Archive for August, 2012

The wackiest pet names and how they came to be

Friday, August 17th, 2012
Chew Barka’s name refers to the apricot toy poodle’s main activities during his trial overnight with eventual owners Michele and Peter Manzelli III. Chew Barka and cat Pico de Gato topped Veterinary Pet Insurance’s 2012 lists of the wackiest dog and cat names.
Lisa Flam writes

For the fourth year in a row, Veterinary Pet Insurance scoured their pet database of more than 485,000 animals for the wackiest-named cats and dogs around. Meet the pets who inspired these madcap monikers, and the creative owners who came up with them.

Chew Barka

Once their younger child turned 5 and was off to school, Michele and Peter Manzelli III were feeling a bit lonely. They decided against trying for a third child; instead, despite Peter’s allergies, the Chelmsford, Mass., couple decided a dog might just fill the void. So they brought home an apricot toy poodle (a hypoallergenic breed) for a trial sleepover in 2010.

Unsure if they would keep the 6-week-old, 2-pound pup, they weren’t thinking of names quite yet. But his feisty antics, combined with their son Peter’s love of “Star Wars” (he wanted his sister, Gianna, to be named Yoda) led to the pooch’s unusual name.

“All he did was chew at things and bark at everybody,” Michele told

“We started calling him ‘Hey, Chew,’ ‘Hey Bark,’ because that’s all he was doing,” Peter recalled. “We all looked at each other and said ‘Chew Barka — that’s a perfect name for him.’” The little puppy was therefore named after Chewbacca, the huge, furry Wookiee warrior, and despite sinking his teeth into all of Michele’s flip-flops and gnawing on the area rugs, he was in the Manzelli home to stay.

“Of course everybody fell in love with him,” Michele said, adding that her husband is doing fine with the help of daily allergy medication. “After one night, we couldn’t give him back.”

Though her now 12-year-old son and husband are the “Star Wars” fans, it was Michele who concocted the dog’s name. Her creativity earned Chew Barka the top spot on Veterinary Pet Insurance Co.’s 2012 list of wackiest dog names.

The Manzellis get a great reaction to it. “They love it because he’s so little,” Michele said. “He’s furry all over, but he’s not ferocious-looking. He’s very-timid looking.”

These days, Chewy, as he’s called, doesn’t bite the Manzellis’ belongings as much. But he still makes a lot of noise. “He’s a good protector,” Michele told “He barks at everybody who walks by.”

And Michele, who works part-time from home, and Peter, who also works at home sometimes, aren’t feeling quite so alone, especially when Chewy snuggles with them at night.

“He’s just like a heat-seeker,” she said. “He loves to cuddle up.”

Pico de Gato

The scientific wordplay that led to the names of Vince and Caroline Rye’s two cats leaves many people scratching their heads.

When the San Diego couple brought home their first cat about four years ago, Vince, a physicist, had the idea for the name Mu. It was a combination of the scientific symbol Mu, meaning micro, and the little kitty’s meowing.

“He thought it would be funny, and when we were trying to think of names, he’s like, ‘I’ve got a name that’d be pretty ironic,’” Caroline explained. “He has a sarcastic science sense of humor.”

But the name worked. “It’s was very fitting and he still meows a lot today,” she said.

About a year later, the family brought home another kitten. “Since he was a little baby at the time, we were trying to think of things that were smaller than ‘micro’ or Mu, so we were playing with different words and Pico came up,” Caroline explained. “We were trying to think of something to go with it.”

So they drew on several elements from their lives. The couple often call cats “gatos,” Spanish for cat, and they love Mexican food, with Rye often making homemade pico de gallo.

“We were thinking ‘pico’ is smaller than ‘micro,’ and if we’re going the scientific route, since we always call our cats ‘gatos,’ pico, gato — it just kind of went together,” Caroline said. The name “Pico de Gato” was born, and now it sits atop VPI’s 2012 list of wackiest cat names.

Fittingly for a pet with a food-inspired name, Pico is fond of human food. He begs for cheese and has enjoyed grilled steak burritos, Caroline said. “He goes crazy for it.”

The cat even found his way into a box of doughnuts. “He had a doughnut in his mouth like ‘this is mine,’” Caroline recalled.

