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Canine influenza cases surface in additional states Canine influenza has been documented in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Texas and Illinois since the University of Florida's College of Veterinary Medicine first reported a cluster of cases linked to dog shows in the region. At least two cases, both in North Carolina, have been fatal.
The canine influenza vaccination for both strains of flu is available now.  Call for an appointment to protect your dog before the dog flu gets to
San Antonio.
What you need to know about Dog Flu: Click Here
As canine influenza spreads, veterinarians at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences are educating pet owners about symptoms and preventive measures, including vaccination. "In some cases, the infection can progress to pneumonia, especially when the flu is complicated by other respiratory bacteria or viruses," said veterinarian Stacy Eckman.

Did you know that one half of everything you read on the internet about pet health is WRONG?  Get the right answers to your pet health questions here. or

Is it the right time to get a pet?
Online tool may help owners decide Ontario Veterinary College veterinarian Jason Coe wants to make sure prospective pet owners put enough thought into the impact getting a new pet will have on their lives for the next 10 to 20 years, and he and his team have created a website with a budget calculator and other resources they hope will help. Dr. Coe says the idea was prompted by a study that found many people don't do enough research before they get a pet, which sometimes leads to people giving animals up to shelters. CBC News (Canada)

Should this dog have been shaved for summer? Double-coated dogs have thick layers of fur, but that doesn't mean they should be shaved -- their dense undercoats serve as a form of insulation in summer as well as winter. A photo of a husky that was totally shaved from the neck down has gone viral, sparking amusement but also concern, and AVMA President Dr. Tom Meyer said there can be health consequences after such a dramatic shave, including post-clipping alopecia. Dr. Meyer recommends owners discuss their concerns about dogs' coats with a veterinarian. NBC News

Dogs, But Not Wolves, Use Humans As Tools

Cat owners have less risk of dying from a heart attack or stroke
People are increasingly discovering that pets provide them with emotional and physical health benefits, according to former AVMA President Dr. Douglas Aspros, and it is likely the stereotype of the "crazy cat lady" may soon be a thing of the past. Petting cats releases oxytocin, making people feel less stressed; the sound of a cat's purr can lower blood pressure; cat owners have less risk of dying from a heart attack or stroke; cats' companionship can reduce loneliness; and exposure early in life may prevent later pet allergies.

Bear Dogs in Texas (not recently)

Dog therapy improves physical skills, emotional well-being of disabled child Dog therapy improves physical skills, emotional well-being of disabled child. (Pixabay) A case study published in Animals discusses how a family's pet dog helped their child with cerebral palsy improve motor skills, increase physical activity and enjoy better quality of life. The investigators placed the dog and the child on an eight-week program, during which they worked together on tasks, and the child had to help care for the dog. KTVZ-TV (Bend, Ore.)/Oregon State University

What will pets and wild animals do during the eclipse? As people across the United States look to the sky during the Aug. 21 solar eclipse, the California Academy of Sciences is asking them to help collect data on wildlife to inform their Life Responds project. There is a dearth of scientific information about animal reactions to celestial events, though observers have reported behaviors such as wild animals acting as if the eclipse is nighttime. Pets are more likely to be scared of the noise of human crowds than the event itself, and experts advise that they are unlikely to need protective eyeglasses, though many dog owners will buy them anyway. Mother Nature Network

Dogs aren't fooled by the Delboeuf illusion like humans are

Study: How pets enhance children's lives Research published in the Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology found that 12-year-old children report greater satisfaction with the relationships they have with pets than with siblings. Although replacing socially important human relationships with animal interactions might not be a good idea, researchers say the findings underscore pets' role in healthy child development. Daily News (New York) (1/30),  Mother Nature Network (1/30)  

W. Indian manatee upgraded from endangered to threatened Florida manatee numbers have burgeoned since the 1970s, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service upgraded the species from endangered to threatened, but the move does not void current federal and state protections in place for the animals.

Dogs improve teamwork, study finds Central Michigan University researchers found that when dogs are around, people tend to be more friendly, more likely to trust one another and work better as part of a team. "The presence of a dog seems to act as a social lubricant," researcher Steve Colarelli said.

Scientists discover antimicrobial power of Komodo dragon blood Komodo dragon blood contains compounds that have antimicrobial activity against drug-resistant bacteria including Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus, according to a study in the Journal of Proteome Research. The findings could lead to new treatments for people battling antimicrobial-resistant bacteria, researchers said.

A look inside JFK airport's posh pet home away from home By the time it's fully operational, John F. Kennedy International Airport's new Ark facility will be an 80,000-square-foot, $65 million facility that includes a dog spa, racehorse stalls, luxurious animal accommodations and a veterinary hospital. The Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine maintains the quarantine and disease prevention measures for the facility.

Behind the scenes at the Dallas Zoo's veterinary hospital The Dallas Zoo's A.H. Meadows Animal Care Facility includes a pharmacy, surgical suite, exam rooms, boarding quarters and a barn where animals of all shapes, sizes and species are cared for by a team of veterinarians, veterinary technicians and keepers. Recent patients include the zoo's western lowland gorilla named Subira, who needed urgent attention and long-term care for colitis and then pneumonia, and a pregnant anteater named Chispa, who needed ultrasounds to evaluate her pregnancy.

Mysteries of the frog tongue revealed Biomechanics researchers are studying the morphology and dynamics of the frog tongue to find out how it can be so pliable and sticky at the same time. When a frog tongue strikes its target, it becomes almost fluidlike, wrapping around the object, while saliva flows freely into gaps in the prey's body and then firms up again as the tongue retracts, findings scientists say could lead to new technologies to help humans. The Atlantic online

The importance of puppy talk.   In Proceedings of the Royal Society B, researchers report that puppies respond playfully to high-pitched, singsong human speech recordings while older dogs exhibit little response to any type of recorded human speech. The researchers conclude that "puppy talk" is similar to the way humans talk to babies, and it may serve a similar purpose such as helping puppies learn to understand words. (1/10)

Your Dog Remembers Even More about What You Do Than You Think

Do pets grieve? Owners seem to think so.  Do pets grieve? Owners seem to think so. (Pixabay) A study conducted in Australia and New Zealand with funding from the Morris Animal Foundation found that dogs and cats may experience grief, although the authors note anthropomorphism and bias may have affected the findings. Owner reports suggest dogs that have experienced the loss of an animal housemate tend to eat slowly, consume less food and sleep more, while cats tend to vocalize more after an animal companion's death. JAVMA News (1/19)


Before humans milked cows, herded goats or raised hogs, before they invented agriculture, or written language, before they had permanent homes, and most certainly before they had cats, they had dogs.  Or dogs had them, depending on how you view the human-canine arrangement. But scientists are still debating exactly when and where the ancient bond originated. And a large new study being run out of the University of Oxford here, with collaborators around the world, may soon provide some answers.

 Diabetes on the rise in dogs, cats The incidence of diabetes in dogs and cats in the US has crept up in the past decade, with an 80% jump in dogs and an 18% rise in cats, according to veterinarian Katy Nelson, who says the increase is linked to pets' expanding waistlines. Pets with diabetes drink more water and need to urinate more often, and those are commonly the first signs of diabetes, Dr. Nelson said.

Scientists just can’t stop studying falling cats

In the 19th century, physicists George Gabriel Stokes and James Clerk Maxwell were fascinated with how cats fall on their feet, and they were far from the last scientists to question the secrets behind the feline gymnastics. Modern-day expert Greg Gbur says physicists still struggle with the question today, noting the discipline's tendency to look for a simple, clear explanation may not apply: "Living creatures are doing whatever works best, which may not be the simplest option."

How Cats Conquered the World (and a Few Viking Ships)

Praise beats treats for dog reward, study finds A study published in Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience found that dogs respond more intensely to verbal or physical praise than to a food treat. The study evaluated functional MRI scans of dogs being praised and compared those to brain scans when the dogs were offered a treat and found the same or greater brain activity in the reward and decision-making centers in response to praise, information that could be used to help direct service dogs into assignments they're best suited for.

Vaccines May Save Africa’s Rarest Wolves From Extinction

Official info on international travel with pets

 DADDY’S GOT MILK!  Male Dyak’s fruit bats, Dyacopterus spadiceus, are able to feed their young milk from their own mammary glands. This species has one of the only known natural occurrences of paternal lactation. While the reasons the male would lactate are currently unknown, it could be a mechanism to take some of the pressure of lactation off of the female. This may confer an evolutionary advantage in lactating males over other non-lactating males. Another possible explanation is the consumption of plants with high concentrations of phytoestrogens, a hormone like molecule that may cause mammogenesis and lactogenesis in males.  10 of the Weirdest Facts about Bats

Thai veterinarians remove tumor near anaconda's heart Thai veterinarian Taweesak Anansiriwattana and his team removed a two-pound tumor from near the heart of a 114-pound anaconda. Most of the tumor was removed in the seven-hour surgery, but a small portion could not be excised because of its position near vital arteries, so additional treatment may be needed.

Foods pets shouldn't eat The FDA compiled a list of foods that can make pets seriously ill or cause death, in some cases, and some may surprise owners. Grapes, raisins, currants, macadamia nuts, onions, garlic, chives, xylitol and raw meat pose a threat to pets, and raw meat also can expose humans who handle it to illness.

Veterinarian develops new twist on feeding cats Veterinarian develops new twist on feeding cats. (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images) Veterinarian Liz Bales created the NoBowl Feeding System, a new method of feeding cats that abandons bowls and instead includes five small containers owners can stuff with cat food and place around the house for cats to hunt. The containers resemble mice, and the system is designed to work with a cat's instinctual eating behavior by encouraging them to seek food, bat the containers around and chase down the dispersed pieces. The New York Times (free-article access for SmartBrief readers)

Greenland sharks live hundreds of years, study finds The Greenland shark grows up to 20 feet long and might live longer than 270 years and potentially beyond 500, according to a study published in Science that used eye lens radiocarbon dating to estimate the ages of 28 females. The sharks are dark brown or purple with small eyes and a powerful sense of smell, and they live in cold, deep water worldwide.

Cat with four ears.

USFWS proposes using drones to drop plague vaccines for prairie dogs The US Fish and Wildlife Service is asking for public comment on a proposal to drop peanut-butter-flavored plague vaccines from drones across 1,200 acres of the black-footed ferret's grassland habitat in Montana. The program is an effort to eradicate flea-borne sylvatic plague, which is killing off the prairie dogs on which the ferrets depend as a food source.

Chocolate tops the list of foods that can cause pet deaths

A paper published in Frontiers in Veterinary Science reviews the foods that poison pets most frequently and describes the signs of ingestion for each. Foods that contain chocolate, coffee and caffeine top the list, and other top offenders include foods with the artificial sweetener xylitol and plants from the family that includes onions, chives, garlic and leeks. "The poisoning episodes are generally due to lack of public knowledge of the serious health threat to dogs and cats that can be posed by these products," the authors wrote.

Pet Owners Go to the Doctor Less  -   Elderly people who own pets visit their physicians less often than those who do not have pets, and dog owners have the fewest visits of all, a study has found.  While previous studies have suggested that pet owners are happier and healthier than people without pets, the new study, reported in a recent issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, is the first finding of a link with the demand for medical care. 

What's Fido thinking? Canine cognition researchers want to know

New research shows that pet owners go to the doctor less frequently than their non-pet-owning peers, according to the Human-Animal Bond Research Initiative. The economic analysis, conducted by researchers from George Mason University calculated more than $11 billion in savings in U. S. healthcarecosts as a result of pet ownership.

