Skin Cancer and Pets

World's Fattest Cat Dies
By Hideaki Tailor -

The Santa Fe Animal Shelter of New Mexico said Meow, who weighed 40 pounds, died of pulmonary failure.

The two-year-old cat had been surrendered to the shelter as his 87-year-old owners could no longer take care of him.

Employees at the shelter had been working to put Meow, who weighed the equivalent of a 700 pound, on a diet so he could shed weight and be adopted.

Four different veterinarians fought to save the cat’s life to no avail, the shelter’s Mary Martin said on Facebook.

‘The shelter staff – along with all those who met Meow during his short time with us – mourn his passing,’ she said in a statement.

‘Meow had been doing so well in his foster home; walking up stairs and seeking affection – that it is so very hard to believe he is gone.’

She added: ‘We will forever be grateful for the attention Meow’s size brought to pet obesity and to animal shelters across the country. We are especially grateful to all of you who fell in love with this charming cat – as we did – and were so very interested in his progress and success.’

The shelter had previously described Meow as ‘very sweet’ but warned he faced similar health risks to those experienced by a ‘morbidly obese person’.

‘We got him a scratching post with a carpeted ring attached but he couldn’t even get his head through,’ spokesman Ben Swan said.

‘He had no interest in the super-sized toy mouse we gave him either.’

The fattest cat in history recorded by Guinness World Records is Himmy from Australia, who weighed 35 pounds.

But the category was later scrapped amid concerns it would encourage over-feeding of pets.

Doggie MRIs: What Is Your Dog Thinking?

Do you ever wonder what your dog is thinking, with his tail wagging, tongue out the side of his mouth? Does he really love you as much as you think?

Researchers at Emory University are one step closer to finding out. They are now conducting MRIs on dogs, looking for clues to what they’re thinking.

“We don’t really know what a dog is thinking because they can’t talk,” Greg Berns, professor of Neuroeconomics at Emory University, told ABC News. “So more often than not, we project our own feelings and thoughts on them as if they’re coming from them, but they’re not — they’re coming from us.”

Giving a dog a brain scan should not be that hard. But there was one problem: using anesthesia to sedate a dog alters its brain activity. They have to be fully conscious for an accurate scan.

Berns had a theory. If we can train dogs to skydive or rescue a drowning swimmer, why can’t we teach them to sit still for 10 minutes to conduct a successful MRI?

So he began training his dog Callie, a two-year-old Feist, or southern squirrel-hunting dog, to crawl into an MRI machine and sit still long enough for an accurate scan of her brain.

Once she was properly trained, the team did a number of scans, with fascinating results — and insights into what Callie was thinking.

“The first task was to see if we give hand signals to the dogs, can we see what parts of the brain are responding to see hand signals?” Berns said.

The answer was yes.

During the tests, researchers showed Callie hand signals she had already learned — one that meant she would get a treat and one that meant she wouldn’t.

When Callie was given the signal that she would get a treat, there was a clear difference in the scan in the area of the brain that processes feelings of reward.

“It proves they’ve transferred the meaning of the hand signal to something that’s important to them,” Berns said. “It’s really getting at the start of how a dog processes dog-to-human communication.”

And Berns said he thinks this new insight into what dogs are thinking will open many more doors in the future.

“I think this lets us see how the dogs are responding to us, and in a very practical sense, it’s going to show us better ways to communicate with them, better ways to train that are not exclusively dependent on treats and punishment.”

As Train Bore Down, Dog Pulled Her from the Tracks
By Katina Caraganis - Nashoba Publishing

COURTESY ANGELL ANIMAL MEDICAL CLINIC Dr. Kiko Bracker checks on Lilly, Christine Spain's pit bull, at Angell Animal Medical Clinic in Boston. The dog was struck by a train while pulling Spain from the tracks in Shirley last Wednesday night.

SHIRLEY -- Walking home from her boyfriend's house, Christine Spain collapsed on the railroad tracks.

It was around midnight last Wednesday, and the 56-year-old Shirley woman lay there unconscious after apparently having too much to drink.

In the distance came the rumbling. A freight train.

That's when Lilly, Spain's pit bull, prevented a tragedy. The dog pulled Spain away from the tracks moments before the train went by. Lilly was unable to clear herself from the track and was struck, suffering severe injuries.

