In this issue:
1. News Bites
2. Water, the Forgotten Nutrient
3. Top Ten Summer Safety Tips for Pets!
1. News Bites
- Adopted cat returns life-saving favor. Rusty, a 10-year-old cat adopted from the Reading (PA) shelter two years ago, would not leave his guardian alone. Due to the cat’s non-stop pestering, Claire Nelson ultimately made it to the hospital, where it was determined she was having a heart attack. ““I‟m a retired critical care nurse,” said Nelson. “I knew when I saw the EKG what was happening to me, and when I got to the hospital and they called for atropine, I realized that Rusty had saved my life.” Read the whole story in the local newspaper.
- Conviction upheld for woman who mutilated “Goth kittens.” The PA Superior Court upheld a jury’s guilty verdict for Holly Crawford, 36, from a February 2010 trial. Ross pierced the ears and necks of three kittens, docked their tails by banding, and then tried to sell them on eBay as “Goth kittens.” (Before you ask: eBay’s policy explicitly prohibits the listing of live pets.) Words utterly fail me, but you can read the article here (warning: graphic photo).
- Bubonic plague is still around: A 6-year-old Oregon barn cat was confirmed to have bubonic plague, according to the state’s public health veterinarian. The highly contagious illness is caused by a bacteria called Yersinia pestis. Plague is transmitted by fleas, most commonly to rodents, but also humans and pets. Signs of the disease include fever and swollen lymph nodes. Bubonic plague is most common in arid western states; cases have occurred from Nebraska to the West Coast. Plague is endemic among prairie dogs here in Colorado. Click here to read the article about this particular cat in the Oregonian; read more about plague and its distribution at the CDC website.
- Emergency preparedness: With tornado season in full swing, it’s important to plan for people and pets in case of emergency. Click here for some good tips from our pal Steve Dale. One thing to add: flower essences such as Rescue Remedy or Stress Stopper are safer and act much faster than herbal preparations.
- Can dogs read people’s minds? According to an article in DiscoveryNews, dogs and wolves have a sort of “canine telepathy” about humans. According to the report, “This demonstrates that both species – domesticated and non-domesticated – have the capacity to behave in accordance with a human’s attentional state. They are therefore likely born with the ability, since wolves would not have had much practice, which the typical pet dog gains by begging for treats during dinner and at other times.” The researchers did not look at cats, but I think we all know that cats can not only read our minds, but control them as well! Click here to read the full article.
- U.S. chicken loaded with arsenic. This is actually old news, but it’s now official: The FDA has admitted that some chickens may contain arsenic from a feed ingredient. As ridiculous as it sounds, chicken growers have been deliberately feeding arsenic to chickens for years, in order to kill parasites and so the birds will grow faster (which equals more profits, more quickly). Pfizer, the drug company that makes the feed additive, is pulling it off the market. Of course, the National Chicken Council claims that “chicken is safe to eat” even if it contains arsenic. This may be true for people, but what about pets who a chicken-based diet? Arsenic is lethal in large amounts, but it can also accumulate in the body over time and cause serious health issues. Organic chickens are much less likely to have been fed Roxarsone, the arsenic-containing ingredient.
- New study on cats’ musical taste. Researchers at Colorado State University (Ft. Collins, CO) are recruiting local cats to participate in a study evaluating the effects of music on cats visiting the Veterinary Teaching Hospital (VTH). The cats will be brought in twice to be randomly exposed to no music, slow music or classical music. The 15-minute wait will be videotaped, and notes on their behavior will be recorded by independent observers who will not know if music is playing in the exam room. To participate in the study, cats must be able to hear and meet some minimal health requirements, while caretakers must be able to bring cats to the VTH during afternoon, evening, or weekends for two visits at least two days apart. Participants who finish the study will receive a CD with music selections from a specially designed music therapy series for animals. If you’re in driving distance of Ft. Collins, your cat may be eligible to participate. Email Narda.Robinson@colostate.edu or call the VTH (970) 297-5000 and ask for Dr. Robinson.
2. Water, the Forgotten Nutrient
In nutrition, it’s common to talk about macronutrients (protein, fat, and carbohydrates) and micronutrients (most minerals and vitamins). But the macronutrient that nutritionists often forget about is water!
