Pet Advice: When Should Your Pet Have Emergency Care?

Birds Don't Miss a Beat
U.S. News & World Report

Like humans, avian species can feel musical rhythms linked to a shared ability for mimicry

Birds can tap their feet, sway their bodies and bob their heads in time with a musical beat, say two new studies that suggest the ability to feel the rhythm may be linked to another shared trait between humans and birds -- vocal training and mimicry.

"For a long time, people have thought that the ability to move to a beat was unique to humans," Adena Schachner of Harvard University, leader of the one of the studies, said in a Cell Press news release.

"After all, there is no convincing evidence that our closest relatives, chimpanzees and other apes, can keep a beat, and there is similarly no evidence that our pet dogs and cats can line up their actions with a musical beat, in spite of extensive experience with humans. In this work, however, we found that entrainment [to music] is not uniquely human; we find strong evidence for it in birds, specifically in parrots."

In their study, Schachner and colleagues reviewed more than 1,000 videos of dancing animals and determined that only vocal mimics -- including 14 parrot species and one species of elephant -- showed evidence of truly being able to move their bodies in rhythm with music.

In the other study, Aniruddh Patel, of the Neurosciences Institute in San Diego, and colleagues found that a cockatoo adjusted the tempo of his dancing to stay synchronized to the beat of music as it was sped up or slowed down.

The findings of these studies support the theory that being able to move in time to a musical beat relies on the neural circuitry for complex vocal learning, which requires a strong connection between auditory and motor circuits in the brain.

The research may also offer new insight into why humans make and enjoy music, which is regarded as an evolutionary puzzle.

"Although many theories have been proposed, little empirical evidence speaks to the issue. In particular, debate continues over the idea that the human music capacity was not selected for directly, but arose as the byproduct of other cognitive mechanisms," Schachner and colleagues wrote.

"By supporting the idea that entrainment emerged as a byproduct of vocal mimicry in avian species, the current findings lend plausibility to the idea that the human entrainment capacity evolved as a byproduct of our capacity for vocal mimicry," they added.

The studies were published online in the journal Current Biology.

A newborn Eastern Black Rhinoceros calf sits with her mother in their enclosure at Chester Zoo in Chester, northern England, May 18, 2009. The four day old calf is the second Eastern Black Rhino to be born at the zoo in eight months. REUTERS/Phil Noble

Bullhead City Man Sentenced in Pet Cremation Fraud
By JIM SECKLER/The Mohave Daily News

Harding gets eight months in jail for dumping bodies in a landfill

KINGMAN - A Bullhead City man, who dumped animal carcasses that he was paid to cremate at the county landfill, was sentenced Friday to probation and more than eight months in jail.

Tyrone Maquitte Harding, 50, was sentenced to 250 days in county jail and seven years on probation after he pleaded guilty April 9 to fraudulent schemes and artifices. He had been charged with two counts of theft and two counts of fraudulent schemes and artifices involving two criminal cases. The remaining charges were dismissed, according to court documents.

Under the plea agreement, Harding could have received probation or up to five years in prison. Superior Court Judge Steven Conn also ordered him to pay more than $18,800 in restitution.

Bullhead City police officers arrested Harding July 31, 2008 after an investigation that found that Harding dumped dead animals he was paid by the city of Bullhead City to cremate. As owner of Cherished Companion Corporation or Pet Processing located on Plaza Drive, Harding was paid $1,035 a month to cremate the animals he received from the city's animal control shelter.

Harding reportedly picked up deceased animals from the shelter July 14, 2008, and dumped about 3,160 pounds of remains at the landfill on El Rodeo Road within two hours of leaving the shelter.

On July 31, 2008, Harding again picked up 30 bags of deceased animals from the shelter and took it to the landfill. Animal control officers identified the remains at the landfill as the same ones Harding picked up earlier that day. Harding reportedly dumped animal carcasses at the landfill at least 50 times within a year.

The investigation also showed that Harding's company did not have gas service, which was used in the crematory oven, from February 2008 to early June 2008.

