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 This Week From The Redbarn Studios

Animal Radio for March 26, 2022  

Pet Sitter To The Stars
Laura Vorreyer, The Pet Sitter's Tale

Laura Vorreyer with DogsLaura Vorreyer is a pet sitter for celebrity pet owners and their furry companions and she says that some of her clients have large requests when it comes to their pets. Laura even tells us about a popular singer who tested her songs on her dogs to see if they would be a hit.

Laura explains that there are so many celebrities in the Los Angeles area, that this is not unusual to have them as client. If you live in Hollywood and are a pet sitter, you're going to get a celebrity. It would be crazy if you didn't.

When Laura cares for these pets, since she is so close to the beach, does she ever take them there? Surprisingly, she hasn't taken any celebrity dogs to the beach. She thinks for the most part they'd rather do that themselves, because it's a fun thing. And then again, some of them have their own beach properties.

However, Laura does take her dog to the beach and he loves that. Laura knows that when it comes to pets, the saltwater and the sun can be a dangerous place and you have to be certain that your dog's not getting sunburned or dehydrated.

It's no surprise that Laura puts sunscreen on her dog. Her dog is a short-haired Chiweenie (Dachshund Chihuahua mix). She applies the sunscreen on the tips of his ears and his nose and any other place that he might get sunburned. She says there is nothing worse than your dog being in pain and whimpering. Then there are the vet bills. So if you just take a little bit of precaution, it really is going to help them have a better time and not get hurt.

Remember when using sunscreen on your pet to make sure it is for pets only. You can't use human sunscreen that contains zinc or PABAS on your dogs. They are toxic to your dog. Your dog might lick it, even if it doesn't taste good. You want to make sure that it's veterinarian prescribed or it says good for pets. So you want to make sure that you're using a sunscreen that is good for dogs. In a pinch, you can use sunscreens that are good for babies because they won't have the zinc or the PABAS in them.

Dogs also like to drink that saltwater, but you want to supply plenty of fresh water for them. A couple of laps aren't going to hurt them, but if they drink too much salt water, they can get sick. So you want to make sure you supply plenty of fresh water for them to drink.

You think that a dog would regulate salty water intake, but sometimes they don't. There is always that dog that just laps up the whole bowl of water or eats everyone's food. So you've really got to just watch your dog, because while a couple of laps wouldn't hurt him, but too much salt water can kill him.

You might also want to provide a little shade for your dog. Laura actually sets up a little pup tent for her dog. She wants to make sure that he has shade. You should also be aware that when the sand gets hot, their paws can get blistered and burn. Just take precautions.

The Pet Sitters Tale Book CoverDr. Debbie tells us that she often times sees dogs sunburn on their bellies of dogs that like to sunbathe. There is a real susceptible area in the groin. So you might want to even think about SPF clothing for dogs. It sounds crazy, but sometimes a little bit of a barrier or just common sense and don't let them sunbathe in that nice hot sun.

Chronic exposure in high intense sun can lead to sunburn. If your dog is a big sun worshipper, maybe have them avoid those peak times of the day when it's going to be most intense.

So can your dog build up a tolerance to the sun? Can they get a tan like we do so they don't burn? Dr. Debbie states absolutely not! Anything that they develop is going to be more of what is called solar dermatitis. This is a redness, kind of a dry crustiness, which can be a precursor to cancer. So don't to try to build up a tan on your white dog. It's not going to happen!

Laura tells us she has had so many people come to her and say that she should write a book because her stories about pet sitting are crazy! They can't believe what people would do for their pets and how much money that they would spend on them. She finally put her book together after thinking about it for a long time, which took forever. She claims it took her 15 years to get the stories down.

In her book, The Pet Sitters Tail, Laura has written about some of celebrities and their "pet-capades." She tells us most of them were fine with being in the book, but when something was really outlandish, she wouldn't list their name. Most celebrities have pets and they love them. They're part of their family. They are their furry children and they don't mind if you say how much they love their pets, because we all love our pets!

Do these celebrities ever ask Laura to go above and beyond the normal call of duty? She tells us, absolutely! Let's face it, celebrity pets have private chefs and even chauffeured drivers. They also get their hair and nails done because they're going to a paw party or they're going to get married. It's like anything that we do for our pets, but to the 10th degree.

