Top 10 Risks to Your Pet

Oscar the Cat Given New Leash on Life
By karlblaghe -

After losing his hind legs in an incident with a combine harvester last October, Oscar felt like the unluckiest black cat in the world. However, in November, the paraplegic cat was the recipient of a surgery that has been relatively untested on cats. His owners, the Nolans, took him to neuro-orthopedic surgeon Dr. Noel Fitzpatrick to find this incredibly odd but miraculous solution.

The doctor put prosthetic metal pegs on Oscar’s stubs and fused the new paws to the cat’s bones and skin. That way, the metal would be able to move in sync with the rest of the cat’s leg so he can walk and jump and perhaps drive with the same ease as he could with his real paws. The cat has returned to his fully functional state and can do all the things he enjoyed before his accident.

The surgery caused about $3000, but that’s a small price to pay to give your companimal back one of his nine lives after he lost the first one. It breaks my heart to see such an innocent, beautiful animal experience such pain, but it makes me smile knowing that he has been given this new leash on life thanks to the hard work of some very admirable individuals.

Vanity Pet Products Hit New Low
by Stephanie Feldstein -

Ever look at a pine tree air freshener hanging from the rearview mirror of a cab and think, "That would look great hanging from my dog's tail?" Me neither. But that's what the latest absurd pet product to hit the internet looks like. Rear Gear is a collection of colorful designs intended to cover up your dog's anus.

The website says these "rear enhancing" ornaments are "a fun and enchanting way of covering your pet's rear while boosting their confidence!"

If your pet is insecure, I can guarantee you that it has nothing to do with indecent exposure. But behind the ridiculous nature of Rear Gear are some very serious problems.

As veterinarian Patrick Mahaney points out, animals generally don't like that particular area of the body being messed with. Having something dangling back there would cause uncomfortable chronic stimulation. The result is that your pet is likely to try and remove his Rear Gear, and then it becomes an intestinal obstruction waiting to happen. Last, but not least, it wouldn't be easy to keep a tail ornament clean, which could cause fecal obstruction or infections.

Of all the ways that people project their own vanity onto their dogs, this is by far the least practical. Some dogs really do need sweaters. Some dogs need booties, and I've even see some dogs with sensitive eyes benefit from Doggles. Rear Gear has no conceivable purpose but to irritate your dog and get in the way of her natural behaviors. It's no big mystery how dogs greet each other. They get a lot of signals from the rear, and foreign objects will only get in the way.

I can only hope Rear Gear turns out to be a hoax because if you're that disturbed by your pet's anatomy, then you should have opted for the stuffed animal version with a neat little seam beneath the tail.

Pet Owners Need to be Careful of Chemicals
Ask Dr. Watts - D. Michael Watts/Vet Care -

Again this week our practice experienced yet another case of toxicity from the use of over the counter flea and tick chemicals. This older Bassett Hound suddenly began having seizures last Saturday. Fortunately, his owner was with him and immediately brought him to our office. When he arrived at our office, he was still experiencing severe tremors and his body temperature was nearing dangerous levels.

We were able to stop the seizures, confirm no organ damage had occurred, pump the dog’s stomach, and administer activated charcoal.

At one point, the chemical exposure caused the dog to stop breathing. We had to manually ventilate for more than 20 minutes and administer multiple doses of atropine before he resumed breathing on his own. After a rough weekend, I am happy to report this patient has recovered thanks to his owner’s fast response.

Every veterinarian can share stories like this one. The tales begin with well-meaning pet owners thinking they can save some money by purchasing flea and tick products without the advice of their veterinarian. The plots predictably move on to heroic efforts and hundreds of dollars of expense. Unfortunately, many end with the untimely death of a family pet.

Just because a product looks similar to something your veterinarian has recommended, does not mean that it is the same. Over fifteen years ago, spot-on products like Frontline and Advantage arrived on the market. The products were clearly superior in safety and efficacy to previously available dips, foggers, sprays, powders, and collars. As a result, the over the counter flea and tick market took a major hit. In response, many companies repackaged the older chemicals into spot-on formulations with packaging similar to the newer products. It has become very difficult for the average pet owner to know exactly what they are purchasing.

Two years ago, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) noticed an increase in adverse event reports from veterinarians and pet owners concerning spot-on products. As a result, EPA is beginning to review labels to determine which ones need stronger and clearer labeling statements. EPA is also working to develop more stringent testing and evaluation requirements for both existing and new products.

Recent EPA press releases have been sensationalized by certain media outlets leading some pet owners to believe all spot on products are dangerous. On the contrary, the EPA has stated that these products “can be appropriate treatments for protecting pets and public health because fleas and ticks can transmit disease to animals and humans” and that “most people use these products with no harm to their pets.”

EPA recommends that “owners consult a veterinarian about the best way to protect their pets from fleas and ticks… especially before using any product on weak, aged, medicated, sick, pregnant or nursing pets, or on pets that have previously shown signs of sensitivity to pesticide products.”

I wholeheartedly agree with EPA’s recommendation. I rarely see adverse effects from the flea and tick products that I have prescribed. Those that do occur are generally mild and transient. Sadly, I routinely see serious diseases caused by fleas and ticks that could have been prevented with an effective parasite prevention program.

You should always ask your family veterinarian for advice before exposing your pet to any pesticide or medication. Veterinarians are advocates for your pet. We have the knowledge and experience to help you find the safest, most effective parasite control program for your unique situation.

In addition, you should always read and follow label directions carefully. Before each dose, double check that the product is appropriate for your pet’s correct species and weight. If you have any questions about the proper way to apply the product or the proper frequency for repeating a dose, contact your veterinarian.

EPA runs a web site to give pet owners information on regulated flea and tick products. Readers can find more information at

Dr. Watts is a companion animal general practitioner and owner of Clevengers Corner Veterinary Care. He can be reached through or by calling 428-1000

Backyard Gardens Can Also be a
Poison Hazard for Pets
By Sharon Vanderlip, DVM, -

The rainstorms have ended and summer is here. It’s the perfect time to plant a garden and work in the yard. But if you share these areas with your pets, you have a lot more to think about than weeds and seeds. The kinds of plants you grow and the products you use will determine whether your backyard retreat is a safe haven, or a dangerous place, for your family pets.

Poisonous plants: Most ornamental plants are toxic. The list of poisonous plants is long and includes many common plants. Even if your pet doesn’t go outside, be careful in selecting which plants to bring inside to decorate your home because many houseplants are poisonous.

Before planting, check with your local nursery to learn which plants are nonpoisonous and safe for your pets. Some of the more common poisonous plants include: Amaryllis, azalea, arrowhead, begonia, Boston ivy, caladium, chrysanthemum, crocus, cycads, daffodil, Daphne, dieffenbachia, English ivy, four o’clock, gladiolus, foxglove, geranium, morning glory, lily of the valley, lantana, lobelia, mistletoe, narcissus, snake plant, philodendron, nightshade, oleander, Sago palm, sweet pea, tulips and wisteria.

Even fruit and vegetable gardens can be dangerous. We often assume plants are safe if we can eat part of them. But some edible plants have poisonous parts. For example, the leaves and stems of tomato plants are poisonous, the leaves and green parts (“eyes”) of potatoes are poisonous, and rhubarb leaves are poisonous. Grapes can be very toxic to dogs. Just a few grapes (or raisins) can kill a dog.

Mushrooms: Mushrooms or other fungi that sprout in the yard can be poisonous. Be sure to remove these as soon as you spot them, before your pet can find and eat them.

Toxic chemicals: Most pesticides used in the garden are dangerous for pets. Check the labels closely for warnings. Avoid snail bait that contains metaldehyde, a chemical that is as toxic for pets as it is for slugs. Look for “pet friendly” snail baits that contain iron phosphate instead of metaldehyde. These are considered safe for pets and wildlife.

Many fertilizers can irritate skin and are toxic if ingested. Pets that play on a recently fertilized lawn may develop contact dermatitis, or rashes and sores, especially on their feet and sparsely haired body parts, such as bellies and scrotums. Water runoff from fertilized areas can accumulate in puddles and poison pets and wildlife that drink the contaminated water.

Mulch: Cocoa mulch is made from cocoa shells and has a sweet, chocolate fragrance. It also contains methylxanthines, the same substances found in chocolate. Methylxanthines are toxic for pets. If you use cocoa mulch in your garden, make sure your pets cannot gain access to it.

Rodent bait: Rodent baits for rats, mice, gophers, and squirrels are deadly for family pets. Make sure you keep all rodent baits out of your pet’s reach. Dogs and cats are curious creatures and will often eat other animals, alive or dead. If your pet finds and eats a rodent that has been poisoned, your pet can also be poisoned.