Dogs, in particular, seem to be more of a ''stress buffer" possibly because dog owners seem to have closer relationships with their pets than other pet owners do.
Owners' and dogs' hearts beat in sync, small study finds After being apart, three owners and their dogs both experienced a drop in heart rate upon being reunited, according to new research. The syncing of heart rates occurred rapidly and suggests a mutual reduction in stress, researchers said. Tech Times

Children with type 1 diabetes who were responsible for the care of at least one household pet had better glycemic control than children with the disease who didn't take care of a pet, according to a study published in PLOS One. Researchers said it's possible that caring for a pet requires skills and behaviors that translate to better management of diabetes.

Tributes after Tubby the 

'world's greenest dog' dies

Why We Melt at Puppy Pictures

Researchers identify new rare whale species

When is a wolf a wolf?

Dog germs may be good for you

When your pet needs anesthesia
Some veterinary procedures need to be performed with your pet under anesthesia. Many of us are anxious about going under anesthesia ourselves, so it's understandable to be anxious about your pet being anesthetized. Anesthesia for animals has come a long way and is safer than it ever was before, and a well-trained veterinary team further reduces your pet's risk. View AVMA's anesthesia resources to learn more about the anesthesia process and ways to reduce your pet's risk.

Pudgy squirrels are man-made phenomenon, veterinarian says People in the US, Canada and England have been posting pictures of uncharacteristically chubby squirrels on social media, prompting some to ask if there's an obesity epidemic in the animals. Veterinarian Greg Mertz, CEO of the New England Wildlife Center in South Weymouth, Mass., says the squirrels are likely eating too much, enjoying the abundance of backyard bird feed, hand-feeding at parks and on college campuses, and other buffets set out by humans. WBUR-FM (Boston)

Horses may tune into human expressions of emotion
University of Sussex psychologists say their research suggests horses have some understanding of human facial expressions. When the horses viewed an image of a man they did not know with an angry expression, the horses exhibited behavioral indicators of negativity and physiologic stress-response signs. The changes were more pronounced when viewing angry expressions compared with happy faces, possibly because the horses are more attuned to threats.The Independent (London) (tiered subscription model)
Do dogs know other dogs are dogs?

Animals that have no tongues, and other weirdness Sea stars, urchins and insects exist without tongues, while the alligator snapping turtle's tongue is indispensable, as it's used as a lure to draw in prey. Some unlucky fish have a tongue until parasitic isopods take up residence and ingest, then replace, the tongue and wait for a mate. The fish may have trouble eating and breathing, but they usually outlive their parasitic guests.

Your dog has your back.  Study finds Dogs will snub people who seem unkind to their human companions, according to a study from Japan. Dogs tended to refuse food from people they observed being unhelpful to their owners but accepted food from people who helped their owners or who behaved in a neutral way. "We discovered for the first time that dogs make social and emotional evaluations of people regardless of their direct interest," said researcher Kazuo Fujita. The findings are scheduled for publication in Animal Behaviour.
Ultrasound captures baby hippo running in utero

Nation's oldest bald eagle dies at age 38

Opossums could save you from that deadly snake bite

Finesse vs. force: How cats and dogs drink
A dog smashes the end of its tongue against the water, causing a portion of the liquid to separate from the rest, which the dog then catches before it has a chance to fall back to the bowl

Cartwheeling Spider: Spinning in the Sand

New remedy helps bats survive white-nose syndrome
A little bat can do a world of good!

And so can you! 
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Secret of hibernation could lead to Alzheimer's treatment 

Scientists Confirm That Cats a) Are Pretty Smart, b) Don't Really Care What You Want 

Gray Whale Breaks Mammal Migration Record

Facebook helps San Antonio animal shelter find ‘Freedom,’ the bald eagle

Park Service Will Deploy Herd Of Goats To Chomp Invasive Plants

Dogs to shield vulnerable species from danger

Tiger triplets to debut Friday at Point Defiance Zoo

The world's only live giant panda triplets (two boys and one girl) have started living together with their mother, giant panda Juxiao. (ChinaFotoPress/Getty)

Team tests second dose of contraceptive vaccine in wild mares

Endangered, record-holding African penguin undergoes radiation therapy

Dogs can distinguish between words with meaning and sounds without meaning, according to a study of 250 dogs published in the journal Current Biology. The study also found that dogs process the substance of words on the left side of the brain and emotional signals on the right.

Conservation Deal Saves the World’s Largest Bat Colony on Halloween

There’s A Bat Hospital In Australia That Takes In Abandoned Baby Bats

San Antonio votes YES to Save the Cave!
You can be part of this too.  Donate here.

A 24-year-old sea lion recovering from tonsillitis in the Kaliningrad Zoo has been taught to gargle his medicinal solution, the zoo in Russia's western exclave said on its website.

How can you tell if a lion is pregnant? Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden staff recently tweeted "Bump watch ... paws crossed" because signs indicate their female lion Imani may be pregnant. She's gained some weight recently, and hormones suggestive of pregnancy have been detected in her urine and feces. The species can experience false pregnancies and ultrasound on such an animal is difficult, so the only way to confirm Imani's pregnancy is the arrival of cubs, anticipated next month.

Stunning pictures show two Bears brawling over fishing ground

Scientists uncover molecule in blood that attracts carnivores

Two bobcats near Santa Cruz, Calif., suffered from rodenticide toxicity, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Experts believe the rodenticide originated in residential areas. Predators in the wild are likely exposed to the toxin by eating contaminated rodents. People who use rodenticides to control rodents often aren't aware of the danger the substances pose to nontarget wildlife such as bobcats, hawks, owls, foxes and mountain lions that prey on the rodents.

How obesity puts pet health at risk U.S. pets are suffering an epidemic of obesity, and veterinarian Ernie Ward, founder of the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, says those excess pounds put them at risk. "We're talking about type 2 diabetes, crippling arthritis, breathing problems, high blood pressure," Dr. Ward said. "We're also finding more and more cancers are directly related to excess fat."

Avoid feeding pets these foods Onions, garlic, alcohol, caffeine and other items commonly found in human diets are bad news for pets, according to veterinarian Samantha Klau. Pet owners whose animals have been exposed should watch for signs of toxicity and see a veterinarian right away if problems arise.

Park shares fetal gorilla ultrasound video Busch Gardens in Tampa, Fla., has released video of a fetal ultrasound from pregnant western lowland gorilla Pele. Western lowland gorillas are critically endangered, and the pregnancy is part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Species Survival Plan.

Seafaring veterinarian brings care to island pets

What to do when your pets don't get along Cats and dogs, just like people, may not always get along, veterinarians say. The two main scenarios that involve conflict are initial meetings and changes in relationships between longtime housemates such as redirected aggression, according to veterinarian Christopher Pachel. Experts say there are steps owners can take to ease conflict, but it's a good idea to seek guidance from an expert

Documentary brings amazing animal senses into focus Animals' sensory capabilities often far exceed those of humans, according to a recent BBC2 documentary. From cheetahs, which can see panoramic views with crystal clarity, to barn owls, which have asymmetrical ear placement to zero in on the location of prey within millimeters, this list highlights some of the many ways animals are awesome.

Dog leads rescuers to 3-year-old lost in wilderness for 11 days A family in Siberia is grateful to their pet dog who helped them rescue their 3-year-old daughter, Karina, who was lost in a bear- and wolf-inhabited wilderness for 11 days. Karina and her dog wandered off, and the dog stayed with her for nine days, keeping her warm and possibly safe from wildlife. The dog then returned home and led rescuers -- who had all but given up hope of finding Karina -- to the girl, who apparently suffered no major injuries.

Giant jellyfish spotted in the Adriatic for first time since Second World War

A World Without Elephants? Blame China

Plump grizzlies offer diabetes clue

FDA warns consumers about raw pet foods

Researchers aim to boost awareness of pet parasite Veterinarian Karen Snowden, a professor at the Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, is studying Heterobilharzia americana, a waterborne parasite that sickens dogs and horses in Texas and Louisiana, after she noticed an uptick in reported cases. Graduate student and veterinarian Jessica Rodriguez says the team hopes to make veterinarians more aware of the threat so they are able to diagnose it more readily. Also at Texas A&M, researcher Guan Zhu is studying Cryptosporidium, a zoonotic parasite that can be transmitted via water.

Alaskan bear crashes boy's birthday party

Owners who smoke put their pets at risk

An ounce of mother is worth a pound of clergy. - Rudyard Kipling

Bugs' 'kiss' a major threat to dogs  At a recent "Chagas Disease in Texas" symposium, experts discussed the vector-born zoonotic disease that is believed to be killing possibly thousands of dogs every year in Texas. "Texas is emerging as a hot spot," said veterinarian Sarah Hamer, assistant professor and associate wildlife biologist with Texas A&M University's College of Veterinary Medicine. "There is a growing crisis of canine Chagas in Texas." People are in danger, too: In Mexico, Central America and South America, Chagas disease afflicts up to 8 million people, 25,000 of whom die every year.

Veterinarians perform 2 wild surgeries A lemur and a Syrian brown bear are both recuperating after surgery. Veterinarian Merav Shamir performed a surgical correction of the bear's herniated disc at the Ramat Gan Zoological Center in Israel after the animal showed acute and progressive signs of hind leg paralysis. Veterinarians Claudia Hartley and Rachael Grundon, who have performed eye surgery on a variety of species, removed the lemur's cataracts at the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust in Europe's Channel Islands. "There is nothing quite like the feeling of restoring sight to an animal, especially witnessing them see again for the first time," said Dr. Hartley. "It really is the best job in the world."

Veterinarians chase dinosaurs in Texas

Yale experts explore dog intelligence Laurie Santos, director of Yale University's Canine Cognition Center, is conducting a series of experiments to evaluate dog intelligence. One hypothesis the center is testing is that dogs anticipate humans' behavior by closely following what their owners do. "We have such strong intuitions about whether a dog is smart, about whether they're social, about what makes them special. The nice thing about this is ... we can put it to the test," Santos said.

Step aside, lions, tigers and bears: Mosquitoes deal deadliest blow to humans The mosquito is the world's deadliest animal, according to Bill Gates. He noted on his blog that the insect carries malaria, which infects an estimated 200 million people each year, 700,000 of whom die of the disease. Other diseases spread by mosquitoes include dengue fever, Rift Valley fever, West Nile virus, chikungunya virus and Japanese encephalitis. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has made eradication of malaria a priority.

Veterinarian studies intersection between gorilla and human health Veterinarian Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka has been studying mountain gorillas in Uganda for two decades, and she founded the nonprofit group Conservation Through Public Health in an effort to educate people about the critically endangered mountain gorilla population. Her work involves monitoring and treating diseases in gorillas and educating the public about the connection between gorillas and human health. Dr. Kalema-Zikusoka works to strike a balance between conservation and economics, noting that while ecotourism helps the local economy, it also exposes the gorillas to human diseases that could have devastating consequences for the species.

Afghanistan's only known female veterinarians staff Kabul rescue

Could dog study unlock fountain of youth?

New Clue Found: Why Bats Spread Viruses but Don't Get Sick

Gorilla birth provides window into zoo medicine When Imani, an 18-year-old gorilla at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, began experiencing difficulty during labor, veterinarians used "binocular medicine" to monitor her from a distance, and they ultimately employed a dart gun to administer anesthesia for a cesarean section, an unusual procedure for a gorilla. The case provides a glimpse into the science of veterinary medicine, where practitioners draw on knowledge developed in other species and techniques most be modified for diverse animal types, including some that are humanlike, such as gorillas. Keepers are gradually introducing the infant, recovering after respiratory difficulties, to the other gorillas.

