Animal Radio® Network Newsletter April 2009

In this issue:

  • 80's singer Tiffany resurfaces with a family full of fur.
  • Queer Eye Can't Keep a Secret! - Groomer Has It!
  • Chickens instead of a cat or dog? Alternative pets for a tough economy.
  • From Bow to Wow - NBC's Jill Rappaport explores the world of dog adoption.
  • Pot, Mushrooms and Grapes top list of 2008 pet poisonings.

Bow to Wow, It's A Dog's Life - Why Not Save A Few?

NBC's Today Show Jill Rappaport

My friends joke with me that my life has gone to the dogs! And I couldn't be happier about that. One of the true blessings of my job is being able to do stories that can not only help animals, but as in this case, save their lives.

As the owner of four wonderful dogs, all rescues, two from the city pound, I know firsthand how grateful and devoted my "fur angels" are because they know I saved them just in the nick of time. So that is why I wanted to do a special segment called "From Bow to Wow."

For the segment, I went to one of the busiest city pounds in the country, and roamed the halls, which for an animal lover is truly devastating. Many of these animals were trembling, emaciated and some were covered in feces. But as heartsick as I was, I knew I had a mission: To see some of these wonderful creatures step out of their horrible cages, accompany them to a groomer, see them get medical attention, and lastly, come on our show and hopefully find a lifelong home.

We picked four out of the thousands that are in this situation. They are all beautiful, loving dogs, all breeds, all ages. I wanted to take two older, bigger dogs because those are the hardest to get adopted. If I could, I would have taken them all, but that is where YOU come in. If you are thinking about getting a pet, PLEASE adopt. I think that the love you get back has the potential to change your life forever.

Dear viewers: If you're interested in finding information on how to adopt the dogs seen on TODAY, please visit the Animal Care & Control of New York City's site at


Fighting and Preventing Flea Investations


While fleas may seem too tiny to cause much more than an inconvenience, an infestation of fleas on your dog can become a serious medical problem indeed. Your dog can run the gamut of reactions to fleas, from a mild skin irritation to a severe allergic response.

And because fleas feed on blood, a severe infestation can cause anemia or even death in some of the most serious cases. Unless you live in an extremely dry climate or at a high elevation, fleas will be a source of concern for you and your dog.

Although they are small in size, they are a hardy species, and some can live as long as six months to a year. During that time, a pair of fleas can create millions of offspring. Fleas have been around almost since the beginning of time, and have been shown to perform amazing feats for their diminutive size--some fleas are able to leap as high as three feet of the ground. That is the equivalent of a human jumping over the Washington Monument!

Because fleas are so small, you will often see evidence of the flea infestation before you will see the creatures themselves. Fleas will leave their mark on your dog in the form of specks, scratching, or scabs. "Flea dirt"--their waste byproducts--found on the skin of your dog is another telltale sign that your pooch is in the midst of an infestation.

Fleas can carry tapeworms as well, so if your pet has tapeworms he may also have fleas. You will see these white, rice-like creatures in your pet's feces or in the anal area. If you see evidence of tapeworms, you might assume that your pet has fleas as well.

Make the fleas flee
There are many treatments available to battle a flea infestation, but keep in mind that your battle will not be won overnight. In most cases, it will take at least three to four weeks to completely rid your dog of fleas, and you will need to stick it out for the long haul if you want your treatments to be effective. Since you will be battling those critters on many levels--from eggs to larvae to adult fleas--you will need multiple simultaneous treatments to get rid of the problem once and for all.

The variety of flea treatments includes sprays, powders, dips, shampoos and flea combs. They all work to kill the adult fleas, but hitting the infestation on your pet is only half the battle: You will also need to rid your dog's environment of the adult fleas and larvae that are lurking in your home or the backyard.

This means giving your home a thorough cleaning by vacuuming and washing your pet's bedding every week. You will also need to use a disinfectant and insecticide within your home somewhat regularly for a period of time. You can also opt to hire a professional exterminator to nip the problem in the bud throughout your home.

The outside of your house will need to be addressed as well, especially if your dog spends a lot of his time there. Since sun and fleas are not a compatible combination, the shady spots of your yard are the areas that you will want to target.

