A Feast Fit for a Kong: While the humans are chowing down, give your cat and dog their own little feast. Stuff their usual dinner—with a few added bits of turkey, dribbles of gravy or vegetables like sweet potato and green beans—inside a Kong toy. They’ll be happily occupied trying to get their meal out, and way too busy to come begging for table scraps.

Sage Advice: This peppery herb makes stuffing taste delish, but also contains essential oils and resins that can cause pets to suffer stomach upset and possible depression of the central nervous system.

Battery Power: The holiday season means lots of cameras, radios and other battery-operated electronics. Don’t leave batteries lying around. If swallowed, they can cause choking or obstruction; if punctured, the chemicals in alkaline batteries can cause burns to the mouth and esophagus.

To learn more, read our complete list of holiday safety tips and special Thanksgiving safety advice straight from our experts .
Sniffing Out Ear Infections
November 13, 2008

Dogs aren't known for their sweet fragrance, but if you notice a foul odor -- and Fifi hasn't been rolling in yucky stuff -- lift up her ear flaps and sniff. Healthy ears don't smell bad. However, if you get a whiff of something alarmingly bad, chances are
bacteria, mites, or fungi are thriving in your dog's long and hairy ear canal. Other telltale signs of infection that warrant a vet visit include redness, discharge, extreme warmth, and sensitivity to touch. Your pet may run the side of her head along the floor, too.

Don't attempt to clean sore ears yourself -- instead, get treatment instructions from your vet.
Home-Alone Anxiety
November 6, 2008

If Bowser becomes a weapon of mass destruction when home alone, the cause could simply be boredom, anxiety, or fear. To counter the boredom factor, be sure he has plenty of toys to chew, pull, and toss.

Help him relax by leaving the radio or TV on at low volume while you're out. Soothing music and the sound of voices comforts a lonely pooch and may be enough to ease his anxiety.

Finally, come and go calmly. If you don't make a big fuss of your departure and return, he might not, either.

Happy Trails and Tails
October 23, 2008

The air is fresh, and your buddy is by your side. What could be more fun and feel less like a workout than hiking with your dog? Just keep thesepup-healthy points in mind:

Avoid multipurpose trails. Don't make Fido share the path with dirt bikes or ATVs. And avoid paths heavily trafficked by mountain bikers or
cross-country skiers.

Keep cool. Watch for signs that a shade break is needed, like heavy panting and bright red gums. Carry water. Offer water often; dogs drink more
than humans.

Use a leash. Chipmunks and other critters can be too darned tempting.

Use sunscreen. Fair doggy noses can burn just like human ones.

Top 10 Drugs That Poison Our Pets
Prescription and over-the-counter medications may help you feel much better, but they can make our pets feel much, much worse. In 2007, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) handled 89,000 cases of pets exposed to human medications—by far, the most common cause of household poisonings in small animals.

To help you prevent an accident from happening, our experts have drafted a list of the top 10 human medications that most often poison our furry friends. Here’s a sneak peek at their research:

• Pets are ultra-sensitive to anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen and naproxen, which can cause stomach and intestinal ulcers and kidney damage in cats.

• Nothing like antidepressants to bring a pet down—they can trigger vomiting, lethargy and a frightening condition called serotonin syndrome.

• The popular pain remedy acetaminophen is especially toxic to cats, and can damage red blood cells and interfere with oxygen flow.
• Pseudoephedrine is a decongestant found in many cold remedies, but acts like a stimulant in cats and dogs, who can experience elevated heart rates and seizures.

Pets often snatch pill vials from counters and nightstands or gobble up meds accidentally dropped on the floor. The solution? “Keep all medications in a cabinet,” advises Dr. Helen Myers, veterinary toxicologist at the ASPCA. “And consider taking your pills in a bathroom, so if you drop one, you can shut the door and prevent your pet from accessing the room until the medication is found.”

Dr. Myers also recommends learning the name, dosage and quantity of all of your prescriptions should the unthinkable occur. “For example, if you keep several medications in a bottle in your purse, put in a known amount,” she says. “So if your dog gets into the bottle, you know what the worst case scenario is.” If your pet does swallow any meds, stay calm and try to assess how many are left in the bottle versus how many might have been consumed. This information is crucial for veterinarians when assigning your pet’s risk level and determining a proper course of treatment.

