Your Pets' Health: Human Medicines and Household Items

Keep Pets on a Leash When Camping
or Hiking to Prevent Poisonous Bites
By Niki Laviolette -

TERRE HAUTE — Outdoor activities, such as camping and hiking, often include the family pet. The ASPCA (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) wants to remind people to be aware of the poisonous creatures that lurk outside and that can pose a threat to your pet, as well as to you. In 2006, the Animal Poison Control Center handled more than 480 cases of pets that were exposed to a poisonous animal. Before taking your pet into the woods or forest preserve, follow the ASPCA’s tips for protecting your pet.

Keep your pet on a leash and don’t allow him to wander off the beaten path. This will lessen his chances of encountering a snake or poisonous animal. Don’t let your dog investigate piles of rock and debris, holes in trees or in the ground. Avoid walking your pet during the evening where poisonous animals live, as many are more active at night.

If you think your pet has been bitten by a poisonous animal, get him to your veterinarian immediately. The ASPCA recommends that you keep your pet calm and as still as possible. If possible, know what has bitten your pet so that you may be able to describe the animal to your veterinarian. Common symptoms that can indicate if your pet has been bitten by a poisonous animal include, moderate to severe pain, swelling, puncture wounds, weakness, difficulty breathing, tremors, seizures, and abnormal heart rhythm. These can become apparent within minutes or hours. Also, the tissue surrounding the puncture wound may die, due to venom. Dangerous to your pet as well are poisonous spiders, bees and wasps, fire ants, stinging caterpillars, scorpions, ticks, bird flu, poisonous plants, and the mosquitoes (considered to be one of the most dangerous creatures). The mosquito is known for spreading malaria, elephantiasis, yellow fever, dengue fever, and the West Nile virus.

Rise of Wolves Putting
Minnesota Pets at Risk
By DOUG SMITH, Mpls Star Tribune

Complaints - and fears - about attacks on dogs are increasing along with wolf numbers in northern Minnesota

When Bruce Mell left the Twin Cities and retired to a lakeside cabin in northern Minnesota two years ago, he took along his canine companion, Sadie.

"She and I retired together," Mell, who is 61 and divorced, said of the 80-pound black Lab-mix he had rescued from an animal shelter. "We've been together for 10 years. Every morning when I got up to fix coffee and some breakfast, I'd let her outside. She never went far, just stayed around the yard."

But one recent morning, Mell went out to tinker with equipment on his 5 acres in the woods near Hill City and immediately noticed something was wrong.

"No dog," he said. "At first I didn't think much of it, but then I started to worry."

Mell found Sadie's remains in the woods not far from his cabin. Wolves had killed and eaten her.

"There was almost nothing left: The end of her tail, a bit of rib cage and her collar," he said. "Your heart just drops. Me and her were pretty tight."

Sadie is among seven dogs federal officials have confirmed were killed by wolves so far this year in Minnesota -- part of a recent spate of dog-wolf encounters and an overall increase in wolf attacks on domestic animals -- mostly livestock.

"I'd say [depredation] complaints are up 10 percent to 20 percent this year," said John Hart, district supervisor for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services, which investigates wolf incidents and traps and kills problem wolves.

As of last week, his agency had received 131 complaints of domestic animals killed or injured by wolves. Last year, officials hadn't receive that many complaints until mid-November. Sixty of the complaints have been verfied, compared with 75 all of last year.

'It's wolf city'

While livestock deaths are the most common complaint, wolf attacks on pets tend to make news. There have been several dogs attacked and either killed or injured by wolves in the Grand Rapids-Hill City region this summer. "It's the talk of the town," said Mell.

Dogs often simply disappear, as was the case of a small dog near Grand Rapids. Its owner spotted a wolf in a field shortly before the dog disappeared. And several dogs, including another Lab in the Hill City area, have been seriously injured by wolf attacks.

"This is wolf city up here," Mell said.

