Honey, I Shrunk the Dog!

Honey I Shrunk the Dog
by John Aravosis (DC) - AmericaBlog.com

Mom and dad, finally, took Koukla to get a haircut. Mom likes the dog's long hair, so they were delaying it. But being a warm Chicago summer, and the fact that Koukla was about to bump into poles, it seemed time. Well. The haircutter informed my mom that even though she was in fact brushing Koukla's hair on a regular basis, the hair was all matted at the base - i.e., one big knot. There was no way to trim it. So, a buzz cut was in order. The results are, well, disturbing.

Monthly Pet Pill Could Kill Fleas, Ticks

An alternative to topical treatments might work better on certain cats and dogs, researchers say

(HealthDay News) -- Controlling ticks and fleas is drudgery for countless pet owners. Now, researchers report they're closer to developing a monthly pill that would conveniently rid cats and dogs of these disease-carrying invaders.

Many pet owners control fleas and ticks by applying medicated drops to the skin of their dogs and cats, but the drops don't work for every animal. Also, the parasites may eventually develop immunity to current medications, said Texas veterinarian Dr. Bonnie V. Beaver. A pill would offer an alternative to existing treatments, she added.

"We expect over time that we'll have to have new kinds of products with different kinds of mechanisms of action in order to stay ahead of insects," said Beaver, a professor at Texas A&M University who is familiar with the results of a recently released study.

In the study, researchers with the Merck & Co. pharmaceutical company report that a drug called nodulisporic acid effectively and safely killed fleas and ticks in dogs and cats.

The drug could conceivably be administered as a pill or in a solution, making it easier than a pill to give to cats, said study lead author Peter Meinke, a scientist at Merck Research Laboratories in Rahway, N.J.

The treatment appears to be effective for a month, Meinke said. "That's a somewhat remarkable accomplishment. Imagine an instance where a doctor says to take an aspirin and it's effective for one month."

Like some other flea and tick treatments, the drug kills insects as they feed on pets. The poison works as they digest the animal's blood, but is harmless to mammals, Meinke said.

"It delivers a lethal dose through dinner," he said.

Other flea and tick treatments -- sprays and powders, among them -- expose insects to poison when they alight on a pet's body.

Besides annoying the host animal, fleas and ticks can cause skin disorders and infections such as Lyme disease, a potentially crippling syndrome.

The cost of the treatment is still unknown, and researchers don't know if it might help prevent Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses in humans, Meinke said.

For now, the drug is in the early stages of development. A similar oral drug only targets fleas, not ticks.

Ultimately, the drug could offer an appealing alternative to the medicated drops that pets absorb into their bodies, Meinke said.

And Beaver added that the topical treatments aren't right for all pets. Heavy coats, for instance, make it difficult to apply drops directly on the skin, she said.

"We have to look at a lot of different ways that we can help animals," she said. "New products are always welcome."

On the other hand, she added, "we've come a long way in being able to help animals infected with fleas and ticks."

More information:

Learn more about flea and tick treatments from the Humane Society of the U.S.

Come to Church in a Bar and Bring Your Dog

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - A nondenominational church is conducting Sunday services in a bar and allowing dogs to attend with their owners.

The City Community Church meets Sunday mornings at La Zona Rosa, a music venue and bar, the Austin American-Statesman reported.

Church members say meeting in a bar and allowing dogs are ways to serve the community and make people feel comfortable.

Organizers say it takes an hour and a half to make the switch from bar to church by cleaning up beer bottles and installing baby gates.

Scott Harmon says when services are over "it's back to a bar."

Rev. Matthias Haeusel says most dogs are well-behaved, although things got awkward when a German shepherd recently tried to eat one of the smaller dogs.

Pet Snake Outgrown Your Home?
Options for Exotics are Available
By KEITH MORELLI The Tampa Tribune

TAMPA - Exotic pets, including large constrictor snakes such as pythons and boas, may hold an appeal for many as alternative types of pets, but these snakes can get big and unruly.

Burmese pythons can grow to 20 feet, and present a danger to young family members or pets.

The Nature Conservancy says owners of large snakes who can't handle the reptiles anymore should not grand them freedom and just allow them a pass out the back door.

Instead, they should:

• Check with the pet store where they purchased it about taking it back.

• Look for a certified adopter or consult with a veterinarian about a humane method of euthanasia.

