en Understanding Feral Cats and Urban Relocation Programs  
The care of feral cats is a unique and important one, and now some cities are stepping up to allow these felines tto hrive in their environments while helping the communities where they reside. Take Chicago, where Tree House Humane Society—a no-kill shelter with a trap, neuter and release (TNR) program—uses feral cats to help control a rat problem in an Evanston apartment complex.
According to the Chicago Tribune, cats have been controlling a once-massive rat problem at the residence buildng. The cats "are micro-chipped, tagged and fed twice daily by a group of roughly 10 volunteers." The Tribune states that the cats have drastically reduced the number of rats at the apartment complex.
Peter Nickerson, the manager of the Tree House Humane Society’s Cats at Work Program, tells petMD that while it is ideal for any feral cat to be taken back to the same location after TNR, "sometimes it is unethical or unsafe to return them to the place they were trapped." For instance, if a feral cat's caregiver dies, or there's an immediate physical threat to the cats, the Cats at Work Program relocates the felines to a safe, new location. 
In Chicago there was a business and residential need to deal with rat issues, and with that, the Cats at Work Program came to fruition. Nickerson explains that the cats are given a 28-day period to get used to their new surroundings and put on a new feeding schedule—which gives them initiative to stay on or near the property. "There’s no guarantee the cats will stick around, but you can mitigate it by providing the best you can." 
When the cats do stick around at their new "home," it's bound to keep the rats away. Nickerson says that if a feral cat does leave an area, the rats will return in a 24-hour period. 
However, not all community organizations agree that caring for the feral cats and allowing them to prey on small rodents like mice is a good idea.
In a Facebook post, the Evanston North Shore Bird Club asked its followers to oppose a bill that would use funds to support TNR programs in the state of Illinois, stating: "These programs are bad for bird because they involve feeding the cats, which results in very large concentrations. Cats are the largest human-related cause of mortality for birds."
Chicago isn't the only city making headlines for these kinds of initiatives. In New York City, feral cats aided in stopping a rat infestation at Manhattan's Jacob Javits Convention Center. 
But according to the NYC Feral Cat Initiative (NYCFCI)—which is part of the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals—they do not use cats specifically for rodent control and the cats were not put there intentionally. 
In a statement released to petMD, Steve Gruber, director of communications for the Mayor's Alliance for NYC's Animals, said: "The NYCFCI would never place a cat on the street for the purpose of providing rodent control. Our express mission is to have as few cats living on the streets as possible. The very rare person who offers to adopt a feral cat or colony in need of relocation must pass an application process showing they wish to provide compassionate daily care to the cat or colony at-risk, and are not merely looking for 'mousers.'" 
The NYCFCI runs safe and efficient TNR programs with the help of more than 6,000 volunteers, who do their part to sterilize, feed, vaccinate, and monitor feral cats. The Javits Center offered to host a colony of cats, and soon after, NYCFCI needed to relocate an already existing group of street cats from a dangerous area. The group knew that several feral cats had already lived safely at the north end of the Javits Center for more than ten years and felt comfortable relocating the new group to the area. And when it comes to relocating groups of feral cats, the NYCFCI says it's not an easy thing to do. 
"These new cats were successfully relocated from danger to safety and released at the Javits Center after a three-week period of confinement onsite for habituation after confirming their comfort level in an area with heavy traffic and loud noise," said Gruber. "As it turned out, the new cats have helped to control the rodent population at the south end’s loading docks, but that would not have been sufficient reason for our placing them there. They had been offered a permanent home, not conditional to their performance as rodent deterrents."
However, the NYCFCI points out that feral cat colonies that are monitored and carefully taken care of can be efficient, when done properly and ethically. "It is true that neighborhoods and areas hosting spayed/neutered community cat colonies managed through TNR do enjoy the collateral benefit of a non-toxic rodent deterrent," said Gruber. "The scent established by hosting and feeding cats regularly in one place is what keeps the rodents away. Breeding female rats will move away from an area inhabited by resident cats that would clearly be a danger to their litters. When the breeding females move out, the male rats follow." 
Image via Shutterstock 
]]> cat cats Strange But True Wed, 26 Oct 2016 13:47:17 +0000 34864 at
Norovirus Update – Can the Virus be Passed from Dog to Human?  
The symptoms of norovirus infection in people are downright nasty. Vomiting, diarrhea, fever, headache, and body aches are common and tend to last anywhere from one to three days. If you’ve lived with dogs for long enough, you’ve probably observed them having similar symptoms, perhaps even right before, during, or after you’ve been sick. Under these circumstances, it’s reasonable to wonder if dogs can get norovirus and, if so, whether the virus can be passed between people and dogs.
First, some clarification is needed. Dogs (and cats) appear to have several of their own species of norovirus that cause gastrointestinal symptoms similar to those described above. The question we’re asking here is whether or not viruses that we’ve assumed can only infect one species (or closely related species) can actually move between dogs, cats, people, etc. Why is this important? If it proves to be true, we would know that when dogs in a household become infected with norovirus, people could be at risk for infection, and vice versa.
A few scientific papers have recently been published that attempt to answer this question.
In 2012, a group of researchers in Helsinki, Finland looked at 92 stool samples from dogs living closely with people who had recently experienced symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea. They screened those samples for several different types of human norovirus and found human norovirus in “four faecal samples from pet dogs that had been in direct contact with symptomatic persons…. All NoV [norovirus]-positive dogs lived in households with small children and two dogs showed mild symptoms.”
The study’s authors concluded that human noroviruses “can survive in the canine gastrointestinal tract. Whether these viruses can replicate in dogs remains unresolved, but an association of pet dogs playing a role in transmission of NoVs that infect humans is obvious.”
Another interesting paper appeared in 2015 and was titled “Evidence for Human Norovirus Infection of Dogs in the United Kingdom.” The research showed that human norovirus could indeed bind to canine gastrointestinal tissues and that 13% of the dogs in the study had antibodies against human norovirus in their bloodstream, an indication that they had been previously infected. Interestingly, the types of human noroviruses that the dogs had been infected with closely mirrored the types of noroviruses that had been circulating in people in their communities.
While the scientists did not find evidence that human norovirus could be transmitted through dog feces, this study does show that it is at least theoretically possible for dogs to act as a reservoir for human norovirus.
Since then, there have been no further reports of human norovirus infections in dogs (or cats), but this certainly is a topic that deserves more attention. And until we know for sure whether noroviruses have the ability to move between species, it only makes sense to practice meticulous hygiene if anyone in the family develops vomiting or diarrhea.
Learn more
CDC: Making a Norovirus Vaccine a Reality
Emory University: Norovirus stays infective for months in water
Pet dogs--a transmission route for human noroviruses? Summa M, von Bonsdorff CH, Maunula L. J Clin Virol. 2012 Mar;53(3):244-7.  