Police also found bags of rotting animal carcasses in a walk-in cooler at Pet Processing that was kept at about room temperature.

A Refresher Course on the Ethics of Pet Ownership

It's been a while since I pulled out the old soapbox, but I think it is high time I did. I think today I need to speak my mind about something that has been bothering me. I will tell you beforehand that I might not be very nice about it.

There are a couple of things I have seen of late that have made me both sad and angry. I do not understand the mentality of people who have pets and don't care for them properly. I don't understand why, when people are constantly informed about the need for having pets spayed or neutered, they choose to forgo the simple and fairly inexpensive cost of preventing thousands of unwanted cats and dogs.

In the United States, over 70,000 puppies and kittens are born every single day. There are over 10,000 dogs and cats euthanized every year, as well. I never knew how really scary it was until I read some figures that astounded me.

Let's say you have one healthy fertile cat who has two litters per year with two healthy kittens per litter. After nine years, including her offspring who have reproduced the same as she, the cat will have had a total of over 11,000 kittens. That's one unspayed female. If you look at that figure, and then assume that 35,000 kittens are born daily.

I'll tell you something else, I am sick to death of seeing dead animals at the side of the highway. It hurts my heart to see a beautiful dog or cat --an animal that could have belonged to a family or to a single person who needed the love and company of an animal companion -- discarded like so much trash by the road.

I'm also sick of seeing mistreated animals. I pass by this house frequently, and off to one side they have a dog chained up on about a 5-foot chain. I'm willing to bet that dog hasn't been off that chain in years, the ground is worn to dust in a circle, and the dog is running constant laps in that circle.

It makes me angry to think that he has lived his whole life on that circle of dust, and that he will likely die there. I want to knock on the door and ask them why they have a dog if they aren't going to pay attention to it. I want to take him home with me.

I saw a little dog the other day tied to a doghouse the size of a case of cola, and he was straining on his leash to reach a bowl just out of his reach. I passed by that house several times that afternoon, and clearly no one was paying attention because hours later he was still hoping to reach that bowl.

For those who say they cannot afford to get an animal spayed or neutered, I ask this question: Could you possibly not buy those 24 packs of beer a couple weekends, or hit that fast food restaurant so often, or maybe cut back on the cigarettes and pay for it that way?

Could you maybe find something to set aside that is not an essential for a couple weeks? How much would it really hurt you to give something up in order to prevent the deaths of thousands of animals?

For those who mistreat, neglect, torture or use dogs for sport, I believe they should have to spend a few weeks in the same conditions that they left that animal in. I bet after some guy is chained up with a 5-foot chain and forced to live in the mud and muck and never allowed to walk free, he might have a different thought process.

If you require some guy to stand in a circle and fight for every scrap of food, to fight for his very life as dogs are made to do, it would be considered inhumane but I bet we might be able to end the horrible practice of dog fighting. If you shut some puppy mill owner up in a crate for a few weeks to live in their own filth as they do to animals, we might see a change in them.

As citizens of the Shore, as human beings with compassionate hearts, it is up to us to speak up about the injustices we see whether they be against innocent pets, children, or those less fortunate. It's up to us to call animal control when we see a mistreated pet, or to report someone who has animals that run loose and procreate at will. It's up to all pet owners to see to it that our beloved companions are treated with love and respect for all they do for us.

You might say to yourself as you read this, she isn't talking about me because I feed and shelter my pet.

You can tell yourself that you are too busy to take that dog you have chained up or fenced up out for a walk, or that you don't have the time to give that dog or cat some love and that it doesn't really matter.

I would just say to you, if there is such a thing as Karma, or the circle of life, or an eye for an eye, how you treat those creatures and people who are in your life will come back to you one way or another.

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Peanut Butter — Not Sugar — Helps the Medicine Go Down for Pets
LEAH J. SIMMONS - The Daily Ardmoreite

Ardmore, Okla. (AP) — At Sue Fernando's house, mornings start early and active. The owner of three rambunctious canines all living together in a small space, that first jump out of bed gets the ball rolling in a cacophony of wriggling excitement as the morning routine begins.

