Posts filed under ‘pet’

Be Prepared

We arrived home this afternoon from the IACP conference.  More on that later.  I need a bit of time to decompress and process — and today was a mad rush of mowing, weeding, transplanting, laundry, unpacking and more before the rains hit tomorrow.  So please be patient.

Today our friends over at the Regal Vizsla posted about Jozsi ‘s toxic poop adventure.  While we process the information (and hundreds of photos!) from the conference, I’d like to shift gears and write a quick post about dogs and poisoning.

The old saying may be “curiosity killed the cat” but statistics (and personal experience) clearly demonstrate that it is dogs, not cats, whose oral inquisitiveness most often results in unfortunate toxic consequences.  A dog’s motto could be “if it smells interesting, taste it” — and to a dog, a lot of very nasty things smell interesting.

So what should you do?  Take a cue from the Scouts and Be Prepared!


Pay attention to where your dog is and make yourself familiar with the kinds of potentially dangerous things he might ingest there.  Andrew was familiar with the park where Jozsi ate the mystery poop that made him sick and that knowledge helped him get Jozsi the right kind of treatment.  This may have saved Jozsi’s life.

The world is filled with plants, animals, chemicals, fungi, feces, rotting stuff and human foods that are both fascinating and potentially toxic to your dog.  Invest a bit of time to familiarize yourself with the hazards that exist where you live.

If you suspect that your dog has been poisoned, quickly collect as much information as you can about: what he ingested, how he ingested it (ate it, breathed it, drank it, took it in through his skin), how much he ingested, when he ingested it – and then, if possible — safely collect a sample of the toxin to take with you to the vet clinic.


Get the number for the Animal Poison Control Center — ( 888 ) 426-4435) and your local emergency vet clinic AND KEEP THEM IN A PLACE WHERE YOU CAN FIND THEM WHEN YOU ARE IN A PANIC.  You don’t want to have to search the yellow pages, google – or any other source – when your dog has a potentially life-threatening condition.

You should also familiarize yourself with the location and easiest routes to the emergency clinic.  Don’t put yourself in a situation where you have to find it for the first time when you are in a panic and your dog may be dying.


Take a pet first aid course so you know how to properly administer rescue breathing and CPR if necessary.  The course should also give you information on poison prevention and treatment.


Have a good pet first aid kit on hand.  You should put the kit together yourself and it should contain some basic poison treatment items like:

  • Hydrogen peroxide (to induce vomiting)
  • Salt (to induce vomiting)
  • Activated charcoal (to absorb toxins)
  • An appropriately sized, graduated oral syringe to administer liquids like peroxide
  • Clean water and/or saline solution for diluting or rinsing as directed
  • Milk of Magnesia, vinegar and Kaolin Pectin (NOT Kaopectate or Pepto Bismol as they contain salicylates that can cause gastro-intestinal bleeding) to USE AS DIRECTED to neutralize specific poisons.

NEVER muzzle a dog that you believe may have been poisoned. 

NEVER give a dog that may have been poisoned any food or water (unless it is at the direction of a veterinarian). 

And NEVER administer any treatment or induce vomiting until you have talked to staff at the emergency vet’s office or animal poison control center! 

If you induce vomiting of a caustic or acidic toxin you will cause additional injuries to your dog.  If you administer the wrong treatment for a poison, you can make a bad situation worse. 


Keep your cool.  Your dog looks up to you.  If you stay cool, calm and collected it will help him remain calm.  A calm dog has a slower pulse and heart rate and poisons move more slowly through his body.  Keep your dog quiet.  Don’t let him pace or move around any more than necessary.  Restrain him calmly and gently.  Talk softly and touch him gently.  Fake it if you have to.

June 11, 2008 at 5:58 am Leave a comment

Tornado Watch

Today we’re under a tornado watch.  Not a particularly unusual situation during spring and summer months in the Upper Midwest.  And being a common situation very likely makes it even more dangerous.

We learn from repetition.  So we have a tendency to ignore events that we haven’t experienced before.  We ignore events that are likely to at best (or worst) happen only once in our lives before they happen, and then overestimate thier likelihood of happening to us for some time after they occur. 