Evidence for human norovirus infection of dogs in the United Kingdom. Caddy SL, de Rougemont A, Emmott E, El-Attar L, Mitchell JA, Hollinshead M, Belliot G, Brownlie J, Le Pendu J, Goodfellow I. J Clin Microbiol. 2015 Jun;53(6):1873-83.
]]> View Mon, 24 Oct 2016 11:00:00 +0000 34858 at
Veterinarian Who Killed a Cat With Bow and Arrow is Suspended For One Year  
In the disturbing post that accompanied the photo, Lindsey wrote, "My first bow kill lol. The only good feral tomcat is one with an arrow through its head! Vet of the year award… gladly accepted."
Lindsey wasn't named vet of the year, rather, according to People, she was fired by her employers at Washington Animal Clinic in Brenham, Texas. (petMD reached out to Washington Animal Clinic, who declined to give a statement regarding the matter.) 
Two months after the case came to light, a grand jury in the state capital ruled that no criminal charges would be filed against Lindsey because there was "insufficient proof," according to People. But a complaint to the Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners led to an investigation and hearing regarding Lindsey's ability to practice veterinary medicine in the state.
On Tuesday, the Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners ruled that Lindsey would be suspended from practicing medicine for a year and would be on four years of probation following the year-long suspension. She was also ordered to conduct 100 hours of community service and take part in animal welfare training. 
The ruling has upset many animal activists—and welfare organizations like the Animal Legal Defense Fund—who want justice for the feline. In Lindsey's original Facebook post, the veterinarian justified the killing of the cat because she believed it to be feral. But feral cat advocates stress the importance of respecting and taking care of community cats. "These cats are absolutely not a danger,” Audrey Stratton, clinic supervisor at San Diego’s Feral Cat Coalition, tells petMD's sister site PawCulture. According to, the feline killed by Lindsey was allegedly not a feral cat at all. The newspaper reports that the cat was named Tiger and belonged to a neighbor.  
A statement on the ALDF website reads, "The Animal Legal Defense Fund is deeply disappointed by the Veterinary Board’s decision to only temporarily suspend Kristen Lindsey’s veterinary license. This slap on the wrist pales in comparison to the egregious felony cruelty that Ms. Lindsey committed against a defenseless cat. Allowing Ms. Lindsey to continue to practice veterinary medicine in the future puts animals in the community at great risk, and taints the good name of the trusted veterinary profession." 
The ALDF tells petMD that "our attorneys are looking into additional legal options" against Lindsey. 
Image via Shutterstock 
]]> cat Strange But True Wed, 19 Oct 2016 18:05:29 +0000 34856 at
Screwworms Outbreak in Florida: What Pet Parents Need to Know  
According to the USDA, the New World screwworm was detected in Key deer in a wildlife refuge in Big Pine Key, Florida—which has since been declared an agircultural state of emergency. Screwworms are fly larvae (maggots) that feed off of the flesh of living animals. "A major concern for the US is agriculturally important species such as cattle, sheep, goats, horses, and pets such as dogs and cats—and even people," says Michael J. Yabsley of the University of Georgia's College of Veterinary Medicine. "Birds are less commonly infested but can be hosts as well."
The screwworm, which thrives in warmer climates, enters through a wound, break, or cut in the skin of an animal. "Female flies, about the size of houseflies, lay their eggs in and around the wounds or mucous membranes," Yabsley says. "Once the eggs hatch into larvae, they begin to ingest tissues. This is why these screwworms are so devastating—unlike other maggots that feed on dead flesh or animals, these maggots ingest live tissue."    
Dr. Douglas Mader, MS, DVM, of Marathon Veterinary Hospital in Marathon, Florida, notes that a screwworm infection in pets and animals is "very painful" and may emit a foul odor and/or ooze fluid. Maggots will be present in the wound and must be removed for the animal to heal properly. If an animal has been infected by screwworms, veterinary care is urgent, as the infection could be life-threatening. Depending on the extent of the wounds, veterinarians will help by eradicating the maggots and giving the animal the proper medication to heal. 
"If it’s a minor wound, we can use a local anesthetic, numb the area with novocaine or lanacaine, and then clean the wound out," Mader says. However if the wound is extremely deep, Mader explains that surgery is often necessary to cut away the dead tissue and remove all the maggots."[Pets] are put on medication to kill any maggots that may have been missed," he says. 
Still, as scary as screwworms may be, Mader urges pet parents not to panic and to simply take proper precautions. "[Screwworms] are not going to come out of nowhere and attack a healthy animal." 
That's why prevention is key. Keep wounded pets and animals indoors and away from flies if possible, says Mader. "If your pet has any wounds, and you have to take it outside, cover the wounds so a fly can’t get to it," he says. If the animal does need to be outside for any period of time, Mader suggests visiting a veterinarian so that proper dressing can be applied to the wound site.
The USDA is currently working to eradicate the screwworms from the Florida Keys. 
Find out how to treat minor dog wounds at home: How to Treat Dog Wounds
Image via Shutterstock 
]]> Health & Science Mon, 17 Oct 2016 13:16:31 +0000 34852 at
Alternatives to Declawing Your Cat  
But that doesn’t mean problems associated with cat claws have disappeared. Thankfully there are far better ways to deal with cat scratching than declawing.
The first thing we have to accept is that cats are going to scratch at things. It is a perfectly normal feline behavior. Our goal is not to stop the scratching but to direct it toward appropriate surfaces and to reduce the damage that might occur if a cat strays from those surfaces. Here are five alternatives to declawing that actually work.
1. Invest in Scratching Posts… Lots of Scratching Posts
Cats need to scratch, but they can be rather finicky about what they deem worthy of their attention. Some cats prefer scratching on carpet, others like the feel of corrugated cardboard, wood, or rope. Some cats want to scratch vertically and others favor horizontal surfaces. Buy several different types of scratching posts and scatter them around your home near the areas where your cat spends the most time scratching. As you get a feel for your cat’s preferences, you can switch entirely to the types of posts that are getting the most use.
Also, your cat should never have to make much of an effort to reach an appropriate surface on which to scratch. Keep a scratching post in every room where your cat spends significant amounts of time.
2. Keep Your Cat Away from the Old Favorites
Prevent access to the areas where your cat has been scratching inappropriately. Keep doors shut to these rooms whenever possible. Two baby gates stacked on top of each other can do the trick in a pinch. Electronic pads that deliver a harmless zap when stepped on (e.g., ScatMat) are another good option. Place the pad directly in front of the problem area so your cat can no longer stand or sit where he usually does to scratch. You can also make the old scratching surfaces unattractive to your cat. For example, cover the corner of your sofa with double sided tape or aluminum foil.