Not Safe for Children

EPA: Some flea and tick collars pose danger to children An Environmental Protection Agency report warns that propoxur, a flea-killing chemical in flea collars marketed by Sergeant's Pet Care Products and Wellmark International, is unsafe for children. However, the products can be distributed until two years from now, and retailers can continue to sell them after that until their stock is gone. Veterinary dermatologist Daniel Morris says there are safer products available and urges owners to consult with their veterinarian to determine the best approach. The Philadelphia Inquirer

Rescue of Buddy the dog warms hearts amid sad mudslide search When a family's pet chocolate lab was discovered alive amid the rubble of a home devastated in last week's Washington state mudslide, they found themselves with something to celebrate. Young Quinton Kuntz said the family was sorting through wreckage when they heard Buddy whining. "I just broke down crying, really happy that my dog was all right. I'm just shocked how well he did against my whole house falling on him," he said.

Coping with pet death when others don't understand Millions of Americans own pets, yet many find it difficult to be open about their grief when an animal becomes sick or dies, thinking others might not understand the depth of loss. Clinical psychologist Jennifer Taitz says the sense of loss is real because pets are more than "just animals" to their people, and she offers guidelines for coping with pet loss and the complicated feelings that come with it.

Canine disease is oldest cancer in the world Canine transmissible venereal tumor developed roughly 11,000 years ago, and all cases seen today originate from a line of malignant cells that occurred in one dog, according to genetic research. The disease is one of only two types of cancer known to spread by contact between individual animals. Researchers traced genetic clues, finding the original carrier of the cancer was a husky-type dog that lived 11,000 years ago, and researchers uncovered markers of inbreeding, which could have facilitated the development of the disease.

Mystery Solved? Why Zebra's Have Stripes

Medical marijuana tied to spike in dog poisonings The growing prominence of medical marijuana has triggered an increase in the number of dogs who get sick after ingesting pot products, which they often find in the trash. The Pet Poison Helpline recorded a 200% increase in such poisonings since 2008. Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is the active ingredient in marijuana. THC affects dogs differently than humans, and although not usually fatal, THC poisoning requires medical treatment that can include induced vomiting, intravenous fluids or activated charcoal.

How processed raw meat diets endanger people and pets  Food-borne bacteria can multiply quickly during the processing of raw pet food, posing a danger not only to the animals that eat it but also the humans who handle it, writes veterinarian Lee Pickett. An FDA study found that 15% of commercial raw foods were contaminated with salmonella and 32% with listeria, Dr. Pickett writes. (Reading, Pa.) (12/20)

How dogs protect your heart  Recent research adds to a growing body of evidence supporting the cardioprotective benefits of having a pet, especially a dog, according to physician Sandra Fryhofer. Pets are associated with reduced heart disease risk through lower blood pressure and in some cases lower cholesterol, as well as increased exercise among owners who walk with their canine friends. Also, dogs provide emotional support and help humans deal with stress, which also helps protect the heart.

 Polar bear pregnancy test results  Zoo staff at 14 facilities across the country have pregnancy test results for their polar bears, thanks to a hard-working dog nose. A beagle named Elvis, trained to detect a pregnancy protein in polar bear feces, has evaluated the samples, finding just a few mama bears are expecting cubs. The Cincinnati Zoo's Berit is not among them, according to the zoo.

Baby panda's attempts to stand are adorable  The National Zoo's roly-poly, still unnamed panda tried to stand this week. The video of the 3-month-old cub's attempt to get onto her feet is a welcome antidote to difficult news from zoos earlier this week, including a zebra attack on a staff member at the National Zoo and the death of a female lion in Dallas after she was attacked. National Journal

In praise of bats: Even though bats can harbor many serious zoonotic diseases such as rabies, Ebola and SARS, veterinarian William Karesh argues bats are also valuable protectors of human health and emphasizes the need to preserve the many species of the animal. Human health could benefit as scientists work to unravel the secrets behind bats' ability to harbor deadly human disease while remaining unaffected. Bats also help protect crops by ingesting billions of insects and aiding pollination and seed dispersal, yet habitat loss and diseases such as white-nose syndrome are crippling some bat species, Dr. Karesh notes. "We have little to fear from bats but they have much to fear from us," he writes.

Scientists document how ticks hang on  Ticks transmit zoonotic diseases while they take a blood meal over the course of days, and a new study sheds light on how they settle in for their extended meals. The research takes a close look at the anatomy of the female tick's mouth parts and shows how the insects are able to embed in the skin and hang on without expending energy while they eat, making them difficult to extract.

Dedication set for U.S. monument honoring military dogs The U.S. Military Working Dog Teams National Monument, the first national monument honoring military dogs, will be dedicated next week on the Texas military base where many of them are trained and receive veterinary care. The effort to create the monument was led by former military dog handler John Burnam, who served alongside dogs in Vietnam

Is it time for Stubbs to step down? Stubbs the cat has reigned as honorary mayor of Talkeetna, Alaska, for years, but recent troubles may end his time in office. He has suffered injuries and insults in recent years, including being shot with a pellet gun, having an incident with a garbage truck, tumbling into a food fryer -- filled with cold oil -- and most recently being attacked by a dog. He's been slow to mend from the recent assault, and constituents think it may time to consider a new mayor.

Wolves return to mountains outside Madrid Pack of wolves colonise area in Sierra Norte, mountain range north of Madrid, almost 70 years after species was wiped out across Spain

Preventing obesity starts with pet owners  Human and animal health intersect at many points, including the waistline, according to experts who attended the Waltham International Nutritional Sciences Symposium. Owners contribute to pet obesity through excessive feeding coupled with insufficient activity, experts say. They also may exacerbate the issue with a generally indulgent style of interacting with their animals or other styles of pet care, said veterinarian Alex German. "If veterinarians can predict (pet owner) parental style, perhaps they can more effectively prevent obesity," Dr. German said. Also on the agenda were the future of food animal production and topics related to pet diets.

Protecting penguins from malaria.  Zoos across the country are waging a relentless battle against malaria in penguins, caused by a species-specific, mosquito-borne parasite that does not infect humans but can decimate a penguin population. "[Malaria is] probably the top cause of mortality for penguins exposed outdoors," said veterinarian Allison Wack of the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore. Mosquito control, anti-malarial drugs and careful monitoring of birds are important tools for zoos.

Antibodies from sharks could help fight breast cancer  An antibody believed to be found only in sharks, known as IgNAR, may help treat breast cancer, and University of Aberdeen biologists are conducting a three-year study to investigate. The antibody is thought to inhibit two cancer cell surface molecules, preventing them from initiating growth of cancer cells.

Zoo bans animal-print clothing to protect the animal residents  Officials at Britain's Chessington World of Adventures Resort banned visitors from wearing animal-print clothing and accessories in an effort to avoid aggravating the animals housed there. Since the facility started a new program that brings people in close contact with animals, officials noticed animals reacting to people sporting animal prints either by acting overly friendly or running away in fear.

Lincoln Park Zoo receives accolades for Serengeti rabies prevention work  Since 2003, Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo has facilitated the administration of more than 1 million doses of rabies vaccine to dogs living near Serengeti National Park in Tanzania as part of the zoo's Serengeti Health Initiative. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums gave the zoo its Top Honors in International Conversation award for the program, believed to have saved up to 150 human lives annually.

Dogs trained to detect human cancers using scent  Dogs have been trained to use their noses to detect human cancers including lung and ovarian cancer with reliability, and one U.K. organization is training dogs to detect bladder cancer by sniffing urine samples. Dogs have a keen sense of smell thanks to their abundant olfactory cells, and since they can communicate with humans better than animals such as mice, they are useful for detecting cancers, said veterinarian Cynthia Otto, director of the Penn Vet Working Dog Center.

Newly discovered shark species "walks" on the ocean floor

Lincoln Park Zoo welcomes newborn rhinoceros  Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago announced the birth of a male Eastern black rhinoceros to 8-year-old mother Kapuki and 27-year-old father Maku. The Eastern black rhinoceros is endangered, with about 5,000 in the wild and 68 in North American zoos. They were hunted to near extinction in the 1990s for their horns, mistakenly thought to contain healing properties.

Back-to-school time affects pets, too; here's how to prepare

Birds observe the speed limit on roads

How City Living Is Reshaping the Brains and Behavior of Urban Animals

Older animals make good pets, too  Photographer Lori Fusaro is compiling photos of older animals for a book she hopes will inspire people to think about adopting older pets from shelters. Fusaro's idea for the book coalesced when she met Sunny, an ailing 16-year-old mixed-breed dog, at a Los Angeles shelter. Fusaro adopted her, and a year later, they are still together. Fusaro knows letting go will be difficult. "I didn't want to open my heart for that kind of pain, but how much sadder and more horrible for me would it be to leave her at the shelter," said Fusaro. "It will be terrible to lose her but much worse to leave her to die alone."

1st S.C. rabies death in 5 decades prompts calls for better education

Vaccinating world's strays will curb human rabies, experts say  To help prevent the 55,000 human rabies deaths that occur annually around the world, most caused by bites from infected dogs, experts recommend mass rabies vaccination for canines. A vaccination campaign on the Philippine island of Bohol reduced the number of human rabies deaths from 10 annually to one since 2008. Properly storing, transporting and administering the injections to strays may be a roadblock, but oral vaccines for dogs are under development and could provide an efficient means for mass vaccination.

Black Cat Appreciation Day: Do You Know Your Melanistic Cats?

Twin giant panda cubs are born at Zoo Atlanta in Ga.  Staff at Zoo Atlanta in Georgia were caught by surprise when 15-year-old giant panda Lun Lun gave birth to twin cubs instead of just one on Monday. This event is the zoo's first twin panda birth, said spokeswoman Keisha Hines. The cubs, which will likely be on public display in November, together weighed a total of 8.6 ounces.

How do you know when it's time to say goodbye?  In an effort to assist other pet owners struggling with end-of-life issues regarding their animals, Tina Ferner developed a package of information designed provide guidance for decisions during a pet's final days. Ferner consulted with veterinarian Alice Villalobos, a founding member of Veterinary Cancer Society who developed an end-of-life assessment for owners. "The scale offers some objectivity while remaining sensitive to the caregiver's wishes," Dr. Villalobos writes on her website. "It will relieve guilt feelings and engender the support of the veterinary team to actively help in the care and decision-making for end of life."

High-speed cameras unlock secrets of animal movements

Cats may not be as aloof as they seem  Despite the common belief that some cats are indifferent to their human caretakers, new research indicates cats are more likely to respond to their owner's voice than a stranger's. However, the response is, in typical cat fashion, subtle: ear or head movement or pupil dilation. The study contributes insights into cats' cognition and shows how their natural tendency to mask their responses to stimuli translates into the home environment.

Cats Adore, Manipulate Women

Pets Vital to Human Evolution

Tumor drug shows promise for Tasmanian devils, pets and maybe humans  A new plant-derived drug, EBC-46, was associated with regression or palliation in cancerous tumors in four Tasmanian devils, which have suffered massive losses to a contagious cancer. Veterinarian Jack Ayerbe, a director with the company that developed the drug, says he's used it successfully to treat some dogs and cats in his practice. Veterinarian Stephen Pyecroft, who helped develop and test the drug, says it may help treat captive devils and improve survival of their young, but it won't be a feasible treatment for wild animals. Human trials are planned as well.