Insecticides can work well for this purpose, but you can also take a more natural approach by introducing nematodes into your environment. These microscopic worms get to work in destroying flea larvae, and can be an effective solution when they are applied to the yard once a month. You can find more information about nematodes through your local nursery or veterinarian.

Once you make your treatment selections, whether for your pet or for your home, it is a good idea to consult your veterinarian to ensure that your treatments of choice will be both safe and effective. This is a wise step to take even if you are purchasing an over-the-counter product to try.

Stopping the problem before it starts
In recent years, more flea control products have been developed that will allow you to treat your dog once a month to prevent an infestation of fleas from occurring in the first place. Insect growth regulators (IGRs) work by interrupting the flea's life cycle, keeping adult fleas at bay.

Some of these IGRs, like Lufenuron, work on the eggs or larvae, and others, such as imidacloprid and fipronil work directly on the adult fleas. These IGRs come in many forms, including pills, sprays or liquids. You will need to talk to your veterinarian about one of these treatment options, since they are not available over the counter at this time. This way, your vet can also advise you about the best treatment for your dog and how to use the preventative substance correctly.

Fleas may require quite a bit of persistence to beat, but the battle against fleas can be won. Consult your veterinarian today about the best way to keep your dog flea-free.

Source: Adapted from the American Animal Hospital Association


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On Animal Radio® this month

Who has a nanny for their pets? That would be Tiffany, who rose to success in the late '80s as a teen pop star. Nowadays she claims she is always on the road and living out of a suitcase, But, she doesn't have to worry about her 6 English Bulldogs; a Chocolate Labrador; a Bassett Hound; 2 Leopard Geckos; and two turtles, because not only does her husband stay home with them they also have a nanny!

Jai Rodriguez (“Queer Eye for the Straight Guy”) returns to talk about Groomer Has It Season II.  Jai promises that this year will be as fun as last year and that we will see some kind of farmyard activities once again.   He also admitted that he is not good at keeping secrets and doesn’t have one of those “poker faces.”  In fact, he had asked the judges not to let him know who was going home ahead of time throughout the show and that he wanted to wait until it was announced.  Jai felt that the look on his face if he knew, would tip off the person going home before they were even told.

Swoosie Kurtz explains the "animal" mystery behind her name.  She also mentions that her cats seem to have adopted her and that her home is starting to look like Italy with all of the stray cats just wandering around.  Swoosie now thinks that the neighborhood cats have rated her place with “4 Stars” as the place to hang out!


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Facebook for Pets?!

Vinnie Penn, Animal Radio's Resident Party Animal

Vinnie Penn is on Animal RadioŽI know all of you out there – I’m going to sweep – I’m going to say all of you out there.  Okay, maybe the fact is really 85% of you are on Facebook.  You’re doing the “FB” thing.  You’re on there; you’re updating your status.  Especially if you’re obsessed with your pooch, you’re on there saying, “Lizzie just got home and is scratching Roggo’s belly.” (I don’t know where I came up with the name Roggo).  But we’re all doing the Facebook thing. 

One question I have for you is that I’m being inundated, not with friends ads (I don’t know why – but not a lot of people asking me to be their friend) but I am being inundated with all of these various causes, from the silly – so and so wants to know if you want to join the Brady Bunch Trivia Group – IGNORE!  - to the race to end cancer group, and you can check on more information to see if you want to be a part of it. 

I see a lot on there for animals and I wanted to put it out there.   Are we diluting the waters here on Facebook by fashioning these kinds of grassroots groups?   Are they taking away from the bigger more well know groups that are actually generating capital and doing some good as far as spaying and neutering and saving strays and savings shelters in general, are these little groups that our bored friends are putting together on Facebook, are they chipping away at a larger stone and taking away from something that’s been around for 20 years and works?

I’m going to go and see if I can add Bob Barker as a friend.  Do you think he would accept my ad?  I think he would.   I think he might.  I’m going to see if he is even on Facebook.  (Geez all that tanning – he doesn’t even have much of a face left!)

