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 This Week on Animal Radio

Animal Radio for June 29, 2024  

Dean Koontz is Back
Dean Koontz, Ask Anna

Dean Koontz and AnnaThe award-winning, best-selling author Dean Koontz returns to Animal Radio airwaves to tell us the story about his dog, Anna. According to Dean, Anna purchased a computer and started answering advice emails.

Dean tells us that his Golden Retriever Anna went online and bought herself a computer. Anna kept the computer in Dean's exercise room, which she knows he won't go into if he can help it. By the time Dean found out, Anna had been giving advice to dogs all over the country, even though the ones that need it the most is humanity!

Anna is Dean's second Golden Retriever. Like his first Golden, Trixie, Anna also came from Canine Companions for Independence, which provides assistance dogs for people with severe disabilities. His first dog Trixie was in service but failed out because she had to have surgery on her elbow and was no longer able to work after that. But with Anna, she made it through 22 months of 24 months of education to be an assistance dog but they could not break her from being distracted by birds, which could be disastrous if you are tied to a wheelchair!

If you are familiar with Dean's books, you will know he has a dark side. However, he tells us that there is no dark side to Anna's writing, as there is no dark side to a golden retriever!

Ask Anna book coverDean's first dog Trixie was also a writer, but Anna was adamant that she was never going to be a writer, as one in the family was more than enough. However, writing seems to run in the Koontz household. Deans says if you live with him long enough, you are going to start writing! Trixie wrote three books and Dean wrote a book about Trixie called A Big Little Life.

So of course Anna has her own book of advice, Ask Anna. From insecure Labrador Retrievers to depressed Great Danes, fending off admirers to contemplating the wonderful creation of the tennis ball, and everything else in between, Anna provides encouragement, a little bit of mockery, and great reminders of the canine supremacy over both felines and humans.

Dean doesn't know where all of this 4-footed writing is going to go, but dog lovers of all ages appreciate ASK ANNA's humorous insight coupled with expressive, adorable photographs. Even more so, they appreciate that the profits from their purchase will be given to Canine Companions for Independence, which provides assistance for people with disabilities.

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How Good Is Your Dog Food?
Dr. Mike Sagman, Dog Food Advisor

Pet Food AisleDr. Mike Sagman was a dentist until he gave that up to create an unbiased website that reviews every pet-food on the market. Nobody is in his pockets, although they try. He's here to tell us how pet-food manufacturers deceptively use loopholes to make their label read better. Find out how your food stacks up.

Mike Sagman is Editor and Creator of The Dog Food Adviser, which is published as a public service to help you make a more informed decision when shopping for dog food.

Mike became passionate about canine nutrition as the result of a personal tragedy. In the late 1990's, he and his wife were watching television when they saw a story about a dog abuse case. It caught him at just the right moment, a time when he recently had lost his dog, so he decided to adopt the abused dog. Because of the severe abuse she had been through, he said it was one of the most difficult experiences he had. He and his family spent a considerable amount of time nursing her back to health and named her Penny.

But suddenly in 2007, she got very sick and ended up being a victim of the largest pet food recall in U.S. history, of over 100 different brands of food, because they were tainted with melamine, which was added to the wheat gluten. This was added to intentionally defraud the actual manufacturers, by making it look like the products contain more protein than they actually did. The result killed thousands of dogs.

So, after that heartbreaking experience, he made it his personal goal to never again let anything like that happen to any dog in his care, and to make sure what happened to Penny could never happen to your dog either.

The industry is making it harder to evaluate dog food, because they keep releasing more kinds of food. These include grain free and gluten free.

They also confuse us with dog food labels. The law requires that the ingredients on labels (even for human foods) be listed in order of the pre-cooking or dry weight. But it is very misleading. You have probably heard not to buy pet food that doesn't list meat as the first ingredient. It is so easy for the industry to fool us on this one. For example, you might have a product, which is mainly grain like rice, which could make up 60 percent of the product. That would then make meat obviously not the first item. But, they take that rice and divide it into different types such as brown rice and brewers rice. What they have accomplished by doing this is that now each type of rice compiles about 10 percent, so now the meat is moved to the number one ingredient, even though 'rice' is still the major ingredient.