Does Sterilization Lead to a Longer Life?
Many dog owners have their pets spayed or neutered to help control the pet population, but new research from the University of Georgia suggests the procedures could lengthen pet lives and alter the risk of specific causes of death. The researchers found that sterilized dogs lived about 1.5 years longer than intact dogs. They also found that the causes of death differed between those dogs that were sterilized and those that were not. The findings are valuable not only for learning about dogs, but also for studying reproductive effects in humans, researchers say.

Experts share tips for keeping pets cool in summer heat Summer means taking extra care to keep pets from overheating, an especially dangerous situation for brachycephalic breeds including pugs, bulldogs and others with short snouts or flat faces, experts advise. Other tips: Don't leave pets in parked cars, where temperatures quickly soar to life-threatening levels; make sure animals have plenty of shade and cool water when outdoors; and walk pets early or late in the day to avoid the heat of the full sun.

Denver Zoo bids farewell to aging lion with lymphoma Denver Zoo officials said a sad goodbye Wednesday to their South African lion Rian, who at 15 was battling an aggressive form of lymphoma. Veterinarians at the zoo and Colorado State University were treating Rian with chemotherapy developed for domestic cats, a first that they had hoped would help develop a protocol for other big cats with cancer. "Originally we did see incremental levels of improvement in Rian, but in the last couple days it became evident his quality of life was quickly diminishing and we decided it was time to say goodbye," said veterinarian Betsy Stringer. "We hope some of what we learned with Rian will help another lion down the road."

Many animals may be smarter than they get credit for, studies show Chickens can plan ahead and may have better spatial skills than young children; sheep can recognize colors and shapes; pigs and monkeys can use mirrors to find hidden food; and even flies can remember their destinations and get there despite distractions, according to a variety of studies from the past few decades. "Finding sophisticated learning and awareness in animals can alter the way people think about the species and may result in better welfare in the long run," said r Donald Broom.

Veterinarians to test contraceptive vaccine in wild dogs Two Western American Indian tribes are working with veterinarians to study the use of a contraceptive vaccine that's been used in wildlife to keep populations under control. Under the program, veterinarians will capture 300 wild female dogs and administer the government vaccine GonaCon. The animals will also be microchipped, collared and tattooed before being released. They'll be recaptured after a year to assess their response to the vaccine. The research is a collaboration between the USDA National Wildlife Research Center and Oklahoma-based Spay First.

Research explores the ways dogs help people heal In findings that support what many animal owners already know, Washington State University researchers conclude that spending time with dogs is good for people. So good, in fact, that canine companions can help address mental health disorders among humans. The study looked at teens in residential treatment centers for substance abuse. The participants' mood and attentiveness improved after spending time with dogs, and symptoms of depression, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder dropped dramatically. Researcher Lindsay Ellsworth said canine companionship may stimulate the release of opioids.

As the North Carolina Zoo eagerly awaits the birth of a baby gorilla, keepers and head veterinarian Michael Loomis answer some questions about gorilla pregnancy, birth and infant care in this article. Acacia, the 18-year-old female gorilla whose pregnancy was confirmed with a human pregnancy test, will likely deliver on her own, without assistance from staff. Veterinarians may not have an opportunity to examine the infant until it's at least 6 months old, but they'll be keeping a close eye on the pair to ensure the baby is thriving.

A dolphin in Florida underwent a procedure never before used in the species to help her breathe easier. The 29-year-old therapy dolphin named Sarah, who specializes in making children with disabilities smile, underwent a procedure similar to human angioplasty in which her airway was dilated with a balloon-like device. After her trainers noticed Sarah was having difficulty breathing, a CT scan showed her airway was 80% blocked. Following the procedure, "we immediately got her back into the water and we immediately saw that she could breathe better," said veterinarian Robert Stevens.

Cat beards take social media by storm

Wildlife cameras document beauty, power of Java's endangered leopards

Dogs bring bacteria home, but that's not necessarily bad Homes with dogs have more bacteria and greater diversity of bacteria than those without dogs, according to a North Carolina State University study, but that doesn't necessarily mean people living with canine friends face any additional health risks. Most of the bacteria identified were not pathogenic, and they may even have some benefits for humans. "We know we have all these bacteria in our home," said researcher Holly Menninger. "Let's learn to live with them."

Veterinarians find giant hairball in tiger's gut. Veterinarians at BluePearl Veterinary Partners in Clearwater, Fla., surgically removed a 4-pound hairball from the stomach of a 17-year-old male tiger Wednesday. The tiger, named Ty, hadn't eaten for two weeks. Veterinarians diagnosed the hairy obstruction with a camera attached to a scope. The 400-pound cat lives at the Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation in Seminole.

Animal friends appear to help human hearts Pet owners can add "heart health" to the list of reasons they love their animals. According to the American Heart Association, owning a pet is associated with more physical activity, lower blood pressure, better lipid levels and better acute coronary syndrome survival. "Pet ownership is an important nonhuman form of social support and may provide cardioprotective benefits in patients with established" cardiovascular disease, according to the AHA.

Behavioral characteristics of dogs obtained as puppies from pet stores versus noncommercial breeders It has long been suggested that dogs obtained as puppies from pet stores have a higher prevalence of health and behavioral problems than do dogs obtained from other sources, but few empirical studies of this relationship are available. In a cross-sectional study in which owners of dogs obtained as puppies from pet stores (n = 413) or a breeder (5,657) were asked to complete the online version of the Canine Behavioral Assessment and Research Questionnaire, dogs obtained from a pet store received significantly less favorable scores than did dogs obtained from a breeder on 12 of 14 behavioral variables. Importantly, causes of the unfavorable differences were not identified.

Aging bunkers to harbor bats in fight against white-nose syndrome Scientists have renovated two Cold War bunkers at a former Air Force base in Maine to serve as artificial hibernacula for bats in an effort to protect the animals from white-nose syndrome, a killer fungal disease that has spread across 22 states and five Canadian provinces, killing some 6.7 million bats. Unlike caves, the bunkers can be disinfected after the bats leave. The move reflects a shift in efforts to fight the disease, said endangered species biologist Ann Froschauer: "Our best bet now is to work towards how we can contain the disease."

Research demonstrates baboons' math prowess A recent study of olive baboons found they did as well as human children at accurately comparing quantities, providing the first evidence that baboons use analog reasoning. "A lot of people don't realize how smart these animals are," said researcher Jenna Bovee. "Baboons can show you that five is more than two. That's as accurate as a typical 3-year-old, so you have to give them that credit."

Lyme disease isn't responsible for high autism prevalence, study finds A study of 120 children does not support claims that exposure to Lyme disease is linked to the high rate of autism in the U.S. "The data do not address whether Lyme disease may cause autism-like behavioral deficits in some cases. However, the study's sample size is large enough to effectively rule out the suggested high rates of Lyme disease amongst affected children," the researchers wrote.

Dog with 4 prosthetic limbs is one of a kind Naki'o, a mixed-breed dog, is believed to be the first dog to have four prosthetic limbs. He was abandoned as a puppy in a foreclosed home, and rescuers found him with his tail and all four paws frozen in a puddle. Veterinarians were unable to save his feet, leaving Naki'o to shuffle along on his belly. Veterinary technician Christie Pace adopted him and led the effort that helped obtain four prosthetic limbs and a new life for Naki'o.

Colo. veterinarians note uptick in canine marijuana toxicity Between 2005 and 2010, cases of marijuana toxicity in pets in Colorado increased fourfold, mirroring the uptick in human medical marijuana users, according to a study by the Colorado State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital and Wheat Ridge Animal Hospital. Colorado veterinarians continue to see more dogs ill after ingesting marijuana, which the state now allows people to possess in small amounts. Marijuana in dogs causes agitation, incoordination and may lead to seizures, coma or death in severe cases. "Put it away, out of reach," veterinarian Natalie Adams said of the drug. "Once [dogs] got into it once, they will be repeat offenders."

Pets suffer from allergies, too Dogs can suffer from allergies to fleas, environmental allergens and more, and the issues may manifest as skin problems. Cats also develop allergies, but they usually exhibit gastrointestinal symptoms, according to veterinarian Jules Benson of Petplan. Allergy testing is available for pets, and treatments are aimed at alleviating the discomfort associated with allergies, since, just like in humans, they can't be cured.


Wounded war dog who saved many lives has new role Lucca, a military dog trained to locate explosives, lost her left foot and subsequently her leg after one of the devices she found detonated in Afghanistan last year. Despite the violence she's witnessed and suffered, Lucca maintains a loving spirit, according to her handler and now owner, Marine Gunnery Sgt. Chris Willingham. "She's been through a lot. Through firefights, been close to mortars and she was that close to an IED and she's still got the same spirit, same personality," Willingham said. Lucca is now retired, but she and Willingham are traveling with the National Military Working Dog monument before it comes to rest in Texas.

Dual therapy could improve vision in dogs and people Veterinary ophthalmologist András Komáromy has found that combining gene therapy with treatment using the protein CNTF can help improve vision in dogs, and possibly people, with inherited retinal disorders. "Based on our results, we are proposing a new concept of retinal therapy," Dr. Komáromy said. "One treatment option alone might not be enough to reverse vision loss, but a combination therapy can maximize therapeutic success." This article also summarizes a discovery in mice that could help alleviate post-traumatic stress disorder in people and research focused on language and monkeys.

Animals use nature to prevent infections; humans may benefit Whether intentionally or as a result of innate behavior, animals regularly use natural compounds to prevent and address health problems, and studying their habits could lead scientists to new drugs to treat human diseases, researchers say. "When we watch animals foraging for food in nature, we now have to ask, are they visiting the grocery store or are they visiting the pharmacy?" said ecology professor Mark Hunter. "We can learn a lot about how to treat parasites and disease by watching other animals."

Dogs and owners share bacteria People living with dogs harbor betaproteobacteria and actinobacteria, microbes that normally inhabit the tongue and feet of dogs, as part of their microbiome, according to a recent study. Whether the bacteria pose health concerns was not addressed in the research, but previous work has found that exposure to bacteria can help humans prevent infection and even allergies by priming the immune system.

Emu oil found to have healing properties In laboratory tests, researchers in Australia found that emu oil decreases inflammation and supports intestinal crypt repair after injury. The findings may lead to new treatments for intestinal problems commonly seen in human chemotherapy patients.

Modified poultry virus could help treat prostate cancer Researchers at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine developed an injectable recombinant form of Newcastle disease, a poultry virus, that kills human prostate cancer cells without harming healthy tissue. An estimated 238,590 cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed among U.S. men this year, and 29,720 patients are expected to die of the disease, according to the American Cancer Society. Newcastle disease does not pose a threat to humans, but it is of serious economic concern in the poultry industry.

Preventing salmonella transmission from pets to kids Children handling pets that may carry salmonella are at risk of contracting the bacteria that can cause severe nausea, diarrhea and vomiting, and the CDC has linked several recent salmonella outbreaks to pets including hedgehogs, turtles and frogs. In this blog post, veterinarian Nicole Wyre and microbiologist Shelley Rankin discuss how to protect children from contracting salmonella from pets, emphasizing proper hygiene. They note that a negative salmonella test does not mean an animal is not carrying the bacteria, so caution is always warranted.

Slime from bottom-dwelling hagfish: Fashion's next big thing? Scientists are studying the strange, protective slime produced by a 500-million-year-old species to fend off predators. The hagfish, a bottom-dwelling sea creature, releases a slime that forms a strong, stretchy layer when mixed with ocean water. The slime consists of small proteins that could be copied artificially, researchers say. Scientists think the material could be used for athletic clothing and even bulletproof vests.

