Category Archives: The Pet Page

Vol. 16, No. 12 – Mar 8 – Mar 21, 2023 – The Pet Page

• Recently I had my first grooming done at Bark Avenue Grooming on Loma Vista.

I was told I should get groomed every 6-months not every 11-years. I will be sure to get groomed as directed. I was shocked at the amount of fur that was removed from me.

Savana

This fur pile is 18” square and 3” deep

• SPAN Thrift Store is open to the public and looking for donations of adult clothing, household items and tools. SPAN Thrift Store provides $10 spay and neuter clinics for low income households for cats and dogs. Upcoming clinics: Tues., March. 14th, Shiells Park parking lot, 649 C St., Fillmore, 93015, and Tues., March. 28th, SPAN Thrift Store parking lot, 110 N. Olive St., Ventura. Please call to schedule an appointment (805) 584-3823. www.spanonline.org.

• Cats are known to live life on their terms, but that doesn’t always mean cat owners know what their finicky feline is going through.

“Indoor cats are extremely common right now. Everyone seems to have cats,” Jen Gillum, a veterinarian with the Feline Wellness Center, said. “The common misconception for years and years is an indoor cat doesn’t need preventative healthcare, doesn’t need an annual exam, and that’s completely fiction.”

“Cats are notorious for masking their symptoms,” Gillum said. “If we can get them in, establish baselines, look in their mouth, listen to their heart, run lab work, give them that full spectrum physical, we can avoid a lot of problems in the future.”

Cat owners may not be able to tell if their cat has a problem. Unlike dogs, which often make it obvious when there’s an issue, cats can hide their problems.

“A cat may be more aloof, may go off and hide, may cut back on how much they’re eating or drinking or using the box,” she said. “Very subtle changes, but any change in a cat’s overall demeanor and patterns — because they’re creatures of habit — that lasts more than 24 to 48 hours, we should know about it because they mask their symptoms so well. A lot of the times they get here and they’re really sick and no one had any idea.”

“Dental disease is a huge problem,” she said. “We see a lot and we do a lot of dental work here at the clinic, and so we like to talk to people about things you can do to prevent that. There are additives that you can add to their food. There’s toothpaste. There is home dental exams, there are dental treats and chews and food. So it’s just kind of bringing awareness to simple things people can do at home to slow the progression of naturally occurring processes that happen as they age.”

“We get a lot of calls going, ‘My cat is urinating outside of the box.’ Immediately owners think, ‘Could this be behavioral?’ But I would say probably 80% of the time there’s a medical reason for that. They’re creatures of habit. They stress very easily and one of the organ systems that shows those symptoms is the urinary tract,” Gillum said.

Gillum said the most important thing a cat owner can do is get their feline in for an annual exam.

“I think the focus should be on exams, not so much vaccines. We cater that to each client, depending on their lifestyle, but get them in once a year,” she said. “Let us give a complete • •Kara Carmody, an associate professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine, discusses tips for taking care of your pet’s dental hygiene to improve your pet’s overall wellbeing.

Q: What are some common issues with pet dental health?

Dental disease is the number one health problem diagnosed in small animal patients. By two years of age, 80% of dogs and 70% of cats have some form of dental disease. The most common issue is periodontal disease, which affects our pets just like it does people.

Periodontal disease is inflammation of the gums and structures around the tooth and can become quite severe if not addressed. Fortunately, periodontal disease can often be avoided or at least minimized with regular preventive care. Routine preventive care includes annual dental prophylaxis or cleaning — this procedure includes an exam, teeth cleaning and x-rays. The exam and x-rays reveal the degree of periodontal disease, and sometimes other problems that may include fractured teeth and painful lesions.

Q: What signs might indicate a pet has dental issues?

It’s important to note that many pets show no signs of pain or discomfort in their mouth, so routine oral exams and annual dental cleaning are the best way to check on your pet’s dental health.

Q: What are ways to get started with a dental hygiene routine to prevent dental issues?

It’s never too late to start a dental hygiene routine, though we recommend consulting with your veterinarian first. The ideal dental routine would include daily brushing and annual dental cleaning, known as dental prophylaxis. Keep in mind that dental care such as brushing may actually be uncomfortable for pets with existing dental disease. We would recommend an exam first.

Q: What types of toys or food do you recommend to protect a pet’s dental health?

Some pets may benefit from Veterinary Oral Health Council-approved products such as treats or foods, and chewing on toys of appropriate density can mimic the mechanical action of food to reduce plaque build-up. Ideally, toys should be constructed of a material less dense than the enamel of the tooth to minimize the risk of tooth fracture. A good rule of thumb is that if you can indent the toy with your fingernail, it poses much less risk of causing tooth fracture.

Kara Carmody is an assistant professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Carmody researches preventive care, with emphasis on dentistry and nutrition management.

Vol. 16, No. 11 – Feb 22 – Mar 7, 2023 – The Pet Page

30-year-old dog in Portugal sets new world record.

• Bobi, a dog in Portugal born in 1992, has set a Guinness record as the world’s oldest dog at more than 30 years old. Bobi has some mobility issues, and his eyesight is declining, but his owner says he still enjoys playing with the four cats with which he shares his home

• The SDF stated “ We are heartbroken to witness the widespread destruction throughout Turkey, Syria and the surrounding region caused by a massive 7.8 magnitude earthquake. Our thoughts are with all those affected as rescuers respond to join the search efforts.”

Seven canine disaster search teams trained by SDF have deployed.

“Seven canine disaster search teams trained by SDF have deployed alongside rescue teams from around the world in response to the earthquake and we send our deepest gratitude to all the two- and four-legged rescuers that answered the call for help.”

National Disaster Search Dog Foundation
6800 Wheeler Canyon Road
Santa Paula (it seems like Ventura)

•Lee Pickett, VMD, practices companion animal medicine in North Carolina.

Q: I adopted a pit bull who had lost one ear in the fighting ring, so I named him Van Gogh. He is a healthy, sweet, gentle guy who loves to snuggle. When we lie on the couch watching television and my arm drapes across his chest, I sometimes notice that his heart beats in an unsteady rhythm.

It beats fast for a few seconds, then slowly for a few seconds, and then the cycle repeats. I am concerned that Van Gogh may have heart disease because he is relaxed and unstressed when I feel this irregular heart rhythm. Should I take him to his veterinarian or a veterinary cardiologist?

