Kingsbrook Animal Hospital's Blog: 2012

Thursday, December 27, 2012

An innovative new way to manage feline hyperthyroidism

In 2011, an innovative new therapeutic pet food became available that
is clinically proven to restore thyroid health, eliminating the need for other
therapies. By carefully limiting the level of iodine your cat consumes, this
new product results in your cat’s thyroid gland producing normal levels of
thyroid hormone when fed as the sole source of nutrition. This new product

is a great example of how important nutrition is for managing the overall
health of your pet.

The thyroid gland, located in your cat’s neck, uses dietary iodine to make

thyroid hormones that help regulate important body functions including your
cat’s metabolism, body temperature, blood pressure, heart rate and gastrointestinal
(bowel) function. A relatively common disorder in older cats called hyperthyroidism
occurs when this thyroid gland enlarges and produces excessive amounts of
thyroid hormone. Left untreated, hyperthyroidism can have serious, sometimes fatal,
consequences on vital organs like the heart and kidneys. The good news is, this

disease is highly manageable and can be controlled with proper veterinary care.

“Hyperthyroidism in cats is common; about 10 percent of cats over 10 years of age,
and about 3 percent of all cats, develop it,” says Dr. Lynda Melendez, medical
director of clinical research at Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc.

Signs of hyperthyroidism can vary in severity depending on how long a cat has been

ill. If your cat exhibits weight loss, increased appetite or thirst, diarrhea and/or vomiting,
poor skin and coat condition or out of the ordinary hyperactivity, contact your veterinarian
immediately. In addition, cats with chronic kidney disease and diabetes mellitus may
sometimes exhibit some signs similar to hyperthyroidism. Your veterinarian may also
need to perform tests for these diseases to ensure an accurate diagnosis.
When it comes to managing a cat with hyperthyroidism, there have been three options:
daily medication to inhibit the production of thyroid hormones, radioactive iodine
therapy in which a trained veterinarian will use radiation to treat abnormal thyroid tissue,
or surgery to remove thediseased thyroid tissue.

“If we can control and manage this disease with nutrition, the overall
medical costs are reduced,” says Dr. David Bruyette, a boarded veterinary
internal medicine specialist focusing on endocrinology. “You’re buying
food anyway. So even though this is a lifetime management, and the cat
will have to eat this food for the rest of his or her life, it can be a more
affordable option.”

If your cat has been diagnosed with hyperthyroidism, contact your
veterinary healthcare team to fi nd out if this innovative nutritional
therapy is an appropriate management option for your cat.


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Do Cat Families Have a Hierarchical Structure?

Watched your cats bossing each other around? One of them is probably top cat. Find out why. If you have more than one or two cats and are an astute observer of feline behavior, you've noticed that cats do seem to adhere to established feline social structures. One of your cats may have "Alpha Cat" status, with other cats deferring to him. You may find pairs of your cats choosing to relax in proximity to each other to the exclusion of other cats, and each of your cats may have established her own "territory" however small it may be.

Traditionally, Cats Were Not Thought to Be a Social Species until fairly recently, cats were not thought to be a social species. A social species is one whose members form "stable relationships," as dogs do within their packs. For years, scientists considered lions to be the only true social cats with a hierarchical structure within their prides. Later, they discovered that cheetahs and bobcats had unique social structures, and more recently, that the domestic cat family (whether feral or house cats) has an established social hierarchy. Although some cats require a solitary lifestyle, others are content to live in small groups, particularly if all of the cats are neutered. Many pet cats thrive in the company of other cats especially if they have grown up among other cats. Though its ancestors may have led asocial lives, the domestic cat has evolved into a far more sociable animal both in a feral and a household setting.

As recently as the 1970s, scientists viewed feral colonies as consisting of nothing more than a number of individual cats drawn to a common food supply, generally tolerating other cats in the area. The prevailing theory was that the cats' attraction to food was stronger than the instinct to fight off other cats. Since the cats did not exhibit well-established social behavior in the same way that dogs did, scientists assumed that they were unsociable. Many cat owners knew otherwise.

Feral Colonies Exhibit a Complex Matriarchal Hierarchy. In the years since those early studies, scientists studying the social behavior of cats have found that domestic cats, like lions, are definitely social cats with established cat social structures including complex matriarchal hierarchies similar to the lion prides. In feral colonies, observers have noted that related females in colonies are sometimes bonded so closely that they will den together when birthing, act as midwives for each other, and nurse each other's kittens, with kittens being raised cooperatively by all of the females. The mothers even join forces to drive off intruders and threats to the colony, including fighting off tomcats seeking to kill kittens so that the females can be brought back into estrus.

House Cats Also Follow a Social Hierarchy. In multicat households, domestic cats also adhere to a hierarchical structure, although it's more complex. In neutered colonies, the feline buddy system is not restricted to closely related cats and there seem to be no gender preferences. Studies over the last 30 years suggest that cats develop complex matriarchal hierarchies and that they have preferred buddies. Even strictly indoor cats have both hierarchy and territories. For example, you may have a cat who rules the couch, and another who favors the love seat, and neither will cross into the other's kingdom unless they are bonded pairs. Upheavals occur when a new cat joins the household and must carve out a new territory for himself. This usually requires that the resident cats adjust their boundaries, sometimes by force.

When a cat in the household dies, her old territory will be annexed by another cat, usually the next one down in the hierarchy. Behavior patterns in a household of cats may change when another dies or leaves. A shy cat may assume a higher spot in the hierarchy and adopt behaviors consistent with that higher status.

Rubbing Establishes Hierarchy. How often does your cat greet you by rubbing her body affectionately against your legs? It's your cat's way of letting you know that you rank higher than her in the household hierarchy. Cats rub against their companions to mingle their scents and reinforce their bond. A cat's social standing can be measured by how often other cats rub against her. Cats higher up the hierarchy are rubbed against a lot, while lower ranking cats do most of the rubbing. So as you observe your own little house lions, take note of the feline social hierarchy within your household. Understanding it can prove useful in resolving behavior issues like inappropriate marking or territorial disputes between your cats. The napping tabby at the end of your couch sees himself as a fierce lion protecting his territory at the north end of the living room. Understanding that role can help you preserve household harmony.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Can Fido and Whiskers Enrich Children’s Lives?

In this era of mommy confessionals, I must admit: I am not a pet person. With their allergic father, I have reared three children without benefit of in-house canines, felines or invited rodents. But with researchers beginning to focus on children and pets, I find myself interested, though occasionally cynical or defensive. Pediatricians are asked pet-related questions all the time. What’s the right age to care for a pet? The best way to discuss a pet’s demise? Do we get rid of the cat if one child is allergic to him? Will the dog bite the baby? For such a tremendously widespread phenomenon as pet ownership, there has been very little research to steer by.

But now researchers are looking at a range of questions, in normal child development, in childhood obesity, in traumatized children and in autism. Dogs, you might say, are having their day. The research is still limited, but the questions are intriguing, as scientists bring rigor to the study of emotional and psychological effects of pet ownership, along with traditional pediatric concerns of allergies, bites and infections. “There is evidence that some individual kids seem to benefit from their relationship with these animals,” said James Serpell, director of the Center for the Interaction of Animals and Society at the University of Pennsylvania. “Everyone wants to know what the mechanism is.” Many families acquire pets in the first place for the children’s sake, said Alan Beck, director of the Center for the Human-Animal Bond at Purdue University. “Why do you have an animal? A high percentage, because they believe it’s good for the kids — and it looks like it is, to some degree.” There’s a common conviction, for instance, that living with a pet teaches children skills they can use in their social interactions with other humans.

“The belief is that maybe animal-owning children are a little bit more aware unconsciously, have learned nonverbal communication,” Dr. Beck said. Gail F. Melson, emerita professor of human development and family studies at Purdue, cautions that cause and effect may go in the other direction. Maybe children with greater empathy skills are more likely to develop relationships with animals. The hope that children may learn empathy and communication skills from animals has led to speculation about pets in the lives of people with autism. Some children who have great difficulty with human social interactions can form deep bonds with animals. “There is some evidence, but it’s largely anecdotal, that bringing a dog into these households has a dramatic effect on the behavior of these kids,” Dr. Serpell said.

