Category Archives: Professor Scamp Ph.D (Pretty Happy Dog)

Vol. 17, No. 17 – May 15 – May 28, 2024 – The Pet Page

Volunteers from All For Love Animal Rescue (AFLAR), a local animal rescue organization, spearheaded a project to make 50 brand new, custom-made beds for rescue dogs who are in boarding, waiting to be adopted. The issue arose when rescue volunteers discovered that the nighttime hutches, essential for the dogs’ shelter and protection from wind and rain, were not big enough to accommodate the bigger size dog beds. That left bigger dogs, like AFLAR dog Chevi, without a proper bed inside. 

Recognizing the urgency of the situation, AFLAR volunteers embarked on a mission to address this pressing concern. Volunteers Mandy Rodriguez and Kirstin Rizk identified the challenge presented by Chevi’s need for a suitable bed. Realizing that the problem extended far beyond Chevi’s individual needs, Lupe Flores, an AFLAR volunteer known for her passion and problem-solving prowess, spearheaded efforts to design and construct custom-made beds that would fit the unique dimensions of every single hutch at CARL, a local rescue and boarding facility which houses many rescue dogs. 

Volunteers from All For Love Animal Rescue making custom-made beds for rescue dogs.

This ambitious project quickly gained momentum as volunteers from AFLAR and CARL rallied together, determined to make a difference. Through a remarkable display of community support and fundraising efforts, the necessary resources were swiftly secured. Within a day, donations poured in, surpassing expectations and enabling the project to commence without delay. Additionally, donors had the opportunity to sponsor a bed and include a special message of their own, further personalizing their support for the cause. 

Over the course of three intensive weeks, a dedicated team of 14 volunteers generously contributed their time to bring the vision to life. Special thanks to all the volunteers who worked weekdays and weekends, and meticulously measured, cut, and assembled 50 custom beds, ensuring that every dog in need would receive the comfort and warmth they deserve. The impact of this project extends far beyond providing comfortable bedding… It also alleviates the burden of constant laundry caused by wet blankets during the rainy season. 

“This special project embodies the spirit of compassion and collaboration that defines our rescue community,” remarked Maripat Davis, President/Founder of AFLAR. “We want to give sincere thanks to our volunteers for their incredible dedication, and we’re also very grateful for the support of our community.” 

To continue making a difference in the lives of abandoned animals, AFLAR invites community members to consider volunteering. From walking dogs to participating in projects like this one, there are countless ways individuals can contribute to the well-being of animals in need. 

For more information about AFLAR and how you can support their mission, please visit them at www.allforloveanimalrescue.org or email [email protected].

Commercially prepared pet food and treats can provide nutritious diets and delicious rewards for pets, but it’s important to handle them with health and safety in mind. That’s because—just like people food—they sometimes may be contaminated with bacteria like Salmonella or Listeria, which can cause serious illness in both the pets that eat them and the people who handle the food and treats.

Animals that become infected after eating contaminated food also may pose a risk to the people with whom they come in contact. The people most at risk from these infections are the young, elderly, pregnant, and immune-compromised.

Contamination is especially a concern when it comes to raw food products, but can happen with cooked/processed products as well. Fortunately, there are simple precautions pet owners can take to minimize the risk of illness from contaminated pet food and treats in both their pets and themselves.

Purchase only products that are in good condition at the time of sale. Avoid packages that are damaged, such as dented cans or ripped and torn bags.

Wash hands for at least 20 seconds with clean running water and soap after handling pet food and treats. Use hand sanitizer when handwashing isn’t an option.

Wash pet food and water bowls, scoops, feeding mats, and other items used in feeding your pet frequently. Use hot, soapy water.

Use a dedicated spoon or scoop to place pet food in the bowl. To avoid contaminating the pet food do NOT use the unwashed bowl as a scoop.

Promptly seal and refrigerate any unused or leftover wet or moist pet food or treats in a refrigerator set at 40°F or below, or discard it.

Use leftover, refrigerated wet/moist food and treats as soon as possible and according to label directions.

Store dry pet food and treats in a cool, dry place at less than 80°F.

If possible, store dry pet food in its original bag inside a clean, dedicated, airtight container. If the original bag is not used, save the part of the bag with the complete product name, date of manufacture, lot number, and expiration date or best-by date. This information is helpful in an investigation where contaminated pet food is suspected. It also can help you avoid feeding out-of-date food.

Keep all pet food out of reach of very young children, who may be tempted to put it in their mouths.

Dispose of spoiled or old pet food by putting it in a securely tied plastic bag, inside a covered trash receptacle. This is to keep other pets and wildlife from getting hold of the food.

Canine Adoption and Rescue League ~ CARL is looking for volunteers to enrich the lives of our rescue dogs at our kennel in Santa Paula until we can find a caring and loving home. Volunteers assist with walking, transportation, outreach, events, etc. To learn more and apply, visit carldogs.org/how-to-help/volunteer.

Vol. 17, No. 16 – May 1 – May 14, 2024 – The Pet Page

• By Elana Spivack

It’s unfair that some humans are allergic to humankind’s best friend. An adorable dog or cat ought to bring joy to those around it, not miserable sniffling and sneezing. But between 10 and 20% of the world population is allergic to cats and dogs, marking a significant portion of people who are sensitive to two of the world’s most popular household pets.

Hypoallergenic cats and dogs are a purported solution. But what does it mean to be hypoallergenic — and does such a trait really exist?

The most common ones appear in their saliva and shed skin, or dander. People with allergies to these proteins experience immune reactions, meaning their immune system responds as if they’re bacteria or viruses, deploying a bevy of unpleasant symptoms like sneezing, itching, or coughing.

Some cats and dogs are deemed hypoallergenic, which means they’re “relatively unlikely to cause an allergic reaction, but still can,” Koch says. Dog breeds believed hypoallergenic include hairless terriers, poodles, bichon frise, and schnauzers while cats include the Cornish Rex and hairless sphynx, according to Koch. These animals supposedly don’t shed as much, or might be hairless altogether, but that might not make a difference when it comes to allergies. Koch says that dogs can produce allergens in their blood, prostate, and anal glands, while cats make allergens in their skin oil glands, anal glands, blood, and male cats produce them in urine.