A: Without examining Van Gogh, I can’t say for sure. But my guess is that when he is calm, he develops respiratory sinus arrhythmia, a normal condition that commonly occurs when a dog’s heart rate decreases with relaxation.

Not all arrhythmias, or irregular heart rhythms, indicate heart disease. In respiratory sinus arrhythmia, the heart rate quickens during inspiration and slows when the dog exhales and pauses between breaths. The term “sinus” refers not to the nose but to the sinoatrial node, also called the sinus node, the heart’s natural pacemaker located in the right atrium.

To convince yourself that Van Gogh’s changes in heart rhythm constitute the normal sinus arrhythmia that occurs when a dog is relaxed, take him for a run. While his heart rate is still elevated from the exertion, feel his chest. You should feel steady, evenly spaced heartbeats.

There’s an adage in veterinary medicine that “cats are not small dogs,” because the two species differ in significant ways. This is but one example. When a cat relaxes, the heart continues to beat in a steady pattern. Any arrhythmia, even a respiratory sinus arrhythmia, is abnormal in a cat.

If you are in doubt about Van Gogh’s arrhythmia, ask his regular veterinarian to listen to his heart and perhaps perform an electrocardiogram, or ECG.

• Cats have a better quality of life if you play with them

By Andrei Ionescu
Earth.com staff writer

Scientists have long argued that play is an indicator and promotor of animal health and welfare. Now, by applying in-depth empirical methods to analyze data gathered from around the world, a team of researchers led by the University of Adelaide in Australia has found that playing with your cat can also nurture closer human-cat bonds.

To investigate play-related factors associated with welfare in cats, the scientists devised an online survey in consultation with veterinarians, animal behaviorists, and cat owners, aiming to measure factors such as cat quality of life, cat-owner relationship quality, behavioral changes, and problem behavior prevalence.

“Our survey results, based on responses from 591 cat guardians from 55 countries, indicated greater cat playfulness and more types of games played were significantly associated with better cat quality of life,” said study lead author Julia Henning, a PhD student in Feline Behavior at Adelaide.

“Also, longer amounts of daily play, greater number of games, both cat and guardian initiating play, and heightened guardian playfulness were also associated with better quality cat-guardian relationships.”

Moreover, exclusive indoor housing for the cats was significantly linked with both increased cat quality of life and better cat-owner relationship in comparison to cats with outdoor access. “Behavioral changes that indicated stress, frustration, or unease were reported when play was absent. Therefore, we can conclude play may be a very important factor in assessing and maintaining cat welfare,” Henning explained.

However, as senior author Susan Hazel (an expert in Animal Behavior and Welfare at the same university) admitted, self-reporting surveys such as this often have significant limitations. “Cat lovers’ answers may be prone to respondent and recall bias and limited in their ability to assess behavior. Participants who dedicated their time and effort on a voluntary basis are more invested in their cat’s care than the average cat guardian. Therefore, responses may not be an accurate representation of the general population.”

Further research is needed to clarify how much and what kind of play is most efficient for improving cat welfare.

The study is published in the journal Animal Welfare.

Vol. 16, No. 10 – Feb 8 – Feb 21, 2023 – The Pet Page

• The Ventura Fire Department’s new comfort therapy dog, Hope, will provide emotional support to firefighters, staff, and those who have lived through a traumatic experience.

Hope is Ventura Fire’s new comfort dog geared up to support local firefighters.

Hope, a Labrador Retriever and Cavadoodle mix, began her puppy manners class in May 2022 and has completed her American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen training and certification. She is on track to complete therapy training by December 2023, at which point she will be fully certified to provide comfort to those in need.

“First responders face higher rates of post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, depression, and anxiety issues related to the volume and severity of tragic incidents they respond to each day,” said Fire Chief David Endaya. “I am thrilled to welcome Hope to our team to help alleviate some psychological trauma impacting our firefighters.”

As a therapy comfort dog, Hope’s functions include easing tension, lowering post incident stress, anxiety levels, and blood pressure, reducing feelings of loneliness, providing support to those impacted by traumatic events, and visiting other City departments and various community events for educational purposes.

“We want to be our best selves, mentally and physically,” said Heather Ellis, Ventura Fire’s Emergency Medical Services Coordinator and Hope’s handler. “Not having much time to decompress between incidents takes a toll. Hope just has a way of breaking the ice and immediately bringing a smile to everyone’s face.”

Hope was gifted to the department by VIP Dog Teams, a local non-profit dedicated to improving people’s health through promoting the human-animal bond that leads to healing. When Hope is not on the job, she will be on-call 24/7, but will go home with her handler and serve as a family dog.

Continued veterinary care, food, and equipment for Hope will be covered by the Ventura Fire Foundation, a local non-profit. Learn more about the Ventura Fire Foundation and make a donation at www.VenturaFireFoundation.org.

Oh, What a Therapy Dog Can Do!

Ventura Chief of Police Darin Schindler and Nanay Mitchell President VIP Dog Teams with Asher.

While you might be familiar with Therapy Dogs, do you also know shapes, sizes, breeds, even age or gender does not matter? What does matter is their temperament. They must be even tempered, good natured, and enjoy being petted by strangers—sometimes several at a time. But this is only the first step required of a Therapy Dog. They must be trained to handle multiple experiences and situations, including the unexpected. And this where VIP Dog Teams comes in.

Founded in 2016, our organization is all-volunteer and nonprofit. Our mission? To improve human health and well-being through the human-animal bond. This is made possible by owners who desire to train their dog to be a Community Therapy Dog or even a Therapy Comfort K9.

Once an owner and their dog pass the required tests, they are then ready to be inserted into various settings. While our end goal is to have our well-trained therapy dogs improve the lives of people throughout Ventura County, we are always looking at different ways to achieve this. For instance, our newest objective is to gift trained dogs to those who are often in greatest need of support–our first responders, Police and Fire personnel. But we are not stopping there. We are also hoping (in the near future) to embed in as many of our local schools as possible a Therapy Dog. But right now? We have two, fully trained, certified working Therapy/Comfort K9s.

