Posts by Todd Shaw:

    Keep your pets safe this holiday season

    December 21st, 2012

    Veterinarians at the University of California, Davis, offer some helpful tips to keep your pets safe this holiday season.

    While the holidays are filled with traditional foods and decorations, those same items can cause harm to your pets if ingested. Every year at the UC Davis William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, veterinarians treat pets that get sick from eating the holiday decorations and treats.

    “We love to decorate our homes for the holidays,” said Karl Jandrey, an assistant professor of clinical small animal emergency and intensive care at UC Davis. “But, we need to keep in mind that some of our decorations and treats can be hazardous to our pets.

    “Thankfully, most of the items ingested are only minimally harmful. However, some seemingly harmless holiday items can cause internal damage or even death to your pet,” he said.

    Items to watch out for:

    • Chocolate — Chocolate contains ingredients that can be toxic to pets. The darker the chocolate, the more dangerous it is. While dogs are the most susceptible, cats and other species may be affected, too. It is best to avoid letting any of your pets eat chocolate. If they have eaten chocolate and show signs of anxiety, agitation or vomiting, consult a veterinarian immediately.
    • Poinsettias and holly — These traditional holiday plants can cause mild irritation to a pet’s mouth and may cause minor drooling, decreased appetite or vomiting. Seek veterinary care if these signs progress.
    • Mistletoe — In small amounts, mistletoe can cause gastrointestinal irritation, possibly resulting in drooling, vomiting or diarrhea. Larger amounts could cause more severe harm. Consult veterinary care immediately if your pet has eaten any mistletoe.
    • Electrical cords — Pets can easily be electrocuted if they chew through holiday light cords, which are usually thin and not insulated. Respiratory distress is a sign of electrocution, as well as a burn mark across the lips or tongue. Consult veterinary care immediately if your pet has these signs.
    • Tinsel — While it makes a beautiful decoration, tinsel can be deadly to your pet if swallowed. It can easily cause an intestinal blockage and leakage of the consumed material into the abdomen. If you suspect your pet has eaten tinsel, and it has a loss of appetite, vomiting or diarrhea, seek veterinary care.

    Keep a close eye on your cats and dogs around these items to help to ensure a safe and happy holiday season. The best medicine may be prevention.

    The UC Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital is open and ready 24/7 for emergencies during the holidays.

    About the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital

    The William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital at the University of California, Davis — a unit of the School of Veterinary Medicine — provides state-of-the-art clinical care while serving as the primary clinical teaching experience for veterinary students and postgraduate veterinarian residents. The hospital treats more than 35,000 animals a year, ranging from cats and dogs to horses, cows, and even more exotic species. To learn more about the hospital, please go to our website, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

    About UC Davis

    For more than 100 years, UC Davis has engaged in teaching, research and public service that matter to California and transform the world. Located close to the state capital, UC Davis has more than 33,000 students, more than 2,500 faculty and more than 21,000 staff, an annual research budget of nearly $750 million, a comprehensive health system and 13 specialized research centers. The university offers interdisciplinary graduate study and more than 100 undergraduate majors in four colleges — Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Biological Sciences, Engineering, and Letters and Science. It also houses six professional schools — Education, Law, Management, Medicine, Veterinary Medicine and the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing.

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    Protect Pets from Extreme Cold

    December 19th, 2012


    The Humane Society of the United States is reminding pet owners of the safety precautions to take when extreme cold weather sets in.

    Pet owners are urged to take extra steps to ensure the safety of their companion animals during the cold forecasted in Nebraska this week.

    "Animals rely solely on their human caregivers for safety and comfort—especially during the winter months," said KC Theisen, director of pet care issues for The HSUS. "Our pets are particularly vulnerable during this frigid season, and with just a few extra precautions you can help make sure that they stay safe and healthy."

    The best prescription for winter's woes is to keep dogs and cats inside. The happiest dogs are those who are taken out frequently for walks and exercise but kept inside the rest of the time. Dogs and cats are social animals who crave human companionship.