For Fernando, it's not just about feeding, watering and letting the dogs out for some "nature" time. That morning routine means giving each of her three dogs doses of medication for a variety of ailments and conditions.

Brave is the oldest, a 12-year-old black Lab who suffers from arthritis. Another black Lab, 8-year-old Max, is afraid of thunderstorms. The youngest, Nestle, a chocolate Lab/bird dog mix who's about 3 years old, has separation anxiety issues. All of these together make for an interesting combination when it comes time for breakfast.

"I start immediately taking care of them when I get up," Fernando said. "I automatically go down the hall and turn off the alarm so they can go out. Then I go in and fix my breakfast."

Then comes medication time. Brave recently had surgery on a paralyzed larynx, and he has arthritis in his hips, so Fernando gives him a dose of vetprofen, a form of Motrin for dogs, and gives him some Juice Plus, a vitamin supplement program that she takes herself.

During the a midmorning thunderstorm, Fernando quickly dosed Max with acepromazine, which helps keep him calm during the booming thunder and crash of lightning.

And, to keep the high-strung Nestle calm and soothed during the day while she's away, Fernando gives her a dose of Reconcile, which is a Prozac-like medication for dogs.

"Some days when I leave, I have to drag her back into the house," Fernando said. "I used to have to keep her in the kennel while I was gone. She hates that. So we take our meds now and everybody's OK. We all have our issues."

Luckily for Fernando, dosing the dogs isn't that big of a chore. She's found a tried-and-true method that gets the pills down quickly. Fernando takes a spoonful of peanut butter, folds the pill into the middle, then gives the whole wad to each dog. The pills are disguised in the tasty treats, which each dog readily accepts.

"They have those pill pocket treats that are great for putting pills into, but giving one every morning to three dogs gets expensive," Fernando said. "This works much better. I usually buy the cheapest peanut butter I can find. They don't get the good stuff."

Not every pet owner has daily medications as part of their pet-care routine, so the task can get daunting at times when a pet is sick and they are sent home with prescriptions. Cats and dogs both have a propensity to spit out foreign objects like pills even though they may be comfortable eating anything else in the house that's not exactly on the food chain.

Luckily, the experts have some tips and techniques that may make it a little easier to dispense the dosages at home.

Dr. Barbara J. Dunn of the Family Pet Clinic said there are any number of ways to make sure the medications get to their intended targets, which is in a pet's stomach and eventually into the bloodstream.

Dunn said there are other commercially prepared products on the market designed to encapsulate pills so the pets will accept them more readily, including "yogurt jars of meaty materials made to be palatable for cats and dogs."

She doesn't recommend a full regimen of "people food" for disguising pills, but said, "I usually tell people it's OK to take a tiny piece of cheese, the tiniest you can get away with, and use that to get the pills down. When all the pills are taken, you stop giving them the cheese. That way, they associate getting a treat with their medicine and they're not expecting it all the time."

Smaller pills sometimes can be soaked in chicken broth or water to soften them, and some pharmacists are able to compound pills into a paste form, but it is an extra expense that some may not want or be able to afford.

There are also new cross-dermal ointments that can be rubbed on a cat's or dog's ear to soak in through the skin, which can be a help to someone like a senior citizen who lives alone, but, again, there is added expense involved.

To give a cat medicine, the first thing is to grab a big handful of neck scruff, tip the cat's head back so the nose points straight up and poke the pill or dropper of liquid medicine into the inside pocket of the mouth.

"It's nature's reflex," she said. "You go into the side because there's usually a natural break at the side where you don't have to worry about separating the teeth. Give it slow and let it work."

If a person is concerned about being bitten, there are plunger-type pill holders that can be used to get the pill to the back of the throat. One way to ensure it is swallowed is to blow in the animal's face, which stimulates the swallowing reflex.

