en Life With Pets, Mini Episode 2: Mealtime Problems [podcast]
On this mini-episode of petMD's new podcast, Life With Pets, host Victoria Schade helps a listener figure out how to deal with their dog's meal time neediness, which has them standing by while their dog decides to eat or skip what's in his bowl. Victoria also discusses how to find a good dog trainer when there are an overwhelming number of options.
Got a pressing pet question you want answered? Use #AskLifeWithPets, and you might end up on a future episode! 
]]> dog Lifestyle & Entertainment nutrition Mon, 23 Oct 2017 15:09:04 +0000 36477 at
Puppy Abandoned with a Note and Pizza Slices Gets Help From Social Media During an ordinary afternoon in mid-October, a Philadelphia resident discovered something rather out of the ordinary and quite sad.
According to, Justin Hanley found a Pit Bull mix puppy tied to his front stoop, left with nothing more than some half-eaten pizza slices in a plastic bag and a note that read, "Please take me home. I’m a girl named Diamond. We can no longer keep her in our home. Thank you.”
With that, Hanley took the "skittish, but sweet" puppy inside and posted to a local Facebook group to not only vent his frustration regarding the cruelty of what happened to the dog ("This is heartbreaking stuff," he wrote), but also to ask for help from his neighbors about how to handle this situation. 
It took almost no time for those in the group to band together and help. Hanley posted an update just a few hours later that read, "Glad to report Diamond has found a home. Thanks for all the advice/messages. Faith in humanity restored." 
While Hanley and his kind-hearted neighbors were able to give Diamond the happy ending she deserved, Gillian Kocher of the Pennsylvania SPCA suggested that anyone else who finds themselves in this sort of situation should call their local SPCA cruelty hotline. 
"Our officers are trained to investigate cases just like this, as well as bring the animal in need back to our shelter to receive medical treatment, if necessary," Kocher told petMD.
Anyone who cannot take care of their pet anymore (as was the case with Diamond's original owners) should go through the proper channels and never abandon an animal, Kocher urged. "Whether that means connecting them with resources to help the current situation, or to help them place the animal in a temporary living environment (like a shelter), organizations like the Pennsylvania SPCA can help." 
Image via Justin Hanley 
See Also:
Read more: What to Do When You Find a Stray Dog
]]> Care & Safety dog puppy rescue Mon, 23 Oct 2017 13:39:28 +0000 36476 at
Dog Protects Family Goats From California Wildfire The stories of heroism and rescue coming out of Northern California in the wake of the devastating wildfires are nothing short of incredible. Whether it's firefighters working around the clock or everyday people doing their part to chip in, there are countless profiles of courage. 
Odin is one of those heroes. He is not only a survivor of the deadly blazes (which, to date, have claimed dozens of lives and thousands of acres of land), but he saved the lives of others. Odin also happens to be a dog. 
He lived with his family on their property in Sonoma County when, in early October, a deadly blaze ripped through their land.
"We had minutes to load up the animals and run from the advancing firestorm," Odin's owner Roland Hendel said in a post on "Despite the sounds of exploding propane tanks, twisting metal, and the hot swirling winds, Odin refused to leave our family of eight bottle-fed rescue goats." 
Certain that Odin and the goats had not survived the harrowing ordeal, the Hendel family was stunned when they returned days later to the now-vanished property to find the animals alive, and with some new friends by their side. 
"We found a burned, battered, and weakened Odin, surrounded by his eight goats, and several small deer who had come to him for protection and safety," Hendel wrote. "Odin was weak, and limping, his once thick and beautiful coat singed orange, his whiskers melted." 
Hendel described his awe of Odin's bravery in the midst of what was a terrifying, near-death ordeal.
Since then, Hendel has told well-wishers on the site that Odin and the goats are enjoying a well-deserved rest. "Odin seems completely recovered from his sore paws, and the goats have settled down," Hendel wrote. Odin even received his first soothing bath since the fire, but, as his dog dad will tell you, he prefers spending his time near his herd of goats. 
Odin, who is expected to make a full recovery is, as Hendel so perfectly put it, "a message of courage and hope in these trying times." 
Read more: Wildfire Safety and Preparedness for Your Pet
Image via
]]> Care & Safety dog Wed, 18 Oct 2017 13:46:39 +0000 36475 at
Life With Pets Episode 2: Tackling Behavioral Challenges [podcast]
In this episode Victoria talks canine aggression, separation anxiety and litterbox issues with Dr. Carlo Siracusa from Penn Vet. She also chats with Adam Carolla about his dog Phil, then welcomes Dr. Siracusa back to answer a listener question about excessive meowing. Victoria finishes up the show with a story about a leash aggressive dog that changed her life, and suggests a quick and easy training tool that can help with many canine behavioral challenges.
Listen to more episodes and subscribe so you don't miss out!
]]> behavior dog Lifestyle & Entertainment Mon, 16 Oct 2017 15:49:20 +0000 36474 at
California Bans Pet Shop Sales of Non-Rescue Animals As Northern California deals with the aftermath of devastating wildfires, including the efforts to rescue pets in the affected regions, the state has made an incredible stride forward in stopping puppy mills.
In a landmark decision, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill into law that will prevent the sale of commercially raised dogs, cats, and rabbits in pet stores across the state. The law will also require pet stores in California to work with shelters or rescue groups to supply their animals. The law does not prevent residents from buying a pet directly from a breeder.
The Pet Rescue and Adoption Act (Assembly Bill 485) was authored by Assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell (D-Long Beach) and will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2019. Those who break this law will face up to $500 in penalties. 