Laura thinks it's so crazy that people are so over the top in love with their pets, especially people that don't have human children. Celebrities are no different. They have busy schedules and it's difficult for them to sometimes get close to people because they're busy, they're working, they're traveling, so they just adore their pets. They sleep with their pets and they cook for their pets and they baby their pets. They put their pets in strollers and they dress their pets. They do all sorts of stuff for their pets.

However, the craziest thing that Laura had happen was with a very famous celebrity who was a singer. She wouldn't tell us her name, but said she is a pretty famous singer and she's even more famous now then when they got started. Laura tells us that the line between pet sitter and friend kind of blurs when maybe they don't have too many friends and you are there a lot taking care of their pets and you talk. So it kind of overflows and they sometimes ask her to stay and have dinner, or give her tickets or maybe even ask her if she can help them try on some dresses for the Emmys. Well, this one particular woman was a very famous singer and she was trying out some of her songs. She thought that she could tell if her songs we're going to be a hit if the dogs liked them when she sang them. To be certain, she would have Laura sing her songs to her pets while they were eating. If they stopped eating, they didn't like her songs and they weren't going to be hits. So while her dogs were eating, Laura would sing her songs to the pets to make sure that they didn't stop eating while she was singing. Laura tells us that nobody stopped eating. However, she's never seen this celebrity's dogs stop eating.

To read about this celebrity and other celebrity stories, check out "The Pet Sitter's Tale."

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Are All Of Those Blood Tests Really Necessary?
Dr. Fred Metzler, Fear Free

Dr. Fred MetzlerHas your veterinarian ever recommended an expensive battery of blood tests for your pet? Dr. Fred Metzger explains why these blood tests are needed to really understand your pet's health, even when they're healthy. Since our pets cannot speak English, veterinarians rely upon blood to tell the story.

Dr. Fred Metzger is the Medical Director of the Metzger Animal Hospital. As a veterinarian, he has to tell his patients a lot of things that don't necessarily make them happy. One of them is that there is an expensive blood test that needs to be done. What is so important about these blood tests and why should we whip out our wallets for them?

It's pretty obvious that animals can't talk, so in a lot of ways they're going to talk to us through blood testing. He says that the majority of the diseases that dogs and cats get are very similar to the ones that humans get. So blood tests are how you diagnose most diseases like diabetes, hypo-thyroidism and certain types of cancer. If you don't run the blood test, including a lot of times along with a urinalysis, there's just no way you can diagnose them. So one component of blood testing is diagnosing disease. The other is using it as an early detector for things coming on. In other words, watching certain analytes in the blood change over time as animals age, give us some ideas that something might be wrong.

When your veterinarian tells you it's going to cost $300 for these blood tests, are they padding the bill? Dr. Metzger says look at human medicine. For example, his doctor wants to test his blood every year. He says it's literally the same test as our pets get. So actually, your vet is giving you an unbelievable deal, because not only does the vet have to collect the blood and perform the testing, they also have to interpret it to the client.

One thing Dr. Metzger likes so much is that he is able to run the tests in his own hospital. That way he can discuss it with the pet owner and they can talk about what those tests mean and also what they're going to do. Again, think about human medicine. You get your blood drawn at a different location and then you hope someone calls you back, right? A lot of times you don't even know if the doctor looked at the lab work. Then the nurse or the technician calls you and says the doctor looked at the lab work and they said everything looks okay. Still, you're wondering, did anyone ever even look at the lab work?

In Dr. Metzger's office, he is there looking at your dog right then and in 15 minutes he can do the complete blood count, the biochemical profile and the urinalysis. He can then come back into the room while your dog or cat is still there and he can talk about what he found. He finds that very helpful and it's completely changed the way veterinarians diagnose disease. Unfortunately Dr. Metzger sincerely feels that you're better off being a sick dog or cat in this country than a person.

Blood Draw on Dog Animals that seem perfectly normal and look perfectly healthy should have blood testing done according to Dr. Metzger. The key is that you have to remember when you're looking at all these tests is the way the normal ranges are developed is the same in all humans. However for cats and dogs, you have to think about all the different breeds that they have to deal with and the different ages. There's quite a variability in the normal analytes testing. For example look at glucose or blood sugar. In people, it's a very narrow range, something like 80 to 90. However, in a dog or cat, it could be something like 70 to 140, which is a wide range.