Salivary allergens are especially problematic because as cats and dogs groom themselves, they spread these proteins all over their body. These compounds can also hang around in the air for several days. Even if you get a hairless cat or dog, an allergy to their saliva can make them a menace to your immune system.

• Ask the Vet

Q: I was at the vet’s office last month with my Lab for her annual check-up, and he was talking about a vaccination for Lepto. I’ve never heard of Lepto before. Can you tell me more? Does Betsy (my Lab) need it? E.R., Farragut

A: Leptospirosis, or “Lepto” for short, is a bacteria that can affect most animals, wild and domestic. The bacteria is spread in the urine of infected animals. Dogs can contract the disease by coming into contact with infected urine in standing water, streams, lakes or recently contaminated soil. The bacteria can enter the body through the mouth, nose, eyes or a small cut in the skin or paw pad.

In rural areas, Leptospira can be spread by wildlife, such as deer, opossums and skunks. In urban areas, rats are the primary carriers, with notable outbreaks occurring in Chicago and New York City. All dogs have the potential for exposure, unless he/she is the rare dog that lives inside only and uses a litterbox.

Dogs that contract Lepto typically develop a high fever. They become weak and dehydrated, and often have vomiting and/or diarrhea. Dogs often are jaundiced; the yellow color is visible on non-haired skin, gums and/or the whites of the eyes. In most cases, acute kidney failure develops, and some dogs also develop liver failure. Blood and urine tests are required for diagnosis. Although we have effective antibiotics, treatment can be lengthy and expensive if the kidneys are severely affected. Thus, early detection, diagnosis and treatment is important.

There has been an increase in cases across the country the last 10-to-15 years, so many veterinarians are talking to clients about the vaccines. The AVMA recently came out with the recommendation that vaccine should be used for all dogs.

With increased incidence, vaccination technology for Leptospirosis has also improved; it’s a better vaccine with fewer side effects. Current vaccines include protection for the four most common subtypes.

Unfortunately, there are more than 400 subtypes, so complete protection is not possible. Please have a conversation with your veterinarian regarding Betsy’s medical history, lifestyle, exposure and any past vaccine reactions.

• US insurers paid out $1.12 billion in dog-related injury claims in 2023.

The number of dog bite and related injury claims was 19,062 in 2023, an increase of more than 8% from 2022 and a 110% increase over the past decade, with the total cost of claims at $1.12 billion, reported Janet Ruiz, director of strategic communications at the Triple-I.

On a positive note, the average cost per claim decreased from $64,555 in 2022 to $58,545 in 2023, she said, noting that California, Florida and Texas had the most claims. “Education and training for owners and pets is key to keep everyone safe and healthy.”

The National Dog Bite Prevention Week Coalition provides the following tips to prevent dog bites:

Make sure your pet is healthy. Not all illnesses and injuries are obvious, and dogs are more likely to bite if they are sick or in pain. If you haven’t been to the veterinarian in a while, schedule an appointment for a checkup to discuss your dog’s physical and behavioral health.

Prioritize proper socialization: Socialization involves gently introducing your dog to a range of settings, people, and other animals, and ensuring these experiences are positive. Whether it’s quietly observing the bustle of a park, meeting new people in a controlled manner, or getting used to the sights and sounds of your neighborhood, each positive experience builds confidence. Socialization should be a lifelong journey, and not just for the puppy phase.

Take it slow. If your dog has been mainly interacting with your family since you brought them home, don’t rush out into crowded areas or dog parks. Try to expose your dogs to new situations slowly and for short periods of time, arrange for low-stress interactions, and look for behaviors that indicate your dog is comfortable and happy to remain in the situation.

Understand your dog’s needs and educate yourself in positive training techniques. Recognize your dog’s body language and advocate for them in all situations. This will give your dog much needed skills and help you navigate any challenges you might encounter.

Be responsible about approaching other people’s pets. Ask permission from the owner before approaching a dog and look for signs that the dog wants to interact with you. Sometimes dogs want to be left alone, and we need to recognize and respect that.

Make sure that you are walking your dog on a leash and recognize changes in your dog’s body language indicating they may not be comfortable.

Always monitor your dog’s activity, even when they are in the backyard at your own house, because they can be startled by something, get out of the yard and possibly injure someone or be injured themselves.

Source: Insurance Information Institute

Vol. 17, No. 15 – April 17 – April 30, 2024 – The Pet Page

Animals have been known to help people in hospitals, schools, and fire and police departments. Annie is unique as she helps other animals calm their nerves for Jackson County Animal Control Officer Shawn Lutz.

What she does is she helps me catch dogs that are scared of people who have been running for a while,” said Lutz. “She is a confident dog; she goes out, and she befriends them and brings them back to me so I can get them caught and off the street.”

Since 2020, Annie has been a ride-along partner for Lutz and a family pet. Lutz said Annie has helped retrieve over 70 dogs.

The biggest thing is, every morning, my wife says make sure Annie comes home. I am assuming she wants me home as well,” said Lutz.

The bond between Annie and Lutz is special, and he said he could not imagine working without his partner by his side.

She talks to me, we interact all day long, we really kind of read each other, I look out for her, and she looks out for me,” said Lutz. “It would be very awkward to not have her with me on a regular basis working the road.”

Annie is a big celebrity around town and at public events, but Officer Lutz said he still worries about her whenever she is called upon to work.

I get nervous every single time,” said Lutz. “She has had a couple of times where she has been nipped over the years doing this job. I worry every single time she gets out of the truck, and she is working with me and helping me that she is going to have a negative encounter.”

As for Annie, she is just happy to be working alongside her best friend.