So, if your house has never been hit by a tornado, you are likely not to consider a severe weather alert a significant event.  And since most of us fall in that lucky group, we tend, as a society not to take these warnings as seriously as we should.

What to do?

First, take the threat seriously and be prepared. 

  • Take human and pet first aid classes.  Knowledge is power and it doesn’t cost much to get this kind of power.  Look into local classes and take advantage of them.
  • Have emergency supplies on hand (first aid kit, leashes, extra water, vital medications, flashlights, blankets, basic tools, photos of your animals, vaccination recrods, etc.)  Keep these supplies in a protected area that is simple to find when you are in a panic.  
  • Make plans.  If a storm hits, where will you go?  If you’re away from home where can you go and how will you contact loved ones if phone lines are down and local roads are closed?  If your home is destroyed but you survive, where can you stay with your pets?  These are things you need to consider BEFORE A DISASTER STRIKES.

Second, when severe weather is likely stay tuned to NOAA weather channels or local news and heed warnings.  When the sirens go off collect your family (including the four-leggers), grab your emergency supplies and go to a safe area.  What is a safe area?  Well, according to NOAA:

  • In a house with a basement:Avoid windows. Get in the basement and under some kind of sturdy protection (heavy table or work bench), or cover yourself with a mattress or sleeping bag. Know where very heavy objects rest on the floor above (pianos, refrigerators, waterbeds, etc.) and do not go under them. They may fall down through a weakened floor and crush you.
  • In a house with no basement, a dorm, or an apartment:  Avoid windows. Go to the lowest floor, small center room (like a bathroom or closet), under a stairwell, or in an interior hallway with no windows. Crouch as low as possible to the floor, facing down; and cover your head with your hands. A bath tub may offer a shell of partial protection. Even in an interior room, you should cover yourself with some sort of thick padding (mattress, blankets, etc.), to protect against falling debris in case the roof and ceiling fail.
  • In an office building, hospital, nursing home or skyscraper: Go directly to an enclosed, windowless area in the center of the building — away from glass. Then, crouch down and cover your head. Interior stairwells are usually good places to take shelter, and if not crowded, allow you to get to a lower level quickly. Stay off the elevators; you could be trapped in them if the power is lost.
  • In a mobile home:Get out! Even if your home is tied down, you are probably safer outside, even if the only alternative is to seek shelter out in the open. Most tornadoes can destroy even tied-down mobile homes; and it is best not to play the low odds that yours will make it. If your community has a tornado shelter, go there fast. If there is a sturdy permanent building within easy running distance, seek shelter there. Otherwise, lie flat on low ground away from your home, protecting your head. If possible, use open ground away from trees and cars, which can be blown onto you.
  • In a car or truck: Vehicles are extremely dangerous in a tornado. If the tornado is visible, far away, and the traffic is light, you may be able to drive out of its path by moving at right angles to the tornado. Otherwise, park the car as quickly and safely as possible — out of the traffic lanes. [It is safer to get the car out of mud later if necessary than to cause a crash.] Get out and seek shelter in a sturdy building. If in the open country, run to low ground away from any cars (which may roll over on you). Lie flat and face-down, protecting the back of your head with your arms. Avoid seeking shelter under bridges, which can create deadly traffic hazards while offering little protection against flying debris.
  • In the open outdoors: If possible, seek shelter in a sturdy building. If not, lie flat and face-down on low ground, protecting the back of your head with your arms. Get as far away from trees and cars as you can; they may be blown onto you in a tornado.
  • In a shopping mall or large store: Do not panic. Watch for others. Move as quickly as possible to an interior bathroom, storage room or other small enclosed area, away from windows.
  • If you are with your pets: Don’t rely on obedience to keep them with you.  If the worst happens and the storm hits they will panic and may try to escape.  If possible restrain them in sturdy crates.  If crates aren’t available use leashes, a belt, a purse strap or any other item handy to prevent them from bolting.  It is also a good idea to restrain your pets (by a leash, crate or other means) before severe weather hits

Stay in the sheltered area until you are certain the storm has passed.  When you can see that it’s safe to come out:

  • Keep your family and pets together while you wait for emergency personnel to arrive.  
  • Provide aid to those who need it.
  • Stay away from gas leaks, power lines and puddles or other water bodies with wires in them.  And avoid open flames due to the potential presence of explosive gases.
  • Watch out for broken glass, nails, and other sharp objects.  Tie or otherwise restrain your pets in a safe, dry area to keep them from injuring their paws on these sharp objects.
  • Stay out of all damaged buildings — including your own home; the danger of collapse is not worth the risk. 
  • Remain calm and alert, and wait for help, information and instructions from emergency crews or local officials.