3. Trim Your Cat’s Nails
Learn how to trim your cat’s nails, and do so at least once a week. Using a nail trimmer with sharp blades will make the process more comfortable for your cat. Make sure you praise and reward her when she cooperates. When you bring home a new kitten, start trimming nails immediately so the process becomes routine.
4. Use Nail Covers
Rubbery nail covers (e.g., Soft Paws) can be a good option for some cats. You can either learn how to apply them yourself (you do have to trim the cat's nails before every application) or make an appointment with your veterinarian. Nail covers generally last between four and six weeks before they have to be replaced.
5. Train Your Cat
If you catch your cat in the act of scratching somewhere he shouldn’t, you can loudly tell him “no” or make another startling sound to stop the behavior, but do not physically reprimand him in any way. Positive reinforcement is always better than punishment, so when you observe your cat scratching on his post, don’t miss the opportunity to praise him or give him a little treat for doing the right thing.
How to Trim Cat Nails
How to Keep a Cat from Scratching the Furniture
]]> View Mon, 17 Oct 2016 11:00:00 +0000 34853 at
Why You Should Always Thank Your Vet Tech  
But vet techs need also to learn about most, if not all, animal species – including cats, dogs, horses, ferrets, rabbits, mice, birds, etc. Yes, it may sound super human, but vet techs are their own form of super hero. Veterinary technicians work side-by-side with veterinarians, veterinary assistance and veterinary client care coordinators to ensure your pet receives the highest level of medical care.
Because You Only Live Once
Most technicians have entered the veterinary field after a lifelong love of animals. For many of us, this is our second, or even third career. I had plans of becoming a music teacher and was even on a full tuition scholarship to Arizona. Amy McKenzie, a former coworker of mine and a licensed veterinary technician (LVT) from the VA area, was a social worker (with a masters of social work) before she made the leap into veterinary medicine. Amy and I were similar in that we both felt the jobs we initially went to school for were not our “calling.”
Amy was forced into unsafe situations doing house calls as a social worker, and felt she burned out quickly. I was dealing with injury, uncertainty and a diminishing passion for music. We both realized that we should follow our hearts and join a profession we were passionate about, and felt we could make a real difference, serving as voice for those who could not speak for themselves.
Why We Love Our Jobs
There have been days I have left the vet clinic covered from head to toe in fur and every bodily fluid imaginable. I have also been bitten, scratched, tossed around, hit in the head, growled and/or hissed at, dragged across a treatment room, and have stayed so busy that I was unable to eat, drink or urinate for hours. I have cried, laughed, screamed in fear, yelled in anger and every other emotion all in a single shift, but I wouldn’t change a thing.
Some of the best stories are from situations we never considered “weird.” Becky Mossor, a registered veterinary technician (RVT) from Wilmington, NC had a chance to make three sheriff K9 officers “look like sissies.” She, along with a very petite staff member, were able to carry a large great dane into the clinic, shaming the officers with their impressive weight-lifting skills.
Pets have a wonderful way of making our lives better, decreasing our blood pressure, helping us to heal and inspiring us to laugh. The fact that vet techs have the ability to keep these precious little lives healthy and happy, is all the reward we need. We don’t need a “thank you” or “great job,” usually just a lick on the face or a purr in the ear will do.
We Receive More Than We Give
Animals do not judge, they do not hold grudges and they love unconditionally.
Naomi Strollo, an RVT from Cleveland, OH, vividly remembers the passing of a patient she and her team tried desperately to save. A dog was savagely stabbed by his owner over 20 times. The pup entered Naomi’s clinic wagging his tail, and she stayed at the clinic till 4 am trying to save him, but sadly without success.
She remembers this case because of the dog’s ability to still wag his tail and trust humans, despite the horrible things his owner did to him. We have all been there, witnessing cases that break our hearts, diminish our faith in humanity and bring into question our ability to trust. We all remember that single case that broke our hearts, made us love again, or brought us to tears from laughter. Vet techs have the unique ability to walk out of room where a geriatric dog took his last breaths, then into the next exam room to welcome the new 12-week-old puppy to the practice. We witness the odd, the crazy and the unexplainable during each work shift. But most of all, we are human, and we have a large capacity for love and compassion. Veterinary technicians are here to help you and your pet, we listen without judgment, heal with compassion, and love without limits.
This week (October 16- 22) is National Veterinary Technician Week. The American Veterinary Medical Association dedicates the third week in October to recognize and, “honor (vet tech’s) commitment to compassionate, high-quality veterinary care for all animals.” If you get the honor to meet your veterinary hospital’s techs, say “thank you.” It will mean the world to them and give them strength to face the next adventure. 
]]> View Mon, 17 Oct 2016 04:00:00 +0000 34844 at
New Tests Will Be Underway For a Serious Disease That Impacts Shar-Peis  
According to Cornell University's College of Veterinary Medicine, SPAID is "characterized by recurrent symptoms of inflammation: fever; swollen, painful joints; a condition that causes bubbles containing a clear, jellylike substance on the skin; ear problems and kidney failure." Sadly, there is no cure, vaccine or known cause for the disease, which roughly 20,000 Shar-Peis suffer from.
However, new testing regarding SPAID will be conducted at Cornell, which will identify dogs that are more likely to develop the symptoms of the disease. "The new test, using droplet digital PCR (ddPCR), measures the number of copies of the faulty gene in individual Shar-Pei."
As the Director of Molecular Diagnostics at the AHDC, Amy Glaser, DVM, PhD, explains to petMD, "identification of gene structure of an individual animal will allow an owner to understand if their dog has an elevated risk for developing one ore more of the SPAID-associated clinical syndromes. Dogs at high risk can be identified and breeding to other dogs that would produce offspring at high risk can be avoided."
So, how, exactly, will this be determined? "Blood samples from dogs can be collected and submitted for testing," Glaser says. "The DNA is extracted and the copy number of the allele (gene) associated with an increased risk of developing SPAID with increasing copy number is determined. Results are returned with an interpreted statement to help owners and veterinarians."    
While no date has been set for the testing yet, Glaser assures that  for pet parents of Shar-Peis, "links will be provided to submission information and samples will be accepted for testing. We are working hard to be able to offer this assay to the community as soon as possible."
]]> dog Health & Science Fri, 14 Oct 2016 16:40:58 +0000 34851 at
Mars Recalls Select Cesar Classics Wet Dog Food Due to Production Issue  
The Cesar Classics recalled products were distributed throughout the U.S. and could have been purchased individually or as part of a variety pack.
Affected products can be identified with a “Best Before” date of 080418 (August 4, 2018) and 080518 (August 5, 2018).
