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Animal Radio® Show #507 August 22, 2009


20 Foods You Should Never Feed Your Pets by Doc Halligan

Admit it, we all do it.  We feed our animals table scraps and handouts of whatever we might be eating at the time.  While we don't mean any harm, and it is hard to ignore those "puppy eyes," you can actually be causing harm to your pet.  While it is okay to occasionally give your animal people food, you might be surprised by some of the items on the following list that they should NEVER eat!

1. Ham

Ham and other fatty meats are high in fat, which can lead to a life-threatening pancreatitis. In addition to being high in fat, these foods are very salty and can cause serious stomach upset if eaten by your cats or dogs. Furthermore, large breeds of dogs that eat salty food may drink too much water and develop a potentially fatal condition called bloat. The stomach fills up with gas and within several hours may twist on itself, causing the animal to die. So avoid giving ham and/or rich/salty meats to your pets.

2. Bones

Bones are very dangerous for animals. Every year thousands of animals end up in the emergency room from eating bones, usually given by their owners as a treat. The fact is that dogs are omnivores, not carnivores. Most dogs and cats can’t tolerate bones, since they can splinter or lodge in the intestinal tract with disastrous results, usually requiring surgery.

Bones can also get stuck in your pet’s mouth or throat, which is just as dangerous. Bones of all kinds are bad; this includes pork, chicken, and beef. So the next time you feel the urge to give your dog a bone, just make sure it’s a Milk-Bone™ or a Nylabone™. Your pet will love you for it.

3. Chocolate

A potential lethal dose of chocolate for a 16-pound animal is only two ounces of baker’s chocolate or 16 ounces of milk chocolate. Chocolate contains theobromine, which causes increased heart rate, central nervous system stimulation, and constriction of arteries in pets. Clinical symptoms range from vomiting, diarrhea, restlessness, and excitability to cardiac failure, seizures, and death. A serious reaction can occur as quickly as four to six hours after ingestion.

4. Raisins/Grapes

A recent study found that raisins and grapes can lead to gastrointestinal signs like vomiting and diarrhea to life-threatening kidney failure, which starts in about 24 hours after ingestion. Small dogs can also choke on grapes, so it’s best to make sure that you provide your pets with a well-balanced diet that’s formulated for their life stage.

5. Potato Peel

Potato peels contain oxalates, which adversely affect pets’ digestive, nervous, and urinary tract systems. Symptoms include lethargy, depression, vomiting, diarrhea, and seizures.

6. Apple Core/Apricot Pits

The pits and cores of these delicious fruits contain cyanogenic glycosides, which, when eaten by cats or dogs, may result in cyanide poisoning. Signs of toxicity include salivation, apprehension, dilated pupils, difficulty breathing, dizziness, collapse, coma, seizures, hyperventilation, and shock.

7. Alcohol

It doesn’t take much alcohol to intoxicate a pet. Animals will stagger and bump into things, hurting themselves; alcohol also causes them to urinate uncontrollably. In high doses, it will suppress the central nervous, respiratory, and cardiac systems, and can even lead to death. It’s best to just give your pet water.

8. Moldy Foods

Dogs and cats get food poisoning, like humans, and actually die from eating moldy or spoiled food, which can contain multiple toxins causing vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, shaking, and seizures. Garbage gut is definitely dangerous, so don’t feed anything you wouldn’t eat to your pets.

9. Avocado

First, avocados are high in fat and can cause your pet stomach upset, vomiting, and even pancreatitis. Second, the pit, besides being toxic, can get lodged in your pet’s intestinal tract, leading to a severe blockage that may require surgery. Symptoms of toxicity include difficulty breathing, abdominal enlargement, and abnormal fluid accumulation in the chest and abdomen.

10. Caffeine

Refrain from giving your pets coffee, as caffeine is unsafe for them. It contains methylated xanthine, like chocolate, that stimulates the central nervous and cardiac systems and, within several hours, causes vomiting, restlessness, heart palpitations, and even death. So make sure your pets stay away from that early morning brew.