So the reason he likes to run blood tests on pets when they're normal, is he can then determine what's normal for that animal. This is because we know a lot of the tests just are not going to change over time and that way he doesn't over-interpret. For example, his dog Sophie normally runs 130 on the blood glucose, which is kind of the high normal. But if he checks it every year and it's running 120 to 130, that's normal for her. It's very important to determine what's normal for your pet and that's why it's so important to run blood work on them when they're healthy so you can build really a photo. Dr. Metzger likes to tell people when he's drawing blood today; he's taking a photo of your pet's blood. And really what he wants to do over the lifetime is build a movie.

Dr. Metzger's dream, which will never happen according to him, is that the pet owners would let him perform a blood profile every year on every pet. The reason that would be important is to look for early changes, especially in things like kidney disease and blood sugar. We know right now that especially in animals over three years of age, about 25-percent of those animals are going to have a significant abnormality on their blood work and is frequently conditions we wouldn't be able to diagnose without the blood work.

Are there some diseases that a veterinarian can detect by just smelling the breath of an animal? Dr. Metzger explains that there are a few diseases they can smell on the animal's breath. He says you can usually smell dental disease. Also, in the old days, if you have diabetic ketoacidosis, so that's a dog or cat that has diabetes that's very advanced, they produce these things called ketone bodies (so do people if they're very sick), which has a sweet smell that you can smell on their breath. Dr. Metzger claims that we are way beyond that in veterinary medicine at this stage where we're not going to really worry about smelling the breath to diagnose something like diabetes.

So until our animals start speaking English to us, we're going to have to do the blood test to figure out what's going on with them. And when you look at what blood tests give us as far as an insight into our pets, it's an unbelievable amount of information and money well spent.

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.

Listen and Explore the Fear Free Expert Series

High Tech Dog Kennels
Rebecca Eyre, DogSpot

Rebecca EyreIf Rebecca Eyre gets her way, you'll never again see a dog tied up outside a retail or food establishment. She says "Dogspot," a climate controlled parking spot for your dog uses the smartphone app where you can gain access to a safe and secure dog locker fitted with UV lamps and cameras. So many questions, so little time.

Rebecca tells us that DogSpot is basically the fanciest doghouse you've ever seen. It is the safest, cleanest place to leave your dog if you're going to leave them unattended for some reason. DogSpot are kennels that sit outside of places that dogs aren't allowed. Rebecca tells us that 57-percent of businesses are prohibited by federal health code from allowing dogs inside. So even if they want to be dog friendly, they're not allowed to be. So DogSpot is for businesses that want to accommodate dogs and have those customers not pass them by or leave their dogs tied up outside or even in the car, all of which are definitely dangerous. DogSpot is a safe alternative.

DogSpot is an APP based technology, similar to car2go or a bike share. If you have an account, you can use it to open a DogSpot house, like it's the key to the house. There is also a camera inside so you can keep an eye on your dog while you're away. There are also UVC lighting that cleans like the hospital grade cleaning technology between each session, so you can trust that the house has been sanitized.

What if your dog poops? Most people know that dogs typically will not go to the bathroom in a small space that they're currently occupying. In years of operating DogSpot in New York, it has not been a problem. However, all of the houses are Internet connected so DogSpot is watching every session personally. They have sensors on the houses so they can tell if something like that has happened. If so, DogSpot would just take it offline and send one of their technicians to clean it before anyone else uses it.

DogSpot kennels also stay cool, as they are air-conditioned. With all these heat waves coming up the country, it's a really amazing feature that people are very excited about. It's also heated in the winter. Temperature sensors are there to keep the temperature regulated year round.

Has anyone every put anything in a DogSpot kennel other than a dog? Rebecca says no. But if someone were to put something non-dog in it, they would know right away because they are watching every session. Also, the sessions are thirty cents per minute. So as far as people doing kind of devious things, that's sort of an expensive prank. You're not going to leave something random in it. Also, a lot of people are worried about dogs getting abandoned and that's just so unlikely, because it would be a very expensive dog abandonment if you want to think about it that way.

DogSpotTo use DogSpot, do you have to make a reservation? Rebecca says you can reserve them for 15 minutes in advance. However, you can just walk right up to one and use it if it's available.

Some dogs have separation anxiety. Has a stressed-out dog ever damaged a DogSpot? Rebecca explains that DogSpot is designed like the design of a car. They're so heavy; they're so sturdy; there's nothing a dog could get caught on or claw at. However, there have been a couple of dogs that got nervous and barked. If DogSpot notices a dog is barking a lot, they will call the dog owner and let them know that their dog is barking and that they should come back and check on them. Most of the time that's the kind of behavior that a dog will stop doing after about 10 minutes or so.

