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 This Week on Animal Radio

Animal Radio for February 24, 2024  

You Can't See Them; You Can't Smell Them; But They Work!
Dr. Marty Becker, Pheromones

Marty BeckerAnimal Radio Veterinary Correspondent Dr. Marty Becker is back with the scoop on pheromones. Can the synthetically produced smell be helpful in calming cats and dogs, or is it a waste of money?

Everyone has heard about pheromones by now, but just what are they? Dr. Marty Becker explains. He tells us that the first research done on pheromones was on ants. It was discovered that ants have an incredible mix of around 16 different pheromones that they can whip up. These are one of the primary ways that they communicate with each other. It is now known that our cats and dogs also secrete pheromones for many different reasons.

The most common pheromones in cats are the feline cheek pheromone. You might see your cat rubbing against the couch or even your leg. This is sort of like them putting the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval on these items. This is done in the wild or in their environment for them to mark safe places. So if they need to escape quickly, they have marked a safe path.

You can purchase synthetic pheromones for cats and there are lots of ways you can use them. You can purchase Feliway as plug-ins, sprays (great for their bedding) and even collars. You can use them individually or even all three types at the same time. Pheromones are great for a multi-cat household. You probably have a certain amount of litters and a certain amount of high perches, food and water, so you can use pheromones to create a calm atmosphere (think of it as having people get together and giving them each 3 glasses of wine!) between all of the cats. You can even use them for inappropriate elimination for a cat that looks out the window and sees the new cat in the neighborhood and starts marking your house. It is also great for car travel, if you have to take your cat to the vet's or on a long road trip. There are also special plug-ins that can be adapted to your car's 9-volt plug. You can even use them on your furniture. Perhaps you bought a new couch and your cat starts marking it. If you spray it with pheromones, your cat should leave it alone.

For dogs, there is Adaptil, which contain synthetic pheromones that mimic substances naturally produced by animal mothers to soothe their babies. A mother dog naturally secretes this hormone, which keeps these babies calmly nursing side-by-side all in a row. This synthetic pheromone is great for new puppies or when introducing a new dog into the household.

FeliwayAdaptilDr. Marty Becker tells us that you can also get them in a wipe towelette form from your veterinarian prior to a vet visit. Before you bring your pet to the vet, you can wipe the carrier down, wipe your hands with it or wipe the leash. This will make a big difference to your pet.

Dr. Marty is a practicing veterinarian and admits that he wears pheromones while at work. He wears Feliway for cats on one side and Adaptil for dogs on his other side. The good thing is that they can't smell the other pheromones. This means that a cat can't smell dog pheromones and the dogs can't smell cat pheromones, and humans can't smell either one.

Just be careful when buying these pheromones. Make sure you purchase ones that have been clinically tested.

Dr. Marty Becker has assembled a dream team of almost 100 people in an advisory panel. This includes seventeen boarded behaviorists. Out of the seventeen, there are three that don't believe in these pheromones and say that enough research hasn't been done. This leaves about 14 of these people that believe in pheromones and their uses.

Visit Fear Free Happy Homes for tips on making your home fear free and to locate a Fear Free Veterinarian near you. Go to Fear Free Pets to become certified.

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How The Quest For Status Has Harmed Man's Best Friend
Michael Brandow, A Mater of Breeding

Michael BrandowIt's long been thought that mutts are much healthier, both mentally and physically, than those pure bred for pedigree. While there may be some truth to this, it is not always the case. Author Michael Brandow describes how the quest for status has harmed man's best friend.

As a dog walker in Manhattan, Michael Brandow tended to some of New York's most desired pets, but increasingly his subjects began to include bulldogs whose muscles bulged so large they couldn't walk and Frenchies struggling to breathe.

Observing countless purebreds suffering everything from hip dysplasia to epilepsy, to chronic vomiting, and informed by studies documenting a rising number of breed-specific health problems, Brandow realized that centuries of inbreeding, fueled by a quest for social status, had become an animal health and ethics crisis.

The focus on Brandow's book, A Matter of Breeding, is about how we were taught to believe that we need so-called purebreds in the first place. It is a history of dog shows and how that came about and how dogs were standardized into commercial types, with their coat colors and their head shapes, in a sort of catalog selection we've come to be familiar with.