Mitch is being petted by students Makenna Mooney, Charles Mooney, Cole Hodge and Dylan Hodge

Meet Mitch: He’s a 3-year-old Goldendoodle that serves 600 children in a local elementary school. Partnered with his human school counselor, Mitch is there to encourage, motivate, and calm elementary school kids daily. Our second dog is Asher: He’s a 2-year-old Cavadoodle that works at the Ventura City Police station. Asher visits various departments to comfort and calm employees. He also goes out with officers on school visits to interact and educate kids. Asher will soon be crisis trained to work with Special Victims Unit. Serving as furry, four-legged tools, these special dogs serve to calm, help and motivate both children and adults. This in turn inspires achieving and maintaining stronger levels of mental health. And for those who encounter these amazing dogs—be it once or often—the humans almost always express a positive feeling, and always a smile. Their calmness is visible. Without a doubt, these certified therapy dogs change lives every day.

Because VIP Dog Teams is a nonprofit 501C3, we must rely on the generosity of donors—no amount is too small. It’s estimated that the cost of raising just one dog per year is $3500.00, and right now VIP Dog Teams has 11 dogs in training. Your help and support will make a difference. So, what can you do? Our VIP Dog Team welcomes your donations of time, money or both. But, you can also help us achieve our goals by raising a puppy fulltime, parttime or even become a puppy sitter. Once your pup is trained, it will be matched with a fire or police station, or school in need of a certified Therapy dog.

For more information on what a puppy raiser does click here or go to www.vipdogteams.org and click on volunteer/puppy raiser.

For general information go to our website www.vipdogteams.org ,or email us [email protected] or call (805) 419-0677. We are happy to answer your questions.

Vol. 16, No. 09 – Jan 25 – Feb 7, 2023 – The Pet Page

• SPAN Thrift Store is open to the public and looking for donations of adult clothing, household items and tools.  SPAN Thrift Store provides $10 spay and neuter clinics for low income households for cats and dogs. Upcoming clinics: Tues, Feb. 7th, Albert H. Soliz Library parking lot, El Rio, 2820 Jourdan St., Oxnard, 93036; Tues., Feb. 14th, Shiells Park parking lot, 649 C St., Fillmore, 93015, and Tues., Feb. 28th, SPAN Thrift Store parking lot, 110 N. Olive St., Ventura. Please call to schedule an appointment (805) 584-3823. www.spanonline.org.

• Researchers from the University of Helsinki assessed the cognitive abilities of over 1,000 dogs from 13 breeds with ten tests. Border Collies scored at or near the top in social cognition, inhibitory control, and spatial problem-solving ability, while Labrador Retrievers scored near the bottom. While prior research has shown that a dog’s breed isn’t as predictive of its personality and behavior as many think, the present study suggests that there are noteworthy differences in certain cognitive abilities.

Researchers at the University of Helsinki in Finland put over 1,000 dogs from 13 distinct breeds through a battery of cognitive tests in perhaps the largest laboratory study of canine intelligence ever conducted. Their findings were recently published in the journal Scientific Reports.

Between March 2016 and February 2022, the researcers invited dog owners to bring their one- to eight-year-old pups into a large indoor field to undergo the smartDOG test battery, which was developed by study author Katriina Tiira.

smartDOG features ten separate tests that measure traits like activity level, exploratory behavior, inhibitory control, problem-solving ability, logical reasoning, and short-term memory. In one assessment, which measures social cognition, the owner is instructed to gesture toward a bowl which contains food using different prescribed gestures ranging from emphatic pointing to a simple gaze to see if the dog will understand its caretaker’s hints. In another, a test of logical reasoning, the dog is shown two upside down bowls and a treat, then a visual barrier is placed between the dog and the bowls. The human tester then places the treat in one of the bowls, removes the visual barrier, then lifts up the empty bowl. If the dog correctly reasons that the treat is under the other bowl by moving to it, it is given the treat.

Thirteen breeds, all medium to large in size, each with at least 40 individuals, were assessed. Included were the Border Collie, Belgian Malinois, English Cocker Spaniel, German Shepherd, Golden Retriever, Labrador Retriever, and the broad category of “mixed breed,” among a few others.

No differences emerged between the breeds in measures of short-term memory and logical reasoning, but differences were found in the categories of social cognition, inhibitory control, and spatial problem-solving ability. At or near the top in all these categories were Border Collies. The medium-sized herding dogs already have a reputation as brainy pooches. Many are capable of learning the names of dozens of objects and can follow detailed commands.

Labrador Retrievers, on the other hand, scored near the bottom of all the breeds in problem-solving ability and inhibitory control. The most popular breed in the U.S., Labradors are lovable, loyal, friendly, and trainable, but not generally considered to be the brightest.

Mixed breed dogs scored near the bottom in social cognition and spatial problem-solving ability, but scored well in inhibitory control, the ability to restrain themselves from performing a behavior that is ineffective but used to be beneficial, effectively testing whether they can alter strategies on-the-fly to attain treats.

There was one glaring limitation to this study of dog intelligence.

“There is a possibility that the differences seen in our study were not based on genetic differences between breeds but rather due to variation in life experiences or training, since these have also been found to influence behavior in cognitive tests,” the researchers wrote. The large sample size should have helped to smooth out this variability, however.

While prior research has shown that a dog’s breed isn’t as predictive of its personality and behavior as many think, the present study suggests that there are noteworthy differences in certain cognitive abilities.

• An international team decided to investigate the purpose of the dog’s tail after studies showed that numerous animals from lizards to squirrels used their tails to pull off impressive maneuvers, such as righting themselves mid-air when falling from trees.

While cats don’t need a tail to flip themselves over and land on their feet, they do use their tails for balance and as counterweights to perform extreme hunting moves in the wild, including rapid, tight turns to keep up with their prey.

With dogs more inclined to stay on the ground, scientists were unclear whether the animals’ tails helped with agile movements or primarily served as waggable communication devices, and/or to fend off unwanted visitors such as flies.

To learn more, Dr Ardian Jusufi – who studies animal locomotion at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart – and his colleagues built a mathematical model that allowed them to check what happens when dogs twist and turn their torsos, and move their legs and tails, when they bound into the air.

Their conclusions appear in a preprint titled: “Tail wags the dog is unsupported by biomechanical modelling of Canidae tails use during terrestrial motion.” In the paper, which has not been peer-reviewed, the researchers describe how the modelling showed tail movements made almost no difference to a dog’s trajectory when it leapt into the air.

The finding suggests that tails are not as critical for agile movements in dogs as they are for other animals. Moving the tail mid-jump, the researchers found, changed the dog’s trajectory by a mere fraction of a degree.

Across the dog family, “It appears the inertial impacts that tail movement has on complex maneuvers such as jumping, have little to no effect,” the authors write. “The utilizing of the tail during jumping … achieves very low amounts of center of mass movement across all species with the largest being under a single degree.”

