Pet News: Cat with Wings (Photo)

Use Caution With Yard Products Around Pets
By DR. TRACY ACOSTA / Special Contributor to The Dallas Morning News

If you have pets, your backyard can be deadly this time of year. Some of the more common hazards are garden and yard applications ranging from insecticides to treat fleas and ticks to fertilizers.

Whether you apply these chemicals yourself or hire a professional to do it, it is imperative that label instructions be followed exactly to ensure safety.

Apply only the suggested amounts and follow the time frames given regarding when it is safe for pets to return to the yard. Even if using organic methods, read labels carefully for possible pet reactions.

Alternate the areas that you treat, so that at any one time your pets will have a safe area for exercise, water and elimination.

Remember that your pets can be endangered by yard chemicals not only through oral ingestion, but also through skin contact. Pets have chemical risk either through direct contact with their paws or through oral ingestion after licking their paws. Label instructions vary from one product to another; don't assume you know how to use a product. Store these products out of animals' reach or contact when not in use.

Other commonly used products in the yard and home include baits aimed at everything from snails and slugs to moles and gophers. Rodenticides aimed at mice and rats also fall under this warning category. These are all potentially fatal if ingested by a pet. Extreme caution – better yet, avoidance – is advised. If you even think your pet has possibly ingested any of these types of products, seek veterinary attention immediately and bring along labels from the products in question.

Poisonous plants

Many pet owners fail to realize that ornamental plants can be dangerous to pets, if eaten. If you have added a puppy or kitten to your household, review the plant material in your landscape for toxicity. It is highly recommended that you choose plants, mulch and other ground covers that are nontoxic through either direct contact or consumption.

Obviously, some pets that are not in the eat-everything-in-sight stage may allow more flexibility in plant choices, but always inquire if a plant is toxic when making additions.

If you have questions, ask your veterinarian.

Azaleas, calla lilies, dumb canes and oleanders are plants to avoid or to use with caution. Again, the decision depends on the pet's personality and whether your pet chews on things.

Finally, keep pets far away from lawn equipment. Lawn mowers and weed eaters throw debris into their eyes, especially if your dog charges anything mechanical.

Dr. Tracy Acosta is a veterinarian at Biloxi, Miss. Animal Hospital.

Human Best Friend

Dog is the best animal in the world. It is the most loyal companion a man can have and probably even more trustworthy than your spouse. Dogs are the best choice to make if you want a four-legged animal that is smart, trustworthy and responsive, all at the same time. Many dogs are hyperactive and trouble makers as a puppy, but grow out of it with in a year. If you are dealing with a young pup, you must start training as soon as possible.

The longer you wait to put your dog into training, the more your stress will be with your dog. Some pups can be housetrained at the age of three months, others may take longer. It depends on its IQ. When selecting a puppy that will someday perform the role of backyard guardian in your home, keep these characteristics drilled in mind: Moderate aggressiveness, Alertness/intelligence.

Without any basic obedience training, a dog may well still be a great companion and friend for you, but how do you know that your dog is safe, and consistent in all situations? You dont know.

The time you get your dog is the time you start working with your dog. Let take a brief look at some of the basics training for your dog. It is imperative that all dogs should learn their name before they learn anything else. One of the first things to consider is that you will need to be sure to reward your dog for performing an accurate task, and you will have to control them in some way for being a bad dog. When disciplining the dog keep in mind that you are aware about it and do not hurt your pet. Then again, the dog should enjoy the training.

Dogs don’t speak human language; therefore communicate with your dog using hand signals, body language, and your voice. This unique method of communication will build up the bond between you and your dog, enhancing a permanent and loving relationship. Training social skills is a continuous and long term process. Most dogs succeed on the certainty of routine. Take the time to command the dog to sit before you open a door or introduce the dog to a new person, or set its food down in front of it.