As always, if you suspect your pet has ingested any human medications—or other toxic substances—please call your vet or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center’s 24-hour hotline at (888) 426-4435. To read our expert’s complete top 10 list of dangerous drugs, visit APCC online .
Soothing Kennel Cough
October 16, 2008
That dry, raspy honking is called kennel cough for a reason: Dogs tend to get it when they're kept in close contact. But your pup can catch the highly contagious virus anywhere, even at the groomer. Most dogs recover in 7–10 days, but the vet may prescribe medication to prevent complications and ease the inflammation. Here's what you can do to help Bowser feel better:

Give him a steam treatment. Let him breathe the moist bathroom air while you take a hot shower. Use a body harness instead of a correction collar that presses on his windpipe. Ask the vet for a cough suppressant. Your pet -- and you -- will sleep better.
When Can You Puppy Eat?
October 9, 2008
Most puppies can gradually start switching from mother's milk to dry puppy food at around 3-4 weeks of age. Ask your vet for a feeding plan that suits your dog's breed. By 7 or 8 weeks, she'll be thriving on dry food alone. Some ideas to help her make the change:

• Practice portion control: Overfeeding can cause a puppy to grow too fast, creating bone problems.

• Moisten the dry food: Doing so may help encourage your puppy to make the switch. Use no more than one part warm water to four parts dry food, changing frequently to ensure freshness.

• Check food labels for protein: A young dog needs more (about 25% to 30% more)
than an adult one.

• Limit treats: Rewarding good behavior starts early, but don't let treats make
up more than 5% of your pup's diet.
Grapes of Intestinal Wrath
September 25, 2008
Grapes and raisins, although healthy and popular snacks for people, can cause serious health problems in dogs. Although the exact reason why they're toxic remains unknown, even small doses can cause vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, and abdominal pain and can lead to kidney damage and even kidney failure. After ingesting these fruits, dogs show increased levels of nitrogen, creatinine, and phosphorous in their blood, which indicates impaired kidney function. If your dog succeeds in sneaking any of these snacks, a swift trip to the vet can offset potentially serious health complications.

Home Improvement:
Keep Your Pet Safe from Toxic Glues

As do-it-yourself home improvement projects become more popular, pet parents may unwittingly expose their furry friends to dangerous tools and tricks of the trade. One such product is polyurethane glue, a water resistant adhesive that’s a favorite of woodworkers, but especially toxic to dogs and cats.

According to the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) , pet poisonings from wood glues—and other adhesives containing the substance diphenylmethane diisocyanate (MDI)—are pervasive. In the last twelve months, the APCC has treated nearly 100 cases of pets who’ve ingested expanding glues. Of those incidents, 98% involved dogs and 78% were evaluated at high or medium risk for developing severe, life-threatening clinical effects.

Polyurethane glue—also known by brand names like Gorilla Glue and Elmer’s Pro-Bond—is prized for its ability to bond tightly to wood. If eaten, however, the glue expands in the stomach’s warm, moist environment and forms a softball-sized lump. A dog who eats even a small amount of MDI-based adhesive can experience severe gastrointestinal problems resulting in blockages. This disturbing scenario most often requires emergency surgery to remove the mass.

Pet parents should treat any expanding adhesive as a potential hazard, since the offending chemical MDI is not always listed on product labels. Like all toxic household products, wood glue should be stored in a secure cabinet to prevent your furry beloveds from coming into contact with it. If you suspect your pet has ingested polyurethane glue, please call your vet or the ASPCA’s 24-hour poison hotline at (888) 426-4435.

• • •

Disaster Planning For Pets: Do You Know What To Pack?
As residents of the southeast coast of Texas wait for Hurricane Ike's floodwaters to recede, and citizens of Louisiana and Florida continue to sort through storm wreckage, the message couldn't be clearer—now is the time to create emergency evacuation plans that include pets.

The ASPCA would like to offer the following list of essential items to pack for your animal companions in advance, should you be faced with evacuation:

• Pet first-aid kit and guide book
• 3 to 7 days' worth of canned (pop-top) or dry food
• Disposable litter trays (aluminum roasting pans are perfect)
• Litter or paper toweling
• Liquid dish soap and disinfectant
• Disposable garbage bags for clean-up
• Dishes for food and water
• Extra harness and leash
• Photocopies of medical records
• Waterproof container with a two-week supply of any medicine your pet requires
• Bottled water—at least seven days' worth for each person and pet
• Traveling bag, crate or sturdy carrier, ideally one for each pet
• Flashlight
• Blanket
• Recent photos of your pet(s)
• Pet Grab ‘N Go Bag (can be crucial to protecting your pet’s paperwork)
*** Especially for cats: Pillowcase or EvackSack, toys, scoopable litter
*** Especially for dogs: Long leash and yard stake, toys and chew toys, a week's worth of cage liner

For a more complete list of emergency planning tips and the Ready Pets brochure on pet-friendly evacuation, visit the Disaster Preparedness section of the ASPCA website.

Say Thanks to Your Best Friend
September 18, 2008

Did you know that just being in your pup's presence makes you healthier? Here's
what the latest research suggests:

Petting your pup boosts production of pleasure hormones in the brain,
helping to keep your stress and blood pressure at healthy levels.