In order to use DogSpot, you need to sign up and download the APP. You will then also be able see where they are located and where new locations are coming.

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What's Your Vet-iquette - How to Be a Good Veterinary Client - Dr. Debbie

Dr. Debbie WhiteSure you think your vet visits go off without a hitch, but do you know how to be a good veterinary client, the kind veterinarians rave about? Follow these suggestions to participate as a vital part of your pet's medical care, to ensure your pet gets the most efficient care, and to always be greeted with beaming smiles.

Be Prepared
Before you arrive at the office with a sick pet, know your pet's ins and outs. Without a pertinent history from you, your veterinarian may need more diagnostic tests to sleuth out the answer to the problem. That takes time and can cost you more in veterinary bills.

Expect the questions your vet is likely to ask you. Has your pet been eating? What types and brand of food do you feed him? Is there diarrhea or constipation?

Bring Evidence
Nothing is more useful to your veterinarian as seeing something with her own eyes. Bring evidence like stool samples, vomited material, and medications your pet is receiving. Has your pet chewed on some unusual plant in the backyard? By all means bring a sprig of that plant.

Document video on your smart phone. This can be immensely helpful to your veterinarian to witness behaviors that may be intermittent. I've been thankful when owners bring smart phone video of seizures, separation anxiety behaviors, and respiratory ailments.

Video eliminates misinterpretation by pet owners, and can permit a quick veterinary diagnosis. Vomiting and regurgitating may look similar, but are caused by different disorders. Pets strain to defecate with both diarrhea and constipation. Inspiratory wheezing, coughing, congestion and reverse sneezing are often described similarly by owners.

Trust Valid Resources
By all means do your research in advance of your veterinary visit. Know what questions to ask. But remember that the internet is abounding with both good and blazingly incorrect information, some based on opinions and conjecture without any sound medical basis. Pet owners who value Dr. Google's opinion over their veterinarian, who has examined their pet, could put their pet's health care in jeopardy.

Confine Your Pet
Make sure your pet is secure before entering the veterinary hospital. Don't underestimate the unpredictable things pets do in a noisy, crowded waiting room. Birds fly off shoulders landing in snack zone of nearby dogs. Dogs instigate fights, and cats flee the waiting veterinary staff's arms. Pay attention to where your pet is and don't allow your pet to approach other animals without the owner's consent. Some animals are there because they are sick, and could bite in unfamiliar surroundings.

Dogs should be on a secure leash. Flexi leashes are dangerous in the veterinary hospital allowing dogs to bolt quickly toward another dog, or to entangle limbs of humans or other animals in the waiting room. Cats and exotic pets should be secured in an appropriate pet carrier.

If you have a pet that has been or could be aggressive to veterinary staff…absolutely share that information before the visit starts. Veterinarians look out for the safety of people in their employment and appreciate a heads-up in advance to avoid potential staff injury.

Cat at Vet OfficeOptimize Your Face Time
So now you are in the exam room with the doc, so make the most of it. Put the cell phone away and, by all means, don't waste time taking a phone call if medical staff is standing in front of you.

Avoid distractions that will limit your ability to communicate with your veterinarian. This might include a roomful of boisterous children or other pets. If possible, arrange child care or pet sitting so your sick pet gets prime attention and you don't miss any details of the visit.

Emergencies Happen
At the vet office, we recognize how valuable pet owner's time is and try to minimize the wait. But recognize that emergencies are unforeseen and create delays for other pet owners. Most folks understand that emergencies happen and are accommodating during situations as this.

But making a scene or outburst about your wait time, while the veterinary staff tends to a critical pet is just inconsiderate. Recognize that one day your pet could be in that same place and you would be appreciative that your pet's medical emergency was triaged ahead of the waiting routine appointments.

Don't Attack the Messenger
Emotions can run high when you have a sick or injured pet, but it isn't an excuse to be abusive to hospital staff. Obscene language and overly aggressive behavior doesn't help your pet get the care she needs, nor does it endear yourself to those people working hard for your pet's health.

Own Your Own Reality
Pet owners have the daunting responsibility for the health and well-being of pets in their care. That means accepting the level of veterinary care you can pursue, and recognizing choices if finances are limited. Pet insurance can help defer the cost of veterinary care, but there isn't government sponsored Obamacare for pets.