11. Mushrooms

Mushroom toxicity can be fatal if certain species of mushrooms are ingested. These can contain toxins that may affect multiple systems in your pet’s body leading to shock and eventually death. Clinical signs include abdominal pain, seizures, hallucinations, depression, vomiting, and diarrhea.

12. Tuna

A cat’s heart muscle requires an amino acid called taurine to maintain normal strength and function. Canned tuna fish does not have this amino acid, and cats that eat too much tuna fish will develop heart problems. If you want to give your cats the taste of tuna that they love, just make sure it’s tuna fish for cats, which has the amino acid taurine added.

13. Liver

Eating large amounts of liver can cause vitamin A toxicity, which severely affects muscles and bones. Hypervitaminosis A causes severe changes including constipation, deformed bones, weight loss, anorexia, and neck, joint, or spine stiffness due to excessive bone growth on the elbows and spine.

14. Fat

A pet’s consumption of fat trimmings can cause pancreatitis, which leads to vomiting and diarrhea. Pets with pancreatitis are usually lethargic with severe stomach pain, and often become dehydrated. If left untreated, the condition can be fatal.

15. Dough

If ingested, yeast dough will expand in a pet’s stomach or intestines and produce large amounts of gas in the digestive system, causing severe pain and even rupture of the stomach or intestines. Secondly, as the dough ferments it produces alcohol, which can be toxic as well. Symptoms include vomiting, abdominal discomfort, lethargy, or depression.

16. Milk/Cheese

Many pets are lactose-intolerant and develop diarrhea when drinking milk. Pets lack the enzyme that’s required to break down milk sugar, and this causes them to develop vomiting, diarrhea, and other gastrointestinal symptoms. Even though your pets like it and were nursed as infants on their mother’s milk, refrain from giving them milk. Cheese, even in small amounts, is too high in fat and can lead to a life-threatening pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas).

17. Macadamia nuts

These tasty nuts contain an unknown toxin that can seriously affect a pet’s digestive tract, nervous system, and skeletal muscles. Clinical signs include vomiting weakness, depression, diarrhea, panting, difficulty walking, and muscle tremors. Dogs have become violently ill from ingesting as few as six macadamia nuts.

18. Onions/Garlic

Onions and garlic contain toxic ingredients that can damage pets’ red blood cells and cause fatal consequences. Pets may develop vomiting and diarrhea, which may progress to anemia, weakness, and labored breathing. Onions, either raw or cooked, are more dangerous; a cat or dog can be seriously harmed by only a small amount. Garlic is less toxic, as pets need to ingest large amounts to cause illness.

19. Tobacco

Tobacco contains nicotine, which rapidly affects the digestive and nervous systems of pets. This may lead to salivation, vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, shallow breathing, rapid heartbeat, collapse, coma, and even death.

20. Rhubarb and Tomato leaves/ stems

These plants contain oxalates, which adversely affect multiple systems including the digestive, nervous, and urinary tract systems. Pets will experience vomiting, diarrhea, labored breathing, abdominal cramps, weakness, convulsions, muscle twitching, and seizures from ingesting these.

Doc Halligan also adds that you should never feed cat food to your dog or dog food to your cat!  Cat food is to rich for your dog and dog food doesn’t have enough protein for your cat.  She also states that a rule of thumb is if it is bad for you – then it is probably not good for your pet!


Vinnie Penn, Animal Radio's Resident Party Animal

Plagued by Skunks

I’m back once again because all of you have demanded it by sending emails saying that there should be a TV show titled Vinnie Penn’s Animal Radio.  Everyone is saying that they want my segment extended to a full half hour long… all right; no one’s emailing me in this regard.  But you can email me at

Okay, this week’s topic is a true story with no exaggeration.  We’ve been having a problem in my neighborhood for the last couple of summers being plagued by skunks.  We’ve been having a real skunk problem.  The stench of them from just firing off their skunk “lasers” in the middle of the night can wake you from a sound sleep at 3:00 in the morning.  I even set traps.  I hate to do, I don’t want to harm anything, but I plead the 5th or just say it naivety, but I had someone come out and set a trap.  I have two small children and the stench was waking us up every night. 