To date, 36 jurisdictions in California, including Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, and Sacramento, have already enacted similar ordinances, but this new legislation marks the first statewide prohibition of its kind to put an end to the sale of animals from mills. 
Matt Bershadker, president and CEO of the ASPCA (which was part of the coalition that worked with O'Donnell to get the bill signed), said in a statement, "This landmark law breaks the puppy mill supply chain that pushes puppies into California pet stores and has allowed unscrupulous breeders to profit from abusive practices." 
Gregory Castle, CEO of Best Friends Animal Society, echoed the sentiment, stating, "By signing this groundbreaking bill, California has set an important, humane precedent for other states to follow." 
John Goodwin, senior director of the Stop Puppy Mills campaign for The Humane Society, told petMD this will be a wakeup call to the people of California and across the nation. 
"Unbeknownst to customers, the vast majority of puppies sold in pet stores come from puppy mills," he said. "The adorable puppy in the window has a mother, and she is likely living in a tiny cage with her paws never touching grass. California has committed to being a part of the solution and setting an example that other states can follow if they want to stop puppy mill cruelty." 
Goodwin noted that the 250 communities across the country that have taken similar measures have seen a drop in euthanasia at their local shelters. "These laws are cutting off profits for cruel puppy mills while helping save shelter dogs at the same time," he said. 
Californians still need to be careful and avoid purchasing puppies sight unseen over the internet or at flea markets, as those are two channels puppy mills use to sell to the general public, he said. If someone from the state still decides to buy from a breeder, he or she should insist on seeing how the mother dog lives, Goodwin added.
If Californians choose to adopt pets in need (rather than buy from the aforementioned sources) and other states follow suit, Goodwin said it could dry up the marketplace for puppy mill dogs.
"This will help transition the pet industry to a humane model that everyone can be proud of," he said. "We are thrilled to see such a major leap forward for dogs trapped in puppy mills. Well-thought-out, smart activism pays off." 
Read more: New Jersey Bill to Regulate Puppy Mills Rejected by Gov. Chris Christie
Image via Shutterstock 
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]]> care Care & Safety rescue Mon, 16 Oct 2017 14:41:20 +0000 36472 at
Dog with 6-Pound Tumor Gets a Second Chance at Life Thanks to Rescuers On Oct. 9, a year-old dog with a 6.4-pound tumor was brought to Gallatin County Animal Shelter in Sparta, Kentucky, with his owners asking for him to be euthanized rather than get the medical care he so desperately needed. The staff at the shelter, however, thought the canine deserved a second chance at life.
Kayla Nunn, an employee at the shelter, told petMD that the tumor, located on the dog's leg, was painful and already starting to rupture from being dragged on the ground. He also had injuries from a slightly embedded collar. But despite his condition, Clyde, as he's now known, "was sweet as can be and a very happy dog," Nunn said.
The Shepherd/Husky mix was way too young to endure the type of treatment he'd been receiving, Nunn said, and he'd been dealing with this awful condition for more than half of his life already. 
The shelter decided to send an email to various rescues to alert them about Clyde and see if any could help out. That's when HART (Homeless Animal Rescue Team) of Cincinnatti, Ohio, stepped in. 
Clyde was transferred to HART thanks to the efforts of a volunteer who brought him to his new destination on the very day he was discarded by his owner. The next day, the organization announced on its Facebook page that Clyde underwent surgery. 
"The surgery was extremely successful and took roughly two hours and involved 50-60 blood vessels," described Katie Goodpaster, a HART volunteer. "He had lost some blood, and the vet didn't want to keep him under anesthesia any longer than necessary. A drainage tube was put in his chest to allow fluids to drain and will be taken out in a couple of days." 
HART posted an updated report on its website, in which Clyde's vet, Dr. Fidan Kaptan, said, "the next step that we have for him is getting a biopsy done. Basically, the biopsy will tell us a little bit better about the mass, what we’re dealing with." They noted that, if the tumor is cancerous, Clyde may need chemotherapy. 
Goodpaster assued petMD that in terms of his overall health, "Clyde seems to be doing wonderfully. He was understandably a little groggy the day of his surgery, but the staff had him on a lead the follow day in the yard and he wouldn't sit still! He greets everyone with a tail wag and seems to be in good spirits." 
Clyde is now 6.4 pounds lighter and, when he's ready, will be available for adoption in a few short weeks (he still needs to be neutered) into the loving forever home he deserves. "Even though I'm sure he felt horrible, when he was first brought in he greeted everyone with a tail wag and a smile," Goodpaster said, adding, "At a year old, he definitely did not deserve a death sentence! That boy has so many more years of love and happiness ahead of him!" 
In the meantime, Clyde's supporters can make a donation to help with his medical expenses here. 
Image via HART of Cincinnatti Animal Rescue 
Read more: 8 Types of Dog Tumors and How to Treat Them
]]> dog health Health & Science Fri, 13 Oct 2017 15:19:51 +0000 36471 at
Report: Cats in Australia Kill One Million Birds a Day Earlier this year, Australia made headlines when a study discovered that feral cats cover nearly 100 percent of the continent. Now, months later, the country has another feline-related issue on its hands. 
A recent study released by the Biological Conservation journal found that both feral and domestic cats in Australia consume 377 million birds a year. Those numbers vary depending on weather patterns, but roughly up to 1 million birds are killed a day. 
The study points out that nearly all of the birds killed by cats are native to Australia and that 338 different species have been killed, including 71 threatened species.
Lead researcher Professor John Woinarski of Charles Darwin University called the numbers "staggering," and he's not alone in his shock and concern for cats and birds alike. 
