Archive for the ‘Other Pets’ Category

“Dr. Google” is not an expert on pet cancer

Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

It’s not uncommon for owners to search online for answers to their heart-wrenching questions when a pet is diagnosed with cancer, but they should proceed with caution, writes veterinary oncologist Joanne Intile. A trained veterinary oncologist is the best resource for owners with pets who have cancer, notes Dr. Intile, but she says veterinarians must approach all communication regarding cancer diagnosis, treatment, prognosis and even Internet research with patience and compassion. Daily Vet blog

The Internet can be a dangerous place for owners of pets with cancer. The sheer amount of virtual information available immediately at one’s fingertips is astonishing; bordering on overwhelming.
As an example, a quick search of the phrase “canine cancer” in a popular search engine returns over 3,240,000 hits. “Canine lymphoma” yields over 1,050,000 hits, while “feline lymphoma” reveals a mere 565,000 hits. How can an owner sift through all those pages and discern the “good from the bad” when it comes to learning more about their pet’s diagnosis?

When a diagnosis of cancer is made, owners are often placed in the difficult position of having to make decisions regarding diagnostic tests and treatments for their pet, frequently with limited information. This can lead to a feeling of helplessness and depression, or even defensiveness at times. I think it’s natural to turn to the Internet as a source of information, self-comfort, and self-education.

What I’m not so sure of is when exactly did entering phrases or words into a search engine begin qualifying as “research?” Having endured many years of rigorous academic training, when I think of actively researching a topic, it conjures up images of pouring over textbooks and critically reviewing clinical studies. To me, it means learning objective facts and studying information for accuracy of content, not clicking on random websites and reading unsubstantiated opinions backed typically by emotion rather than truth.

It is not unusual for owners to come to their first appointment armed with notes, printouts, suggestions, and/or questions they have garnered from searching their pets’ diagnoses on the Internet. My visceral reaction is typically one of tempered insult. I’m the one who endured many years of education and training and have several years of experience working as a clinical medical oncologist, yet I often joke in some cases that the (in)famous “Dr. Google,” who never went to vet school, once again has managed to usurp my recommendations. It’s challenging for me to remember that the intentions behind my clients’ questions or suggestions are typically pure. Owners simply lack the medical knowledge to review the Internet information accurately, but they really only want the best care and best treatment options for their pets.

I’ve discussed before how I understand that a diagnosis of cancer can be emotionally provoking for owners, and a common frustration many will express is their complete lack of control over the situation. Owners cannot alter progression of the disease once it occurs, they are simply told, “Here are the facts and here are the recommendations.”

An example would be an owner focusing on nutrition and diet after a diagnosis is obtained. What food their pet ingests is one of the few things pet owners can control in an otherwise uncontrollable situation. It is also one of the most Internet-searched topics owners will discuss with me during an appointment. Unfortunately, the lack of evidence-based information supporting nutrition as playing a role in the outcome for animals with cancer makes it difficult to make solid recommendations.
This isn’t to say I can’t relate to the need to try to learn as much as possible about a diagnosis, and I’m aware of how daunting terminology related to science and health and medicine can be for individuals not trained specifically within those subjects. The vocabulary is unfamiliar, anxiety provoking, and even uncomfortable for some. Equally as challenging on my end is determining how to present complicated diagnoses and treatment options in terms the average non-medically inclined individual can understand. Despite my best efforts, even with the most medically educated clientele, I know the emotional aspects surrounding a diagnosis can create barriers to truly understanding the technicalities.

Following initial consults, I provide owners with an in-depth written summary of all the points discussed during the appointment. I believe this is something unique to the veterinary profession. Think about the last time your human MD counterpart provided you with a written summary of any aspect of your visit. Even with the information literally in hand, it’s not uncommon for owners to specifically ask for websites they could use to better understand all the topics I’ve discussed. I’m not sure I will ever understand the need to turn to non-validated sources of information when it comes to learning about health and disease, but I do understand my obligation to being able to point people in the right direction.

Therefore, I generally recommend websites directly affiliated with veterinary schools, professional veterinary organizations, and websites run by respected and prominent veterinarians and advocate such pages as resources for owners seeking additional information. I also have no problem discussing the pros of seeing another medical oncologist for a second opinion when appropriate.