Breakthrough Cancer Vaccine For Dogs Is ‘Truly Revolutionary’, Scientist Says

HEALTH By David Nield

A recently developed cancer vaccine for dogs is showing promising results in clinical trials, which have been running since 2016, and there’s hope that some of the benefits of the vaccine could be translated into human cancer treatments.

More than 300 dogs have been treated with the vaccine to date, and the twelve–month survival rate for canines with certain cancers has been lifted from about 35 percent to 60 percent. Tumors in many of the animals have also shrunk.

Known officially as the Canine EGFR/HER2 Peptide Cancer Immunotherapeutic, the treatment grew out of studies of autoimmune diseases, where the immune system damages the body’s own tissue rather than any invading threats. The vaccine is designed to get the immune system to attack cancer instead.

“In many ways tumors are like the targets of autoimmune diseases,” says rheumatologist Mark Mamula, from the Yale University School of Medicine.

“Cancer cells are your own tissue and are attacked by the immune system. The difference is we want the immune system to attack a tumor.”

Regression of lung metastases in a canine patient. Chest X-rays were taken three months apart. (Doyle et al., Translational Oncology, 2021)

As outlined in a 2021 study by Mamula and colleagues, the treatment gets the immune cells to produce antibody defenses, which attach themselves to tumors and interfere with their growth patterns.

Specifically, these antibodies hunt down two proteins: epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2). Mutations causing overexpression of these proteins drive uncontrolled cell division in some human and canine cancers.

Existing treatments targeting EGFR and HER2 call upon just one kind of antibody. The new vaccine boosts its effects by creating a polyclonal response – one that involves antibodies from multiple immune cells, rather than a single one, making it harder for the cancer to become resistant to the drug.

“In veterinary oncology, our toolbox is much smaller than that of human oncology,” says veterinary oncologist Gerry Post, from the Yale School of Medicine. “This vaccine is truly revolutionary. I couldn’t be more excited to be a veterinary oncologist.”

For now, the vaccine remains a post-diagnosis treatment option rather than any preventative measure, but it’s already helped dogs like Hunter: he’s now cancer-free, two years after being diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer.

Typically, only about 30 percent of dogs with osteosarcoma will survive beyond twelve months. Around one in four dogs will get cancer during their lifetimes, so the potential impact of the treatment is huge.

Considering the similarities between dog cancer and human cancer, from genetic mutations and tumor behavior to treatment responses, the researchers suggest the vaccine will also help our understanding of cancers in humans.

The Yale University team isn’t the only ones making progress with canine cancer treatments, either. Researchers are also trialing various immunotherapies for dogs with melanoma and lymphoma. However, as with human cancers, not all dogs respond to treatment, and it’s difficult to predict which ones do.

“Dogs, just like humans, get cancer spontaneously,” says Mamula. “They grow and metastasize and mutate, just like human cancers do.”

“If we can provide some benefit, some relief – a pain-free life – that is the best outcome that we could ever have.”

The research has been published in Translational Oncology.

Some dogs help other dogs.

Vol. 17, No. 13 – Mar 20 – April 2, 2024 – The Pet Page

“I have nightmares about having to wag my tail and run over to my human every time I see them.” Cat

•What Do Dogs and Cats Dream About?

Pets can’t report their dreams, but scientists have some evidence about what is happening when Sparky and Mittens sleep

By Meghan Bartels

“I dream about not having to do anything like a cat.” Dog
“I have nightmares about having to wag my tail and run over to my human every time I see them.” Cat

No matter how much trouble your pet gets into when they’re awake, few sights are as peaceful as a dog curled up in their bed or a cat stretched out in the sun, snoring away. But their experience of sleep can feel impenetrable. What fills the dreams of a dog or cat?

That’s a tricky question to answer. Snowball isn’t keeping a dream journal, and there’s no technology yet that can translate the brain activity of even a sleeping human into a secondhand experience of their dream world, much less a sleeping animal. “No one has done research on the content of animals’ dreams,” says Deirdre Barrett, a dream researcher at Harvard University and author of the book The Committee of Sleep.

But Rover’s dreamscape isn’t entirely impenetrable, at least to educated guesses. First of all, Barrett says, only your furrier friends appear to dream. Fish, for example, don’t seem to display rapid eye movement (REM), the phase of sleep during which dreams are most common in humans. “I think it’s a really good guess that they don’t have dreams in the sense of anything like the cognitive activity that we call dreams,” she says.

Whether birds experience REM sleep is less clear, Barrett says. And some marine mammals always keep one side of their brain awake even while the other sleeps, with no or very strange REM sleep involved. That means seals and dolphins likely don’t dream in anything like the way humans do. But the mammals we keep as pets are solidly REM sleepers. “I think it’s a very safe, strong guess that they are having some kind of cognitive brain activity that is as much like our dreams as their waking perceptions are like ours,” she says.

That doesn’t mean that cats and dogs experience humanlike dreams. “It would be a mistake to assume that other animals dream in the same way that we do, just in their nonhuman minds and bodies,” says David Peña-Guzmán, a philosopher at San Francisco State University and author of the book When Animals Dream. For example, humans rarely report scents when recounting dreams; however, we should expect dogs to dream in smells, he says, given that olfaction is so central to their waking experience of the world. “We need to think about what a uniquely canine or uniquely feline dream might be, based on what we know about the experiences of dogs and cats,” Peña-Guzmán says. “They dream on their own terms.”

In addition, Barrett suggests the so-called continuity hypothesis for dreaming might apply to dogs and cats. This idea, which is supported by strong evidence in humans, holds that people’s dreams reflect their daily experiences. (An alternative idea, called the compensatory hypothesis, holds that people’s dreams reflect what they lack in daily life and is less supported, Barrett says.)

“Whatever you can observe dogs being interested in by day is what you would expect to show up in their dreams,” Barrett says. “That’s so much how it works for us that it would be surprising if they somehow did the compensation pattern.” For pet dogs, that likely means dreaming about food, play and yes, beloved owners, she says.