Pure, clean water is vital to health. It doesn’t make any sense to worry about the quality of protein or amount of fiber in your cat’s diet, yet never consider the water source. Even though cats eating a wet diet (such as canned, raw, or homemade food) tend to drink less water, it must still be provided–especially now, as the weather warms up and summer really gets going! If you’re using a bowl, make sure it’s glass or ceramic (never steel* or plastic); clean the bowl and change the water daily. Fountains can go a little longer between cleanings, based on the manufacturer’s directions. We recommend the Glacier Point Fountain for Cats.
For more details on water types (including tap, well, distilled, and spring water), filters, and other important information, please see our complete article on water.
* Several folks have asked why not stainless steel: it’s because steel can hold static electricity, and give your cat a shock! Plastic, of course, is porous and impossible to keep free of bacteria.
If you missed our favorite behaviorist Jackson Galaxy’s amazing new series on Animal Planet, My Cat From Hell, you can get this season’s episodes on iTunes! Visit Jackson’s own website to check out a preview, or book a behavior consultation.
3. Top Ten Pet Safety Tips for Summer!
People are out and about more in the summer, and so are many pets! However, summer also increases health risks to our pets. Common sense and an ounce of prevention are vital. Use these 10 tips to ensure a safe and happy summer for you and your animal companions:
1. Prevent Parasites. Ticks, fleas, mosquitoes, and other parasites are a year-round problem where warm weather is the norm, but in summer they’re practically everywhere. These pests are a nuisance to your dog or cat, but even worse, they can carry tapeworms, heartworms, and diseases such as Lyme, Bartonella (also known as cat-scratch disease), West Nile Virus, leptospirosis, and even bubonic plague. Keeping your pet pest-free requires a broad approach and vigilance on your part, with a little help from effective preventives. Fotunately, there are many natural products are available; talk to your vet about what’s needed for your area.
2. Keep Cool! Pets are susceptible to heatstroke, so be sure that your pet always has a shelter from the sun, and plenty of fresh water. Add ice cubes or blocks to the water to keep it cool longer. If it’s extremely hot and humid in your area, consider a cooling vest for your dog. Some areas in a non-air-conditioned house can get too warm for your pet’s comfort and safety; place a fan or two where your pet can benefit from the cooler moving air. Don’t jog or bike with your dog in hot mid-day temperatures; stick to morning and evening. This is especially important for short-nosed (brachycephalic) dogs (Pekes, Pugs, Bulldogs, etc.) or those with double-thick coats or long hair (huskies, shepherds, collies, some terriers and retrievers).
3. Leave Your Dog at Home. You’ve heard it before, but we’ll say it again: never leave your dog in a car if the weather is warm, and certainly not if it’s hot! Cracking the windows makes no difference in the temperature gain. It doesn’t take very high temperatures to make a car a death-trap. Even a car parked in the shade can reach dangerous temperatures on a hot day; and if it’s in the sun, the temperature can rapidly rise up to 160°F. Experiments showed that even at a mild 72°F, the inside of a car reached 116°F in an hour–plenty hot to kill a dog. One dog died after being locked in a parked car on a sunny, 67°F day, even though the car windows were cracked. If you’re out running errands, the safest place for your dog is at home.
Dogs can’t sweat—they control their body temperature by panting. If the air in the car is near or above the dog’s body temperature (about 100°F), the dog will be unable to cool itself, and its body temperature can quickly rise to fatal levels (over 107°F). Heatstroke symptoms in dogs include: heavy panting, salivation, disorientation, agitation, rapid heart beat, lethargy, vomiting, seizures, coma and death.
If you see a dog left alone in a car under dangerous conditions, note the car’s location, color, model, make, and license plate number, and contact local humane authorities or police, who usually have authority to break in to save the animal. If you can make a good guess as to which store the driver might be in, ask the store manager to page them. If the animal shows symptoms of heatstroke, immediately take these steps to lower its body temperature in a controlled manner:
- Move the animal into the shade or an air-conditioned area.
- Apply ice packs or cold towels to the head, neck, and chest; or immerse her in cool (but not cold) water.