    Help keep your pet safe during the colder months by following these simple guidelines:

    - Don't leave pets outdoors when the temperature drops. Dogs and cats are safer indoors, except when taken out for supervised exercise. Regardless of the season, cats and shorthaired, very young, or old dogs should never be left outside. Short-coated dogs should wear a sweater during walks.

    -Pets who spend time outdoors need more food in the winter because keeping warm depletes energy. If you keep a water bowl outside, routinely check to make certain the water is fresh and unfrozen. Use plastic food and water bowls rather than metal for any outside food or water bowls; when the temperature is low, your pet's tongue can stick and freeze to metal. Heated plastic pet water bowls are also an option to keep water from freezing when your pets must be outdoors.

    -Warm engines in parked cars attract cats and small wildlife, who may crawl up under the hood. To avoid injuring any hidden animals, bang on your car's hood to scare them away before starting your engine.

    -The salt and other chemicals used to melt snow and ice can irritate the pads of your pet's feet and may be harmful if ingested. Wipe their feet with a damp towel before your pet licks them to remove snow packed between your pet's paws. Pet-friendly ice melts are available at many pet supply stores across the nation or online.

    -Traditional antifreeze is a deadly poison, but it has a sweet taste that can attract animals and children. Be certain that any antifreeze you buy or have put in your car contains a bittering agent that makes ingestion by pets and children less likely.

    -No matter what the temperature, wind chill can threaten a pet's life. If your dog must spend significant time outdoors he/she must be protected by a dry, draft-free doghouse that is large enough to allow the dog to sit and lie down comfortably, but small enough to hold in his/her body heat. The floor should be raised a few inches off the ground and covered with cedar shavings or straw. The house should be turned to face away from the wind, and the doorway should be covered with waterproof burlap or heavy plastic.

    -If you're feeding feral cats, be sure to provide an insulated shelter for them. Information about building a shelter, spaying and neutering, and more is available at the link below.

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    Keep Holidays Happy with Safe Gifts for your Pets

    December 17th, 2012

    Dog Cat Santa Christmas

    A trip to the vet is the last thing a pet parent wants to be faced with during the busy holiday season. Instead, keep the holidays jolly by ensuring pets receive the proper gift under the tree or when lighting the menorah.
    Petco and Veterinarian Marty Becker have teamed up to put together their top choices for safe holiday gifts for four-legged family members.
    Get the Right Size: One size does not fit all. A Chihuahua and a Great Dane have different needs when it comes to toys. Make sure pets have a gleeful holiday by giving them toys that are the correct size.
    “Balls should be small enough to carry, but not so small they can be swallowed or lodged in a dog’s or cat’s throat,” Becker said in a statement.
    On the contrary, a toy should not be too big. “Pets should be able to easily handle a toy with their mouth or paws,” she said.
    If they are struggling, the toy is too large.
    Ensure a Proper Fit: Oh what fun it is to dress in holiday garb in December. However, “children’s clothing should never be put on pets,” warns Becker.
    “Clothes that don’t fit properly could potentially choke a pet or get caught on something, trapping a pet,” she said.
    Instead, there’s numerous items of celebratory holiday clothing made specifically for pets. From Santa and Mrs. Claus costumes for cats and holiday sweaters for dogs, to simple jingle bell collars or Hanukah bows, there’s something for every pet.
    Age Appropriate: Dogs and cats of all ages need love, especially during the holidays, but puppies, kittens, and senior pets have different needs. Many companies make age specific nutrition formulas that cater specifically to a pet’s life stage.
    Becker said a great example is edible dental chews for puppies. ”They not only clean teeth and freshen breath, but are specially sized for puppies three months and older for easy chewing,” she said.
    On the opposite end of the spectrum, older pets may require toys that are softer to chew, treats that help joint health or brushes that are gentler on skin.
    “As a rule of thumb, pets are considered older when they’ve reached half of their life expectancy,” said Becker.
    Going Green: Eighty percent of pet parents plan to buy pets a special something for the holidays. With all the pet toys, beds, collars and leads being placed under the Christmas tree or Hanukkah bush this holiday, it’s time to help pets do their part by thinking green this season.
    “There are so many amazingly stylish and eco-conscious products out there for your pet, it makes it easy to go green,” Becker said.
    Several companies offer an entire line of beds, collars, toys and leads that are both fashionable and planet-friendly. In addition, Becker suggests reaching for a toy that is stuffing-free.
    Comfortable Bedding: There are so many reasons to give dogs and cats a new bed for the holidays. First of all, it gives them a feeling of safety, especially with multiple guests coming through the house. It can also fix physical challenges as they age.
    Proper Nutrition: Various studies suggest that people gain between one and ten pounds during the holidays.
    “Here’s the skinny,” said Becker, “People food is for people and although it’s tempting to sneak a bite to your pet during the festivities this could be harmful to their health.”
    Even seemingly harmless foods can do more harm than good. “Grapes and raisins can cause irreversible damage to the kidneys and ingesting even as few as four to five grapes or raisins can be poisonous to a 20 pound dog,” she said.
    Instead, opt for a beautifully festive splurge, such as all-natural treats that are attractively packaged and look just like human food – without the negative side effects.
    Training: The hustle and bustle of the holidays can be stressful for anyone, but don’t forget that dogs and cats can feel stress too.
    Becker said, “When pets are stressed, it’s often good to provide a refresher course on their training to ensure their health and well-being.”
    The perfect solution? Gift cards that can be used for dog training classes, which is the perfect gift for both pet and pet parent during the holidays. A short refresher course can do wonders for pets during the busy season.
    Happy Holidays! 