All of the muscle and skin were torn from Lilly's right paw. Her right front leg was amputated, and her pelvis was fractured in multiple places.

"I don't know if she collapsed or what happened, but she passed out," said Rob Halpin, spokesman for the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. "The engineer, the only witness, told police he saw a dog frantically pulling at a woman as he drew closer. He did everything he could. He heard a thump and thought he hit both."

The engineer immediately hit the brakes and got off the train. He found Spain unhurt.

"The dog's head was on her chest," Halpin said. "The woman was totally unharmed."

Spain, who was arrested at the scene and was arraigned in Ayer District Court on May 3 on charges of obstruction, walking/riding on a railroad track and animal cruelty, is a recovering alcoholic. Her son, Boston police Officer David Lanteigne, got her the dog as a means of therapy.

"I truly believe things happen for a reason," Lanteigne said yesterday. "We found Lilly to save her life, and she returned the favor. She almost died here."

The 8-year-old dog was rushed to an animal hospital in Acton and then transported to Angell Animal Medical Clinic in Boston, where she underwent two surgeries over the weekend.

"Lilly's doing a lot better than she was almost a week ago," Lanteigne said. "She's on her road to recovery now. It'll be quite a long ways before she's back up to speed."

He said Lilly and Spain will stay with him in Boston once Lilly is released from the animal hospital.

"My mom's not doing so well, and she's hanging in there," Lanteigne said. "She's been with me and helping out with this, getting things ready at home. She's emotionally severely scarred from this. She's hanging on. If it wasn't for her dog, I don't think my mom would be here today. This dog has kept her sober."

He wasn't surprised when he heard that Lilly had come to his mother's aid.

"This dog is truly a special dog," he said. "She's been amazing since day one. My mother has given anything and everything to this dog. For the past 3 1/2 years since she's had this dog, it's her entire life. She's been eating, sleeping and breathing this dog. The dog is everything to her. She brings her on five or six long walks a day. She spends half an hour preparing all of her meals."

Lanteigne said his mother is doing the best she can in light of the situation.

"It's pretty tough," he said. "She still has a long road to recovery. Lilly is her therapy dog. She keeps her thinking well. Every now and then, things happen. We've had some real tough, bad news in our family the past week and a half, and I think it impacted my mom tremendously. I think it caused her to have a relapse."

He said that while caring for Lilly, Spain has controlled her drinking.

"Thankfully, Lilly was there with her to save her," he added. "This has reduced her drinking, at least if not more than 90 percent. Every now and then, she has her battle with alcoholism and depression and anxiety. She has a lot of things she needs to get fixed."

Lanteigne said he hopes Lilly's heroism will change people's minds about pit bulls.

"I just want it to raise awareness on how special these dogs truly are. They are the most affectionate, loving, caring dogs that you'll ever meet."

Spain has been released on her own personal recognizance and ordered not to drink any alcohol and to submit to random alcohol tests.

Lilly's medical care will likely cost thousands of dollars.

Hero Dog Protects Monrovia Teen From Rattlesnake
By Nathan McIntire -

Five-year-old "Boone," a Siberian Husky mix, got between a 14-year-old and a rattlesnake and was bitten on the snout in the process. He's expected to recover after the venom caused him to lose a large chunk of flesh.

Boone being examined at Family Dog and Cat Hospital after being bitten by a rattlesnake last week. Credit David Garcia

Daniel Whitman never heard the rattle but his dog Boone must have seen something because he came running over anyway.

The 14-year-old Whitman was supposed to be cleaning up after Boone in the backyard of their home on Norumbega Drive last week. He was walking over to the corner where Boone likes to do his business when the dog rushed over.

"Daniel was headed in that direction and that's when I think Boone had noticed something different and darted over there and got between the two of them," said Dan Whitman, the teen's father.

That's when the younger Whitman saw the rattlesnake, and he shouted to his dad and ran inside. The dog soon followed, and he stayed with Daniel for some time afterward.

"He just stuck by Daniel's side," Dan Sr. said. "He followed Daniel all around the house. He did not leave his side."