I think one of the main reasons I enjoy being able to write weekly articles for petMD is because I feel it is my small way of contributing factual information about veterinary oncology on the Internet. Though I’m still frequently challenged by owners about something they read on a website or through an online forum, I try to maintain patience when these topics come up.
I take comfort in knowing there are good resources for pet owners, and that I play an active role in keeping truthful information available to a large-scale audience, one week at a time.

Is your veterinarian America’s Favorite Veterinarian?

Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

If you think your veterinarian should be recognized by the AVMA at this year’s AVMA Annual Convention, nominate him or her for the American Veterinary Medical Foundation’s America’s Favorite Veterinarian contest by writing about him or her on the organization’s Facebook page. The winning veterinarian and the client each receive $250 cash, as well as travel and lodging for the award event in Chicago. The winning veterinarian also receives free registration to AVMA’s conference.

Is your veterinarian your hero? Would you like to see your veterinarian honored at the upcoming convention of the American Veterinary Medical Association by the American Veterinary Medical Foundation?

The story you tell may be dramatic, a veterinarian saving a pet’s life….or might be a story of compassion, how end of life was handled. Maybe your story is a bit off-beat, about a veterinarian helping a turtle to win a race.

You can enter your story in the contest, America’s Favorite Veterinarian, conducted by the American Veterinary Medical Foundation. Any story about any veterinarian, if the story touches you – it will likely touch the judges. Those judges will narrow the entries to a final 12 – then it’s up to you to vote.  So, appropriately, America will chose America’s Favorite Veterinarian.

Clients are encouraged to nominate their veterinarians through the Foundation’s Facebook page. Submit a photo of the animal alone, with themselves, or with the veterinarian, along with a short story—250 words or less—on why the veterinarian deserves to be America’s Favorite Veterinarian.

The winning veterinarian will be honored at the AVMF Impact and Partner Breakfast July 21 during the AVMA Annual Convention in Chicago. The winning veterinarian and the nominating client will each receive a $250 cash prize. In addition, each will receive a free night’s stay in Chicago, plus travel expenses for those outside the area. The veterinarian will also receive complimentary registration to the convention. Perhaps, best of all – you can thank, you can celebrate your veterinarian in a public way.

The contest runs through June 1.  Nominations will be presented to a panel of judges: Dr. Bernadine D. Cruz, a chair of the former AVMA Council on Communications; Ginger Brainard, chair of the America’s Favorite Veterinarian Task Force; Kimberly Topper, from the AVMF board of directors; Dr. Susan Giovengo, senior director of Central Garden & Pet Co. and myself, and this is a great honor for me. Tell your friends. Share this post. And write about your veterinarian.

Everything the non-profit American Veterinary Medical Foundation does is designed to benefit veterinary medicine, promote animal well being, and enhance research, so that we will be even better prepared to deal with difficult problems of animal health today and in the future. The AVMF also facilitates the rescuing of animals in times of disaster.

Understanding antibiotic-resistant bacteria in pets

Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

Methicillin-resistant bacteria occur in humans and animals and don’t respond to the usual spectrum of antibiotics, writes veterinarian Mary Ann Crawford. The human culprit, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, only occurs in pets as the result of reverse zoonosis, so pets with this bacteria will trigger an investigation into the health of their human companions, Dr. Crawford points out. The methicillin-resistant bacteria of concern in animals is Staphylococcus pseudintermedius, and although it’s unusual, transmission to humans can occur, so gloves, hand-washing and hand sanitizer should be used to prevent transmission, Dr. Crawford notes. The Record (Hackensack, N.J.)

Q. My neighbor’s dog has a wound that is being treated with antibiotics but it is not healing. I have heard lots of information about the bacteria called MRSA being such a terrible thing. Could this be affecting my neighbor’s dog?

MRSA stands for methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Resistance means that a bacterial infection is not able to be treated effectively by the most commonly used antibiotics. MRSA is a type of bacteria that may affect people but can also be transmitted to animals. It is known as a “reverse zoonosis,” meaning a condition that would travel from a person to an animal, rather than the other way around. When animals have an infection cultured that reveals the MRSA bacteria, we want to question the owners about any infections the people may have in the household.

We do not mean to imply that animals don’t get resistant bacterial infections, because they do, although it is not common. The Staph bacteria affecting animals is called Staphylococcus pseudintermedius (SP), rather than Staphylococcus aureus (SA). There is a methicillin resistant form called MRSP. It is an easily transmissible bacteria from animal to animal, and gloves should be worn when treating any open wounds or known areas of infection. It would be very rare for a person to acquire an infection of MRSP, but anytime there is an open wound present either in an animal or person, the area should only be touched with gloves. Hands should also be cleaned with soap and water after being in contact with the dog or person, followed by an alcohol based disinfectant such as Purell.