Other experts are trying to look objectively at the increasingly widespread practice of using dogs to calm or comfort children in stressful situations, usually medical or legal. Rebecca Johnson, director of the Research Center for Human-Animal Interaction at the University of Missouri, has begun a randomized clinical trial, financed by the National Institutes of Health, of children undergoing forensic interviews for child abuse; some are given a service dog during their interviews, and physiological indicators of stress are measured. “A lot of cities and municipalities are using service dogs in courtrooms for children,” she said. “I really want to identify whether it’s a stress reducer or not.” With so many children struggling with obesity, dog-walking is being investigated as a strategy to increase exercise in children — as some studies have shown it can do in adults. “This is a highly motivating physical activity, when children walk with a dog,” Dr. Johnson said. This is a departure from the scant discussion of pets decades ago among pediatric researchers, who tended to focus on risks.

A 1965 commentary in the journal Pediatrics, “Pets, Parasites, and Pediatrics,” claimed that “40 fairly frequent infections of children in this country” could be acquired from animals. And the advice that doctors have given can be based on personal prejudice, not evidence. In a study done in the 1980s of allergists, for example, those doctors who didn’t own pets were more likely to tell the families of allergic children to give up the animals. The connection between pets and allergies turns out to be particularly complex. Quite a few studies now suggest that early exposure to animals may have a protective effect. A recent review article that examined a large number of studies found evidence that in children with no family history of allergy, those exposed to dogs in the perinatal period may be less likely to develop allergies.

Pets affect so many children in so many ways — immune systems, developing social skills, exercise patterns, family circumstances. The effects may be positive, but it’s also true that families who choose to add a pet to the mix may be those who feel at least a small margin of comfort in income, living space and —perhaps above all, as I look at my own deficits — family organization and infrastructure. The strongest evidence of the importance of pets, Dr. Melson said, comes from children themselves, who often cite pets as sources of emotional support. “The animal is available when you come home from school,” she continued. “Some species will give you at least the illusion of unconditional acceptance — at least, if you have a treat in your hand.” At the same time, researchers invoke a range of less quantifiable but clearly important effects. Growing up with a pet “gives children a much more inclusive sense of self,” Dr. Serpell said. “I think it has implications for the relationship of people to the other beings on the planet.


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Paying the Price of a Fat Pet

In the year before she died, Lacey, a white German shepherd, was crippled by a weight problem and hip dysplasia, barely able to walk. Her owner, Myrle Horn, had paid little attention to her diet, feeding Lacey plenty of food because “she always wanted more.” It was only toward the end, when Lacey’s extra weight seemed to worsen her hip condition, that Ms. Horn began to cut back on her food. “It was a horrible tragedy,” said Ms. Horn, 79, a food writer who lives in Florida. “I had to have a vet come to the house to put Lacey down because I couldn’t get her up and I couldn’t get her out.” Convinced that Lacey’s weight worsened her quality of life,

Ms. Horn became more diet-conscious with her next white shepherd, Gypsy, and now is vigilant about keeping the dog’s weight at a lean 60 pounds. Ms. Horn monitors her calorie intake, feeding her things like fish oil, spinach, zucchini and turkey breast. “The last year of Lacey’s life was horrible,” she says, “and I swore to Gypsy that I would never let her end up like that.”

As the number of Americans who are overweight has grown, studies show that they have gained some four-legged company. About half of all dogs and cats in American homes are overweight or obese, up slightly from 2010, according to a recent study by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention. In a nation of 170 million pets, many of them as beloved as children, that means that roughly 85 million are carrying too much weight. And many pet owners are finding that the extra pounds on a pudgy cat or dog can lead to severe – and costly – health problems.

“Seeing animals suffering from health conditions secondary to their obesity is a common situation,” said Dr. Louise Murray, vice president of the Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital, run by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, in New York. Just as diabetes and heart disease are more common in people who are obese, these diseases also are more common in overweight animals. The average cost of veterinary care for a diabetic dog or cat in 2011 was more than $900, according to Petplan USA, a pet insurance company. Treatment for arthritis and cruciate ligament tears, which can be caused by the strain of an overweight frame that weakens joints, especially in dogs, cost pet owners an average of $2,000. In 2011 alone, pet insurance claims for diabetes increased by 253 percent, according to Petplan. Claims for heart disease rose by 32 percent, while claims for arthritis soared by 348 percent.

Some of the most popular breeds – golden retrievers, German shepherds, Yorkshire terriers – are susceptible to orthopedic problems for genetic reasons, but these problems occur earlier and more severely with pets that are overweight, said Dr. Jules Benson, vice president of veterinary services at Petplan. Dr. Benson said it is not uncommon to see dogs that are rendered practically immobile by a combination of weight and joint or bone issues. “The most heartbreaking thing is having to put a pet to sleep just because it can’t mechanically get around anymore,” he said. “They’re otherwise alert and healthy, but their quality of life becomes so low that you have no choice but to put them to sleep.” Many people find their chubby cats and dogs amusing. But where pet owners see humor in a hefty ball of fur, veterinarians like Dr. Murray of the A.S.P.C.A. see problems that can cause suffering and a shortened life span. “People may have a sense that their pet is overweight but won’t always realize the consequences,” she said. “An owner might say about their cat, ‘I don’t understand why Fluffy’s coat looks so terrible, why she has these mats over her back and has this smell,’ and I have to point out to them that she’s too overweight to groom herself.” The problem in pets mirrors that in overweight humans, often stemming from lack of exercise and too many snacks and calorie-dense foods – or, in this case, treats and table scraps – between meals.

 For veterinarians, broaching the subject of an overweight cat or dog with owners can be a delicate task. Some respond defensively or see it as a reflection of their lack of exercise and struggles with the scale. Bringing it up with an owner requires just as much finesse as pointing out someone’s own weight gain. “It can be a sensitive issue,” Dr. Murray said. “People feel defensive, as though they’ve done something wrong – that their pet is suffering discomfort because of something they did. It’s not something where you can just leap in and be blunt. You have to be very delicate.” But getting a portly pet back into shape can carry risks of its own. Hammering the pavement with an overweight lab or boxer that also happens to be arthritic can worsen the condition and cause cruciate ligament tears, akin to an A.C.L. injury in humans, which can happen all too easily in dogs, said Dr. Carol McConnell, chief veterinary medical officer for VPI Pet Insurance.

Pet owners should consult with a veterinarian before putting a pet on a diet. Putting a cat on a strict diet without medical supervision is risky, because cats’ metabolism cannot handle calorie restriction. Unlike dogs, which evolved to hunt as packs and can go days without eating, “cats are usually single predators,” Dr. McConnell said. “They nibble, they eat whatever they can find. They don’t do too well with starvation.” In cats, severe calorie restriction can signal the body to send stores of fat to the liver, where they can be converted to glucose. But over time, the liver is deluged with fat deposits, crowding out the normal cells of the liver and causing hepatitis. “If you suddenly change something too drastically, they can get into trouble,” said Dr. McConnell. “You want to make sure the pet is healthy either for calorie restriction or for an exercise plan. Whatever you do, you need to do it gradually.”

Matthew Beck/Citrus County Chronicle, via Associated Press

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Homes of the pet-obscessed

Pet-lovers these days aren't just tweaking their homes to accommodate their animals; some aren't happy until their entire home is a pet playground.

The good news is that being a barking mad bloke or a crazy cat lady is getting a lot more stylish.

Architects, interior designers and furniture makers are increasingly moving into the lucrative market of the pet-crazed.

If you'd like to build a dog-house with airconditioning, heating and hot-and-cold running water, American websites are a goldmine for pet-pampering tips.

Photos of the Walker's cats in their pussycat paradise. Photos from The Cats' House book by Bob Walker.