Every well-mannered dog should know at least five basic commands: heel, sit, down, stay and come. It is no good to teach your dog a command that you are never going to use such as bomb or drugs searching, or swimming. It is a true fact, that a well-trained dog is a happier dog and a well-trained dog enjoys much more affection and positive attention. Until then, have fun with your dog.

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Small Dogs Scare Off Cougar in Oregon

PHILOMATH, Ore. (AP) — A big cat picked the wrong little dogs for a fight. Chiquita the Chihuahua and Rosie the border terrier chased off a cougar that strayed into this small town near the Oregon State University campus. The dogs' owner, Loren Wingert, said Chiquita and Rosie are tough, but lucky.

The cougar pinned down Rosie, who squealed, but Chiquita convinced the big cat to flee by barking ferociously.

Wingert lives in a cul-de-sac atop a hill that backs up to a wooded area with deer trails. Warning signs about cougars are posted on the trails.

Wingert said the dogs are fine.

Information from: Gazette-Times,

Cat in China with Wings
by Mike Baron -

Someone might want to tell the birds to look out - cats can now be found with wings. At least, one cat in the Chinese city of Chongqing in China can.

The fluffy white moggy has mysteriously grown fur-covered appendages that resemble wings out of its back that has animal experts stumped, the Daily Mail reported Wednesday.

The long-haired white cat, who was born normal - began growing bat-like "wings" on either side of his spine when he was only a one year old.

Scientists believe the growth on the feline, found in Chongqing, China, may have been caused by chemicals ingested by its mother during pregnancy. It is also possible that the deformity developed from two combined embryos, the London Paper reported.

The cat appears to otherwise be in good health.

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Pet Talk
By Matt VanderVelde -

The month of April was an eye-opener for our staff as we diagnosed heartworms in four dogs from De Soto or the outlying area. Fortunately, the dogs are improving and will eventually recover from the life-threatening parasites.

Why is the Old Doc bringing up this broken record? The answer is simple. Heartworms are here in De Soto and will never go away as long as dogs exist and the carrier mosquitoes are abundant. Let’s talk again about heartworms and what we can do about it.

Heartworm disease is a parasitic disease of the blood stream, seen mostly in dogs but sometimes in cats (we have never seen a case in cats in our clinic).

The disease is spread when a mosquito bites an infected dog, picking up a small — immature microfilaria larva of the heartworm — which is then deposited in the blood system of the next dog it bites. After about six months, adult heartworms develop in the right side of the heart. The adult male and female heartworms breed in the dog’s blood system and heart. Larva develop, which are picked up again by mosquitoes to infect other dogs.

This goes on daily in our neighborhoods. But before we talk prevention, consider the consequences of the disease.

If infected, a dog can have as many as 50 adult heartworms up to 14 inches long take up shop in the dog’s right heart ventricle and atrium, sometimes spilling over to the large blood vessel feeding the lungs. If not treated and eliminated, heart failure will begin slowly and insidiously. Symptoms include a soft cough, lack of stamina, shortness of breath, and maybe collapse.

If a dog is diagnosed with heartworms early enough, treatment can be very successful. No longer to veterinarians have to give intravenous arsenic compounds that risk poisoning the patient. Usually, a blood count, chemistry test will be performed to assess a dog’s health and its ability to withstand treatment, while chest X-rays taken to assess pulmonary and cardiac damage.

Heartworms are a very serious problem, but your veterinarian’s knowledge and skill, combined with modern medicines, provide pets with a good chance to recover and lead normal lives.

Recently, a client who lives in east Lawrence brought in his German shorthair for its annual checkup and vaccinations. We learned during questioning, the dog wasn’t current on its heartworm prevention medication and had developed a cough. A blood test proved positive for heartworms.

The owner was distraught. He was a long-distance runner and had his dog join him on a 10-mile run the weekend before. I was amazed the dog survived the run. Fortunately, the disease was in its early stages and the dog has since completed treatment and gained three pounds and his cough is all but gone.