Canine company aids the recovery of heart attack patients and has a calming
effect on people with Alzheimer's.

Regular walks with your dog lift your mood and improve your fitness.

Kids who grow up with dogs seem to have stronger immune systems and may be
less likely to develop asthma, eczema, and pet allergies later in life.

It’s Not Easy Being Green: Popular Plants Poisonous to Pets
September 9, 2008
As gardeners across the country say goodbye to summer, green thumbs and amateurs alike are scooping up houseplants to spice up the fall and winter months. They're also taking off their sunhats and dragging outdoor plants inside to protect them from upcoming dips in temperature. Plants are popular for their decorative, restorative and air-clearing properties, but many species are toxic to our curious furry friends. Soil and leaves attract dogs and cats, who like to chew on vines and romp in the dirt. The ASPCA’s garden gurus set the record straight on some of the season’s most poisonous best-sellers :

Although most common in springtime but sold year-round, lilies—including stargazer, tiger and Easter lilies—are pretty on the outside but wreak havoc on the insides of our kitty companions. “Even with very small ingestions, severe kidney damage can result,” according to Dr. Steven Hansen, veterinary toxicologist & ASPCA Senior Vice President.

English ivy creeps its way into our hearts, but its precious vines contain triterpenoid saponins, which can cause vomiting, abdominal pain, hypersalivation and diarrhea if eaten by dogs and cats. 

Two of the hottest plants to hit office cubicles across the country are peace lily and pothos. Both are hearty and tolerate a fair amount of neglect, but for cats and dogs, they can cause irritation of the mouth, lips and tongue (peace lily) and swelling of the GI tract (pothos).

Oleander, a pretty shrub used as an ornamental plant in warmer regions, can also be cultivated indoors in cooler climes. One of the most poisonous plants to pets and people, it can lead to GI irritation, abnormal heart function, hypothermia and even death.

Keep the nibbler in your life safe from toxic foliage by placing all plants out of reach. Or better yet, choose a nontoxic alternative to brighten your home, soothe your soul and protect your pet. As always, if you think your pet has ingested something poisonous, please contact your vet or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center’s 24-hour hotline at (888) 426-4435.

There's a light at the end of every tunnel.


Clean the wound of any debris with saline solution, an electrolyte solution or water. Wrap to keep clean. Apply steady pressure to stop bleeding. DO NOT USE A TORNIQUET.

Check for choking. If not breathing, place on flat surface with left side up. Listen for a heartbeat by placing your ear on chest where the elbow touches the ribs. The heart is located on the left side in the lower part of the chest. If there is a pulse, close its mouth and breathe directly into the nose, not the mouth, to fill lungs. Continue at a rate of about 15 times a minute.

If there is no pulse, place one hand below the heart to support the chest and press gently with the other hand to massage heart or, in smaller animals, compress the chest with the thumb and forefinger of one hand, at about 100-150 compressions per minute.

Alternate heart massage and breathing.

If an object causing an obstruction is visible through the open mouth try to re move with tweezers or pliers being careful to avoid pushing it further down the throat.

Should this not be possible, place both hands on the sides of the ribcage and apply firm, rapid pressure or place the animal on its side and strike the side of the ribcage firmly with the palm of your hand three or four times, repeating until the object is dislodged.

Feed bread immediately.

Feed boiled chicken and rice.

Note what was ingested and the amount. Do not try to induce vomiting. Contact Poison Control.

Withhold food for at least 12 hours. Once vomiting stops, give ice cubes for an hour or two and then slowly increase levels of water and food over the next 24 hours. DO NOT MUZZLE.

Use a strip of soft cloth or rope wrapped around the nose and under the chin, then tied behind the ears.


Animal Poison Control Center

As the premier animal poison control center in North America, the APCC is your best resource for any animal poison-related emergency, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. If you think that your pet may have ingested a potentially poisonous substance, make the call that can make all the difference: (888) 426-4435. A $60 consultation fee may be applied to your credit card.-the-doghouse.com-doghouse.com

Top 10 Tips for a Lifetime of Good Health for Your Pet

Our advice isn’t intended to replace regular visits to your veterinarian—just to offer some practical ways to ensure that your pet remains in the best possible health throughout his or her life.

1. Spay or Neuter
Talk about preventive medicine! Removing the ovaries and uterus of a female dog or cat—otherwise known as spaying—helps prevent breast cancer and pyometra, or infection of the uterus, and stops the animal from going into heat. (Female cats, by the way, can go into heat every 3 weeks!) And ASPCA experts believe that many aggressive behavior problems can be avoided by neutering a male, or removing the testicles, by the age of six months. The surgery also prevents testicular cancer, prostate disease and hernias.