Insects and arachnids: Beautiful gardens attract bees. Most bee stings in pets are painful, but not serious. In some cases, bee stings can cause severe allergic reactions with facial swelling and breathing difficulties. Spiders and scorpions can be found in yards and gardens. The good news is that in San Diego County, there are only three spider species venomous enough to worry about: the black widow, the brown widow, and the desert recluse (not the same as the brown recluse).

What to do if your pet has been poisoned:

1.Call your veterinarian or nearest veterinary emergency hospital immediately for help.

2.Call one of the poison control hotlines:

• The National Animal Poison Control Center (888) 426-4435. Fee is $50 per case.

• Pet Poison Control Center Helpline 24 hour service (800) 213-6680. Fee is $35 per case.

1.Have your credit card ready to provide payment information.

2.Provide your name, address, and phone number.

3.Give the following information: your pet’s species, breed, age, sex and weight.

4.Have product label available, if possible. Provide information about the product, including how much was eaten, or amount of exposure.

5.Describe the problems your pet is experiencing.

Dr. Sharon Vanderlip is a veterinarian and author in San Diego. County

Not Your Everyday Pet

KENDALLVILLE — Manager Chad Stayner at Exotic Aquatics and Pets in Kendallville catches a tiny tropical fish in a small-handled scoop strainer from one his shop’s fish tanks and shows it to a customer.

He transfers the fish to a container filled with water, and then to a clear, plastic bag also filled with water. He ties the end of the bag, and makes the sale.

Nearly 60 percent of American households have pets, according to an Associated Press- poll. About 74 percent of pet owners polled in October said they had dogs, 47 percent cats, 24 percent fish, 7 percent birds, three percent gerbil, hamster, mouse or rat, two percent turtle or tortoise, two percent horse or pony, one percent rabbit, one percent reptiles other than snakes and two percent other. Pet owners can have more than one pet or different types.

Area pet shops have the more unusual types of pets and not dogs or cats.

Exotic Aquatics and Pets specializes in colorful African and South American Cichlids for aquariums but also has a selection of exotic pets for sale like scorpions, tarantulas, lizards, sea urchins, snakes and coral for saltwater aquariums. Sea

Dwellers and Friends in Angola caters mainly to aquarium hobbyists and businesses and professional offices that have aquariums in lobbies.

“We had a locally-raised gray cockatiel named Gumdrop, but he was recently sold,” said Sea Dwellers and Friends owner Joel Gramling. “We have a couple of canaries for sale that drive me crazy because they don’t stop singing.”

In the front window at Exotic Aquatics and Pets is a large green iguana that likes to scramble up and down a tree limb in its enclosure. Stayner also places a 10-foot reticulated python in an enclosure in the front window from time to time, but the big snake is not as active as the lizard.

Exotic animals are popular pets and caring for unusual, tropical fish can be a rewarding hobby, according to area pet store owners and staff, but people considering an exotic animal for pet or investing in an aquarium should do their homework first.

Anyone with exotic pets who don’t want them anymore should contact a pet shop to see if the shop will accept them.

“It’s a much better solution to turn them in to be sold than letting them go free,” said Stayner. His shop accepts unwanted exotic pets.

Gramling recommends anyone considering an aquarium or an exotic pet should first research how to care for the animals first before making a purchase.

With fish the first-time hobbyist should consider types, how many, size of tank, type of food like whether the fish is a herbivore or carnivore and its feeding schedule.

“There are a lot of things to consider like compatibility of different species of fish,“ said Gramling. “It can be expensive. You just can’t put tropical fish in any fish tank.”

When choosing an aquarium, generally it’s one inch of full grown fish to one inch of water.

Cichlids are the most popular exotic fish at Exotic Aquatics and Pets, according to Stayner. “People like them because they have a lot of color like Angelfish, Oscars and Discus and they’re active. They can be aggressive,” he said.

Sea Dwellers has rats, mice, hamsters and sometimes hedgehogs but aquarium fish are the most popular. “It really depends on what the person is looking for. We can order what they want if we don’t have it,” said Gramling.

In addition to selling pets, Gramling also maintains aquariums at schools, hospitals and professional officers. “I’ve got 40 clients that I service,” he said.

Just visiting a pet shop can be an experience, especially for young children. “The kids are fascinated with the animals. They like to watch the reptiles and fish,” said Stayner. According to the Web site, the best exotic pets for kids are guinea pigs, rats, hamsters, gerbils, mice, leopard gecko and Madagascar hissing cockroaches.

“This Mexican Red Knee Tarantula is interesting,” said Stayner, taking the spider’s glass enclosure off a shelf. “Spiders are popular pets.”
Pet Store Too, 1019 W. Seventh St., Auburn, is another pet shop that has unusual pets for sale.

Pet shops have the special food, equipment and books exotic pet owners and fish hobbyists need to get started and care for their pets.

Pet shop staff can also answer questions, offer advice and order pets if their shops don’t have on display what their customer wants.

Click on banner to visit The Pet Warehouse

Domesticated Cats Hail from Turkey,
Research Suggests
By Jill Bowen -

Q: In what part of the world were cats first found? And how did the different breeds a:rise?

A: Cats were first domesticated about 10,000 years ago in the area known as the Fertile Crescent. This area stretches from Turkey to Northern Africa and includes Iran, Iraq and Egypt. Research data from the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California, Davis, where cat genetics are studied, suggests that Turkey is one of the sites of origin for the domestication of cats.

Cats started living close to people when people ceased being nomadic herders and became farmers raising livestock and crops. The stored cereal crops attracted rats and mice, and cats became useful to mankind by preying on the rodents.

Cats spread to the rest of the world by following the same migration paths as people did.

Cats are divided into four groups: European, Mediterranean, East African and Asian. But genetically speaking, the difference is extremely small. For example, Persian cats (which originated in Western Europe and not Persia) and exotic shorthair cats are genetically the same. Breeds look very different only because of variations in a single gene. This finding is of concern because some breeds are becoming so inbred that the amount of genetic variation is dangerously low, and this leads to higher levels of illness and birth abnormalities.

Q: We have a 3-year-old, shorthaired, indoor/outdoor cat who wolfs her food like a dog and then proceeds to throw up. We never see hair or anything else, just wet food. Because of this, we got into the habit of feeding her only a little bit at a time all day long until her portions run out. This can get old because she is constantly screaming for food and misbehaving if we aren't prompt, but we don't want her to have digestive problems, either.

A: It is not uncommon for healthy cats and dogs to vomit fairly often (once or twice a week). Cats may vomit digested food or regurgitate food relatively soon after eating. In some pets, it is because of stress at feeding time -- especially if there is another pet eating nearby.

Provided your veterinarian can find no physical reason for the regurgitation, then there are very few things that can be done. Feed your cat in a quiet location to give her more privacy, and feed her small portions at frequent intervals.

Choose a low-fat, low-protein food: Fat decreases the esophageal sphincter pressure and delays emptying of the stomach, while protein stimulates the production of stomach acid. There are some commercial cat foods available that have a low-residue formula, and there are some other foods available that are hypoallergenic. You can purchase both types of food from your veterinarian. If none of these suggestions solves the problem, then there are some anti-vomiting drugs available as a last resort.

Warning: The Easter lily is toxic to cats; the calla lily, peace lily and glory lily are not.

The pollen from Easter lilies is very toxic, as are the leaves, causing kidney failure. Symptoms can develop within minutes of eating just one leaf.

Symptoms include vomiting, lethargy and a loss of appetite. If left untreated, death will occur within five days. If treatment is started early, there is a greater chance of recovery. But once the kidneys become severely damaged, there is much less chance of the cat surviving.

The best prevention is to keep any lilies away from the cats. It is not necessary for the cat to eat the plant, but they can become ill by merely licking pollen on their fur.

If you think your cat has either eaten a lily leaf or contacted the pollen, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Extend Your Dog’s Life
Using These Simple Grooming Tips
William Wilcox -

If your dog is an important part of your life, you will want to provide the best of care for her so she can enjoy a long and rewarding life. A trip or two each year to your veterinary clinic does not guarantee that your loyal canine will maintain her healthy appearance and youthful spirit.

If your dog is an important part of your life, you will want to provide the best of care for her so she can enjoy a long and rewarding life. A trip or two each year to your veterinary clinic does not guarantee that your loyal canine will maintain her healthy appearance and youthful spirit. It is you, the dog’s owner, who can make the difference between your dog living a long, full life or one of physical disease and health problems.

Many dogs are treated like they are immune from common heath problems – they are NOT! They suffer many of the same health issues that afflict humans; teeth and gum disease, ear infections, toe nail problems, and hair issues, just to name a few.