A unique experiment offers a glimpse inside feline dreams. In the late 1970s a neuroscientist tested a theory about which part of the brain prevents the body from acting out what’s happening in a dream. In that study, the late Michel Jouvet, then at the Claude Bernard University Lyon in France, damaged a region called the pons in cats. The cats indeed began moving during REM sleep; in particular, they displayed behavior that scientists interpreted as hunting small prey.

“It’s a very safe assumption that cats dream about stalking and pouncing on prey—stronger than any extrapolation,” Barrett says. She also expects cats’ dreams to follow the continuity hypothesis, although of course your feline’s daily experiences are different from Fido’s. Other cat dreams might include lying in the sun, stretching and playing with toys, she notes.

And are pet cats, like dogs, dreaming about their humans? Yes—in the most feline way, she says. “You would kind of expect that the cats that had a fairly strong attachment to owners would dream about owners some—but probably not as much as dogs.”

•What is socialization?

By AVMA

Socialization is the process of preparing a dog or cat to enjoy interactions and be comfortable with other animals, people, places and activities. Ideally, socialization should begin during the “sensitive period” which is between 3 and 14 weeks of age for puppies, and 3 and 9 weeks of age for kittens.

Adopting a new kitten or puppy is a wonderful and exciting experience. It is also a time where a little extra planning can help a new pet develop the calm and confident temperament that will help them enjoy life to the fullest.

Create a socialization plan specifically for your dog or cat to prepare him or her for life in your household. Plan exposures to the animals, individuals, environments, activities and objects that will be part of his or her new life.

Provide regular positive and diverse experiences to encourage your dog or cat to enjoy new experiences without becoming fearful or aggressive.

Provide praise, play and treats to reward engagement. Allow the dog or cat to withdraw if he or she is uncomfortable. Move at a pace appropriate for your pet’s personality.

Well-managed puppy or kitten socialization classes are a good way to socialize your new pet within the sensitive period.

Puppies or kittens that are not fully vaccinated should not be exposed to unvaccinated animals or places they may have been (such as outdoor parks).

Continue to reward your dog or cat for calm or playful responses to social interactions throughout his or her life.

For dogs or cats with special behavioral needs, develop a plan with your veterinarian and/or another animal behavior expert.

Vol. 17, No. 12 – Mar 6 – Mar 19, 2024 – The Pet Page

According to the American Medical Veterinarian Association(AMVA), there are certain signs in a pet’s health that point to a dental problem.

If there’s an issue can present with bad breath, it can present with loose teeth. It can present with swelling in the jaw, behind the eye, or anywhere else in the mouth. Inflamed gums. Most dogs and cats will eat despite them having tremendous periodontal disease and things like that. So that’s not always the first thing we look for,” Dr. Sherri Dubuc, chief of staff said at Emerald Shores Pet Hospital Resort and Spaw.

“It’s easy to clean my teeth.”

The smaller the dog, the toy breeds generally have genetically poor teeth, so they actually should have their teeth cleaned every year, year and a half. Once they get to be about two or three years old. Larger breed dogs don’t build up as much plaque. They don’t get as much dental disease, and you can usually space that cleaning out three, sometimes even four years,” Dubuc said.

If oral surgery is needed, the pet will be under anesthesia in order to get a full glimpse at the problem. Dubuc said proper treatment and check-ups can help keep your loved one around longer.

Having periodontal disease can lead to bone decay, infections in the jaw or the bone. It can lead to heart disease. Vegetative endocarditis can be a result of periodontal disease. It can actually shorten their lifespan if they have a bad enough infection,” Dubuc said.

The AMVA said brushing your pet’s teeth regularly is the best way to prevent frequent vet bills or major dental problems.

RescueCon, OPAC’s one-day event bringing creativity and community together to celebrate and facilitate animal rescue and adoption, returns on Saturday, March 23 from 11 am to 4pm. This year’s event features animal welfare influencer, the Kitten Lady (Hannah Shaw), and is free and open to the public. Festivities will be held at Community Center Park East, just behind the Oxnard Performing Arts & Convention Center. More information can be found at: theopac.org/rescuecon

With 1.3 million Instagram followers, “Kitten Lady” Hannah Shaw is this year’s special guest. She’s a renowned animal advocate, educator, and author, dedicated to improving the lives of vulnerable animals, particularly kittens. With a background in animal rescue and welfare, Shaw has become a leading voice in the field, inspiring a global community to care for and protect animals in need. Hannah will be leading two workshops: “Saving Kittens’ Lives” and “Community Cats 101.” While Kitten Lady talks are free, there are limited VIP tickets with preferred seating available through Eventbrite which include a Meet & Greet.

A few of the special activities for 2024 include:

Pet adoptions from Ventura County Humane Society, Canine Animal Rescue League, Humane Society of Ventura County, Santa Paula Animal Rescue, the Bunny Brigade, and others

Kid’s Area with jolly jump, hands-on and educational activities

Nonprofit exhibitors including National Search Dog Foundation, Cassie’s Cats, Animal Guardians Horse Rescue, California Coastal Horse Rescue, Harleys Heart Kitten Rescue, Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network, and others

Approximately 6.3 million companion animals enter U.S. animal shelters nationwide every year. RescueCon is one way to increase animal adoption, promote animal welfare and help create a strong rescue community. The event will also help shed light on other animals in need in our community, including marine animals, wildlife, farmed animals, and others.

RescueCon has been made possible thanks to generous support from the Ventura County Community Foundation’s Animal Welfare Fund.

Guinness rescinds Bobi’s title as world’s longest-lived dog. Bobi, a Portuguese mastiff, probably was not 31 years and five months old when he died, according to Guinness World Records, which pulled the previously awarded title of world’s longest-lived dog from the dog. “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and no concrete evidence has been provided to prove his age,” said veterinarian Danny Chambers, a council member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons.

Licking: cats are absolutely obsessed with it. In fact, research suggests an adult domestic feline can spend up to 8 per cent of their waking hours grooming their body with their tongue. Licking can also play an important social role with felines, with adults often licking each other just before copulating.

