Category Archives: The Pet Page

Vol. 17, No. 20 – June 26 – July 9, 2024 – The Pet Page

Walking your dog daily is an excellent activity for dogs and owners, alike, because it brings mental and physical stimulation to your pet and creates an unbreakable bond between you and your furry friend. However, as summer approaches and the temperature begins to rise, owners should be aware of the risks associated with walking pets in the heat.

Dr. Lori Teller, a clinical professor at the Texas A&M School of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, has some tips on identifying signs that it may be too hot to walk your pet and suggestions on ways to exercise them more safely on hot summer days.

Peanuts would like to know where the dog X Games will be held.

Recognizing When It’s ‘Too Hot To Walk’

It is important to pay attention to your dog and know when it might be too hot to take them for a walk.

When it is hot outside, many dogs can be adversely impacted and suffer from heat exhaustion or heat stroke,” Teller said. “Dogs cannot sweat, and panting is not an effective mechanism for cooling off, so dogs do not have efficient ways of handling excessive heat.”

Teller also said there is no specific temperature that is too hot for dogs.

A good rule is to avoid the hottest times of the day in the summer and limit walks or runs to early morning or late evening times when the temperatures have dropped some,” Teller said. “It may also be a good idea to consider booties to protect your dog’s feet from the hot pavement.”

In addition to being mindful of the time of day, owners should be extra cautious with both very young and older dogs as well as those with underlying medical conditions.

Dogs with respiratory disease, heart disease, obesity, and breeds with flat or smushed faces — such as pugs, boxers, bulldogs, Shih Tzus, and more — are more likely to be heat-intolerant, or sensitive to the warmer temperatures.”

Another consideration for owners is how adjusted your dog is to the climate.

Dogs that have recently relocated from cooler climates are also less likely to be acclimated to warmer temperatures,” Teller said.

While prevention is the best way to keep pets safe from overheating, Teller said it is also important to know the signs that a dog is struggling with the soaring temperatures. This is especially true for owners who take summer road trips that include outdoor breaks for their pets or who experience an air conditioning outage in the summer months.

Some signs to look out for in case your pet becomes overheated include anxiousness or restlessness; excessive panting or drooling; vomiting or diarrhea; abnormal gum or tongue color; unsteadiness while walking; or collapsing.

If your pet appears to be overheated, place some cool, wet towels around your pet and seek veterinary care immediately,” Teller said. “Time is definitely of the essence.”

•When In Doubt, Call And Talk It Out

The first step in responding to a pet emergency should start long before the emergency may arise.

Greathouse encourages owners to create an emergency plan that includes phone numbers of the closest emergency clinic(s), your pet’s veterinarian, hotlines for potential animal poison or toxin exposures, and your phone number, in case someone is pet sitting for you.

“It’s a normal response for owners to panic when there is an emergency, but having those phone numbers nearby or in your phone can provide a sense of preparedness and enable you to act quickly and calmly,” Greathouse said.

Recognizing the signs of a pet emergency and understanding the types of emergencies that require immediate veterinary care are essential for pet owners. If owners are unsure whether a pet’s condition warrants immediate care, Greathouse advises them to err on the side of caution and contact a veterinarian or nearby emergency clinic.

“It’s safer to call and talk through the situation with someone else than it is to make the decision on your own,” Greathouse said. “We might be able to give you the push to come in or reassure you that you have a little bit more time before your pet needs to visit a veterinarian.”

By being aware of the signs of emergencies and having a plan in place, you can ensure that your pet receives the timely care they need. Remember, if you have any doubts about your pet’s health, it’s always best to seek professional advice.

Pet Talk is a service of the School of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University. Stories can be viewed on the web at

•University of Lincoln study tactfully titled Domestic Cats Do Not Show Signs of Secure Attachment to Their Owners.

When swapping 20 felines and their human owners, researchers found the cats appeared to bond as well with strangers (shown through behaviors such as play and mirroring) than with their actual owners.

The researchers concluded: “These results are consistent with the view that adult cats are typically quite autonomous, even in their social relationships, and not necessarily dependent on others to provide a sense of security and safety.”

While this sounds complicated, this is essentially the very simple idea that a cat will like you because they’re interested in whatever scent is on your hand.

“Cat taste buds are so sensitive – they can pick up scents from our skins that could include pheromone secretions from other animals,” says Sands.