“We believe that this implies that dogs utilize their tails for other means, such as communication and pest control, but not for agility in maneuvers,” they add.

Dogs notice when computer animations violate Newton’s laws of physics

Dogs seem to understand the basic way objects should behave, and stare for longer if animated balls violate expectations by rolling away for no obvious reason

Vol. 16, No. 08 – Jan 11 – Jan 24, 2023 – The Pet Page

• SPAN Thrift Store is open to the public and looking for donations of adult clothing, household items and tools.  SPAN Thrift Store provides $10 spay and neuter clinics for low income households for cats and dogs. Upcoming clinics: Tues., Jan 24, SPAN Thrift Store, 110 N. Olive St., Ventura and Tues, Jan. 31, Albert H. Soliz Library parking lot – El Rio, 2820 Jourdan St., Oxnard, 93036. Please call to schedule an appointment (805) 584-3823. www.spanonline.org.

• Whether it’s a tricky math problem or an unexpected bill, daily life is full of stressful experiences. Now researchers have found that humans produce a different odor when under pressure – and dogs can sniff it out.

While previous studies have suggested canines might pick up on human emotions, possibly through smell, questions remained over whether they could detect stress and if this could be done through scent.

“This study has definitively proven that people, when they have a stress response, their odor profile changes,” said Clara Wilson, a PhD student at Queen’s University Belfast, and first author of the research.

Wilson added the findings could prove useful when training service dogs, such as those that support people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

“They’re often trained to look at someone either crouching down on the floor, or starting to do self-injurious behaviors,” said Wilson..

The latest study, she said, offers another potential cue.

“There is definitely a smell component, and that might be valuable in the training of these dogs in addition to all of the visual stuff,” said Wilson.

Writing in the journal Plos One, Wilson and colleagues report how they first constructed a stand bearing three containers, each topped by a perforated lid.

The researchers report they were able to train four dogs to indicate the container holding a particular breath and sweat sample, even when the line-up included unused gauze, samples from another person, or samples from the same person taken at a different time of day.

With the team confident the dogs understood the approach, they turned to breath and sweat samples collected from 36 people asked to count backwards from 9,000 in units of 17. The participants reported feeling stressed by the task and, for the 27 who carried it out in the laboratory, their blood pressure and heart rate rose.

The dogs were taught to pick out samples taken just after the task from a line-up that included two containers holding unused gauze.

The researchers then tested whether the dogs could do the same when the line-up included not only unused gauze but samples taken from the same participant just before the task, when they were more relaxed. Each set of samples was shown to a single dog in 20 trials.

The results reveal that the dogs chose the “stressed” sample in 675 out of the 720 trials.

“It was pretty amazing to see them be so confident in telling me ‘nope, these two things definitely smell different’,” said Wilson.

The team say while it was unclear what chemicals the dogs were picking up on, the study shows humans produce a different odor when stressed – confirming previous research that used instruments to analyze samples.

Wilson added that while the dogs were trained to communicate that they could tell different samples apart, it is possible that even untrained pet dogs might detect changes in odor when a human becomes stressed.

The research has been published in the Federation of European Biochemical Societies Journal.

“I usually listen to jazz but I’m trying to expand my musical interests.”

• As a cat parent, it is important to recognize the signs and symptoms of common illnesses so you can seek veterinary help for your feline friend in a timely manner if necessary.

Cancer is a class of diseases in which cells grow uncontrollably, invade surrounding tissue and may spread to other areas of the body. As with people, cats can get various kinds of cancer. The disease can be localized (confined to one area, like a tumor) or generalized (spread throughout the body).

Diabetes in cats is a complex disease caused by either a lack of the hormone insulin or an inadequate response to insulin. After a cat eats, her digestive system breaks food into various components, including glucose—which is carried into her cells by insulin. When a cat does not produce insulin or cannot utilize it normally, her blood sugar levels elevate. The result is hyperglycemia, which, if left untreated, can cause many complicated health problems for a cat.

Cats infected with feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) may not show symptoms until years after the initial infection occurred. Although the virus is slow-acting, a cat’s immune system is severely weakened once the disease takes hold. This makes the cat susceptible to various secondary infections. Infected cats receiving supportive medical care and kept in a stress-free, indoor environment can live relatively comfortable lives for months to years before the disease reaches its chronic stages.

First discovered in the 1960s, feline leukemia virus is a transmittable RNA retrovirus that can severely inhibit a cat’s immune system. It is one of the most commonly diagnosed causes of disease and death in domestic cats. Because the virus doesn’t always manifest symptoms right away, any new cat entering a household—and any sick cat—should be tested for FeLV.

Spread by infected mosquitoes, heartworm is increasingly being recognized as an underlying cause of health problems in domestic cats. Cats are an atypical host for heartworms. Despite its name, heartworm primarily causes lung disease in cats. It is an important concern for any cat owner living in areas densely populated by mosquitoes, and prevention should be discussed with a veterinarian.

Many pet parents eagerly open their windows to enjoy the weather during the summer months. Unfortunately, unscreened windows pose a real danger to cats, who fall out of them so often that the veterinary profession has a name for the complaint—High-Rise Syndrome. Falls can result in shattered jaws, punctured lungs, broken limbs and pelvises—and even death.

Rabies is a viral disease that affects the brain and spinal cord of all mammals, including cats, dogs and humans. This preventable disease has been reported in every state except Hawaii. There’s good reason that the very word “rabies” evokes fear in people—once symptoms appear, rabies is close to 100% fatal.

Although the name suggests otherwise, ringworm isn’t caused by a worm at all—but a fungus that can infect the skin, hair and nails. Not uncommon in cats, this highly contagious disease can lead to patchy, circular areas of hair loss with central red rings. Also known as dermatophytosis, ringworm often spreads to other pets in the household—and to humans, too.

Cats can acquire a variety of intestinal parasites, including some that are commonly referred to as “worms.” Infestations of intestinal worms can cause a variety of symptoms. Sometimes cats demonstrate few to no outward signs of infection, and the infestation can go undetected despite being a potentially serious health problem. Some feline parasitic worms are hazards for human health as well.