Jon Paurus, a Department of Natural Resources conservation officer who has received several complaints about wolves attacking dogs, including Mell's, agrees.

"It's prime wolf country here in the Hill City-Grand Rapids area," Paurus said.

Because the federal government maintains management of wolves, federal officials respond to the complaints.

Last year, federal officials confirmed just two dogs killed by wolves. "Normally, we see five to 10 a year,'' said Hart.

Wolf numbers likely rising

What's going on?

"It's probably a combination of things,'' Hart said. Mid-summer is the busiest time of year for wolf complaints. Wolf pups, born in the spring, now are more mobile and move from dens to "rendezvous sites" frequented by adult wolves, which are extremely defensive about the pups. Those sites can be closer to humans, and encounters with people and their animals are more common. Also, livestock often are in pastures now.

Wolves view dogs as intruders and threats -- not necessarily an easy meal. But, as in Mell's case, once they kill a dog, they may consume it.

Hart said that after wolf-dog encounters, people often fear that if wolves will attack a dog, they might attack a person. "We tell them, look, you're probably not in any danger," he said.

Another factor is that wolves and people increasingly are living near one another.

"Certainly we have a real healthy wolf population, and high numbers of wolves are living closer to people than they ever have," Hart said. "There are more people moving into rural areas of northern Minnesota, and wolves have filled up much of the state's remote wilderness habitat and they are filtering into areas closer to residences."

And, he said, the state's wolf population -- estimated by the DNR at around 3,000 animals -- may be higher than that. "I think wolf numbers definitely are up a little bit the last couple of years," he said.

Dan Stark, DNR wolf specialist, agrees.

"There are a couple areas where we have ongoing wolf research that have recorded higher pack sizes than they'd had in the past," he said. One area of the northeast had the highest numbers they've ever recorded, he said.

"More wolves trying to find more food may lead to a few more depredation cases," Stark said.

Living with wolves

Occasionally clashes with humans and their animals are inevitable. Stark said pet owners in northern Minnesota must be conscious of the fact that they share the woods with wolves.

"If you see wolf sign and wolf activity, keep pets close and not unattended. Don't let them stray too far when out walking," he said.

Still, given the thousands of domestic animals in northern Minnesota, the number of complaints are small. Last year, federal officials received 137 complaints and verified 75 of them. There were 143 wolves trapped and killed from those cases. So far this year, 121 wolves have been captured, and all but four were shot. Thirteen of those were removed in response to four dog killings.

After Mell reported losing Sadie, Hart set out traps nearby and captured and killed three wolves. The intent wasn't revenge, but to remove problem wolves so other domestic animals wouldn't be killed, Hart said. There are other dogs and livestock near Mell's land.

Livestock owners are compensated by the federal government for losses to wolves, but pet owners aren't.

So life is a bit lonelier for Mell these days. "I still keep looking around the yard to see where she is," he said. But he plans to get another dog. And he's philosophical about Sadie's loss.

"What are you going to do?" he asked. "When you live in the woods, things are going to happen, I guess. It's part of life."

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Steps Dog Owners Can Take to Make
Their Pet Less Likely to Bite
The Associated Press - Los Angeles Times

Experts say early, positive and thorough obedience training, starting with puppy kindergarten, is one way that dog owners can make their dog less likely to bite. Other tips:

— Expose the dog to as many different types of children and adults as possible in the early months of its life in controlled situations, using food and other good things, so the dog will make positive associations between them and people.

— Don't let puppies jump or nip, behaviors that can lead to bites later on. Redirect a nip with an alternative behavior such as a sit. When a puppy puts its mouth on the owner's hand, the owner should put an acceptable object in its mouth such as a rawhide bone or toy or sock. It can take months but eventually the dog should get the message.

— Make sure the dog gets plenty of exercise and mental stimulation.

— Follow animal-control laws and keep dogs leashed and under control in public.

— Never leave a dog with children unsupervised.

— Teach children not to run up to dogs or harass them.