Evan Quartermain, the head of programs for Humane Society International (HSI), told petMD that the distressing figure is a call for Australians to practice responsible pet ownership. 
"Current government-funded control methods include baiting for cats with 1080-based poisons, which, [aside from] being incredibly inhumane, is certainly not in the best interests of cats or other non-target wildlife that can take them," he said, urging the Australian government to take the right measures in helping with this problem.
While there are no easy answers or quick fixes for this issue, Quartermain said that HSI advocates for more natural solutions, such as cat curfews and reducing controls on dingo populations, which "have been shown to lower cat abundance and limit their hunting movement." 
Other animal rights groups have suggestions for the issue as well. "The only real solution to Australia's feral cat problem is to embark on a vast sterilization campaign," said Ashley Fruno, the associate director of campaigns for PETA. "The government needs to fund immuno-contraceptive solutions that will humanely and effectively decrease populations." 
Quartermain said that they are not only concerned for the welfare of the country's cats, but also for the birds and Australian ecosystem because of this issue. 
"Australia’s bird species are essential to the health of our forests, heathlands, grasslands, and everything in between," he said. "An incredible level of ecosystem services such as pollination, the spreading of seeds, reduction of agricultural and environmental pests, and nutrient turnover are provided by Australia’s diverse bird life."
Both Fruno and Quartermain agreed that this issue is a human-made one, due to pet owners who either allow their cats to roam outside or abandon them completely.  
"The tragedy is that, as usual, it is we humans who are at fault and the animals (be they cats or the native species killed by cats) that suffer," Quartermain said. "The good news is responsible pet ownership is something all cat owners can practice, and some local governments around the country are introducing additional measures to either keep pet cats completely contained on people's properties or to at least ensure they aren’t out at night through curfews."
Image via Shutterstock 
Read more: Study Finds That Feral Cats Now Cover Nearly 100% of Australia
]]> care cat Health & Science Wed, 11 Oct 2017 13:33:45 +0000 36470 at
Outbreak of Pet Store Puppy-Related Infection Reported in 12 States Yet another reason to be extremely wary of adopting a puppy from a pet store: over the past year, there has been an outbreak of Campylobacteriosis (an infectious disease caused by the Campylobacter bacteria) in 12 states, stemming from Petland store locations. 
According to the Centers for Disease Control, as of mid-September 2017, upward of 55 cases of the illness in people have been reported, which have led to 13 hospitalizations. Those infected, the CDC noted, should be treated by a doctor and make sure they get plenty of fluids and rest. 
The infection, which is spread from animals to humans via contact with contaminated feces, can cause diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and fever, among other symptoms, and can last anywhere between two to five days. This process begins roughly 24 to 72 hours after a person has ingested the bacteria. 
"Many of the people sickened in this outbreak were Petland employees, while others had either bought a Petland puppy, shopped at Petland, or visited someone who had purchased a puppy from Petland," the CDC reported, adding that the stores are "cooperating with public health and animal health officials to address this outbreak." 
Dr. Shelley Rankin of the University of Pennsylvania's School of Veterinary Medicine told petMD that "all mammals have some form of Campylobacter bacteria in their gut already, but some strains are pathogenic," meaning they can carry the disease that can appear in both animals and humans. 
When it comes to this particular outbreak, Rankin said it's important to look at the source of the puppies: the breeder(s). These types of illnesses can start in these facilities, she said, and it can be difficult to eradicate the cycle. 
In this situation, Rankin said what likely happened is that adult dogs at one or more breeding facilities were fed a food source that was compromised, which contaminated the environment and then was passed along to the puppies during the birthing process. 
If you believe you have been in contact with a dog who has the strain of Campylobacter bacteria, make sure they recieve veterinary treatment. Additionally, the CDC suggests you use disposable gloves when coming in contact with the dog's poop, disinfect any area that may have been contaminated, and wash your hands thoroughly after handling. 
Image via Shutterstock 
Read more: How to Stop Diarrhea in Dogs
]]> dog health Health & Science puppy Tue, 10 Oct 2017 15:57:40 +0000 36456 at
Life With Pets, Mini Episode: All About Puppies [podcast]
On this mini-episode of petMD's new podcast, Life With Pets, host Victoria Schade takes questions from listeners about all things puppy. She talks about crate training with a first-time puppy parent who's worried that crating her puppy might be cruel. She helps a puppy parent with a ball-obsessed adolescent mixed-breed dog learn to appreciate all of the toys in his toy basket. And she gets into specifics about when to start training a brand new puppy. Got a pressing pet question you want answered? Use #AskLifeWithPets, and you might end up on a future episode!
]]> dog Lifestyle & Entertainment training Mon, 09 Oct 2017 20:58:23 +0000 36455 at
Halloween Scares at the Vet Clinic: Don't Let These Happen to You Halloween is a time for clever costumes, sugary treats, and spooky fun. But these fall festivities can also present risks for pets. We spoke with our veterinary experts about Halloween-related pet mishaps they’ve encountered over the years. Don’t let one of these scary situations happen to you and your beloved companion.

Halloween Scares at the Vet Clinic
While out trick-or-treating at night, some families use glow sticks to keep themselves visible and safe. But if you leave these items laying around the house, your curious dog or cat might be tempted to chew on them. Dr. Jennifer Coates, a veterinary advisor for petMD, once received a call about a dog who got into a bag of glow sticks.
“The dog was drooling like crazy and obviously unhappy, on top of looking like an iridescent space alien,” Coates remembers. While the liquid inside of the glow stick tastes awful and can sometimes even make pets vomit, Coates assured her client that it is not actually toxic. “She offered her dog a handful of treats to help get rid of the taste, and he was soon back to normal.”