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    Safe gift options for pets

    December 17th, 2012

    Safe options for gifts for pets

    Pet owners who want to give their animals gifts during the holidays have a wide variety of safe options at area stores.

    When it comes to safe toys for dogs and cats, Kong brand is a popular option.

    Veterinarian Jan Pol, who practices near Weidman and stars in the Nat Geo Wild network’s “The Incredible Dr. Pol,” urges pet owners to only get toys that can’t harm and recommends Kong rubber toys.

    Available at area pet shops including Redbird, PetSmart and Soldans, along with some other retailers, many Kong toys are interactive, and none contain parts that can break away and pose a choking hazard.
    Mystie Beckwith, who owns Redbird in Mt. Pleasant with husband Steve Beckwith, said she steers customers away from too much rawhide because it is not easily digestible.

    Instead, Beckwith recommends interactive toys, including Rubber Kong toys that have a space inside for treats or kibble.

    Those toys encourage pets to learn by finding out how to get to the treat.   
    Kong carries smaller versions of the rubber treat-holding toy for puppies and cats, as well as plush toys.

    While many cats and dogs like squeeze or squeeze toys, those that have separate parts should only be used under supervision, Pol said.

    Pol also does not like to see people get rawhide toys with knots on the ends, because dogs can swallow the ends whole and end up with digestive issues that could require surgery.

    While Pol said rawhide without knots is acceptable, pet owners should get only that which is made in the United States, because imported rawhide might be treated with harmful chemicals.

    Instead, rawhide should be size-appropriate and in roll form, he said.

    Pet owners who want to give their animals gifts

    Pol also said he does not recommend sow’s ears or cow’s ears because they are treated to prevent spoiling.

    Most toys should also be used under human supervision, Pol said.


    Beckwith said toys, particularly for dogs, should be interactive.

    “Dogs get bored,” she said. “You keep them busy, they don’t get in trouble chewing on things they shouldn’t.”

    PetSmart does not carry pet toys that are dangerous, manager Grace Dingo said.

    PetSmart carries Kong and other brands that are safe and has a huge variety, Dingo said.

    Toni Faulman of Soldans agreed that Kong toys are popular among pet owners and plush toys are also big.