We identify bacterial infections by obtaining a sample of the infected area and sending it to a laboratory for identification (culturing). The laboratory also provides us information about which antibiotics the bacteria are susceptible to. The laboratory informs us if the bacteria are a resistant strain such as MRSA or MRSP, and this helps guide our treatment recommendations for therapy. Since the wound has not been responding, your neighbor should consider returning to their veterinarian where they will likely consider culturing the infected area.

— Mary Ann Crawford, DVM

Protecting pets from household toxins

Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

Pets are exposed to the same potentially harmful substances as the humans they live with, possibly to a greater extent because they are smaller and closer to the ground, according to this article. Simple changes can reduce pet — and human — exposure, including vacuuming frequently and keeping potentially harmful substances such as medications in a safe place. Emergency veterinarian MeiMei Welker discusses the harms of slug bait, rodenticide and marijuana poisoning, while veterinarian Marli Lintner explains the uniquely sensitive nature of birds to home toxins, such as fumes from nonstick pans, due to their respiratory systems. The Oregonian (Portland) (3/1)

We think that our indoor pets are safe from predators, cars and disease, but our homes may be exposing our pets – and ourselves – to risks of a different realm.

Everything from the mattresses we sleep on to the motes of dust on the shelves may contain flame retardants or other chemicals, says Laurel Standley, an environmental consultant and author of “#ToxinsTweet: 140 Easy Tips to Reduce Your Family’s Exposure to Environmental Toxins.”

Standley began studying the effects of household toxins in pets after she, her mother and sister all lost pet cats to cancer.

She grieved the losses but Standley, who earned a doctoral degree in chemical oceanography, also grew concerned about what made them sick in the first place.

She worries about the prevalence of chemical flame retardants known as polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) found in many electronics, polyurethane foams, carpet padding, furniture, mattresses and other common household items.

“Each time we sit down on couches with foam cushions, dust particles fly out and fill our homes with dust containing flame retardant chemicals,” Standley says.

The products are being phased out after growing concern about their health effects. Last month, California Gov. Jerry Brown proposed new standards to reduce use of fire-retardant chemicals in furniture and baby products.

Some studies have associated hyperthyroidism in cats to the presence of PBDEs, including one published in February 2012 in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health.

“Proving cause and effect is extremely difficult,” Standley says, “But that’s not an excuse to not protect our pets.”

Plastics also contain harmful chemicals, including bisphenol A and phthalates that have been associated with reproductive and other endocrine effects.

Some of these chemicals have been restricted from children’s products (such as the Multnomah County ban on sippy cups and baby bottles made with BPA).

“The same chemicals haven’t been regulated for dog or cat toys,” says Jennifer Coleman, outreach director at Oregon Environmental Council. “They could still have an impact on endocrine systems.”

Like infants, pets are also smaller than adults, metabolize more quickly and are closer to the ground. This makes them more vulnerable to harm from many of the products humans use, she says.

One way to reduce their exposure is by replacing plastic food bowls with those made from stainless steel, ceramic or glass instead, Standley suggests.

The fish in those food dishes can also be toxic; fish living in polluted streams can accumulate toxic substances in their systems, she says.

Even the plastic liner of the cans they come in may leach BPA.

Pigments and dyes are also likely to contain chemicals, so look for toys without a lot of color or bleaching, Coleman advises.

“My strategy with my own dog is to do the simple things that make the most sense to me,” she says.

She avoids vinyl and PVC plastic and opts instead for those made from rubber or fabric, such as tug ropes and stuffing-free toys. Even tennis balls can be toxic; the ones designed for dogs often contain lead.

Of course, some toxins will make your pet sick sooner rather than later.

At DoveLewis, veterinarians see some toxins more often than others. Metaldehyde slug bait ingestion can cause major muscle tremors that can be fatal, as well as liver problems, says staff veterinarian Dr. MeiMei Welker.

The emergency animal hospital also sees a fair number of dogs sick from marijuana ingestion, while rodenticide toxicity – suspected in the death of a prize-winning Samoyed recently– is a near-daily occurrence.

There are several kinds of rat bait, but the anticoagulant rodenticides are slower to act and allow more of a window of time to administer the antidote.