• Consider the exotic-pet amnesty day offered by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission during which owners who can no longer handle their pets get a chance to surrender them for free, no questions asked.

Commission spokeswoman Pat Behnke said that the amnesty program began in 2006 and is popular among those giving up exotic pets and those adopting them.

There have been three such events this year and one is planned in the fall, although the details have not been finalized as to where and when it will be held, she said from her Tallahassee office this morning.

"We advertize for adopters to sign up with us and to get certified, and we invite people who can't take care of their exotics anymore," she said. "We ask that they bring their pets to us and not release them into the wild. We want them to know that we will safely put them into someone's hands; someone who can care for them.

"People become attached to their exotic pets, and when responsible owners realize they can't handle them anymore, they want to make sure they are well cared for."

All kinds of exotic animals come in at the events. "We get a lot of snakes, iguanas, lots of reptiles and little mammals," she said.

Seventy pythons were turned in at each of the past two events, she said. They are turned over to facilities that can care for them, such as zoos, or individual snake lovers who have the proper permits and can demonstrate experience in the care of large reptiles, she said.

Adopters "have to fill out applications that are reviewed," she said. "They have to give information about their exotic, whether they can keep it and the site at which it will be kept. They have to give us caging information, names of veterinarians and know that we can come in at any time and inspect the caging."

Locally, exotic pets, including large snakes, can find a home at Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation in Seminole.

The facility accepts any wildlife, including snakes and other reptiles, said director Vernon Yates. Pet owners can bring snakes to the center, which has all the required licenses to keep reptiles, no questions asked, he said.

"We average two or three a month," Yates said. "We have a big white Burmese python right now. What we try to do with them, we try to find homes where they are used for education."

That includes zoos or wildlife refuges, he said.

"We would rather have them in our possession rather than turn them lose, or turn them over to Animal Control, where they will just get euthanized," he said. "It's not the animal's fault."

Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation is at 9500 82nd Ave. N. The telephone number is (727) 399-1525.

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Handy Tips For Maintaining A Nice, Lively Aquarium

Fish as a pet makes a really nice past time. Fishes are seen as stress busters, and they are also observed as lucky mascots in Chinese Feng Shui and Indian Vastu Shastra. Fishes like gold fishes and guppies are said to bring in positive energies inside your house or wherever they are placed.
Well, enough about the benefits of taming fishes, but how to take a good care of them. They look so delicate and sensitive that you feel it is very difficult to take care of them. No hassles! You simply have to keep a few basics in mind to maintain an aquarium with healthy and energetic fishes.

- Buy a healthy fish. Taking home an ill fish can effect other fishes of your aquarium and also chances are grim that an already ill fish would adapt to the environment of your aquarium. So, ensure, they do not have any sort of infection. You can also observe their movements while in the pets shop.

- Do not overfeed your fish. Everyone wants plump fishes but feeding them too much of food would never help. It can pollute your aquarium unnecessarily. You might find that your fish is eating as much as you are giving it. But this can result in its death also.

Fishes have tendency to eat more than required but they are not able to digest it. This applies more particularly in case of gold fishes and guppies. Thus, maintain a good balance and decide appropriate frequency of giving food. Three to four times a day is usually sufficient.

- If your fish is not keeping good health, quarantine it. Take it out and keep it in a separate vessel. It is not that you are not treating your fish well, but the fact that you are saving other fishes from any possible infections. On the other hand, you can arrange for the treatment of your ill fish in a separate jar more efficiently.

You can find a number of disinfectants and other liquids helpful in curing infectious diseases in fishes. Also, your fish would avoid eating when ill, take it normally.

TAIL TALK: Dogs Depend on Us to Keep Them Cool
by Gloria Dauphin, Louisiana SPCA - nola.com

As difficult as it is to handle the oppressive heat we've been experiencing these past few weeks, it's even more trying for our four-legged friends. They simply don't have the ability to sweat and cool themselves the way we do. They are dependent upon their humans to make sure they have proper shade, water and are not exposed to dangerous elements like the hot interior of a car.

Recently, a colleague happened upon a scene in a suburban shopping center parking lot where two Shih Tzus were left in a parked car with only a cracked window. This was on one of our typical hot days with the heat index well over 102 degrees. On a typical day of only 85 degrees, for example, even keeping the windows slightly open won't stop the inside temperature from climbing to 102 degrees in 10 minutes, to 120 degrees in 20 minutes. And this does not even factor in the high humidity particular to our climate.