Additional notes for pet owners:

  • Consider teaching your pet how to seek shelter when extreme weather hits.
  • Have your pet microchipped and/or tattoo’ed to aid in identification in the event that you become separated.
  • Plan in advance for a location where you can shelter with your pet if a disaster keeps you out of your home.  Many public shelters will not accept pets.
  • If you have a pet with medical problems consider keeping a copy of his medical records, perscriptions etc. in an offsite location.  If your home and local vet clinic are both destroyed you want to still be able to get necessary treatment and medications with a minimum amount of fuss.

Even though heart-warming stories of dogs being reunited with their owners days after being searated by a torndo, tidal wave, earthquake or other act of nature warm our hearts, we ask you to remember that these stories are outliers.

May 26, 2008 at 3:47 am 3 comments

Cats, Dogs and Danger

Bombay, the white tiger, was born in captivity in America but was rejected by her mother and sent to Germany, ending up in Circus Williams where she was introduced to Jack, a four year-old Dalmatian.

The two have developed a relationship and circus animal trainer Manuel Willie says there is no danger for the dog.

Hmmmm, regarding that “no danger” comment, I’ll have to respectfully disagree.  There is some danger involved in absolutely everything we do — and I’m pretty sure that under nearly any sane person’s scale of relative danger, playing with tigers would rank fairly high. 

That said, see the link below for video on Scientific American’s website.

May 23, 2008 at 10:04 pm Leave a comment

Watchout Sheep Dogs!

This just in from The Cleveland Plain Dealer:

Strongsville High School senior Kaleigh Eichel came up with lots of impressive observations on instinct and evolution for her winning entry at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair last week in Atlanta.

But here’s what you will remember most about her work: The girl trained a 19-cent goldfish that herds its tank mates like cattle.  Really. She has video to prove it.

Kaleigh hoped the untrained fish would follow the trained one to the food. Instead, the newbie cowered by a wall of the tank.  What followed was nothing short of “amazing” to the budding scientist, as she watched the trained fish poke at the untrained one, finally goading it like a shepherd into getting to the snacks.

YouTube fodder? Well, maybe, but Kaleigh sees a bigger lesson in animal communication. The Comet goldfish exhibited altruism and an ability to survive when their habitats change suddenly. By teaching the other fish to go through the maze, the species eats for another day.

Here’s a link to a clip of her video:

Being a scientist myself, in searching for information on this I was pleased to find Wired Magazine’s blog entry regarding how girls swept the top awards at this year’s International Science and Engineering Fair

May 23, 2008 at 8:45 pm Leave a comment

Dogs Destroyed After China Quake

From the Adelaide Sunday Mail:

A Chinese county has launched a drive to cull ownerless and hungry dogs threatening public health after the deadliest earthquake to hit the country in more than three decades, state media said today.

The quake that rocked the southwestern province of Sichuan on May 12 had killed more than 34,000 people as of today.  The government says it expects the toll to eventually rise to more than 50,000.

In Qingchuan county, where more than 2,670 people have died, authorities have ordered the  culling of dogs to protect residents and guard against epidemics, the official Xinhua news agency said.  “Most of the dogs in the county have not been fed by anyone and have been wandering around since the earthquake,” Xinhua quoted local officials as saying.  “They are prone to scramble for food with humans … and to bite people and spread diseases.”  The dogs will be disinfected and buried deep in the soil according to Xinhua.

Meanwhile in other news from Xinhua:

As time runs out for survivors, rescue workers are pinning their hopes on dogs to guide men and machines to trapped people.

 In Dujiangyan, a rescue team with seven dogs from Shandong province has soldiered on for almost 80 straight hours since last Tuesday and almost scoured the entire city.   Many dogs have suffered injuries on their mouths or paws by broken glass, steel bars or nails in the debris. Typically, their keepers and they have a couple of hours’ nap a day in a tent and then get back to work.