What the family didn't know was that before Boone came back in the house, he had been bitten. They soon found out, however. Nothing was visible, but the 5-year-old Siberian Husky mix started behaving strangely about 20 minutes later.

"There didn't appear to be anything physically wrong with him," Whitman said. "He started to kind of twist his head funny and look up at the ceiling like he was in pain."

Whitman knew something was wrong. A retired Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputy, he also knew that they didn't have much time to save Boone.

So Whitman called 911 and let the police know they had a rattlesnake in the backyard. Then he called Family Dog and Cat Hospital on Lime Avenue and was was eventually directed to the only local place that carries anti-venom and is open after-hours, a veterinary clinic in El Monte.

"I ran him down there real quick. Got him there within 40 minutes of the bite," Whitman said.

The anti-venom saved Boone's life, but he still sustained serious injuries. Rattlesnake venom is an anti-coagulant and it causes tissue destruction, according to David Garcia, a registered veterinary technician who has since treated Boone.

The venom killed the tissue on Boone's snout where he was bitten, and the flesh there started falling off in chunks, Whitman said. The wound has "just progessively gotten larger," he said.

And the dog's face also swelled up severely the morning after the bite.

"In the morning his face had gotten the size of a canteloupe," Whitman said.

Garcia said Boone is expected to recover, but not before the Whitmans had to shell out $500 for rattlesnake anti-venom. The dog could have been saved a lot of pain and suffering if he was vaccinated against rattlesnake venom.

Garcia recommended that every dog owner living above Hillcrest Boulevard get the vaccine after seeing four other cases of dogs with rattlesnake bites over the last month. With the vaccine, a dog's bite survival rate increases, though it would still need to be treated with anti-venom, Garcia said.

Whitman said he was going to make it his mission to raise the awareness of the need for pet owners to get their dogs vaccinated. In the meantime, he's grateful for what Boone did to protect his son.

"I'm sad that Boone took the bite but I'm thankful my son didn't," he said.

Pets Get Skin Cancer, Too

I'm always amazed at how many pet owners are shocked to learn that their pet has skin cancer. Both dogs and cats can develop skin cancer, and the common forms of skin cancers found in humans -- melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinomas -- are also seen in pets. Fortunately, basal cell carcinomas are relatively uncommon in animals, but melanoma and squamous cell carcinoma are all too common.

Normally, mast cells play a role in allergic responses -- they are responsible for the itching, swelling and redness in your skin when you contact an allergen. Although dogs and cats who suffer from allergies are not more prone to developing mast cell skin tumors, certain breeds of dogs -- including Labrador Retrievers, Boxers, Pugs and Golden Retrievers -- are predisposed to developing this type of tumor.

Owners of these dogs need to be especially vigilant about unusual skin masses, but any pet owner should be concerned about raised, hairless, pinkish-yellow masses, which could be mast cell tumors.

Mast cell tumors in cats look very similar to those in dogs. Because mast cells induce itching, swelling and redness, mast cell tumors may be red, itchy and periodically swell up and then disappear.

Melanoma Of The Mouth

Our own doctors see every freckle as a potential melanoma. Melanoma also occurs frequently in dogs, but much less so in cats. Melanomas of the haired skin in dogs are usually benign -- the bad ones occur in the mouth, on the gums and where the nails meet the toes. And although orange cats frequently develop freckles on their lips and gums, these flat accumulations of pigment are normal and known as lentigo simplex.

Sunbathing Is Also Bad For Your Pet

For the most part, our pets have dense fur that acts as a natural sunscreen, but white-coated dogs and cats are the exceptions to this rule. In sunny parts of the country where pets spend a lot of time outside, like California and Colorado, sun exposure takes its toll on the thinly furred skin of the ears and nose of white dogs and cats. Dogs who sunbathe on their backs are also prone to developing squamous cell carcinoma in the thinly haired region of the tummy. Solar-induced squamous cell carcinoma can be treated with surgery or radiation therapy if found early, but prevention is simple: Limit your pet's exposure to the sun.

Needles That Do More Than Prick

A rare but important tumor that afflicts cats sometimes forms at the site of a subcutaneous injection. The injection induces inflammation that, for some unknown reason, transforms into a malignancy. Millions of cats get injections, and yet only a few develop these tumors, which are commonly known as injection site sarcomas. Why some cats do and others don't is a frustrating conundrum for cat owners and veterinarians.