There are also some brilliant examples from Japan.

They may be zany, but these websites also offer some stylish solutions to common pet problems; and with a bit of ingenuity, they won't cost the earth.

Pet furniture, for example, no longer needs to be an afterthought or an eyesore, while pet-friendly features can be attractive and tastefully integrated into your home.

Taking things a little further, why not try some bespoke furniture - and don't forget to add pet requirements into the architect's design brief for your next reno or build.


Scratching posts and "cat house" hidey holes have moved from kitsch eyesores to the status of real furniture.

Visitors to your home won't immediately see the disturbing lengths you have gone to for your cats.

Indoor-cat owners will love the idea of furniture to hide litter trays.

Clever disguises include side tables, baskets and even large faux potted plants.

Discreet kitty litter boxes can even sit in the living room

If you can't find a purpose-built litter tray disguise or an attractive cat climber, try the time-honoured "Ikea hack".

The Ikea Hackers website is filled with brilliant ways to coax all manner of creature comforts out of Ikea products.

Modifications include ideas for wall-mounted perches and furniture for climbing, scratching and (of course) peeing.

Ikea hacker, Cave Lion's "Billy" Cat climbing shelf hack in action.

American designer Akemi Tanaka has created a stylish way of allowing your cat to display itself among your other artworks.

Tanaka's "Curve" is a wall-mounted, softly-padded display pedestal where your fab feline can pose in comfort, blending seamlessly with other wall-mounted artwork.

At $US200 ($185) for the Curve, you would hope so.

The Cats' House seen here under construction. The Walker's cats carefully supervised all building works. Photo from The Cats' House book by Bob Walker.

For those that want to take it further - a lot further - a book by Bob Walker details how he transformed his home into pussycat paradise.

Walker has built steps and ramps that wind up and around rooms.

There are holes in many walls for his fur family to duck between rooms; they even have access to the roof space above his ceilings.

The motto on Walker's website is: "Where 'good enough' is not enough for our feline family!" His home boasts "140 feet of elevated highway" that crisscross overhead.

And with his his dazzling colour scheme in that mix, The Cat's House must be seen to be believed.

At the most extreme end of cat-friendly accommodation are homes designed from scratch, with ramps, steps, perches, playrooms, secret spaces and ceiling-high catwalks all seamlessly woven into the design.

Two Japanese designers have delivered surprisingly inoffensive, even elegant results.

Architects Fauna +DeSIGN were commissioned to create a paradise for 16 cats and a home for their owners and five dogs.

Designer Asahi Kasei had fewer "clients" but also created kitty heaven on earth.

Both homes provide endless vantage points for the cats to survey their territory.

There are obstacles to negotiate, allowing the cats to exhibit great feats of agility, perches on which to display themselves and places for discreet supervision of their human companions.


Dog-lovers, your faithful friends haven't been forgotten. As dogs tend to be larger and somewhat less agile than cats, they don't get quite the same run of the house.

Much of the focus is on outdoor dog houses, but there are plenty of clever options for indoor dogs too.

Most interior modifications are limited to ground level; items such as benches, cupboards and the lower levels of bookcases have become new dog-friendly spaces in today's homes.

These aren't necessarily just indulgences either. There are some cunning ideas, such as low shelves to tuck food bowls away from foot traffic, or even using bottom drawers to hide bowls when not in use.

Dogs love being part of the action, but their knack of being underfoot can be annoying and even dangerous.

To counter this, beds are getting the same treatment as those for cats, becoming incorporated into more stylish items of furniture, such as side tables for small dogs or coffee tables for larger ones.

Builders and architects are unleashing themselves on homes all over the US.

Kitchens get bed areas under bench tops, laundries have purpose-built dog baths and showers and lounge rooms are being fitted with discreet dog flaps tucked into bookshelves set against exterior walls.

For a bit of doggy DIY, Barkitecture is a must. This book will supply endless ideas on ways to pamper your pooch.

There are lots of photos and "a witty, tongue-in-jowl commentary", according to the author, Fred Albert.

Elsewhere, a clever inventor has created what they call the Pet Peek.

It's a domed porthole that punches views through fences, connecting dogs to the world outside the backyard.

No more frustrated barking at indeterminate noises emanating from the unknown.

Dogs can now have a proper, focused bark at things they can actually see.

Beyond The Crate takes pooch pampering to a whole new level, with their watchword being "If your home just isn't good enough... build them their own".

Two seriously spoiled dish-lickers have a "Celebrity Hacienda Dog House" which set their owner back $US30,000.

Without the exact specs of this pooch pad, Beyond The Crate's website notes that the "extensive list of available amenities includes running water, lighting, air conditioning and heating".

As for celebrity extravagance, the $30,000 Rachel Hunter dropped on her dogs' "Hacienda" pales into insignificance after you see - yes, you guessed it - Paris Hilton's mind-boggling excesses.

Her little darlings have a 28-square-metre, $325,000 mansion modelled on her own Beverly Hills home.

Their two-story digs not only cost more than a lot of people's homes, Hilton designed it with the assistance of her interior decorator.

This monument to extreme wealth and the lack of even the slightest grip on reality is fitted out with chandeliers, airconditioning, a staircase, balcony, beds, a wardrobe full of outfits and what looks like a bizarre miniature nightclub area set up for pole dancing.


The renowned American architect and designer of Canberra, Walter Burley Griffin, was a man before his time in many ways, especially if one considers his design of the Fishwick House in Sydney's Castlecrag.

This 1929 house had two fishponds with glass bottoms, suspended from the ceiling of the dining room.

But the design must have turned out to be impractical - who would have guessed – and they were replaced by skylights in the 1930s.

For a less radical but only slightly less impressive fishy feature, try the sleek Hanging Space Aquarium from America.

This design goes way beyond any standard tank and could probably put most other modern designs to shame.

These slim-line tanks hang from the ceiling giving a full walk-around view of their scaly inhabitants.

According to one distributor, Opulent Items, the fluorescent light placed on top of the frame makes the whole set-up glow, "thereby embellishing the ambience" of your home.

The aquarium's filtration system is neatly concealed within the stainless steel tube frame or located many metres away in a more convenient location.

It's certainly expensive - the large model is $US8500 - but for stylish fish-lovers it's an attractive option. Singer Jay-Z's former New York City residence - a $US31 million penthouse - featured some.

There is no limit to the creativity of tank design, from the elegant wall mounted types to a rather unsettling bathroom vanity style.

The Aquarium Sink is just $US4,500 and the site says they can have one shipped over here in no time. You will need a plumber to install it and the lighting and pump need electricity too.

We wonder if the fish become distressed when water gurgles down the plughole at the centre of their domain.

For people who share their homes with other types of pets, from the standard to the startling, you have not been forgotten.

Those ingenious Ikea hackers have been beavering away to accommodate all kinds of creatures in a style worthy of their place in your heart.

For the less DIY minded, consult your local pet store, the internet, a builder or an architect.

Remember, they aren't just pets, they're people too.

Fairfax Media

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Stress Relief

Stress…we all have it. From busy families, demands at work, and the hustle and bustle of daily life, it sometimes seems there are not enough hours in a day. With full time employees working 40+ hours in a week and with only 2 days in a weekend, the stress of life quickly adds up. But luckily for you, a helpful stress reducer is just within reach of your furry critters! Studies show that owning and caring for a pet helps relieve loneliness, depression and lowers blood pressure. Dogs also encourage us to “stop and smell the roses” on walks they require for physical and mental enrichment. Pets remind us to live in the moment and enjoy what we have- a loving four-legged friend that is always happy to see us and gets the most out of every moment! For more information, visit:

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Dyed Dogs

A pink poodle?!? A blue Bichon? A red Rat Terrier?!? Dying your pets' fur is the latest trend in pet grooming? But is it safe? Like all other topical products, if it designed for pets' skin and used as directed, its probably ok. There is a line of gel-type dyes made specifically for dogs, with the dye being certified safe by the Cosmetic, Toiletry, and Fragrance Association. But does that mean its ok for YOUR dog? Maybe not...Every dog can react differently to topical products. The dye must also sit for 15 minutes and lasts 4-6 washes "if applied appropriately". At my house, its enough of an ordeal to bathe 3 dogs with shampoo, much less have them sit still for 15 minutes to be dyed... My vote? Leave it to the professional groomers at Grooming Shows!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Poo Power

Elephants are actually helping to keep the lights on at the Munich Zoo. The zoo's resident Indian elephants are providing 'Elephant Energy' by creating power generated from their dung. This is achieved by harnessing what the Munich Zoo is referring to as "poo power" -- energy stored in animal waste -- which can be converted into a fuel known as "biogas."