Don't blame your veterinarian for your pet's health maladies, or expect her to cover the costs of treatment. People in the veterinary field do what they do because they love animals, but they shouldn't be expected to take financial responsibility for everyone's pets. I once heard a veterinary colleague respond to an client's question, "Doc, why can't you just do my Sasha's surgery for free?" His response was, "Because my staff needs to get paid and my kids need shoes." Recognize that veterinary offices aren't lending institutions, but rather are small businesses with pressing bills, just as anyone.

Share Your Feedback
Share feedback with the hospital management about service excellence or shortcomings. Every hospital appreciates the opportunity to improve, or the chance to pat staff on the back.

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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Animal Radio News - Lori Brooks

Lori and Flo BearGuardian Angels Start Animal Protection Program
The anti-crime Guardian Angels, known for patrolling the city's subways in the 70's and 80's, started an Animal Protection program in Sunset Park, New York, that cares for feral cat colonies and puts them on purr-trol fighting rats in neighborhoods. Owners of rat-infested buildings can partner with the group to give space for feral cats to eat and drink. So far, the Guardian Angels have built outdoor housing for their new four-legged members and take care of spaying and neutering. Aside from getting rats off the city streets, the group also hopes the cats will help curb violent crime as well. Studies have shown animal abuse can be an early indicator in a person committing violent crimes in the future, so the group will tap into children to help as "caretakers" for the colonies in an effort to teach them empathy for the cats.

Ludvig Water DispenserIkea Recalled Water Dispenser After Death of Two Dogs
Ikea's Lurvig water dispenser seemed like a great idea until two dogs died after getting their heads stuck in the device. Ikea issued a global recall and warned that it can become a deadly trap if your small pet inserts its head up the dome-shaped water container. The water dispenser is made up of two components. Its bottom serves as a water bowl and the base for a transparent container that holds water and ends in a dome sitting on the base. The Lurvig product line includes everything from leashes, collars and bowls, to cathouses, dog beds and poop bag dispensers. It's one of several recent strategic steps Ikea has made towards transforming itself from a furniture company to a lifestyle brand.

Potatoes and Lentils in Dog Food Linked To Heart Disease
There's information out from the Food and Drug Administration's Center for Veterinary Medicine, which investigated what's likely a large part of your dog's diet. Potatoes and legumes, such as peas and lentils, used as protein sources in many dog foods including those labeled grain-free or vegetarian, may be linked to canine heart disease. The agency researched dogs that developed dilated cardiomyopathy, or DCM, which is a disease of a dog's heart muscle and often results in congestive heart failure. In the cases, which were under investigation, the dogs were fed foods with peas, potatoes and lentils as main ingredients. A genetic predisposition for DCM is typically seen in large and giant breed dogs, such as Great Danes, Newfoundlands, Irish Wolfhounds, Saint Bernards and Dobermans. The disease is less common in small and medium breed dogs, with the exception of Cocker Spaniels. However, recently reported atypical or unusual cases have included Golden and Labrador Retrievers, a Whippet, a Shih Tzu, a Bulldog and Miniature Schnauzers as well as mixed breeds. Early reports from the veterinary cardiology community indicated that the impacted dogs consistently ate foods containing peas, lentils, other legume seeds or potatoes as main ingredients in their primary source of nutrition for time periods ranging from months to years. Because of the small number of cases, researchers said it was too early to determine an exact cause.

Smuggled EggsMan Smuggled 19 Endangered Eggs on Plane
At London's Heathrow Airport, custom agents arrested a man who had 19 large eggs packed into a body belt he was wearing. Two of those eggs were newly hatched South African vulture chicks. The remaining eggs were identified as other South African raptor species such as eagles, hawks and kites, all of which are protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) agreement. The eggs were likely smuggled for sale in pet markets in Thailand and the Middle East.

Aggressive Deer Killed Pets
The Georgia Department of Natural Resources previously warned residents about aggressive deer after reports of them attacking, and even killing, pets in Peachtree City, Georgia. In one case, a video of the moments leading up one of the attacks showed a deer seemingly without fear as it lurked around a group of people and a dog, but the video shut off before the attack on the dog. While deer are not known for their aggressive nature, they are wild animals. One expert says while the attacks are unusual, they were likely the reaction of a protective doe during the peak birthing season of June and July. Even so, protective does are not predators and if you turn and run away they should not chase you.

EarListen to the entire Podcast of this show (#1164)

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