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 This Week on Animal Radio

Animal Radio for April 13, 2024  

Crimes and Lies About Pet Food
Susan Thixton, Truth About Pet Food

Susan ThixtonEvery time you enter the pet food aisle, manufacturers are vying for your patronage and their share of the 58 BILLION dollar pet-food sector. They will do just about anything to get your business, except make a truly human edible food for our pets. No wonder only five companies account for 67-percent of the marketplace. Susan Thixton will tell you the lies the pet food companies want you to believe.

Susan Thixton, dubbed the 'Caped Crusader for Safe Pet Food,' is a pet food safety advocate and believes pets deserve real food, not highly processed kibble or canned convenience food. Her website,, provides pet food education to pet parents all over the world.

You've seen them. You go to your local pet store and there are shelves full of food. What do you choose? Many of them have images of food that looks very appetizing, so you might purchase that food. But, think about it. Have you seen images of pet food labels with things like roasted chicken or grilled steak, where you can literally see the grill marks on the meat?

Susan tells us that there is not one pet food out there whose meat is roasted or grilled before it is made into pet food. So that is actually a lie and a violation of Pet Food Regulations, that no one enforces. Pet food is not regulated by 'food' laws. It is regulated by 'feed' law, such as cattle and chicken feed. Since the main purpose of 'feed' is to fatten the animal up as quickly as possible in preparation for slaughter and eventual consumption, 'feed' ingredients don't have to be as high a quality as 'food' ingredients.

Don't ever hesitate to call the manufacturer and ask if the pet food ingredients are "human edible." Don't ask if it is "human grade" because the manufacturer can twist those words into meaning something else.

Dinner Pawsible Book CoverSurprisingly, there are only a few actual pet food manufacturers and you might find many different brands actually made by the same company. This means that the food is pretty much all sourced from the same place, and if it is bad, then they are all bad foods.

There are FDA compliance policies that literally allow pet food companies to source meats from diseased animals and animals which have died other than by slaughter. This includes cows that have died out in the pasture and lay there for days until someone hauled it away.

From the major recalls in 2007 until now, nothing has changed. That same disaster could happen again at any time, as ingredients are still being sourced from China.

You must read the pet food labels carefully. They might have in large print, 'Made in the USA,' but if you look at the fine print, the ingredients actually may be from China.

To learn more about commercial pet food, read Susan's book 'Buyer Beware, The Crimes, Lies, and Truth about Pet Food' and subscribe to her free newsletter on

In her pet cookbook, "Dinner PAWsible," co-written with Holistic Veterinarian Cathy Alinovi, Susan and Dr. Alinovi have combined their medical training and industry knowledge to develop dozens of recipes for truly premium, healthy cat and dog foods. The best food to provide your dog and or cat is your food, which includes chicken, beef, fish, and a multitude of fresh vegetables. Susan states that most commercial pet foods are not even close to as healthy as a home-prepared meal for dogs and cats. So pick up a copy of the book and start cooking for your pet!

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Pet F.B.I. (Lost Pets Found by Internet)
Maresa Fanelli

Pet FBI LogoHarnessing the power of the Internet for good, Maresa Fanelli pioneered the pet lost and found database for Columbus, Ohio in 1998. Today, she's the driving force behind Pets Found By Internet, reuniting lost animals all across America. She explains how it works and families she's reunited.

In 1998, Maresa Fanelli started the Pet F.B.I. (Lost Pets Found by Internet), which was one of the first lost pet databases. Maresa lives in Columbus, Ohio and originally started it in her local area, as she felt they had to be intensive in order to get matches. At that time, not everyone had a computer in their homes like they do today. It was designed originally for shelters to use, but Marisa states that they are very slow in changing their ways.

The most traumatic experience in Maresa's childhood was when she lost her pet parakeet. She never got over it and swore she would never have another pet, as she didn't want to ever experience that pain again.

When Maresa got married, her husband, who is a cat person, insisted that they get some cats. She states the rest is history. They have now had many cats over the years, and every now and then despite all of the precautions, one will get out the door. They did end up losing a cat. Maresa called her local shelter and had this naive assumption that all she had to ask was if someone found a tabby in her neighborhood. But, it doesn't work that way. You have to physically go to the shelters every day and look for yourself. In this case, the shelter was on the other side of town and not so easy to get there every day. Plus, they are only open certain days of the week and certain hours of the day. This makes it very difficult for someone who works full-time.