How It Works…

The zoo has built three large containers, each capable of holding about 100 cubic meters of animal waste --which is approximately a week's worth of dung collected from all the vegetarian animals in the zoo. The dung is then mixed with warm water and the bacteria in the dung is left to decompose in an oxygen-free environment for 30 days. The resulting biogas, mainly comprised of methane and carbon dioxide, rises naturally through vents in the ceiling to a corrugated hut on the roof where it's collected in a "big balloon" which resembles a small Zepplin. The biogas is then fed into a gas-powered engine that's used to generate electricity.

"When you turn the biogas into electricity, it creates heat which we also store," Munich Zoo park supervisor Dominik Forster told CNN. "This is then used to warm the gorilla enclosure, -- but it could be used to heat about 25 homes," he added.

Apparently, dung alone does not produce all that much energy relative to its size, and by the time the food has been digested by the animal, a lot of the energy in it has been used up or burped out. However, using animal waste to create electricity, heat or fertilizer is important in helping change our mindset from dependence on one source of energy to many different complementary sources.

By Nick Glass and George Webster, CNN

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Owney the Postal Service Dog

Owney was a scruffy mutt who became a regular fixture at the Albany, New York, post office in 1888. His owner was likely a postal clerk who let the dog walk him to work. Owney was attracted to the texture or scent of the mailbags and when his master moved away, Owney stayed with his new mail clerk friends. He soon began to follow mailbags. At first, he followed them onto mail wagons and then onto mail trains. Owney began to ride with the bags on Railway Post Office (RPO) train cars across the state and eventually the country! In 1895 Owney made an around-the-world trip, traveling with mailbags on trains and steamships to Asia and across Europe, before returning to Albany. Railway mail clerks considered the dog a good luck charm. At a time when train wrecks were all too common, no train Owney rode was ever in a wreck. The Railway mail clerks adopted Owney as their unofficial mascot, marking his travels by placing medals and tags on his collar. Each time Owney returned home to Albany, the clerks there saved the tags. Postmaster General John Wanamaker was one of Owney's fans. When he learned that the dog's collar was weighed down by an ever-growing number of tags, he gave Owney a harness on which to display the "trophies." On April 9, 1894, a writer for the Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported that "Nearly every place he stopped Owney received an additional tag, until now he wears a big bunch. When he jogs along, they jingle like the bells on a junk wagon." In June, Owney boarded a mail train for Toledo, Ohio. While he was there, he was shown to a newspaper reporter by a postal clerk. Owney became ill tempered and although the exact circumstances were not satisfactorily reported, Owney died in Toledo of a bullet wound on June 11, 1897. Mail clerks raised funds to have Owney preserved, and he was given to the Post Office Department's headquarters in Washington, D.C. In 1911, the department transferred Owney to the Smithsonian Institution, where he has remained ever since. Owney can be seen on display in the National Postal Museum's atrium, wearing his harness and surrounded by several of his tags.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween Safety Tips

No Scaredy Cats This Halloween: Top 10 Safety Tips for Pet Parents
Attention, animal lovers, it's almost the spookiest night of the year! The ASPCA recommends taking some common sense precautions this Halloween to keep you and your pet saying "trick or treat!" all the way to November 1.
1. No tricks, no treats: That bowl of candy is for trick-or-treaters, not for Scruffy and Fluffy. Chocolate in all forms—especially dark or baking chocolate—can be very dangerous for dogs and cats. Candies containing the artificial sweetener xylitol can also cause problems. If you do suspect your pet has ingested something toxic, please call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 
2. Popular Halloween plants such as pumpkins and decorative corn are considered to be relatively nontoxic, but they can produce stomach upset in pets who nibble on them.
3. Wires and cords from electric lights and other decorations should be kept out of reach of your pets. If chewed, your pet might suffer cuts or burns, or receive a possibly life-threatening electrical shock.
4. A carved pumpkin certainly is festive, but do exercise caution if you choose to add a candle. Pets can easily knock a lit pumpkin over and cause a fire. Curious kittens especially run the risk of getting burned or singed by candle flames.

5. Dress-up can be a big mess-up for some pets. Please don't put your dog or cat in a costume UNLESS you know he or she loves it (yup, a few pets are real hams!). For pets who prefer their “birthday suits,” however, wearing a costume may cause undue stress.

6. If you do dress up your pet, make sure the costume isn't annoying or unsafe. It should not constrict the animal's movement or hearing, or impede his ability to breathe, bark or meow. Also, be sure to try on costumes before the big night. If your pet seems distressed, allergic or shows abnormal behavior, consider letting him go au naturale or donning a festive bandana.
7. Take a closer look at your pet’s costume and make sure it does not have small, dangling or easily chewed-off pieces that he could choke on. Also, ill-fitting outfits can get twisted on external objects or your pet, leading to injury.
8. All but the most social dogs and cats should be kept in a separate room away from the front door during peak trick-or-treating hours. Too many strangers can be scary and stressful for pets.

9. When opening the door for trick-or-treaters, take care that your cat or dog doesn't dart outside.
10. IDs, please! Always make sure your dog or cat has proper identification. If for any reason your pet escapes and becomes lost, a collar and tags and/or a microchip can be a lifesaver, increaing the chances that he or she will be returned to you

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Bang for Your Bark: AAA picks best canine-friendly cars

Dog owners looking for a new set of wheels can take heart; the American Automobile Association has taken the time to pick a handful of vehicles best suited to moving your furry friend from one place to another. With around 45 million households across the country boasting at least one dog in the family, it should be no surprise that the ability to conveniently and safely move a pet plays a big role in which vehicle consumers choose to buy. A total of 11 SUVs, crossovers and wagons have made the AAA list, each divided into categories like luxury, active lifestyle and efficient and fun.

While we weren't surprised to see cars like the Subaru Forester and Honda Element make the cut, others, like the BMW 3 Series Touring and the ever fun-to-fling Mazda3 five-door were vehicles we wouldn't have necessarily thought of as doggie rides. Thrifty buys like the Kia Soul and Nissan Cube found particular favor on the AAA list, thanks in part to their ability to serve up plenty of space with their rear seats folded down. We still say a Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon would do just fine – at least for a low-profile dog like a dachshund or beagle.

By Zach Bowman

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Six New Breeds Debut At Westminster 2012

The American English Coonhound evolved from Virginia Hounds, descendants of English Foxhounds. Originally these hounds were used to hunt fox by day and raccoons by night and were named the English Fox and Coonhound. Today's American English Coonhound is a wide-ranging hunter that possesses tremendous speed and endurance, and excellent voice. A strong and graceful athlete, he needs regular exercise to stay in peak shape. The breed's hard, protective coat is of medium length and can be red and white ticked, blue and white ticked, tri-colored with ticking, red and white, and white and black. The breed is pleasant, alert, confident and sociable with both humans and dogs.

CESKY TERRIER (Terrier Group)
The Cesky Terrier was developed to be a well-muscled, short legged and well-pigmented hunting terrier that could be worked in packs. The Cesky Terrier has natural drop ears and a natural tail. The Cesky is longer than it is tall and has a topline that rises slightly higher over the loin and rump. It sports a soft, long, silky coat in shades of gray from Charcoal to Platinum. The correct coat is clipped to emphasize a slim impression. The hallmarks of the breed should be unique unto itself with a lean body and graceful movement. They are reserved towards strangers, loyal to their owners, but ever keen and alert during the hunt.