Recalled products purchased individually will have the following information printed on the side of the tray:

Click for larger view
The recalled Cesar Classics Filet Mignon Flavor dog food can also be found in variety packs with the following lot codes:


See picture below for an example of where to find a lot code on a Cesar Classics tray:

According to a press release issued by Mars Petcare, the hard white pieces of plastic entered the food during the production process.
“While a small number of consumers have reported finding the plastic pieces,” the press release adds, “to date, we have not received any reports of injury or illness associated with the affected product.”
Mars Petcare US is encouraging people who have purchased the affected product to discard the food or return it to the retailer for a full refund or exchange.
Pet owners who have questions about the recall can call 800-421-6456 between the hours of 8:00 am to 4:30 pm CST, Monday through Friday, or from 8:00 am to 12:00 pm CST, on Saturdays. Visit for more information. 
]]> Alerts & Recalls Mon, 10 Oct 2016 18:37:46 +0000 34832 at
Is it the Veterinarian’s Responsibility to Provide Affordable Health Care?  
One case in particular sticks out: AJ, a one year old pup who had been vomiting for several days came to see me. We are always concerned about foreign bodies in young dogs, and I thought I might have felt something when I palpated his abdomen. I recommended x-rays, which the owner said they didn’t have money to do; they just wanted some nausea medications.
I understood their limitations, but I was still incredibly nervous about sending them home with the knowledge that AJ might have something life threatening in his abdomen and would prefer that they save their money for surgery if necessary.
As an employee, I could no more give away services than a Macy’s employee could give you a pair of shoes. To do so would be stealing, and could get me fired. But for my own peace of mind, I took an x-ray anyway to make sure AJ didn’t have a ball in there. I spoke to the practice manager and explained the situation, offering to have the cost taken out of my paycheck (she found a way to cover it from our angel fund).
Secure in the knowledge that AJ would probably be OK with a little rest, I went back in to discuss his discharge with the owners. Before I could open my mouth, the owner looked up from his iPhone and laid into me: “If you cared you would have done x-rays for free! It doesn’t cost you anything! You’re a terrible vet and you’re only in it for the money!”
And when I told him what we had done, all he had to say was, “Well that’s exactly what you should have done.” Then he left.
All services cost something. The technician who took AJ’s x-ray draws a salary, as do I for the time I spent interpreting it. The machine itself costs money to maintain, as does the software system where we store the images. Were we to donate services to all who wanted and needed it, we would be out of business in a matter of weeks. AJ’s owner, who was holding a $700 piece of electronics in his hand, made the choice not to make his pet’s care a priority but was happy to leave me and the other wonderful clients who contributed to our angel fund to pay the bill instead. He never did thank us.
In that particular emergency hospital I would often spend over half my time during a shift calling charities on behalf of clients, trying to help them fund lifesaving care, and taking me away from a whole lot of other sick pets who needed my help. I wish I could say that was an uncommon occurrence but it happens all the time, and it’s a major contributor to veterinary burnout. It broke my heart to not be able to perform tests or procedures due to cost, and I cried many nights.
I do understand that veterinary care is expensive, oftentimes prohibitively so. Those high costs reflect an increasing demand for high-tech diagnostics and care rivalling that of human hospitals—though I would challenge anyone who thinks our fees are out of control in comparison to that of human hospitals, where a single exam in the ER can run you thousands of dollars.
I understand that the cost of care is a problem for many people. On the one hand, I don’t think it’s an issue that should be left to individual veterinarians to figure out, nor should they be in the habit of floating loans to clients who 90% of the time never pay them back. On the other hand, I think there are many ways our profession, along with owners, can work together to make veterinary care more affordable, and as an industry, I’d like to see us be proactive in helping you.
From an industry standpoint, I support the many veterinarians who are trying to make affordable care options available by partnering with financial services who can help provide payment plans for clients. It is simply not feasible for individual practices to hope clients will pay them back, but we are seeing a number of businesses that can help make that happen. While we can’t be in the business of both providing and funding pet care, continuing to explore these partnerships can result in increased access to care benefits for everyone.
As an owner, please understand that you have a proactive role to play as well. Pet insurance is quite often a literal lifesaver. In times of catastrophic injury or illness it can be the difference between life and euthanasia, and there are hundreds of insurance options out there.
We also rely on you to convey your constraints to us so we can work with you. We all understand that you just might not have hundreds of dollars available at a moment’s notice. While I cannot change what our costs are, I promise I will do my best to make the most of what we have. That might mean pursuing diagnostics in stages, or trying a course of medication instead. At the end of the day, we are all trying to do our best by you.
If I wanted to be wealthy, there are about 500 other jobs I could have chosen that make more sense than this one. I still wouldn’t change it for the world, and I will always work as hard as I can to make lives better for pets and the people who love them.
How to Perform the Heimlich Maneuver if your Dog is Choking
Emergency: Swallowed Objects in Dogs
Image via Shutterstock 
]]> View Mon, 10 Oct 2016 11:00:00 +0000 34830 at
Abandoned Dog Has Painful 3.5 Pound Tumor Removed From Neck  
According to a press release, in late September, a 6-year-old Boxer mix named Gus was rescued by Arizona Humane Society’s Emergency Animal Medical Technicians. He was found abandoned and suffering in an alley. The dog had a 3.5 pound tumor hanging from his neck that was causing him extreme discomfort and pain. 
AHS believes that Gus was, at some point, someone's pet. As Juju Kuita, an AHS animal technicians, put it: "To think that someone just tossed him out on the streets in agonizing pain and refused to get him medical treatment simply broke my heart."
Gus was taken to the Second Chance Animal Trauma Hospital in Phoenix, Arizona, where he underwent surgery to have the mass (which, after testing, was determined to be cancer-free) removed. Gus was given a second chance at life. 
"Gus has so much love," says Dr. Yasmin Martinez, who treated the now-thriving canine, "and we wanted to give him a chance at a happy life.”
That's exactly what happened. Shortly after the successful surgery, Gus was adopted into a loving new forever home to a caring pet parent in Phoenix. 
Image via Arizona Humane Society 
]]> Health & Science Tue, 04 Oct 2016 16:05:47 +0000 34816 at
Can Pet Fish Recognize Their Owners? Research Says Yes  
My home aquarium contains 350 gallons of saltwater and extends about 6 feet in length and 2 feet in height. It is tastefully decorated with rock formations and it is inhabited by an assortment of fish with beautiful colors and shapes.
It came as a surprise to learn that studies suggest that just as I enjoy peering into their underwater world, the fish are enjoying their view of my living room as well. What must my fish be thinking as they watch my family members sitting on the couch, moving about searching for lost keys or stealing a cookie? Reports from experimental lab studies give insights into what fish are able to detect in their surroundings and how our interactions with our pet fish might need a second look. 