My colleague immediately called store management to reach the car owner on the paging system and also called animal control to the scene. The dogs' humans arrived prior to animal control and rather than heeding the advice that they were putting their dogs at great risk, they became argumentative and fled the scene before animal control officers arrived. Hopefully, the experience will encourage them in the future to do the right thing.

Should you ever happen upon a similar scene, don't hesitate to contact the police and animal control immediately. Local police agencies do have the authority to break a car window if an animal is showing signs of heat stroke: rapid panting, rapid pulse, glazed eyes, excessive salivation, elevated body temperature, excessive whining or agitation, staring, vomiting, and white or bluish gums. Only one of these symptoms has to be present to indicate your pet may be in trouble.

There are also other adjustments we should make in our pets' routine to protect them from the summer heat: Keep plenty of cool, clean water in a spill-proof container available to your pets. Outdoor dogs may enjoy a baby pool filled with fresh water to lie in when the temperatures get high. Brush your pet's coat to keep it free of mats. Do not shave off your pet's coat, because bare skin can sunburn. Fur protects your pet from the heat and insects and retains cooling water after a refreshing swim or a wetting from a garden hose. Walk your pet during the cooler morning and evening hours. And, avoid the hot pavement, which can burn and blister your dog's paw pads.

On hot, humid days, avoid running/jogging with your pet. They won't stop when they're overheated because they enjoy the activity and are focused on pleasing you. Heat stroke is fatal to our furry friends and they are literally at our mercy when it comes to seeking refuge from the heat.

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Can A Dog Treat Be Healthy?

Have you ever read the ingredients on your dog’s favorite treat to see what is really in there?

Is it possible that dog treats could actually be causing health problems that you’re not even aware of?

Just like the multi-billion dollar pet food industry, from grocery stores to pet boutiques to even your local veterinarian, they all sell delicious, mouth-watering, paw licking treats aimed at enticing YOU!

Your dog is attracted to the scent and taste of a food item, not the shape or color or nutritional claims, and certainly not to a cute little name wrapped in a glitzy package. The leading brands of pet treats – all sell on creative marketing, bag graphics, brand identity or attractive pricing. Are they worth the price???

The sharp rise in pet illness may be attributed not only the processed food you feed your dogs or the vaccines we pump into them but also, to tasty treats that contain unhealthful ingredients.

Thankfully, many pet owners are beggining to demand “healthier” treats. In response to that demand, companies are beginning to incorporate natural and/or organic ingredients into the treats. Be careful though, Even though there are even some grain free treats out there you need to be vigilant and avoid the following ingredients:

--Propylene glycol- an industrial solvent used in acrylics, stains, inks, dyes, cellophane, antifreeze, airplane de-icers and brake fluid. Side effects on animals include: irregular heart beat, underdeveloped growth, brain, liver and kidney problems, lowering blood pressure and even death. Pets love the sweet taste.

Artificial Colors
--Blue 1 and 2- found in pet food and treats have caused brain tumors
--Red 3- caused thyroid tumors
--Yellow 6- Linked to adrenal gland and kidney tumors, many carcinogens

--BHA or BHT- studies found usage caused cancer in rats
--Propyl galate- preservative, prevent spoiling, might cause cancer
--Ethoxyquin- linked to cancer
--Potassium Bromate- Bromate has been banned throughout the world, except for in the United States and Japan. Causes cancer in animals
--Acesulfame-K also breaks down into acetoacetamide, which has been found to affect the thyroid in rats, rabbits and dogs
--Partially Hydrogenated Oils- creates trans fats, which promote heart disease and diabetes
--Poultry by-product meal is a high-protein ingredient used as a major component in some dog food and treats. It is made from grinding clean parts of poultry cadaver, which can contain bones, offal and undeveloped eggs. It also can contain feathers.