But what about humans: why do cats lick people? The good news: there’s no evidence to say your cat considers this any part of a pre-mating ritual. The bad news: scientists and cat behavioral experts aren’t completely sure why your cat might mop their little tongue against your face or hand.

However, while there’s no overarching and definitive explanation for this behavior, there are several theories about why domestic felines lick humans. Spoiler: your cat doesn’t come off well in any of them.

Why do cats lick people?

There’s no one reason why your cat might lick you. However, there are three main theories as to why domestic felines engage in this behavior:

They’re displaying they trust you.

They’re accessing biochemical information from your skin.

They’re marking you as another one of their possessions.

The trust theory

Yes, there’s a chance a cat may lick you to show they trust you. Or at least to show they don’t consider you as serious competition.

This type of licking is similar to a cat-to-cat behavior known as allogrooming, which is basically mutual grooming. A cat will learn this from its mother when they’re a very young blind and deaf kitten. It’s basically to clean the kitten and strengthen social bonds,” says Dr David Sands, an expert in animal psychology with over 25 years of clinical experience.

Because of these maternal origins, adult cats will only lick other cats they trust and are not in competition with. And this trusting grooming behavior may be transferred to a human.”

“After all, cats are not sitting there saying ‘I’m a cat and you’re a human being’. To them, animals are either in competition with them or not. And licking shows you’re not in competition.”

Vol. 17, No. 11 – Feb 21 – Mar 5, 2024 – The Pet Page

•By Dr. Doug Mader

February is designated by the American Veterinary Medical Association as National Pet Dental Health Month. As I do every year, I want to spend some time discussing this very important subject. The American Veterinary Dental Society (AVDS) reports that 80% of dogs and 70% of cats show signs of oral disease by the time they are only three years old! In fact, disease of the teeth and gums are the most common health problems seen in small animal veterinary hospitals (statistics provided by the pet health insurance industry).

“Doggie breath” is the first stage of dental disease in pets. This results from an accumulation of tartar and plaque near the gums, a condition called gingivitis. Red lines along the edges of the teeth instead of the normal, healthy bright pink color, signifies the beginning of gingivitis.

When diagnosed early, gingivitis, which is a bacterial infection of the pet’s gums, can be treated. If left untreated, the bacteria begin to move under the gum line, where they infect the teeth at their roots. This can lead to pyorrhea, or periodontitis. At this advanced stage, there is gum recession and loosening of the teeth. A thorough dental exam and cleaning is the cornerstone of properly treating gingivitis in the early stages.

“How come I don’t get to go outside, I could catch a mouse.”

Treatment of advanced or severe periodontal disease may involve extractions of teeth that have become infected, antibiotics as needed to help control the infection and pain medication (dental disease can be extremely painful). If left untreated, the bacterial infection can spread to the bone where it causes osteomyelitis (bone infection) in the jaw. Ultimately, the infection can enter the bloodstream where the bacteria may cause damage to the liver, heart and kidneys.

Veterinarians use an ultrasonic scaler to clean your pet’s teeth, a process very similar to that done in humans. As in people, dental X-rays are the gold standard and should be taken whenever a pet dental cleaning is performed. X-rays are needed to evaluate the crowns and the tooth roots. It is necessary to put the patient under a general anesthetic for a proper dental procedure to allow cleaning and X-rays. With proper health screening, anesthesia is safe, and any potential risks far outweigh the danger of leaving a diseased mouth untreated.

As important as the cleaning, the teeth need to be polished after the cleaning process. Polishing removes micro scratches in the enamel that predisposes the teeth to future dental tartar and plaque build up. Make sure to ask your veterinarian if he or she polishes the teeth with every dental cleaning. If not, find a veterinarian that does.

Of course, prevention is always better than treatment. You can avoid dental procedures if you make a regular practice of brushing your pet’s teeth at home. Though not as effective as a periodic professional cleaning, keeping your pet’s teeth cleaned by brushing will greatly improve the health of their teeth and gums. Brushing the teeth is simple and takes only a few minutes. Your veterinarian can teach you how to train your pet to allow brushing — including cats! There are also several great videos on YouTube that demonstrate how to brush your pet’s teeth.

5 sweet signs your dog feels safe with you

1. Initiating Physical Contact
If you’re wondering if your dog feels secure when he’s with you, and he’s resting his head on your lap while you read this, he feels safe and sound—it’s that simple.
According to Dr. Lopez, “Dogs that actively seek physical contact by leaning against you, nudging you or placing a paw on your lap are expressing a desire for closeness and connection.”

2. Playfulness and Excitement
While you may be annoyed by the incessant squeaking of that infernal rubber chicken toy you bought for Buster, if he’s playing with it in your presence, it’s a good thing.

“A dog that engages in playful behavior, such as bounding around, play-bowing, and bringing you toys, is demonstrating a sense of comfort and happiness in its owner’s presence,” Dr. Lopez explains.

3. Eating Comfortably
“Dogs that feel safe will eat their meals without hesitation or anxiety,” she continues. “A relaxed mealtime indicates trust in the environment and assurance that their owners will provide for their needs.”

4. Wags Its Tail Around You
We already mentioned that dogs and humans don’t share a common language, but that doesn’t mean dogs can’t communicate with us. They can and do!

“Dogs communicate through body language, and a wagging tail is a clear indicator of joy and comfort,” Dr. Lopez says. “It’s essential to recognize the nuances in tail wagging, as the speed and height of the wag can convey different emotions. A very friendly dog may wag his tail more freely and even wiggle his hips at the same time. This joyful and relaxed tail wag signifies a positive association, indicating that your dog feels secure and happy in your presence.”

5. The Sounds They Make
If you’re a first-time dog owner, you’re probably painfully aware of the loudest way a dog communicates, and you might already be trying to train yours to lower the volume a notch or ten.

“Dogs communicate through barking, and a lack of barking in your presence suggests a sense of ease and security,” Dr. Lopez explains. “Happy dogs may have higher-pitched barks and bark for shorter durations than agitated dogs. Some dogs vocalize with a soft, contented whine when they feel safe. However, it’s important to note that this gentle vocalization is different from anxious or distressed whining.”