Fish are not typically given credit for being especially smart or for possessing a good memory. They don’t have a large brain capacity and most of their time they spend searching for food. But perhaps we have underestimated the IQ of fish. Studies conducted with captive blind Mexican cave fish reveal that these fish can identify changes made to the arrangement of objects in their aquarium.
These fish seem to have a sense similar to bats that gives them the ability to detect obstacles in their path. Further, the fish make a mental map of their surroundings and commit it to memory for future use.  So no need to put off a Saturday afternoon of renovating the home aquarium because you fear the fish will get confused, they will learn their way around quicker than you would.
Another study investigated whether fish of the same species could recognize fellow individuals. The study evaluated the ability of Ambon damselfish to identify a fish they have seen previously by swimming up to a computer image with a choice of two damselfish. The study found that ultraviolet facial patterns on the damselfish were key to the test subjects’ ability to identify individuals. These UV patterns, which are not able to be detected by humans with the unaided eye, act like name tags for the Ambon damselfish.
The study went further by presenting manipulated facial images and the damselfish were still able to recognize the familiar face. So if Jack and Jill have been tank-mates for some time and Jack dies, prompting you to replace him with Chad thinking Jill will never notice, think again.
While mastering who’s who inside of the aquarium makes sense, what is most amazing is the ability of fish to see what’s happening outside of the aquarium.
The largest fish I own is a Vlamingi tang measuring roughly 9 inches in length, with eyes about the size of a dime. “Big Guy” greets me by moving to the front of the tank and looking me over with those big eyes. I would like to believe he knows it’s me and maybe I’m right. An impressive study using archer-fish gives some support to that idea.
Archerfish are found in brackish waters around Southeast Asia. They have the ability to hunt for insects along the river banks by forcefully ejecting a stream of water from their mouth, causing the insect to fall to the water and be eaten. This ability to use their mouth like a water pistol is the means by which trained archerfish were able to make selections between two images of human faces. The trained archerfish were able to correctly select the familiar face 81% of the time. The scientists then made the images more consistent by leveling the brightness and color of the images and the archerfish improved their score to 86%.
Collective studies indicate that being as smart as a fish is a pretty nice compliment. What’s interesting is that while we normally give credit to mammals for their ability to recognize their owners, land animals have the added benefit of detecting scent and hearing vocal sounds, factors that do not play a part in these studies.
We know that fish can sense time by swimming around the top of the tank close to feeding and they may perform for their keepers as they associate a human presence with food. The fact that fish can discern between different faces raises the question of why they have this ability.
The value of knowing the identity of others in your own species is essential to social animals, but to be able to discern the identity of those in another species is a higher order skill. It seems unnecessary from an ecological standpoint as humans and fish do not share the same living space. This information may provide biologists with more insights into our evolutionary past.
The fact that our pet fish have a conscious understanding of their surroundings and may even be able to recognize their owners may inspire us to take more pride in arranging the aquarium and choosing tank mates. It could also give us reason to spend more moments looking at the fish to give them the opportunity to memorize our faces.
On the other hand, the fact that my fish could identify my face in a line-up may be a good reason for me to put down that stolen cookie.
]]> View Mon, 03 Oct 2016 11:00:00 +0000 34800 at
Montreal Passes Controversial Law to Ban Pit Bulls and Similar Breeds  
In the wake of the controversial Pit Bull ban, the city of Montreal is set to appeal the suspension. According to Canada's Global News, "The City of Montreal is fighting to have its dangerous dog ban reinstated, after a Superior Court judge ruled in favour of the Montreal SPCA last week. In his ruling, Justice Louis Gouin said the bylaw was unclear and the city needs to define exactly what a pit bull is.The city filed papers in court Wednesday, asking for permission to appeal the suspension of the pit bull-related clauses of the animal control bylaw." However, the city and officials are still at odds as, "Mayor Denis Coderre said he believed that suspending the bylaw put people and risk and vowed to appeal the decision."

In news that shocked dog lovers around the world, Montreal has passed a law that will ban Pit Bulls and "Pit Bull type dogs," including Staffordshire Bull Terriers, American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, as well as any of these breed mixes or "any dog that presents characteristics of one of those breeds." The law is set to go into effect on October 3.
According to the Washington Post, in response to a woman's mauling death by a Pit Bull, the Montreal city council responded by putting a ban on so-called "dangerous breeds." 
"It will be illegal for anyone to adopt or otherwise acquire a new Pit Bull in the city. If the Pit Bulls are not grandfathered in, they face euthanasia." 
Additionally, any citizen who already owns a Pit Bull or any of the other "at-risk" breeds on the list, they must purchase a permit in order to keep their pet, as well as vaccinate, sterilize and microchip the dog." Current Pit Bull owners will have until the end of the year to file for and get the permit. The new law also says owners need to muzzle their Pits in public, keeping them on a leash no longer than four feet. There are an estimated 7,000 Pit Bull owners in Montreal. 
The CBC reports that Montreal's mayor Denis Coderre stated, "I am working for all Montrealers...and I am there to make sure they feel safe and that they are safe."
This measures put in place have outraged Pit bull Parents and activists in Montreal, and actions are already being taken. In addition to a petition to reverse the ban, the Montreal SPCA "urgently filed a lawsuit against the city" for a multitude of reasons. In a statement on its website, the Montreal SPCA said the ban is: "Unreasonable in that they treat all 'Pit bull type dogs' as dangerous dogs in spite of the fact that there exists no credible evidence to the effect that dogs belonging to this arbitrary category are inherently dangerous." 
Pet lovers and advocates everywhere are speaking out regarding the decision on Twitter and in the news. 
"We are angered by the actions of Montreal's elected officials and their lack of willingness to listen to their constituents and any of the countless, valid reports and facts presented to them," Liz Morales of Wicca's K-9 Justice Foundation in Quebec tells petMD. "Breed bans do not work and we have the benefit of being able to look at places that have enacted such bans and have not had any success with them. Families will be ripped apart, innocent lives will be lost, and none of these things were addressed. Instead we are left with a vague law and many shell shocked citizens." 
A statement from CAA Rescue reads: "As citizens of Montreal, we are enraged by the decision of our elected officials to enact legislation that goes against science and against recommendations made by many experts. As a rescue group, we are heartbroken and extremely fearful for the future. Banning pit bull type dogs in Montreal means we will no longer be able to take into our care any dogs with big heads and other suspected pit bull-like features; we will have to actually turn dogs in need away, which goes against everything we believe in. It also means that many dogs currently in shelters will be subsequently killed. 