If your pet consumes poison of some sort, it’s best to bring the packaging to the veterinarian so he or she can treat it most effectively.

Other common toxins seen at DoveLewis include raisins and grapes; the sugar substitute Xylitol; Easter lilies; chocolate; ibuprofen and naproxen (Aleve); and acetaminophen.

The canary in the kitchen

Birds are uniquely sensitive to their environment; there’s a reason the phrase “canary in a coal mine” became so popular.

They’re very sensitive to aerosols, and their respiratory systems are very different than ours, says Dr. Marli Lintner of the Avian Medical Center.

Bird lungs are designed to breathe in very clean, thin air, so breathing in some toxic inhalants can kill them immediately or make them very sick.

“Any sort of fume that makes your nose tingle or your eyes water is bad news for the birds,” Lintner says.

Fumes from nonstick pans pose one of the biggest threats to our feathered friends.

Once the pans overheat – usually when the temperature reaches above 530 degrees Farenheit – a gas called polytetrafluoroethylene is released, says Dr. Deborah Sheaffer, staff veterinarian at the Audubon Society of Portland.

They can die very quickly, so if you see your bird panting or having trouble breathing, you should take it to the veterinarian immediately.

Lead poses another common avian household hazard. Paint, stained glass window frames, curtain weights, costume jewelry; foil from champagne bottles; and old bird cages can all be toxic.

“When people have pet birds, they really need to be cognizant of what’s around them,” Sheaffer says. “They’re curious and inquisitive and they like to chew on things.”

This may be a lot of information for you to chew on too. Just remember that making your home safer for your pets makes it safer for humans as well.

Offering your pet toys made from fabric or natural rubber instead of vinyl and PVC plastic can help reduce their exposure to harmful chemicals.Jennifer Coleman

How to help reduce toxins in your home

Vacuum frequently, preferably with a cleaner fitted with a HEPA filter, even on tile or wood floors (the goal is to not sweep dust up from the floor).

  • Eliminate carpet wherever possible; the less carpet you have, the easier it is to control dust.
  • Use rugs made of natural fabrics, such as cotton, wool or jute.
  • Vacuum your couch regularly.
  • Dust with a simple damp rag. Dry dusting can stir dust back into the air.
  • Replace plastic food dishes with those made from stainless steel, ceramic or glass instead.
  • If you have birds, avoid using nonstick pans whenever possible.
  • Don’t expose birds to smoke or household aerosol products such as harsh cleaners, perfumes, hairspray, etc.
  • Keep pets off the countertops and secure medications and other toxins safely in cupboards.
  • If you’re afraid your pet ingested something he shouldn’t have, call the Pet Poison Helpline at 800-213-6680 (consultations cost $39).
  • Don’t try to make your pet vomit; in some cases it could make the situation worse.









The most common toxicity cases at DoveLewis last year include:


  • Total toxicity: 512
  • Food toxicity (chocolate, grapes, salmon, Xylitol, raisins, Methylxanthine, alcohol, mushrooms): 121
  • Plant toxicity: lilies (19) and marijuana (125) = 144
  • Medication: 161 (includes NSAID, Albuterol, Cholecalciferol, Ibuprofen, Phenlpropanolamine, Acetaminophen, Ivermectin, Vitamin D, Metronidazole)
  • Household: 71 (includes Anticoagulant Rodenticide, Metaldehyde, Bromethalin, Ethylene Glycol, Zinc Phosphide, OrganoPhosphate)
  • Flea product toxicity: 15

Monique Balas

Pets are masters of deceit

Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

More than 80% of pets over 8 years old have an illness their owners aren’t aware of, writes veterinarian Donna Solomon, who says it’s not because owners aren’t looking. Rather, pets are masters of deceit, deftly hiding symptoms or exhibiting only barely noticeable changes in behavior because that’s what their wild ancestors had to do to stay alive. Regular veterinary examinations are the best way to ensure covert illnesses may be detected in time for intervention. The Huffington Post/The Blog (3/11)

In a recent focus group study presented at the January 2013 North American Veterinary Conference, veterinarians were asked if they found it challenging to diagnose medical conditions in dogs and cats.  Fifty-seven percent of the veterinarians found it challenging to diagnose conditions in cats and 34 percent challenging in dogs. Now, imagine asking pet owners who have no medical training the same question. I’m confidant that the percentage of people finding it challenging to diagnose conditions in their dog or cat substantially higher.  In fact, many clients do not even recognize their pet is ill or in pain.  Did you know that over 80 percent of all pets over eight years of age have at least one unrecognized disease by their owners?

