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 Featured On This Week's Program

Animal Radio for April 23, 2016  

Intimate Journey Into the World of Sloths
Sam Trull, Sloth Love

Sam Trull with SlothMost every social media butterfly has seen at least one cute video of a sloth (If not, check out our Facebook page!). These litter critters are so cute, that many people want one as a pet. However, sloths are a wild animal and are illegal to own.

Photographer Sam Trull says she "went to Costa Rica for the primates but stayed for the sloths." She has the lowdown on sloths, and she says people think they're slow. However, she says "they can be fast when they want to and their nails are pretty scary too."

Sam tells us that sloths belong to the xenarthran family and are most closely related to armadillos and anteaters. They are an arboreal mammal and live solely in the trees and can't live without them. As a result, they wouldn't make great pets anyway as they couldn't live in a house.

Sloth in TreeSloths only eat leaves, and in fact, three-toed sloths are not found in captivity (zoos, etc.) outside of their habitat country because they wouldn't survive. They get too stressed out and no one can get their diets correct. So how can you tell when a sloth is stressed out when they have a permanent smile on their face? That is the hard part!

You can, however, find some two-toed sloths in zoos. These sloths can be extremely dangerous and have a pretty bad bite.

When Sam first came to Costa Rica, she started working with an organization called, "Kids Saving the Rain Forest." They also have a wildlife rescue center there and this is where Sam first fell in love with sloths.

When Sam first started working with sloths, she realized that there was such a great need to study and learn more about them. They also need to figure out how to release a "hand-raised" sloth and to monitor them upon their release into the wild. While some two-toed sloths in zoos have lived into their forties, the best guess for their lifespan in the wild is around 20 years.

SlothLove Book CoverIn August of 2014, Sam co-founded the Sloth Institute Costa Rica whose vision is to enhance and expand scientific knowledge about sloths to assure their global conservation and preservation.

Sam shares intimate portraits of these captivating and endearing animals from her unique perspective as their protector, adopted mother and friend in her book, "SLOTHLOVE."

Always Know Where Your Dog or Cat Is
Sebastian Langton, Pod2

Pod2Sebastian Langton created the world's smallest GPS pet tracker. A small pod the size of a wine cork is all that's needed to find your pet most anywhere in the world. The Pod2 is also capable of setting boundaries and monitoring activity.

The Pod2 is the smallest and lightest GPS tracker in the world. It is for pet parents who want to protect their animals and find them when they go missing. It is done with a downloadable App that controls the Pod2 device. This gives you the ability to locate your pet on demand at any time.

It will also give you the ability to create a virtual fence around your property, so that when your animal escapes, you will get an alert. The lights on the Pod will also start flashing while on your pet. Sebastian tells us of a cat, that when his Pod started flashing (meaning he was going out of bounds), he would return home for treats.

You can also find out a little bit more about the secret lives of your pet through their activities and adventures that are recorded on the Pod2. This will let you know if your pet needs more or less activity in their day. You can also record their adventures. So if you have one of those cats that goes out all night long and you're interested in where he goes and who's feeding him, you can press record and see exactly what he's up to.

The Pod2 comes with a charging dock and two batteries so you can always keep it on your pet's collar. This means you can have one charging while your pet is wearing the other, so your pet is never without it while it is being charged.

The Pod2 costs $199, and while it seems expensive, think of how much it would cost if your animal were hit by a car or was lost and picked up by the pound and you had to pay recovery fees to get them out.

The Pod2 works straight out of the box and gives you peace of mind right away that your pet is safe.

Dr. Debbie WhiteDizzy Old Dogs - Diagnosing Idiopathic Vestibular Disease -Dr. Debbie

I came running when I heard the crashing paw steps of my 12 year old Labrador, Magnum as he flopped and tumbled in a nervous frenzy. With head crooked to the right, Magnum's dizzy, wobbly movements resembled a carnival lover's exit from the tilt-a-whirl ride. His eyes darted back in forth in an uncontrollable movement. Many might assume Magnum suffered a stroke, and figured it was time to put the old guy to sleep. But fortunately there was hope -Magnum developed a typical case of Idiopathic Vestibular Disease.

What is Idiopathic Vestibular Disease?
Idiopathic Vestibular Disease, also known as Old Dog Vestibular Disease, is a condition commonly diagnosed in senior dogs, but also seen in cats. The term idiopathic basically means the cause is unknown. This condition affects the vestibular system and the pet's sense of balance, typically with a rapid onset of symptoms. In Magnum's case he literally was fine at the start of a television program, and was wobbly just one hour later.