But despite the cats’ names, they’re mini no more. Caroline told that Pico now weighs about 18 pounds, surpassing the once-micro Mu by a pound or two. The big kitties better stay spry, as the Ryes’ 9-month-old daughter, Caitlin, is on the move. “She squeals when she chases them,” Caroline said.

RECALL – Catswell Brand VitaKitty Chicken Breast with Flaxseed and Vitamins

Friday, August 17th, 2012

Arthur Dogswell LLC has issued a recall of its Catswell Brand VitaKitty Chicken Breast with Flaxseed and Vitamins because it has the potential to contain propylene glycol.

High levels of propylene glycol – which is used a wide range of products including soap, moisturizer and anti-freeze – in the treats could result in serious injury to cats.

No illnesses have been reported to date.

The VitaKitty treats were distributed nationwide via retail stores and mail order from April 13th through June 14th, 2012.

This product is packaged in a re-sealable 2 ounce orange plastic bag with a clear window. The VitaKitty Chicken Breast with Flaxseed and Vitamins lot codes affected are as follows: SEW12CH032701/03c and SEW12CH032702/03c with a best before date of 09/10/13 and 09/11/13, respectively (UPC code 8 84244 00057 2). Lot codes can be found on the bottom right backside of the package.

“We are taking this voluntary action because it is in the best interests of our customers and their feline companions,” says founder Marco Giannini. “We will be working with the FDA in our continued commitment to ensure that we meet FDA guidelines.”

The recallresulted from a routine surveillance sample collected by the company and the Food and Drug Administration. Arthur Dogswell has ceased distribution of the affected product.

Consumers who have purchased VitaKitty Chicken Breast with Flaxseed and Vitamins from the affected lot codes are urged to return it to the place of purchase for a full refund. If the affected product was purchased online, consumers should contact the internet retailer to understand their specific return and refund process. Consumers with questions may contact Arthur Dogswell at 1-888-559-8833 from 8AM to 5PM PST, Monday through Friday, or leave a message at any time.

How to balance puppy vaccination schedule with socialization

Friday, August 17th, 2012

Reconciling the need to protect puppies from pathogens until they are fully vaccinated with the importance of early and proper socialization can be difficult, writes veterinarian Jeff Kahler. Owners should avoiding taking puppies to parks and other public areas where disease potential is unknown, but they can introduce their pet to others that are also following appropriate vaccination in a controlled environment, Dr. Kahler recommends. The Miami Herald/McClatchy Newspapers (free registration) (8/8)

Limit exposure to disease until immune system matures

By JEFF KAHLER, D.V.M.      McClatchy Newspapers
Sounds like fun times ahead for Carly and Thane with the arrival of Bolo. The 9-week-old French bulldog has easily taken over his caretakers’ hearts.

Carly has been doing her due diligence, researching what to feed and how to house train her “little boy” and also what to do about disease prevention through isolation and vaccination versus socialization. She has found conflicting opinions, especially concerning isolation versus socialization, and is not sure what to do.


Some references have advised keeping Bolo isolated from other dogs until he is fully vaccinated, while others stress the importance of proper puppy socialization starting at an early age.

In the past, veterinarians would usually recommend isolating puppies from contact with other dogs during the vulnerable period of the vaccination protocol. This is primarily because a puppy’s immune system is not fully competent until about 16 weeks of age. Even as vaccines are being used to boost the immune response and protect these youngsters, they are vulnerable to the very diseases we are vaccinating to protect against. That is until they can mount a full immune response. Parvo viral infection was one major reason for this precaution. However, this did not allow for socialization until the puppies were 16 weeks old, which, with some dogs, can result in inappropriate behaviors.

Avoiding exposure to disease-causing organisms by contact with infected animals or fecal waste that might contain infecting organisms is a good idea. That said, how do we address the absolute need for proper puppy socialization? It involves puppy socialization in a controlled environment.

It is still my recommendation that puppies be kept from areas where they can be inadvertently exposed to disease. I would avoid public parks and other such areas with unknown potential for disease transmission until the vaccination protocol has been completed. This is especially important for avoidance of parvo virus, as I mentioned above. This virus is hardy and can last in the environment for many months. The disease associated with infection with this virus is debilitating and can be fatal, hence these precautions.