The Dog Food Advisor is a blog written and edited by Mike and his staff. The views and opinions expressed here are presented in good faith and are strictly their own.

They do not accept money or samples from pet food companies in exchange for special consideration in the preparation of their reviews or ratings. They tell everyone not to send them food, and if they do receive product, they don't open it and immediately send it back.

The Dog Food Advisor's approach to evaluating dog food is based upon one important principle: No dog food can ever be magically better than the ingredients that were used to make it. That's why it's so important for you to know what's actually in your dog's food before you buy it. And the only reliable way we know to do that, is to carefully examine the label.

So, how does your dog food rate? Check it out!

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Become A Better Friend To Your Cat
John Bradshaw, Cat Sense

John Bradshaw with catsJohn Bradshaw is arguably the top expert on cats. He's back to dispel myths and tell us what goes on inside the head of our kitties. For instance, did you know cats can hear very-low and very-high frequencies? While cats can't see in the dark, they can see only a few colors well in dimly lit areas.

Cats have been popular household pets for thousands of years and their numbers only continue to rise. Today there are three cats for every dog on the planet, and yet cats remain more mysterious, even to their most adoring owners. Unlike dogs, cats evolved as solitary hunters, and, while many have learned to live alongside humans and even feel affection for us, they still don't quite 'get us' the way dogs do, and perhaps they never will.

In Cat Sense, renowned anthrozoologist John Bradshaw takes us further into the mind of the domestic cat than ever before. He can answer age-old questions like, does a cat always land on its feet?

John says its true, because cats have the most extraordinary reflexes, but how they evolved them, no one knows. When a cat falls, provided they have time to spin around and correct themselves, they will land on all four feet. But if the fall is too short, less than 6 to 10 feet, the cat may not have time to correct itself. While hard to believe, cats actually get injured from shorter falls more often than if they fell from greater heights, like 12 to 15 feet.

Another question is why do fireman have to rescue cats from trees? They climb up there, why can't they climb down? The reason is because of the way their claws face. Their claws face backwards, which enable them to catch things, but aren't very good for climbing. Too bad they can't figure out that they can just turn around and come down backwards!

There is a South American cat species called a margay, which actually lives in trees and its hind feet are double-jointed, so they can actually twist them around and point them backwards to walk down a tree.

We've all seen the glowing eyes of a cat in the dark, but can they see better than us? They can see better than us in the dark. Years ago, wild cats didn't have much to do in the daytime, so they evolved hunting in the half-light at dusk and dawn in the moonlight. Of course, our domesticated cats no longer have to hunt for their food, but they still have their ancestor's eyes, which are large. In fact, cats' eyes are almost as large as a human eye, but they appear so much larger because they are in a much smaller skull. They do see some colors. They also love the sunshine, but will blink because it hurts their eyes, as their eyes are much more sensitive than ours.

Cat Sense book coverCan cats hear better than we can or better than dogs? They may not be better at hearing, but they are able to hear high-pitched sounds (squeaking mice) and low-pitched sounds (men talking). They shouldn't be able to hear men, because their ears are smaller than ours and they have a special designed inner chamber of the ear. No one knows why they have this special chamber, but it allows them to listen to men as well as women. If they didn't have this chamber, they would only be able to hear women and they would completely ignore men.

We discussed the background of one of the cats here at the Animal Radio Studios, named 'Uh-Oh.' Her feral mother gave birth on our balcony and we were able to pull the kittens from her at the age of 4 weeks and bottle-fed them, so they could be socialized. 'Uh-Oh' is now overly affectionate and thinks that Host Hal Abrams is her mother!

If a kitten doesn't meet a person at all until they are 8-9 weeks of age, it can be pretty difficult to turn around. After 9 weeks, their social preferences are pretty much fixed. However, it doesn't take a great deal of contact from a human. They can simply go to the nest where the kittens are and pet them a few times before they are 8 weeks of age. This sort of opens up the window and allows them to go on learning about humans and how to interact with them.