Well, don’t get discouraged, because a few simple and easy grooming practices can help you prevent the premature aging of your pet. Basic personal dog grooming is the key to early recognition of skin and tumor issues, dental problems, and mobility difficulties.

To help you establish a regular dog grooming regimen, the following tips are provided covering five key areas; brushing, bathing, nail trimming, ear cleaning, and dental hygiene.

Brushing Your Dog

Brushing, or grooming, your dog is a great time for bonding with her and providing the physical contact that all dogs desire.

This practice promotes a lustrous shine on the dog’s coat, whiling eliminating dirt, debris, and dead fur.

This is also the perfect opportunity to examine your dog’s skin for fleas and ticks, lumps, cuts, or contusions. And while you’re at it, take a moment and examine her ears, eyes, teeth and nails.

Bathing Your Dog

Here is the good news – most dogs only need bathing once a month, unless she likes to play in the rain and mud. If she does get dirty on a regular basis, adjust your bathing schedule accordingly.

A prerequisite to bathing is a good brushing. This loosens up any dead hair or dirt and makes the bathing process much more productive. A good practice is to start bathing your dog as young as possible. Generally start when she is about 14-15 weeks old, or earlier, if they tend to get into messy situations.

Find a good location to bathe your dog, preferably one that is contained and has good drainage. Undoubtedly, water will be spilled or shaken near and far. An enclosed shower or tub is an ideal location, or if your dog is a smaller breed, the kitchen sink can also work.

Wet your dog thoroughly, avoiding her head to keep water out of her eyes and ears. Plug your dog’s ears with cotton balls if there is a risk of flooding the ears. Use a dog shampoo and lather up the dog. Be sure to rinse thoroughly and squeeze off the excess water. The face should be washed with a soft, damp cloth. Towel dry your dog, and blow dry if desired, but it is best to keep her confined until dry.

Trimming Nails

Nail trimming can be a traumatic experience for some dogs. So, it is best to start the nail trimming experience as early as 2-3 months old to let your dog become accustomed to the practice.

For puppies, you can often use finger nail clippers to tip the ends of the nails.
If this is just too much for your dog or puppy to handle all in one sitting, you may start with trimming only one paw at a time, giving your dog an extended break between sessions. The key to successful nail trimming is providing your dog lots of praise when she lets you cut a nail. Kind, soothing words of praise will let her know that she is loved and this experience is nothing to fear. Of course, a few dog treats after the session is over can’t hurt either.

Cleaning Ears

Inspect your dog’s ears often, but only clean them when there is evidence of dirt in the opening or canal. Use a cotton ball, never a cotton swab, to clean the dirt out of the ear. Soaking the cotton ball with a good ear cleaning solution provides the best results. Hydrogen peroxide can be substituted for the cleaning solution, if necessary.

If you notice that the dog’s ears are red, swollen, or emit a foul smell, the problem might be more serious and demand veterinary attention.

Yeast infections, ear mites, and other ear problems are more easily treated by medications only available from your vet.

Keeping a Bright Smile

As a dog’s life span has been extended over the years, it is even more imperative that your dog maintain healthy teeth and gum tissue. You can assist her by brushing her teeth regularly. Start as early in life as possible, to get your dog accustomed to the feel of your finger or brush in her mouth.

Starting with your, pet, finger, or a special dog toothbrush fitted for your fingertip, begin massaging your dog’s gums and gently rubbing her teeth.

Once she has become accustomed to the practice, try using a dog toothbrush, or small soft bristled human toothbrush, with dog-specific toothpaste. Never use toothpaste designed for humans on your dog.

Continuing this practice throughout your dog’s life will ensure that she will avoid gum disease, loose teeth, and related eating problems.

These easy-to-follow grooming tips take very little time compared to the years of enjoyment your dog will provide you and your family. Take care of your loving “best friend” and she will certainly return the favor many times over!

5 Easy Ways to Save
More Than $2,500 on Your Pet
By -

Green guru Elizabeth Rogers offers five tips for saving money on your furry family members

Given all your pet does for you, you certainly want to do the best for him. But too often the best is unaffordable. Especially, it seems, when it comes to healthy pet products that are also better for the planet. Here are some simple shifts to help you save.

Pure kindness: Save $500

If you’re set on a purebred dog or cat, buy one from a rescue association instead of getting a pedigree from a breeder. Save $500 or more depending on breed type and location. You can do your part to decrease demand for purebreds. To locate a rescue group that specializes in the breed of dog or cat that interests you, contact your local animal shelter, check the classifieds section of the newspaper, or search the Internet. You can also contact The Humane Society of the United States, and they’ll help you locate a nearby rescue group.

A real meal: Save $250

As tempting as it might be, don’t buy the cheapest pet food available. Most of the generic and discounted varieties contain high-calorie filler, which may lead to hyperactivity and won’t provide your pet with the nutrients essential to his healthy growth and longevity. Buying the right food can save up to $250 on extra training costs or vet expenses over the course of your pet’s lifetime. Fewer trips to visit specialists means less resources used for treatment and lower gas consumption driving there.

Incredible bulk: Save $125

Buy flea and tick medicine and any other pet medications online and in bulk instead of buying them one month at a time from your vet and save up to $125 per year or more. Buying a 12-month supply reduces packaging waste and also conserves the fuel you’d normally use to pick up your pet’s meds every month or two.

Good for you: Save time driving and sitting in waiting rooms at the vet office.

Take a walk: Save $1,800

If you’re paying someone to walk your dog a few times a week, why not do it yourself? Save up to $1,800 per year or more if your dog is walked three times per week.

Unless your dogwalker lives down the street, she is probably driving to your house to walk your dog. So when you do it yourself, you save the fuel and the pollution associated with your dogwalker’s transportation.

Good for you: Walking your dog is great exercise for you as well as for your dog. And if you just can’t get yourself up early enough to take the dog for a walk, consider this: people who are active fall asleep more quickly and get better quality sleep than people who are sedentary. So test it out and see if a little morning exercise helps you get your Z’s. It may just be a win-win!

Pet treats
If you buy pet treats with no packaging or in packaging that can be recycled, you will prevent a pound or more of plastic from entering landfills each year. If 10 percent of all dog and cat owners purchased pet treats in recyclable packaging, more than 58,000 cubic yards of waste would be eliminated annually. If this waste were packed into a standard 3-acre dog park, it would tower more than 12 feet high.

Who Dat Stole the Courthouse Cat's Crib?
John DeSantis -

A feline friend finds a new home after he was unceremoniously evicted from the Terrebonne Courthouse

HOUMA — Lots of cats scurry and sneak through the storm drains, gutters and gardens that surround the Terrebonne Parish Courthouse. Few draw much attention from the army of women who file the papers, take the complaints and type the reports every day.

A certain orange tabby insisted on notice, however. He mewed and rubbed and rolled over until the softer-hearted court clerks offered food and, eventually, shelter. After the New Orleans Saints clinched the 2010 NFL championship, he earned the name “Who Dat.”

But the kind-hearted gesture of a makeshift kitty palace in an exterior recess of the art-deco building took on a sour taste last week.

In the name of sightliness, cleanliness and practicality, Public Facilities Manager David Drury had one of his crews sweep away the feline shrine. The surprise move was a blow to the clerks, who say they are still containing anger and hurt.

“He had made many friends in a short time,” said Deputy Clerk Arletta Hebert, one of a score of women who counted themselves among Who Dat's fans. “He had a little house and two bowls for food and water and a couple of blankets for the cold nights, all donated by his courthouse friends.”

As each day passed, the attachments grew stronger, and Who Dat was a courthouse fixture.

“He was just so lovable,” Deputy Clerk Jean Fugatt said. “We would tell him hello, and he'd meow back at us.”

After the Saints won the Super Bowl, Who Dat was appropriately greeted and honored. Lint from a black felt patch of his bedding mingled with gold fur, in the minds of his fans making the name that much more appropriate. He never intruded, the women said, only stuck his head into the basement as a reminder that the food bowl needed filling or for a quick acknowledgement.

"I hate to say this because it doesn't sound correct, but he was just like a man,” said Fugatt, a 30-year courthouse veteran. “He'd come in for some food and some loving and then he was out on his own again.”

On March 18, the women came to work as usual, but all that was left of Who Dat's courthouse crib was the sign that reads “Who Dat Cat.”

“We called the parish,” Hebert said. “We spoke to a worker and he said that it was illegal to have a cat around the courthouse, so he removed Who Dat's possessions and threw them in a dumpster behind the Government Tower. What a shame. The poor cat only laid in the weeds that were supposed to be a flower bed. He kept the weeds down. Now the weeds will grow back.”

For his part. Drury wants it known that he has no animosity toward animals and is a cat-lover himself. But a worker was getting flea-bitten, he said, while trying to set up temporary electricity on that side of the building for a weekend event.