The situation is utterly heart-breaking.  The loss of life and livelihood is devastating.  As our hearts go out to the human victims of the quake we also pray that officials do what they can to help animal victims.  Sadly, the Chinese government has had a history of mass dog killings in recent years.  We hope that those horrific scenes aren’t repeated and that officials find a way to protect human lives without the needless sacrifice of thousands of innocent dogs.

May 20, 2008 at 4:16 am Leave a comment

Pet Food, Pork and Tampons

This just in from Pig Progress:

Australia’s first case of toxic shock syndrome caused by a pig carcass has been officially reported although doctors investigating the case believe there may have been three more human infections elsewhere in Australia.

The pet-food worker, a 41 year old man, developed the human form of the deadly pig disease, caused by Streptococcus suis, while processing animals at a Melbourne plant.

The disease has killed meat workers in Asia, most recently in China, where 215 butchers and processors were infected in 2005, half proving fatal.

In an interview the supervising specialist Dr Adrian Tramontana said, “Initially we believed our patient was the first human case of Streptococcus suis toxic shock syndrome in Australia, but we have since been informed of at least three possible human cases in other parts of Australia.”

According to information provided by Kansas State University:

Streptococci are a family of gram-positive bacteria some of which can cause either localized or systemic infections in both humans and animals. Some strains rarely cause disease and are often considered to be commensal (normal) inhabitants of the skin and mucosal surfaces (oral, nasal, intestinal), while other strains are capable of causing serious or even life-threatening infections.

In dogs, Streptococci (Strep) are known for their ability to occasionally cause septicemia (blood born infections) in puppies and a range of localized diseases in adults. 

In the early 90’s, Streptococci (Group A, ß-hemolytic Strep) emerged as the cause of a previously unrecognized disease in humans. The clinical disease became known as Streptococcal Toxic Shock Syndrome (STSS) because it closely mimics the better known “Toxic Shock” in women caused by toxin producing strains of Staphylococci  (Staph). Rapid onset, high fever, hypotension, and shock are prominent characteristics of STSS in humans.

 Streptococcal bacteria also cause ‘flesh eating’ disease in humans.  And both the toxic shock and felsh eating forms of the disease advance very rapidly.  According to Dr. Brad Fenwick, professor of veterinary medicine at Kansas State University, dogs that develop canine streptococcal toxic shock are healthy only hours prior to becoming very sick.  Without prompt therapy, the dog’s condition deteriorates rapidly with death occurring in as few as eight to 12 hours.  And without treatment, 50% of all infected dogs will die.

Considering the case of the Australian pet food processor — do we need to investigate whether pet food is one source of this virulent disease (it has generally been considered an issue of dog-dog transmission)? 

Our friends over at Pet Connection tell us that the FDA will hold a public meeting tomorrow (Tuesday May 13, 2008 ) in Gaithersburg, Maryland, to discuss pet food safety standards.  Given the problems we’ve seen over the last year with melamine-contaminated wheat gluten, salmonella and other nastiness in commercial pet foods — is it too much to ask that the government require that manufacturer list the name and location of the facility that the food was processed in on the package?

As the FDA moves ahead with tomorrow’s meeting, perhaps we should keep in mind that ironic motto for Rely, the infamous tampon that caused toxic shock syndrome in women, “Rely, it even absorbs the worry!” 

Actually, if you look at the way that parent company, Proctor and Gamble, handled the Rely debacle, it appears that when dealing with last year’s problems, pet food processors followed their example in many ways.  Let’s hope that tomorrow the FDA puts consumer protection before corporate profits — and that pet owners don’t have to absorb the worry.

May 13, 2008 at 4:49 am 1 comment

Training Nemo?

I really wish I could post myspace or flash video into wordpress.  Since I can’t, check out the link below for:

Twenty Ways to Tell if Your Dog is Evil

If your dog is evil you may want to consider a new sort of house pet.  Of course if you’ve spent years ‘in dogs’ and have become addicted to obedience trials, conformation shows, agility trials, hunt tests and other canine performance venues you may find it difficult to select a pet that will provide the sort of Je ne sais quoi that your competition dog (evil as he may be) afforded.