So in the case of our studio cat, 'Uh-Oh,' she got the early attention and then at four weeks received some pretty intense interaction. As a result, she turned into a more attentive cat than the average cat. But, it is crucial that they experience a kind human hand before they are 8 weeks old.

It was also surprising to learn that the placement in the womb can affect a cat's personality after birth. This happens when a female baby cat is between two males in the womb. The very early male hormones produced by the male kittens will leak out of the amniotic fluid and into the female. When she is born, she will play a bit rougher like a male kitten. This does not mean she will be a masculinized cat for her whole life, she is still a female. And if you happen to get a litter of all female cats, which is pretty rare, they are much gentler and much less rambunctious in their play.

What about the myth that all white cats are deaf? While this is not true, many white cats are deaf. This is because the gene for deafness is very close to the gene for the white coat. Many deaf cats are not good mothers, as they don't hear their babies' cries, which are crucial to the maternal instinct. This often requires human intervention.

Cat Sense is a must-read for any cat lover, offering humane, penetrating insights about the domestic cat that challenge our most basic assumptions and promise to dramatically improve our pets' lives and ours.

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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 Lessen Shedding
Joey received an email from someone who had a shorthaired mixed dog that was going through extreme shedding. He explains that what works well, especially on a shorthaired dog, are just plain water and a brush.

There are two options. If you are able to bathe your dog, just towel dry them and let the air completely dry them off. Use a good de-greasing pet shampoo and wash your pet really well. What this will do is separate everything, so nothing will bind together. So when the coat dries, you will have a lot of loose coat that is ready to come out.

The mistake most people make is that they don't use a good cleaning shampoo, so if there is any dirt or oil left behind, it will still hold the loose coat back, which will eventually fall off all over your house.

Shedding PugSo just let your pet air dry, and once they do, you will notice that if you just rub your hand over them, you will get a ton of coat off.

Just remember, a dog that is a little anxious about a bath, or the more nervous they are, the more they are going to shed. So, you might see the shedding reduced an hour or so after their bath.

Animal Radio News - Tammy Trujillo

Bad DeclawDeclawing Can Have Horrifying Results
A study found that many vets don't know how to do the declawing procedure, which can have horrifying results. In many cases, bone fragments are left behind in the toe, and if a fragment includes part of a nail bed, then the claw can actually regrow inside the paw. It's one reason that declawed cats sometimes suddenly refuse to use the litter box. Their paws hurt too much to scratch the litter. Declawing is now banned in at least 42 countries. It's banned in several states and many cities here in the U.S., but an estimated 25-45 percent of all cats in the U.S. are declawed.

NigelLost Parrot Returns Speaking Spanish
Nigel the talking Parrot returned home where he belonged in Torrance, California after being missing for four years. No one really knew where he had been, but when he was last seen he spoke English with a British accent and when he returned, spoke Spanish. A veterinarian had been running ads for her own lost parrot and was contacted by someone who had found an African Grey. It wasn't her bird, but a check of the microchip led her to Nigel's owner. Everyone was surprised by the reunion including Nigel, who bit his person during the re-introduction.

Cannabis Based Pet Foods, Treats And Oil
Laws against the use of marijuana for medical and recreational use are being shot down, so it's really no surprise that some folks are getting a bit entrepreneurial with the stuff. One company in San Diego developed cannabis based pet foods, treats and oil that it says can help animals deal with anxiety, digestive problems and seizures. Because it's all made with the cannabis compound that has medical properties, the animals don't get high.

TiffanyOwners Sell Cat With House
If you were having trouble selling your home, would you throw in your pet cat to seal the deal? A couple in Melbourne, Australia did just that. The house was up for auction, but nobody hit the reserve price on the house. However, the child of one of the bidders had fallen in love with the sellers' four-year-old Ragdoll kitty named Tiffany. They made an offer on the house, provided Tiffany was part of the deal. The sellers upped the price by $140,000 and the deal was done.

Ear Listen to the entire Podcast of this show (#1282)

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