“We could not keep those things there,” Drury said. “I'm sorry it had to be that way, but it had to go.”

The courthouse clerks contacted Parish President Michel Claudet; Drury said Claudet counseled him about the importance of sensitivity in such a situation.

The clerks say the unceremonious way Who Dat was evicted, especially since they had bought the blankets, is what bothers them the most.

“We had nice blankets,” Fugatt said. “These were not ratty old blankets.”

Since the hubbub, the deputy clerks are adjusting to life without Who Dat, who has been relocated to the home of one's relatives in Chacahoula, where he has fewer cars to dodge and lots of things to chase.

“We're all missing him” said Fugatt. “We're all missing him a lot.”

View Photos of Singles -
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10 Questions to Ask Your Vet About Medication for Your Pet
Submitted by K9 Magazine News

To prevent or treat an illness in your pet, your veterinarian may prescribe a medication.

Understanding important information about the medication and how to treat your pet can help your animal’s recovery or continued good health.

“Just as you would talk to your doctor about a medicine prescribed for you or your children, you should talk to your veterinarian about your pet’s medications,” says Bernadette Dunham, D.V.M., Ph.D., director of the Center for Veterinary Medicine at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). “And if you have any questions after you leave the animal clinic, don’t be afraid to contact and follow-up with your veterinarian.”

Here are 10 questions you should ask your vet when medication is prescribed.

1. Why has my pet been prescribed this medication and how long do I need to give it?

Your veterinarian can tell you what the medication is expected to do for your pet and how many days to give it.

2. How do I give the medication to my pet? Should it be given with food?

Your pet may have fewer side effects, like an upset stomach, from some drugs if they are taken with food. Other medications are best to give on an empty stomach.

3. How often should the medication be given and how much should I give each time? If it is a liquid, should I shake it first?

Giving the right dose at the right time of the day will help your pet get better more quickly.

4. How do I store the medication?

Some medications should be stored in a cool, dry place. Others may require refrigeration.

5. What should I do if my pet vomits or spits out the medication?

Your veterinarian may want to hear from you if your pet vomits. You may be told to stop giving the drug or to switch your pet to another drug.

6. If I forget to give the medication, should I give it as soon as I remember or wait until the next scheduled dose? What if I accidentally give too much?

Giving your pet too much of certain medications can cause serious side effects. You’ll want to know if giving too much is a cause for concern and a trip to the animal emergency room.

7. Should I finish giving all of the medication, even if my pet seems to be back to normal?

Some medications, such as antibiotics, should be given for a certain length of time, even if your pet is feeling better.

8. Could this medication interact with other medications my pet is taking?

Always tell your veterinarian what other medications your pet is taking, including prescription medications, over-the-counter medicines, and herbs or other dietary supplements. You may want to write these down and take the list with you to the vet’s office.

9. What reactions should I watch for, and what should I do if I see any side effects?

Your veterinarian can tell you if a reaction is normal or if it signals a serious problem. You may be asked to call your vet immediately if certain side effects occur.

FDA encourages veterinarians and animal owners to report serious side effects from medications to FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine at 1-800-FDA-VETS. For a copy of the reporting form and more information on how to report problems, visit the Web site, How to Report An Adverse Drug Experience4.

10. When should I bring my pet back for a recheck? Will you be calling me to check on my pet’s progress, or should I call you?

Your vet may want to examine your pet or perform laboratory tests to make sure the medication is working as it should.

Howl-E-Wood Hearthrobs:
What Pets See When They Look at Us
By Dr. Marty Becker -

My wife Teresa and I are in New York City right now, so I can film a segment of “The Pet Doctor” for ABC News. This trip followed on the heels of one to Orlando for Global Pet Expo. It’s not unusual that I spend around half my time out of town, and that means lots of plane rides. And for me, that also means lots of airplane and airport reading.

I actually like in-flight magazines and the kinds of newspapers and magazines I can grab at an airport kiosk while running to board a plane. I love the eclectic mix of subjects, and I even love how being a captive audience means I sometimes end up reading about things I wouldn’t normally think about.

That’s what happened on my flight from Orlando to New York, when I found myself enraptured by an article in USA Today called “What women say makes a woman beautiful.”

Guys might be happy with how a woman looks, but to appeal to your own sex you have to have it all. The top answers were intangible personality traits like “self-confidence” and a positive outlook on life, with “healthy/shiny hair” and “a great figure” right up there.

So I’m sitting there in my airplane seat, my beautiful wife next to me, and I figure she’s got it all: Confidence? Check. Positive outlook? Absolutely. Great hair and figure? They don’t get much better than my health-nut, fitness-obsessed, Weight Watchers coach wife.

Then there’s me.

Now, I’m as upbeat as you can be, and years in front of the television cameras and in the veterinary hospital exam room with cats determined to triumph in a battle of wills have given me a certain amount of self-confidence.

But the full head of shiny hair and great figure? That’s when I was filled with gratitude that our pets don’t have a little checklist of qualities they look for in their humans (or at least, that newspapers and magazines don’t ask them!).

No, when it comes to our cats and dogs, it doesn’t matter if you’re Walmart-greeter-happy or agoraphobic, wear rose-colored glasses or blinders, have Hollywood hair or no hair from the last round of chemo, or look like Barbie or the Pillsbury dough-boy.

Pets always greet you like a howl-e-wood heartthrob and shower you with kisses like you’re the most beautiful person in the world.

The tabloids tell us that women are from Venus and men are from Mars — but dogs are right here on Earth…thank God!

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Paw Print Pick:
Older Cat Was 'a Gift from God'

When readers e-mail stories to me, I think about retelling them myself but find their words say it best. This is what Kristy had to say about Bisou and the cat's impact on her life and the life of Jim. They live in Burbank, Calif., where she provides care for Jim.

We had a cat named Dusty who died from cancer at the age of 15. Losing Dusty broke my heart and I was not certain that I wanted to have another cat ever again. Jim wanted a cat, but we did not want a kitten or a young cat since they are very feisty and a bit too much for either of us to handle.

After about six months, I decided to leave it up to God. I prayed about it, telling God that if He wanted us to have a cat then He would have to bring one around. I had no intention of looking for another cat.

Two weeks later I came home from grocery shopping to find a note on my door with a photo of Bisou. Bisou's original owner, a neighbor of ours, had found a new love in his life and the lady has 2 boys. These boys are allergic to cats. The note asked if we would be willing to take Bisou. Bisou was 12 years old when we accepted her as the newest member of our household. She likes to play. She is very affectionate and sweet. She keeps both of us laughing.

Jim is a heart patient. Bisou helps keep his blood pressure at a safer level. Jim was on medication for depression. He no longer requires medication to treat his depression.

Bisou is truly a gift from God.

Pet-Proof Your Home:
Top Ten Risks to Your Pets
By Gabrielle Jonas -

Some of the household products most toxic to pets do not carry warning labels. For instance, no warning labels exist on the baker's chocolate and none on the garden mulch, none on the lilies and none on the avocados. The Poison Control Center of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals handled more than 140,000 cases of pets exposed to substances from around the house and garden last year. Here are the top 10 pet poisons in 2009:

1. Human medications

Last year, almost 46,000 pets licked spilled pills from the floor and snatched vials of pain killers, anti-depressants, cold medications and dietary supplements from nightstands. The non-steroidal anti-inflammatories are particularly toxic to cats: NSAIDs can cause perforation of the stomach or intestines, as well as renal failure. Some antidepressants are toxic to cats as well. "Pets, especially cats, seem to enjoy the taste of Effexor and often eat the entire pill. Unfortunately, just one pill can cause serious poisoning," says the Pet Poison Hotline on its website, a for-profit hotline affiliated with the University of Minnesota.

2. Flea and tick treatments

About 29,000 pets received the wrong flea or tick treatments. In many cases, owners applied permethrin insecticides, which are topical flea and tick medicine for dogs, onto their cats, according to the Pet Poison Hotline. But many unwitting poisonings stemmed from owners applying toxic over-the-counter spot-on pyrethroid-based flea and tick treatments to their pets. About 1,600 pet deaths related to such treatments were reported to the Environmental Protection Agency between 2003 and 2008.

Pyrethroid spot-ons have caused violent seizures, brain damage, heart attacks, and according to The Center For Public Integrity, "stirred the ire of pet owners, the concern of veterinarians, and the attention of regulatory agencies." Last April,the EPA said it would intensify its reevaluation of such products. The agency is also encouraging reports of flea and tick treatment poisoning to its National Pesticide Telecommunications Network at 800-858-7378.