If so, the folks at the R2 Fish School may have just what you need.  They’ve developed the R2 Fish School Training Kit.  The kit includes everything you need to teach your goldfish AMAZING tricks like doing weave poles:

playing soccer:

or even doing the limbo!


If you don’t want to spring for the video and obstacle course training set, see if this book is available at your local library:

Conformation shows and races for goldfish are already common.  If this program catches on it may not be long before piscatory performance events take the world by storm.

May 8, 2008 at 4:36 am 2 comments

Cleanliness Isn’t All Its Cracked Up To Be

This just in from Agence France-Presse:

Scientists have found that Man’s best friend is also good for his children too, for young kids who live with a dog may get an immune-system boost against asthma and other allergies.  Joachim Heinrich of the Institute of Epidemiology at the Heimholtz Centre in Munich, Germany, led an investigation into more than 3,000 children, whose health was closely monitored from birth to the age of six.

Blood tests showed that, in households with dogs, children were less at risk from becoming sensitised to pollens and inhaled allergens — the triggers for asthma and wheezing, allergic rhinitis and eczema — than counterparts in dog-less homes.  Heinrich believes that early exposure to germs brought into the house on dog fur could stimulate maturation of the immune system. In other words, the body’s defences do not go into allergic overdrive when they are suddenly exposed to dust house mites, pollens and other triggers.

Oddly, though, the benefit seen in the children’s antibodies did not show through in terms of symptoms, the study found.  Children with a dog were as susceptible to asthma and the other problems as counterparts without the pets.  “It is not crystal clear why this is so,” Heinrich told AFP, saying it could be that the protective benefit may show up when the children in the study are a little older. Further assessments will be made when they reach the age of 10.

Hey, I always suspected that my house-full of dogs and sporadic housekeeping habits were a good thing, now I’ve got proof!  In more from the UK’s Daily Mail:

Children who are licked by dogs may also be protected by early exposure to bugs that live in the dogs’ mouths and on their coats.

Previous generations were exposed to more dirt – and the micro-organisms in it – which helped their immune systems develop resistance.

So, does this explain why when I was a child back in the 1960’s we didn’t have to eliminate all peanuts, dogs, live plants and other potential allergens from class rooms?  Back then we may not all have had dogs, but we were all required to play outside.  In the dirt.  Unsupervised.  And not only did it not kill us, it may have made us grow up to be healthy, confident nature-lovers.

Dirt is Good!

May 1, 2008 at 3:59 am 2 comments

PeTA’s Goal

This just in from Newsweek:

“Since 1998 PETA has killed more than 17,000 animals, nearly 85 percent of all those it has rescued.”

Yup.  It’s true.  PeTA kills animals.  Pay no attention to the photos of sweet, sad abandoned pets hyped in their print and media ads.  PeTA is NOT in the business of saving animals — at least not pet animals.  In fact, one of their goals is the extinction of domestic cats and dogs.

“Instead of zero kills, PETA claims to be shooting for zero births.”

 To control pet populations, the folks at PeTA and their allies at the Humane Society for the United States (not to be confused with the folks who run your local humane society) have chosen to focus on increasing deaths and decreasing births.  And its not enough for them to recommend the spaying/neutering of all pets and measures that encourage shelters to kill very high percentages of the animals taken in — both groups are also actively lobbying to have these kinds of measures legislated in cities and states across the country.

The sad truth is that these measures are not needed to control pet populations.

According to Nathan Winograd, author of “Redemption” as quoted in the San Francisco Chronicle:

“Based on data from the American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Animal Hospital Association, the Pet Food Manufacturers Association, and the latest census, there are more than enough homes for every dog and cat being killed in shelters every year. In fact, when I spoke to him for this article, he told me that there aren’t just enough homes for the dogs and cats being killed in shelters. There are more homes for cats and dogs opening each year than there are cats and dogs even entering shelters.”

More homes than pets?  Whassup with that?  If it’s true, why are we being bombarded with print and media ads publicizing the plight of MILLIONS of homeless dogs and cats doomed to languish and then die in shelters across the country?

In “Redemption,” Winograd lays the lion’s share of the blame for shelter deaths not on pet owners and communities, but on the management, staff, and boards of directors of the shelters themselves.
Redemption makes the case that bad shelter management leads to overcrowding, which is then confused with pet overpopulation. Instead of warehousing and killing animals, shelters, he says, should be using proven, innovative programs to find those homes he says are out there. They should wholeheartedly adopt the movement known as No Kill, and stop using killing as a form of population control.