    Faulman also said Nylabone makes chew toys for dogs that are a safe alternative to rawhide, with some that are edible and others for chewing.

    Greenies dental toys for dogs are also a safe bet, and help improve the animals’ breath, Faulman said.


    Another of Beckwith’s favorite toys for dogs are puzzle toys, in which the dog has to figure out how to get the treat out, and plush puzzles that have smaller toys inside a larger toy.

    Cat toys should not contain strings, with the exception of wand toys that are used interactively with people, Pol said.

    Cat toys that roll are good, and cats love rings from the tops of milk jugs as well, Pol said.

    Cats and dogs should never be exposed to tinsel, packaging material or string, Pol said.

    If they are, owners should not hesitate to get veterinary help, he said.

    Story by: SUSAN FIELD@sfield_msun | Morning Sun

    (Susan Field can be reached at or follow her on Facebook at!/susan.k.field.)



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    Watch your pet’s weight

    December 6th, 2012


    LIKE THEIR owners, pets are facing an obesity epidemic. According to the latest research, more than 50 percent of American pets are overweight or obese. Fat cats and pudgy pooches are no laughing matter, because overweight pets face the same health problems overweight people do.

    Watch your pet's weight

    Being overweight or obese shortens your pet's life span and puts it at increased risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, kidney and liver disease.

    When it comes to lifestyle habits, our pets do as we do.


    That's right. If you overeat and lead a sedentary life, your pets (and, studies show, your children) are more than likely going to follow your lead.

    There are all kinds of pet-to-human weight comparisons out there, but the Association for Pet Obesity breaks it down like this: a 12-pound Yorkie (normal weight is 5 to 8 pounds) is equivalent to an average woman weighing 218 pounds. A 90-pound female Labrador retriever (normal weight range 55 to 75 pounds) is the same as a 5-foot-4-inch woman weighing 186 pounds or a 5-foot-9-inch man weighing in at 217.

    Several sources on fatty felines suggest that a 15-pound kitty (average weight 6 to 10 pounds) is similar to a 218-pound, 5-foot-4-inch woman.

    Generally, every time we snack, so do our pets. I know someone who keeps her dog in a cage all day. When she gets home, probably out of guilt, she feeds the dog hot dogs and ice cream. For Pete's sake, I know that can't be good for the dog's long-term health!

    In the past, dogs roamed outdoors and got plenty of exercise. (Hmm, that sounds familiar . . . the same goes for our kids.) Now we treat our pets like family members – all of us chilling, channel-surfing and wolfing down supersized snacks and treats.

    Sadly, this means that not only are we contributing to the rapid decline of our pets' health, we are also spending enormous amounts of money at the vet's office. Most of this needless suffering is avoidable by simply changing your pet's diet and exercise habits.

    If you suspect that your pet is overweight or obese, first take it to the veterinarian for a checkup and diagnosis. Don't put your pet on a diet until you get proper recommendations from the veterinarian. But in the meantime, stop feeding the dog junk and be sure it gets daily exercise.


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    Compulsive Disorders in Pets, Veterinary Behaviorist Offers New Insight

    December 5th, 2012

    Compulsive Disorders in Pets, Veterinary Behaviorist Offers New Insight

    Compulsive behaviors in pets? No kidding…..Veterinary behaviorist Dr. John Ciribassi discusses if these behaviors are truly like compulsive behaviors in people, offers several examples and what to do about it; listen HERE on Steve Dale's Pet World.
    The important thing, for starters, is to know that fly swatting (dogs snapping at imaginary flies), tail chasing and flank sucking, for example, may not be what you think…..Yes, those are classic compulsive behaviors seen in dogs, but Ciribassi says – in fact – there may a medical explanation.
    It turns out that new research suggests that for at least some of these behaviors, intestinal issues may be the culprit, or in other instances a seizure disorder. Treating the intestinal issue appropriately, the so-called compulsive behavior actually goes away (which indicates it wasn't a compulsive behavior in the first place).
    Sometimes people assume cats who oever-groom are suffering from a compulsive disorder, it turns out that most have an allergy issue or even a gastro-intestinal problem.
    So, the message from Dr. Ciribassi goes like this. First see your veterinarian, anytime you notice a change in your pet's behavior and/or think your pet has a compulsive problem. Rule out a medical explanation, if you can. However, because medicine and behavior do intersect, also consider seeing a veterinary behaviorist.