Why is it so difficult to recognize a sick pet? First, pets do not clearly articulate what is wrong with them. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if your cat told you the reason she is urinating in your bathroom sink is because she has a bladder infection?  Second, dogs and cats hide their illnesses for instinctual purposes. In the wild, pets that are ill and display overt signs of not feeling well will likely fall victim to predators.

To highlight the difficulties of recognizing an illness in your pet I would like to present you three recent medical cases I have seen at Animal Medical Center of Chicago.

Case 1: The case of the fighting brothers.

Last week I had the pleasure of examining two beautiful Somali cats for their annual physical examination. Historically, these 2-year-old cats were loving brothers. They played, groomed and slept curled around each other every night. Recently, however, the owners had noticed that the cats were fighting more and not sleeping together.  On physical examination of both cats each had severe stomatitis — which is a term reserved for severe inflammation of the gum tissue.  The gums were ulcerated and cherry red in color. I informed the clients that both of their cats needed immediate dental care, which would include a dental cleaning, probing, radiography and oral surgery to remove numerous problematic teeth. The owners were shocked that they did not notice any problems. The cats were eating well and showed no obvious dental pain like drooling, difficulties chewing or facial swelling. I told the clients that pet’s can be very secretive about their pain — it is an adaptive response to living in the wild. To temporarily reduce their pets’ discomforts, I sent the clients home with pain medication and antibiotics. We scheduled oral surgery for the following week. Two days later I called the client for an update and the pets were doing great. They were playful and positively interacting with each other again. As the client reported, “They are acting like kittens again.”

Case 2: The case of the stoic shelter dog.

Approximately two weeks ago a client rescued a really sweet, probably 2-year-old pit-bull, named Pilot, from a local shelter. Pilot had been sitting in a shelter cage for almost four weeks after being abandoned on the streets. The dog walked with a slight limp on his left hind limb. When he was standing still, I noticed that he would shift almost 75 percent his weight onto his right hind limb. A pelvic radiograph revealed multiple pelvic fractures. Although it was tragic that this pet was in a shelter cage for almost a month without any medical care, this benign neglect worked to his benefit. His immobility allowed the fractures to almost heal by itself.  Since the fracture was healing nicely on its own, I recommended to the owner to start anti-inflammatory and pain medications along with some nutra-pharmaceutical drugs to help with wound healing. I told her to continue to severely limit his activity and repeat pelvic radiographs in four weeks. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately??) Pilot has an extremely high pain threshold that masked his true problems.  I believe the well-intentioned shelter workers did not perceive Pilot in discomfort and therefore, did not seek appropriate medical or surgical care.

Case 3: The case of the playful Labrador retriever.

Just the other day one of my clients brought in her playful 8-year-old Labrador retriever, named Bentley, for a yearly examination. When I entered the room Bentley was jumping up and down off our examination table looking for treats. I asked the owner routine questions like, ” Is Bentley eating well? Is he having normal stools?  Any signs of orthopedic discomfort, like difficulties going up and down stairs or stiffness after rising?” The owner told me that after daycare Bentley is exhausted and can barely walk. She told me that she thinks he is just tired and that’s it. During my physical examination, I discovered that Bentley was moderately painful when I palpated both hips and shoulders. I told her that her dog is most likely suffering from degenerative joint disease (arthritis) and not exhaustion. I recommended radiographs of the problematic joints. The owner had not perceived Bentley in pain or suffering from any musculoskeletal problem given her dog’s energetic personality but it was obvious from my examination that he was uncomfortable.

These three cases are perfect examples of pet’s hiding their illnesses or diseases from their owners. Every day clients bring their “apparently healthy pet” to see me for their yearly examination and I frequently discover a medical condition that the client did not recognize. It is not that my clients are not observant or loving, it is that a pet will do their best to hide a problem.

Given their secretive nature, if your pet’s behavior deviates from its normal routine, please take note of it. Maybe he/she is trying to discretely tell you something.  If he/she is sluggish, seeking more or less attention, or not eating with the same gusto as it normally does, this may be your only sign that something may be awry. Please contact your veterinarian for advice.

Be observant. Be your pet’s best advocate for good health care. Don’t let your pet keep secrets!