A glowing pet may be a scary sight to behold, but other Halloween mishaps can be life-threatening. One of the most common emergencies veterinarians see during Halloween involves dogs eating candy—especially chocolate. Chocolate can be toxic to both dogs and cats. Symptoms of chocolate toxicity may include vomiting, diarrhea, rapid breathing, increased heart rate, and seizures.
“Several dogs get into the Halloween candy if it is left in their reach,” says Dr. Katie Grzyb, medical director at One Love Animal Hospital in Brooklyn, New York. “Chocolate can be toxic at certain amounts. Luckily, in many cases, if ingestion is caught early enough, the patient can be brought to their veterinarian and emesis (vomiting) can be induced. Some dogs may require hospitalization with fluids, charcoal, and monitoring for arrhythmias and/or neurologic signs.” 
Halloween candies that contain xylitol, an artificial sweetener, can also be poisonous to pets. Pet parents should also be cautious of candy wrappers, which can cause gastrointestinal upset or intestinal blockages, if ingested.
Dr. Steven Friedenberg, an assistant professor at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine, recalls one instance where a smaller mixed-breed dog ate an entire bag of candy that was filled with all sorts of treats, ranging from chocolate bars to gummy worms. “We induced vomiting and were able to get many of the candy wrappers out of the dog's stomach, but much of the chocolate had been absorbed already,” says Friedenberg, who specializes in emergency and critical care.
The dog needed to be hospitalized and put on medications to control elevated heart rate and blood pressure, he says, as well as receive sedatives for agitation associated with chocolate ingestion. “Fortunately, the dog did well, but it was an expensive stay for the owners.”
Dr. Christine Rutter, clinical assistant professor at the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences at Texas A&M University, shares a similar tale of a dog who ate a medley of Halloween candy—but with a ghostly twist. “We induced vomiting and got the dog started on fluids and medications for overnight care, and I went to give the owner an update,” recalls Rutter, who specializes in emergency and critical care. “At the end of the interview, the owner stopped me and asked if there are any ghosts in the hospital. Puzzled, but playing along, I replied that I am unaware of ghosts in the hospital, and that I am in the hospital at all hours, so would have a good chance of seeing them if they existed.”
The owner was completely serious. She told Rutter that her big, friendly Pitbull was terrified of ghosts and cemeteries, and that she chose this 24-hour specialty hospital specifically because it didn’t have any Halloween decorations up. She believed that her canine companion got into the candy because he was overly stressed by the season. Rutter kept a straight face, and assured the owner she would do everything in her power to protect the dog.
“I dutifully passed on the message to the doctor who took over his care for the next shift,” Rutter says. “The dog ended up doing well and not having any unexpected encounters while in our care. Writing, ‘Keep away from Halloween decorations, cemeteries, and ghosts’ on a treatment sheet for a monster-sized, adorable, white meatball of a dog has been one of the highlights of my job.”
]]> Care & Safety dog safety Fri, 06 Oct 2017 20:03:29 +0000 36443 at
Should Shelters Abandon Behavior Testing? A recent New York Times article on behavior testing in animal shelters stirred up a heated debate that has been going on for years. Shelters and rescue organizations feel the public’s demand to perform behavior testing to determine if a dog is safe and suitable for adoption. There is a liability for the shelters and rescue organizations to adopt out a dog who may potentially cause injuries and, in the rare case, fatalities, whether to other dogs, animals, or humans.
The article cited a 2016 paper by Dr. Gary J. Patronek, an adjunct professor at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts, and Janis Bradley of the National Canine Research Council, that reviewed these behavior tests. Their analysis concluded that the tests were predictive of aggressive behavior about 52 percent of the time, hence the phrase “no better than flipping a coin.” 
There is a strong desire to adopt a dog who would prove to be a good companion and not exhibit aggressive behavior that would put family members, other people, and dogs at risk. Not many people want the burden of managing and working with a dog with aggressive behavior. Several behavioral tests have been developed to help guide shelter and rescue workers in determining which dogs would be better and safer choices to be adopted by the public. The reality is that a percentage of dogs will be euthanized upon admission based on a previous history of bites or aggressive behavior. The dogs who fail the tests may also be euthanized or placed with other organizations or sanctuaries.
Shelter Life Is Not Realistic
The article points out that some dogs would falsely test positive for aggressive tendencies due to the surrounding circumstances. Life in a shelter is not realistic. These dogs have been abandoned by their families and uprooted from everyone and everything they know. They are placed in a foreign environment with unfamiliar people and a large population of dogs. They are stressed, worried, and fearful. Sometimes that environment suppresses the dogs’ normal behavior or exacerbates certain characteristics.
Let’s put things into perspective. How would you feel and behave if you were taken to an institution by your family and left there? A behavior test may occur right upon your arrival or several hours or one to two days later. How would you feel about being placed in a holding cell and then poked and prodded before being placed back in your cell with no explanation given? 
Next, you are exposed to various situations that you may find scary and stressful, such as people holding strange objects or wearing scary outfits and hats. Strangers deliberately trying to take your food away from you by pulling it away or pushing you away. Then strangers approach you and ignore you or try to touch you. Then they introduce you to an unfamiliar dog. How much can you tolerate before your patience snaps and you react? Some people will react aggressively and some people retreat into themselves. Dogs react in similar fashion.
The Challenges of Predicting a Dog’s Behavior  
One of the key components of the behavior test is looking for aggressive behavior over food. Research has shown that dogs who exhibit aggressive behavior when tested at the shelter may not exhibit this behavior once they have been adopted out to a family. Even if the new owners reported that their adopted dog exhibited aggressive behavior over food, the intensity of the aggression is lower and not perceived to be a problem by the new owners. This indicates that this particular test is not a good predictor of the dog’s future behavior.