- Allow small amounts of cool water or let the dog lick some ice cubes.
- Get to a veterinarian as soon as possible.
4. Avoid Sunburn. Sunscreen may be needed for pets with white fur around their face and ears—even indoors, if they’re sunbathing through windows. Susceptible areas are where the fur is thin and the skin is white or pink. You can use a human sunscreen or sunblock product (but be sure to clean it off when you get home), or get one especially made for pets, such as Solar Rx, which is green, vegan and chemical free.
5. Protect Against Poisons. Toxic mushrooms grow in many areas of the country, so be vigilant about removing them from your yard. Many plants (and all bulbs) are also toxic. Bulbs look a lot like dog toys, so keep them out of reach!
Summer also brings chemical hazards. Antifreeze is particularly deadly, so leaky cars are a hazard; clean up any spills immediately. This is the also the time of year when people are using fertilizers, mulches, and pesticides in yards and on lawns. While professionals will usually put flags up, do-it-yourselfers might not. Don’t let your dog wander in other yards where chemicals or cocoa mulch (toxic if ingested) might be used.
If you suspect that your pet has gotten into something, poison-control hotlines (there may be a charge) include:
• Kansas State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital 785-532-5679
• ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (888) 426-4435
• The National Animal Poison Control Center 1-900-680-0000 or 1- 800-548-2423
• Angell Animal Poison Control Hotline at 1-877-2ANGEL
6. Watch Out for Critters. Walking and hiking with your dog summer increases the chances of encountering unpleasant or even dangerous wildlife, such as skunks, porcupines, scorpions, or rattlesnakes. Some toads have poisons on their skin that can be deadly even if your pet merely licks the toad. Toads come out in wet weather and when it’s dark, so be especially careful when letting your dog out at these times.
7. Don’t Let Burrs Get Buried. Summer grasses often produce sticky or spiky seed cases. Foxtails and burrs can get caught in the paws or fur and work their way into—or even through—the skin. Foxtails have been known to work their way inside the chest or abdomen, where infection can be life-threatening. Check your pet after every outing to ensure its fur isn’t harboring any of these nasty items. Other sharp items also multiply in warm weather…if you live near water or take your dog on fishing trips, be careful with your fishing hooks and lines, and watch out for those that may have been left behind by others.
8. Drive Safely. As much as your dog may love to ride in the bed of a pickup, or hang his head out the window, either can cause your dog a world of hurt. Dust and gravel in the eyes are just the beginning; every year thousands of dogs are injured or killed when they jump or fall from vehicles. Even in an enclosed car, pets can be thrown and injured if you have to brake suddenly.
For car rides of any length, the very safest place for pets is in the back seat, either wearing a safety harness, or in a carrier or confined area. Pets loose in the car can distract and interfere with the driver, which could result in an accident. Harnesses designed as “doggie seat belts” provide safety during the trip, and prevent your dog from getting loose if someone unexpectedly opens the door. If your dog must ride in a truck bed, use a carrier or cross-ties to prevent injuries.
Cats should always be kept in a carrier while the car is in motion; many cats actually prefer it, because the smaller space makes them feel safer. Always make sure the cat is well secured before opening the car door. Some cats can be trained to walk with a harness and leash, but this is not something to try for the first time the day of the trip!
9. Always Carry Identification. Pets should always wear a collar or harness and ID tag, no matter where they are or where they’re going. Cats should be fitted with a breakaway collar for maximum safety. Please consider having your pet microchipped as added “insurance.” Rumors of cancer from microchips are greatly exaggerated, while the sad truth is that lost pets are often gone forever. Thousands of lost pets have been returned home thanks to microchips!
10. Be Prepared. Whether at home or away, keep a first aid kit ready in case of emergencies. There are special kits for both dogs and cats, so you never have to panic! You might also want to keep flower essences on hand, to keep your pet calm while you give first aid or head for the vet.
Please visit our Bookstore and check out our newly updated (May 2011) e-book, What Cats Should Eat, as well as other publications on feline obesity, lower urinary tract disease, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, and more! What Cats Should Eat is also available from Amazon.com for their Kindle reader. Watch for this and other titles being added to Amazon as well as Barnes & Noble for Nook!