Proper puppy socialization then should occur in areas where the environment is free of such potential disease and with all participants on a vaccination schedule. With this type of situation, chances for disease exposure are greatly reduced while at the same time, allowing for the critical need for puppies to be properly socialized.

As always, prevention of disease is much better than having to treat. Through proper vaccination and proper avoidance, Bobo can be properly protected while he learns the in and outs of associating with other dogs and, as well, other people. This ultimately results in a well-rounded pet secure in his home environment and the bigger world.

Jeff Kahler is a veterinarian in Modesto, Calif. Questions can be submitted to Your Pet in care of LifeStyles, The Modesto Bee, P.O. Box 5256, Modesto CA 95352.

Read more here:

Scholarship winner Cut and one of her favorite cats

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

Scholarship winner Cut and her classmates

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

In class they are helping the tiny bunny

Olympic horse used stem cell therapy

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012
The horse, competing at the 2012 London Olympics, was given the cutting-edge treatment to heal a possibly career-ending injury to one of its legs.
  • Ravel, a horse competing in dressage at the Olympics, underwent stem cell therapy to treat a leg injury.
  • Ravel is presently the highest-scoring horse on Team USA at the 2012 London Olympics.

Ravel, a horse competing at the 2012 London Olympics, underwent stem cell therapy treatment that helped heal a possibly career-ending injury to one of his legs, according to the Helen Woodward Animal Center in California.

Ravel, a regular client of Rodrigo Vazquez of Equine Surgical Services at the center, is believed to be the first Olympian to benefit from a stem cell-based treatment. Ravel is now the highest scoring horse on Team USA at the Olympics.

“Ravel is a high-impact athlete,” Vazquez said. “He runs the same risks as any other athlete in a high performance sport and he gets hurt like any other athlete too. But he is something special. He works hard and he’s focused and he thrives in his sport. He just didn’t want to quit.”

The 15-year-old equine athlete, owned by Akiko Yamazaki, was united with his rider Steffen Peters in late 2006. Since then, the team has made history, with Ravel excelling in dressage, which is one of three Olympic equestrian disciplines. It involves riding and training a horse in a manner that develops obedience, flexibility and balance.

Ravel and Peters were the highest placing American pair at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and have won numerous competitions over the years, including the prestigious Rolex/FEI World Cup in dressage.

 Before these victories, Ravel sustained the leg injury. Jessica Gercke, a spokesperson for the Helen Woodward Animal Center, told Discovery News that staff working with competitive horses like Ravel do not wish to reveal detailed information about medical conditions and treatments, since that might affect the perceptions of judges or others.

Vazquez, however, did share that regular check-ups, vaccinations, dentistry and the “emergency treatment with a new technology based on stem cell therapy” helped to heal Ravel after an eight-month break in training.

Adult stem cells can reproduce and differentiate into different types of cells. They continue to be a focus of study for scientists hoping to treat a number of diseases in humans and non-human animals. In horses, to repair cartilage and tendon tissues, scientists have been looking into stem cells derived from bone.

“Bone derived cells in horses are most often obtained from an aspirate (material drawn by suction) of either the hip or sternum with apparent minimal discomfort” to the horse, according to David Frisbie, an associate professor at the Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine. “The procedure typically takes less than 15 minutes and can be done standing under light sedation.”

Results of clinical studies on horses suggest that stem cell treatment can improve healing rates, overall outcomes, and decrease re-injury rates almost by half. Further studies are needed, however, to better determine dosage and timing specifics.

In the meantime, Ravel, Peters and Vazquez are all now in London. The horse’s performances so far this week are “textbook Ravel,” according to a report issued by the United States Equestrian Team Foundation. “The veteran went to work and moved through the test with ease.”

As of this writing, there is still hope that Ravel might win an Individual medal at the games.

Fifteen is a senior age for equine competitors at the Olympic level, so it is widely speculated that Ravel is close to the end of his competing career. No official announcement of his retirement has been made so far.

For now, Vazquez is hoping to watch Ravel bring home the gold.

The Cat Care Clinic helps Peanut recover

Monday, August 13th, 2012

The Green family is very grateful to the Cat Care Clinic and the Angel Fund for helping Peanut recover from a severe urinary tract infection.