But let's not forget about the mutt. Most mutts are actually healthier than purebreds. A lot of people don't know about studies, for example, that show that Golden Retrievers are dying of cancer at a rate of over 60-percent in this country. This is major news, but a lot of people aren't aware of it. Maybe it's the power of denial, which is the subject of Bandow's book, but he doesn't understand what could be strong enough to allow people to overlook that fact.

Why is this happening? Mainly because of inbreeding. The Golden Retriever, despite it's popularity and large numbers, would lead you to believe that you'd have more genetic diversity and better chances for better health. But with this addiction to lineage and aristocratic family background, it's one of the most closely inbred breeds.

A Matter Of BreedingAnimal Radio's Dr. Debbie states that she is a fan of both mixed breeds and purebreds. She feels that there is a place for purpose-bred dogs for some functions. Maintaining that line is an important thing so that we can make sure there is a predictability within a lineage, but she also agrees with Brandow that there is definitely an inheritance of genetic conditions in many purebreds. However, a study that was done out of UC Davis showed that 13 out of 24 genetic diseases were actually just as common in mixed breed and hybrid dogs as purebreds. So, we need to be a little bit careful when we say the mixed breed dog is superior in health because they still have those genetic markers, they just may be diluted and mixed in with some other things. You are not guaranteed that you are not going to get anything wrong with a mutt, you may actually get more things wrong.

While Brandow states that the study basically tied mixed breed and purebreds in 13 categories, purebreds still came out ahead in health problems in 10 of them and mutts were only higher for one. This means it's always dangerous to make blanket statements about mixed breeds versus purebreds. It says more about the industry that produces them than anything. Brandow doesn't say that mutts are inherently superior to purebreds in health, but he does say that the chances are better getting a random bred mutt. He also says that mutts are inheriting a lot of the illnesses that purebreds have because of what's been done wrong with purebreds.

Dr. Debbie states that there are people who are actually breeding responsibly and are performing genetic screenings, including veterinary screenings for heart conditions, and are keeping registries. She respects these people who are trying to ensure the health of future generations. This is a costly thing to do and takes a lot of time to ensure that their offspring don't have genetic problems. She also thinks its horrible when people just throw two dogs together and let them breed. These are called 'backyard breeders,' who mainly do it for the money. But for people who are doing things right and trying to eliminate genetic diseases, they are helping everybody.

Brandow states that you can't blame all of this on backyard breeders or even puppy mills. He has also seen many ill dogs from reputable breeders.

Bottom line is that people need to be more responsible so these dogs don't pay the price with devastatingly poor health.

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"HERO PEOPLE OF THE WEEK" - Alison Smith - Pet Pantry

AtticusThis week's Hero Person makes sure that those on welfare are able to feed their pets, as the law doesn't allow welfare recipients to buy pet food with food stamps. Allison Smith started the Pet Pantry, supplying resources for strapped pet owners.

Anyone who knows Alison Smith will tell you she is the definition of an animal lover and for years she dreamed of a pet pantry. Alison runs a horse rescue, Triple H Miniature Horse Rescue, and was receiving calls about all sorts of animals, including cats and dogs, from people who were having a hard time making ends meets. She put the idea of a pet pantry on the back burner, because there are shelters in her area, and she felt people had resources available to them. But it wasn't until she met her dog, a dog that no one would help with, that it really kicked off. Alison rescued her dog Atticus after he was found starving, because he had a face full of porcupine quills.

Because of this, Alison finally decided to make her dream cone true and start a pet pantry. Atti's Eats is not just a pet pantry. Alison also collects pet supplies like leashes, collars and beds. Everything collected is offered to the public who might be facing hard times, whether it's illness or being unemployed.

People seem to forget about when others are suffering financially, that it affects everyone in the household, including the pets. And while there is assistance available to people in hard times, such as welfare and food stamps, they do not allow you to purchase pet food.

Atti's Eats"We feel like it would be silly to have people who have pets that are loved and have homes have to surrender them because they have a temporary hardship, and take up a space in shelter where other dogs like Atticus or worse need those spaces and they're not available," Smith said.

Atti's Eats made it so you no longer have to decide whether to feed yourself or your pet. You can also buy your medication without worrying about whether or not your pet is going to eat. These people need to have a safety net of some sort and Alison hopes to be that net.

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When Pet Food Is Medicine - Dr. Debbie

Dr. Debbie WhiteProper pet nutrition is more than just diet choices for the healthy pet. It's even more important to properly feed the sick pet or those with chronic diseases. What you put in your pet's food bowl can help, or harm, his ability to cope with illness.