CAA Rescue explains on its website that animal lovers wishing to help can sign the various petitions asking the mayor to reverse his decision. The group also recommends that individuals provide donations of time or funds to groups like The Freedom Drivers, who are working to transport Pit-type dogs in shelters out of the province to safer locations. In addition, donations can also be made to the Montreal SPCA. 
Image via Shutterstock 
]]> dog Petlanthropy Thu, 29 Sep 2016 18:16:01 +0000 34787 at
New York Passes Law That Allows Cremated Pets To Be Buried With Owners  
On September 26, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation that allows pet parents to be buried with their animal in a not-for-profit cemetery. 
According to a press release, the bill "will allow humans to be buried with their cremated pet with the cemetery’s written consent. Cemeteries will also be required to place all payments for the pet internment in its permanent maintenance fund and provide customers with a list of charges pertaining to the burial of the pet." 
But, for any pet parent considering this for their future plans, there are considerations to take. The law will go into effect immediately, and as New York State Department of State’s Division of Cemeteries explains to petMD, "If a cemetery is going to add a new charge to inter pet remains, that charge must be filed with the Division and approved before the service is provided." 
The department adds that it hopes to "post guidance on its website in the very near future regarding how this service can be offered and provided." 
But, as this new law comes into effect, Cuomo notes in the release that it will mean a lot to people whose wishes can now become a reality. "For many New Yorkers, their pets are members of the family. This legislation will roll back this unnecessary regulation and give cemeteries the option to honor the last wishes of pet lovers across New York." 
Senator Michael H. Ranzenhofer also shared his feelings on the new law, stating: "For years now, New Yorkers have desired to have their pets interred in their grave, and cemeteries will now be able to offer this burial option as a result of this new law. I am pleased that Governor Cuomo has signed it into law"
Image via Shutterstock 
]]> Strange But True Wed, 28 Sep 2016 18:28:19 +0000 34765 at
Lost Dalmatian Finds His Way to a Fire Station  
While that may sound like the beginning of a joke, they weren't kidding. Around 2:30 that morning, a wandering Dalmatian mix wisely (and perhaps instinctually) followed an engine back to the station, where the fire crew was returning from a call. 
The dog didn't have a microchip or any other form of identification. "He made himself at home and was very well mannered," Corey Dierdorff, the public information office for the HCFR, tells petMD. "He wasn’t malnourished, and didn’t have any fleas. He was only dirty. So crews washed him and fed him." 
"They were able to play fetch, the dog was able to sit, and he was housebroken," he says. "The crew knew that he was someone’s pet, and wanted to get him reunited with his owners." 
In order to help get the loving and friendly pooch back home, the station made a Facebook video, which showed the dog playing, hanging out, and generally being a good boy. 
Thanks to the video, his owners were, in fact, able to identify the dog, whose name is Chico. "They were able to give us some very unique features the dog had so we knew it was the correct owner," Dierdorff assures. 
The station's follow-up Facebook post put it best, "We are all so happy for a happy ending to this story!" 
This happy story also serves, ultimately, as a reminder that while kind strangers (or, in this case, firefighters) may do the right thing, it is always important that your dog has the proper forms of identifcation in the event that he or she gets lost. 
Image via Hillsborough County Fire Rescue Facebook
]]> dog Lifestyle & Entertainment Tue, 27 Sep 2016 12:45:32 +0000 34761 at
Why Dogs Should NOT Eat ‘People Food’  
While the food you are sharing with your dog may not technically be considered harmful to its health, it is slowly causing adverse side effects— physically, behaviorally, and socially.
Believe it or not, our pets have us trained pretty well. We pet them when they nudge us, take them out when they bark, and give them treats when they whine. When we start to feed our pets from our plate, counter, anywhere not in their own food bowl, or food that is anything other than their normal dog food, we start to introduce bad habits that can be difficult to break.
Dogs will begin to beg for food while we eat, cook, or snack. This can occur at all times, especially when they see YOU holding or eating food. They will whine, sit and stare, jump up, run around, anything to get your attention in hopes of getting you to drop a yummy morsel of food. At some point, you may even share food with them just to get them to stop these annoying behaviors. This will actually reinforce their bad behavior.
Dogs, like children, will realize that if they do X (whine, cry, beg), human will do Y (feed me, drop food, etc.). Breaking this behavior can be extremely difficult and time consuming; it is best to never start it in the first place.
Health problems:
Not only are we setting up our pets to behave badly, we are introducing the possibility of eating toxic foods, as well as an increase in daily calories.
Generally, the dogs I see at the veterinary office, or the dogs I pet-sit for, that eat only dog food tend to have better body condition scores and are at a more appropriate weight for their size, age, and/or breed. Dogs that are kept at an optimum weight are less likely to have joint, bone, ligament, or mobility issues, and are less likely to develop heart disease, breathing issues, decreased liver function, and many other health problems. Just like humans, maintaining a healthy weight helps ensure a dog’s overall health and longevity.
Dogs that are not fed people food are less likely to eat toxic foods. While I do not have any scientific evidence, I base this on the more than a decade of veterinary expertise and first-hand experience.
For example, I know a couple with a dog that begged at the table morning, noon, and night. They thought it was cute and loved seeing all the “tricks” their dog would do just for a little scrap of food. One evening they were hosting a party and the guests thought that it was adorable to watch the pup spin and hop and beg everyone for treats—that is, until the owners found out their guests were giving grapes to their dog as a treat! Grapes are highly toxic and their toxicity in a dog can be unpredictable. Fortunately, they were able to get the dog immediate treatment and there was a happy ending.
Picky eaters:
Share too many of your delicious foods and your dog may become a picky eater and not want to eat their own food, especially if they know there may be something better on the menu if they hold out long enough. I have seen this happen more times than I can count; owners calling the vet office because Fido won’t eat his food, but he will eat chicken, beef, eggs, or anything else they offer from the menu.
After a comprehensive physical exam, the doctor will not find any medical reason why Fido won’t eat his kibble and will suggest a trip to the behaviorist. Generally if the vet can discover the dog’s eating habits, or the owners confess they feed Fido from their own plates, the answer is all too clear: Fido has decided he wants the “good food” and not his generic kibble.
Again, this behavior can be difficult to break and can even cause adverse physical side effects if the dog does not eat for long periods of time or is not receiving the appropriate nutrition.
Overall, while it is not horrible if your dog eats the occasional “people food,” to avoid future problems, it’s best to keep Fido strictly on dog food.
]]> View Mon, 26 Sep 2016 11:00:00 +0000 34758 at
New Findings on Cat-Scratch Disease Every Pet Parent Should Know  
"There are millions of cats in the United States and they are beloved cats for many people, but it's helpful for people to be aware of how they can prevent cat-scratch disease—and disease in general," says Dr. Christina A. Nelson of the CDC, who conducted the study alongside Dr. Paul S. Mead and Shubhayu Saha. 