A lot of people stop searching the shelter after a week or so. But, sometimes an animal will be on the loose for some length of time before someone catches them, which means they may not even end up in the shelter for several weeks or months.

Maresa originally set up her website to include a wide variety of lost animals. These included reptiles, birds, ferrets and small mammals of all types. She even included a category for "other" and has had farm animals reported as missing. One of the strangest lost pets was a tortoise that ended up over a mile away from home but was returned because of the post of Pet FBI. One of the longest missing pets, which was reunited with its family, was missing for nine months.

Lost and Found Pets In BoxThe Pet FBI is a state-of-the-art database, which is searchable by any zip code in the United States, including Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. You can also search it by radius. It is very flexible, allowing you to pick the distance from 1 mile, 3, miles, etc., allowing you to search as far as you think is necessary.

Maresa's tips for losing a pet are being proactive. You should have ID on your pet, they should be microchipped, and you should have a good, recent picture of them. You should also spay or neuter your pets. This will encourage them not to stray and stay closer to home. Plus, if there weren't so many animals in the shelters, it would be much easer to trace a lost pet and shelters would be able to hold on to them longer. And last, but not least, don't give up too soon. Most recoveries take place within a month, but it is not unusual for people to find their pet after several months, and in some rare cases, several years.

In October of 2002, they expanded their mission beyond lost-and-found information to include a spay/neuter outreach assistance program. Pet FBI OUTREACH was created to address the problem of pet overpopulation, which is one of the factors that makes the recovery of lost pets so difficult.

TNR (Trap-Neuter-Release) is also a major part of their program. OUTREACH provides hands-on and financial aid for elderly and limited income people and people who are caretakers for colonies of feral cats.

Pet FBI is so different from the many other lost and found pet databases. Pet FBI is strictly non-commercial and does not require users to register. All the services they offer are absolutely free and reports stay posted for up to 5 years unless the user inactivates it. Another difference is that they have a network of volunteers that will counsel and console people, and always welcome new volunteers and donations.

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It's Not Doggie Asthma - It's a Reverse Sneeze - Dr. Debbie

Dr. Debbie WhiteWhat dog owner hasn't heard that frightening sound that dogs make - part cough, part sneeze and often described as a dog being unable to catch his breath. But it really isn't asthma, or some kind of bone stuck in your dog's throat - it's a reverse sneeze. So before you panic and run into the veterinary office on emergency, ensure you know what a reverse sneeze is.

Meet the Reverse Sneeze
A reverse sneeze is a respiratory sound in a category all its own. Also known as a pharyngeal gag reflex or backwards sneeze, the reverse sneeze is a commonly observed respiratory sound in dogs and less commonly in cats. While a true sneeze occurs on the exhale, the reverse sneeze occurs as the dog inhales. The result is a reverberating snorting, wheezing, episodic sound that lasts for a few seconds to a minute or two. A reverse sneeze is a completely harmless sound and dogs do not suffer any immediate health threat from these episodes.

How can you tell it's a reverse sneeze?
There is no easy explanation of the sound - you just have to hear it and you'll recognize it. Click to see and hear an example of a dog's reverse sneeze episode.

Part of my enjoyment on the weekly national radio program, Animal Radio, is describing the peculiar smells, sounds and essences of veterinary medicine with our listeners. On many an occasion when speaking to callers, I have re-created the sounds of reverse sneezing. I'm no Rich Little, but I do take pride in my impersonation of a canine reverse sneeze, which is admittedly better in person with the visuals to complement the throaty sound.

Characteristics of a dog displaying a reverse sneeze include:

- Vibrational coughing/wheezing sound
- Stiff, extended neck
- Facial grimace
- No discharge from nose
- Not followed by coughing or vomiting up material
- Not involving collapse episodes
- Animal is completely normal after event

ChihuahuaWhat causes a reverse sneeze?
Some reverse sneeze episodes occur when a dog gets very excited or pulls against a leash. Brachycephalic breeds (short faced breeds) like Pugs and Boston terriers commonly display reverse sneezing due to their upper airway conformation.

Allergies, respiratory infections, nasal mites, inhaled foreign bodies and masses can also trigger reverse sneezing. Dogs with inflammatory conditions such as lymphoplasmacytic rhinitis can also display bouts of reverse sneezing. And sometimes reverse sneezing occurs in the wee hours of the night, while a dog is sleeping, for no apparent reason. In fact, many veterinarians receive panicked phone calls at 2am from pet owners, concerned of impending asthma attacks or respiratory arrest, only to have it turn out just to be a typical case of reverse sneezing.