Understanding seizures in pets Witnessing a seizure in a pet can be upsetting, but veterinarian Michaela Esteban says the pet likely isn't suffering or even aware the seizure is occurring. Dr. Esteban recommends having any pet that has had a seizure evaluated by a veterinarian. The most common cause of seizures in a young, otherwise healthy dog is epilepsy, which is associated with a chemical and electrical imbalance, not a structural problem, Dr. Esteban writes. Medication is often prescribed to help prevent seizures, but it isn't always indicated right away for a pet that has only one mild seizure, she notes.

Modified diet improves performance of detection dogs, study finds Veterinarian Joseph Wakshlag, chief of nutrition at Cornell University's College of Veterinary Medicine, and his team found that decreasing protein intake to 18% and increasing fat intake improved dogs' sniffing abilities. Less protein results in a faster return to normal body temperature after activity, which translates to better olfactory ability, according to Dr. Wakshlag. The study used a new research technique, completely evacuating residual fumes from testing areas, that contributed to higher detection accuracy, suggesting dogs' detection abilities are better than previously thought.

At the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, a team of human surrogates has been working around the clock to care for Gladys, an 8-week-old female western lowland gorilla. Human caretakers have been showing Gladys the ins and outs of being a gorilla since she arrived at the zoo on Feb. 22. The plan is to introduce Gladys to the zoo's gorillas so one of the females will "adopt" her. Gladys' natural mother rejected her soon after birth.

In the news: Will bromethalin become a bigger issue? An increase in bromethalin toxicity among pets could be on the horizon. Bromethalin is the active ingredient in Assault, Fastrac, Gladiator, Rampage, Talpirid and Vengeance, and it causes brain and spinal cord swelling characterized by weakness, incoordination, seizures, paralysis and death.

   What's your dog really thinking?     Humans are highly capable of reading dogs' facial cues, according to researchers from Walden University in Minneapolis, who tested a group of 50 volunteers using different pictures of the same dog. In some cases, volunteers who had limited experience with dogs did the best at categorizing facial expressions, suggesting the ability is innate.
Natura Pet issues recall of several brands of food for cats, dogs Natura Pet has issued a recall of dog and cat foods available under the EVO, Innova, Healthwise and California Natural brands, driven by concerns about possible Salmonella contamination. The contamination was detected by the FDA, and no human or animal health problems have been reported, the company said.
New saber-tooth cat genus surfaces in Fla. Researchers in Florida have identified a new genus and species of saber-tooth cat that's related to the well-known Smilodon fatalis. A collection of 5-million-year-old fossils led to the identification of the big cat, which is believed to have evolved in North America. "When people think of saber-toothed cats, they think of it as just one thing, as if the famous tar pit saber-toothed cat was the only species, when in fact, it was an almost worldwide radiation of cats that lasted over 10 million years and probably had a total of about 20 valid species," said Richard Hulbert of the University of Florida.

The Gunnison sage-grouse, a bird with an unusual “bubble pop” mating call and display, could be America’s rarest bird, according to avian experts.

Veterinary medicine's central role in public health Veterinarians are known by most as compassionate practitioners of animal medicine, an important role, but veterinarian Joan Hendricks explains that they are also uniquely poised for crucial roles in public health. Veterinarians are the only medical professionals comprehensively trained in comparative medicine and human-animal interactions, she writes, and they have a deep background in infectious disease. This contributes to treatments for humans, solutions to global hunger, improved food safety and production, and surveillance and prevention of potentially devastating infectious diseases.

Penguin chicks are victims of vampire bats A team filming in the Atacama Desert in southern Peru has captured video of vampire bats feeding on penguins. The bats can expose penguin chicks to infectious diseases including rabies and cause blood loss in the birds, harming their health.

Chicago zoo gorilla infant treated for facial injury The Lincoln Park Zoo's baby gorilla Nayembi is recovering from surgery after staff noted a severe facial injury. Young gorillas are fragile, according to zoo President Kevin Bell, but Nayembi is playing and sleeping well. "These are good signs," Bell said.

Study: Raw meat falls short on feline nutrition New research has found that raw meat diets do not meet the full spectrum of feline nutritional needs for captive and domestic cats. The study evaluated horse, bison, cattle and elk meat. All the diets were short on linoleic acid, and the horse meat did not contain sufficient arachidonic acid for kittens or for gestating or lactating females. A raw diet fed to domestic cats often omits necessary fat and important fatty acids and exposes cats to pathogens that may be in raw food, and it can also promote a change to the gut flora.

Help save your cat from the tubby tabby trend More than half of cats are overweight, says the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, and the number of portly felines is up 90% from 2007, according to a report from Banfield Pet Hospital. Obesity can lead to health problems for cats, such as diabetes and arthritis, but the condition is preventable. This article lists some ways to help keep cats fit and trim, including regular veterinary exams, exercise and appropriate diet.

Rescued bobcat recovering after
6 root canals Houston Zoo veterinarians performed six root canals on a bobcat found emaciated near a Texas town six weeks ago. The Wildlife Center of Texas has been nursing the cat back to health. The animal has been successfully treated for fleas, sarcoptic mange and a bacterial infection, in addition to gaining 15% of its body weight since it was found.

Dogs may grasp how people think, study suggests Dogs in a recent study demonstrated flexible thinking, which would allow them to understand a human's perspective, according to researcher Juliane Kaminski from the University of Portsmouth in the U.K. In the study of 84 dogs, animals were four times more likely to eat food they had been ordered to stay away from when the lights were turned off, even though the owner was still in the room. Kaminski said the findings mean dogs understood that their owners couldn't see them when the lights were off.

San Francisco Zoo heralds birth of Sumatran tiger cub Mother and cub are bonding after a 9-year-old Sumatran tiger gave birth to a cub at the San Francisco Zoo, officials say. "All signs seem to be positive so far," said Corinne MacDonald, curator of carnivores and primates at the zoo. The cub appears active and to be eating well. It will be at least two weeks before the cub is examined.

The oddest of odd couples: Dogs and cheetahs In an effort to draw attention to the plight of cheetahs, whose numbers are rapidly declining in the wild due to habitat loss and poaching, some zoos and cheetah breeding programs pair the big cats with canine companions. Wild cheetahs also benefit from dogs such as Anatolian shepherds that help keep cheetahs away from livestock, reducing conflict with farmers. "It's a love story of one species helping another species survive," said Jack Grisham of the Saint Louis Zoo. Grisham coordinates the species survival plan for cheetahs in North America.

Research in recent years has finally revealed the genius of dogs.

Driving with a dog in the car? Here's what to know If owners take their pet along for a car ride, experts recommend properly restraining pets and purchasing veterinary medical insurance for animals who may be injured in a car accident. Some 56% of dog owners in an AAA survey reported they brought their dog in the car at least monthly within the previous year.

Unraveling the secret of the "Birdmuda triangle" Research shows the ability to detect infrasound, or ultra-low-frequency sound waves, is the third factor allowing pigeons to navigate, in addition to their internal compass and use of the sun. Jersey Hill, near Ithaca, N.Y., is known as the "Birdmuda triangle," an area where local pigeons never return once they migrate, except for one day: Aug. 13, 1969. Researcher Jon Hagstrum used weather data and a computer model to uncover a kind of sonic shadow that deflects infrasound, effectively blocking the birds' ability to find their way. Unusual conditions on that 1969 day allowed pigeons to navigate successfully.

How to keep your Super Bowl party from harming your pet Even the most football-obsessed owners have to remember their pets may need special attention during the Super Bowl, according to veterinarians Debra Horwitz and Marty Becker. The noise and activity, coupled with all the guests and food that often accompany the Super Bowl, can cause stress for pets, and owners should take time to pet their animals, take them out for bathroom breaks, avoid feeding them human food and give anxious pets a quiet room away from the festivities if needed, they advise.

Cornell simulation center preps students for real emergencies The new Veterinary Simulation Center at Cornell University's College of Veterinary Medicine provides students the opportunity to practice and develop confidence in the emergency and critical care skills needed during a pet medical emergency. The center began with a robotic dog created by Cornell veterinarian Daniel Fletcher, who designed it after human robotic models, and has grown into its own space including exam rooms and observation areas. "Working with the robotic pet models in the simulation center helps students bridge the gap between learning in the classroom and working on actual patients," Dr. Fletcher said.

MRI could be used to identify the most promising military canines In an effort to ensure the roughly $20,000 spent per human-canine military or law enforcement pair is well used, the U.S. government may use MRI brain scans to pluck the best dogs for the job out of the pack. The government has released a call for proposals that include a training program combined with brain scanning.

Zebrafish are latest and greatest medical research model While rodents far outnumber any other research model in use today, zebrafish are rapidly gaining ground among scientists studying human diseases such as skin cancer, narcolepsy and muscular conditions. The zebrafish's transparent body, rapid reproduction rate and low cost of maintenance make it an attractive research model.

Compared to technology, the dog's nose still knows German scientists are working to develop high-tech devices that might out-sniff dog noses. The goal is to detect minute traces of exhaled gases to locate live humans trapped in rubble. Despite the promise of technology, the combination of a dog's sniffing prowess, instincts and ability to process and make decisions based on wind speed and direction mean search-and-rescue animals aren't likely to be replaced soon.

Confessions of an owner who underestimated the danger in a cat bite When her new cat fought with the resident feline, owner Marie Joyce tried to intervene and ended up with two deep puncture wounds to her arm from a bite that landed her in the hospital for four days on intravenous antibiotics. In retrospect, Joyce admits she made a series of mistakes. "[People] don't realize, being bitten by a cat, you've got a 1-in-2 chance of getting infected," said infectious disease specialist Princy N. Kumar of MedStar Georgetown University Hospital.

DNA, diet shed light on dog evolution Dogs evolved from wolves some 11,000 years ago to live and work -- and apparently eat -- alongside humans, according to a new study. Genetic analysis has revealed that dogs possess more genes that code for production of the starch-digesting enzyme amylase than wolves, which helps dogs digest a more humanlike diet. Dogs also produce a longer form of the enzyme maltase that is more characteristic of plant-eating animals. "Dogs are different from wolves and don't need a wolflike diet,"

Flight genes may explain bats' remarkable disease resistance Bats have the capacity to survive infection with deadly zoonotic pathogens such as Ebola, Hendra, Nipah and SARS, something that could be explained by their ability to fly, according to the results of a recent genetic study. The genes involved in flight appear to have the added benefit of conferring disease resistance and longevity, the authors suggest, and delving into this line of research may one day help humans with illnesses including infectious disease and cancer.

Understanding and preventing hip dysplasia Hip dysplasia is a developmental disorder without a cure, but there are strategies to limit risk, writes veterinarian Ann Hohenhaus. Research has shown that having good body condition and exercising on soft, level ground as puppies may help prevent hip dysplasia. Obtaining a puppy from parents whose hips have been certified by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals or PennHip may lower the animal's risk of developing hip dysplasia, although no one can predict the condition of a dog's hips with absolute certainty.

Releasing pet fish threatens native ecosystems Pet fish and the plants they are housed with pose a serious threat to native species when they are introduced into marine waters, according to a new report that finds representatives of 102 aquarium species enter the U.S. through two California ports each year. Thirteen of those species have been introduced to California's ocean waters, and more than two-thirds are established there. Aquarium species are particularly prone to becoming invasive in a new ecosystem, experts say.