According to the CDC, CSD is an infectious disease caused by the Bartonella henselae bacteria, which is spread to cats by the common cat flea. CSD can be transmitted to humans by scratches, bites, and, in some rare cases, licks, if a cat licks an open wound or abrasion. (It is also of note that there is some evidence that CSD can be transferred to humans while snuggling and kissing kittens.) 
So how would one know that they are suffering from CSD? The typical resonse to CSD includes lymph node swelling and, in some cases, fatigue. "An atypical response to cat-scratch disease can take many different forms," Nelson explains. "It can infect bones, and it can also—in rare circumstances—infect the brain and heart valves, which may require surgery." 
The study, which looked at cases of CSD in people from 2005 to 2013, found that during their case study period, the "highest average annual CSD incidence for outpatients and inpatients was among children 5–9 years of age." They also discovered that most cases were found in the southern United States. 
Nelson tells petMD that this is because fleas (who carry the bacteria to cats) prefer the moist conditions of the south as opposed to more arid climates. She also theorizes that because children are more likely to play with cats, their risk of being scratched (even accidentally) increases. 
One of the more notable findings in the study is that while CSD cases were thought to occur mainly in the fall due to flea life cycles and because it follows summer kitten adoptions (kittens are more likely to carry CSD because they are not yet immune to the bacteria), January is when most cases occur.
The reason as to why January is the height of infection could not be explained through the data, but Nelson and her colleagues think it could be due to people being indoors and around more cats during the winter, as well as the rise of kittens being given as pets during the holiday season. 
While CSD is something every pet parent should be aware of, the CDC wants to remind cat lovers that it should not be a deterrent from having a feline in their lives, but rather a reminder of why prevention and care is so important.    
"Flea treatment for your cat can reduce the risk of harboring the bacteria," Nelson says, adding that pet parents should take their cat to the veterinarian to get the best flea treatment suited for their pet. 
While you can show your cat affection, be sure to play with it nicely to avoid any possible instances in which you could be scratched. After handling or playing with your cat, Nelson says, you should wash your hands or any skin that may have a break in it to wash the bacteria away. 
Nelson says that outdoor cats, particularly those that hunt, may be more likely to be exposed to CSD because they are exposed to other wild animals. Indoor cats have a lower risk of harboring CSD. She also points out that a declawed cat could still carry the disease, and while theoretically they are less likely to transmit it to a person (though they still could through a bite or lick), the CDC does not support declawing as a preventative measure. 
"Pets mean a lot to people and to families, and they have a lot of benefits," Nelson said. "We don’t want people to get rid of their cats, just for them to take the simple measures to keep healthy." 
Image via Shutterstock 
]]> Health & Science Wed, 21 Sep 2016 18:15:40 +0000 34733 at
Cat Injured in Boston Tunnel Rescued by State Trooper  
According to a press release from the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals-Angell Animal Medical Center, on September 13, Massachusetts state trooper James Richardson was driving through Boston's Callahan tunnel when he noticed a badly hurt feline lying by the side of the road. 
Richardson then radioed his dispatcher to send aid for the injured black-and-white cat, who was eventually taken to the MSPCA in Jamaica Plain, Mass. 
It was there that the 5-year-old cat—who has since been named, fittingly, Callahan—was treated by Dr. Cindi Cox. Cox found that Callahan "had suffered multiple pelvic fractures and some mild head trauma, but would definitely survive." 
"It always amazes me that cats can survive these kinds of strikes,” said Cox in the statement. "Fortunately his pelvic fractures aren’t severe enough to require surgery; they’ll heal with about six weeks of cage-rest and I expect his balance will improve once his head trauma resolves."
Cox further explains to petMD that it's better to let fractures like Callahan's heal on their own because "the bones are not terribly misaligned" and a surgery would be "unnecessarily invasive."
Callahan appeared to be a stray cat, as he was not neutered at the time and had no identification. "He was clearly very scared and very dirty; his white paws were gray with soot, which indicated that he lived primarily, if not exclusively, outdoors," Cox tells us. "Despite this, he is extremely friendly (if a bit shy) and, remarkably, seems in wonderful health otherwise."  
Cox notes that despite everything he's been through, Callahan (who will also be neutered before he's available for adoption) will someday make for a wonderful indoor pet. In the meantime, Callahan will be placed in foster care while he recovers. 
If any compassionate animal lover ever found themselves in a high-risk rescue situation like that of Richardson, Cox says the best thing to do is call the proper authorities for help and not to put yourself or the animal in further danger. 
As Alyssa Krieger, the adoption center manager at the MSPCA-Angell, put it, "[Richardson]'s a hero to us and certainly to Callahan."
Image via MSPCA-Angell
]]> cat Lifestyle & Entertainment Tue, 20 Sep 2016 15:38:15 +0000 34723 at
Low Cost Vet Care Options You Should Know  
I was lucky enough that a former roommate wanted the kitten and was financially in a better place to care for her, but this is not always the case. In many situations a person may keep a pet they can’t afford, hoping, against the odds, that the pet will not get sick enough to need health care. In other cases, loss of a job, physical disability, or decrease in family income forces many pet owners into a position in which they cannot afford veterinary care for their pet, and parting with their animal companion is not an option.
Whether this is because the animal is considered family, or because the owner’s emotional health would be affected by the loss of the pet, or because they cannot find a shelter or other suitable home for the pet, the need for veterinary care can leave a financially struggling pet owner in a moral bind.
So what should these families do? How can pet owners balance vet bills and daily bills to ensure all family members are healthy and cared for?
Avoiding High Vet Bills - Prevention, Prevention, Prevention
Dr. Katy Nelson, a veterinarian who is often quoted in petMD articles, advises owners to “Invest your ounce in prevention, rather than your pounds in cure.”
Preventatives may have some upfront cost associated with use, but it is far cheaper than the diseases/conditions they are meant to prevent. Monthly flea and tick preventatives cost around $10.00 a month, whereas treatment for a flea infestation or tick related illnesses can cost well over a couple of hundred dollars, along with months of aggravation to treat.
One way to plan ahead is to consider a designated “pet” savings account. Putting away a few dollars a week can eventually add up and help with unexpected or annual/routine care.
If saving is not an option, consider Care Credit. This is a credit card specifically for medical use—for both humans and animals. There is no annual fee or cost to apply. The majority of veterinarians, as well as specialist and emergency care hospitals, accept this form of payment. Having this as a backup may be one form of having a medical savings plan or pet “insurance.”