Lo and behold one day a couple of weeks ago I heard “Ker-plunk” in the middle of the day in the pool in the backyard.  I look out, and the skunk has fallen in the pool in the middle of the day, which suggests rabies. Am I right or is that an urban myth?  Is that a wives tail?  I heard that if you see a skunk or a raccoon in the middle of the day, since they are nocturnal creatures, they could be rabid.   I don’t know if that is urban myth or not, but he falls into the pool.   I’m an animal lover, but I just stand there and think this is it, this is how it’s going to have to end, I’m just going to have to let him go this way.  But I couldn’t take it.  I couldn’t take being in the house when there’s an animal splishing and splashing around in my pool. 

So I went and I told my wife that we had finally resolved the skunk issue and that it was in the pool right now.  She said, “What!” and looked at me kind of funny.  And I said, “I know, I hate that it has to wind up this way.  But, it’s finally going to solve the issue of this skunk who had been terrorizing the neighborhood.” 

So I just left the room and didn’t think anything of it, when all of a sudden I heard the sliding glass door open and close.  I looked out the window and my wife is out there with the pool skimmer, true story, and fishes the big, fat, stinky skunk out of our pool.

Now, there’s a part of me that’s livid, because this issue had been going on for three summers and it was finally resolved.  But, she’s fishing it out.   So I’m thinking, I just want to see that tail come up on this rabid skunk and just blast her, because then she’d have to take a bath in tomato juice (which would actually be kind of sexy to me, but I’m into some strange stuff!). 

And lo and behold, it was strange, it was like she dropped it off in the lawn and the skunk was like Pepé LePew or something, and just looked at her as if to say “Emm, thank yeew, my Cherié” and then gave her a wink.  I think I saw the skunk wink!  And then he took off. 

How would you feel if this skunk was plaguing your neighborhood, fell into a neighbor’s pool and the issue could have finally been resolved and some “Little House on the Prairie Housewife” had to save it with a pool skimmer?  You let me know!

Part II – Betty

If you listened to last week’s installment of the Party Animal then you know that my daughter’s goldfish Betty was either murdered or killed herself, or just died of natural causes.  She was a year old, or maybe even a little older than a year old.  It’s not like we bought her and watched her hatch from a goldfish egg.  (Do they lay eggs?  I don’t even know!)

Nonetheless, my daughter has now decided what she wants her new pet to be, and it is the natural evolution. It is what you think the next animal would be after having a goldfish, and that is a horse!  Yes, a horse!  I don’t even know where she thinks we would put it.  Well, we do have a two-car garage and that’s rather extravagant to a six-year-old.

There is some show she watches on the BBC where snobbish British equestrians fight over who gets to ride “Calico” today!  Now all of a sudden my daughter Stella thinks she can take care of a horse and ride a horse, when what comes out of a horse is twice the size of her. 

But yes, her goldfish died and I said to her we can move on. What is the next pet you would like?  Is the family ready for a dog?  I haven’t really recovered from the passing of my last dog, but for my kids I will. 

And she said she thinks she knows what’s next.  I’m afraid it’s going to be a cat.  I have had some friends with cats that I love, and I was a little bit worried that it was going to be a cat, when she said, a horsey!  Okay, we’ll go down to the horse store and pick out a horse. 

I then asked her what she would name it, and of course Stella, ever creative with her names for horses, said, “I just said, Horsey.”  So yes, when the time comes and were in the bigger house and this passion continues, thanks to that snobbish BBC series, Vinnie Penn, your Party Animal, will be the owner of Horsey the Horse!