Green household products may not be entirely safe for animals

Friday, March 8th, 2013

Green cleaning products are gaining popularity, but owners should know that even environmentally friendly products may pose threats to pet health. “People expose their animals without even realizing the risk,” said Karl Jandrey, an emergency and critical care veterinarian at the University of California, Davis’ Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital. Veterinarian Camille DeClementi, a senior toxicologist with the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center, said any product with a warning for children isn’t appropriate for pets and recommended keeping animals away from any cleaning activity. San Jose Mercury News (Calif.) (free registration)/The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES—As the time nears for spring cleaning and companies offer more environmentally friendly alternatives to toxic cleaners, veterinarians say pet owners should keep in mind that what’s green to a human can be dangerous—even deadly—to animals.

“People expose their animals without even realizing the risk,” said Dr. Karl Jandrey, who works in the emergency and critical care units at the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital at the University of California, Davis. “That’s the most common thing that happens when you come to our emergency room—the clients put their pets at risk because they were unaware of how significant the damage could be.”

Most household cleaners are safe if used as directed on labels, but pet owners who make their own cleansers using natural ingredients don’t have the warnings or instructions that come with commercial products.

Cats, for example, can get stomachaches from essential oils added for orange, lemon or peppermint scents in cleaners, said Dr. Camille DeClementi, a senior toxicologist at the Animal Poison Control Center run by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Urbana, Ill.

Most commercial green products are safe for animals, DeClementi said, but owners should still exercise the same precautions as with chemical alternatives, such as keeping pets away from an area being cleaned, not using sprays directly on a pet and making sure that dogs don’t chew on the



If a product says “Keep out of reach of children,” keep it away from pets too, DeClementi said.

Caroline Golon, an Ohio mother of two children under 5 and owner of two Persian cats, said she became concerned about cleaning products before her children were born, when she noticed how often the cats jumped between floors and counters. The Columbus resident uses only unscented green products or vinegar and water to clean, a water-only steam mop on floors and washes the cats’ dishes and litter boxes with hot water and green dish soap.

“There are varying degrees of green, and there are a lot of mainstream brands now that have a green version. You have to do a little research to see what you like best,” said Golon, a pet blogger.

The “green” label on products can be misleading because it still can be dangerous, Jandrey added. “Some still have their own toxicities. In general, they probably are a little less toxic, but not free of toxic potential. They just have a need for a larger dose to cause the same kind of symptoms,” he said.

He cited antifreeze as an example. The pet-friendly version of antifreeze, propylene glycol, is “still an antifreeze product. It’s still intoxicating to patients, our dogs and cats. It’s just not as intoxicating as ethylene glycol.”

It takes more of the propylene glycol to be as deadly as the ethylene glycol, “but it is still intoxicating though it might say pet-friendly in the ads or on the bottle,” Jandrey said.

Labels can’t always account for every reaction, Jandrey said. “Each intoxicating product has different concentrations and each dog or cat, each species, has a different sensitivity to that product. So what might be intoxicating to a dog is really, really intoxicating to a cat because cats might be more sensitive,” he said.

Nancy Guberti, a New York City nutritionist and healthy lifestyle coach for the past 15 years, said some products will say green when they are not.

“Natural means nothing. The consumer has to be educated. It’s all about awareness,” she said.

Extra care also should be taken when cleaning around a pet’s area, such as its toys or bedding, the experts say. Don’t use fabric softener sheets that contain cationic detergents because they will give your pet—especially cats—stomach distress, DeClementi said, referring to a type of chemical soap that kills bacteria.

Such detergents and soaps, normally associated with helping to get clothes clean and fresh-smelling, can have chemicals that can sicken humans and pets alike.

Guberti switched to green cleaners out of necessity when her youngest son developed a liver disorder and many allergies. Guberti said the whole family became green—even their family’s 6-year-old Shih Tzu, Flower, because her son can’t hold Flower “if she is full of toxic chemicals or perfumes.”

She recalled how she took the dog to a groomer for the first time, and Flower came out covered in perfume. Guberti washed her again at home, and now she brings her own bottles to the groomer.

“I have a bottle of shampoo and a bottle of conditioner with her name on it. I always remind them: ‘No perfumes whatsoever,'” Guberti said.

Golon, who uses a maid service once a month, said she had the same problem when they brought their own products when they first started cleaning the house.

“I hadn’t thought about it but the smell was so overpowering, it really bothered me. I can just imagine what it was doing to the cats with their sensitivity to scents,” she said.