— If a dog challenges its owner, it's time for remedial work. First train obedience, such as the sit and stay commands, then consistently make the dog sit before it gets anything it wants, such as food or a walk, or make it stay rather than letting it get up to follow when a family member moves.

Gary Bogue: Shelled Sunflower Seeds:
Birds and Squirrels Love Them
By Gary Bogue - Contra Costa Times

A country is known by the way it treats its animals.

— Jawaharlal Nehru

Dear Gary:

I just read your Aug. 18 column about the woman who is concerned because her grandson is allergic to peanuts and someone in her immediate area is feeding squirrels and birds peanuts, which they bury in her yard.

I had been feeding the squirrels in my backyard peanuts and didn't have anyone around my home who was allergic to peanuts — but I was getting disgusted with the mess the shells were making.

I discovered I could purchase, rather cheaply, raw sunflower seeds that were already shelled at the nearby Winco grocery store. They sell the seeds in bulk so it's easy to buy as much as you'd like at a decent price.

Now I can continue to feed the squirrels and birds in my backyard without the mess peanut shells or sunflower seed shells make. The squirrels and birds seem to love the seeds and appreciate the ease of eating without shelling.

Michelle Pestana

Dear Michelle:

Local Wild Birds Unlimited stores carry hulled ("chipped") black oil sunflower seeds. You can also probably find them at some pet stores.

Don't do what I did many years ago when I was young and foolish. I put out a bowl of raw sunflower seeds that hadn't been shelled for my birds and squirrels.

You can't believe the size of the sunflower forest I found in my backyard the following spring.

A new community resource is available for good Samaritans and feral/stray cat rescuers in Contra Costa County.

The "Petunia's Project" will provide vouchers for independent rescuers and good Samaritans who have rescued and taken in abandoned, stray and/or feral cats in Contra Costa. The vouchers will provide: FREE combo test, spay/neuter, deworming (if deemed necessary), FVRCP shot, rabies shot, and Advantage application — all done by a participating veterinarian.

For rescuers practicing trap, neuter and release (TNR) and caring for a cat colony, the basic voucher also will provide for ear-tipping.

For those who will foster and/or adopt an abandoned, stray adoptable cat, you will have a $5 option to have a 24-hour Petwatch microchip placed in your rescue cat/kitten. Petunia's Project will pick up the rest of the cost of the chip and implanting.

This Project was developed to fill a critical need in our community for independent rescuers and good Samaritans not affiliated with a group and requiring immediate and ongoing services.

Petunia's Project is made possible by a grant from The Max T. and Grace D. Morgan Charitable Foundation.

For more information, e-mail Sally at Friends of the Formerly Friendless at or call 925-808-8364.

Dear Gary:

I have been seeing rodent droppings always in the same part of my patio.

The rodent leaves behind the legs and part of the head (looks like a claw) of potato bugs.

I have been unsuccessful in catching the rodent using sticky mouse traps. Any suggestions?

Sylvia, Hercules

Dear Sylvia:

Sounds like a roof rat has been preying on your potato bugs (aka Jerusalem crickets). Potato bugs usually crawl around at night when rats are out hunting.

Please don't use sticky mouse traps. They are diabolic, inhumane contraptions that catch innocent birds, kittens, snakes, lizards, insects, etc. They should be banned.

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Treating Your Pet at Home With Household Items

Some Common Items and Human Medicines Can Be Used in an Emergency

What would you do if your pet got sick and you couldn't get to the vet?

Vet Dr. Becker says some household items can save your pet in an emergency.There are items in your home -- in the kitchen or medicine cabinet -- that can help. But there are also some remedies that are safe for humans but dangerous for animals.

Veterinarian Marty Becker has great advice on the human medicines and household items that could help your pet in an emergency, and the ones to avoid.

It's important to note that there's no substitute for a visit to the vet for expert help. Becker says that even if you can't get to a vet right away, call one on the phone before trying to treat your pet yourself.