In the end, Dr. Lopez emphasizes that it’s not enough for us simply to listen to our dogs to assess whether they feel safe or not.

“It’s crucial not to judge your dog solely by their vocalizations,” she says. “Consider other signs, such as their overall body language, to accurately gauge their emotional state before assuming everything is well.”

Vol. 17, No. 10 – Feb 7 – Feb 20, 2024 – The Pet Page

• A van is needed in order to transport dogs to the vet and for adoption events. Grant writer and retired public defender Jean Farley came to the rescue. Jean has been a CARL volunteer for over 9 years and helped out wherever she could at the kennels and then transitioned into grant writing for CARL.

Ruben Alarcon, a Biology Professor at Cal State Channel Islands is also a CARL volunteer and prior board member. Ruben communicated to the English Department professor who was giving a grant writing class of a need for CARL to receive a grant.

CARL was in need of a new transport van.

The proposal was submitted on CARL’s behalf to the Ventura County Community Foundation and they received enough to purchase a van.

There are also other ways in which the public can help such as volunteering. CARL is in need of volunteers to do outreach, facilities, dog walking, play groups, transport, adoption events and at the CARL’S Boutique Thrift Store in Ventura. By donating items or shopping at the thrift store, you are helping dogs at the CARL kennels. Please go to their website at carldogs.org and make a difference in a dog’s life.

•Dear Friends:

By Ventura County Animal Services

We did it! Thanks to you! 205 dog beds were donated in just 36 HOURS by shelter supporters in the community! The folks at Kuranda said, “We’ve never seen a donation drive this big go this fast!” They asked how we did it, and we told them we have a close-knit community of animal lovers who know us, trust us, and believe in our lifesaving mission! That’s how we did it!

If you missed the opportunity to donate a bed, our Foundation is always looking for general funds to support our animals’ daily needs, from toys and enrichment tools, to kitten formula and medical procedures. Thank you for supporting your local animal shelter! [www.vcas.us/donate]

Vol. 17, No. 09 – Jan 24 – Feb 6, 2024 – The Pet Page

• Humane Society of Ventura County February spay/neuter special!
All spray/neuters for cats are just $10.00.
Appointments required. Call 805-646-7849 to book today.
402 Bryant St. Ojai. www.hsvc.org/fix

• There is an AI pet robot that feeds and cares for your dog while you’re away and a heart monitor to help you keep track of your furry friend’s health.

Oro’s AI-powered pet robot will take care of your pet while you’re away Oro’s AI-powered pet robot lets you interact with your dog, even while you’re away.

“We would much rather eat out of a bowl!!”

Leaving your dog at home alone all day is truly one of the worst feelings in the world. If your dog has separation anxiety, leaving for the day can be equally as stressful for your dog as it is for you.

This robot lets you check in on your pup with two-way audio and interactive video and dispense treats or food. Since it’s powered by AI, the robot can learn your dog’s behavior and try to calm it down at signs of distress. Oro’s AI-powered robot retails for $799 and begins shipping in April of this year.

• Lawmakers in South Korea have passed a watershed ban on the production and sale of dog meat for human consumption, a centuries-old practice that has become less popular with younger generations (what about cats?).

South Korea’s parliament voted 208-0 in favor of the ban, which will go into effect in 2027 after a three-year transition period allowing dog farmers and restaurants to repurpose or close their businesses.

Animal rights activists celebrated the ban which comes after years of organized, vocal opposition to the practice of eating dog meat, such as in stews. South Korea joins a growing list of places that have banned human consumption of dog meat, including Hong Kong, Taiwan, the Philippines, India, Thailand and Singapore, as well as individual cities across China, Indonesia and the Siem Reap province in Cambodia, according to Humane Society International

• Can Home Electronics Harm Your Pet?
Elana Spivack Pet Science

Sirens, thunder, vacuum cleaners, and fireworks can wreak havoc on your pet. Subtler sounds — ones that don’t even register to human ears — may also affect them. But how can you know what your pets can hear, especially if you can’t hear it yourself? Understanding your pet’s hearing capabilities and the quiet cacophony of your home could help identify any nuisances.

If something bothers our pet, it often shows up in their behavior. Katherine Houpt, professor emeritus of behavioral medicine at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, recounts to Inverse one instance she remembers about one couple whose dog “suddenly began to pace.” Worried, “they took it to the emergency room where they had a huge bill. But they noticed that as soon as they left the house, the dog was fine.”

It turns out this couple, who were elderly and had become hard of hearing, couldn’t hear their smoke alarm chirping for fresh batteries.

She also warns that pets might be conditioned to react to beeps and buzzes. Invisible Fence, for example, trains a dog to stay in an unfenced yard with a collar that plays a tone if the dog approaches specified boundaries. If the dog crosses that threshold, the collar delivers a light electrical shock, deterring the dog from ever leaving the yard on its own. One unintended consequence, Houpt says, is that the dog may begin to take cues from out-of-context sounds.

“There are some dogs that don’t like the beeps from the microwave,” she says. “Dogs may confuse the sound of an appliance with the sound of their Invisible Fence collar saying, ‘If you take another step, you’re going to be shocked.’”

However, she’s not aware of any cases in which animals responded poorly to high-pitched sounds emitted by household electronics.

Cats can hear frequencies, or pitches, up to 64,000 Hertz and dogs up to 45,000 Hz, compared to a human’s mere 20,000 Hz.

A 2015 UK-based survey published in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery assessed potential causes of seizures in cats with a condition called feline audiogenic reflex seizures. Sounds like ringing phones, a metal spoon dropping into a ceramic bowl, tapping on glass, rustling paper or plastic bags, computer keyboard typing, and tongue clucking all evoked seizures in the 96 cats surveyed. This condition is far more severe than simply being bothered by a sound, but it demonstrates how highly sensitive an animal’s hearing is.