Symptoms of Old Dog Vestibular Syndrome include a wobbly gait, head tilt, anxiety, panting, and an abnormal eye movement called nystagmus, a condition in which the eyes dart rapidly back-and-forth or up-and-down. In addition to mobility problems, the topsy-turvy sensation leads to nausea, vomiting, and an inability to eat or drink. Thankfully my sturdy stomached Labrador barely missed a meal during his bout.

The cause of idiopathic vestibular vestibular syndrome isn't completely known, but fortunately most dogs recovery from symptoms within 2 to 4 weeks. In some cases dogs may suffer from future bouts months to years later. Some dogs may retain a slight head tilt or unsteadiness at times.

Magnum with a Head TiltWhat Can Be Done?
A veterinary examination is important to identify suspected cases of vestibular disease. Other possible causes of these symptoms could include an infectious or inflammatory condition, inner ear infection, cancer, or a brain vascular episode - a stroke-like episode. In order to rule out these potential causes, more detailed testing is needed and may include tests like a CT, MRI, and CSF tap.

There isn't a cure for a vestibular episode, and some pets recover without any treatment. But other animals require supportive care including anti-nausea medications, intravenous fluid therapy, hand feeding, and physical assistance to walk and protect from household hazards.

Caring for a frightened, disoriented, wobbly, nauseated dog can be difficult. My 80 pound Labrador needed physical support to get up, walk outside and required hand feeding at times. He couldn't be left home alone without risk of injury. And because of all the hoisting, blocking collisions with furniture, and guiding away from the depths of the pool, I injured my back during his rehab time. The reality is that home care of a small or toy breed with vestibular disease is much easier than the physical demands of a assisting a large or giant breed dog.

Lessons Learned
I have seen many a patient come to my veterinary office for euthanasia after developing similar vestibular symptoms. Some pet owners assume that the severe symptoms and rapid onset mean that there is no hope and euthanasia is the only choice. I'll admit that vestibular symptoms are scary and affected pets are tough to care for at home, but if given the tincture of time, many senior dogs will eventually improve. Perhaps Magnum's story will help other pet owner's opt to pursue treatment or testing, and give time a chance to heal.

Four weeks later and Magnum is back to playing with toys and energetically bounding on walks. He still retains a slight head tilt to the right, his badge of courage as I see it. I'm thankful for his recovery and adore his charming, loveable tilted perspective of the world.

Featured veterinarian known as "Dr. Debbie" on national pet radio program, Animal Radio. Ebook author of "Yorkshire Terriers: How to Be Your Dog's Best Friend"; "Pugs: How to Be Your Dog's Best Friend"; "Mini Schnauzers: How to Be Your Dog's Best Friend"; and "Shih Tzu: How to Be Your Dog's Best Friend."

Genetic Preservation And Cloning Services
Blake Russell, ViaGen Pets

Cloned KittenViaGen Pets offers genetic preservation and cloning services to pet parents around the world with a cloned puppy or kitten that is an identical copy to the client's chosen pet.

Genetic preservation is the first step a pet parent would take when considering cloning their dog or cat. This is done by a veterinarian who takes a very small skin biopsy. Each cell in that biopsy contains the entire DNA necessary to produce an identical twin to that puppy or kitten. This preserved DNA can also be used in the future for health reasons.

Blake tells us that the response to this has been terrific. They've been delivering cloned kittens to clients around the world since November. Thee kittens have all been seen and deemed healthy by a veterinarian.

They also have some very exciting news coming soon about their puppy program.

To learn more, visit or call 888-876-6104.

The Many Different Types of Litter
Doc Halligan, Lucy Pet Foundation

Different Types of LitterThe choice of litter these days can be overwhelming as the shelves are full of an array of litters made from clay, silica, recycled newspaper, pine, sawdust shavings and even cedar chips.

Additionally, some litters are made from food ingredients such as corncobs, walnut shell meal and wheat. But be careful, as these food-based litters are organic substances and when not maintained properly, have the potential to mold and decay in the moist litter box environment, creating aflatoxins, which is deadly to animals.

You should also be concerned about dust from a well-maintained litter box, which can be a health concern for cats that are predisposed to asthma or have their litter box in confined quarters. Dust from a dirty litter box can cause more serious health issues.

Studies have overwhelmingly shown that most cats prefer clay clumping style litter over other types, however not all clay clumping litter is equal. The basic component of most clay clumping litter is sodium bentonite, a natural mineral derived from the ash remains of ancient volcanic eruptions. Multiple ingredients, including fragrances, fillers, preventative ingredients and absorption additives can be added to the sodium bentonite base to create a unique litter product. And while most cats won't actually eat clay litter, if they do, it is not harmful.

Cats Incredible LitterCats Incredible Litter, from Lucy Pet Products, is a clumping litter made from clay that has an extra ingredient that stops ammonia from forming. However, if you do smell ammonia when using this product, it can be a sign that your cat has a bladder infection. The only time a cat urinates a lot of ammonia is when they have a bacteria infection that is making that enzyme. Cats Incredible is also environmentally friendly, as they replenish the environment where the clay comes from and they plant trees.