Vol. 16, No. 07 – Dec 28, 2022 – Jan 10, 2023 – The Pet Page

•SPAN Thrift Store is open to the public and looking for donations of adult clothing, household items and tools.  SPAN Thrift Store provides $10 spay and neuter clinics for low- income households for cats and dogs. Upcoming clinics:  Tues, Jan. 3, Albert H. Soliz Library parking lot – El Rio, 2820 Jourdan St., Oxnard, 93036; Tues., Jan. 10 at Shiells Park parking lot at 649 C St., Fillmore, 93015 and Tues., Jan 24, SPAN Thrift Store, 110 N. Olive St., Ventura.  Please call to schedule an appointment (805) 584-3823. www.spanonline.org.

•According to 2018 statistics from the American Veterinary Medical Association, 57% of U.S. households have a pet. About 80% of those surveyed consider those pets to be family members and 17% consider them companions.

Twenty-three million American households added a dog or cat to their households during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. And people may have spent more time with their pets during the pandemic.

Knowing all this also means more people are likely to ultimately experience pet loss.

Some folks have a mentality that pets are easily replaced, whereas people are not. That may lead those with strong pet bonds to not talk about their relationships with their pets and their feelings of loss because they may feel they’ll be made fun of.

“I actually hope that providers are able to start including companion animals as support systems,” Crossley said. She envisions them “really starting to have the conversation from the get-go of who are your support systems and do you have any companion animals and what role do you see they play in your life, in your mental wellness or in your stress?”

Rolland said counselors may be able to employ different strategies depending on whether the individual is a child who considered the pet a confidante, a widow or widower who saw the pet as their last connection with a loving spouse, or someone with disabilities who relies on the companion animals.

In fact, according to the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center, last year more than 7,000 pets were potentially exposed to drugs – a 60% increase from the year before. Marijuana toxicity takes the top spot.

Dr. Centola says signs that your dog may have ingested something: vomiting, wobbliness, struggling to breath, seizures or collapsing.

If your dog exhibits any of these symptoms, Dr. Centola says to take them to the veterinarian or ER right away for treatment.

“Most of the time with these types of toxicities, with aggressive supportive care treatment, most of the time these pets have a good prognosis and are ready to go home within one to three days,” he said.

•Walking is healthy for you and your dog. Not only is it physical activity, but it’s mental stimulation for your dog to smell, see and hear beyond the limits of your yard. Walking helps preserve your pet’s muscle tone and joint movement. If your pet is overweight or obese, walking can be a great way to shed those extra pounds.

The following tips can help you design a safe walking program for your dog…or even for your cat. (Yes, it is possible to train a cat to accept a harness and go for walks!)

Consult your veterinarian before starting any new exercise program with your pet. You need to make sure your pet is healthy enough for the exercise you plan.

Train your dog to behave on a leash, and seek help to address any behavioral problems.

Begin with short, frequent walks, and take frequent rests as needed.

If your pet seems to just want to go back home, try driving to a nearby park or less familiar area for your walks.

Remember that walks are also a means for your dog to enjoy his/her environment; allow your dog to take “sniff breaks” within reason.

Build gradually to one or more 15 minutes periods of brisk walking, then allow for cool-down time and recovery.

Avoid walks during the hottest parts of the day during warmer weather. Learn the signs of heat stress (Your veterinarian can teach you!) so you can recognize and address any problems that occur.

During warm, sunny weather, avoid hot surfaces – such as asphalt – that can burn your pet’s feet.

Avoid walks during the coldest parts of the day during cold weather, based on your pet’s cold tolerance. Learn to recognize signs of frostbite and hypothermia so you can address any problems that occur.

Walk on safe footing to avoid slips, falls or injuries.

Avoid deep sand or similar footing because it can cause fatigue and injuries.

If your pet shows signs of lameness, difficulty breathing, or seems to tire quickly, consult your veterinarian.

Obey leash laws, and always clean up after your dog.

Starting an exercise program for your pet

You’ve probably seen the warnings on fitness equipment that instruct you to consult your physician before starting an exercise program. The same applies to your pet, for good reason; it’s best to make sure that your pet is healthy enough to begin an exercise program and that the program is tailored to fit your pet’s health needs. Not sure where to start with your pet’s exercise program? Start with your veterinarian! In addition to walking, there are other opportunities for exercise programs that you can do together with your pet.

If your pet is recovering from injuries, talk to your veterinarian about exercise options (water treadmill sessions, swimming, etc.) that provide no- or low-impact exercise and can be used in the short term and/or incorporated into your pet’s exercise regimen.

America’s four newest search teams, from our neighbors the Search Dog Foundation now join SDF’s national roster.

Vol. 16, No. 06 – Dec 14 – Dec 27, 2022 – The Pet Page

Happy holidays from doggy heaven.

by Julia Bayly

Holidays can be busy with people coming and going, an abundance of seasonal food and a higher level of home activity. All of this makes it joyous for people, but the furry and feathered members of the family may find it a bit much.

The last thing you want are holiday festivities resulting in a missing pet or an emergency trip to a veterinarian.

There is no reason pets should not be a part of family gatherings or parties, according to veterinarians. All it takes is some planning and making sure you know and respect your pets’ limits.

A cat’s natural curiosity makes anything string-like an issue. That includes tinsel tree decorations or ribbons on wrapped packages. They want to play with anything stringlike and they can ingest it.

Another string-shaped hazard are Christmas lights and the extension cords that power them. Keeping wires covered prevents pets from chewing on them and risking shocks and electrical burns.

Ornaments — especially treasured heirlooms and glass decorations — should be hung higher up on a Christmas tree and out of reach of playful cats or rambunctious dogs who may knock them down. The last thing you need are shards of broken glass all over the floor that can slice pets’ or people’s feet. Glass can also be very dangerous when ingested by pets.

The safest thing is to avoid putting any decorations on the lower branches of a Christmas tree.

The tree can be a danger on its own, according to veterinary professionals. Cats in particular may be delighted to have an indoor tree to climb and explore or to use as a scratching post. It’s a good idea to use a sturdy tree stand and to tie the top of the tree to wall or ceiling hooks to prevent it falling over thanks to a cat in the branches.

Block off any access to the water for the tree because it can upset dog and cat stomachs. And swallowed tree needles can get stuck in your pet’s digestive system and need to be surgically removed.

The very nature of a holiday gathering makes it a bit of a minefield for cats and dogs.

Guests often bring large bags or purses into the house and set them on the floor.

Most pets are curious and will want to nose around inside anything within reach. So keep bags and purses off the floor so your pet can’t get any holiday food in shopping bags or medications, candy or gum in a purse.