3. "People" food

About 17,500 pets chewed or swallowed grapes, raisins, onions, avocado, gum and other people food. Unfortunately, death by chocolate can be a sad reality for pets. Excessive amounts, especially of baking chocolate and cocoa powder, can cause tremors and seizures. Less than two ounces of milk chocolate per kilogram of canine body weight can be lethal. Within 6 to 12 hours of eating chocolate, bloating, tremors, hypothermia, and even coma can ensue, leading to cardiac arrhythmias or respiratory failure, and ultimately, death. Some people food is toxic to a gamut of pets: Avocado, for instance, is toxic to dogs, cats, ferrets and birds alike.

4. House and garden plants

Almost 8,000 pets suffered from chewing or swallowing plants. Spring flowers are surprisingly toxic to pets: even tiny amounts of Easter and other lilies caused severe kidney damage. Other spring culprits are tulip and Narcissus bulbs, causing convulsions and cardiac abnormalities; and amaryllis, causing anorexia and tremors.

The popular genus rhododendron, which boasts more than 1,000 species, causes central nervous system depression in pets; azaleas, which are a type of rhododendron, coma and death. All parts of the oleander cause abnormal heart function, hypothermia and death; cyclamen root, intense vomiting and death; one nut of the sago palm, seizures and liver failure; and chrysanthemum, coordination loss.

5. Veterinary medications

More than 7,500 well-meaning pet parents improperly dispensed veterinary antibiotics, vaccines, heart-worm preventatives, dewormers, nutritional supplements and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin, carpofen -- found in Rimadyl -- and ketoprofen. "Be sure to use the correct product on the correct animal," warns the Washington Poison Center. "Read all the directions before using on your pet."

Even the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will not vouchsafe the veterinary medicines the agency itself has tested. "Pre-testing by the manufacturer and review of the data by the government does not guarantee absolute safety and effectiveness of approved veterinary drugs due to the inherent limitations imposed by testing the product on a limited population of animals," the FDA says.

6. Rat Poisons

More than 6,500 pets ate rat and mice poisons containing bromethalin, which can cause seizures and other neurologic problems. Symptoms of toxicosis in cats include paralysis of hind limbs, muscle tremors, and depression of the central nervous system. Symptoms usually develop within two to seven days of eating bromethalin, but can appear two weeks later. Cats may also suffer from secondary poisoning if they eat rats or mice that have themselves eaten bromethalin.

7. Household Cleaners

More than 4,000 pets may have inhaled or absorbed bleaches, detergents and disinfectants. Many of these cleaners caused gastrointestinal and respiratory tract irritation. Swiffer Wet Jet has been a concern since an e-mail campaign claimed ingredient propylene glycol n-butol/propyl ether caused liver failure in a dog. The ASPCA has declared Wet Jet and Febreze fabric cleaners to be safe. Though Procter & Gamble, which produces both products, has donated money to the ASPCA,, a rumor-monitoring site -- not beholden to P&G -- also debunked the Wet Jet rumor.

Either way, it's good to err on the side of caution. "No matter what cleaning products you use on your floors," Tracie Hotchner, author of The Dog Bible and The Cat Bible, advises, "go over the surface again afterwards with clean water to get every trace of the product."

8. Heavy Metals

About 3,000 pets were exposed to lead through paint chips, linoleum, and dust from sanded floors. Lead poisoning causes hysteria in dogs. Pets also absorb lead from roofing and plumbing supplies, solder, pewter, putty, and poorly-glazed food and water ceramic bowls.

Zinc in cage paint and lead toys are the leading toxic killers of parrots. Lead poisoning of birds can cause partial paralysis, especially of the feet. "Most birdcages are galvanised and potentially deadly despite assurances that this is not so from some salespeople," said to Dr. Ross Perry, a veterinarian surgeon specializing in Avian Health, at Homebush Animal Hospital in Sydney, Australia. Brass and bronze water containers for cockatoos, seed bells hung on galvanized wire bells and corroding cage ornaments can also be toxic.

9. Garden and Lawn Products

More than 2,300 pets suffered from insecticides and fertilizers, the latter causing severe gastrointestinal obstruction. Even mulch can be poisonous, according to Tom McPheron of the American Veterinary Medical Association. "It's becoming common to mulch a garden with the fragrant spent shells of coco beans. But just like chocolate, dogs like to eat them and they are toxic."

Studies prove it. Exposure to herbicide-treated lawns and gardens increases the risk of bladder cancer by four to seven-fold in Scottish Terriers, according to a study by Purdue University published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. And according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ Animal Poison Control Center, about 200 pet birds suffered from exposure to pesticides — including rat bait — and insecticides in 2004.

10. Chemical Hazards

More than 2,000 pets ingested or were exposed to antifreeze, paint thinner, drain cleaners and pool and spa chemicals, causing depression, respiratory difficulties and chemical burns. If a pet has been chemically poisoned, there may be an odor. Washing the entire pet with mild soap until the odor disappears and flushing the mouth with water may help decontaminate the pet.

"Cats are curious creatures and like to investigate," Sheldon Rubin, a veterinarian and former director of Blum Animal Hospital, Chicago, says. A cat will accidentally or on purpose knock an open can of chemicals. The chemicals get on its fur and paws, and the cat will lick them. "It is your responsibility as a pet owner in providing cat care to keep all potentially toxic products tightly closed and out of reach of your cat," he says.

No matter what the cause, many of the signs of poisonings begin with the same symptoms: drooling, panting, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, twitching, nervousness, and convulsions. Any combination of these symptoms is reason to call the ASPCA Pet Poison Control Hotline at 888-426-4435, one of several poison hotlines, but be aware there's a charge for this service. No matter what the pet, though, one shouldn't be shy about calling. According to the Washington Poison Center, owners of iguanas, goats, guinea pigs, horses, spiders and even fish have called for poison assistance.

Minks Pose Threat to Pets, Farm Animals
By Wina Sturgeon - For the Deseret News

The animals are carnivores; one attacked Herriman family's pet rabbits

HERRIMAN — Shayna Page knew something was wrong when she heard the baby rabbits screaming one morning in February.

The Herriman woman ran outside and saw an animal trying to get into the cages of the rabbits her family raises. When the cat-size animal saw her, it ran away.

"The next day, I went out there and it had killed one of the babies and eaten a leg off two other babies," Page said. "Only one survived. It also ate the toes off eight other rabbits. My 8-year-old daughter was frightened and horrified."

The family put out a trap and caught the animal on the third day. They learned it was a mink.

On an August morning 2½ years earlier, Lindsey McMullin arrived at his family's mink farm to find animal activists had broken into one of the sheds and released all of the minks — 650 animals. The sheds also had been spray-painted with graffiti and the name Animal Liberation Front, an extremist group known for vandalizing farms and research laboratories that raise animals.

McMullin was devastated. "Most of the mink they released were young, 3 to 4 months old," he said. "They wouldn't know how to survive. And we're right in the middle of a suburban area, just a few hundred yards off a six-lane major street used by tens of thousands of cars every day."

The Page family doesn't know if the mink that attacked the rabbits was a survivor from the McMullin farm. Utah has a significant wild mink population that occasionally attacks domestic animals. But mink farming is big here. Utah is the second-largest producer of mink fur in America, and the fourth-largest in the world.

Animal rights groups have vandalized three local mink farms over the past ten years. One rancher in Sandy had 3,500 animals released into the surrounding area. Another in Summit County had 1,500 minks set loose. In the McMullin case, two men who claimed to be part of the Animal Liberation Front, or ALF, were captured by police and convicted of federal crimes.

Minks are small, water-loving animals with partially webbed feet and weigh between three and seven pounds. Closely related to otters, they are members of the weasel family. Like otters, they're extremely quick and agile. They also are ruthless carnivores in the wild, and with their needle-like teeth and long claws will hunt anything smaller, including chickens and even pet cats.

When the McMullins learned what had happened at their farm, the large and extended family rallied and began searching for the released minks. By noon, they had recovered 550 of their animals. Within a week, they were able to find most of the others. But not all of them.

"There were about 50 that we didn't recover," McMullin said. "A high percentage of those were killed on the road. I saw their bodies on the street. We also had mink that fell into window wells in the surrounding subdivisions. It was August, and with the hot sun, they would get dehydrated very quickly."

Working with South Jordan Animal Control, he learned of one mink trapped in a nearby window well and went to rescue it. "It was the middle of the afternoon, two days after they were released, and this window well was directly in the sun. The mink was almost dead; she was dying of thirst. She was so disoriented and lethargic that when I got into the window well, she didn't even try to get away; she just walked over and laid her head on my foot. She survived."

Another mink didn't. McMullin's brother-in-law saw it being chased down a street by two men. By the time he was able to get there, the mink had collapsed. He brought it to McMullin, who tried to revive the animal by trickling water into its mouth.