Fat cat stuck in fence puts health issues in spotlight After a cat named Midnight was found lodged between fence posts, Santa Cruz, Calif., animal control officials took the opportunity to point out the dangers of overweight pets. "Feline obesity is nothing to laugh about," said shelter field services manager Todd Stosuy in a statement.

Feeding a raw food diet to your dogs can make both your dogs and the human members of your family sick.

Pet obesity: Our animals need our help to be healthy A pet obesity epidemic is under way in the U.S., according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, which reports that some 88 million U.S. cats and dogs are overweight or obese. Veterinarian Ernie Ward, the organization's founder, says owners do not understand animals' caloric intake requirements, tend to overfeed and under-exercise pets and would benefit from clearer food labels. "The public perception today is that a fat cat is a healthy cat," Dr. Ward said. "But we must bust that myth. It's what's killing our pets and costing untold dollars."

Cold-weather tips to keep pets safe this season Veterinarian Susan Nelson, a clinical associate professor at Kansas State University's College of Veterinary Medicine, offers tips for keeping pets safe in cold weather, such as letting them gradually get used to the cold. Dr. Nelson says smaller, less furry dogs such as Chihuahuas have a lower tolerance for cold than larger, well-insulated breeds such as huskies. Coats, boots and other winter gear designed for pets may help keep them warm but can also pose some hazards if not properly used and monitored, she adds.

Life lessons from dogs You might be happier and healthier if you acted more like a dog, writes publishing executive Marjory Abrams. Humans can learn much from certain canine behaviors such as playing, relaxing and greeting visitors with boundless enthusiasm.

Panda blood contains antibiotic compound Researchers in China studying pandas have discovered a peptide with antibacterial properties in panda blood. The compound, cathelicidin-AM, destroys bacteria in an hour, compared with the more than six hours needed by other antibiotics. This isn't the first time antibacterial peptides have been identified in animals. "More than 1,000 antimicrobial peptides have been found from animals, plants and microorganisms," said lead researcher Xiuwen Yan. The findings may lead to new antibiotics for humans.

Pet chicken saves family from fire Cluck Cluck's noisy calls from two floors below woke a Wisconsin couple in time for them to escape their burning house. The chicken became the Murawska family pet after wandering over from a neighboring farm; instead of killing the bird, who wasn't producing eggs, the couple built her a coop and brought her inside when the weather got too cold. "I spent way more money than I ever should've. I guess it paid off," Dennis Murawska said. Along with the couple, the chicken and a cat survived the blaze.

We never actually established why birds suddenly appear every time you are near. It might just be because you are one of the terrible, horrible people who throws cigarette butts on the ground everywhere. When a little bird waddles out and picks one up and uses it to build a nest, though, you are sort of redeemed, in that the world becomes a better place for its bird family.

Israeli company trains mice to sniff out contraband Mice are effective at sniffing out explosives, drugs and other contraband, and they're faster to train than dogs, according to Israel-based BioExplorers. The company has devised a system that directs a blast of air at a person and then into a chamber containing eight mice, who move into a second chamber when they smell contraband.

Controlled environment keeps fat feline Tiny Tim on track Fat cat Tiny Tim tipped the scales at 35 pounds when he started his 300-calorie-per-day diet regimen and exercise plan at Houston's Southside Place Animal Hospital back in January. He has since slimmed down to 27.6 pounds, although his progress briefly stalled when he was apparently sneaking late-night snacks.

Owners and veterinarians concur: Preventive care is the best care Owners and veterinarians are similarly focused on preventive care, including vaccinations and parasite control, writes veterinarian Ann Hohenhaus, who discusses the results of a survey. Owners expressed concern over pet medication costs, but Dr. Hohenhaus endorses veterinary-grade medications, noting the medications are specifically designed for animals.

Therapy dog eases fears at pediatric dental practice Pediatric dentist Paul Weiss' newest staff member makes a visit to the dentist a little more fun for his young patients. Brooke, Dr. Weiss' 4-year-old golden retriever, became a certified therapy dog and makes the rounds at the dental office two mornings a week, calming the nerves of the littlest patients.

Dogs' intuition may surprise you Veterinarian Stu Robson says dogs are more perceptive than some people may think. Dr. Robson cites studies that suggest dogs can sense sadness, unfairness, anger, fear, generosity and distractedness in their owners.

Dog born with 3 paws inspires children Pirelli, a golden retriever born without a back left paw, will receive a prosthetic paw thanks to donations from admirers. Pirelli visits schools in Georgia to spread the message that "it doesn't matter what your body looks like or how it functions. What makes you important as a person is what you are on the inside," said Jennifer Arnold, founder of the nonprofit Canine Assistants. Pirelli will receive a carbon-fiber foot from the Hanger Clinic, a human prosthetics company.

Tufts veterinarian corrects reindeer's luxating patella Tufts University veterinarian Robert McCarthy surgically corrected a luxating patella in a one-and-a-half-year-old female reindeer who normally resides at the Stone Zoo in Stoneham, Mass. Dr. McCarthy expects the deer, named Willow, to fully recover.

Superpowers of the animal world Humans with superpowers may be the stuff of science fiction, but in the animal world many species exhibit out-of-this-world capabilities. This photo series documents animals with superpowers including geckos and their Spider-Man-like climbing ability, a shape-shifting octopus and a salamander that can regrow limbs and even some internal organs.

Canine post-traumatic stress recognized as disorder Veterinarians and dog handlers at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas who work with and train combat canines believe dogs are susceptible to post-traumatic stress disorder. Veterinarian Walter Burghardt Jr. estimates that at least one-tenth of dogs returning from active duty have the disorder, which is characterized by sudden attitude changes and inability to perform tasks that were previously routine. Many of the dogs can be rehabilitated with treatment ranging from behavioral training to medication, but some must be retired from military work.

Mountain gorilla numbers up, according to recent census The global mountain gorilla population has reached 880, according to a recent Wildlife Conservation Society census, thanks in part to improved conservation efforts. Because important mountain gorilla habitat crosses the borders of three African nations, the animals' survival depends on continued collaboration among those countries.

Stop and think before giving a pet as a holiday gift, experts say While a puppy or kitten under the Christmas tree may seem like the quintessential holiday gift, experts warn that pets given as gifts don't always have a happy ending. Veterinarian Mollie Hurley advises against surprising people with animals as gifts, as they may not be prepared for the commitment. Animal shelter educator Deeann Schaefer notes that recipients of pets may not be financially or emotionally prepared for the responsibilities and often end up surrendering those animals to already overburdened shelters.

Children need closure when dealing with loss of pet, survey suggests According to a survey of 1,000 previous pet owners, people's memories of pets they had as children and the loss of those pets influence their decision to own animals as adults. Some 20% of previous dog owners and 17% of people who had owned cats reported that losing that pet was so traumatizing that they are not inclined to get another, and 40% of respondents say they are still affected by the loss of a childhood animal.

VIDEO: Tips for adopting a dog  Adopting a dog can be one of the great joys in life for pet owners, but it's also a big decision that should be taken very seriously. In the latest AVMA video, Dr. Julie Dinnage, co-founder and executive director of the Association of Shelter Veterinarians, offers some advice on finding the right dog for you and everyone in your home.

Anesthesia-free dental cleaning not in pets' best interest Removing tartar from the teeth of an animal that is not anesthetized is literally only scratching the surface of the problem, writes veterinarian Christie Long. While a tooth may look healthy once the tartar is chipped off, advanced dental disease may be present beneath the gum line, and only a thorough exam under general anesthesia will reveal the extent of the problem and allow it to be addressed, notes Dr. Long.

How smart is your dog?

Africa’s population of mountain gorillas rises to 880, giving hope to conservationists

Holidays bring hidden dangers to pets The holidays are upon us, and that means increased threats to the health of our pets, veterinarians warn. Among the most common problems are gastrointestinal upset from eating human food and intestinal foreign body obstruction from eating holiday items such as tinsel and ribbon

University using genetic engineering to improve cattle West Texas A&M University scientists have used somatic cell nuclear transfer to produce two cloned cattle in an effort to create a new breed that has the most desirable traits seen across breeds and crosses. The work will improve the quality of human food, but it will also help keep cattle healthy.

Next semester, the Eliot−Pearson Department of Child Development will offer a new course titled “Special Topics: Human−Animal Interaction (HAI) in Childhood and Adolescents” on a trial basis. The course will explore the nature and potential benefits of human−animal contact by looking at varied research in relevant fields.

Pet trends serve as indicator of economies and attitudes In a study of 53 countries including the U.S., Euromonitor International found that dog ownership and the amount spent on dogs indicated economic health and cultural attitudes toward pets. With one dog per four humans, the U.S. has the largest absolute and per capita canine population, but India's dog ownership rate is rising the fastest.

Veterinary education comes at a high price Pet owners may be surprised to find that veterinarians graduate with an average debt load of $125,000, according to The New York Times.

IV and subcutaneous fluids can benefit pets Fluids are administered to animals for several conditions, including low blood pressure and dehydration, writes veterinarian Ann Hohenhaus. Although they appear clear, fluids contain compounds such as sodium, potassium and sometimes sugar that are designed to match the patient's blood as closely as possible to prevent damage to internal organs. Fluids can be given intravenously or through the skin, also called subcutaneously, where the fluid slowly absorbs into the pet's blood vessels over time.

Classical music soothes dogs, study finds Classical music such as Mozart or Beethoven relaxes shelter dogs more than heavy metal music and music composed specifically for dogs, according to a recently reported study. Colorado State University psychologist Lori Kogan and colleagues exposed shelter dogs to the three forms of music and recorded thousands of behavioral data points over four months.

Dogs choose favorite toys based on play with humans Why do dogs prefer some toys over others? A recent study found the critical component was human interaction with the dog and the toy. Other features of the toys offered to the dogs such as size, shape, color, texture and sounds were important points of interest, but they mostly resulted in only transient attention. "For an animal as social as a dog, toys only become really exciting when they are part of a game with a person," said John Bradshaw, a researcher in the University of Bristol's Veterinary School.

Texas A&M veterinary students train for disaster preparedness The disaster preparedness rotation for fourth-year veterinary students at Texas A&M University is the first of its kind in the nation, according to Angela Clendenin, the Veterinary Emergency Team's public information officer. The program combines real and simulated experiences in which students are charged with constructing a command center that will serve as a triage, treatment and housing area for two weeks.

How Dolphins Stay Awake For Two Weeks Straight

Singing fish sheds light on evolution of vocalization Scientists have gleaned a plethora of information regarding vocalization and hearing from the plainfin midshipman fish, a species that emits a sound so loud that it can wake people sleeping on houseboats. Studies of the species' unique sound-making capacity have implications for understanding sound communication in other species, such as bats, and may help advance research into hormone-related hearing loss in humans.

Honeybee bite may be better than its sting, study finds While researchers have long known that honeybees release a substance known as 2-heptanone, they believed the secretion was used as a type of scent marker for bees. However, new research suggests the secretion is actually an anesthetic. The researchers were studying moths whose larvae can decimate beehives when they serendipitously discovered the anesthetic nature of the bees' secretion. The findings may lead to a new local anesthetic for use in human and veterinary medicine.

Diabetes in cats: Good quality of life is possible November is American Diabetes Month, and veterinarian Ann Hohenhaus writes that obese cats and those with recurring bouts of pancreatitis are at risk for the condition. A cat with diabetes usually needs insulin injections twice daily, something most owners report they are able to do even though they don't like adhering to a set schedule for the therapy, according to a survey. Dr. Hohenhaus says the injections allow some animals to achieve remission, and most owners report their animal's quality of life is good, fairly good or as good as possible.