Urine from a healthy cat contains only a small amount of ammonia, but cats with bladder infections can have higher ammonia content. Typically ammonia is only generated in cat litter boxes when bacteria is present and produces an enzyme that converts the large amount of urea to ammonia, therefore creating that strong ammoniacal odor associated with most litter boxes.

Ammonia is a colorless gas and has a very foul odor. Ammonia exposure can be dangerous to both humans and pets. Humans can detect ammonia, but cats detect it long before humans ever smell it. Symptoms in cats with ammonia exposure include panting, weakness, coughing, nasal discharge, drooling, vomiting, loss of appetite and trouble breathing. Symptoms in humans include scratchy throat, nasal discharge, chest tightness, cough and eye irritation.

To control nasty smells coming from the litter box, there are various agents added to litter to neutralize or mask. However, masking the ammonia smell to make it more pleasurable to humans doesn't eliminate the actual ammonia, which can be harmful to your cat's upper respiratory tract.

You may have noticed that cat urine has a much stronger smell than dog urine. That is because dogs are omnivores and they don't eat as much protein, whereas cats or carnivores with their main diet being meat. Cat urine is typically more concentrated, because cats are desert animals. They came from the desert so they have the ability to concentrate their urine. This means that their kidneys pull out the water for their bodies to use, unlike dogs and humans.

Ultimately, the end user, the cat, needs to be pleased with the litter or litter box rejection and house soiling may be a consequence. Again, the number one reason cats stop using the litter box is because they think it's dirty!

The Mission of The Lucy Pet Foundation is to reduce pet overpopulation by having mobile spay/neuter clinics across the country and to support causes that benefit animal welfare. The Lucy Pet Foundation currently has two buses that travel around Southern California focusing on spaying and neutering. These buses are state of the art surgery units. Their next focus is in generating more funds to expand the work of these buses and have more across the country.

Lucy Pet Foundation Mobile ClinicThe Lucy Pet Foundation not only offers free and reduced spays and neuters, they also do microchipping, vaccines and de-wormings. Spaying and neutering is not only great for pet population control, but it has been proven that an animal will live on an average of 40-percent longer after having this surgery.

Upcoming April Clinics

Free Spay & Neuter for Los Angeles City Residents! Here is a list of upcoming free or reduced fee mobile spay and neuter clinics in California:

Call for more information, questions and to reserve space to get on the list: (855) 499-5829

April 26: Algin Sutton Rec Center, 8800 S. Hoover St., Los Angeles, CA Spay/Neuter APPOINTMENT ONLY; Vaccine Clinic 10:00am-2:00pm

April 27: Food 4 Less, 1748 West Jefferson Blvd., Los Angeles, CA Spay/Neuter APPOINTMENT ONLY; Vaccine Clinic 10:00am-2:00pm

April 29: Hansom Dam Recreation Center, 11480 Foothill Blvd., Los Angeles, CA Spay/Neuter APPOINTMENT ONLY; Vaccine Clinic - 10:00am-2:00pm

April 30: East Valley Shelter, 14409 Van Owen Street, Van Nuys, CA Spay/Neuter APPOINTMENT ONLY; Vaccine Clinic 10:00am-2:00pm

County and City Vouchers accepted. But remember, you must get on a list to have your pet seen at these locations. Please call The Lucy Pet Foundation toll free at 1-855-499-5829 or Email: to schedule an appointment, or register at the events.

See the current list of clinics at

5 Pets That Are Illegal To Own
Robert Semrow, Animal Radio Listomania

FerretOk, I know what you are thinking… If they are pets they are certainly legal. Well, that's not necessarily the case depending on the state or city that you live in. There can be legal issues for having common pets that exist in different states or cities.

Let's start with Ferrets. In several states and large cities (Including California, Hawaii, New York City and Dallas to name a few), ferrets are illegal and if caught, you could face fines up to $200K or even prison time. That's right, ferrets; the court jesters of the animal world, filled with curiosity and enough cuteness to power any world are illegal in certain places. Some states allow you to have them as pets, but require additional filings and you must meet certain requirements.

Next up is Gerbils. If you are in California, you may be surprised to know that your state does not allow gerbils as a pet as they are deemed to pose a threat to the eco system. These tiny palm-sized pets are common household pets in many areas of the U.S. as they are easy to care for and handle, while also being social creatures.

HedgehogNext is the Hedgehog - No, I'm not talking about the video game version but the super cute, albeit very spiny hedgehog. These fascinating and easy to care for animals have very simple needs and are quite adaptable. They are interactive, yet, if handled improperly can use their quills to get their point across. Yes, I went there. The bigger concern is that there are certain states and municipalities who deem them illegal as pets and/or have severe restrictions including California, Georgia, Hawaii, Pennsylvania and more.