It is difficult to determine aggressive behavior in people, in a society where we can communicate to each other through spoken and written language. If we cannot develop a test that predicts a person’s behavior, should we expect to predict a dog’s? We need to understand that dogs have plasticity in behavior, which means that they can change their behavior based on different circumstances and due to learned experiences. As a veterinary behaviorist, I have seen some dogs with aggressive behavior rehomed to other owners who were aware of the dog’s issues. I have noted that some of these dogs never exhibit the problem behavior or if they do, the behavior is less intense and frequent. 
So does that mean I think we should toss behavior tests out the door? No. I think the shelters and rescue organizations need some way of evaluating the dogs entering the shelter. The behavior test, along with any history provided by the previous owners, will help highlight problem areas. Unless the dog has a history of unpredictable aggression or a severe bite history, I would not recommend euthanasia right away. In the ideal world, these dogs would be taken out of the shelter environment and placed in a less stressful environment, where they can run around, play, and explore their surroundings. When their stress level has decreased, the dogs should then be evaluated based on how they interact with people and other dogs and handle different environments and objects. Then you have both an objective and subjective view of the animal.
Dogs with certain issues can then be placed in programs that help address their problems before they are made available to the public. Unfortunately, shelters and rescue organizations do not have the funding to provide special accommodations for dogs who behave out of the norm. Shelters and rescue organizations are doing the best they can. They want to find homes for every animal, but resources are stretched thin. There is great pressure to save lives but also secure safety for everyone. 
Dr. Wailani Sung is a board-certified veterinary behaviorist and owner of All Creates Behavior Counseling in Kirkland, Washington. She is the co-author of “From Fearful to Fear Free: A Positive Program to Free Your Dog From Anxiety, Fears, and Phobias.”
]]> behavior dog View Fri, 06 Oct 2017 19:49:58 +0000 36442 at
Life With Pets, Episode 1: All About That Brain [podcast]
In the inaugural episode of petMD's new podcast, Life With Pets, host Victoria Schade interviews cat behavior and cognition researcher Kristyn Vitale about the best ways to motivate and train cats to do a variety of fun tricks, and tells a story about her junior cat trainers who used a surprisingly successful training technique. Then, comedian and host of the My Two Cents podcast Bill Engvall stops by to chat about his canine crew, including his super clever dog, Jake the Aussie. Next, Victoria answers a listener question about whether clicker training can derail the puppy training process, and closes the episode with a canine cognition test you can try on your own furry best friend.
Read more: Everything You Need to Know About Your New Favorite Podcast, Life With Pets
]]> behavior cat dog Lifestyle & Entertainment Wed, 04 Oct 2017 14:18:50 +0000 36437 at
Newborn Puppies Rescued After Being Tied in a Bag and Dumped in a River In an unspeakable act of cruelty, six newborn puppies were put into a bag and dumped into the Blackstone River in Uxbridge, Massachusetts, in late September.
Mercifully, all of the week-old pups survived the harrowing ordeal. 
According to the Uxbridge Police Department, the discovery was made by a kayaker on the river, who then contacted the authorities. 
"An Uxbridge Animal Control Officer responded to the scene and took possession of the puppies," the department said in a Facebook post, on the day of the incident. "They are all doing well, considering the circumstances, and we believe they will all survive. The puppies are currently being kept together, and are being cared for by a professional until they are able to be adopted." 
Since then, the department has been receiving countless requests from people who want to adopt the puppies. But for now, the pups will remain in the care of a local animal shelter. (The department assures that once the puppies are healthy enough for adoption, it will let the public know.) 
While the puppies recover and grow stronger, in order to get to their eventual loving forever homes, the authorities are taking this extreme case of animal cruelty very seriously. 
The Uxbridge Police Department, in conjunction with PETA, is offering up to a $5,000 reward for anyone with information about who committed this crime, so that the perpetrator(s) can be prosecuted and convicted. 
"It takes a disturbing lack of empathy to pack six newborn puppies into a bag and drop them in a river to drown," PETA Vice President Colleen O'Brien said in a statement. "Whoever did this is dangerous, and PETA urges anyone with information about this case to come forward immediately so that the perpetrator can be stopped from hurting anyone else."
Photo: Uxbridge Police Department Facebook 
Read more: Abandoned Puppy Causes Animal Cruelty Crackdown in Pennsylvania
]]> care Care & Safety dog puppy Wed, 04 Oct 2017 14:00:35 +0000 36436 at
3 Ways Being a Vet Tech Has Changed My Life Growing up, I was always drawn to animals, and they were drawn to me. As far back as I can remember, my parents always told everyone that I was going to become a veterinarian. When I was 10 years old, they even took me on a tour of Tufts University, to see if that's where I wanted to go to college. 
I never wanted to be a vet though, and I kept telling them that. I wanted to work with animals, but I didn't want to be a doctor. When I was in high school, I worked at a local zoo, learning how to become a zookeeper. I thought that's what I wanted to do, and decided to apply to colleges that specialized in zoology.
But life went in a different direction. I ended up not attending university directly following high school. I moved to a different state and found myself in need of a job. After hitting the newspapers, I found an ad for a receptionist at a veterinary hospital. I figured, if I was going to work in an office, at least it would be one where a dog walked by every now and again.
Well, 15 years later, I work at that very same animal hospital. I moved my way up through the ranks, put myself through school, and became the head licensed veterinary technician. My dreams came true: I have a career where I get to work with animals, but I am not a doctor. I enjoy the hands-on aspect of the job, performing treatments and nursing my patients back to health. I also enjoy educating and building relationships with my clients.