Animal Minute With Britt Savage

Caring For Pets Improve Behavior of Troubled Teens

Groundbreaking research has found that caring for pets can improve the behavior and social interaction of troubled teens. Backed by a 3-year grant from the IAMS Company, CBR Youth Connect set out to scientifically evaluate whether working with dogs in its innovative pet therapy program, New Leash on Life, could effectively help troubled teens.   The Colorado programs pairs unwanted dogs with troubled teens, who then care for and train the dogs 10 weeks prior to being placed in adoptive homes.  Many teens in the program improved in some crucial areas of functioning, with gains in positive social behavior, including bonding and attachment, anger management and responsibility.   The dogs improved too!  You can adopt one at

In Germany- Birds Imitating Rings On Cell Phones

Hello, can you hear me now?  In Germany, birds have been found to be imitating ring tone on cell phones.  Ornithologists believe it has something to do with the new green areas becoming popular in urban settings.  The birds move in and are introduced to the sounds of the city.  Many of the more common ring tones are actually imitations of birdcalls.  So the birds, in some instances, are mimicking other types of birds.  Birds use their call to find a mate, mark their territory or scare off danger.  They may add these ring tones to their vocabulary, but they never lose their ability to call in their native tongue. 


Animal Radio® News with Bobbie Hill

First Veterinary Forensics CSI Workshop

The ASPCA and the University of Florida recently held the country’s first Veterinary Forensics Crime Scene Investigations Workshop. According to Dr. Melinda Merck ASPCA’s Senior Director of Veterinary Forensics, the program is reaching beyond the workshop.  University of Florida will offer undergraduate and post graduate courses in veterinary forensic sciences.  Dr. Merck said, “the development of veterinary forensics is in a similar place now that human forensics was a few decades ago.”

Are The “Summer Itches” Attacking Your Pet?

It may be an allergic reaction. Dogs and cats can suffer discomfort from coming in contact with an allergen whether it’s a flea or ragweed or your perfume.   The ASPCA reports 20% of pets suffer from allergies.  If your pet is one, see your vet to determine the exact cause.  Then you can take some preventive measures like cleaning your pet’s bedding once a week and vacuuming it twice. Weekly bathing will help remove environmental allergens and pollens.

Blame It On The Cat!

Here’s a helpful hint - if you get busted for downloading child pornography don’t blame it on the cat. Police in Jensen Beach Florida arrested Keith Griffin on charges of possession of child pornography.  Investigators say they found over a thousand images on Griffin’s home computer.  The suspect told the police that his cat jumped on the keyboard while he was downloading music.  According to the A.P. story, Griffin said he left the room and when he returned he found “strange things” on his computer.  Police arrested Griffin, not the cat, and he’s being held in the Martin County jail on $250,000 bond.

Judge To Hear Case Of “Freak” Dog

Lily the formerly 5-legged Chihuahua mix puppy from North Carolina is making a full recovery from surgery to make her 4-legged.  While she’s no longer a “freak” the owner of the Freak Show who wanted to buy her isn’t giving up and says he’s taking this to court and being an alleged media whore, the freak show owner wants his case heard on a TV court program.  Judge Jeanine Pirro will hear the case of the Freak Show owner who’s suing the original owner for $4,000.  The original owner told the Charlotte Observer he refunded the Freak Show owners deposit and never signed a contract over Lily’s ownership.  The program is set to air September 21st - check your local listings.

Does Your Pelican Have A Cell Phone?

One at the Tautphaus Park Zoo in Idaho Falls does...or he did.  Visitors alerted zoo keepers that they’d seen several pelicans playing with a cell phone that had accidentally dropped into their enclosure.  Keepers couldn’t get there in time to stop one of the birds from swallowing the phone.   Zoo veterinarians were considering x-raying the entire flock to determine who gulped it but thankfully the bird in question “coughed it up.”   Zoo superintendent Bill Gersonde told Idaho Hall’s KIDK “Luckily the bird regurgitated it so it wouldn’t harm him.”  Surprisingly enough the owner hasn’t come forward to claim it just yet...