“It could also be that you’ve got salt, moisturizer or whatever you’ve just eaten on your hand. To cats, all these are interesting scents and licking allows them to check it out. That’s simply all it might be.”

Vol. 17, No. 19 – June 12 – June 25, 2024 – The Pet Page

Medium-sized dogs have a higher risk of developing cancer than the very largest or smallest breeds, according to a UC Riverside study.

The study, published in the Royal Society Open Science, set out to test a model of how cancer begins. This model, called the multistage model, predicts that size is a risk factor for cancer. As it turns out, it is, but only when considering size variation within a single species.

It is common for cells to acquire errors or mutations as they divide and form copies of themselves. Bigger animals, and those that live longer, have more cells and a longer lifespan during which those cells divide. According to the multistage model, that means they have more opportunities to acquire mutations that eventually become cancer.

Testing this in dogs is even better because you can compare a tiny chihuahua to a great Dane. That’s a 35-fold difference in size, and people can’t come close to that,” Nunney said.

Surveying their mortality rates with three different data sets, Nunney found the smallest dogs, including Pomeranians, miniature pinschers, shih tzus and chihuahuas have about a 10% chance of dying from cancer.

By comparison, many relatively large dogs, such as Burmese mountain dogs, have more than a 40% chance of death from cancer.

However, the very largest breeds, such as great Danes, have less cancer than medium-sized breeds. That is because of a well-known but as yet unexplained phenomenon: the life expectancy of dogs gets shorter with size.

For every pound increase in typical breed size you lose about two weeks of life. A very big dog, you’re lucky if they live past nine years, whereas small dogs can go about 14,” Nunney said. Cancer is predominantly a disease of old age so by having a reduced lifespan the largest dogs have a reduced cancer risk.

A Texas family was reunited with their dog after three years.

They put up signs and searched for Sam but had no luck. That was until they got what they said was an unbelievable phone call weeks ago.

Two women found Sam at a gas station in Arkansas and then took him to Jacksonville Animal Hospital who was able to contact the animal rescue Sam was adopted from thanks to his microchip.

It’s such a beautiful story,” Cindy Hall said. “This story just can’t underestimate the power of a microchip. We are so grateful for everyone that was involved.”

Hall said with help Sam was able to be transported back into their arms. “When we got him it was surreal,” Cindy Hall said.

As a pet owner, it’s natural to be concerned about your furry friend’s health and well-being, but knowing when to seek emergency veterinary care can sometimes be challenging.

To help clarify this, Dr. Lance Wheeler, a clinical assistant professor of emergency and critical care at the Texas A&M School of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, and Wendy Greathouse, a referral coordinator for Texas A&M’s Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, provide guidance on identifying and responding to pet emergencies.

According to Wheeler, there are two categories of emergencies.

There are emergencies that are immediately life-threatening, like being hit by a car, and emergencies that become life-threatening after an unknown period of time, such as ingesting a toxin that doesn’t display symptoms until 48 or 72 hours later,” Wheeler said. “Beyond these two major categories, emergencies will most likely fall under intoxications, trauma, or an underlying condition that will require medical exams to determine what is wrong.”

Life-threatening emergencies require immediate veterinary attention, and getting your pet to the vet as soon as possible can make a significant difference in their chances of survival.

While not every health concern is an emergency, there are urgent medical concerns that can significantly impact a pet’s health. These issues are not usually life-threatening, but prompt veterinary attention also can lead to an improved outcome.

This could include a fracture or broken bone, which is not usually life-threatening, but if we can get them to a surgeon sooner, the bone might heal better,” Wheeler said. “Other signs of an urgent issue that’s not necessarily life-threatening at the moment include blood in a pet’s urine, vomit, or stool.”

Intoxications occur when pets ingest harmful substances, causing a wide range of symptoms. According to Greathouse, common causes of pet intoxications include being bitten by a snake or ingesting human medications, common household cleaners, holiday foods, spoiled food, or seasonal plants such as lilies, oleanders, and poinsettias.

Unless instructed otherwise, you should not try to induce vomiting because it can delay veterinary attention and cause injury,” Wheeler said. “Instead, drive your pet to the vet as soon as possible and call either the veterinarian’s office or a pet intoxication hotline on your way so that treatment is not delayed. The pet will have a better chance of survival in almost every scenario if we can get the toxin out of their system sooner.”

Greathouse also recommends having specific information ready when you call.

Be prepared to provide as much information as you can pertaining to the intoxication, such as what they ingested, how much they ate, the pet’s weight, and what time the incident occurred,” Greathouse shared.