Meet Cut Shavrina Devinta Fauzi

Monday, August 13th, 2012

My activities while at the Veterinary Faculty at Syiah Kuala University, consist of taking a wide range of subjects ranging from matters related to Embryology, Anatomy, Zoology, Animal Physiology, Biostatistics, Biochemistry and General Courses. I am currently not following CCA curricula because I am still trying to keep up with scheduled lectures and courses at the moment.

The Orangutan Caring Scholarship is the way for me to reach my goal to be a veterinarian. Through this program, i can lighten my parent’s burden in financing my courses, so that they can still pay for my brother’s and sister’s schooling without thinking of my tuition fees, now being helped by this scholarship. I am grateful for the opportunity to receive the Orangutan Caring Scholarship supported by the Animal Health Foundation.

My project is to show the negative attitude the public in Indonesia has which negatively affects the Orangutans.  I intend to write about the stupid behavior of man towards a rare animal as well as the resultant offensive behavior some orangutans exhibit in the Zoo as a result of the human behavior. Due to their confinement in zoos, some orangutans eat their own feces and show other neurotic behaviors. Zoo visitors give them cigarettes that they smoke as humans do. I hope my work will help change human behaviors, which are negatively affecting the Orangutans.

Calif. Assembly considers devocalization and declawing bill

Saturday, August 11th, 2012

Pet owners and animal advocates are closely watching  a new state Senate bill  that would limit how far landlords can go to keep their property clear of noisy  dogs and frisky felines.

SB 1229 would prevent property owners from requiring tenants to have their  cats declawed and the voice boxes of their dogs removed as a condition of  tenancy but would still hold the renter responsible for damage caused by a pet.  The bill also would bar property owners from advertising only to potential  renters whose pets have had such procedures.

The bill’s author, Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, said some landlords   condition rental occupancy on the declawing of cats or the devocalizing of dogs.  These practices can have unintended consequences for property managers, physical  problems for animals and emotional and financial consequences for pet owners,  Pavley said.

Devocalizing pets is illegal in New Jersey and Massachusetts, and the state  of New York has pending legislation similar to California’s to ban  declawing  and devocalizing as a condition of rental tenancy. SB 1229 would resemble  federal Housing and Urban Development Department regulations that prohibit  public authorities from requiring pet owners to remove their pet’s vocal  chords.

The bill passed the Senate on May 17 without dissent and will be taken up by  the Assembly this month.

“Certainly, when it comes to somebody telling somebody else they have to do a  permanent procedure when they are doing a temporary rental, in my mind that is  excessive,” said Al Schwartz, owner of the Moorpark Veterinary Hospital and  former president of the California Veterinarian Association.

In his 31 years practicing animal medicine, Schwartz said, he has never  devocalized a dog or referred a pet for the procedure. Declawing is relatively  rare, too. Last year his office performed six declawing procedures. Schwartz  said he generally discourages declawing cats and advises pet owners to explore  alternative solutions such as behavioral training before going ahead with the  practice.

Eight local governments in California, including Los Angeles, San Francisco  and West Hollywood, have outlawed declawing.

Schwartz said there are narrow situations where declawing is necessary, and  for that reason he is critical of city councils that have banned the procedure  altogether. He cites instances in which a cat owner may be suffering from an  illness and declawing is the only way to protect the owner’s health and keep the  owner able to care for the cat.

“A city, such as West Hollywood, for example, should not be telling a pet  owner what to do,”  Schwartz said.

Two years ago, a similar bill written by then-Assemblyman Pedro Nava, D-Santa  Barbara, was vetoed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger after criticism from some  veterinarian circles about the language of the bill. The bill would have banned  declawing for any nontherapeutic reason, which Schwarzenegger believed would  prohibit accommodating the legitimate medical needs of a pet owner.

When done properly, Schwartz said, declawing is relatively painless. Cost can  vary by veterinarian and regional location but typically ranges from $250 to  $500.

Pavley’s bill is being backed by California Veterinary Association and the  California Apartment Association. Proponents argue the decision to have a pet  undergo such procedures should be up to the pet owner.

In a statement from the U.S. Humane Society, state director Jennifer Fearing  said SB 1229 will ensure that important medical decisions about pets continue to  be made by their caregivers, in private consultation with veterinarians.