At the clinic, we have many stories of dogs successfully restored to health. But we also have seen dogs that didn’t survive treatment, die suddenly or where diagnosed too late for success.

If your dog has not been on heartworm preventative medication, have it tested. If negative, get it on the preventative chewable tablet given once a month.

Think of it as saving the dog’s life. How about that? Not many of us can be considered a hero, but by keeping your dog free of heartworms you can be a hero in your dog and family’s eyes.

Pampered Pets Get First Class Accommodations
by Laura Nesbitt/Highlands Today

AVON PARK - Stryker splashed and played in a wading pool with colorful, plastic balls on Wednesday afternoon. Stryker is a healthy-looking 9-year-old Labrador mix staying at Just Like Home, a new dog and cat boarding facility in Avon Park. A large, stuffed St. Bernard was in a corner of the glass-walled, six-inch pool.

"The pool is a very fun feature," said hotel manager Jordan Shannon. She has had requests for pet birthday parties at the pool.

Just Like Home is billed as a "pet hotel with the environment in mind" by owners Sheri and Jeff Saunders, owners of Saunders Veterinary Services where Shannon is the manager, according to literature. About 100 people showed up at the open house at the beginning of May.

Saunders had heard from pet owning clients "for years" that they wanted a safe, pet-friendly environment for their animals, Shannon said. About 20 pets have stayed at the hotel since it opened. Prices start at $21 per day for dogs and $19 for cats.

Shannon called the animals at the hotel "members of the family." Her goal is to make sure pets were loved and well-cared for while they stayed at the facility.

Shannon graduated in 2001 from Florida State University with a bachelor's degree in interior design. She was in charge of building construction and visited three different pet hotels to get ideas for the 6,400 square-foot project, which took seven months to build.

The owners tried to be ecology-conscious when building the facility by not clear-cutting trees, choosing a steel building structure, installing a solar water heater, and incorporating natural light in the design. There are future plans to erect solar panels, Shannon said. Her goal is to give pets extra attention and love with lots of "one-on-one time," she said.

Pet owners can choose separate packages for their dogs or cats that include in-room television through Dish Network, raised beds and a view of an outdoor butterfly garden. Cats can get "lap time with brushing or ear rub" from a staff member, according to facility literature. They stay in a temperature controlled glass room with a view of a large fish tank. Dogs get about four "nature walks" a day in a 150-foot long shaded area beside the facility.

As Shannon walked toward Chaser, a 3-year-old white Labrador staying in a comfortable-looking private room, he started wagging his tail. He eagerly nosed his way out of the room when she opened the glass door. Animal Planet was playing on his television. There were paintings of animals hanging on the wall above his raised bed.

Kodie, a 13-year-old tan poodle, and Dominic, a 4-year-old gray poodle mix, played together in a large airy playroom with a television, plastic slide and large plastic balls. Dogs are treated to a Shrek movie in the rubber-floored room that's available for a $5 upgrade.

For more information about Just Like Home, call 863-784-4066. Staff will give tours of the facility that's open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. There are Sunday releases between 3 to 5 p.m. Check-in time is between 4 to 6 p.m. Check-out time is between 9 to 11 a.m. Owners will be charged for a 1/2 day if pets stay past deadlines.

Highlands Today reporter Laura Nesbitt can be reached at (863) 386-5857 or

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Pet Talk: Animal Influenza

The recent emergence and spread of the swine flu virus, also known as H1N1, has affected people throughout the world. From school closings to cancelled vacations, the swine flu has caused a lot of concern.

These concerns have led many to take extended precautions for themselves, their spouses and their children. But what, if any, precautions should be taken for the furry members of our families? The H1N1 strain may not affect our animals in the way that it does humans, but similar type A flu viruses can affect our pets.

In 2005, the first cases of the canine influenza virus were reported in Florida and have since spread throughout the country. The virus is a mutant of the H3N8 equine influenza virus and is a contagious respiratory disease that may mirror signs of kennel cough, including sneezing, coughing and fever.