What to Do?
There is no required treatment for a reverse sneeze episode. However, I recommend stroking a dog's throat while gently speaking to him in a calm manner until the episode subsides. Some advocate closing/pinching the nostrils off, which forces a dog to swallow and curtails the reverse sneeze episode. Whatever the approach, reverse sneezing episodes are over within minutes, so no emergency treatment is indicated. Antihistamines may be prescribed to minimize reverse sneezing episodes.

When to Worry?
If all of a sudden your dog is having repeated bouts of reverse sneezing, evaluation by your veterinarian is indicated. Consult with your veterinarian if your dog is reverse sneezing along with other symptoms such as facial rubbing, nasal bleeding, nasal discharge, coughing, or significant sneezing episodes.

Nasal mites are a common cause of reverse sneezing and may be noted after a recent boarding visit, especially if multiple dogs in a household are involved. Nasal mite treatment is easily pursued with anti-parasite injections of ivermectin (or in collie breeds - the alternative Milbemycin.) If reverse sneezing is excessive and prolonged, the nasal and pharyngeal areas should be evaluated by a veterinarian through rhinoscopy - a procedure performed under anesthesia in which the nasal passages and pharyngeal areas are visualized with an endoscope, a micro camera. This is how foreign objects and masses are typically identified. In other cases, further tests may be needed including a CT scan or with biopsy samples from sinus passages.

Final Thought
The good news is that most of reverse sneezing episodes are harmless, and do not indicate any serious illness. Arm yourself with information by learning what a reverse sneeze looks like and you may save yourself an unwanted emergency veterinary visit over this peculiar but non-life threatening occurrence.

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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Lori and FlobearAnimal Radio News - Lori Brooks

What's Better Than Kids And Their Pets?
A study by the Affinity Foundation on the emotional ties between children and pets in Spain showed that six in 10 kids say they believed spending time with animals helped them to learn to love and respect people more, and nine in 10 would be happy to give up part of their time to look after their cat or dog. Also in this study of children in Spain, EIGHT in 10 children said they would be prepared to give their toys to their family pet, and 94-percent said they 'feel happier' when they are in the company of their animals. Nine in 10 said they would rather have a pet than new toys or other material belongings, and 94-percent, when asked if animals had feelings and emotions, said they believed they did. This research supports several other international studies, which found that children have a natural attraction towards animals and feel comforted by their presence.

Pets Make Us Happier, Richer & Healthier
There's more research out showing that having a cat or a dog could make you happier, richer and healthier. Blue Cross pet charity conducted a survey of pet owners and found that they tend to earn nearly $5,000 a year more than those without an animal and were more likely to work full time. They were also happier in general, spent more time with their families and had jobs they enjoyed. In fact, 10-percent more pet owners agreed they were 'definitely' truly happy in their current job roles compared to non-pet owners. Researchers found pet owner were also more fit and healthy as they completed at least two hours more exercise a week than those who didn't have any pets.

MoosieCat Survived 2-Month Move in Mattress
Moosie was a 2-year-old gray tabby cat that was reunited with his family after he miraculously survived a two-month journey trapped inside a mattress when his owners moved from Texas to Alaska. A moving company left with the military family's belongings, while the family stayed behind and spent three more days in Texas searching for Moosie. Turned out, Moosie was already en route to Alaska inside a futon mattress in the moving truck. The couple was reunited with the cat when the family's belongings arrived in Alaska and the movers unwrapped the mattress and carried it upstairs. They rushed Moosie to a vet where he was rehydrated and received a blood transfusion.

Rodent Traps Kill Pets
There's a warning for pet owners after a cat was found with its head stuck in a rodent trap. It happened in England but pet owners everywhere are being asked to look out for traps that can also kill smaller pets such as cats and dogs. The cat, which was seriously injured, was caught in a Fenn trap, meant for squirrels and rats. Luckily, the cat was found and rescued by a good samaritan. Since the incident in England, the SPCA has called on people to be aware that setting these traps could be breaking the law. While not illegal if the traps kill rodents, but if the trap kills a domestic animal, the owner could be prosecuted by the police.

Ear Listen to the entire Podcast of this show (#1271)

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