Jeff Wallach, a theater arts educator from Thousand Oaks, said he’s been a  renter for most of his life. Wallach owns three pets rescued from animal  shelters: Buddy, an 8-year-old shepherd; Jack, a 7-year-old Lab mix; and Sassy,  a tabby who Wallach guesses is about 12.

Wallach said that if a property owner asked him to declaw Sassy or remove the  vocal chords of Buddy or Jack, he’d move out of the property immediately.

“It upsets me. I think it’s wrong. I think it’s inhumane,” Wallach said.

Wallach comes from a family of property owners and as a child would help his  father manage property in the San Fernando Valley by collecting rent and  interacting with tenants.

“I think the industry itself to me is so wonderful,” Wallach said. “It  infuriates me that people who would actually do that. It would never have  crossed my mind to ask a tenant to do that.”


Does my cat need vaccines every three years?

Saturday, August 11th, 2012
By: Ask Dr. Watts – Dr. Michael Watts | Culpeper Star Exponent
Q: I have heard that my cat may only need vaccines every three years. Is that true?

A: It is impossible for anyone but your veterinarian to answer this question accurately. Vaccines are one of the main reasons pets are living longer today than ever before. Many serious or fatal diseases are rare today solely due to the widespread use of vaccines. However, not every cat or dog needs every existing vaccine each and every year.

Veterinarians must weigh the benefits of each vaccine against potential side effects. People work hard to become veterinarians in order to help animals. The thought of one of our vaccines causing harm is terrifying to most of us. As a result, the profession periodically evaluates existing vaccine protocols and recommendations. Years of study and debate have led to even more study and more debate.

One thing all veterinarians agree upon is that your pet should be seeing the doctor every six to twelve months for an examination and health consultation. An important part of these visits should be formulation of a disease prevention strategy. This way, your pet can benefit from the latest knowledge on vaccine benefits and risks. The information contained in this column does not substitute for an individual consultation with your family veterinarian.

All pets need a set of core vaccines. In cats, these core vaccines are panleukopenia (feline distemper), upper respiratory viruses (FVR-C), and rabies. In dogs the core vaccines are distemper/hepatitis/parvovirus (DHP or DAP), and rabies. If a pet has completed an initial series as a puppy or kitten and has received booster vaccines at one year of age, these core vaccines protect most pets for three years or more. However, your veterinarian may recommend more or less frequent boosters based on your pet’s particular risk factors and lifestyle.

Which non-core vaccines are right for your pet? After an examination and a detailed discussion of your pet’s lifestyle, your family veterinarian can formulate the best vaccine protocol for your particular pet. Cats that spend time outdoors are at high risk for being exposed to FeLV. Dogs that visit parks, groomers, kennels, or pet stores are at high risk for being exposed to bordetella and parainfluenza. The incidence of Lyme disease and leptospirosis is rising in Virginia. Some veterinarians may also recommend FIV, FIP, canine influenza, coronavirus, giardia, or other vaccines. For all non-core vaccines, annual boosters are important – sometimes more frequently for very high risk individuals.

Be prepared for vaccine recommendations to change from year to year. Weather patterns, emerging diseases, and advancing medical knowledge frequently change the risk to benefit ratios. As a pet owner your focus should be on developing a close relationship with your family veterinarian. Pet wellness depends upon so much more than vaccination. Proper nutrition, exercise, laboratory screening tests, parasite prevention, and dental care should also be individually tailored to your pet. The benefit is a happier, longer life for your pet… and maybe even for you and your family.

Q: Why does my veterinarian require a heartworm test every year? I am religious about giving the preventive medication.

A: Your veterinarian is following the published recommendation of the American Heartworm Society and all major manufacturers of heartworm preventives. The main reason is to detect heartworm infection in its earliest stages. Tests only pick of female heartworms that are six months of age or more. In actual use, no preventive product is 100% effective. Late doses and missed doses are common. Even “religious” use can be impacted by a dog vomiting a dose without the owner knowing, variability in absorption, or improper medication storage or shipping conditions. Just this month I diagnosed a dog with heartworm infection that had been negative last November (that’s only eight months ago if you’re counting). When paired with annual health screening bloodwork, the heartworm test is usually very inexpensive or even free. I would suggest following your veterinarian’s advice. He is looking out for the best interest of your dog.