Man Arrested For Heckling Police Dog!

Did you know in Michigan it’s against the law to heckle, irk, vex, bother, tease and or annoy a police dog?  A man found that out last week when he began barking and shouting at a police dog inside a cruiser.  The Associated Press story said the man approached the patrol car and “began to torment” their canine officer.  Police arrested the barking man and charged him with disorderly conduct - he was later released on bond.

NEWS UPDATE Brought To You By Simple Solution Natural Line Of Products



Your Vet Questions Answered with Dr. Debbie

Schnauzer Has Bouts of Aggression

This rescued Schnauzer/Labrador mix occasionally has bouts of aggression with his guardians for no apparent reason, which he comes out of pretty fast.  During these bouts he will nip and bark at them.  He also recently started showing aggression with his food.  He has been tested for thyroid problems, which came back negative, and he is working with a trainer.   His guardian can’t find a trigger for these bouts.  Dr. Debbie feels that since these bouts are unpredictable, he might have a seizure aggression problem, which can be treated with medication.   If a trainer has ruled out behavior problems and a vet has ruled out medical issues, maybe an anti-seizure medication should be tried.  Also, these dogs should never be left alone with a child

Deaf Dog is Obsessive With His Guardian

This dog was rescued from an animal shelter and she clings to her guardian.  It doesn’t bother him, but he is worried about her.   He is with the dog 90% of the time, but on the rare occasion when he leaves her at home, she will sit by the door and whine.  However, she never barks.  Dr. Debbie feels that while it is not a problem for her guardian, it is a problem for the dog if a situation arises where the animal has to be hospitalized, etc.  All dogs should have an independence from their guardians.   With deaf dogs, this is a little tougher, as they are more reliant on us for the cues they need to know how to get around in their world.  But, even a deaf dog can be taught independence through proper training. 

Six-Year-Old Papillion Pees And Poops In House

This six-year-old Papillion will go outside but will then come back in and pee and poop in the house.  They have tried everything including puppy pads but it is getting worse.  His guardian admits that he lets the dog outside by himself to do his business and doesn’t watch him.   Dr. Debbie says you need to work on this as soon as it begins, as the earlier the better for successful training.  In this case, she recommends going back to square one and start potty training all over from the beginning as if he were a puppy.  This means not just letting him go out by himself, but taking him out and praise him when he does his business.  When he comes back in the house, he should be under supervision at all times or put in a crate. 

How Do You Train a Kitten To Ride In a Vehicle?

This truck driver wants to get a kitten to keep him company on the road, but is wondering how to do this?  Dr. Debbie states that you need to sensitize a kitten to this type of travel.  Since this cat is going to have free roam of the truck, she states that getting her used to a cat bed is the first step.  Start this at home by giving her treats and love when she is there and then slowly move the bed into the truck.  You might even want to start her off in a smaller vehicle than a semi-truck. Place her in her bed and place the bed in a vehicle.  Start off slowly by first just letting her get used to the vehicle then take her out.  Next time, put her in the vehicle and just start it up so she can get used to the sound and remove her.  Then, place her in the vehicle and maybe just take it down the driveway or on a short trip around the block.   Try to expose the cat to all the types of noises it would normally encounter on the road, perhaps by an audiotape.   During these times, make sure you treat and reward her to make it a positive experience.   And when selecting a cat, look for one who is more like a dog and is laid back and not startled easily. 

14-Year-Old Aussie Is Having Problems With Hind Legs

This 14-year-old Australian Shepherd is having problems with his hind legs where he can’t get up.  It started gradually and his guardian wants to know if it is his age.    Dr. Debbie says it can be his age where he is showing signs of arthritis or degenerative changes, which is causing pain.   Because of the pain, the dog doesn’t use his muscles as he should and he starts getting even weaker.   So what starts off as arthritic pain becomes muscle atrophy with even more weakness.  She suggests having the dog looked at a vet for possible arthritic pain medication, supplements or even acupuncture to help them get around.  The guardian states that he doesn’t think his dog is in a lot of pain because he doesn’t make a lot of noise or wince.  Dr. Debbie states that if you wait for these signs, it will be too late.  Just look at his mobility and how long it takes him to stand up.  While he may not cry out, if it takes him some time to get up, he is in pain!  Since this dog is in his very senior years, if he is suffering and in a lot of pain and can’t be helped, his guardian should also be his dog’s advocate and not let his dog be put through more than he deserves. 