It’s also a good idea to routinely scan your floor and make sure there are no small, plastic toys or batteries around that a dog could pick up and chew or swallow. Batteries contain zinc that can cause renal damage in dogs. Chewing on hard plastic toys or game pieces can break a dog’s tooth.

Food is a huge part of the holidays and all those wonderful smells are as inviting to your pet as they are to you.“Especially for dogs I like to talk about treats,” Townsend said. “Chocolate is one really to watch out for — it probably won’t kill them, but in large enough amounts it can make your dog sick or even cause seizures.”

By Traci Howerton

Considering adding a new pet to the family this holiday season? Pets are a great investment, providing countless hours of joy, entertainment and companionship. However, they do come with a financial commitment.

Ongoing costs should be taken into account when deciding if a new pet is right for your family. Before making the long-term commitment of pet ownership, know what the many expenses will involve.

Pet care is something that should have a continuing spot in the household monthly budget. The costs vary greatly depending on the type and number of pets. Planning ahead is a great idea so that all routine expenses are accounted for, as well as the unexpected costs that may come up from time to time.

I can tell you from personal experience as the owner of two senior pets that, as they age, the expenses are greater, the trips to the vet are more frequent, and pets can generally become more high maintenance. We currently have three vets — one primary and two specialists — for two dogs!

Vet visits will be one of the biggest expenditures in the pet-care budget. Plan for regular check-ups and vaccinations, as well as monthly heartworm and flea preventatives.

Puppies and kittens will initially need several rounds of vaccinations and spay/neuter. They will also need to be microchipped.

Most rescues and shelters take care of the initial vaccinations, spay/neuter and microchipping and include these expenses, typically at a discounted rate, in their adoption fees.

Keep in mind that, just like humans, pets may need an unexpected trip to the vet for an ailment or injury, so budget for these unplanned costs as well.

HealthDay News — Anyone who’s ever loved a pet like a member of the family knows that the grief when that dog, cat or other furry friend dies can be devastating.

But too often, finding others who truly understand and support that sense of loss can be challenging.

Michelle Crossley, a mental health counselor, and Colleen Rolland, a pet loss grief specialist, have each experienced deep bereavement after losing a much-loved pet.

Rolland is a pet loss grief specialist for the Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement (APLB) and has a small private practice in Ontario, Canada. She said her own loss of a beloved Golden Retriever left her “in a puddle on the floor.”

As a pet loss grief specialist, Rolland is trained specifically in the extreme grief over the loss of a pet, but when that loss triggers feelings about childhood grief or other traumas, she and others like her refer those individuals to a trained mental health specialist.

One of the reasons for the paper was an awareness that not all mental health specialists understand the depth of the human-animal bond, and so are not able to provide what feels like an emotionally safe environment for someone experiencing that grief, Rolland said.

“That person just turns even more inward and the grief and the suffering just continues to go on,” she added.

Pet loss is just one type of loss that is not as widely acknowledged or given attention by society, according to the study authors. Among the others are death by suicide or from AIDS and pregnancy loss/miscarriage.

Grief may become more complicated when it’s ‘disenfranchised,’ Rolland said.

A disenfranchised grief is one that is important to the individual, but which is unacknowledged as important by society and not needing the same social support, the report noted.

Vol. 16, No. 05 – Nov 30 – Dec 6, 2022 – The Pet Page

• It feels like dogs know just when we need them most. Well, they might, experts say

By Madeline Holcombe

When a family arrived at Koch Funeral Home in State College, Pennsylvania, to identify a loved one before cremation, Monroe took note — staying back to maintain the people’s privacy but ready to offer comfort if asked.

Monroe isn’t a grief counselor or therapist. She’s an Australian Shepherd and resident therapy dog at the funeral home.

“She has this affinity toward people who might be experiencing grief. She is drawn to them.”

Sure enough, when members of the family came out, they saw Monroe and asked to say hello. Petting her opened them up to telling others about their loss.

Petting a dog boosts activity in the frontal cortex of the brain, where thinking and planning occurs.

Some research has suggested that dogs, whether trained therapy and service animals or just friends in our homes, have a positive impact on human lives, said Colleen Dell, the research chair in One Health and Wellness and professor at the University of Saskatchewan.

Just 10 minutes spent with a dog helped reduce patients’ pain, according to a March study for which Dell served as lead author.

People often don’t talk about what they’re going through when grieving, Hook said. The process of mourning is as unique to a person as a fingerprint, and many don’t know how to be there for others who are going through it, she added.

For many people, dogs can offer intuitive, unconditional and loving support in times of grief, Dell said.

“We don’t give them the credit that’s due,” Dell said of the animals that provide needed support. “We don’t understand them to the extent that we should. When you start to pull it apart, there’s just so much going on there.”

• Canine cancers give clues about human health risks.

UQ researchers say dogs are a better proxy for human health than many people realize.

University of Queensland researchers are looking to dog owners for data on protecting pet and human health from environmental hazards.

Veterinary pathologist Professor Chiara Palmieri from UQ’s School of Veterinary Science is examining risk factors for canine health in Australia with a focus on chemical exposure, indoor air quality and outdoor air pollution.

“Pets can be the proverbial ‘canary in the coalmine’ when it comes to human health risks,” Professor Palmieri said.

“We love our dogs, but sadly they’re often the first to suffer from environmental health hazards in our households.

“A classic example is a dog developing mesothelioma after their owner’s house renovations reveal asbestos, or from over-application of certain flea repellents which can contain asbestos-like fibers.

“Chemicals like those found in tobacco smoke or garden products also put dogs at risk of common cancers like lymphoma or cancer of the bladder.”

Professor Palmieri said gathering data on canine exposure to environmental hazards is crucial to understanding the origin of spontaneous cancers.

“We’re working on the principle that if it’s toxic to our pets, it will be toxic to humans as well,” she said.

Professor Palmieri said dogs are a better proxy for human health than many people realise.

“Dogs get cancer at roughly the same rate as humans, or even more,” she said.

“We estimate that a quarter of dogs will develop cancer at some point, increasing to almost 50 per cent of dogs over the age of 10.”

Professor Palmieri said canine cancer rates are rising, and for some of the same reasons as humans.

“Things like longer lifespans, more focus on health indicators, increased use of diagnostic tests and the isolation of specific exposure risks,” she said.

“If we can better understand the chronic exposures that are risky to dogs, we can do a better job of preventing them and decrease the incidence of certain tumours.”