A 2005 study also found that ambient laboratory sounds can mess with animals’ endocrine and sleep cycles — though you probably don’t live in a laboratory. To the point, we can’t always see how sounds affect an animal; they may not even suffer from ambient noise.

Sadly, we can’t protect our fur babies from absolutely everything that frightens them. While you could opt for quieter vacuum cleaners or even stand vigilant by the microwave as it counts down to make sure it never dings again, the best you can do is observe how your pet behaves around certain gadgets or in response to switching something on.

“People should bear in mind when they add something to their household — whether it’s another dog, an electronic appliance, or a child — they should think about what effect it will have on the dog so that they can be prepared in case the dog reacts badly,” Houpt says.

The ravages of smoking cigarettes on human health have long been established. Now a new study says that contact with cigarette smoke, even if it’s on your clothes after coming from a smoky environment, can damage your dog’s health as well.

The study, which was led by Purdue University veterinarian Deborah Knapp, looked at the health and lifestyle factors of 120 Scottish terriers over the course of three years and found that those exposed to cigarette smoke had a six times higher chance of developing bladder cancer than those that weren’t. The dogs that developed cancer were exposed to a median level of 10 pack-years of smoke, while the ones who did not get the disease were exposed to a median level of 1.5 pack-years of smoke. A pack year is the equivalent of smoking one pack of cigarettes a day per year.•

Vol. 17, No. 08 – Jan 10 – Jan 23, 2024 – The Pet Page

•The Parks & Recreation Activity Guide has Leash Manners for Dogs- Learn techniques and tools to help you and your canine reduce leash pulling and Puppy Basic Training- Owner’s learn how to teach their puppy basic commands. Register at www.cityofventura.ca.gov/register.

•If you think of a game of fetch, you might picture a dog running back and forth, eagerly retrieving a ball. But a new, first-of-its-kind study in the journal Scientific Reports shows that they’re not the only pets that like the game: Cats play fetch, too, just on their own unique terms.

Academics at the University of Sussex and Northumbria University in Great Britain surveyed almost 1,000 owners of 1,154 cats to find out if – and why – they fetch, which was defined as an animal retrieving an object that’s thrown.

“I’ll fetch when I feel like it.”

According to their findings, nearly 95% of the cat owners reported that their cats fetched items instinctively, in the absence of overt training. One survey respondent said their cat returned the toy completely unprovoked.

Fetching was mainly first noticed when cats were under 1 year old.

What’s more, “cats who fetch largely determine when they engage in fetching sessions and actively influence the play behavior of their owners,” according to the study. In other words, unsurprisingly to cat owners, they liked to be in control.

“So it can say a bit about cats being in control of their interactions and being in control of their environments, [or] being in control of us, you might even go so far to say,” says Jemma Forman, a doctoral researcher at the University of Sussex and co-author of the study.

But the motivation for cats to fetch objects seems to be different from that for dogs. Cats are more inclined to play on their own with objects that resemble prey. For dogs, play is more social, involving either another dog or human.

In general, play has major advantages for both the pet and the owner, as it not only helps to prevent aggression towards the owner, but also models the act of preying on real animals, an important kind of play behavior.

“So even if your cat doesn’t play fetch, obviously it’s a really good idea to try and engage them in any sort of play. Play does have a lot of benefits,” says Forman. It’s about owner receptiveness to your fur baby, she says.

Scientific Reports.

•Diets limiting ingredients, not allergens, improve dog GI issues
By Olivia Hall  College of Veterinary Medicine

Restricting the number of ingredients in the diet lessens signs of disease in dogs with persistent gastrointestinal diseases, a study by researchers in the Department of Clinical Sciences in the College of Veterinary Medicine has found.

Dogs with chronic enteropathy (CE), an umbrella term describing gastrointestinal diseases lasting for three weeks or longer, responded equally well to both the trial and control diets.

“Our findings question assumptions that have been made about the cause of food intolerance in dogs with CE, which was largely considered an adverse immune response to dietary antigens,” said Kenneth Simpson, professor of small animal medicine and co-author of the study, published Sept. 7 in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine.

Many dogs with signs of CE – such as diarrhea, vomiting and weight loss – and without evidence of other diseases, often respond well to a change in food type. “But we really don’t know why they’re responding,” Simpson said.

To home in on what may cause the disease, Simpson and his colleagues designed the first randomized, controlled study on this topic, supported by funding from Farmina Pet Foods. Dogs with CE were randomly assigned one of three diets with similar calorie and macronutrient profiles: two “hypoallergenic” diets and one with fewer ingredients compared to most commercial pet foods. Neither pet owners nor investigators were aware of which diet each dog was receiving.

The hypoallergenic diets contained fish that had been hydrolyzed, a process that breaks up molecules that might otherwise cause an allergic reaction. “Hydrolyzed diets are thought to be beneficial in reducing immune hypersensitivities that are related to food,” Simpson said.

The third group was fed the diet with fewer ingredients, but contained nonhydrolyzed proteins and other ingredients thought to trigger an immune response,  such as those from corn, chicken and fish.
To the researchers’ surprise, all dogs did better on their new diets – regardless of whether they were in the trial or control groups. Of the 23 enrolled dogs, 19 responded positively to the food they were initially assigned, with reduced disease activity and improved stool consistency. The four nonresponsive dogs were crossed over to a different diet and also improved, staying on for the duration of the study.

Eight other dogs with a more severe form of CE (protein-losing enteropathy, or PLE) got the hydrolyzed diets. While PLE has usually been treated with drugs to suppress the immune response, seven of the dogs saw an increase in body weight and sustained remission of GI symptoms on the new diet; for two of them, diet alone caused clinical remission.

These results challenge the belief that CE is driven by adverse reactions to certain common dietary antigens to which dogs have been previously exposed, but it’s unclear what other ingredients, or combinations of ingredients, caused problems in the past.

The researchers are also puzzled by the fact that participants went into remission during this study after failing previous dietary trials. They suspect that owner compliance, not sticking to the prescribed diet or giving different food for snacks, may have played a role in the poor response. Other discrepancies between ingredients and labeling in commercial pet foods may have also contributed.