About 15 years ago, a group of experts in the field developed a guideline called 3-2-1 for the management of lumps at injections sites. The guideline advises that if a lump is present three months after an injection, and it's larger than two centimeters or is growing just a month after an injection, it should be biopsied to determine if it is a benign or a malignant mass.

This quick look at skin cancer in dogs and cats is just scratching the surface of this important disease. If you find a lump or sore anywhere on your pet's skin, see your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Dog Person or Cat Person?
 Does Your Personality Influence Preference?
By Monique Balas,

Dogs are loyal and loving. All cats care about are, well, cats. Agree?

Dogs drool. Cats rule. Agree?

Ah, heck. I love them both.

I'm not inclined toward having either in my home.

When Selena Gwin and Jake Dontavion first met, she had always been a "cat person" and he had always been a "dog person."

But instead of fighting like cats and dogs, the two enjoy relative harmony (the dogs do tolerate an occasional nose-swipe every now and then) with their two cats and two dogs in their Southeast Portland apartment.

"There was a lot of compromising all the way around," Gwin says. "If our relationship wasn't so strong, might have caused more friction, but it ended up working out for us."

The couple, who have been together for 11 years, acquired their brood gradually. Dontavion grew up with dogs and had one when he met Gwin. They took on the cats after their former roommates could no longer care for them, and acquired another dog, Mama Pigs, together.

Many pet lovers use the terms "cat person" or "dog person" loosely to describe their preference for one or the other species. And many of us have a general concept of what we mean when we talk about these people.

While these notions are largely based on speculation, the concept of why people prefer one species over the other has garnered more academic attention over the last few years.

In a 2010 University of Texas study, researchers found those in the canine camp were more extroverted, agreeable and conscientious than cat people. Those who favor felines tend to be more neurotic but more open to art, experiences and unconventional beliefs.

A 2008 study from Ball State University revealed that most cat owners see themselves as having personalities similar to felines – in other words, more independent and less submissive - while most dog owners described themselves as friendly and dominant.

How much such studies really mean is up for debate.

"I feel like we're almost opposite of the stereotypes," Gwin says of she and her fiancé.

While she enjoys spending time with her wide circle of friends, Dontavion is more of a homebody.

"I think I use my dogs as an excuse sometimes," he admits. "But they do force me to be more sociable. I do have to take them out and about to parks, where I meet other dog people."

The fact that dogs require regular walks means their owners are more visible and could explain why we think they're more social, suggests Mary Lee Nitschke, a psychology professor at Linfield College who is also a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist and dog trainer.

"We know people form their impressions from the data that's available to them," says Nitschke.

"How often do you meet a cat at the bank? Not very often," Nitschke notes. "I don't know if that means that cat people are not as social."

What it does mean is that the two difference species live and play in very different environments.

Historically, cats were typically solitary hunters whose main role for humans was either as religious figures (think Egyptians) or for hunting rodents. Dogs, meanwhile, lived in packs or were assigned jobs assisting people.

Our species preference can cut across many dimensions aside from personality alone: there's the physical reality of dealing with a dog that drools or a cat that sheds. Childhood memories also play a role, Nitschke says. Many people are simply more comfortable with a species with which they're familiar.

But sometimes people convert. Take David Boersema, who grew up around dogs and didn't begin to fancy felines until he was a young adult.

The philosophy professor at Pacific University – who bucks one stereotype just by being male – had so many positive cat encounters in college that he decided to adopt one.

Now, he is a proud "cat daddy" to Karloff, who was abused by a previous owner and walks with a limp, and Mycroft, who was shot in the eye.

Dogs typically want to please their master, he says.

"With a cat, if it approaches you, it wanted to approach you. I guess I'm a cat person because I get a lot from that."

Dogs can be loud and aggressive, he says, and that's just not the case with cats.

Felines also taught him negotiation skills he can apply to his human relationships.

"I truly believe that there's a real valuable lesson for people to learn about how to engage with another being," Boersema says, "where you come to an agreement, an understanding, by negotiating, as opposed to one of the two parties commanding."

Longtime cat owner Darka Stebivka, meanwhile, didn't discover the joys of canine companionship until her early 20s, when she began dog-sitting for friends.