The Entlebucher Mountain Dog is a native of Switzerland, and the smallest of the four Swiss breeds. A medium-sized drover, he has a short, tri-colored coat with symmetrical markings. Purpose and heritage have resulted in an unusually intense bonding between the Entlebucher and his master. Prized for his work ethic and ease of training, he can transform from a high-spirited playmate to a serious, self-assured dog of commanding presence. The Entlebucher should not be considered a breed for the casual owner. The guardian traits of this breed require thorough socialization, and he will remain an active, energetic dog for his entire lifetime.

The Finnish Lapphund is a reindeer herding dog from the northern parts of Scandinavia. The breed is thought to have existed for hundreds, if not thousands, of years, as the helper dog of the native tribes. In modern day, Lapphunds are popular as family pets in their native Finland. They are devoted to their family, friendly with all people, highly intelligent and eager to learn. The dogs have a thick, dense coat that comes in a variety of colors and beautiful, soft, expressive faces. They are strong but very agile.

The Norwegian Lundehund – or Puffin Dog -- spent centuries on the rocky cliffs and high fields of arctic Norway hunting and retrieving puffin birds, an important meat and feather crop to local farmers. Uniquely equipped for their task, this little Spitz-type dog has at least six toes on each foot for stability in the near vertical environs where puffins nest. A flexible skeletal structure enables the dog to squirm out of tight spots or spread-eagle to prevent slips and falls. Lundehunds have a protective double coat, reddish-brown, often with white collar and feet and a white tip on the tail. Today puffin birds are protected and the puffin dog has taken up its new role as an alert, cheerful and somewhat mischievous companion.

XOLOITZCUINTLI (Non-Sporting Group)
The Xoloitzcuintli - "show-low" as it is commonly called - is the national dog of Mexico. Previously known as the Mexican Hairless, it comes in three sizes as well as a coated version - seen in the show ring only in the US and Canada. These dogs descend from hairless dogs prized by the Aztecs and revered as guardians of the dead. Over 400 years later, these dogs were still to be found in the Mexican jungles. Shaped by the environment rather than by man, their keen intelligence, trainability and natural cleanliness have made them a unique and valued pet today.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Thank the Tech that Cares for your Pet

As beloved four legged friends, pets are beloved members of our family, and often a top priority. The same should be for their healthcare. The National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America, Inc., (NAVTA) has proclaimed Oct. 14 to 20, 2012, to be the 20th annual National Veterinary Technician Week. Since 1993, this annual event recognizes veterinary technicians for their contributions in pet healthcare, as well as veterinarians, assistants, practice managers and others involved in this care.

“Technicians are an integral part of the pet healthcare team, and play an important role in veterinary care, to both the client and their pets,” said Catherine Holly, CVT, president of NAVTA. “It’s important that we take the time to celebrate technicians. Not only do they provide top-notch care to our pets, but also put in long hours as researchers, and are oftentimes specialized. We just want people to know how valuable technicians actually are.” This year, Hill’s Pet Nutrition, a company dedicated to helping pets reach their full potential through quality nutrition and healthcare, is sponsoring the week-long celebration.

As a member of the veterinary healthcare team, veterinary technicians are educated in the latest medical advances and skilled at working alongside veterinarians to give pets the best medical care possible. They work closely with the veterinarians, veterinary assistants, practice managers, patients, and owners to provide the essential link with all involved in the care process.
NAVTA is a nonprofit organization that represents and promotes the veterinary technician profession. NAVTA provides direction, education, support and coordination for its members. Incorporated in 1981, NAVTA is the national organization devoted exclusively to developing and enhancing the profession of veterinary technology. Pets give us unconditional love and veterinary technicians give us peace of mind. For this reason they should be celebrated during National Veterinary Technician Week. To find more information about NAVTA and this special week, visit

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Introducing Vet Academy

Coming in November: Vet Academy for Students 9-13! Call for Reservations. Tell your friends--Everyone is welcome to come.

Twice as nice: Rare 2-headed sea turtle hatchling found on Jupiter Island

JUPITER ISLAND — Simon Bilts said he "almost did a double take" when he saw it: a two-headed loggerhead sea turtle hatchling. 

On Tuesday morning, the biologist with Jensen Beach-based Ecological Associates Inc., was on the northern end of Jupiter Island excavating sea turtle nests that had hatched three days earlier to determine the reproductive success rate.

It's not unusual for a straggling hatchling or two to be found among the empty and unhatched egg shells.

The hatchlings Bilts uncovered soon after he started searching nests at 6 a.m. were escorted to the ocean. The ones found after 9 a.m., in accordance with Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission guidelines, were put in a bucket with moist sand and covered with a towel for release after nightfall.

Bilts had several hatchlings in the bucket and was driving an all-terrain vehicle to the next nest when the towel blew off. He was putting the towel back on when he noticed something unusual about one of the hatchlings.

"I looked closer, and sure enough, it had two heads," he said. "I hadn't noticed that before. It was a little bit of a shock."

Bilts said he's worked with sea turtles "off and on" since 2000, and "I'd never seen a two-headed turtle before."

Erik Martin, the scientific director at Ecological Associates, said two-headed turtles "are kind of rare. I've only seen one before, back in 1984."

Bilts brought all the post-9 a.m. hatchlings, including the two-headed rarity, back to the Ecological Associates lab. The day spent in a cool, dark area of the lab gave scientists there an opportunity to examine the rare find.

"He seemed to be relatively healthy," Martin said. "Of course, its shell was somewhat deformed to make room for the two heads."

Otherwise, the hatchling was active and able to crawl with both heads moving independently.
That night, Bilts released the hatchlings near Jensen Beach.

Only about one in 5,000 hatchlings lives to adulthood, mostly because of predators both on the beach and in the water. Having two heads would seem to have both advantages and disadvantages for young sea turtles.

Advantage: Better peripheral vision.
"Hey, there's a shark coming up on the left!"
Disadvantage: Potential for arguments.
"How about some crabs tonight?"
"Nah, I'm tired of seafood."

Unfortunately, said Niki Desjardin, a senior scientist with Ecological Associates who's been studying sea turtles for 11 years, two heads are not better than one.

"It puts a strain on the turtle's internal organs," she said. "And the fact is, you never see adult turtles with two heads."

In late July, a two-headed loggerhead hatchling was found on the beach at the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center in Boca Raton.

"Actually, it was almost a two-bodied hatchling joined at the hips," said Kirt Rusenko, a marine conservationist and head of the sea turtle program at the center. "It had four flippers, two heads and almost two carapaces (shells)."

Rusenko said two-headed sea turtle hatchlings are found "every two or three years" at the center, and a two-headed embryo discovered several years ago was found to have a high level of pesticides in its body.

The turtle found in July died of pneumonia, he said, because when one head came up to breathe, the other took on water in the lungs they shared.

Of the three species of sea turtles that regularly nest on Treasure Coast beaches, loggerheads are the most common, but still are listed as a threatened species.

Sea turtle nesting season began March 1 and runs until mid-September. Nearly 10,000 loggerhead nests were tallied in 2011 by Ecological Associates, which monitors sea turtles nests in southern St. Lucie County, northern Martin County and northern Indian River County, and by the coastal engineering division of the Indian River County Public Works Department, which monitors beaches in the southern half of that county.

In the same areas, 1,652 green turtle nests and 558 leatherback nests were counted in 2011.
Martin said nest numbers "are looking good so far this year."

By Tyler Treadway

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Think Global, Work Local: Pet Ownership as a Social Justice

If I were responsible for a class or student group dedicated to social justice, the very first cause I would bring to my students’ attention is the plight of the animal shelters: mistreatment, poor health and homelessness of animals, especially dogs. There are several reasons why I think this is an excellent case study for socially-minded young people to cut their teeth on:

1) The injustice is local and concrete and efforts are immediately rewarded. It’s easy to visit a local animal shelter and see a lot of lonely animals looking for homes. The immediacy of the concern provides an emotional punch that more abstract issues may not have.