Trauma, on the other hand, can result from various incidents that may lead to burns, wounds, bleeding, or pain. If you witness your pet experiencing trauma or suspect they may have been injured, it’s crucial to seek immediate veterinary care.

Something as silly as running into a tree or falling a distance as short as one foot and hitting their head could be life-threatening, which is why it is best to visit a veterinarian instead of playing a guessing game with yourself,” Wheeler said. “Just because your pet seems to be looking at you fine and acting normal doesn’t mean they are.”

In some cases, pets can exhibit signs of illness or distress — including an inability to stand or walk, heavy breathing, seizures, vomiting, or abnormal behavior — without a clear cause.

Dr. Kathleen Aicher, an assistant professor at the Texas A&M School of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, explains why parvovirus is so contagious between dogs, emphasizing the vulnerability of puppies and how crucial vaccinations and treatment are in preventing the infection from spreading.

Parvovirus is very easily transmitted between dogs because it takes very little exposure to cause infection, and dogs who are infected can shed the virus for a few days before they exhibit symptoms, unknowingly exposing other dogs to the virus,” Aicher said. “The virus is also very resistant to extreme temperatures and cleaning, so it can remain in the environment for a long time, putting dogs at further risk.”

Vol. 17, No. 18 – May 29 – June 11, 2024 – The Pet Page

• 14 Warning Signs Your Pet May Be Sick (and What to Do)

Some symptoms are more serious than others. So how can you tell if your dog or cat needs to go to the vet? Experts explain.

by Jennifer Billock

As all pet owners know, our four-legged furries are more than friends — they’re family members. So when they seem sick, it can be easy to decide to drop everything and run to the vet. The good news is, that’s not always necessary. Some issues are better off being monitored at home, and some require a vet visit. Here’s how to tell the difference.

Wait-and-See Symptoms

No one wants to see Boots or Mittens in pain or ill, but observing your pet for a few days is often the only way to determine if there’s really a problem. Like us, animals can suffer from passing aches and sniffles. If you notice your pet drooling, limping, whining, dealing with an upset tummy, coughing, itching or wiping away eye or nose discharge, keep a close eye on them. Believe it or not, these symptoms could be a cry for attention (hello to my dearly departed Boston terrier who pretended to limp when he wanted snacks) or simply a 24-hour bug.

Other subtle signs to note during observation days are changes in eating and drinking habits and in activity level. “This could look like the water bowl being emptied more quickly; hesitancy jumping up or taking stairs; or not wanting to go on walks that are as long as usual,” says Rena Carlson, D.V.M., president of the American Veterinary Medical Association. If these behaviors continue, consider a call or trip to the vet.

It’s also important to note that animals deal with pain differently than we do. If you haven’t noticed any drooling, wincing or whining but have seen a new fear or an outsize reaction to something typical, it could mean they’re in pain. Give it a couple of days and see if the fear or overreaction resolves. If not, head to the vet.

Ultimately, you know your pet better than anyone else, so watch for changes in their normal patterns and routines. If it’s just a onetime thing, they’re probably fine. But changes over a longer period of time might be reason for concern. “Remember that animals can be good at hiding symptoms of illness or injury, and that even subtle changes may be a sign that something is wrong,” Carlson says.

Signs You Should Take Them In

Pets like to hide when they’re sick, so sometimes it can be difficult to notice an emergency situation right away. But even if they’re hiding, check on them every now and then to be sure nothing is seriously wrong.

Specifically for cats, Carlson advises watching for open-mouthed breathing. “Open-mouthed breathing is almost always an emergency situation for cats,” she says. “Any cat exhibiting this behavior should be brought to the veterinarian immediately for emergency care.” That said, some cats will keep their mouths open for a moment after smelling or seeing something unusual for them. If yours leaves theirs open longer, call your vet.

Also, while you may not think of this, pets can get sunburn — if you see any sign of severe burns or heatstroke, you’ll need a vet visit.

More Serious Signals

Diabetes and heart problems are difficult conditions to spot in pets. Luckily, some warning signs can show up long before things get really bad. Be concerned about diabetes if your furry friend is:

  • Drinking and peeing more
  • Losing weight (with or without an increased appetite)
  • Eating less
  • Enduring chronic or recurring infections, including skin or urinary infections
  • Has cloudy eyes (particularly in dogs)

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 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

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?


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:

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 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! []