"When it comes to having dogs, there's a more immediate emotional connection," says Stebivka, a Portland-based writer and musician. "You just feel this friendship, like the dog would do anything for you."

She feels such a strong connection with her 12-year-old husky-shepherd mix that sometimes she almost feels she can read the dog's mind.

"If I can read hers," she says, "then she can maybe read mine in some way."

Stebivka says she isn't inclined to believe any stereotypes about personality type based on species preference.

She speculates that the cliché of the "crazy cat lady," for instance, simply came about because caring for a cat is simply easier for an elderly woman to care for.

Stebivka hasn't changed drastically since she identified as a cat person, she says; a dog simply suits her better now.

"Frankly, I think my dog takes care of me," she says. "I would not be in the park six days a week if not for my dog."

Highlights from the University of Texas study:

The study, published in the September 2010 issue of the journal Anthrozoös, asked 4,565 participants to self-identified as a either a dog person, cat person, both, or neither. Researchers then assessed their personality based on the "Big Five" personality dimension commonly used by psychologists.

Researchers found that:

46 % of respondents identified themselves as dog people, while only 12% called themselves cat people.

Nearly 28% described themselves as both, and 15% said they were neither.

Dog people were 15% more extroverted, 13% agreeable and 11% more conscientious than their cat-loving counterparts.
Feline fanatics were found to be 12% more neurotic and 11% more open than dog people.

Veterinary Q&A: Outdoor Plants and Your Pets
by Neena Pellegrini -

Lilies are highly toxic to cats. It is safest to avoid all lilies -- both as cut flowers as part of a bouquet or as a garden plant.

Dr. Denise Petryk, an emergency medicine vet and co-owner of the Animal Emergency Clinic / Puget Sound Veterinary Referral Center in Tacoma, answers this week's question.

Question: What spring yard plants are safe -- and not safe -- for our pets?

Answer: Spring in our Pacific Northwest is so beautiful. With a little careful planning, it is very easy to create a pet-safe garden. There are two main factors to consider when putting together our spring plantings:

-- Which plants? Which mulch? Which fertilizers? Which bug and slug deterrents?

-- What is the nature of our pet or pets? Are they chewers, eaters and sniffers?

AVOID the 10 most dangerous, most toxic plants:

-- Castor bean (Ricinus communis) -- oral irritation, vomiting, diarrhea, kidney failure, convulsions, death.

-- Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea), pictured right -- vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, cardiac failure, death.

-- Japanese Yew (Taxus cuspidata) -- tremors, difficulty breathing, vomiting, seizures, death.

-- Jerusalem cherry (Solanum pseudocapsicum) -- vomiting, seizures, depression, trouble breathing.

-- Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis) -- vomiting, heart trouble, disorientation, coma, seizures.

-- Lily (Lilium species) -- kidney failure in cats -- ALL parts of the plant, even in small amounts.

-- Morning Glory (Ipomea sp.) -- vomiting, diarrhea, agitation, tremors, disorientation, ataxia, anorexia.

-- Nightshade (Atropa belladonna) -- drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, depression, slow heart, weakness.

-- Oleander (Nerium oleander) -- diarrhea, trouble breathing, tremors, collapse, incoordination.

-- Precatory Beans (Arbus precatorius) -- severe vomiting and diarrhea, tremors, fever, shock, death.

The 10 most common plants that can cause drooling, vomiting, diarrhea -- AND if ingested in larger amounts -- more serious health problems:

-- Hydrangea, pictured left

-- Azalea

-- Boxwood

-- Daffodil (bulbs are more toxic than leaves and flowers)

-- Tulip (bulbs are more toxic than leaves and flowers)

-- Rhododendron

-- Iris (Gladiola)

-- Elephant's ear

-- Clematis

-- English ivy

The 10 most surprising problem plants:

-- Apple (the seeds contain cyanide)

-- Plum, cherry, apricots and peaches (the pits contain cyanide)

--Onions, chives and garlic (cause anemia)

-- Potato and rhubarb plant leaves (vomiting)

There are some wonderfully safe annuals and perennials:

--Astilbe (Astilbe sp.)

--Bee Balm (Monarda sp.)