Peek into your average veterinary office and you'll likely find one or more brands of therapeutic diet foods created to manage pet specific pet health conditions. Veterinarians prescribe therapeutic diets to help pets with kidney disease, diabetes, pancreatitis, weight loss or heart disease. Special digestive diets may focus on hypoallergenic ingredients, fiber content or fat levels. Some diets prevent or dissolve mineralized stones in the urinary bladder. There are even diets to keep the spring in your arthritic dog's step and diets to aid in treating pets with cancer.

The grandfather of veterinary nutrition was Dr. Morris, who in 1940 designed a diet to improve longevity of his dog, Buddy, who was a seeing-eye dog battling kidney disease. His efforts led to the introduction to Hill's K/D diet, a favorite diet used today for dogs and cats with kidney dysfunction. Today, many more diets and conditions are addressed by companies such as Science Diet, Royal Canin, Purina and Iams.

As a veterinarian I recognize the value that therapeutic diets lend to managing my patients' health. But my strongest testament to their value is as a doggie momma who feeds a therapeutic diet to my own dog, Magnum.

My Labrador Magnum suffers from food allergies with frequent facial skin infections, bad skin odor, scratching and unpleasant gastrointestinal signs with diarrhea and flatulence. After several diet trials with various hypoallergenic diet approaches, he now thrives on a rabbit based therapeutic diet by Royal Canin. His doggie kisses are sweeter smelling now, he's content and he isn't a walking gaseous explosion anymore.

But be prepared to dig deeper in your wallet for therapeutic diets. The research behind these foods will cost the consumer more than average pet foods. But the investment can pay off in lower medical costs and fewer veterinary visits, justifying the additional cost. In Magnum's case, we are able to avoid continued treatment of skin infections, thereby avoiding medication use and he is spared incessant itching.

Lab with bowlSome pet owners turn to home cooked diets in order to avoid the costs of therapeutic diets. Without guidance and veterinary nutrition analysis, pet owners may risk shortchanging their pet's nutrition. One research study identified that over 90-percent of home prepared diets for sick pets failed to be nutritionally adequate. Quality ingredients aren't cheap and a well-produced home cooked diet often ends up costing far more to prepare than commercially produced therapeutic diets.

If your veterinarian recommends nutritional management with a therapeutic diet, discuss all the options with your doctor. Inquire about different brands and sizes of food packages available, as many choices are available. Get your money's worth on these diets by following your veterinarian's recommendations. Avoid mixing therapeutic diets with regular foods. This only hinders your pet's results and give you a false sense of saving money by making the food last longer.

As for Magnum, I choose to feed him his therapeutic diet and avoid popping pills into him. That's my gauge of a therapeutic diet success - food that serves like medicine in the doggie bowl, but without the hassles.

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." Dr. Debbie's books.

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Joey VillaniThe Dogfather's Grooming Tip with Joey Villani

How to Remove That Urine Smell From Your Pet
There are both cats and dogs that have a hard time, whether it's because of age or medical reasons, that can't hold their urine. It is hard enough to keep your carpets clean, but worse, pets are getting urine all over themselves. The odor then soaks into their coat or fur, and you can't get rid of the smell on them. But you can breath a sigh of relief (and fresh air) because there is something you can easily do, which is also cost effective.

It is commonly known that white vinegar cleans up urine smell, but most people don't know that you can also use this on your pet. This will neutralize the bacteria and get rid of the smell.

Odor is a bacterium that causes odor. That bacterium grows, allowing you to smell an odor. But with urine, you need to break it down enough so you can kill the bacteria. White vinegar will neutralize it and break it down.

Don't use white vinegar straight on your pet, as it might not be comforting for your pet's skin. It will also not smell any better, unless you like the strong smell of vinegar. You need to make a mixture. Start with distilled water. This is because the properties in distilled water lasts a little longer, and it won't break down as quickly and spoil as fast as tap water. Next, take a half of a cup of white vinegar and 1/8 of a cup of baking soda and mix it into the distilled water. The baking soda, mixed with the vinegar, will help break down the urine.

Dog and puddle of urineYou can then either spray it on or sponge it on your pet. If you do spray it on, it is best to then use a sponge or cloth to wipe it off so it is not tacky. Let it dry and brush it through. This should remove the urine smell.