"There's also the towel method," Dunn said. "You get the cat (or dog) and wrap a towel around its neck, cradle it in your lap with the head toward the wall and the rear toward you and pull the head back. And the blowing in the face is not an old wives' tale. It does work, just like stroking the neck to stimulate swallowing. I use the blow technique especially with cats."

For dogs who are high strung or in pain and snap as a reflex, owners can borrow or purchase nylon muzzles, or tie nylon hose around the dog's nose as a precaution.

Whatever happens, Dunn said it's important to make sure the pet takes all of his or her medication. If an owner is having trouble, all it takes is a phone call to the veterinarian, who will try to find a solution.

Information from: The Daily Ardmoreite,

Cat Videos: Why We Can't Get Enough
by Benjamin Svetkey - Entertainment Weekly

I have a confession to make. I’m not proud of it. I know it’s wrong. But I’m hooked on Internet cat videos -- call it a kitty porn addiction. That’s right, I love those adorable videos of frisky felines flushing toilets or getting stuck on a rotating ceiling fan or climbing into an empty box of Japanese diet soda. A lot of you folks apparently share my shame: the now-classic “Practice Makes Purr-fect” video—the biggest blockbuster in the cat video oeuvre, in which Nora the cat “plays” what sounds a bit like a Gustavo Santaolalla compostition on the piano—has been clicked on 13 million times. I’m only responsible for a couple of dozen.

I don’t know why, but cats are funnier on home video than any other animal. Something about watching a kitten eat broccoli just cracks me up. Occasionally, other species make decent straight men—the video of that parrot stroking a cat’s head with his claw is pretty cute—but I don’t ever find myself looking forward to new fish gags or hamster hijinks or even doggie bloopers. I spend more time than I should hunting for cat videos, though (just last week on CNN, between Wolf Blitzer talking about politics and Lou Dobbs grumbling about the economy, they ran a story on “the keyboard cat,” another musically inclined tabby that’s making a splash online). For me and other feline-ophiles, cat videos have become a micro-genre all their own. They’ve become a regular part of our personal media diet, as legitimate a form of entertainment as The Daily Show or 30 Rock or anything else that we watch on a screen. Which is why, Pop Watchers, I’m inviting you to submit your own nominations for best cat videos on the web. Later on, maybe EW will even pick a winner. We can call it The Felix Awards. (To view Cat videos, Click Here)

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When Your Pet Should Have Emergency Care
By DR. JIM RANDOLPH - McClatchy Newspapers

Your pet has a medical condition. It's 4 a.m. Is it serious enough to take him to the veterinary emergency hospital now, or can it wait until your pet's doctor is open in a few hours?

Today we'll address some conditions that your pet needs to be seen for immediately.

For some conditions, such as crying out in pain, blood in the stool or urine and open wounds, the answer might seem obvious. But, according to the phone calls we get at our practice, sometimes help is needed even deciding about those conditions, too.

For tips on being prepared for pet emergencies visit

So, let's start right in with medical needs that require immediate, even middle-of-the-night emergency room attention:

-Open wounds, especially if there is active bleeding. Have someone hold steady pressure on the wound(s) while someone else dials the phone and a third helper drives the car.

-Incessant vomiting. Vomiting is miserable enough, but if your pet is experiencing multiple episodes of vomiting in an hour, has vomited three or more times in a day, or vomits even a small amount of blood, it can't wait and your pet needs to be seen within two hours.

-Watery or bloody diarrhea. Any case of diarrhea from more than one bowel movement means your pet needs to be seen within six hours. Less-loose diarrhea with no blood could wait until the next day, but no more than 24 hours.

-Seizures. Few things terrify a pet owner more. While a single episode of a mild seizure could wait a few hours, more than one seizure is sufficient reason for emergency care. Status epilepticus, or non-stop seizuring can cause brain damage in a short amount of time.

-Airway obstruction. If your pet has a pink color to his gums and tongue, he's inhaling enough oxygen. However, an obstruction in the trachea (windpipe) could restrict air movement enough to be fatal. If the tongue or gums are blue, this condition needs immediate attention.