"I've got a picture of her in my arm," he said. "I held her in my arm and tried to get her to take water. She made it through the night. The next morning, I was able to give her water and she was able to drink, but that afternoon, she passed away."

Though minks are meticulously cared for in a comfortable environment by their farmers, the fact remains that the eventual fate of the animals not used for breeding is to be killed and skinned for their fur.

Animal rights groups justify their actions as an attempt to stop that slaughter. Los Angeles surgeon Jerry Vlasak is a spokesperson for the North American Animal Liberation Press Office, which he says is not part of the Animal Liberation Front. "There are other groups besides ALF that are operating," Vlasak said. "Certainly we sympathize with ALF and what they do. But I am a press officer; I am not a member of ALF. ALF members do not identify themselves, because they're breaking laws to help animals, and if they get caught, they end up going to prison."

Vlasak's group and ALF share the belief that animals should not be exploited or abused by humans for their own purposes. "We believe that animals should live out their lives as they see fit," he said. "Certainly there's no reason to imprison and kill fur-bearing animals so that a rich woman can make a fashion statement with her fur coat."

When it comes to law-breaking activism, Vlasak said, "ALF isn't particularly concerned about laws that allow the continued suffering and exploitation of animals. And there are people willing to break unjust laws, whether it's liberating animals from conditions of abuse, or inflicting economic sabotage on those who abuse animals for profit."

Teresa Platt, national spokesperson for Fur Commission USA, explained that released farm minks often end up killed on highways because they are attracted to the sound of traffic. "It sounds like food carts to them. If they do manage to survive, it's a very tough life; they have to get through the cold winter and hot summer. They will cannibalize their own little tails just to survive."

Platt questions the motives of activist animal rights groups. "They're willing to burn your building down to force you to embrace their cause. I would think that if you were that committed to protecting animals, you'd be vegan, but we know that they are not. Cars that have been involved in these incidents have been littered with old hamburger wrappers. I think their purpose is to cause great financial harm and stress to the (farming) families. But is it the 'cause,' or the thrill and adrenaline rush of the vandalism?"

McMullin believes it's the latter. "I think they're trying to put my family and I out of business," he said. "The individuals who broke into our farm should have been charged with animal cruelty for what they did to the mink. There's no sense to it at all. When you release more than 600 animals into a suburban area, where are they going to go?"

When Page learned of the earlier South Jordan release of minks, she was shocked and said, "When people let animals go from the farms, what do they think they're going to eat? Do they think they're going to get food handouts in the wild like they've been getting all their lives? It's ridiculous that those people think they are doing animals a favor."

Page added, "After that incident, we now go out and enclose our chickens every night so that nothing gets them. They can't be free range any more. And I'm always looking out and watching, always checking under the rabbit cages to make sure nothing has been there to hurt them."

When the men who vandalized the McMullin farm were convicted, the judge fined them $66,000 for damages. McMullin shook his head. "I won't be holding my breath until I get that money," he said.

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Tall Tails: Pet Myths Busted (Photos)

Smiley Riley, the Dog with a Human Grin

Just like a happy youngster, birthday boy Riley wolfs down his cake and pulls a satisfied ‘doggy-smile’ for the camera

There’s a good boy: Riley grins for the camera as he celebrates his birthday.

It looks like man’s best friend – or at least a pampered poodle – has finally figured out how to make the human gesture of happiness.

Riley the dog almost pulled off the illusion while sitting at the table, wearing a hat and celebrating his first birthday with a cake. In fact, owner Maureen Ravelo, 22, from San Jose, California, said Riley’s face was so expressive that she frequently forgets he is a dog.

‘Riley always makes faces like this, and that’s the best part about him. He gives you a new facial expression every time that you forget he’s a dog,’ she said. He can also affect a ‘snobbish’ and a ‘curious’ look, she added.

Even Riley – a bichon frise/poodle mix – seems confused about his identity. ‘The most unique part about him is he thinks he’s human like us,’ Ms Ravelo said.

‘He loves to sit up on chairs while we’re eating dinner and sleeps with us in bed.

‘Sometimes, I wonder if he realises he’s really a dog...’

For Self-Control, Try a Dog Biscuit?

New research indicates that dogs and humans have some things in common in the willpower department. Psychologists found that for dogs, as for humans, “self-control is a limited resource, one that can and does get depleted.” The researchers found another similarity. Dogs given a “glucose drink” exhibited more self-control; blood-sugar levels have been linked to self-control in humans as well. Holly C. Miller, the study’s lead researcher, believes the findings have implications for human self-control: “People can control their own behavior. When they fail, it is not because they are terrible or weak; it is because they are depleted.”

Vet Advice:
How to Go Natural
on Pet Flea and Tick Treatments

Readers of this blog raised questions in the comment section of several posts last week on the Environmental Protection Agency's announcement about spot-on flea and tick treatments.

Some readers wanted to know what natural remedies exist that might be safer than the treatments outlined by the EPA to have caused deaths in small dogs. I turned to veterinarian Shawn Messonnier for some answers. Messonnier is the author of several books including The Natural Health Bible for Dogs & Cats.

Question: Why not use spot-on agents (Frontline, etc.) and flea collars?

Answer: They are unnecessary for most pets, contain chemicals that can last in the body for a long time, and can cause side effects.

Q: What natural alternatives are safe to use on dogs?

A: Organic shampoos/sprays/powders containing neem, citrus oil, etc.

Q: Do cats require different natural treatments than dogs?

A: No but make sure the product you are using has been tested on cats and is safe for cats.

Q: Are there any outdoor treatments that are safe/green to use in a pets yard?

A: Absolutely! The best one to use is beneficial nematodes, which are microscopic worms that eat fleas including the resistant cocoon stage of the flea life cycle which no chemical can kill.

Dr. Giroux Answers Your Questions

Once or twice a week, Dr. Giroux goes through the questions asked on the tag board and presents answers to the best of her knowledge. If you do not see your answer here, please be patient, as we go through all the messages. If you have a question for Dr. Giroux, you may also comment on any post here. Please note due to time constraints and the nature of some questions, Dr. Giroux may not answer every one.

Ana: My Cav’s white coat turns reddish between legs, paws, mouth, eyes. Bathed in Lactadem. Suggest?

The areas of discoloration on your dog’s coat are the result of saliva or tears. Sometimes a change in diet will help with this. There are grooming products such as Diamond Eye that will help the tear staining around the eye. Some pets with staining can be put on a low dose of an antibiotic to control the staining.

Heather: My 3 year old Beagle often releases an odor from her bottom, is this normal?

Dogs have glands in their rectum called anal glands. These glands can fill up with fluid that has a very foul odor. A dog will express these glands when she is very scared, or the glands become overfilled and she scoots her bottom on the floor or rug to relieve pressure. These glands should be expressed (emptied) when you bath your dog. You should ask your veterinarian or groomer to show you how to empty them.

Heather: My 5 year old dachshund mix is producing milk & has not been with a male dog. Is she okay?

The female dog is unique in the animal kingdom because she does not have a feedback system that tells her body whether she is pregnant or not. So, about 50-60 days after each heat cycle her body will prepare for puppies, and one way she does this is by producing milk. This is called a false pregnancy, and will happen after every heat cycle that she is not bred.

Cheri: I think my 11 year old Sheltie is eating dog poop, I have 2 dogs so it’s the other dog’s….HELP ME.

First, the best way to control this bad habit is to scoop the poop from your yard several times daily. This is just good hygiene. If the dog does not have access to poop, there is nothing for the dog to eat. There are also additives that can be put in the dog’s food that have no flavor, but after digestion make the stool very unpalatable. You have indicated that you have more than one dog, so you will need to put this product in all the dogs’ food to stop the habit.

Treating Pet’s Hip And Joint Pain
With Animal Chiropractic

I treat Orville, my 13-year Golden Retrieve as my baby always. I have spared no expense in his care, including the best trainer, groomer, food and supplements, and veterinary care. Animal Chiropractic

Lately, I notice signs that his hips and joints might be having some trouble. I wasn’t too concerned at first as it might just be signs of aging. I was alarmed to learn that Orville might be in pain upon looking it up online. So I asked friends who happened to have a couple of older dogs as I hated the thought of my beloved companion hurting. When they had a similar experience, they took their dogs to a veterinarian who specializes in chiropractic care for their canine, feline, and equine patients.

I scheduled an appointment with Ava Frick, DVM with her Animal Fitness Center, near St. Louis, Missouri since my friends recommended her. They were convinced that her care had made a difference in the quality of their dogs’ lives and praised her.

Orville’s introductory appointment with Dr.Frick took place one month ago and we just had his second appointment this afternoon.