Consumer pet spending projected to increase

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

Pet owners are projected to spend 4% more on supplies for their pets this year than they did last year, according to the market research firm Packaged Facts. “We are certainly seeing more health-related and preventive health products on the market that help pets maintain healthy lifestyles,” said Bob Vetere, president of the American Pet Products Association. Hot items include products geared toward aging pets, pet dental care items and natural and organic pet food. Drug Store News

February 25, 2013 | By Barbara White-Sax

Pet supplies may have had limited growth this past year, but the stars of the segment are healthcare-related products. Pet supplies saw a 2% increase, bringing sales to $11.1 billion, according to Packaged Facts. The market research firm projects that this year, pet supplies will grow 4% over 2012 sales.

Like their owners, the pet population is graying. Pets are suffering from age-related conditions — including joint, coronary, cognitive and immune system-related, as well as diabetes and cancer — and consumers are snapping up products that can make their pets healthier.

“We are certainly seeing more health-related and preventive health products on the market that help pets maintain healthy lifestyles,” said Bob Vetere, president of the American Pet Products Association. The explosion of health-related products coincides with a drop in veterinary visits recorded in the past few years, suggesting that pet owners are preemptively caring for their pets’ health issues with pet OTC products.

Such products as Nylabone — a rawhide chew alternative that is fortified with vitamins and minerals — are driving growth in the pet products category, according to a recent report from Mintel. Mintel expects chews, toys, grooming products made with natural ingredients and other supplies that contribute to the health and well-being of dogs and cats to drive sales in the pet supplies segment.

Dental care products are growing in popularity as consumers become more aware of how important gum care is to a pet’s health. Brian Collier, a spokesman for Naturel Promise, manufacturer of the Fresh Dental line of pet dental care products, said oral care products are the fastest-growing segment of the pet business.

Since 80% of dogs show signs of periodontal disease by age 3 years, Collier said the category has a huge upside because currently only 10% of pet owners purchase pet dental care products. Those who do purchase oral care products buy four to six oral care products a year, a number that significantly outpaces turns on other pet grooming products, said Collier.

Naturel Promise’s line of dental products contains a brushless gel, dental spray, water additive, liquid floss and a brushing gel, which retail for between $6.99 and $9.99. The products contain all-natural ingredients, a key selling point in the category.

In the pet food segment, the fastest growing area of pet food is natural and organic products. “It’s the first section that sold out in our show, and it’s clearly the hot performer in the food arena and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future,” Vetere said.

Vetere said another hot segment within the category is convenience products that allow people more flexibility in feeding and caring for their pets.

Angel Fund Grant Recipient – Seven, a lucky guinea pig

Monday, February 25th, 2013

Leslie has always had a special place in her heart for guinea pigs. “I’ve been loving guinea pigs since I was a little girl,” she said. “They are the most affectionate, most grateful, cuddly, little animals in the world. I especially love watching them move around when they’re happy, they hop straight up and down and it’s called popping corn. These animals are just so much fun.”

She got her first guinea pig, Nibbles, when she was ten years old. “When I was young, guinea pigs didn’t live very long,” she reminisced. “They never seemed to make it past six months. I know a lot about them now and am much more educated on what they need. I probably give them much better care now than I did when I was young.”

Leslie lavishes a lot of love on her companions. They get fed every morning at 5:00am, in the afternoon, and then later in the evening. Not only does she have them on a regular diet of timothy hay, romaine and endive, and timothy pellets, but she also gives them treats of strawberries, tomatoes, and carrots. She cleans their cages every single day with white vinegar and she puts down fresh fleece for them to enjoy. “I hear there are people who clean their guinea pig cages only once every week, and I think that must be awful for the guinea pigs. They get so excited when they get to go back to their clean cages, so I think they must really appreciate that.” Leslie is also dedicated to administering all necessary health measures. She has to give her oldest guinea pig, Herbert, medicine every four hours around the clock, and her guinea pigs visit the veterinarian on a regular basis. Her animals obviously thrive under her care, Hebert has reached the venerable age of 8, Lucy is 6, and Seven is at least 4 years old.

Leslie’s vigilance in watching out for her animals’ health led her to take Seven to the vet when one morning she discovered that Seven’s bottom teeth were gone and his top teeth appeared to be overgrown. “I took him to see Dr. William Ridgeway at the Long Beach Animal Hospital, but we couldn’t figure out why he lost his bottom teeth,” she said. “I was taking him in to have his top teeth trimmed every four weeks, but one day I looked at his face and it was swollen. He had a huge abscess on the left side of his jaw that needed surgery. He also had to have another surgery when we found that he had a tooth coming out of his neck.”