Let's not forget that there are number of fish and snakes that are also illegal to own in various states through the United States. It is remarkable the variety of these species that are found legally in the homes of people in some states, while not allowed in the homes in other states.

BengalFinally, I would be remiss, to not bring up the troubling movement to ban certain breeds of dogs and cats in cities and states across the country. From Bengal Cats to Pit Bull Dogs, traditional pets are increasingly under the scrutiny of the legal system.

While this list could go on for many days, I bring it up as a reminder that while you have rights, states and cities have laws. I'm not saying these laws or regulations are right or wrong. I am saying consider this when you are looking at adopting a new animal family member and remember that you are responsible to know the laws where you live in regards to your animal family members. Don't make the mistake of assuming anything or you may find yourself in big trouble and your pet confiscated or worse.

Share your pet legal stories on our Animal Radio Facebook Page.

Lori and FlobearAnimal Radio News - Lori Brooks

Doggy DNA Nabs Poop Offenders
A luxury apartment community near Grand Rapids, Michigan says it will use DNA technology as a way to sniff out dog owners who fail to pick up their pets' poop. The Ridges of Cascade complex is asking dog owners to swab their pet's mouth so it can build a DNA database that will allow it to identify residents who ignore its strict cleanup policy. The management company has already contracted with the Tennessee-based company PooPrints to collect DNA samples of each dog in the development. It's estimated that about 60-percent of the apartment residents own a pet. From now on, if a doggie do-do pile is found on the grounds, a sample of it will be sent to PooPrints, where it will be matched to the offending dog and owner. Violators will face a $350 fine.

Cat in a BoxWe Finally Know Why Cats Love Boxes!
Anyone who has spent time with cats knows how they love to find their way inside boxes, but there's actually a scientific explanation behind the attraction between cats and boxes. According to the folks at WIRED cats are naturally wired to like small, closed in spaces; it's their natural animal instinct for safety and security. Also, a cat, entering an enclosed space has an adaptive coping mechanism that serves to reduce its stress and give it time to sort things out. And, there is also a physiological reason your cat prefers small area like boxes: cats temperatures run a bit cooler than humans so cats prefer a warmer environment. Seeking out a snuggly box or contained area allows it a cats on body heat to warm up a small space and keep it toasty warm.

Mary and RamboWoman Gains Support To Keep Pet Alligator
A community is coming together in support of a Lakeland, Florida, woman who is fighting to keep her pet alligator that she's been a mother to for 10 years. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says she may have to give up Rambo because of a licensing issue, so she has set up a petition on, asking the agency to allow Rambo to stay in her care. A special Facebook page has also been set up to gain support for Rambo, who by the way is more than six feet long. According to authorities, a pet alligator that size must live on two-and-a-half acres or more of land. His owner says Rambo has never lived in the wild and had already developed sensitivity to sunlight by the time she rescued him 10 years ago.

Average Size of Dogs Are Shrinking
A new study from the University of Sydney says the average size of a dog is shrinking because more pet owners now prefer smaller dogs as companions. Researchers analyzed nearly three decades of registrations to the Kennel Club, a UK based dog welfare organization. They found dog lovers are also increasingly opting for bulldogs and pugs because of their large heads. The popularity is said to be driven partly by their big eyes and chubby cheeks that trigger the same "caretaking behavioral responses" that adults have towards babies. The study, in the journal Canine Genetics and Epidemiology, found the average height of a dog in 2010 was 47.7cm or almost 19 inches. Ten years earlier a typical dog stood at close to 20 inches tall. The lead researcher says they also found that the demand for smaller dogs has increased every year from 1986.

Brigit with her LootThis Cat's Got More Than Your Tongue
A pet feline in New Zealand has been stealing men's underwear and socks from other people's homes. In just 2 months, the 6-year-old cat named Brigit, acquired 11 pairs of underwear and more than 50 pairs of socks. Brigit's owner says she has put notes in every mailbox on her street to warn her neighbors. One day Brigit came in from being outdoors, very motherly carrying a sock like it was a kitten.

Pet Cemeteries Becoming Popular in China
Pet cemeteries are becoming increasingly popular in China with owners paying a lot of money to bury their animals. It costs between 50 and 1,800 dollars for an owner to buy their pets a plot in Chinese pet cemeteries. Rows of tombstones at one cemetery bear the names of pets along with flowers, toys, food and even calcium pills and chew bones were seen placed beside them. Pet owners who wish to give their animals a more formal send off can opt to bury their animal under the roots of trees or in a single grave. They can also opt for cremation.

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