Though we won’t completely solve the problem any time soon, any student could potentially help a single animal by encouraging a friend or family member to adopt from a shelter instead of a pet store, or many animals by volunteering at the shelter.

2) The underlying factors are global and similar to other social justice issues in their origins. Everything from depletion of fishing stocks to anthropogenic climate change to the blood diamond trade is significantly affected by consumer behavior. We often cast the most far-reaching votes with our wallets. And you’d be hard-pressed to find a more immediate example of the effects of ignorant consumer behavior than the histories of the abandoned dogs in an animal shelter.

You see, it’s all about supply and demand. As long as there is a market for the newest, trendiest puppies, there will be puppy mills churning them out. In the wake of releases and re-releases of Disney’s animated and live-action 101 Dalmatians films, tremendous numbers of people started buying Dalmatians, often impulsively and with little knowledge of the breed. As a result there is a Dalmatian over-population problem even today, since the sort of fickle buyers who adopt trendy puppies on a whim are the same sort to abandon them as adults, often with bad habits from lack of training or emotional issues due to poor treatment.

Even in a perfect world where every new dog owner made a life-long commitment to their new pets, there would still be an over-population problem. When greedy puppy-millers start forcing dogs to be continuously pregnant in order to produce as many “in-demand” puppies in as short a time as possible, there will inevitably be a surplus as demand drops off. And there’s always some flavor of the week. A couple years ago, it was all about the puggles, as several Hollywood celebrities started showing theirs off.

3) The solutions to the problem are both individual and collective. Once you understand the problem, the solution is obvious. Clearly some types of adoption ease the problem of animal homelessness, and some exacerbate it. Buying either purebred or designer dog mixes from pet stores or backyard breeders just results in more and more dogs being produced to meet the demand. Since a not-insignificant fraction of these dogs will later be given up by their owners, faddish dog-purchases only add to the burden of already over-crowded shelters by increasing the over all population of unwanted dogs.

It’s not difficult for would-be pet-owners to see how the adoption choices they make can either mitigate or add to the problem of unwanted pets (not to mention the problem of animal mistreatment that occurs in puppy mill operations). If no one supported puppy mills, they would quickly cease to exist. On an individual level, any one of us planning on adopting has the choice of making things just a little bit better or a little bit worse. Once someone is aware of the consumer power they wield, it’s an easy choice.

As animal advocates, we can have a wider impact by educating other prospective pet owners so they can also make an informed choice. Through public education and outreach efforts (or partnerships with existing efforts by local shelters and organizations like The Humane Society), individual students and groups can do even more good. Regular events like adoption drives can always use more volunteer help and word-of-mouth advertising.

Being an informed consumer is probably at least as important as being an informed citizen. The politico-economic power average people wield is collectively enormous. Having learned a bit about consumer power and the value of public outreach, there are plenty of other issues that young people can take on with those same tools. How do we encourage major international companies to take their social and environmental responsibilities seriously? Reward the best ones with your business, boycott the worst. Educate other consumers to do the same.

There’s a place for political activism in the quest for a better world: a big one. Anyone serious about social justice should write a few letters to their political representatives. But especially for students who don’t yet qualify to vote, it seems obvious to me that the first lesson we should teach them is just how much influence they already have through consumer activism. Companies spend billions on advertising telling the teenage market what to want, wear, watch, buy and do. I’d like to see the teenagers tell the companies what to do for a change

by Joel Boyce

Read more:

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Cow turned Horse

LAUFEN, Germany (AP) -- When Regina Mayer's parents dashed her hopes
of getting a horse, the resourceful 15-year-old didn't sit in her room
and sulk. Instead, she turned to a cow called Luna to make her riding
dreams come true.

Hours of training, and tons of treats, cajoling and caresses later,
the results are impressive: not only do the two regularly go on long
rides through the southern German countryside, they do jumps over a
makeshift hurdle of beer crates and painted logs.

"She thinks she's a horse," the golden-haired Mayer joked on a recent
sunny afternoon as she sat atop the impassive brown-and-white,
grass-munching cow.

It all started about two years ago, shortly after Luna was born on the
Mayers' sprawling farm in the hamlet of Laufen, just minutes from the
Austrian border.

They started off with walks in the woods during which Luna wore a
halter. Then Mayer slowly got her cow more accustomed to human contact
and riding equipment.

About six months later, it was time to see how Luna would respond to a
rider on her back. Mayer sat in the saddle, and all went as planned -
at least at first.

"She was really well behaved and walked normally," said Mayer, decked
out in riding gear. "But after a couple of meters, she wanted me to
get off! You could see that she got a bit peeved."

Luna and Mayer are now soul mates, spending most afternoons together
once the teen - who aspires to become a nurse one day - comes home
from school.

Their extensive routine involves grooming, petting, jumps and a
roughly one-hour ride. That's also the case in winter, when Mayer
lovingly drapes a blanket over Luna to keep her warm.

It's a lot of work "but I enjoy it," Mayer said.

Her efforts have paid off.

Now, Luna understands commands such as "go," `'stand" and "gallop." If
she feels like it, that is.

"When she wants to do something she does it, when she doesn't, she
doesn't," said Mayer, who proudly says Luna thinks of her as her
mother. "And she's often very headstrong but can also be really

Luna's stubborn streak meant that teaching her pony tricks wasn't
always easy, Mayer noted, saying she sought tips from a cow expert in
Switzerland on how to deal with "steering" problems.

Anne Wiltafsky, who trains cows near the Swiss city of Zurich, said
Luna's talents are not particularly surprising and that, historically,
it was quite common to ride cows and use them as workhorses.

"Especially younger ones can jump really well," Wiltafsky said in a
telephone interview, adding that cows are lovable companions because
they're easygoing, have strong nerves and are "unbelievably devoted"
to people they like.

Being - and owning - a cow-turned-pony isn't always easy.

Take the somewhat skeptical neighbors, such as Martin Putzhammer, who
had to be won over.

"At first I thought it was kind of weird - a kid on a cow?" the
17-year-old said during a break from repairing his moped. "Had to get
used to it but once I did I thought it was pretty funny."

While Mayer's friends quickly warmed to her passion after laughing at
her, Luna's fellow cows weren't so open-minded.

"Cows don't really like her ... they're jealous because she always
gets goodies," Mayer said.

And horses? Many run away in fright, but others often join Luna on rides.

"She really enjoys that and gets totally into it," Mayer said.

Mayer hasn't given up her hopes of having a horse and may soon get
one. But she says Luna will always have a special place in her heart.

"She'll stay my darling," she said.

To watch the video go to

The Huffington Post/AP

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Halloween Costume Contest

Halloween is only 5 weeks away! We are hosting a pet costume contest, judged by the staff of KAH.
Email pictures to Please include your name, pets name, age and a short description.

 Entries will be accepted until Friday, October 26th.
Winners will be announced on Facebook and be notified by email.

 PRIZES ARE AS FOLLOWS: 1st Place $50 credit on your Kingsbrook account, 2nd and 3rd Place $25 credit on your Kingsbrook account.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Disaster Preparedness ( from ASPCA)

Emergencies come in many forms, and they may require anything from a brief absence from your home to permanent evacuation. Each type of disaster requires different measures to keep your pets safe. The best thing you can do for yourself and your pets is to be prepared.

Step 1 Get a Rescue Alert Sticker
This easy-to-use sticker will let people know that pets are inside your home. Make sure it is visible to rescue workers, and that it includes 1) the types and number of pets in your household; 2) the name of your veterinarian; and 3) your veterinarian's phone number. If you must evacuate with your pets, and if time allows, write "EVACUATED" across the stickers.
To get a free emergency pet alert sticker for your home, please fill out our online order form ; please allow 6-8 weeks for delivery. Your local pet supply store may also sell similar stickers.