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    Kim Kardashian Pets Camels — and Drinks Their Milk — in Bahrain

    December 5th, 2012

    Kim-Kardashian Camels Bahrain

    Kim Kardashian got a good taste of the Middle East.

    During her recent three-day trip to the region, the E! reality star got in touch with the local culture of Bahrain, the tiny Gulf nation where she was on hand to unveil a Millions of Milkshakes at a mall south of the capital Manama.
    After tending to her promotional duties at the official opening, Kardashian took to the sandy desert to get up close and personal with a crowd of camels. Barefoot in an all-black suit, Kardashian cautiously approached one of the mammals and caressed its back.
    “Such a fun day in Bahrain!!!” she tweeted after her afternoon with the camels. Kardashian even sipped on the animal’s milk: “Got Camels Milk???” she tweeted, along with a snap of a full glass.
    Before leaving the Middle East, Kardashian raved about her time abroad. “Thanks @sheerazhasan and Paresh A Shah for an amazing trip to The Kingdom of Bahrain and Kuwait,” she tweeted. “We did it!!!”
    While swarms of screaming fans greeted Kardashian at her Millions of Milkshakes appearances, some of the locals were less than enthused with the reality star’s visit. As she stepped out to open the franchise at a Bahrain mall, throngs of Islamists protested outside, according to reports. As the demonstrators waved dissenting banners, police tried to disperse the crowd by throwing stun grenades.
    The protests came on the heels of a group of conservative Bahraini parliamentarians trying to prevent Kardashian from stepping foot in their nation. Days ahead of the reality star’s planned visit, the officials cited her “bad reputation” in putting forth a proposal to ban her from visiting the country. But the motion was never put to a vote.


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    Licenses needed for pets in Columbus

    December 3rd, 2012

    dog license

    Pet owners are reminded to purchase a license for their dogs and cats this month.

    Tags went on sale the first of the month and are available at Columbus Animal Control and five veterinary offices.

    The licenses can be purchased at animal control, located on the second floor in the Senior Center, 2518 14th St., for $13 for a spayed or neutered animal, or $25 for an intact pet. Exotic pet permits are also available at animal control. The vet offices can charge an additional processing fee of up to $3 per license for dogs and cats.

    The clinics that sell tags include Columbus Animal Hospital, Redstone Veterinary Hospital, Pet Care Specialist, Twin Rivers Veterinary Clinic and A&M Veterinary Clinic.

    City licenses will expire Dec. 31. All pets six months and older are required to get a license and be current on rabies vaccination. Owners who had their pets licensed in the past have been sent reminders in the mail to purchase new tags. Failure to renew licenses can result in a citation.

    In 2012, there were 2,500 dogs and 500 cats licensed in Columbus.

    Donna Winig, lead animal control officer for the city, said tags should be bought not only because it is the law, but because it can increase the chances that a lost pet gets returned to an owner.

    “If we pick up an animal and it has it’s license, we will find out who the owners are and will take the animal straight home. That is our goal: To get those animals home,” Winig said.

    When an owner licenses a pet, information is put into a database that is accessed by animal control officers. Winig suggests that when licensing a dog or cat to also provide information on special medical needs. That information also will be put into the database and it can be useful if the pet ever does get lost and isn’t reunited immediately with the owner.

    “If we do pick it up and know that it needs to have medication daily, we will do what needs to be done,” Winig said.

    Calling ahead for licensing can speed up the process, otherwise people my stop by the animal control office. Its hours are 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Wednesday-Friday, and 7:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Saturday.



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