But when there is absolutely no help available -- you're off camping, it's a holiday, you experience some other emergency -- there are things you can do if you have to take action quickly at home. In that case, a follow-up visit to your vet is a must.

Never Give Pets Ibuprofen, Acetaminophen or Aspirin

You might think that it's safe to give your pets the pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medication that all of us have at home, such as aspirin, ibuprofen and acetaminophen, but Becker says that's a big no-no.

These drugs aren't dangerous to people, but they are to pets, especially cats. Nearly 10,000 calls to the animal poison control center in 2008 were the result of owners giving their furry friends one of these drugs. Never use those drugs without your vet giving you the OK.

But there are some common drugs and household products you can use to help your pet get through an emergency.

Safe Human Medicines for Pets


Use: Benadryl works well if your pet has an allergic reaction, but only if your vet says it's OK to use.

Dosage: 25 milligrams for pets up to 30 pounds, 50 mg for pets up to 80 pounds and 75 mg for pets over 80 pounds. Use one dose every six hours.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Use: Hydrogen peroxide can be used to induce vomiting if your pet has gotten into something he shouldn't. It's important that you use the 3 percent solution -- you'll find that information right on the label.

Dosage: One teaspoon for every five pounds, up to five tablespoons. It's a good idea to write down how much your pet can take and post it on the fridge or somewhere easy to find, because when you need to induce vomiting, it's usually an emergency and you don't want to waste time doing the math.


Household items in the kitchen or medicine cabinet can help pets in the case of an emergency, but a follow-up visit to the vet is a must.
(/ABC News)Use: For an upset stomach, you can use Pepto-Bismol for dogs, but never cats. Pepto-Bismol contains an aspirinlike substance that cats can't tolerate.

Dosage: A child's dose, as indicated on the package, for every 40 pounds of pet. So if your dog is 10 pounds, you'd use a quarter dose; an 80-pound dog would get two doses.

Household items in the kitchen or medicine cabinet can help pets in the case of an emergency, but a follow-up visit to the vet is a must.(ABC News)

Safe Household Products for Pets

Corn Starch or All-Purpose Flour: Most of us have these items in our cupboards, and they are great to stop minor bleeding, such as bleeding around your pet's nails. Just pack it on, and it will stop the bleeding and soak up the blood.

Contact Lens Saline Solution: You can use contact lens solution to flush out wounds. The solution is basically saline, which is what is used in emergency rooms to clean out wounds.

Baking Soda: This is great for treating bee stings in pets and people. Bees leave a stinger attached to a venom sac, and you want to remove the stinger without breaking the sac. Mix some baking soda and water into a paste, let it dry, and then use a credit card to gently scrape out the stinger.

Betadine Solution (an antiseptic): This is a safe iodine solution often kept around the house as an antiseptic to use on cuts to clean and prevent infection.

Cathy M. Rosenthal: Helping a Dog in His Final Days

Last year, my 8-year-old golden retriever started having problems. He whined a lot while resting and had trouble getting up. We took him to the vet and learned he had hip dysplasia, which is a looseness of the muscles, connective tissue and ligaments that normally support the joint, and canine spondylitis, a degenerative condition in several spinal joints. A blood test revealed he had thyroid problems, too.

As some dogs enter their senior years, they tend to have more health problems, too. Already an epileptic dog, Brinkley would now have to take thyroid and pain medication daily. His tiny little pill box was traded in for an extra large pill container that allowed me to give him medications and natural products, like fish oil and glucosamine for his joints, four times a day. We found the perfect combination of medications and natural supplements to keep him pain-free and active.

But in May, he started have trouble standing again. This time we added acupuncture to his therapy. Canine acupuncture addresses pain and relieves muscle tension for a variety of problems, including hip dysplasia. It's not a cure, but it can improve a dog's quality of life. We saw immediate results. Brinkley was walking steady again.