Step 2 Arrange a Safe Haven
Arrange a safe haven for your pets in the event of evacuation. DO NOT LEAVE YOUR PETS BEHIND. Remember, if it isn't safe for you, it isn't safe for your pets. They may become trapped or escape and be exposed to numerous life-threatening hazards. Note that not all Red Cross disaster shelters accept pets, so it is imperative that you have determined where you will bring your pets ahead of time:
Contact your veterinarian for a list of preferred boarding kennels and facilities.
Ask your local animal shelter if they provide emergency shelter or foster care for pets. Identify hotels or motels outside of your immediate area that accept pets.
Ask friends and relatives outside your immediate area if they would be willing to take in your pet.

Step 3 Emergency Supplies and Traveling Kits
Keep an Evac-Pack and supplies handy for your pets. Make sure that everyone in the family knows where it is. This kit should be clearly labeled and easy to carry. Items to consider keeping in or near your pack include:

Pet first-aid kit and guide book (ask your vet what to include, or visit the ASPCA Store to buy one online)
3-7 days' worth of canned (pop-top) or dry food (be sure to rotate every two months)
Disposable litter trays (aluminum roasting pans are perfect)
Litter or paper toweling
Liquid dish soap and disinfectant
Disposable garbage bags for clean-up
Pet feeding dishes
Extra collar or harness as well as an extra leash
Photocopies of medical records and a waterproof container with a two-week supply of any medicine your pet requires (Remember, food and medications need to be rotated out of your emergency kit—otherwise they may go bad or become useless.)
Bottled water, at least 7 days' worth for each person and pet (store in a cool, dry place and replace every two months)
A traveling bag, crate or sturdy carrier, ideally one for each pet
Blanket (for scooping up a fearful pet)
Recent photos of your pets (in case you are separated and need to make "Lost" posters)
Especially for cats: Pillowcase or EvackSack, toys, scoopable litter
Especially for dogs: Extra leash, toys and chew toys, a week's worth of cage liner.
You should also have an emergency kit for the human members of the family. Items to include: Batteries, duct tape, flashlight, radio, multi-tool, tarp, rope, permanent marker, spray paint, baby wipes, protective clothing and footwear, extra cash, rescue whistle, important phone numbers, extra medication and copies of medical and insurance information.

Step 4 Choose “Designated Caregivers”
This step will take considerable time and thought. When choosing a temporary caregiver, consider someone who lives close to your residence. He or she should be someone who is generally home during the day while you are at work or has easy access to your home. A set of keys should be given to this trusted individual. This may work well with neighbors who have pets of their own—you may even swap responsibilities, depending upon who has accessibility.
When selecting a permanent caregiver, you’ll need to consider other criteria. This is a person to whom you are entrusting the care of your pet in the event that something should happen to you. When selecting this "foster parent," consider people who have met your pet and have successfully cared for animals in the past. Be sure to discuss your expectations at length with a permanent caregiver, so he or she understands the responsibility of caring for your pet.

Step 5 Evacuation Preparation
If you must evacuate your home in a crisis, plan for the worst-case scenario. If you think you may be gone for only a day, assume that you may not be allowed to return for several weeks. When recommendations for evacuation have been announced, follow the instructions of local and state officials. To minimize evacuation time, take these simple steps:

Store an emergency kit and leashes as close to an exit as possible.
Make sure all pets wear collars and tags with up-to-date identification. Your pet's ID tag should contain his name, telephone number, and any urgent medical needs. Be sure to write your pet's name, your name and contact information on your pet's carrier.

The ASPCA recommends microchipping your pet as a more permanent form of identification. A microchip is implanted in the animal's shoulder area, and can be read by scanner at most animal shelters.
Always bring pets indoors at the first sign or warning of a storm or disaster. Pets can become disoriented and wander away from home during a crisis.
Consider your evacuation route and call ahead to make arrangements for boarding your pet outside of the danger zone at the first sign of disaster.
Step 6 Geographic and Climatic Considerations
Do you live in an area that is prone to certain natural catastrophes, such as tornadoes, earthquakes or floods? If so, you should plan accordingly.
Determine well in advance which rooms offer safe havens. These rooms should be clear of hazards such as windows, flying debris, etc.
Choose easy-to-clean areas such as utility rooms, bathrooms, and basements as safe zones.
Access to a supply of fresh water is particularly important. In areas that may lose electricity, fill up bathtubs and sinks ahead of time to ensure that you have access to water during a power outage or other crises.
In the event of flooding, go to the highest location in your home, or a room that has access to counters or high shelves where your animals can take shelter.
If emergency officials recommend that you stay in your home, it's crucial that you keep your pets with you. Keep your Evac-Pack and supplies close at hand. Your pets may become stressed during the in-house confinement, so you may consider crating them for safety and comfort.

Special Considerations for Birds
Birds should be transported in a secure travel cage or carrier.
In cold weather, make certain you have a blanket over your pet’s cage. This may also help reduce the stress of traveling.
In warm weather, carry a spray bottle to periodically moisten your bird's feathers.
Have recent photos available, and keep your bird’s leg bands on for identification.
If the carrier does not have a perch, line it with paper towels that you can change frequently.
Keep the carrier in as quiet an area as possible.
It is particularly imperative that birds eat on a daily basis, so purchase a timed feeder. If you need to leave your bird unexpectedly, the feeder will ensure his daily feeding schedule.
Items to keep on hand: Catch net, heavy towel, blanket or sheet to cover cage, cage liner.

Special Considerations for Reptiles
A snake may be transported in a pillowcase, but you should have permanent and secure housing for him when you reach a safe place.
Take a sturdy bowl that is large for your pet to soak in. It’s also a good idea to bring along a heating pad or other warming device, such as a hot water bottle.
Lizards can be transported like birds (see above).

Special Considerations for Small Animals
Small animals, such as hamsters, gerbils, mice and guinea pigs, should be transported in secure carriers with bedding materials, food and food bowls.
Items to keep on hand: Salt lick, extra water bottle, small hidebox or tube, a week's worth of bedding.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Breeder’s Choice recalls AvoDerm dog food for possible salmonella risk

Breeder’s Choice Pet Food is recalling a single manufacturing batch of its AvoDerm Natural Lamb Meal & Brown Rice Adult Dog Formula due to possible contamination with salmonella.

The Irwindale-based company said the product being recalled is the 26 lb.-sized AvoDerm Natural Lamb Meal & Brown Rice Adult Dog Formula with the “best before” dates of Aug. 28, 2013; Aug. 29, 2013 and Aug. 30, 2013.

Breeder’s Choice said it is issuing the recall notification because a sample of the manufacturing batch tested positive for salmonella. No human or pet illnesses have been reported so far, it said.
The product was originally manufactured on Aug. 29 and distributed Aug. 30 and 31 in California, Georgia, Illinois, Nevada, Virginia and Washington.

“Breeder’s Choice Pet Foods has taken immediate action to remove the product from all applicable distribution centers and retail customers, and is fully investigating the cause,” the company said in a statement.

The company said consumers who bought the recalled product should contact Breeder’s Choice customer service representatives at 1-866-500-6286 or visit its website for more information.
Salmonella can affect animals eating the products and there is a risk to humans from handling contaminated pet products, especially if they have not thoroughly washed their hands after having contact with the products or any surfaces exposed to these products.

Healthy people exposed to salmonella should monitor themselves for some or all of the following symptoms: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramping and fever. Rarely, salmonella can result in more serious ailments, including arterial infections, endocarditis, arthritis, muscle pain, eye irritation and urinary tract symptoms. Consumers exhibiting these signs after having contact with this product should contact their healthcare providers, the company said.

Pets with salmonella infections may be lethargic and have diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever and vomiting. Some pets will have only decreased appetite, fever and abdominal pain. Infected but otherwise healthy pets can be carriers and infect other animals or humans. Breeder’s Choice said to contact a veterinarian if a pet that has consumed the recalled product has these symptoms.