Additional preventions all pet parents should take are spaying and neutering your pet, keeping them physically trim and the excess weight off, ensuring they have a well-fitting collar and use of a non “flexy” type leash (there is a reason veterinary professionals call these leads “hit by car” leashes), and keeping nails trimmed, fur brushed, teeth cleaned/brushed, and regular wellness visits with your vet. If a vet does catch a small or developing issue during a routine exam, having a savings or back-up credit plan may greatly reduce the cost of treatment and save some serious money down the road.
Emergencies Do Happen – Finding Low Cost Emergency Care
There are numerous local and national organizations that are able to help via specifically set up emergency funds and charities. The best place to find these funds is through your local SPCA, Humane Society, or Animal Shelter/Rescue Organization. Most of these organizations even offer low to no cost veterinary preventative care (vaccines, deworming, and even spay/neuter options) regardless if you adopted your pet from their organization or not. You may want to check well ahead of time for when they offer vet clinics, as many times they are not able to offer consistent hours due to their budget and staff limitations.
Finding affordable emergency vet care can be tricky. Most emergency vet clinics are more expensive than traditional, primary care veterinarians. In most cases, they are less willing to offer payment plans or discounted services. This is not because these veterinarians do not want to help you and your pet; it is, in most cases, because there has not been a relationship or financial history between you and the vet. Your primary vet, who you see at least once a year, is far more likely to work with you on a payment plan or discount services. But there are some options if you find yourself in an emergency vet hospital. Red Rover crisis care provides “financial assistance, resources … to pet guardians struggling with economic hardship when pets are in need of urgent and emergency veterinary care.”
These grants are only a few hundred dollars and can cover the initial exam and some medication, so what can pet owners do if they are facing a more extensive and expensive diagnosis and treatment? If immediate emergency care and treatment are required, please do not wait for one of these grants. The application process can take a few (business) days to go through.
First and foremost, be upfront with the treating veterinarian. Let them know you are in a tight financial bind, and even tell them how much money you have available to cover the costs of your pet’s care. Vets can get creative and can try to “skip” a few steps, treatments, and/or procedures. Although not ideal, veterinarians are NOT in this profession “just for the money” and would much rather treat pets and get them healthy than euthanize or send them home in pain for lack of finances.
In some cases, depending on your location, your vet can refer you to a veterinary school, but keep in mind that there are only 30 schools or colleges of veterinary medicine in the U.S., and the travel expenses may be more than the treatment.
Other Ways to Find Help with the Medical Bill
In this day of worldwide connection via social media, one option is to reach out to your “contacts” and start a GoFundMe (or similar) account. You never know, there may be a generous guardian angel out there that would be happy to help you and your pet.
The Humane Society of the United States has compiled national and local organizations that can provide financial assistance to owners and their pets, but be aware that you will need to make a good case for why your pet needs their money for medical care.
In a worst case scenario, where you just cannot afford veterinary care, consider reaching out to a local rescue organization (especially if you have a pure-breed dog) or animal shelter. They may have an onsite vet (often on select days of the week) who can care for your pup and get it the medical help it needs without resorting to euthanasia.
Do you know of any other ways to find affordable care? Share yours in the comments.
]]> View Mon, 19 Sep 2016 11:00:00 +0000 34712 at
Coconut the Kitten, From Abandoned to Rescued and Thriving  
Sorbara, the president of the Naples Cat Alliance in Naples, Fla.—a volunteer group that aids in trap, neuter, return (TNR) and rescue efforts of felines in need in a free-roam, no kill environment—received a message telling her that three kittens, born from a feral cat, were in a backyard. 
"We have trapped numerous cats in this location in the past year, adopting out 15 of them and TNRing 12," Sorbara tells petMD. "Coconut's mother has become trap shy because of it and, unfortunately, extremely hard to catch. So she had another litter!" 
Coconut, who was just two-weeks-old at the time, was found trembling between her two siblings, Praline and Pistachio (named by Sorbara after the flavors of ice cream she and her boyfriend had eaten before getting the fateful message). At the shelter, Coconut, Praline, and Pistachio received the tender care they needed, including being bottle fed, to ensure their health, but Sorbara was particularly concerned about Coconut. 
"We knew something wasn't quite right with Coconut the minute we saw her. Upon closer inspection at the shelter, we knew it was definitely true," Sorbara said. "She had a very severe head tilt and could barely walk." 
Sorbara feared Coconut had a neurological disorder like vestibular disease or cerebellar hypoplasia, so she made a video of the cat's movements to share with her veterinarian. While all three kittens came back with clean bills of health, Coconut still needed to fight a little harder. Despite her challenges, Sorbara says Coconut is improving every single day. 
"She still has a head tilt, but she is able to hold her self up for longer periods of time," she tells petMD. "Depending on her special needs, [we] will determine when, and if, she will be available for adoption." 
Sorbara says that if and when the day comes that Coconut can be adopted, she should belong to "someone very, very special." 
Despite her disposition, Sorbara says that Coconut is a playful kitty with an adventerous spirit. "She is a little spitfire!  She loves to wrestle with her brothers and she has lots of energy ... she is a special kitty, totally unaware of her disabilities; she is a little fighter."
Watch videos of Coconut and her siblings on the Naples Cat Alliance Facebook page or donate to the organization to assist with Coconut's needs (and the needs of other cats who have been rescued by the group). 
Image via Megan Sorbara
]]> Lifestyle & Entertainment Fri, 16 Sep 2016 13:45:08 +0000 34710 at
Addiction Foods Recalls Select Canned Dog Food Products  
The Addiction Foods recalled products were shipped to select distributors and online retailers between between February 11 and March 19, 2016. They include:
Addiction New Zealand Brushtail & Vegetables Canned Dog Food Entrée, 13.8oz/390g
UPC Code - 8 885004 070028
Lot Number – 8940:02Dec2018
Expiration Date – December 2018
Addiction New Zealand Venison & Apples Canned Dog Food Entrée, 13.8oz/390g
UPC Code – 8 885004 070462
Lot Number – 8936:01Dec2018
Expiration Date – December 2018
During testing Addiction Foods identified elevated levels of Vitamin A and slight variance in calcium/ phosphorous ratios in the affected lots.
According to a statement released by the company (PDF), “Exposure to excessive Vitamin A levels for an extended period of time may cause adverse health consequences in young, growing animals.”
At the time of the release there were no reports of animal health concerns. However, Addiction Foods recalled these products out of an abundance of caution.
Addiction Foods advises customers who have purchased products listed above to discontinue the use of the food immediately and return any unused cans to the place of purchase for a full refund.
Questions and concerns related to this recall may contact Addiction Foods at 425-251-0330, or via email at Their office hours are Monday - Friday 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM PST. 
]]> Alerts & Recalls Wed, 14 Sep 2016 14:37:50 +0000 34709 at