How Being a Vet Tech Has Changed My Life  
Becoming a vet tech has changed my life in so many ways. First of all, it has taught me so much. The amount of medical knowledge and education seemed overwhelming, at first. Once I absorbed it—or should I say, became consumed by it—that knowledge became my life. Now, I see it and use it everywhere. I can help educate others about how to best care for their animals, and even themselves.
Anatomy is anatomy, whether it be of a dog or a human. The basics mechanics of mammals are similar. So being a vet tech has been helpful in human medical experiences, as well. I have put that knowledge to use in emergency first aid situations. I have a broader range of understanding in how the world works, in general, down to an atomic level. I even understand nutrition, metabolism, and the food industry better. All of this knowledge has helped me grow as a person, and become the best I can be. 
Becoming a vet tech has also changed my general lifestyle. It has made me a happier, healthier person. The hours at the hospital are long, so you need stamina and endurance. The work is physically, mentally, and emotionally demanding, so you have to be strong. The environment is stressful and unpredictable, so you need to be ready for anything, adaptable, and balanced. Your lifestyle has to support all of these qualities.
Over time, I learned that I had to be as healthy as possible to endure this job. I started eating better, exercising, and taking better care of myself. In order to be the best caretaker possible, you have to be centered, powerful, and capable. This job also calls at random times. The phone may ring at 2 a.m. to meet the doctor at the hospital for an emergency C-section, and you have to be ready and willing. You have to be healthy, durable, and able to sway with the wind and take things as they come. 
The job has also made me a more tolerable person. Can you imagine having a job where you know exactly what is going to happen every minute of the day? I can't. Working in the clinical environment, you never know what's going to walk in the door and when. Even when the schedule looks generally mundane, it is almost guaranteed that five minutes before closing, the phone will ring and an emergency will be on its way.
On any given Thursday, my 13-hour scheduled shift can turn into three different days. Three doctors see their share of appointments and have surgeries, and there’s only one technician (lucky me!) to accommodate it all. When the splenectomy done at 9 p.m. needs an overnight nurse, it falls on me. And then someone calls out the following day, and I find myself wearing the same scrubs, eating some leftovers I had in the fridge from who knows when, and wondering why I don't just keep a toothbrush in my bag.
This isn't the first time this has happened, and I know it won't be the last. And there's no use in getting frustrated. It's just how the story goes when you live the life of a dedicated veterinary technician.
Natasha Feduik is a licensed veterinary technician with Garden City Park Animal Hospital in New York, where she has been practicing for 10 years. Natasha received her degree in veterinary technology from Purdue University. Natasha has two dogs, a cat, and three birds at home and is passionate about helping people take the best possible care of their animal companions.
]]> care cat dog View Mon, 02 Oct 2017 18:28:30 +0000 36435 at
Displaced Hurricane Irma Pets Find Safe Havens Up North  
On Sept. 27, nine dogs and one cat made the long journey from Lebanon, Tennessee, all the way to Philadelphia. 
These animals were all displaced by Hurricane Irma, and with the help of the Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF) and the Pennsylvania SPCA, they were transported to safe havens up north. 
Driven by ARF volunteer Jim Medd, the displaced pets arrived by van in carriers at the Philadelphia location of the PA SPCA. Some of the pets will be transported to other shelters in the region.
All of the dogs will be quarantined for two weeks to ensure their health and the health of the other animals at the facility, and then they will be available for adoption. (The lone kitty, a 2-year-old domestic shorthair named Mikado, is ready for adoption at the Philly shelter.) 
CEO Julie Klem says the PA SPCA is "proud to help these animals in need." She hopes that local animal lovers looking to adopt a new pet will consider them, or other adoptable pets at the shelter, so they can continue to make room for other displaced pets who are being moved out of harm's way. 
Read more: Natural Disaster Planning for Pets
]]> care Care & Safety dog Thu, 28 Sep 2017 16:21:55 +0000 36403 at
Pets and Flood Waters: Understanding the Dangers The harrowing images coming out of Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico in the wake of the devastating hurricanes that hit the region are a stark reminder of just what Mother Nature can do.
They've also been a wake-up call for pet parents to be prepared for the worst case scenario, including what can happen to cats, dogs, and other animals when flooding occurs. 
Whether it's just a few inches in a basement or waters that can fill up an entire home, pet safety is critical before, during, and after flooding. 
Animals face many of the same risks human do during such a natural disaster, explained Lacie Davis, ASPCA disaster response manager. "Pets can be at risk of drowning due to high water levels or being hit by a piece of debris if left outside during high winds," she told petMD. "Many pets are often at risk of becoming separated from their owners during disasters." 
If you and your pet(s) do stay together and you get trapped in flood waters, Davis said, "You should immediately contact your local emergency management agency and move to higher ground where you can escape high waters until you and your pet can be rescued." 
Of course, even if you and your pet make it out of the flooded area, there can be long-term issues due to the water. 
"Oftentimes, floodwaters are very contaminated by chemicals, sewage, gasoline, and other substances that can harm animals externally or by being ingested," explained Dr. Nicole Eller, the field shelter veterinarian for the ASPCA. "These toxic substances can cause injuries ranging from chemical burns to the skin to bacterial intestinal diseases.
"Exposure to a wet environment for long periods of time (hours to days) can cause damage to and inflammation of the skin, allowing for bacterial and fungal pathogens to invade and cause severe dermatitis," Eller continued. "This is particularly seen on the feet and between the toes (pododermatitis). There is also an additional risk of potential exposure to venomous snakes and other creatures also seeking refuge from the floodwaters." 