Professor Palmieri’s research team has devised a brief survey for dog owners.

“We’re compiling basic information about a dog’s age, sex, breed, weight and vaccination status, grooming routine and the flea/tick control products used,” she said.

“But we’re also noting the location of the house, whether anyone in the house smokes and if the dog is exposed to herbicides and pesticides.

“It’s important to gather this data so we can better protect our canine companions while protecting ourselves at the same time.”

• Jeanette Pavinifeb

Over my 20-plus years of consumer reporting, one of the most common questions has been if pet insurance is worth the cost.

Unforeseen veterinary bills can come as quite a financial blow, so having pet insurance can well be worth it. But it wasn’t until I adopted my own dog that I realized the benefits and peace of mind that comes along with pet insurance. So, now the question becomes what type of pet insurance is best.

If you are on a budget, you can look for a policy that would take care of your pet in the event of something catastrophic. Each company will have their own list of what qualifies as catastrophic. Find out the deductibles and find out if all related care is covered.

For a general pet insurance policy there are certain questions you should get the answers to before signing up. There are policies in which once you pay the deductible for a particular condition, that deductible lasts for the entire time your pet is being treated for the condition. One advantage is if the condition is going to be with your pet for the rest of its life, you won’t have to pay a new deductible every year. This type of policy worked out very well for me. My dog developed a heart condition that was luckily caught very early. I paid the initial deductible, which was basically the cost of the echocardiogram, so I no longer will have to pay a deductible for this condition. Additionally, the medication that he will be on for the rest of his life, future echocardiograms and anything else related to this heart condition will be covered at 90%. That can add up to a significant savings. Compare the deductible plan for each policy you are considering. Some plans may offer annual deductibles which could work better for your needs.

One of the most important things to check before signing on the dotted line is the pre-existing condition clause. I have heard from a lot of people over the years that when it came to getting treatment for their pets, they were denied coverage because the treatment was for a pre-existing condition. Another question to ask is how the insurance company deals with diseases or conditions that are inherent to a particular breed. I did a story once on a woman who had a Bernese mountain dog. Her dog needed to have a surgery, but the insurance company denied the claim because certain genetic conditions were not covered. The bottom line is to find out if there are any exclusions for your pet.

Jeanette Pavini is an Emmy Award winning journalist specializing in consumer news and protection.

Vol. 16, No. 04 – Nov 16 – Nov 30, 2022 – The Pet Page

SPAN Thrift Store is open to the public and looking for donations of adult clothing, household items and tools.  SPAN Thrift Store provides $10 spay and neuter clinics for low income households for cats and dogs. Upcoming clinics:  Tuesday, Nov 22nd, Albert H. Soliz Library parking lot – El Rio, 2820 Jourdan St., Oxnard, 93036 and November 29th, SPAN Thrift Store, 110 N. Olive St., Ventura.  Please call to schedule an appointment (805) 584-3823. They are also having a handmade quilt raffle. Tickets are $1 each. Drawing is on Nov, 20th. www.spanonline.org.

∙ November is ‘”Adopt a Senior Pet” month and local shelters are encouraging families to consider adding a furry friend to their home, especially one in need of some extra love.

There are a lot of perks to having a senior pet which includes being able to give them the chance to feel a lifetime of love and having to do less work training and teaching them.

Since senior pets are fully grown, ASPCA said owners will be immediately aware of important information like personality type and grooming requirements, making it easier to choose the perfect pet for your family.

Senior dogs and cats often go unnoticed in shelters next to puppies and kittens and when you adopt one, you’re not only welcoming a lifetime of love into your home, but you’re also saving a precious life.

∙By Kiana Burks

“It can be fairly simple. It feels really complicated,” said Dr. Erika Bruner, a Veterinarian based in central Vermont.

According to Dr. Bruner, Elderly pet care is about maximizing comfort in the activities of everyday life- with love, connection, and a bit of humor.

“My message is all about trying to bring peace to everybody both the animal and the person iand trying to help them connect,” said Bruner

Which is why she’s dedicated to opening conversations and spreading knowledge about this difficult time in both pet and owner’s life

“I feel like we really have a good grasp on the technological aspects of medicine and what we need to take care of pets as they age in that way. But the way things are structured in a clinic, it’s often hard to find the time to spend a long time with people to really have an in-depth conversation about their aging animals,” said Bruner

The purpose of the program was to help ease people into thinking about the difficult decisions they may have to make for their pets specifically surrounding illness, death, and end of life care. 10

In the program, Dr. Bruner spoke of some of the challenges of owning a geriatric pet, and some low-tech solutions that may be available. Those in attendance say the program was comforting and informational

“I think sometimes we feel alone in these things. You know, and I think this group, even those that didn’t maybe raise a question or make a comment. I think there was such camaraderie with all of us, everybody that came in I knew that they were grappling with some of these issues,” said Judy Byron, a pet owner and program coordinator of the Waterbury Library.

And say they feel less alone and insecure about having to go through the difficult end of life decision-making processes

“What I got out of it so wonderfully is that you can’t make a wrong decision. I think sometimes we obsess about is it time is it not time… I am empowered in going forward and I can reveal their decision that’s right for my family and my path,” said Byron.

∙We may finally have the basis of a dog allergy vaccine

David Nield

Scientists are working hard to make pet-related sneezes and sniffles a distant memory, and there’s promising news from researchers analyzing the potential for a vaccine against dog allergies.

In what’s being described as a first step in developing such a vaccine, a team in Japan has identified certain parts of molecules that may be responsible for causing an allergic reaction in people whenever a dog is around.

Once these molecular sections have been spotted and isolated, they can potentially be targeted by a vaccine that lessens the immune response they trigger. These sections are technically known as epitopes – strings of amino acids that compose part of the protein that our bodies perceive as a threat.

Using a technique called X-ray crystallography (where X-ray diffraction reveals the crystal structure of a material), the team was able to determine the structure of the Can f 1 protein in its entirety, something that hasn’t been done before.

For someone with a dog allergy, the epitopes the scientists are looking for can be thought of as being like puzzle pieces that fit with matching pieces constructed by our on immune system – antibodies carried by B cells, or T Cells – for easy identification. It’s essentially hunting down the cause of the allergic reaction.

We’re still at the very early stages with this, so dog allergy sufferers may have to carry on avoiding close contact with pooches for a while yet – but we could one day look back on this as the first important step towards a working vaccine.