May be hard to digest.
--Meat by-product meal- is a substandard form of protein, used by many popular pet food and treat manufacturers because it is cheap. Sources may include: road kill, euthanized cats and dogs, including their collars.
--Brown Sugar / sugar/ molasses- some of the effects of sugar in pets are- suppression of immune system, mineral imbalance, hyperactivity, diabetes, kidney distress, weight gain, allergies, excessive pancreas activity, liver activity, increase bad bacteria in colon, cancer.
--Corn Syrup contains mercury, causes obesity (Research has shown that “high-fructose corn syrup” goes directly to the liver, releasing enzymes that instruct the body to then store fat!).
--MSG never listed/named as such but hidden under the name of natural flavors, flavor enhacer, free glutamic acid, Glutamate, Calcium caseinate,Calcium caseinate,Autolyzed yeast
etc. is an excitotoxin, which means that it overexcites your cells to the point of damage, acting as a poison

Additional items to be wary of:
--Ground wheat, wheat four, wheat gluten, ground yellow corn, corn gluten meal, corn starch, glycerin, hydrogenate starch hydrolysis, bacon fat preserved with BHA, soybean meal, oatmeal, salt, sorbic acid (a preservative), artificial flavor, calcium propionate (a preservative), glyceryl monostearate, phosphoric acid, choline chloride, added color (Red 40, Yellow 5).

So what CAN I feed my as a treat?

If you feel you must give your dogs treats or you need them for training, try some boiled fresh veal liver or chicken gizzards. Boiled or broiled beef heart.

If you want something without the work of cooking, The Whole Dog carries a great line of dehydrated raw organ and muscle meats as well as a few grain and potato free biscuit treats with herbs, wild salmon oil, probiotics, etc. all made with hormone and antibiotic free meats. Check out Dr Woofers.

Bearded Dragon - Care and Keeping

The bearded dragon is an attractive large pet lizard. Tamed from young by being made familiar with handling in short sessions, the bearded dragon will develop into a friendly and non-aggressive pet which over time will often allow you to feed it by hand. Bearded dragons also being bathed so that handling is often apprciated provided that it is not done for too long at any one time. As well as being much friendlier than an adult green iguana, the bearded dragon is also smaller, growing to just under two feet in length, which contributes to them being one of the easiest large lizards to keep as pets.

The base of the terrarium for a bearded dragon should be kept dry but can simulate either a desert or a woodland habitat, using rocks and sand or rocks and bark or cork substrate respectively. Beardies will both climb and burrow, will require a shallow water dish and eat both plants and meat.

Terrariums should measure 40×20x20 inches for a single dragon, and an absolute minimum of 60×25x25 inches for a group of one male and two females. Males should be kept spearately as they are territorial and will fight over habitat and females. If keeping more than one dragon in a terrarium, then providing more than one basking area and sevfral feeding areas is definitely advisable, to reduce the likelihood of squabbles and also make sure all the occupants get enough to eat. Commercially available foods are the easiest and a good option for beardies as they give them ythe right balance in their diet, which can then be supplemented by meat. Meat should form a substantial part of their diet.

The terrarium should be able to be heated to a range of between 86 and 120 degrees fahrenheit using full spectrum lighting. This can be supplemented using an under-floor heated pad.

Any waste from bearded dragons should be removed frequently as they are greedy and will produce quantities, which can be a source of infection to these friendly pets.

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Cathy M. Rosenthal: Sago Palms Highly Toxic to Pets

Express-News - Dear Cathy: When my cocker spaniel Lucky ate a sago palm this spring, he stopped eating and almost died. Even months later, he still doesn't want to eat and we must force-feed him puppy replacement milk with his medications. He used to be so full of life, but now he just lies around barely lifting his head.

For more than two months, we have not known if our beloved pet will live, die or be sick forever. We canceled our vacation to make sure he is OK. Please let others know that sago palms are deadly to animals.

— Alyx Chavis

Dear Alyx: What a terrible ordeal. I hope Lucky recovers. You are right to warn others: sago palms, a frequent plant in our San Antonio landscape, are highly toxic to cats and dogs. Common signs of ingestion include vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, depression, seizures, liver failure and even death.

Since 2003, the ASPCA has reported a 200 percent increase in the number of sago palm and cycad poisonings, and 50 to 75 percent of those ingestions resulted in fatalities. According to Dr. Sharon Gwaltney-Brant, veterinary toxicologist and vice president of the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, all parts of the sago palm are toxic, not just the seeds or nuts.

If you have pets, this plant doesn't belong in your landscape. Thanks, Alyx, for sending me photos and sharing your story.