Dr. Frick informed me that she performs chiropractic care for dogs due to many reasons, which includes pain that the pet might be experiencing in their back, leg, or even in their tail.

Disorders of the human nervous system, musculoskeletal system and how these systems impact our overall health are what chiropractic care focuses traditionally. Since it concentrates on the dog, cat, or horse and its nervous system, muscuskeletal system and their impact on the pet’s health, animal chiropractic care is similar.

Our first appointment involved providing Orville’s health history, similar to what you might expect the first time you visit any other doctor or veterinarian. It is important to establish a thorough, accurate history when you visit a health care provider for the first time, and a visit to the veterinarian is no exception. Dr. Frick asked queries about Orville’s current state of health as well as the reason why we made an appointment.

Similar to what I experience when I visit my own chiropractor, she had Orville lie down so that she could examine him and adjust his spine. Orville was okay all throughout the exam. In fact, he has always loved to be messed with and it seemed like he was relaxing during a massage. That is, until Dr.Frick paid attention to his hips. Dr. Frick was even more careful in that area when Orville snarled a bit during the exam.

Following the exam, Dr. Frick spoke with me about the importance of making sure Orville gets more exercise. She said that we needed to strengthen the muscles in his back legs. Even a small amount of exercise each day would prove beneficial. What caught my interest was Dr. Frick’s advice to tickle Orville’s tummy while he was standing. She said that this would help his spine since a dog will automatically hunch up when his stomach is touched.

I have been impressed with the care provided by Dr.Frick, and I am also glad that we have achieved such great results without stuffing pain pills into my dog.

Tips to Get Rid of Pet Hair

Dedicated animal lovers often love to purchase snuggly beds for their pet dogs and cats - but, as many of you will have experienced, fur gets everywhere.

Trying to keep your home clean of hair is a daunting task - but this can be exacerbated by the trail of fur which leads from your dog's bed to anywhere else in your household he likes to travel.

Worse, simply washing your pet beds doesn't always do the trick.

But, according to Elliott Mitchell, writing for the Washington Post, there is one way of keeping the hair count down.

"I toss them in the cold dryer for 20 minutes first, which knocks off the hair - it gets caught in the lint trap. By [the time] they're ready for the washer, there's hardly any hair on them," Mr Mitchell explains.

Of course, it is vital to clean your lint filter out regularly to prevent fire hazards.

And never leave your dryer unattended.

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Tall Tails: Pet Myths Busted

Dogs wag their tails because they’re happy to see you

This is not the only reason dogs wag their tails. Sometimes they do it when they’re frightened or apprehensive. Tail-wagging is a generic emotional response that should be judged in the context of the dog’s overall behaviour. If it’s also biting you, it probably isn’t that happy to see you. Photograph: Elliott Erwitt/©Elliott Erwitt / Magnum

Guinea pigs eat their young

It’s possible, but extremely uncommon. Guinea pigs are vegetarians. They do eat their own droppings, which might be enough to put you off. Photograph: Dan Burn-Forti/Guardian

Your cat hates your baby

There can’t be many people who still believe that cats deliberately suffocate babies by sucking the breath out of them, but in case you’re one of them, they don’t. That doesn’t mean a sleeping cat couldn’t accidentally suffocate a newborn baby (there are a few documented cases), so it makes sense to keep the cat out of the baby’s room for the first couple of months. Photograph: Paul Kaye/Corbis

Rabbits should eat plenty of carrots

Carrots are too high in sugar for rabbits to ingest on a regular basis, and they are better off eating the green tops. Bugs Bunny has a lot to answer for. Photograph: Dan Burn-Forti/Guardian

Dogs can only see in black and white

Actually they see in colour, but not very well. They’re red-green colour blind, though they can easily distinguish blue. Photograph: Alessandro Rizzi/Gallery Stock

Cats purr when they are happy

True, but they also purr when they’re in pain, and when they’re dying. Photograph: Gabor Geissler/Getty Images

One dog year is equivalent to seven human years

There are certain advantages to this persistent myth (it helps a lot of children learn their seven times table), but it’s obviously a bit simplistic and depends on the breed. Dogs mature much faster than humans – a two-year-old dog is roughly equivalent to a 21-year-old person – but things slow down after that; a 10-year-old dog is, in general terms, closer to 50 in human years than 70. Photograph: Kyoko Hamada/Gallery Stock

Putting a bell on your cat will stop it killing birds

Apparently a lot of cats actually get better at hunting prey after you bell them, because they have to learn to stalk without letting the bell make any noise.
Photograph: Corbis

A hamster in a wheel can run six miles in a single night

This one is true, apparently. Whether the hamster feels it has accomplished anything in the morning is another matter. Photograph: Dan Burn-Forti/Guardian

Cats have nine lives

It’s unlikely anyone ever actually believed this since it’s so easy to disprove through experimentation. It’s not universal (in Turkish and Arabic traditions cats only get six lives) but it is old; there are references to the nine lives of cats in Shakespeare. The notion probably stems from the fact that cats tend to survive things you and I wouldn’t, particularly falls from great height. Photograph: Chloe Sells/Gallery Stock

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Cats and Babies: 7 Tips for Healthy Coexistence

Cats and babies can coexist, but there are several factors that need to be considered. Cats are known to be very jealous of new babies and new pets, so you need to ensure your baby is safe and the cat is comfortable.

1. Prepare for the Baby’s Arrival
You need to establish some ground rules for the baby’s safety that the cat needs to respect; apply these rules before the arrival of the baby, so that the cat doesn’t associate the baby with the new interdictions.

2. Get a Crib for the Baby
Get a crib for your baby and make sure the cat does not make it his own or sleep in it. Cats and babies are not allowed to sleep together as the baby may suffocate.

Show the cat the crib but train him to know he is not allowed in the crib.

3. Cat Checkup
Cats may transmit a number of diseases to humans and babies are particularly susceptible to catching bacteria, worms and viruses. So you need to make sure your cat is healthy.

Schedule the vet checkup at least 2 months before the arrival of the baby, to make sure the parasites are gone. Fleas are particularly difficult to get rid of and it may take up to 6 weeks to fully eliminate them from the environment. Even if fleas cannot be transmitted to humans, the ingestion of a flea may lead to the formation of a tapeworm in the baby.

4. Gradual Introduction of the Baby
Given that cats may be very protective of their territory and owners, they can be very jealous when a baby appears. This is why the baby needs to be introduced gradually. First, keep the baby isolated and give the cat a blanket or a toy belonging to the baby. The cat will get accustomed to the baby’s scent.

When presenting the baby, one of the owners should offer a lot of affection to the cat.

Allow the cat to get close to the baby and study him; otherwise the cat will be tempted to look for the baby when you are away.

5. Spend Time with Your Cat
Cats may easily develop stress due to the arrival of a new baby. This is why you need to offer a lot of affection to your cat, to ensure that he knows you still care.

Play with your cat while the baby is asleep. Try to keep your regular daily routine and groom your cat according to your schedule prior to the arrival of the baby; instead, have someone else (i.e. your partner) perform the grooming and playing or take turns.

If your cat feels neglected, he will start spraying around the house and have a hostile behavior.

6. Toys
Offer your cat plenty of toys, scratching posts and cardboard boxes to play with, so he won’t be tempted to spend his energy on the baby.

7. Train Your Baby
As he grows, the baby must also be taught how to safely handle the cat. Show your baby that cats need to be patted with gentle moves.

Having a pet may be beneficial for the baby’s immune system and will also make your baby more sociable and caring.

Preparing prior to the baby’s arrival and continuing to offer affection to your pet will make him confident and will grow to accept the baby, so they can safely coexist.

Hints From Heloise

Tiny Tuna for Tabby

Dear Heloise: My family and I are the owners of a 20-year-old female cat named Princess. Of course, being a cat, she loves TUNA. I was wondering how safe canned tuna for humans is for cats. -- Paige H., via e-mail

According to our friends at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, a tiny bit of tuna given once in a while is OK. But, if Princess were to be fed ONLY tuna, it could mean big trouble for her. Cats need vitamin E, and she also would be missing out on calcium, sodium, iron and copper, among other nutrients. So, to answer your question, I know cats LOVE tuna fish, but please only give it in moderation, if at all. And then give Princess a Heloise hug. -- Heloise


Dear Readers: Shirley Hefele of Dunbarton, N.H., sent a photo of her son's 85-pound Ridgeback, Hannah, and her 2-year-old, 25-pound, tricolor beagle, Missy, curled up comfortably on the love seat. Shirley says: "My son usually occupies the love seat, and at times, one dog or the other commandeers the second seat. The dogs share a lot of things -- even bones, treats and toys -- but vie for this seat next to my son. When my son got up, Missy saw her chance and occupied his seat." To see the doggie duo, visit -- Heloise


Dear Heloise: Your recent column indicating the use of newspaper to remove an unpleasant smell from a freezer reminds me of another use for shredded newspaper. Years ago, when my indoor cat was declawed, the vet said not to use cat litter for several days lest the cat's paws get infected from the litter. It worked so well in eliminating any odor that I continued to use the newspaper. It was economical, green and very effective. -- Marilyn F., San Clemente, Calif.