∙ Dogs are helping researchers find endangered orchids in Arizona

The Desert Botanical Garden and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have teamed up with two specially trained dogs to use their super sniffers to locate endangered orchids.

The orchid grows in extremely dense vegetation, making it hard for humans to spot, DBG conservation collections manager Steven Blackwell tells us.

The dogs are part of a California-based program called K9inScentive that trains them to detect specific plants and wildlife.

Why it matters: The orchids are an important part of the desert ecosystem, but they grow in ciénegas — a type of desert wetland that is disappearing because of the western megadrought.

The plant has been endangered since 1997 and has been found in only two places in Arizona since 2016.

When DBG researchers find them, they can collect some of their seeds so they can grow and reintroduce them.

Because this plant is so rare, Muon and Circe had to learn how to track them by practicing with a similar orchid that grows in Nevada, Blackwell says.

Their trainer taught them to identify different parts of the plant, from the root to the flower.

Blackwell says the researchers were unsure whether the plant they practiced with would smell the same as the endangered one, but within 10 minutes of their first outing in Arizona, Muon and Circe alerted handlers that they’d found something.

At first, researchers didn’t see anything, but after digging into the wetland, lo and behold, there was an orchid.

“They knew where it was and we had to look around all over the place,” he said.

Muon and Circe are back in California now but will continue practicing with the orchids ahead of next summer’s trip to southern Arizona.

Blackwell says he’d also love to use the pups to locate endangered cacti in the future.

Parting shot: “If it takes dogs to get people interested in plants, then whatever it takes,” he said.

Vol. 16, No. 03 – Nov 2 – Nov 15, 2022 – The Pet Page

Cats respond preferentially to the voice of their owner

Indoor cats react when their owners speak in a high-pitched “kitty voice” – such as by moving their heads and ears more – but not when strangers do so.

Unlike dogs, which respond to speech directed at them whether it is from their owners or from strangers, cats only seem to respond when the speaker is their owner. This may suggest that cats and their owners bond through their own unique form of communication, says Charlotte de Mouzon at University Paris Nanterre in France.

De Mouzon and her colleagues tested the behavior of 16 cats, nine males and seven females, living in studio apartments either as single pets with a female owner or as pairs of cats with a heterosexual couple. The cats ranged in age from 8 months to 2 years old, and their owners were all veterinary students at the National Veterinary School in Alfort, near Paris.

The team recorded the owners calling their cats by name in a high-pitched voice, as they would normally. The owners were also asked to say things in French relating to one of four contexts. These included: “Do you want to play?”, “Do you want to eat?”, “See you later!” and “How are you?”. The team then recorded the pet owners saying the same phrases to people, now using the style of speech they would typically use with friends or adult family members.

Sixteen women – not known to the cats – also had their voices recorded as they said the same four things to adult humans and to cats that they saw in videos in de Mouzon’s laboratory, using the same styles of speaking as the cat owners.

The cats heard all the recordings in their own homes, with their owners present but not interacting with them. When they heard the voices of their owners, the cats tended to interrupt their behavior and begin doing something else, such as looking around, moving their ears and tails, or even becoming completely still.

Even when they heard strangers speaking to them in a high-pitched, affectionate manner, calling them by name and inviting them to play or eat, the cats essentially ignored them, says de Mouzon. However, that could be related to the fact that all the cats were exclusively indoor pets, with few opportunities to interact with strangers, she says.

The findings provide further evidence that cats have strong social cognitive skills and that they are “sensitive and communicative individuals”, she says.

We know that they react to this kind of speech and it’s a good way for cats to know that we’re addressing them,” says de Mouzon. “So, we should feel confident about speaking to our cats with this kind of ‘baby talk’.”

Journal reference: Animal Cognition, DOI: 10.1007/s10071-022-01674

Dr. Lori Teller, a clinical associate professor of telehealth at the Texas A&M School of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, says there are several foods people should avoid giving their pets, but especially any foods containing xylitol.

Anything that contains xylitol should never be given to dogs,” Teller said. “It is extremely toxic and can lead to liver failure and death. It is a common replacement for sugar in many human foods, but it is so toxic to dogs that there has been legislation filed in Congress to require that any products containing xylitol be labeled as such. The bill is titled the Paws Off Act of 2021.”

Traditional holiday cooking and baking ingredients also can be dangerous for pet consumption. Some such items include chocolate, especially dark or baking chocolate; grapes or raisins; fatty foods; macadamia nuts and walnuts; bones; alcohol; raw dough; seeds and pits from fruits (such as apples, apricots, cherries, peaches); caffeinated products; avocado; and onions and garlic.

Any dangerous foods should be stored in a pet-proof cabinet, pantry, or container,” Teller advised. “Some pets are ‘counter-surfers’ and will jump up on a counter to steal something that smells irresistible.

Teller said that while some foods should be avoided in pet consumption at all costs, such as products containing xylitol and grapes or raisins, the effects of other foods are dose-dependent.

One example is chocolate,” she explained. “If your healthy Labrador retriever gets a hold of a couple of milk chocolate M&Ms, then the risk is pretty low for any problems. However, if the dog eats a couple of squares of baking chocolate, there is a much higher risk of toxic effects and you should seek veterinary care. When in doubt, talk to your veterinarian.”

While some traditional holiday eats and treats are dangerous for pets, others can be enjoyed together in celebratory moments. “These include most fruits (minus the seeds or pits), such as apples, bananas, blueberries, and watermelon. Most vegetables are healthy as well, including carrots, green beans, chickpeas, lettuce leaves, and cucumbers,” Teller said. “White rice and plain bread in small quantities are also acceptable. Cooked chicken, turkey or fish, without the skin or bones, is also safe for pets.”

Any treats or human foods given to pets should not exceed 10% of their dietary intake,” Teller shared. “More than this and their diet may become nutritionally unbalanced. It is always a good idea to talk with your veterinarian to make sure foods that you want to give your pet will be safe, especially if your pet has an underlying health problem.”

Keeping your pet away from potentially toxic foods may also involve educating children and visiting relatives, or even keeping the pet out of the kitchen entirely. Keeping your pet’s safety top of mind will help ensure that the entire family has a happy, healthy holiday season.

If you find yourself in a situation this holiday season where your pet has consumed something potentially detrimental to their health, The ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control can be reached at (888) 426-4435 and the Pet Poison Helpline can be reached at (855) 764-7661.

Pet Talk is a service of the School of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University.