In fact, in many urban areas there are now not enough shelter dogs (especially small, young dogs) to fill existing demand.  According to the National Animal Interest Alliance:

In many US cities today, campaigns to end ‘pet overpopulation’ have been so successful that the demand for dogs far outstrips supply. In fact, shelters in many of these cities would have a significant percentage of empty dog runs were it not for the mushrooming practice of moving dogs around from one region to another and from one shelter to another within regions, an activity known somewhat euphemistically as humane relocation.  Humane relocation began as a common sense method for helping animals to get adopted through cooperative efforts among city shelters. It made no sense for the humane society to euthanize dogs for lack of room while the local animal control agency had the space and resources to help get them adopted. Over time, as the number of surplus dogs in some cities continued to drop, they began taking in animals from greater distances.

Faced with fewer small dogs and puppies to offer the public, a handful of shelters and organizations have swapped their traditional mission for a new bottom line strategy aimed at filling consumer demands. Simply stated, they have become pet stores. Some are importing stray dogs across state lines and from foreign countries to maintain an inventory of adoptable dogs.

Despite all this, PeTA and HSUS still want to take your pet (and working) dogs away from you.  By force if necessary.  Here it is in their own words:

“In the end, I think it would be lovely if we stopped this whole notion of pets altogether.” Ingrid Newkirk, national Director, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PeTA), Newsday, 2/21/88

“I don’t have a hands-on fondness for animals…To this day I don’t feel bonded to any non-human animal. I like them and I pet them and I’m kind to them, but there’s no special bond between me and other animals.” Wayne Pacelle, of the Humane Society of the United States, quoted in Bloodties: Nature, Culture and the Hunt by Ted Kerasote, 1993, p. 251

So, if you really want to help homeless dogs in a meaningful way, donate to your local humane society or a no kill shelter.  Adopt a dog from a local shelter and make sure that that dog was NOT imported from Puerto Rico, Mexico or from another state. Do NOT donate money to PeTA, HSUS or other animal rights organizations. 

(added 4/29/08 at 9:30 am Central)
This comment from Audie’s Gramma is so important that I’ve taken the liberty of posting it here so that no one misses it:

FOSTER a dog for a shelter or rescue. Turn him around, help him get adopted, take a break, and then FOSTER another one.

Every animal being cared for in a foster home is one more space free at the shelter.

An aggressive foster program, where animals are socialized, evaluated, rehabbed and trained by the foster humans, is one of the cornerstones of a good shelter program.

It’s one more way we can fight the reflexive use of the term “euthanasia” for a practice that is really “convenience killing.”

April 29, 2008 at 5:07 am 4 comments


“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade”

The most difficult thing about dog ownership is deciding when to send the animal you love so deeply on that unrenegable journey to the afterlife.

There’s often no avoiding it. And it can be a gut-wrenching decision even in the most clear-cut of situations.

With advances in science, there is now a small ray of hope to be gained in some of these heart-breaking situations.  Canine DNA is now being studied by many institutions in experiments that are providing insights on new modes of detection and treatment for numerous diseases.

If your dog has cancer or suffers from a chronic disorder, consider donating blood, saliva or biopsy samples to a program that is studying the disorder.  Saliva samples are simple and absolutely painless to collect.  Blood samples can be collected in conjuction with regular screening tests (such as those used to test for lyme disease, heartworm or to screen for metabolic disorders).  Biopsy samples can be collected during scheduled surgery — or post mortem.

If your dog has been diagnosed with cancer or another chronic disease check with your breed club, the Canine Health Information Center, the Broad Institute, UC Davis, vetGen, Cornell University and do a web search to find out which groups are studying the specific health problem your dog has.  Then please consider donating blood and tissue samples from your beloved companion to help diagnose, prevent and cure disease.

We eased the pain of Zorro’s passing by donating samples and diagnostic information to the Broad Institute for their osteosarcoma study, to UC Davis for research on Leonberger Polyneuropathy and the University of Minnesota to study canine epilespy.

April 28, 2008 at 4:26 am 1 comment

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