But you tell me, is Facebook chipping away at the large stone of animal causes, or should we join all of these groups?  Hit me up at Animal Radio®

Listen to Vinnie Penn on Animal Radio®



The Joy of Keeping Chickens by Jennifer Megyesi

Jennifer Megyesi decided that if she was going to eat eggs, she was going to raise and care for the chickens herself. In fact, she started a farm. In The Joy of Keeping Chickens, Megyesi shares her adoration of these animals and teaches the proper ways to care for them.

Jennifer says that surprisingly chickens are actually great pets.  They are very personable, they’re very easy keepers and they actually need less attention that cats or dogs do.  They also have their own hierarchy and even sleep according to their pecking order.

Jennifer tells Animal Radio® that more and more are chosing chickens because of the economy. "Cats don't lay eggs."

While all chickens have the ability to lay eggs, some breeds are better at it.  Some chickens that are more desirable as pets are usually not the best egg layers, and are better snugglers, making great mothers to baby chicks.   A hen typically lays an average of less than an egg a day. But by the time they are around three years of age, they lay an egg about every other day.   She even has a chicken that lays chocolate eggs!

Jennifer Megyesi and her husband own and run the Fat Rooster Farm in Vermont. She holds a master’s degree in wildlife biology and has worked for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Her farm is currently breeding Cuckoo Marans chickens, famed for laying chocolate-colored eggs. She lives on the farm with her husband and son in Royalton, Vermont.

Listen to Jennifer Megyesi on Animal Radio®



ASPCA Offers Tips for Keeping Your Home Allergy-Free

As the snow melts and flowers bloom, The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) reminds pet parents of simple ways to prepare as peak allergy season approaches.
“Many seasonal allergy sufferers are unable to appreciate the joy of springtime because their symptoms interfere,” said Dr. Steven Hansen, Senior Vice President of ASPCA Animal Health Services, which includes the APSCA Animal Poison Control Center in Urbana, Ill. and ASPCA Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital in Manhattan. “Pets suffer from allergies as well, but by following a few simple steps, surviving the springtime allergy season with your furry friend can be a breeze.”

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Here are some of the ways animal lovers can make this coming allergy season sneeze-free for humans and pets alike:

Don’t Blame Your Pet!

If you think that you or a family member has allergies, Dr. Hansen suggests visiting a specialist to determine the exact cause of symptoms and to help alleviate them. And remember – pets get seasonal allergies, too! “Dogs often get ‘atopy,’ where they inhale allergens that cause excessively itchy skin, known as ‘pruritis,’” says Dr. Louise Murray, Director of Medicine at the ASPCA Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital. “Medications and immunotherapy (de-sensitizing shots) can allow you and your companion animal to live happily together.” Dr. Murray reminds pet parents that animals can also suffer from non-seasonal allergies, such as allergies to house dust and certain proteins in their food.

Keep your home clean

Be sure to clean the litter box regularly. “Vacuum frequently by using a vacuum equipped with a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate arresting) filter or a disposable electrostatic bag,” says Dr. Murray. “An air purifier fitted with a HEPA filter can also make a big difference in removing allergens from the air, and remember to still let in some fresh air daily.”

Clean your pet, too!

Dr. Murray encourages pet parents to bathe their pet in order to remove allergens that accumulate in fur. “Be careful, though, not to do this too often,” she says. “Frequent bathing can dry out your pet’s coat.” Products formulated to prevent dander from building up and flaking off into the environment are also available, but be sure to ask your veterinarian to suggest one that is safe to use on animals who groom themselves. Brushing or combing your pet frequently also helps to keep allergens at bay.     

Create an allergen-free room

Dr. Hansen recommends using the bedroom as the most practical choice. “It’s smart to use hypoallergenic bedding and pillow materials,” he says. “Allergen removing central air and furnace filters are another smart option.” If you do have pet allergies, keeping pets out of the bedroom can be very helpful in minimizing symptoms.

Limit fabrics in your home

Allergens collect in rugs, drapes and upholstery, so do your best to limit them in your home. If you choose to keep some fabrics as part of your décor, steam-clean them regularly

Get more tips on dealing with Allergies at

Tiffany - 80's Furry Flashback on Animal Radio®

Tiffany, who rose to success in the late  '80s as a teen pop star, claims nowadays she is always on the road and living out of a suitcase.  We caught up with her in Las Vegas where she was finishing up with Tony & Tina’s Wedding and jamming with the Sin City Sinners. 