Dear Cathy: I have recently started giving my 14-year-old cat monthly Advantage Plus flea treatment. He had a bout with fleas and this worked miracles. After talking with my vet, we decided to do this every month. The problem is, immediately after I apply the treatment, he gets a little hyper and hides. He comes out after an hour or two and appears to be fine. The package insert has a chart which shows this as a possible side effect. Do you have any idea why this happens? Is this harming him in any way?

— D.B.

Dear D.B.: This product is generally well-tolerated in cats, but there may be a mild skin reaction, like a burning or tingling, at the site where the product is applied that may make your cat bolt. It's important that you share any observed side effects with your veterinarian, however, because only he or she can make this determination.

Dear Cathy: My neighbor is currently disabled and unable to work and is having a hard time feeding her pets. She does not want to turn them in to the shelter. Is there any organization that can supply her with pet food?

— Margaret

Dear Margaret: You are a great neighbor. You will be happy to hear that Pet Pals of Texas operates a pet food bank for pet owners in need in San Antonio. They rely on pet food and monetary donations to support their programs. Donations or assistance can be found by visiting their Web site at www.petpalsoftexas.org or calling (210) 658-8821.

Send your pet stories and questions to Cathy M. Rosenthal, c/o Features Department, San Antonio Express-News, P.O. Box 2171, San Antonio, TX 78297-2171, or cathy@petpundit.com. Cathy's advice column runs every Sunday.

Gary Bogue: When Walking Dogs in Open Spaces,
Watch Out for Coyotes
By Gary Bogue - Contra Costa Times

It's a beautiful day.

Dear Gary:

This morning my husband and I took our young Lab mix on a walk in Briones Regional Park. She just turned a year old this week. It was 7:30 a.m., already getting quite warm, and she was off-leash.

We had just turned on to the Briones Crest trail from the Old Briones Road trail when a large coyote ran up the hill below us, across the trail in front of us and on up the hill above us. Our dog (who loves to play with other dogs) took chase and nothing we did stopped her, even blowing our whistle.

I was horrified as she disappeared over the hill and I just kept screaming her name.

Within a few seconds our dog reappeared and ran back down the hill to us. As she was doing this, I saw the coyote's head appear at the top of hill watching. It then turned away and disappeared over the hill.

We completed our hike with our dog on a short leash. All we could think of were stories people told us of coyotes luring dogs away to be killed by their packs.

After returning home we got on the Internet and looked up information on coyotes. We now think it was unlikely the coyote was trying to lure our 60-pound dog. Clearly, we need to work harder on her recall and probably won't let her off-leash at Briones for a while. Should we be more concerned about coyotes at Briones?

Linda Suarez,


Dear Linda:

When you walk your dog in Briones or any open space area, always
be concerned about coyotes.

You could be walking near a den, which means parent coyotes may be territorial and aggressive with dogs. You never know for sure how a coyote will act with your dog — aggressive, or friendly, or playful. You never know until it happens.

To be safe, I'd keep your Lab ON-leash until you're positive she'll respond to voice control. One day her life might depend on it.

Dear Gary:

Your recent column about ringneck snakes reminded me of how I searched for info about them when I saw my first one. They must be quite rare, certainly info about them is! I thought it was the most beautiful little critter I'd ever seen.

I rescued several from my cat (the same one?) and put it into my neighbor's large expanse of ivy.

Margaret Wehinger, Oakland

Dear Margaret:

The little pencil-size ringneck snake, dark gray to black on the back with an orange neck ring and bright orange belly, is actually fairly common throughout the Bay Area. They're just very secretive and live under flat rocks, logs, etc.

They prey on earthworms, small salamanders, lizards and slugs. In other words, the ringneck is a gardener's favorite snake.

A final note

Today I lost my best friend. His name was Leon. I loved Leon more than I ever thought was possible. Leon was my orange tabby. He was the sweetest cat I have ever known. Even though some might say, "he was just a cat," he was so much more than that to me. He woke me up every morning with his sweetness, waited patiently for me to come home at night. He let me know his every need, comforted me in times of sadness, and helped me truly understand what it means to love unconditionally. I don't know that I will ever have the opportunity to have someone so special in my life again and although I am devastated at losing my little boy I am so lucky to have had him in my life. I hope with time the pain will subside but right now all I can do is grieve. Please tell all your readers to love their pets everyday, time with them is all too short. (Lisa Hoffmann, cyberspace)

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