Vol. 17, No. 07 – Dec 27, 2023 – Jan 9, 2024 – The Pet Page

• Urgent From PETA: Flood Survival Tips for Animals

Since your area is (was) under a flood warning and evacuation orders and warnings are in effect for parts of Ventura County— will you include in your coverage a reminder that people should never leave dogs tethered or penned outside and always take their animal companions with them if they have to evacuate their homes?

Every time there’s a natural disaster, many dogs and other companion animals are left outside to fend for themselves and even left behind when humans evacuate. Dogs kept tethered will swim to exhaustion and drown—and there are tethered dogs everywhere. PETA’s Animal Rescue Team has witnessed firsthand the trauma that animals endure when left behind to face floodwaters and flying debris. During previous storms, we have found dogs dead. We have also found them up to their necks in water, unable to sit or lie down, and in almost-submerged crates inside houses and seen animals who have been flung around by high winds. Animals are terrified in weather conditions such as these.

Will you please share this lifesaving information with your audience?

Keep all animals indoors with you if you choose not to evacuate. Never leave them tethered, penned, or crated.

If you evacuate, plan your destination in advance and don’t leave animals behind or unsupervised in a car.

Be prepared: Use secure carriers, leashes, and harnesses. Bring along water and food bowls, a favorite toy, a blanket, a towel, and enough food for a week. Have your animals microchipped and attach legible ID tags securely to their collars.

Watch for other animals in trouble. If you see any animals in distress but can’t help, note their location and call the authorities immediately.

• As the days inch further and further into winter and frigid temperatures, Dr. Pavlovsky, director of the University of Illinois Veterinary Medicine South Clinic, has important winter safety tips for those caring for pets.

Cold Winter Temperatures

Just like humans, our pets can develop hypothermia, or a drop in their body temperature, after being outside in cold temperatures for too long. Hypothermia becomes even more likely for dogs that are housed outdoors.

“There is no straightforward answer to how cold is too cold and how long is too long to remain outside, because there are so many variables,” Dr. Pavlovsky says. “For most dogs, it is probably safe to be outside for a very short period—just enough time to eliminate—even in extreme cold. However, to be safe, it’s probably best to discuss this with your veterinarian, because there may be individual recommendations fitting one pet but not another.”

Likewise, how long dogs can be outside in relatively cold temperatures depends on the individual pet. However, Dr. Pavlovsky points out, “It is reasonable to assume that prolonged direct contact with snow and ice is more likely to result in frostbite.”

Owners should consider size and length of their pet’s fur coat when gauging how long an animal can remain outside. Shorter fur offers less protection against chilly temperatures, so those pets may benefit from some extra help.

“If your dog tolerates clothing and footwear, it’s probably best to put those on,” says Dr. Pavlovsky, “especially for short-haired and small breeds. These protections can help minimize heat loss and exposure. For example, good-quality footwear that does not cause discomfort can allow a dog to spend more time outdoors without getting frostbite on the feet.”

• It is common for us all to indulge in some high-calorie foods during the holidays, but what about our pets? Can they join the feast? Oklahoma State University assistant professor of behavior science Dr. Leticia Fanucchi advises against it and offered five tips to consider when it comes to food and pets this holiday season:

The No. 1 culprit is my favorite item … chocolate.

Chocolate contains methylxanthines like theobromine and caffeine. These two are the reason why we love it so much, as these substances have a stimulant and calming effect all at the same time. However, chocolate is not well metabolized by pets, accumulating in the body and making them sick. Chocolate intoxication can be very serious and cause tremors, vomiting, diarrhea, agitation, increased heart rate and even seizures. Keep those chocolatey treats away from dogs and cats.

2. Grapes mean good luck for the new year in some cultures, but they’re bad luck for pets.

Both fresh grapes or raisins, very common items in holiday dishes, can cause kidney disease in pets due to the tartaric acid present in them. The most common signs you will see are vomiting, diarrhea and increased water intake. Acute kidney disease is a serious medical emergency and time is crucial to start treatment with IV fluids if you want to save your pet’s life. Keep the grapes in the fridge, and do not leave them spread around coffee tables or food trays. They are sweet and pets are attracted to sweet stuff.

3. Fatty foods

Are you a fan of roast turkey with gravy? So are pets! However, the fat contained in gravy and turkey skin … not to mention bacon and butter, can cause a condition called pancreatitis. This acute disease can affect other organ systems such as the liver and kidneys, leading to more serious consequences such as blood clotting. Vomiting and diarrhea are the first signs, so do not ignore these signs especially if you know your pet stole that turkey leg or went to town in the gravy boat. Emergency help is paramount as pets can perish quickly from an acute pancreatitis crisis.

4. Who knew garlic and onions could be bad? But wait, bread rolls too?

Yes, garlic, onions and chives are healthy for people, but really bad for pets. Allium species are toxic and can cause hemolytic anemia, which means decreased red blood cells. Signs normally appear after a few days of ingestion and include vomiting, diarrhea, jaundice and lethargy. Yeast-risen foods are delicious, but also bad for pets. The yeast can ferment in the stomach and produce toxic levels of ethanol … yes, alcohol! Ethanol toxicity leads to metabolic acidosis which makes the blood glucose drop significantly causing seizures, respiratory depression and even cardiac arrest, so keep the bread in the pantry.

5. Last but certainly not least, sugar-free treats.

Pets cannot metabolize xylitol, the artificial sweetener in most sugar free foods, causing low blood sugar, which leads to ataxia (incoordination), seizures and even death from hypoglycemia. No sugar-free treats for pets this season … or ever.

Several foods we love can be very harmful for our beloved pets, so let’s get some special cat and dog treats for them this year and keep human food away from their reach. If you notice vomiting and diarrhea after the holiday, it is a sign your pet may have gotten into something it shouldn’t have, so do not think twice, take them to the vet. Time is crucial for preventing long-term damage or death.