--Begonia (Begonia sp.), pictured right

--Bugbane (Cimifuga racemosa)

--Butterfly flower (Schianthus sp.)

--Calendula (Callendula sp.)

--Catmint/catnip (Nepeta sp.)

--Coleus (Coleus sp.), pictured right

--Columbine (Aquilegia sp.)

--Coneflowers (Echinacea purpura)

--Coral Bells (Heuchera sp.)

--Cosmos (Cosmos sp.)

--Goat's Beard (Aruncus dioicus)

--Impatiens (Impatiens sp.)

--Nasturtium (Tropaeolum sp.)

--New Guinea Impatiens

--Petunia (Petunia sp.)

--Phlox (Phlox sp.)

--Primrose (Primula sp.), pictured right

--Queen of the Meadow (Filipendula ulmaria)

--Roses (Rose sp.)

--Snapdragons (Antirrhinum sp.)

--Spider flower (Cleome sp.)

--Turf Lilly (Liriope sp.)

--Violet (Viola sp.)

--Yellow Corydalis (Corydalis lutea)

--Zinnia (Zinnia sp.)

The non-plant concerns in the spring include fertilizers, pesticides, slug bait, mulch, and garden tools. Talk to your local nursery about the safest options, read labels carefully and store everything safely in sealed containers or out of reach.

Try natural products like vinegar for weeds, coffee grounds, beer and salt for slugs, and soap and water as a natural pesticide.

Avoid cocoa mulch as it comes from chocolate manufacturing and can contain substances that will cause minor chocolate poisoning (vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity) as well as general irritation to the mouth, stomach and intestines.

Many of our mature dogs (and almost all of our cats) are discriminate -- they might sniff but they are not inclined to eat plants.

Grass is often the exception and in small amounts, common grasses are safe.
Ornamental grasses can be very irritating to the mouth, throat, and nose so if you have a big grass eater, it is safest to avoid these plants.

Remember that puppies and kittens are always an exception. They will generally eat ANYTHING! It still makes most sense however to always pick the safest plants possible for our spring flower gardens and our deck pots.

Horticulturists employed at our favorite plant nurseries are excellent resources for pet safe plants and gardening products. The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center has a fantastic guide to pet-safe gardening and a wonderful collection of plant pictures and toxicity information here . also has an array of informative articles written by veterinarians about toxic plants and gardening.

The three most common spring garden problems we see in our busy Tacoma pet emergency room include dogs ingesting SLUG bait poison (metaldehyde), dogs ingesting decomposing things out of the compost pile, and Lily ingestion or sniffing by cats.

A few bites of slug bait can cause horrible tremors. Quick emergency treatment is critical.

A compost pile snack can also cause tremors or it may cause drunk-like behavior or vomiting and diarrhea. Here too, quick emergency treatment is essential for a quick recovery.

Lilies are highly toxic to cats. It is safest to avoid all lilies -- both as cut flowers as part of a bouquet or as a garden plant. Potential sniffing of the flower and inhaling the pollen can even be a problem to our cats.

Enjoy your garden but do your research first. Prevention is so much easier than sick animals and treatment.

Dr. Denise Petryk

How to Trim Dog Nails
By Kathy Salzberg -

Trimming your dog’s nails is a necessary chore and should be done every three or four weeks as part of your regular dog care routine. You can do it yourself or have a groomer or vet clip your dog's nails for you. Most groomers will be happy to show you how it’s done and it might be a good idea to do this the first time around. If your dog absolutely detests the process and it turns into a huge struggle, my advice is to let the pros do it. This unhappy scenario can be avoided by getting your dog used to having his paws handled when he’s a pup.

Reasons to Clip Dog Nails

Whether your little buddy knows it or not, he will be much better off if his nails are trimmed regularly and not allowed to become overgrown. The results are not pretty and can contribute to health concerns:

• Dog nails that grow too long may curl around the paw and puncture the footpad, causing pain and infection.

• They can also interfere with his normal gait, resulting in deformed feet that are splayed, nail breakage, bleeding and general discomfort in the feet, legs and hips because he cannot walk properly.

• Overgrown nails will cause him to rock back on his paws, causing a strain on his joints and ligaments.