2. Vaccinate
When your pet was born, he received protection from many diseases from antibodies passed in his mother’s milk. These antibodies dissipated by the time he was about three months old, leaving his immune system vulnerable. That’s where you come in. The ASPCA recommends that cats receive a three-in-one vaccine that protects against feline calicivirus, rhinotracheitis and panleukopenia, as well as a rabies vaccination. Ask your vet if vaccinations for feline leukemia, chlamydia, feline infectious peritonitis and ringworm are recommended for your kitty. Dogs should receive a five-in-one vaccine against several infectious diseases, including distemper, leptospirosis and parvovirus, as well as a rabies vaccination. Ask the vet if vaccinations for kennel cough and Lyme disease are recommended for your dog.

3. See Your Vet!
You go to the doctor regularly—and so should your pet. Annual checkups give your veterinarian the chance to notice any developing illness and take care of it right away. Your vet will want to know about your pet’s behavior, eating and exercise habits, and will check her temperature, pulse and respiratory rate. The doctor will also inspect her gums and teeth, heart and lungs, and assess the health of her internal organs. If it’s been a year or more since your pet has seen a vet, make that appointment today!

4. Fight Fleas
But do it safely, please! These little pests can cause big problems for your pets, including skin disease, anemia, scratching, allergies and tapeworms. There are many products available to help you control the fleas on your pet and in your home, but it’s of utmost importance that whatever you use is approved for use on your pet’s species. In other words, don’t use products for dogs on your cat, and vice versa. Cats especially are extremely sensitive to insecticides, and many pets die annually from improper use of flea control products. Ask your vet for a recommendation, and don’t forget—when fighting fleas, you’ll need to treat ALL the pets in the household, not just those who are obviously infested.

5. Prevent Heartworm
It’s difficult to treat and sometimes fatal, but heartworm infection is easily prevented. Your dog should be given a blood test for heartworm every year in the early spring, and your veterinarian may prescribe a preventive tablet to be given once a month throughout mosquito season. (Some vets may recommend the medication year-round.) Although dogs are natural hosts for heartworm, cats can also contract this disease, transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito. Talk to your vet if you think your kitty is at risk.

6. Get Moving
Not only will daily exercise keep your pet physically fit and mentally healthy, it helps channel aggressive and destructive behavior. Regular activity also burns up calories and increases muscle mass and cardiovascular strength. When it comes to canines, individual exercise needs vary based on breed, sex, age and level of health, but a couple of walks around the block every day is probably not enough—especially if your pooch is an adolescent or a member of the sporting, herding, hound or terrier breeds. And if your cat has fallen into bad exercise habits (i.e. sure, she can run—to her food dish!), you will have to engage her in supervised fun and games. Always start slow, though, and limit beginning sessions to five minutes or so.

7. Battle the Bulge
Not enough exercise and too much food will cause any animal to gain weight—especially pets, who rely on you to regulate nutrition and activity levels. Excess flesh can cause health problems, including arthritis and liver and heart disease. Overweight pets face increased risk during surgery, and really fat cats can get a form of diabetes. What’s the best way to tip the scales in your pet’s favor? Gradually decrease her food intake while increasing her activity level. You can switch to a reduced calorie food or make a cutback in the portion size of her regular food. We recommend a gradual reduction of 10 to 25 percent for cats, and 25 to 33 percent for dogs—but it’s always a good idea to check with your pet’s vet first.

8. Do a Weekly Health Check
Regular home checkups are a great way to nip potential health problems in the bud. Plus, they’re as easy as one, two, three: 1.) Check under your pet’s fur for lumps, bumps, flakes or scabs. 2.) Check your pet’s ears and eyes for any signs of redness or discharge. 3.) Make note of any changes in her eating or drinking habits. If something seems off, call the vet.

9. Memorize Our List of Foods to Avoid
Our experts at the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center urge you to avoid feeding the following foods to your pet: Alcoholic beverages, avocado, chocolate, coffee, fatty foods, macadamia nuts, moldy or spoiled foods, onions and onion powder, raisins and grapes, salt, yeast dough, garlic, and products sweetened with xylitol.

10. Don't Forget Your Pet's Teeth
Does your pet have morning breath—all day long? This is a major indicator that your pet is in need of dental care. Particles of food, saliva and bacteria—what’s commonly called “plaque”—can build up on the teeth and gums and cause infection. If left untreated, infection can result in tooth decay—and even move into the bloodstream and affect your pet’s heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, bones and joints! Check your animal companion’s teeth and gums at least once a week, and ask your vet how you can further prevent gum disease by regular brushing with a toothpaste formulated especially for your pet’s species.



ROBERT COANE 2009 © All rights reserved