-Uncontrollable itchiness. Here, we're not talking about a rash or itchiness that has been going on for a week, we're talking about allergic reactions that are driving your pet up the wall, often accompanied by hives. Such a level of itchiness needs to be seen within two hours.

-Eye damage. Prolapse of the globe is a condition in which the eyeball (globe) is no longer in the socket. Prolapse is most commonly caused by trauma, but in short-faced breeds of dogs just pulling the skin of the face tight may cause one or both eyes to pop out. Don't push it back in. Call the doctor. Foreign objects penetrating the eye carry the same level of urgency.

-Broken bones are extremely painful, and need to be seen within an hour. Compound fractures, those which cause an open wound to the outside of the body, need special care to prevent contamination and infection.

-Straining to urinate. This one can be really tricky. Don't take chances. If the urinary bladder is inflamed and the pet is able to empty it, he can wait a few hours or even overnight. But, if your pet is straining and the bladder is full because of an obstruction to outflow, bladder rupture could be imminent and time is crucial. Unless you can tell the difference by palpating the abdomen accurately, make the phone call and get him in right away.

-Straining to defecate. While this sign is sometimes associated with constipation or other forms of obstruction, more commonly it is caused by inflammation of the colon. Get your pet to the doctor soon, and certainly no longer than 12 hours from when it is first observed.

-Here's an important consideration about these last two items. Sometimes it's difficult to determine whether a pet is straining to pass stool or urine. If you are unsure and it is possible that the urinary bladder is full your pet needs to see his doctor immediately.

This is not intended to be a comprehensive list of emergencies, but a listing of some of the most urgent conditions you might see. If you are unsure, go ahead and see your veterinarian.

Ask your pet's doctor if he has additional emergency tips for you.

(Dr. Jim Randolph is a veterinarian at Animal General Hospital in Long Beach, Miss. Questions for this column are encouraged. Write to South Mississippi Veterinary Medical Association, 20005 Pineville Road, Long Beach MS 39560.)

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Don't Be Itching to Use Anti-Flea Medications
Dr. Fox - Washington Post

Dear Dr. Fox:

Is Frontline safe to use on my two dogs?



I advise using any chemical and pharmaceutical anti-flea and tick products with extreme care and only as a last resort -- as my wife, Deanna, had to do at her animal refuge in the bug-rich Indian jungle. They are a convenient quick fix for ill-informed consumers who risk making their dogs, cats, themselves and other family members extremely ill. People living in semitropical states, where there is more use of insecticides and pesticides, should avoid routine use in their homes and on their pets. Also avoid using any weed and lawn chemicals that can make pets and people sick.

These new-generation anti-flea products are excreted from people's cats and dogs, and are a significant environmental health hazard, along with those poured, sprayed and bathed over the livestock most people eat.

Dear Dr. Fox:

We have a young (17 months) spayed cat. She recently had an adverse reaction to Advantage Multi flea medications. It started with a sore at the point of contact, which she scratched until she had removed the fur. It got infected, and we took her to our vet, who cleaned the area and told us to keep track of it. A few days later, the area looked red, and the cat felt hot, so we took her to an emergency room. She had developed an infection, so they gave her a shot and started her on medication. It seemed to get worse, and a large spot on her back turned black. They excised the area, stitched her up, and we went from there.

What can we do in the holistic area for this little cat? She is scratching at the stitched area -- no infection, just healing and very dry skin where the fur is growing back. Can we stop the itching? Is there a nonpoisonous flea remedy?


Arlington County

I advise against the kinds of pesticide products that are put on pets' skin or given in pill form. And your experience with your poor cat is no exception. Report the adverse reaction to the manufacturers, and demand full restitution for veterinary costs and compensation for animal suffering.

Careful wound treatment is called for, and the cat might have to wear an Elizabethan-collar lampshade to stop scratching and allow healing. Give one or two teaspoons of fish oil in her food daily, and give her good-quality cat food such as Natura Evo, canned and dry, or my homemade recipe.