Dog Nail Trimming Tools

There are two types of nail trimmers you can use, the pliers type and the guillotine variety. I usually recommend the pliers version because that is what I use in the salon.

Cutting Your Dog's Nails

You can cut your dog’s nails anywhere, but for smaller dogs it’s easier to do the job with your dog on a grooming table rather than in your lap or on the floor. If you don’t have a grooming table, any table will do, but you will want to enlist the help of a friend or family member to help hold the dog. They can also help relax and calm the dog for the pedicure process.

1. With the pet on the grooming table, begin with the rear paws. Face away from the dog and hold the paw. Use your body weight to gently keep him in place.

2. Lift the paw only as far as needed, being careful not to twist the leg and cause injury.

3. “Tip” each nail, removing only the curved portion to avoid cutting the quick.

4. Trim off any additional length, still being careful to avoid the quick.

5. Moving to the front paws, stand by the dog’s front end and lift each one so that you are looking down on the upturned foot, similar to shoeing a horse.

6. “Tip” each nail and trim any excess.

7. To keep those sharp newly-cut nails from scratching your legs, file them with a large emery board or nail file to smooth them down.

8. Praise your dog lavishly once the job is done and reward him with a tasty treat!

"Quick" Fact

The quick is the vein inside each nail that will bleed if you nick it. If the nails are dark, you cannot see it but if they are white, it will be a pink portion inside. On a dark nail, look at the cut nail, if you see a dark circle in the nail’s center, that marks the quick and you have gone far enough.

It is always a good idea to have styptic powder on hand because sometimes accidental nicks do happen. It’s not a big deal and a dab of styptic powder will stop the bleeding, but it can cause the dog to be leery of the process because it can hurt, just like it hurts you if you cut your nail too close and pinch the skin beneath.

Miley Cyrus Saves Dog Left Outside Walmart

Looks like this is one story that has a happy ending: Miley Cyrus just couldn't say no to a tiny pup abandoned outside of a building. The 19-year-old pop star picked up a small male puppy -- what she thinks is "Rottweiler-beagle mix" -- outside of a Walmart on Tuesday to join the three dogs she already keeps at home, Lila, Floyd and Ziggy.

"He was left in a box in front of Walmart .. I don't understand how people can be so cruel. That's why we named him Happy," Cyrus tweeted.

Cyrus has been photographed often recently on an intense workout regime that involves Pilates classes and jogging with her pups. The dog-lover seems smitten already: "From cardboard to Margelia," she wrote, posting a picture of her new friend.

Cats and Dogs Have an Almost
Sixth Sense About Your Well-Being

Q. My cat Jonnie wakes me up during the night if she senses my low blood sugar. What is the cat sensing or smelling to want to wake me up?

A. You just said it yourself — low blood sugar. How do cats and dogs smell these things? Oh, changes in your breathing, your aura, your skin, your odor. Seriously, dogs have been trained to sniff cancer. A researcher in Japan says dogs can predict colon cancer with more precision than a colonoscopy. Cats have a preternatural sense of smell and timing. Enjoy the attention and be grateful for a creature that cares about you enough to wake you if she senses trouble.

Q. My 87-year-old mom wants a puppy. I suggested a grown dog from the pound, but she wants to see the dog grow up and thinks that pound dogs come with all sorts of issues. What do you think?

A. Actually, you’re seeing things clearly. Your mom has a wonderful instinct to bring a dog in her life but a puppy would probably be too taxing for her. She may be spry at 87, but house-training requires a big commitment of walking the pup. And puppy misbehavior — chewing, testing limits — is difficult to control.

Adopting an older dog from a shelter would be much more humane. Giving a second chance to a dog in need of a new home will bring out the puppy in both the dog and your mom.

Q. Our 5-year-old Chihuahua, Snickers, is afraid of drinking water. He will slink up to the dish and maybe take one lick before jumping back. I have tried all different kinds of water dishes to no avail.

A. After you call your veterinarian and make an appointment to discuss Snickers’ H2O trauma, take up the water bowl and wet down your dog’s regular grub. The food bowl might look a little soupy but at least your dog is getting hydration. The vet may tell you to do this regularly, but check with him or her first.

Don't You Just Love Dogs?

Thanks to Kathy in BHC, AZ