Two months later, though, he was having trouble getting traction on our floors. My son found some rubber canine footing online called Pawz. We ordered it and put the purple booties on his feet for a few hours a day to help him maneuver across floors. A few weeks later, we started giving him adequan, an injectable form of glucosamine used for the treatment of canine arthritis.

Of course, we can't keep Brinkley going forever, but we certainly have added 10 months already to our time. This was important to me because even though his back end was failing, the front half of his body was still happy and ready to go. How do you let a pet go whose head is still in the game?

This brings me to the question that readers ask all the time, "How do you know when it's time to let a pet go?"

The decision is different for everyone, but I usually consider: Is the pet in pain that can't be controlled? Is the pet eating or accepting food? Are there more treatment options? So far, we have managed Brinkley's discomfort and he is still eating on his own, but sadly, we have run out of treatment options for our best friend.

We adopted Brinkley at 18 months old, and he has been one of the sweetest dogs I have ever known. I have done everything to ensure he has lived a happy life. Even with all my experience working with animals, I know the most painful decision still remains. But, it's part of the bargain we make when we accept animals as our friends. They trust us to know when it's time to let go.

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's advice column runs every Sunday.

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Guidelines On Caring For Your Cat’s Healthiness

Just like humans, cats feel despondent when they are sick. As a pet owner, it is your foremost responsibility to keep your feline friends healthy and happy.

With suitable care and nourishment you will have a friend for life in the form of your pet cat.

Here are some guidelines on how you can properly care for your cat’s healthiness:

1. Feed them properly.

Every cat has a first choice when it comes to food. There are numerous types of cat food available in the market. Try each one until you find out which variety your cat prefers. However, you can still try to blend the selection of cat food you prepare so that your pet will have a healthy and balanced diet.

Commercial cat foods have been well-researched so you do not need to worry about the dietary value of what you are feeding your pet. Also, provide your pet with a lot of clean water to drink. Having an ample supply of drinking water will lead to a healthier pet.

It does not matter if you serve dry, canned or moist cat food. Just make sure that you preserve the freshness of the food that they eat. You would also want to opt for a healthy and natural cat food. Remember that it should be made of quality ingredients.

2. Remember that even domestic cats are natural hunters.

Mice can serve two purposes in your cat’s life: prey and dinner. Hunting for mice would safeguard their natural abilities to hunt and seek out prey. If you come to a decision that you do not like the idea of your cat regularly “hunting” for dinner, make certain that you provide them with a proper diet. This will result to your cat ending up just chasing and running after their prey for satisfying their natural hunting urges.

3. Watch out for unusual behavior.

If your pet is exhibiting abnormal behavior, then the cat might not be at its top condition.

Strive to look out for the following symptoms:

- being lethargic or less active than usual
- shedding of the fur or coat
- it has waxy ears
- looks poor and unhealthy

If you spot these symptoms, you might want to amend the food that you are serving your cat.

Better yet, talk to a professional if you spot your pet being less active than normal. Your pet might have a illness or disease, and as a pet owner and cat devotee, you would not want that to happen.

Although cats do necessitate some work, they are great pets that will provide you with years and years of companionship. As long as you take care of your cat and take him to the vet for his checkups, he should stay healthy.

For additional comprehensive information on cat wellness, visit

An older, tired-looking dog wandered into my yard. I could tell from his collar and well-fed belly that he had a home and was well taken care of.

He calmly came over to me, I gave him a few pats on his head; he then followed me into my house, slowly walked down the hall, curled up in the corner and fell asleep.

An hour later, he went to the door, and I let him out.

The next day he was back, greeted me in my yard, walked inside and resumed his spot in the hall and again slept for about an hour. This continued off and on for several weeks.

Curious I pinned a note to his collar: 'I would like to find out who the owner of this wonderful sweet dog is and ask if you are aware that almost every afternoon your dog comes to my house for a nap.'

The next day he arrived for his nap, with a different note pinned to his collar: 'He lives in a home with 6 children, 2 under the age of 3 - he's trying to catch up on his sleep. Can I come with him tomorrow?'

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