But, Tiffany doesn’t worry about being gone a lot and leaving her menagerie of animals at home, which include 6 English Bulldogs; a Chocolate Labrador; a Bassett Hound; 2 Leopard Geckos; and two turtles, because not only does her husband stay home with them they also have a nanny!

Tiffany got her first dog, a male English Bulldog, to surprise her husband who was from England and had no family here in the states.  He then later surprised her with a female English Bulldog of her own.  To her disbelief, her vet told her there was no rush to get the dogs neutered and spayed as they were still young.  But, lo and behold, they “got together” and had puppies.   She knew she should have followed her instincts!  Tiffany then kept one puppy, her husband picked out a second puppy and lastly her son also picked one out of the litter.   Unbeknownst to Tiffany, one of the puppies had spina bifida, which she didn’t find out until the dog was 16 weeks old.   She doesn’t have a long life expectancy, but Tiffany is making sure she has a happy life while she is with her!

Tiffany states that she acquired her Chocolate Lab when she bought some property in Nashville and the dog came with the property, and that she is a good old country dog that likes to run and play in the creek.    She then later adopted the Bassett Hound, which is blind.

Tiffany admits that she lets her dogs sleep in her bed with her, but fortunately not all of them do.  She loves her animals so much, that someday she envisions opening her own shelter.

Look for Tiffany next in Montreal Canada where she will be doing a show with Rick Astley, Deborah Gibson and Samantha Fox.

Listen to Tiffany on Animal Radio®


Groomer Has It Season II - Jai Rodriguez

In Groomer Has It, Season Two, Host Jai Rodriguez (“Queer Eye for the Straight Guy”), promises that this year will be as fun as last year and that we will see some kind of farmyard activities once again.  Also, the prizes are bigger this year with a Subaru Forrester along with $50,000 in cash and a mobile grooming unit salon from Waggin Tails. 

Jai says that in season two, the judges got real emotional.  He also admitted that he is not good at keeping secrets and doesn’t have one of those “poker faces.”  In fact, he had asked the judges not to let him know who was going home ahead of time throughout the show and that he wanted to wait until it was announced.  Jai felt that the look on his face if he knew, would tip off the person going home before they were even told.

Groomer Has It Season II premieres Saturday, April 11 at 9 PM (ET/PT), where 12 of America’s most passionate and skilled dog groomers will compete against each other in a test of desire, creativity and affinity for animals as they shave, shear and shampoo their way through a series of challenges from grooming potbelly pigs to creating signature looks for participants of our first-ever doggie wedding.

This year’s contestants are:

Lisa – veteran groomer

Sherri – PTA mom

Michael – the confident groomer

Joe – “Chicken Joe”

Jessica – the girl next door

Huber –groomer with a heart

Danielle –groomer from the Bronx

Marco – all business

Krista – Vegas girl turned groomer

Cassandra – the spunky chick

William – the fashionista

Vanessa – the animal communicator

Beginning May 16, at 10 PM (ET/PT), Animal Planet will also be premiering BEVERLY HILLS GROOMER, a spin-off from Groomer Has It, featuring the 2008 Groomer of the Year, Artist Knox.

Listen to Jai Rodriguez on Animal Radio®



Swoosie Kurtz

Swoosie Kurtz is a two-time Tony award winning stage actress.   Her name, Swoosie, is derived from the airplane “Swoose” – half swan, half goose – which her father piloted in World War II.  Like most people, Swoosie states that animal move her deeply.  She sometimes even thinks that the animals are superior to us. 

Swoosie moved 17 times during school and lived in 8 different states due to her father’s job.  It was hard for her to have pets as a child because of this lifestyle.   Now, as an adult, she finds herself as a “serial pet person.”  It never fails that one seems to land on her lawn on in her backyard.   She once found a little dog in her front yard when she was in Los Angeles doing a series.  She looked for a tag and in the ads to see if she belonged to someone.   Her friends warned her not to get attached to the dog, as she may only be there overnight.   Swoosie then called her “Overnight” who ended up being with her for over 4 years. 