If you still smell urine, you can do it over again. Plus, if your pet can't hold his urine, they may urinate on themselves several times a day, requiring another treatment. You can repeat this as much as you need to and it won't irritate your pet's skin, and will actually keep them comfortable, as we're pretty sure they don't like the smell either! You can even use this mixture on your floors.

Animal Radio News - Tammy Trujillo

Darin Welker and DuckCan A Duck Be a Therapy Animal?
We've heard of dogs and cats helping former military members deal with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), but for former Ohio National Guardsman Darin Welker, it was his ducks that did the trick. He was convicted of a misdemeanor and fined $50 for keeping 14 ducks at his home in West Lafayette. He then ended giving some of them away. Welker served in Iraq and was medically discharged from the Guard. He said the ducks maintained a calm environment and that is what he needed to deal with his PTSD. The town council though said he hadn't presented enough evidence that the ducks served a medical need and that he would face imminent harm without them. Local laws were amended to allow two therapy pets, but Welker was still above that amount and the council said that ducks weren't considered 'therapy animals' anyway.

What Did Coffee And Butter Have To Do With Pet Food?
JM Smucker, the huge company behind Smucker's Jam and a lot of other products, bought Big Heart Pet Brands. Big Heart made Meow Mix, Milk-Bone, Pup-Peroni and Kibbles 'n Bits. It's not the first time that a people-food company has bought a pet-food maker. Previously, the candy company Mars bought Iams and Eukanuba, adding to its pet-brand portfolio that already included Whiskas and Pedigree. Nestle makes all kinds of products and is the company behind Purina. These mega companies know a good deal when they see it. The sale of pet food nationwide keeps going up, reaching over $100-billion dollars. A consumer survey found that nearly 4 out of 5 pet owners said the quality of their pet's food was as important as their own.

Richard Brower and DozerMan Finds Missing Dog 18 Months Later While Searching For New Dog
Richard Brower's beloved German Shepherd, Dozer, was stolen out of this backyard. He looked everywhere. His motorcycle-riding buddies hit all the dog parks and even stopped people walking German Shepherds on the street looking for Dozer. Nothing. After a year-a-half, Richard decided to share his home with a new dog. He did an online search for 'German Shepherds For Sale,' which led him to the local animal rescue and right there was Dozer. The reunion had everyone crying, Richard, his sister and parents and even Dozer. Richard said the 125-pound dog came flying to him, put his head in his arm and started doing that wailing thing that German Shepherds do. Dozer had been at the shelter for about a month, where he'd been for the rest of the time he was missing was anyone's guess.

Tax Breaks For Pet Owners
It's that time of year again, time to start thinking about getting the taxes done and your pet might come in handy. Of course your cat is always available to help sort papers of lay down on them so they don't get moved, but there really are some more financially practical ways they can help your bottom line. For example, guide and guard dogs are potential write-offs. If pets figure into your profession or you have show animals, some of the expenses associated with caring for the animals can be deducted. If you foster pets, a portion of the cost of their food and care can be written off. And here's an interesting one, you can write off some tax dollars if you set up a trust for your pet, with most states allowing pet trusts.

BartZombie Cat In Custody Battle
We previously covered a story of Bart the cat that was hit by a car and buried but was actually still alive. Bart dug his way out and made it to his neighbors yard. He was badly hurt, but recovered amazingly well at The Humane Society of Tampa Bay in Florida. Bart then officially, and fondly, became known as the Zombie Cat. A few days after he arrived at the Humane Society, the group decided not to return Zombie Cat to his original home. His previous person had not only buried him, but had been unable to pay for his medical care afterwards.

Check In at Hotel - Check Out With A New Dog
If you stay at one hotel in North Carolina, you may end up meeting a new friend. A rescue called Charlie's Angels teamed up with Asheville's Aloft hotel, which was already a dog friendly hotel. A volunteer brings an adoptable dog and they greet people as they come into the hotel. If someone falls in love, they can put in an application to adopt that dog. There's also a short waiting period so people really think it through and don't adopt on a whim. Many dogs have found new homes through the hotel program. The program gives the dogs a chance to get out of the confines of a shelter, relax and really show their personalities. It's an idea that's catching on. One rescue out of Los Angeles started taking adoptable dogs for meet 'n greets at a retro clothing store.

Ear Listen to the entire Podcast of this show (#1264)

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