San Diego Zoo panda cub is thriving, veterinarian reports The San Diego Zoo's panda cub born July 29 is robust and healthy, zoo senior veterinarian Tracy Clippinger said after the cub's 11th physical exam since his birth. His body condition is above average, "his belly is good and full," he is showing signs of beginning to walk and he even has one tooth, Dr. Clippinger noted.

Brain study may lead to ways to deter sharks Kara Yopak, a University of Western Australia shark researcher, says visual repellants may be the best way to stave off shark attacks after she found that a large portion of a great white shark's brain is dedicated to visual input. Five fatal attacks on humans in 10 months off the coast of Australia led the government to enforce killing of sharks that venture too close to shore as well as fund research into possible attack deterrents.

Halloween can leave pets stressed Don't dress up animals in Halloween costumes only to leave them unattended, the AVMA is reminding pet owners. While 15% of owners say they will dress up their pets, according to the National Retail Federation, costumes can be frightening for animals, whether they're wearing them or are in the company of people who are.

Military dogs to be honored with national monument In two months, a national monument will be dedicated to all the dogs that have served the country in combat since World War II. The bronze monument, designed by John Burnam and created by sculptor Paula Slater, features a handler flanked by four dogs representing breeds commonly used in wars. Burnam, who served in Vietnam with military dogs and wrote two books about the topic, spent years pursuing the idea of a national monument for dogs before legislation authorizing the monument was introduced in 2007 and signed into law the next year.

Animals have a variety of strategies for weathering rainstorms An animal's species, personality and access to shelter and supplies all influence its strategy for dealing with heavy rains, experts say. In nature, orangutans fashion protective canopies or hats from leaves, but those living at Seattle's Woodland Park Zoo are more inclined to wrap up in burlap bags, a spokeswoman said. Terrestrial and even aquatic animals may retreat to shelter, but some such as grizzly bears may remain out in the open. "We've learned that, for certain animals, it's better and safer to leave them out instead of in," said Nick Hanna, assistant curator of New Orleans' Audubon Nature Institute. "When confined, ostriches tend to run into walls. African antelopes sometimes get so spooked that they will also run into walls."

Dog posthumously honored for work in Afghanistan Theo, a springer spaniel who served in the British military as a bomb-sniffing dog in Afghanistan, is to be posthumously awarded Britain's highest honor for animal bravery, the Dickin Medal. The dog died after a severe seizure the same day his handler, Lance Cpl. Liam Tasker, died in a firefight with Taliban insurgents. Tasker's mother believes Theo died of a broken heart after her son's death because the dog and Tasker were inseparable.

Scientists work to crack Lyme disease's genetic code Researchers at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston are working to identify the factors that explain the virulence of Borrelia burgdorferi, the spirochete that causes Lyme disease, which affects animals and an estimated 30,000 people in the U.S. per year. Using advanced technology, the team is testing the pathogen's 1,739 genes in an effort to find the ones responsible for its ability to spread so readily. The findings are expected to help develop vaccines, diagnostic tools and treatments.

It's in pets' best interest to have a veterinary dental cleaning A dental cleaning by a veterinarian, or by a trained technician under the supervision of a veterinarian, is the best way to care for a pet's teeth and protect its overall health, writes veterinarian Michael Watts. An appropriate dental cleaning includes giving general anesthesia, doing a thorough exam of the mouth and throat structures, cleaning above and below the gumline, and polishing the teeth to smooth imperfections that lead to future problems if not addressed.

High-protein diet alters bacterial flora in kittens, study finds
Kittens fed a high-protein diet have lower levels of two beneficial intestinal bacteria, bifidobacterium and lactobacillus, than kittens fed a diet containing balanced amounts of protein and carbohydrates, according to a recent study. A lack of bifidobacterium has been associated with irritable bowel syndrome in people, and lactobacillus may be involved in cholesterol and appetite levels. The findings may help humans because intestinal bacterial populations are similar in humans and cats.

Why Imported Dogs Could Hurt Your Health

How to Poison Proof Your Home

“There is only one smartest dog in the world and every child has it.”
Children often need help dealing with the loss of a pet.  Click the quote above to help a child deal with pet loss.

The Houston Chronicle recently ran a story that describes how the new Texas A&M Diagnostic Imaging and Cancer Treatment Center, home to one of the country's two animal TomoTherapy units, is working to treat tumors once considered untreatable in dogs. I thought I would share this story with you:

Preparing pets for a baby

A cat's advice to owners

Vegetarian diet is insufficient to meet cat's dietary requirements

How to keep cats out of your yard.

How to Calm Your Fearful Dog

Secondhand smoke is harming pets

FIVE pet toxins that require immediate treatment

How fast do dogs really age when compared with humans?

Do Any Dogs Really Need Sweaters or Coats?

Texas A&M center confronts antibiotic crisis with potential new bacterial treatment

Film crew captures penguin's criminal behavior

Weird Stuff Dogs Eat

Texas A&M veterinary team helps animals in Texas wildfire

Cat's weight loss may signal serious health conditions More than half of U.S. cats are overweight or obese, but owners shouldn't always celebrate when their fat cats suddenly start losing weight. Unexplained weight losses may be a cause for concern, writes veterinarian Heidi Bassler, as this may be the only obvious sign of the early stages of serious health conditions including diabetes, hyperthyroidism and kidney disease, all of which can be treated if diagnosed in time.

Summertime tips for pet safety

Veterinarian gives advice on caring for aging pets:   Dogs' aging patterns vary based on their size, with bigger canines becoming seniors at about six years and smaller dogs staving off old age for about nine years, writes veterinarian Kristel Weaver. Dr. Weaver advises owners on caring for pets as they begin to show physical signs of aging, which can include arthritis, nuclear sclerosis and various lumps and bumps that may be benign or signal a serious health condition.

Adopting puppies too young leads to behavior problems, study says A new study backs up the idea that puppies should not be separated from their litter before two months of age. Puppies weaned too early can display a host of behavior problems including destructiveness, excessive barking and aggression toward strangers that can hurt their relationships with owners and put them at greater risk of abandonment later on, researchers found.

Prevention the key to reducing veterinary bills

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New drugs offer safer treatment for dogs' itchy skin Veterinarian Lawrence Gerson writes that 1 in 6 dogs has significant itching, and for 15% to 20% of them, atopic dermatitis is the diagnosis. Newer drugs such as Atopica and Apoquel offer better results than earlier treatments, and last month, Zoetis' Cytopoint became available, potentially stopping itching within one day of administration without suppressing immune function. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (12/31) 

10 "poison pills" for petsAnyone who takes medication prescribed for someone else puts themselves at risk of illness or even death -- and this applies to pets as well. Although there are many medications used in both animals and people, the effects, doses needed and other things aren't always the same. The AVMA has resources for pet owners on the most common human medications that cause problems for our pets, as well as steps pet owners can take to protect their pets from harmful human meds. View AVMA's "10 'Poison Pills' for Pets" webpage.

FDA: Avoid 65 bogus 'miracle' cancer products sold on internet

10 Things You Can Do to Make Veterinary Visits Better for Everyone

  1. Accustom your pet to its carrier and to traveling in the car;
  2. If your veterinarian doesn't already have your pet's medical record on file, bring it with you or have your previous veterinary team send or fax the records – or, at a minimum, bring your own notes on your pet's health and medical history. Don't send your pet with a person who doesn't have the information the vet will need to help your pet - or if you have to do this, thoroughly document your pet's current condition on paper and make sure you're available by phone to answer questions that may come up;
  3. Arrive on time or a few minutes early for your appointment;
  4. Unless your children can sit quietly without distracting you or interfering with your veterinary team's ability to examine or treat your pet or talk to you about your pet, consider leaving your children with a babysitter while you take your pet to the veterinarian;
  5. Turn your cell phone off while you are in the exam room;
  6. Know what medications your pet is receiving (including supplements), as well as how much, how often and how long it is given, and/or bring them with you;
  7. Share your observations and concerns with your veterinarian – after all, you know your pet better than anyone else does;
  8. Ask questions. Ask until you understand;
  9. Ask for handouts, brochures, or even reputable online sources of information about your pet's condition;
  10. Follow your veterinarian's recommendations. They're given for one very important reason – to keep your pet healthy. BEFORE you BUY another pup. 

Love Your Pet: how to prevent, spot and treat heat stroke

Grapes, raisins pose grave risk to dogs.  Grapes, raisins pose grave risk to dogs. (Guillaume Souvant/AFP/Getty Images) Veterinarian John de Jong explains that grapes and raisins are toxic for dogs, causing vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, loss of appetite and irreversible kidney damage if not treated promptly. Although raisins are more potent than grapes because they are concentrated, and the toxic dose for grapes is about one-half ounce per pound of body weight, the effects can vary, so any consumption of grapes or raisins should be taken seriously, Dr. de Jong writes. Boston Herald (1/15)

Why pet ownership is good for people It's true that pets make people happy, but they also improve human health, according to several studies as well as observations by physicians. Pets help people feel less lonely and isolated by encouraging social interactions, they tend to keep their owners more physically active, and pet ownership may help lower blood pressure and distract people from pain.

Veterinarian pushes for warning on products containing xylitol

Video: How to pick the right toys for your pets
Shopping for pet toys can be overwhelming. With so many choices, how do you know what's right for your pet? In this AVMA video, Dr. Joyce Ashamalla provides tips on providing safe, enriching and fun toys for your pets. Watch the video.

Dieting cats don't hold a grudge, study finds
Cornell University veterinarians studied whether overweight cats placed on a diet for eight weeks would show behavior changes, finding that they do, but not the grudge owners might fear. The majority of cats lost weight, and they tended to be more cuddly, findings that veterinarians hope will reassure owners who tend to use food to show love. Veterinarians say it's best to engage other feline senses to connect. "Maybe owners will now be more likely to do what’s healthy for their cats," said veterinarian Bonnie Beaver, executive director of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists.The New York Times (free-article access for SmartBrief readers)

Video: Puppy socialization
We all appreciate the joy and companionship that a well-behaved dog brings to our lives. What we don't always appreciate is that there are many different factors that can determine whether or not a puppy grows into that wonderful lifelong companion. In this AVMA video, Dr. Christopher Pachel explains the ins and outs of puppy socialization. Watch the video.

10 things pet owners can do to make vet visits better for all involved
You can tell your physician what's wrong with you, but a veterinarian's patients can't verbalize what's wrong. Veterinarians rely on the person attached to the other end of the leash or lead rope to provide information about that animal that can be critical to their assessment of that animal's health. If the person who brought the pet to the vet knows nothing of his or her history or current problem, it makes it difficult for veterinarians to help. Visit AVMA's website for tips on what you can do to make veterinary visits better for everyone involved.

Early exposure to animals may help protect against asthma, study finds:  Children exposed to dogs or farm animals early in life are less likely to develop asthma as they get older, according to a study published in JAMA Pediatrics. The study doesn't establish a cause-and-effect relationship, but it lends additional support to the hygiene hypothesis, which says that children exposed to pathogens early in life develop a robust immune system, noted allergist and immunologist Sherry Farzan.

CDC: Pet dogs may help lessen anxiety levels in children CDC researchers found 12% of children who had pet dogs tested positive on a screening test for anxiety, compared with 21% of children who didn't own a pet dog. The findings, based on 643 children ages 4 to 10, revealed no difference in body mass index, screen time or physical activity among children with and without pet dogs.