Two-Year Ori-Pei Has Chronic Ear Infections

This two-year-old Ori-Pei (a cross between a Pug and a Shar-Pei) has ear infections about every other month.  Antibiotics and eardrops don’t stop them from coming back.  Her guardian makes sure she doesn’t get water in her ears by not letting her swim and putting cotton in her ears when she gets a bath.  Sometimes she even gets infections in both ears at the same time.  Dr. Debbie states that both the Pug and Shar-Pei breeds are prone to ear infections.  With the Shar-Pei, there is also the anatomy of the ear, which makes it more difficult to deal with.  Dr. Debbie suggests looking at all of the possible causes.  Water in the ears is one, but there are also things to look as such as allergies, which can cause the potential for ear infections, especially in young dogs.  She suggests a special hypoallergenic food and put her on a food trial for 6-8 weeks to see if her ears improve. During this time, do not feed anything else but the food – no treats and no table scraps! She also suggests using topical medications or pills.  And as a last resort, there is ear surgery to remove the outer part of the ear canal to make it easier for guardians to medicate the deeper part of the ear.

Yorkie Has A Licking Problem

This guardian sometimes feels that her dog is a traitor as she will go to anyone and lick them like crazy.  While this drives her sister and mother crazy, she likes it!  She wants to know if there is something missing in her dog’s diet that causes this?  Dr. Debbie explains that some dog just have a high lick behavior, which in little dogs, can even become obsessive compulsive.  Dr. Debbie says that when the dog licks someone, that person should not respond by giving her attention, even her guardian, as you can’t let her do this to one person and not to another. 

African Grey Only Eats Pellets

This 4-month-old African Grey will only eat pellets and seeds and his guardian can’t get him to eat fruits or vegetables.   Dr. Debbie says that this is the one time you can share your food with your pet.  Birds enjoy eating what we are eating and are social creatures.  When you share your food it becomes a whole new experience for them instead of just putting the food in their cage.  You will be surprised at how much birds enjoy eating with you!  But that's not his only problem, he doesn't speak yet.  Dr. Debbie advises his guardian that the best way to get him to speak - is to speak to him all day long!



Animal Radio's Summer Giveaway

It’s back!  Animal Radio’s Summer Giveaway for 2009 and you can enter as many times as you would like before September 30th.

This year’s Grand Package includes items from Celestron, the world’s leading designer and manufacturer of high quality optical products, with the Regal 65F-ED Spotting Scope; Bissell, with the Lift-Off Revolution Pet Vac; Automated Pet Care Products, with the Litter-Robot; Disney, with the Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park passes; and recently added from SCS from the Disney G-Force movie which opened on July 25th, plush characters, t-shirts and trading cards.

The five runner-ups can win packages, which include the Outland Waterproof Binoculars from Celestron; the Pet Hair Eraser Corded Handheld Vacuum Cleaner from Bissell; and the  "UP" DVD, Leapfrog Reading System and "UP" Leapfrog Storybook from Disney-Pixar.

You may enter as many times as you want, but no more than 5 times a day prior to September 30, 2009. This contest is open to US residents 18 and over. Winner is responsible for all taxes on prize packages. Winners will be announced on Animal Radio® and notified by email or telephone. You may also enter by sending us a postcard with the requested information to Animal Radio -Summer-end Giveaway, P.O. Box 197, Shandon, CA. 93461. A complete list of rules is available at the Animal Radio Network™ Studios.

What are you waiting for?  Get entered now!



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