Dear Dr. Fox:

Our 9-year-old Boston terrier has been displaying symptoms of discomfort around her back and thighs, accompanied by itching and sensitivity. When we touch the area, her skin sort of "crawls," and she seems to have dandruff. Is this dry skin? Can we give her anything to help her get rid of this condition?

J. & S.L.

Palm City, Fla.

If your dog has been fed only dry dog food since he was weaned, his skin problem is probably related to his diet. An egg and some olive oil might help. He could have the beginnings of autoimmune or endocrine disease, so if dietary changes do not result in improvements in three to four weeks, a veterinary appointment is in order.

Get him on a more wholesome, biologically appropriate diet (see for a listing of my selection of good dog and cat foods on the market). A lightly cooked organic egg from a cage-free hen twice a week and up to a tablespoon of olive oil or one teaspoon of flaxseed or fish oil might do wonders. He might also enjoy a daily teaspoon of coconut oil or organic, unsalted butter.

Dear Dr. Fox:

I was wondering whether you could offer some information on dental treats for cats and dogs. They are becoming rather popular. I picked up some Greenies for my cat to stave off a $200 dental cleaning at the vet. My cat loves these treats, and they certainly hit my pocketbook a little easier at $3 a crack.

However, in these tight economic times, I was wondering what their actual value might be.


Fargo, N.D.

Dental problems in cats and dogs are primarily tied to diet, particularly high starch and highly processed fine-particle ingredients with gummy additives. This means that most dry cat foods are out; it is a myth that they help keep cats' teeth clean. (See my Web site, above, for a list of preferred dry cat and dog foods.)

So, after a good dental cleaning, change your cat's diet. This will benefit not only your cat's teeth but also her immune system, heart, liver, kidney and pancreatic functions. Expensive teeth-cleaning snack treats are no solution, and I advise against them.

After the dental exam and professional teeth cleaning, use dental products such as Petzlife Oral Care to help stop tartar accumulation and keep gums healthy.

Natural chewing and salivation help keep the oral cavity healthy. For dogs, I advise a three-inch piece of raw beef shank marrowbone for chewing for no more than 10 to 15 minutes a day, or an organically certified U.S.-made rawhide chew. For cats and small dogs, raw chicken-wing tips/feet, sliced strips of turkey gizzards and raw beef heart are excellent teeth-cleaning treats.

Dear Dr. Fox:

My cat goes to a vet for constipation. Why do vets carry only Hill's Prescription Diets?


Toms River, N.J.

Many cats suffer from chronic constipation and need to be taken to a veterinarian for regular enemas. High-caloric, cereal-based cat foods combined with a lack of physical activity are the main culprits. Home treatments include daily gentle abdominal massages (some cats love it, some hate it) and two or three tablespoons of raw organic yogurt daily in the food or one or two teaspoons of coconut oil. Encourage your cat to be more active with interactive games.

To your question, there are many reasons I have detailed, along with two other veterinarians, in our book "Not Fit for a Dog: The Truth About Manufactured Dog and Cat Foods." Primarily, they sell these diets because they believe in them and because they are very profitable.

Dear Dr. Fox:

I have heard conflicting opinions with regard to the parvovirus. My vet says it's not transmittable to humans. My doctor says it is.

My son lost two dogs to parvo in the past six months despite vaccinations, and I am concerned that the virus could be transmitted to my grandchildren. Please help clarify this issue.


Port Monmouth, N.J.

Fortunately, parvovirus is not transmittable to humans. I wish those human doctors who are ignorant of transmissible diseases such as toxoplasmosis would not panic their patients, especially pregnant ones. They sometimes tell them to get rid of their pets.

Michael W. Fox, author of a newsletter and books on animal care, welfare and rights, is a veterinarian with doctoral degrees in medicine and animal behavior. Write to him at United Feature Syndicate, 200 Madison Ave., New York, N.Y. 10016.

Copyright 2009 United Feature Syndicate Inc.

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