She then got a cat named Rose.  It seems that Rose lived down the block from her house but one day decided that she wanted to live with Swoosie instead.    She also has a cat named Myra who was rescued from an intersection in Los Angeles.   When she first saw her in the intersection, she thought it was a black bag blowing in the wind.  But, as it turned out it was a little black cat, who has now been with her several years.    She also feeds “Maury” a stray cat who shows up on her door, and also Myrna, a cat who lives across the streets.  She said that it is starting to look like Italy at her home with all of the stray cats just wandering around.  Swoosie now thinks that the neighborhood cats have rated her place with “4 Stars” as the place to hang out!

While she currently only has cats, she would love to have two or three gigantic dogs.  However, she is currently not in a place where she feels she can properly care for them, as she constantly travels back and forth from New York to Los Angeles.  Perhaps a small dog she can fit into her purse and carry to the set would work for her!

Listen to Swoosie Kurtz on Animal Radio®



Veterinary Pet Insurance Co. Reveals Top Ten Plant Poisoning Claims of 2008

Raisins, Mushrooms and Marijuana Top List of Toxic Plants Most Often Ingested 

The wrath of grapes was, unfortunately, all too familiar for many dogs and cats in 2008. Veterinary Pet Insurance Company (VPI), the nation’s oldest and largest provider of pet health insurance, recently analyzed the more than 400 claims it received last year for toxic plant ingestions to find which plants and plant products proved most likely to poison pets. Raisins and grapes topped the list, followed by mushrooms and marijuana. In 2008, the average amount claimed for plant poisoning was $427.  Top Plant Poisoning Claims of 2008:

1. Raisins/Grapes

2. Mushrooms

3. Marijuana

4. Lily

5. Walnuts

6. Onion

7. Sago Palm

8. Macadamia Nuts

9. Azalea

10. Hydrangea  

Almost all plant poisonings in pets can be prevented, but prevention depends on knowledge, thus it is important for pet owners to become familiar with which items can be toxic if ingested,” said Dr. Carol McConnell, vice president and chief veterinary medical officer for VPI. “Prevention is a simple matter of keeping these hazards out of a pet’s environment. To avoid plant poisonings, try not to give a dog table scraps that contain raisins, onions or nuts, and make sure that a new pet is introduced to a backyard free of sago palms, wild mushrooms or other toxic plants.”

Pet owners have good reason to take the threat of grape/raisin ingestion seriously. Even in low doses, ingestion can place pets at risk for acute renal failure. Symptoms include anorexia, lethargy, depression, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. The exact cause is unknown, but some experts think that there may be a toxic component in the skin of the grape/raisin. Treatment by a licensed veterinarian may include inducing vomiting and/or administration of intravenous fluids. Immediate treatment is essential.

The mushrooms most responsible for poisoning pets are the common “backyard” variety. These often grow in grassy places, especially after a heavy rain, and contain toxic components that disrupt the functioning of the digestive tract and liver. If ingested, mushrooms can cause salivation, dehydration, vomiting, diarrhea, and liver failure. The best way to prevent an accidental ingestion is to regularly scan a yard, or any other grassy area a pet may occupy, and pull wild mushrooms up when they appear.

Most mushroom ingestion claims were submitted in late summer and fall. In fact, half of the plant poisoning claims received in October were due to mushroom ingestion. In addition to the top 10 plant poisonings, VPI received claims for ingestion of the following plants or plant products: delphinium, crocus bulbs, hemlock, rhododendrons, gladiolus, tea tree oil, poison ivy, nightshade, tobacco, poinsettia, oleander, brunfelsia, hibiscus, almonds, scarlet pimpernel, potpourri and kalanchoe. Nearly all claims for lily ingestion were submitted for felines.

While not a plant or plant product, fertilizer is another garden variety toxin often ingested by pets. The strong smell of fertilizer can motivate dogs to taste or eat it. Unfortunately, some fertilizers contain organophosphate pesticides which impair the nervous system. In 2008, VPI received 60 claims for organophosphate poisoning. Pet owners can avoid accidents involving fertilizer by not using pesticide-containing fertilizers in an area frequented by pets. As with plant poisonings, prevention of fertilizer poisoning is primarily a matter of observation and knowledge of a pet’s environment. 

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