A green hint indeed, but please note that newsprint may rub off on white or light-colored cats. -- Heloise


Dear Heloise: I have two little dogs. One is named Sunshine, and one is named Rainbow. So we have Sunny and Rainee. Keep up the good work. I always check for your hints in The Washington Post. -- Carole Gee, via e-mail


Dear Heloise: During this past winter, our pets were inside much of the time, and when our cat wanted to go outside, he didn't realize the glass sliding door was shut. He almost broke his neck. Please remind your readers to put decals down at the level of your animals so they can see whether the door is open, therefore avoiding an injury. -- Gayle Merritt, via e-mail


Dear Heloise: To keep my pets from tearing up the toilet-paper rolls, I spray the flat ends and the inside of the cardboard core with really strong cologne. My pets don't like strong smells like that. It also makes the bathroom smell good. -- Cat Lover of Texas

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Tips on How to Avoid Pet Dander

Of course, the best course of action if you are allergic to pet dander is not to have pets, but since that is not an acceptable option for many people, then at least work on the following actions:

1. Maintain a “no pet zone” in the bedroom. Your trigger avoidance efforts will go a long way if you can keep animals out of sleeping areas. If you can keep them out of the main living areas too, even better.

2. Keep pets clean and groomed. Weekly brushing and washing of pets (by a non-allergic person) is believed to keep animal dander levels down in the home.

3. Provide a litter box for cats to make waste in. Make sure the litter box is not kept in sleeping or living areas, if possible, and have a non-allergic person change the litter frequently. Same goes for cleaning the cages of pet birds and hamsters.

4. If you are allergic to feathers, don’t use feather pillows or down bedding. Even though the feathers are not coming from a live animal within your home, they can still trigger symptoms.

5. If you buy a new pet, make it a reptile or amphibian. Animals with scales or hairless skin like snakes and lizards do not usually trigger asthma symptoms.

Fish Facts:
5 Quick Tropical Fish Facts

Tropical fish are beautiful, and that’s a fact! They are ideal pets if you don’t have a lot of spare time as they don’t need walking and don’t scratch the furniture. But there are some tropical fish facts and tips you should know before buying your first aquarium.

Tropical Fish Fact One
The majority of people of start off with a very small aquarium not realizing they will soon become hooked. Before too long they are back to the pet shop buying another one the next size up.

Tip: Don’t buy the smallest aquarium you can find – you may well be wasting your time and money although the pet shop owner will love you.

Tropical Fish Fact Two
Tropical fish are categorized by their nature. Like humans, some are loners and will bite the head off anyone that comes too close, some like only their own species and don’t mix too well with others, and some are friendly, outgoing, and love spending time with anyone who comes their way.

Tip: Check if the tropical fish you are buying are non-community fish, semi-aggressive or community fish.

Tropical Fish Fact Three
There are certain types of tropical fish you should buy when introducing them to a new tank. You must be sure to buy hardy fish as the levels of ammonia and nitrate in your tank will fluctuate before evening out over time, and not all tropicals can survive these changes.

Tip: Make sure you know your stuff before buying your first fish. If the shop owner is not an expert, search reference books and Internet forums for the best types of hardy tropical starter fish.

Tropical Fish Fact Four
Some dainty, delicate and fragile looking tropical fish can grow extremely large very fast! This will mean a further trip back to the pet shop where the owner will greet you rubbing his hands in glee.

Tip: Find out exactly how large your potential purchase will grow before you purchase it.

Tropical Fish Fact Five
Aquariums need equipment such as filters, pumps and heaters. Filtration systems help to keep the fine ecological balance necessary in your aquarium for the fish to thrive. They are readily available in three different types.

Tip: Don’t purchase your filtration system before you know which fish are going into your aquarium. Choose from either a chemical, mechanical or biological filter after discussing with an expert which would be the best for your particular tank.

There is nothing more soothing after a stressful day than relaxing and losing yourself in the graceful, colorful and calming world of beautiful tropical fish, and armed with these few tropical fish facts and tips this colorful world could soon be a part of your life.

Dogs Take a Lead Role in Iraq's Terror War
By Aamer Madhani, USA TODAY

An Iraqi policeman and his bomb-sniffing dog take part in a training exercise at the Baghdad Policec College on March 16. The U.S. military is helping the Iraqis train 145 dogs this year.

BAGHDAD — Iraqis aren't what you would call dog people. The streets of the capital are filled with mangy canines and dog owners are few.

But in a country where bombs and explosives are an everyday threat, Iraqis may start learning to love man's best friend.

The Iraqi police force hopes to introduce 1,000 bomb-sniffing dogs and their handlers on the streets of Iraq within five years. That's not a lot of dogs for a country of 29 million people, but in Iraq it is.

"Iraqis are not fully comfortable with dogs yet," says Brig. Gen. Mohammad Mesheb Hajea, who is in charge of the Interior Ministry's fledgling K-9 unit. "But the people are coming to love them, because they realize what they can do to keep us safe."

Twenty-five dogs and their human handlers graduated on Saturday from Baghdad Police College's newly created K-9 course. And 120 more bomb-sniffing German shepherds, Malinois and Labradors are scheduled to be incorporated into Iraq's police force by the end of this year.

As in many Muslim countries, Iraqis generally see dogs as unclean animals. Some of the religiously devout point to the teachings of the prophet Mohammed that prohibited believers from keeping the animals in their homes.

But Hajea says Iraqis now recognize that dogs' keen sense of smell makes them invaluable weapons in thwarting terrorists whose calling cards are roadside bombs and explosively rigged vehicles.

"There is no better investment to countering the threats of bombs and explosives," said Col. Randy Twitchell, chief U.S. military adviser to the Baghdad Police College. "The Iraqi security forces are recognizing how useful a role that dogs can play in securing the country."

Beefed up units

The recent embrace by Iraqi security officials has been welcomed by the U.S. military, which is paying $12,000 for each dog.

For years, U.S. military commanders have been urging the Iraqi forces to incorporate more dogs into their security program. The Iraqi security forces first formed a K-9 unit in the 1970s, but it was scarcely used.

"We were there, but we only had a few dogs and we did little more than train," said Hajea, who joined the police in 1986 after being trained as a veterinarian.

The American advice to bulk up the K-9 units was initially met with resistance. Instead of using dogs, Iraq's Interior Ministry instead invested tens of millions of dollars in the ADE-651, a British-manufactured bomb detection device that is ubiquitous at checkpoints throughout the country.

Earlier this year the British government banned the sale of the device, which looks like a staple gun with a TV antenna attached to it, after a BBC investigation found they did not work.

Iraqis say the ADE-651s are useful and have helped police catch assailants. But Maj. Gen. Richard Rowe, the U.S. commander who oversees police training in Iraq, says the gadgets do not work. He has urged Iraqis to invest more money in dogs and other proven bomb-detection devices.

Despite the difference of opinions on the ADE-651, both Twitchell and Hajea say they are pleased that dogs are starting to become embraced by top Interior Ministry officials as U.S. troops begin their drawdown, scheduled for completion by the end of next year.

Plenty of volunteers

The vast majority of bomb-sniffing dogs being used at Iraq's airports are owned by foreign contractors. Over time, those contractors will be phased out and replaced by Iraqi government-owned dogs and their police handlers, Hajea said.

Twitchell said that there was some concern before starting the program that there wouldn't be enough police officers interested in training as dog handlers.

"In the end, we had some 60 volunteers for 25 spots," Twitchell said.

At one of the final exams for the dogs last week, police officers guided their dogs through a row of luggage that had been set out on the hot asphalt of a parking lot at the police college. One bag, a dusty green duffle, was stuffed with explosives.

One of the last to go through the test was a cream-colored Labrador named Buddy and his nervous handler, Yusuf Hasib Qudair.

Buddy slowly sniffed each bag until he came to the suspect sack, which he sat on — the dogs' way of indicating to handlers that they've found the suspect material.

Qudair broke into a grin and bounced a tennis ball for Buddy to chase, the reward for a job well done. Qudair said he's never owned a dog and he wouldn't consider keeping one in his home. But over the course of his training, he has bonded with Buddy.

"Buddy and I have been with each other every day for the last six weeks and we've gotten to know each other well," said Qudair, 30. "Most important, I think together we can do our part to help the security situation."

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