To be as prepared as possible for any major weather event, Davis urged pet parents to make sure that their pet's microchip information and ID tags are up-to-date in case of separation. (This often occurs, she said, because animals can become stressed or skittish and have a tendency to run off.) 
Davis also suggested making a portable emergency kit, which includes your pet's food, medications, and medical records. When evacuating, make sure you have a leash and crate to safely transport your pet.
If you can't take care of your pet as a storm approaches, choose a designated caregiver outside of the evacuation zone, Davis advised. Whatever you do, do not leave your pets behind to fend for themselves. Even if they are inside your home, they can still run the risk of drowning, as well as running out of food and clean water that are necessary to stay alive.
For any pet that has been exposed to floodwaters for any period of time, Eller said, "All animals should have a thorough veterinary examination to make sure there are no lasting effects." 
Image via Shutterstock 
Read more: Animal Abuse During Hurricane Irma, As Pets Are Left Behind in the Storm
]]> Care & Safety dog Tue, 26 Sep 2017 15:31:43 +0000 36394 at
Everything You Need to Know About Your New Favorite Podcast, Life With Pets Whether you listen to them intently on your commute, or laugh along while you're folding laundry, podcasts of all varieties have become a mainstay of everyday life.
Luckily for pet parents and avid podcast listeners, a new series has come along that will not only make it to the top of your list, but will also better the lives of you and your pet(s). 
On Oct. 2, Life With Pets, hosted by Victoria Schade will make its debut. 
Schade, a dog trainer and author, as well as a self-proclaimed "voracious consumer of podcasts," told petMD that the show will have a different pet-focused theme each week, with fellow experts weighing in.
She'll also answer listeners' questions in each episode, as well as welcome pet-loving celebrities to the podcast, including the likes of Bill Engvall and Adam Carolla. Of course, the biggest celebrities are Schade's own dogs, Millie and Olive, who can be heard hanging out in studio. 
The first episode of Life With Pets will focus on both feline and canine cognition and intelligence. "I've got a fascinating cat researcher who explains that every house cat can be trained, and she gives suggestions for how to do it," Schade said. 
But, as every pet parent knows too well, the possibilities are endless when it comes to subject matter regarding cats and dogs, and Schade hopes to tackle them all. Upcoming episodes (which range from about 30 to 35 minutes long) will cover everything from behavioral issues in pets and tips for fostering animals to the oft-misunderstood pit bull breed.
Schade, who calls the chance to have her own podcast "a dream come true," hopes that her passion for pets will translate to the listening audience. 
"My hope is that pet parents will be entertained by the show, of course, but my greatest hope is that they'll walk away from each episode having learned something new and awesome about our furry best friends," Schade said. 
Following its Oct. 2 debut, Life With Pets will release episodes every other Monday, with mini Q&A episodes coming out on alternating Mondays.
Image via Shutterstock 
]]> cat dog Lifestyle & Entertainment Tue, 26 Sep 2017 13:33:31 +0000 36393 at
Do Pets Know When They Are Going to Die? At some level, animals seem to understand the concept of death. From elephants who grieve for the loss of a herd member to whales who won’t leave their dead babies behind, many species react to death in much the same way that people do. But are animals able to understand that they are going to die themselves? That is a different, more existential question.
In my work as a house call veterinarian specializing in end-of-life care, I saw many incidences of a dying pet’s animal friends acting as if they had some comprehension of the situation. In one case, I had sedated the family dog and placed an intravenous catheter through which I was going to give the final injection of euthanasia solution. Up to this point, the family cat had remained at a distance. But just as I started giving the injection, she walked up beside me, lay down, and gently placed her paw on her friend’s leg as if to say, “Don’t worry, I’m here with you.”
A colleague also likes to tell the story of when she was in a family’s home euthanizing one of their three dogs. Just as “Zoey” was passing away, her two canine housemates entered the room, stood over her body, and howled…very loudly.
But stories that reveal a pet’s understanding of their own impending death are harder to come by. Many owners will talk about pets who have “told” them that it was time to let them go. In most cases, the pets turn inward. They withdraw from the people they love and no longer show any interest in what is going on around the house. At other times, dying pets seem to seek out more attention from their caretakers or do things they have never done before. Do these behaviors indicate that these pets understand they are dying or are they simply caused by the pet’s declining health? It’s impossible to say, particularly since we can’t help but interpret the circumstances through the lens of our understanding of a pet’s mortality.
On the other hand, I have witnessed several instances when it seems as if a pet has chosen the “right” time to die. In one case, a heartbroken family member was rushing home to spend a last few minutes with a pet who had taken a sudden turn for the worse. He was flying in from overseas and was experiencing some travel delays, but his dog gamely held on. Once he arrived, the dog cuddled with him, gave him a few licks, and then slipped into unconsciousness until I arrived to help him on his way.
I believe my own dog, Duncan, may have had a sense that his end was near. He was an absolutely ancient black Lab. At the end of his life, it became obvious to me that he was dying even though every test I ran on him came back perfectly normal. If any dog died of “old age,” it was Duncan.
During his last few weeks, he’d dodder out of my back door in the morning to look for the perfect place to rest. Once he found it, he’d spend some time gazing around him with a look that seemed to say, “Today is a good day to die.” Then, he’d lie down and sleep the entire day away. When he awoke in the evenings, he looked so disappointed to find himself right back where he started. 
We’ll probably never be able to definitively answer the question of whether pets know when they are going to die. What is vital, however, is that owners and veterinarians recognize when the end is near so that we can provide all the love and care necessary to make their last days as good as they possibly can be.