Texas A&M-led Research Shows How Hybridization Shaped Feline Evolution

Youngsters with autism who played with guinea pigs registered lower stress levels than when the animals weren't with them, according to research published in Developmental Psychobiology. It's part of work that Marguerite O'Haire of the Center for the Human-Animal Bond at Purdue University began in 2009 to explore the effects of animals in classrooms. Parent and teacher studies found social improvements among children of all abilities. By reducing anxiety, guinea pigs may help foster social skills and allow children to develop responsibility and empathy, said autism expert Deborah Fein.

Children with autism who live with pets exhibit more social skills

Therapy dogs ease pain of addiction, mental health problems Therapy dogs can help relieve stress for people dealing with addiction and mental health issues, researchers have found. The team worked with therapy dogs at three treatment and recovery centers, spending six months at each, and McMaster University researchers said the benefits associated with the animals' presence were consistent across facilities. "The dogs can have an impact on an individual's healing journey in a multitude of ways, from providing comfort through to increasing therapeutic alliances with service providers," said researcher Colleen Dell. (Canada)

K9 officer killed during raid in Paris As French police officers this week closed in on the alleged mastermind of the Paris terrorist attacks, a 7-year-old Belgian shepherd named Diesel was among them, and the dog was killed during the raid. People are honoring the canine officer on Twitter. "Assault and explosives search dogs are indispensable," authorities said.

Hunters and disease risks There is an increasing awareness among hunters that there are medical risks associated with handling wildlife, and certain safety precautions should be taken. Hunters and their dogs can be exposed to infectious diseases not only from infected animals, but also via insect vectors and contaminated soil and water. The AVMA has gathered resources on certain health concerns linked to hunting, both in North America and in other areas of the world. These documents are by no means intended to discourage people from hunting; instead, they are intended to inform hunters of the risks they face and steps they can take to reduce those risks. View AVMA's resources on hunters and disease risks.

Hold those clippers!

Hold those clippers!Evan Kafka for Reader's Digest

No matter how high the mercury climbs or how long my hair is, I don't need to be shaved. My undercoat actually insulates me from heat, so it helps me stay cool. Just make sure you keep my coat brushed and mat-free to promote good air circulation.

While some of us gulp down grass only if we've eaten something that doesn't agree with us and we're trying to regurgitate it...

While some of us gulp down grass only if we've eaten something that doesn't agree with us and we're trying to regurgitate it...iStock/Thinkstock

...others of us just love to munch the lawn. So let me graze. Just make sure the grass I'm eating is free of pesticides.

Beware, Mom, because I will eat your underwear...

Beware, Mom, because I will eat your underwear...iStock/Thinkstock

...especially if they've been worn. Veterinarians surgically remove hundreds of pairs from dogs' bellies every year.

You say I'm great with kids, but...

You say I'm great with kids, but...iStock/Thinkstock

...if I'm licking, pulling my ears back, turning my head away, or yawning (all signs of anxiety) while they play with me, I'm probably just barely tolerating them. If you keep letting them pull my tail, one of these days, I might lose it.

Take control of your pet’s health by downloading our new Pet Cancer Prevention checklist or our Pet Cancer webinar. Both of these new resources will equip you with information to help keep your pet’s health a priority. Make sure to share this with a friend, too!

Clinical trials in dogs could lead to child cancer cures

Pit bulls help many people as therapy animals A number of pet therapy organizations find certified pit bulls are a great fit for providing help and comfort to people in need. Sometimes called thera-pits, the dogs can be found delivering loving support to hospitalized patients, assisting veterans and first responders, working with disabled people and more.

Guinness World Records crowns oldest cat Guinness World Records named 26-year-old Corduroy the world's oldest cat this week. Corduroy, who lives in Oregon with his owner, Ashley Reed Okura, earned the title after the previous record holder, Tiffany Two, died at the age of 27 years, two months and 20 days.

Kermit the Frog – alive and well? A new species of frog has been discovered in Costa Rica – and people have been quick to notice an unerring likeness to a certain Muppet
Veterinarians and physicians collaborate to improve health for all. The AVMA and the American Medical Association have worked together to bridge the gap between animal and human medicine, and the result has been collaborations with benefits for people and their pets. University of Pennsylvania veterinarian Nicola Mason is working on an osteosarcoma vaccine trial involving dogs with the cancer, and people with the disease may end up benefiting, too. Veterinarian Boaz Arzi at the University of California at Davis is working with physicians from the medical school there to develop a stem cell therapy for cats with inflammatory oral disease, and human trials of the treatment may also be in the works.

How to prepare pets for a new baby When pet owners become parents for the first time, they may not realize how much a new infant in the home will change life -- including their interactions with their pets. Animal behaviorist Jennie Willis of Colorado State University has some tips to make the transition easier. Prepare pets before the baby comes home, writes Willis, with simple training such as walking dogs while pushing a stroller, teaching pets to sit and stay during diaper changes and other baby tasks, and training pets to be comfortable going to a designated, comfortable spot where they are out of the way and relaxed.

How to help military working dogs

Dogs to join medical staff at UC Davis to sniff out cancer  Read more here:
Dogs Have Special Spot in Brain for Human Faces

Raw cat food recalled after positive salmonella test Northwest Farm Food Cooperative has recalled frozen raw feline food over the possibility of salmonella contamination. The manufacturer sold the food from its Burlington, Wash., location. No human or cat illnesses have been reported in association with the food.

North Texas Couple Creates Invention To Help Blind Chihuahua

A North Texas man recently found a way to help his fiance's 13-year-old Chihuahua.
In just the last month, Buddy the Chihuahua has gone completely blind because of cataracts.
After bumping and banging into walls and furniture, buddy just gave up and sat shivering in fear. "He was scared to walk,” said his owner, Jordan Berg. “He would really slowly walk. He was frightened to walk." Since Buddy wasn't suffering in pain, Jesse her fiance, Jordan Foy, refused to consider putting him down. Foy got a lead online about a promising product for bigger dogs, but Buddy's five-pound body presented a big problem for the little pooch.  "Really just went to a hardware store and brainstormed and just walked around and found something that works,” he said.  Jesse bought a plastic strap and fastened it to a harness, and almost immediately, the once-fearful Buddy took some bold steps.  "When we first put it on him and he was walking around bumping into things, I was like, ‘Oh, bumper buddy!’” said Berg. “It stuck and people are even calling it bumper buddy, so that's the name we've been using for it."  They made a video of the bumper buddy and posted it on You Tube. In six days, it got more than a half million views.
Animal Planet picked up on the buzz and featured Buddy in a blog. “The real reason I did this project was to make her happy after seeing how sad she was at losing part of her best friend,” said Foy. "We hope that it will actually help out others in the same situation."

See Bumper Buddy in action in the second video which will play shortly after the first one finishes.

Obesity makes dogs susceptible to serious health conditions  Obese dogs have a greater risk of developing serious health issues such as diabetes, heart ailments and arthritis, according to this article. To ward off obesity-related health problems in pets, the American Kennel Club recommends consulting with a veterinarian, switching a dog's diet to low-calorie foods and keeping dogs in shape through regular exercise.

Instead of sharing turkey dinner, thank pets with gift of time (click here)

What dog owners need to know about canine influenza  Pet owners should keep an eye on the canine influenza outbreak in the Midwest and take measures to protect their pets. The virus can live on human hands for up to 12 hours and on inanimate objects for 24 hours, so proper hygiene and cleaning of water bowls, leashes, clothing and other items will help prevent the spread of disease.   Of reported cases, most severely affected animals are less than 1 year old or older than 7 years. All exposed dogs will carry and spread disease, but only 80% will show symptoms.

 DO NOT DISPOSE OF UNUSED MEDICATION IN THE TOILET OR DRAIN.  We will be happy to have our medical waste disposal service incinerate your unused medications.  Just drop unused medication off at our hospital.  There is no charge for this service.

Find information about dog and cat diseases at

10 "Poison Pills" for Pets
Harmful Pet Treats: Foods Every Owner Should Avoid
Xylitol risk to dogs grows as the sweetener appears in more products
5 top-selling human drugs: The dangers to pets
People Foods to Avoid Feeding Your Pets 

Stop your dog from eating poop.

Shelter dog helps boy with autism hug, kiss his mom for first time

Why you can't resist those soulful, puppy-dog eyes

Dogs have been man's best friend 'for 40,000 years'

Want a new job? You could probably earn more walking dogs

Dogs make owners healthier, more social - Dogs help people stay active and they offer social and emotional benefits, too, according to a new report from veterinarian Lisa Moses of Angell Animal Medical Center and physician Elizabeth Pegg Frates of Harvard Medical School. The authors note that it's important for owners to give back to their dogs by providing access to regular veterinary care to keep their health-boosting companions in good health.

AVMA urges common sense regarding pet vaccines As people debate the use of vaccination in humans, the AVMA is reminding pet owners that immunizing pets protects them as well as people. A domestic dog form of rabies has been eradicated in dogs in the U.S. thanks to pet vaccination, the AVMA notes, and vaccines have reduced the incidence of other serious illnesses including distemper, parvovirus and panleukopenia. However, the anti-vaccine movement puts all that progress at risk, according to the AVMA

Dogs help allay stress of cancer treatment, study finds
Drought-hit California is drowning in kittens

Knowing when to say goodbye to a pet, and how to cope  When it comes to deciding if euthanasia is right for an ailing pet, experts say it depends on the animal and the owner. Veterinarians offer guidance and support, but they say the decision should ultimately be made by the owner. Everyone handles grief differently, but experts urge people to take time to grieve before thinking about a new pet. "None of us can really understand what another person is going through," said Dorothy Hall, a nurse who facilitates a support group. "We just have to acknowledge it as a real significant loss."

4 more reasons to love dogs Scientific data support what many pet owners already know: Dogs are good for their owners. Research shows that people adopt healthier lifestyle habits such as regular exercise after acquiring a dog, and their overall health improves. Mental health also improves for people with tail-wagging friends, and children who grow up with dogs may be less likely to develop eczema.

Most animal owners know that their pets make them happy, and scientific research agrees. Exposure to pets has been shown to reduce the incidence of allergies, increase activity levels and lower blood pressure. Pets also make us feel less lonely, more positive and less stressed.

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Mounting evidence shows pets are good for people

Sick man has 'complete turnaround' after hospital reunion with lost pet 

Advice on introducing pets to babies

Pets can serve as important sources of social support, providing many positive psychological and physical benefits for their owners
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Where would cats be without Kitty Litter?

Many animals have resources for evading wildfires At least 21 wildfires have ignited in recent weeks across the Pacific Northwest, posing a serious concern to humans nearby. However, many of the area's animals are likely doing just fine, according to experts, because they've adapted to fires over many generations. Although not all animals will survive a wildfire, many simply run, fly or crawl away ahead of the blaze, while others burrow underground or under rocks and still others slip into lakes and rivers to wait until the danger passes.

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Veterinarian unravels mystery of cedar waxwing collisions  Veterinarian Hailu Kinde spent years examining the carcasses of cedar waxwings that had collided with structures, trying to understand why they were doing something that looked a lot like suicide. The investigation led to an interesting conclusion -- the birds were intoxicated from eating fermented fruit and too disoriented to fly safely

Heartworm disease threatens cats, too Cats can contract heartworm disease via the bite of a contaminated mosquito just like dogs, according to veterinarian Allan Paul, a parasitologist at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine. Cats are more resistant to the condition than dogs and generally have six or fewer heartworms at a time, and those worms tend to migrate further in the body. There is no treatment for cats, so heartworm prevention in both indoor and outdoor cats is an important protective strategy.

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