L.A. Biz

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

If Dogs Were Your Teacher

You would learn stuff like:

When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.

Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride.

Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your
face to be pure ecstasy.

Take naps and stretch before rising.

Run, romp, and play daily.

Thrive on attention and let people touch you.

Avoid biting, when a simple growl will do.

On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass.

On hot days, drink lots of water and lay under a shady tree.

When you're happy, dance around and wag your entire body.

Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.

Eat with gusto and enthusiasm. Stop when you have had enough.

Never pretend to be something you're not.

If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.

When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by
and nuzzle them gently.

A Dog Poem By: Author Unknown

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

San Diego Zoo's baby panda said to be doing fine after exam

Good news from the San Diego Zoo: The baby panda born July 29 passed its first close-up physical examination.

The panda was reported to be a robust 1.5-pounds, with a strong heart, good lungs, a calm demeanor, and a distinctive voice. The exam lasted but three minutes; the rule with panda cubs is for keepers to remain at a distance to let mother and baby bond properly.

There were limits to what could be observed: Veterinarians are still not sure about the baby's gender.
While the exam was underway, keepers were watching mother Bai Yun to see if separation anxiety set in. It did not, zoo officials said.

The cub is Bai Yun's sixth offspring since arriving at the zoo. But repetition has not dulled her talent for motherhood. She quickly cradled the cub when the two were reunited, officials said.

Plans are for Bai Yun and the offspring to remain in the den for several months, visible to the public on the zoo's panda cam.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Four-Legged Reason to Keep It Together

WHEN I met the dog, he was sitting in a cage to my left as I entered a local animal shelter near the running path I frequent in downtown Austin, Texas. I had no intention to adopt a dog. I only stopped for a drink of cold water.

I don’t run to stay healthy, I run to stay thin, and lately to blow off steam. I was engaged to be married, and the relationship with my fiancée was getting frosty, with a lot of yelling and blame being tossed around.
The volunteers at the shelter were shrewd. It was overcrowded, with a high kill ratio, the highest in its history, I was told. As patrons walked into the caged areas, the dog on their immediate left was next on the chopping block, if no one adopted it. The dog after that was next, and so on.
“He’s half husky, half Australian shepherd,” a girl said as the dog in the second cage looked at me with one blue eye and one brown eye while wagging his tail. Tired from my run and the Texas heat, I got a cup of water and sat under a tree with the dog. He was friendly but didn’t listen to a thing I said.
“Sit!” I said and he licked my face. “Come!” I said and he walked away. After a few minutes he curled up next me and put his nose against my knee. I thought maybe he would be a good running partner.
I’m a low-rent playwright and professor. I travel and have little time or money for a pet. But out of curiosity, or God knows what, I took a look at the dog’s file. He had been abandoned by an old woman. Her reason: “Dusty keeps following me around my house.”
At least he wasn’t dangerous. I placed a “hold” on Dusty while I thought about how much damage he could cause my life. I would need a pet deposit for my apartment, chew toys, food dishes and shots for him. I teach twice a week in San Antonio, so I would need a dog walker for those days, someone I could trust with a key to my place.
The dog was nice, but having a dog would be like having a child. Again, I thought maybe he would be a good running partner.
The next day came, and I had an important deadline for a grant and better things to do, like buy food. The dog would find a home. I went to the grocery store, only a mile from the shelter, and promised myself I would drop by his cage only to say goodbye.
When I peeked in he was curled in a ball on a rubber cot, sleeping and shaking as he dreamed, but he woke quickly and with one blue eye and one brown eye he looked at me.
“Stay here,” I said. “I’m getting you out.”
He didn’t turn out to be much of a runner. He stopped to eat every dead bird and piece of trash he could find around my complex. His favorite was pizza crusts. One day he got sick, vomited a sweet-smelling brown substance on my rug, and then passed a Snickers bar wrapper that night. People in my neighborhood would ask if he was a wolf, usually men walking pit bulls. Too many people asked if he fights.
He seemed fearless, so I started calling him Danger.
Days later I met my friend Jon at an “All U Can Eat” Indian buffet. Jon had had a trying week. He had bought a house, his wife was pregnant, and their dog was gravely ill after eating a tennis ball that was now stuck in his stomach. An operation to save him would cost thousands.
Our lunch date was the first time I had left my new dog alone, and my imagination began to run wild. I decided to start a bank account for doggy emergencies, medications, surgeries or any unforeseen tragedy. I called it his college fund.
When I came home, a thin letter was in the mail. A grant I had been awarded, a grant I needed to pay the bills, had been taken away for a lack of funding. I wanted to drink and punch the walls, but the dog didn’t care. The dog wanted to go outside, smell things, poop and play with me. He licked my face as I cried.
I gave him some peanut butter and snuggled with him in front of our television that night. I couldn’t drink in front of him. And I couldn’t drink in any case because he needed me to get up early so he could walk and eat pizza crusts. The dog kept me grounded.
That winter my fiancée and I were fighting, we were always fighting, but she invited me to her family home near Houston, an area affiliated with NASA, hoping our relationship would get better.
Her mother asked that we keep the dog confined to a room with an uncomfortable white tile floor. Because of this we used every excuse we could to take the dog to the only dog park within 30 miles. My fiancée and I never fought around the dog or at the dog park.
On Christmas morning I realized I forgot to get the dog a gift, but we escaped to the park, and he played with an older German shepherd that limped, owned by an old Russian man. “Every Christmas Sasha and I come here to have bones,” he said. “She is my best friend. She is my only real friend.”
I understood exactly what he meant. I imagined he was a former Russian spy, or ex-Soviet scientist who defected here during the Kennedy administration to make miracles and build rockets to the moon.
“Here, you take this,” said the Russian, pulling a bone from his coat pocket. “It is a Christmas present from me and Sasha. She is too old for bones now.”
“Danger, come and thank him,” I said. 
He ignored me while wrestling with Sasha.
Two days later we got back to Austin and I bought a bed. Since I was 13, I had always slept on a futon mattress I threw on the ground. I went to Ikea and found something low to the ground so my dog could get in easily, even when he is old like Sasha. This was compensation for that tile floor he had to sleep on.
A year later my fiancée told me she was pregnant with another guy’s kid. She had done nothing wrong. We had stopped fighting, almost stopped speaking. We had been on a break.
That was what I kept telling myself. But when I found out, I wanted to drink and punch the walls. The dog didn’t care. He wanted to go outside and play, and we did, and if we hadn’t I would have drank myself into the ground. Danger licked my face as I cried, and we snuggled while watching television.
Two days later there was a banging on our door at two o’clock in the morning, a man screaming for Carlos. I told him he had the wrong place and if he didn’t leave I was calling the cops. The man ran away and Danger was nowhere to be found. I finally found him behind my old sofa, trembling. “And people ask if you are a wolf,” I said. So much for fearless. So much for Danger.
THE next morning I called Jon and asked him who his real estate broker was. It was time for a real home in a better neighborhood, at least for my dog.
I had never liked the idea of buying a home. It seemed like tying a bag of wet concrete to my ankle. Quickly I learned banks didn’t like the idea of me buying a home, either, but I had enough ammunition to buy a condo. All I wanted was a small, quiet place with windows low to the ground so Danger could see out while I was away teaching.
Our broker found exactly what I had asked for, complete with a dog park on the premises. My friend Michael repainted the place for us, and I even bought an Ikea sofa that was low to the ground so we could watch TV together in comfort and ease. I didn’t even have to dip into the dog’s college fund.
I have a heart murmur now and can’t run the way I used to. I’m getting a little fat. I get pizza every Friday night when my dog and I watch TV together. I call it “movie night,” and the dog eats my crusts.
He never makes it through a whole movie. He falls asleep with his nose against my knee, shaking as he dreams, and when it’s time to move from the sofa to the bed I have to call to him: “Dusty, come.” And he does. He only comes, I finally realized, when I use his real name.
The New York Times