Learn More:
]]> care cat dog View Mon, 25 Sep 2017 19:22:17 +0000 36392 at
The Journey of Jenna: From Stray to Life-Saving Service Dog September marks National Service Dog Month, and with it comes countless stories of heroism and love between these incredible canines and the people who rely on them. 
One of those very dogs is Jenna, a 6-year-old medical alert and mobility service dog who lives in Indianapolis, Indiana, with her person, Sarah Sheperd. 
Sheperd, who has been deaf in her left ear since childhood, was involved in a car accident in 2007 that left her with long-term physical issues. But on May 31, 2011, Sheperd's life would change in a whole new, positive way. 
She adopted a then 5-month-old Jenna, who was on a kill-list at a shelter. "She had been a stray when they brought her into the shelter," Sheperd told petMD. "She was sick, which is why she was put on the kill-list, because they couldn't afford to treat her." 
By pure happenstance, Sheperd was at the shelter that day and met Jenna for the first time. An hour later, she was the mama to one very lucky and amazing pup. "I paid $40 for a dog who has saved my life more times than I can count," she said. 
From then on, Sheperd trained Jenna to be her service dog. "I noticed from day one she was wicked smart and deeply driven...[we] bonded instantly," Sheperd recalled. 
After two years of training, "Jenna started attending Purdue University with me as a full-fledged service dog," Sheperd said. "She passed the Public Access Test that summer with flying colors. Having her with me during my second year at Purdue made all of the difference in the world." 
Since that day, Jenna has aided Sheperd in being a “normal” person, from Purdue and into the working world. She guides her through her health issues, such as migraines and other physical limitations. "She senses increases in blood pressure, will alert to unconscious increases in agitation, and hormonal changes that I don't always notice but usually lead up to my migraines," she described. 
Even though Sheperd’s issues are an "ongoing, constantly changing process," she said, Jenna is up to the task and has been able to "learn new things to accommodate new needs as time has gone on."
From waking Sheperd up in the morning to helping her get up and down the stairs, Jenna has made the world an easier and less stressful place for her owner.
"I trust Jenna explicitly to keep me safe physically, so I don't have to stress or worry," Sheperd said. "From an emotional and mental standpoint, I have my best friend with me all of the time. There is a sense of peace and security with that." 
Because of Jenna, Sheperd has made it her mission to educate people about service dogs and the important role they play for people just like her. Sheperd speaks at schools, and even gave a presentation at her own job about the life of a service dog and the different types of people they help. 
"The biggest thing I try to educate people on is about the idea of invisible disabilities," Sheperd says. "Other than the fact that I walk a little funny, most people don't know I am disabled and typically think I am training Jenna for someone else. In addition to the invisible disabilities, [I try] to make people understand that it takes more than for a dog to sit and lay down on command to be a service dog. This is a big misconception I would like to change." 
Jenna, who is now 6 years old and described by Sheperd as having "an old, serious soul," will get to retire from her duties in a couple of years. Sheperd plans to adopt another puppy later this year to begin the training process. "By the time the puppy is ready to go, Jenna will be 9 years old and ready for the couch potato life." 
But even when Jenna transitions to retirement, her efforts as Sheperd's service dog will never be forgotten. "Without Jenna, it would be very difficult for me to do the things that I do,” Sheperd said. “She literally pulls me forward most days and allows me to be independent."
Image courtesy of Sarah Sheperd
Read more: 6 Service Dog Etiquette Tips
]]> bonding dog Lifestyle & Entertainment Thu, 21 Sep 2017 14:37:08 +0000 36361 at
Is It Safe to #SquatYourDog? I suppose anytime people are having a good time doing something silly, someone has to come along and be the party pooper, right? Think of the “scaring cats with cucumbers” craze of 2016, where the veterinarian came along and said that traumatizing our cats may be funny for a second, but may be psychologically damaging going forward. Or the grooming our dogs into pandas or lions craze of 2015, when we realized that hours of forcing our dogs to stand still for microgrooming and dyeing of their fur wasn’t the most practical way of canine beautification.
In the summer of 2017, we faced the challenge of “Squat Your Dog.” People were grabbing their dogs, putting them over their shoulders, and proceeding to do a few squats on camera. So is this really so bad? 
Well, maybe not. But let’s just, for the sake of conversation, assume that perhaps your dog may not necessarily love this. Maybe he’s a little uncomfortable about the fact that as a large breed dog, he’s not normally picked up and held. Maybe he’s a little uncomfortable, especially with the fact that when you do pick him up, you’re putting him behind your head with his legs hanging over your shoulders. And maybe he’s just a touch uncomfortable with your hands holding his legs in place over your shoulders as you shakily go up and down and talk into your camera during the 14 takes that you go through to get the perfect shot. 
Are any of these above scenarios going to permanently damage your dog? Of course not, but it could definitely decrease his trust in you going forward. And it certainly will make him dread ever being picked up again. 
Instead of following this silly fad, why not come up with an exercise plan that involves both of you and helps increase your bond with your pet rather than serve to fracture it? Go for a hike through the woods. Chase your dog around the backyard and play fetch. Go for a long walk to your favorite restaurant for lunch al fresco. Schedule a few sessions with a trainer so you can both learn some new tricks. 
Do something together that doesn’t involve your dog being fearful. You won't regret it, and you’ll be much less likely to hurt your back, drop your dog, or frighten the creature who loves you unconditionally. 
Dr. Katy Nelson is a veterinarian at the Belle Haven Animal Medical Centre in Washington, D.C., and a medical advisor for petMD. 
]]> care dog View Tue, 19 Sep 2017 19:23:58 +0000 36360 at