“Nearly 100 percent of dogs that come in contact with the virus become infected, regardless of age or vaccination history because the virus is new to them,” says Dr. Deb Zoran, an associate professor and Chief of Small Animal Internal Medicine at Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM).

“Of those infected, an estimated 20 percent of dogs will show no signs of the disease.

“Of the eighty percent of dogs that exhibit clinical signs, the majority will have only mild signs of respiratory illness,” explains Zoran.

“In most dogs, the clinical signs include a low-grade fever, nasal discharge and a persistent cough that could last up to three weeks. In dogs that develop severe signs of illness, the clinical signs include a high fever, increased respiratory rates with difficulty breathing and other indications of viral pneumonia.”

The testing results for the virus cannot be obtained quickly, as the diagnosis of canine influenza is made by sending samples for testing to a laboratory at Cornell University for PCR of the virus. As a result, your veterinarian may suggest that your dog be quarantined away from other dogs to prevent the possible spread of this respiratory virus to other canines.

Fortunately, most cases can be treated with symptomatic or supportive care, including fluid support, antiviral therapy, bronchodilators and, if needed, oxygen. If you believe your pet has contracted the virus, it is important to contact your veterinarian.

“As is the case in any viral infection, antibiotics are not helpful unless the infection is so severe that secondary bacterial pneumonia is suspected,” notes Zoran.

“Fortunately, treatment even in the most severely affected dogs has been successful in about 95 percent of cases. The key is early diagnosis and treatment, so if your canine is showing signs of illness, such as a decreased appetite, lethargy, fever or a cough, it is important to contact your veterinarian for further evaluation. Your veterinarian is best qualified to make a diagnosis and to provide advice for caring for any dogs affected with the virus.”

There is currently no vaccine for this virus and the disease continues to affect dogs throughout the country. The best method of protection is to keep your animal companion away from infected dogs.

Cat owners have fewer flu concerns, as felines appear not to be susceptible to the class type A flu viruses and do not develop classic flu symptoms. Cats have their own versions of respiratory viruses, but these viruses are not influenza viruses. However, the same cannot be said for birds, which can be just as susceptible to contracting influenza as our canine friends.

“Avian influenza is a contagious bird disease,” says Dr. Sharman Hoppes, an avian specialist at Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. “It is usually only infectious to birds, but can occasionally infect pigs and people. The disease is most common in waterfowl and is often an asymptomatic infection in ducks.”

Similar to the canine influenza virus, there are two levels of severity observed in the avian flu.

“There are two main forms of disease: A low virulence form and a high virulence form,” explains Hoppes.

“The low pathogenic form may manifest as ruffled feathers and a drop in egg production. The high pathogenic form can cause respiratory and gastrointestinal signs and sometimes lead to death.”

While uncommon, it is possible for avian influenza to spread to people. However, this usually occurs only if the individual is in very close contact with an infected bird.

“If an individual is infected with avian influenza, he or she can actually become quite sick and the disease can often progress to pneumonia or death,” cautions Hoppes.

“Avian influenza is much more serious when it crosses over to humans because most people do not have immunity to the disease. Fortunately, avian flu has not been transmitted from person to person like the swine flu. However, one of the concerns of avian influenza is that it will mutate and develop into a disease that could transmit from person to person.”

At this time, it is highly unlikely that your pet bird will contract avian influenza, but in the event that your feathered-friend becomes sick, care is available.

“While unlikely that your pet parrot will develop avian influenza, it could be possible if you have pet poultry or waterfowl, as they are more likely to contract the disease,” says Hoppes.

“If your pet bird does get sick, it is more likely to be the low pathogenic form and supportive care is available. The best way to prevent your bird from contracting avian influenza is to minimize their contact with waterfowl and poultry.”

Both the canine influenza virus and the avian influenza disease can cause detrimental health problems in your pet, but knowing the warning signs and taking proper precautions could save both you and your companion the worries of influenza.

Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University. Stories can be viewed on the Web at

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