Unemployed and without the funds to pay for the care Seven needed, Leslie turned to the internet to see if she could find any resources that might be able to provide her with some help. “That’s where I found out about the Angel Fund. I called and spoke with someone very helpful there. They told me to tell my vet about the program and they listed everything he needed to do so I could get the help. I am very, very grateful, because even though I love all three of my guinea pigs, it can be expensive with their health problems.”

But the joy and companionship Leslie receives from her pets is absolutely invaluable to her. “My animals mean the world to me,” she said. “I’m a serious lover of all kinds of animals, but my guinea pigs do genuinely funny things that just always make me laugh. Lucy is a very sweet girl who’s a lot of fun. Herbert is a very feisty pig even though he’s eight, and the bond he and Seven have brings tears to my eyes. I can tell my guinea pigs are grateful for the care I give them, and I’m thankful that the Angel Fund helped me take care of them.”

Pet Food Stamp Program

Saturday, February 23rd, 2013


The Pet Food Stamp program was created to help food stamp recipients and low income individuals who are having difficulty feeding their pets, receive free food. We believe if you are having financial difficulties, you should not have to choose between feeding your family or your pet.

If you are on Food Stamps, in a low income bracket and have a pet and would like to apply for Pet Food Stamps. please visit :; email; call 718.915.4532

New website compares pet product prices for consumers

Saturday, February 23rd, 2013

In an effort to bring order to the vast array of pet products offered online at various prices, David Keh founded DugDug, a website that searches pet products and prices for owners. Currently, the website handles only dog products, but Keh plans to broaden its focus to include items for cats, birds, reptiles and more. The New York Times (tiered subscription model)/Bucks blog

A dog owner with an entrepreneurial bent has started a Web site aimed at making it easier for pet lovers to find the right products at the right price.

DugDug is a new price comparison site that aims to provide pet product information from multiple online retailers in a clear, easily understandable format, said David Keh, the site’s founder.

Mr. Keh, a former hedge fund analyst, said he created DugDug out of his own frustration as a new pet owner. (He owns a standard poodle.) When searching for supplies online, he said, most comparison sites returned information that wasn’t presented in a helpful way. For instance, when searching for medications, searching by the product name most often produced lists that weren’t sorted based on the pet’s weight or by the number of doses supplied, making it difficult to compare prices. “You get nonsensical results,” he said. “It was a huge frustration.”

So Mr. Keh’s site attempts to sort products in a more meaningful way. A search on DugDug, for instance, for Advantix, a killer of canine fleas and ticks, returns a menu of options, based on the pet’s weight. When you click on the proper weight (11-20 pounds, say), an appropriate list of vendors and prices appears.

DugDug also includes any coupons next to each item. That way, users can receive the discount when buying the item, rather than having to scour the Web for potentially available coupon codes, he said. (If users want, they can also use an optional browser tool, called Rover, that automatically notifies them of coupons as they visit different Web sites.)

DugDug doesn’t conduct any sales itself. Rather, once you find the best price, you select the vendor and are taken to that Web site to complete the sale. DugDug receives a fee from some sites if you click through and make a purchase. But the site lists the vendors with the best prices, Mr. Keh said, whether or not the site has a commission deal with DugDug.

(If you are buying a pet medication that requires a prescription, you must eventually provide one from your veterinarian — or, often, the site you buy from will contact your veterinarian to verify it, or to request one on your behalf. In general, though, you need to see a veterinarian in person at some point, to obtain the prescription. Mr. Keh says DugDug screens prescription sites displayed on its searches to weed out disreputable carriers that may be offering counterfeit drugs.)

Mr. Keh said he might be new to pets, but has always been entrepreneurial. While an undergraduate at Stanford, said, he ran a business from his dorm room changing the backlighting on cellphones, earning as much as $150 each.

DugDug focuses on dogs, but will be gradually rolling out other pet categories like cats, birds, fish, reptiles and small pets (including ferrets, guinea pigs, gerbils etc.) over the next several weeks.

Other plans for the Web site include comparison shopping tools for pet insurance, an area Mr. Keh said he saw as lacking in transparency. “We’ll give information on prices and differences in coverage,” he said.