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 This Week on Animal Radio

Animal Radio for July 6, 2024  

Skunk Explosion
Christopher Kemp

Christopher Kemp with SkunkSkunk researcher Christopher Kemp joins us. He's from England and tells us that they don't have skunks in Europe. Ironically, Pepe' le pew is from the Americas. But the most important thing you'll learn, tomato juice doesn't remove the smell. Christopher will unlock the true secret to remove the stink, as well as some other interesting facts about the mostly misunderstood critter.

By training, Christopher Kemp is a molecular biologist and works for a research group that studies Parkinson's Disease. Being a biologist makes Christopher a naturally curious person.

Christopher tells us that in England where he grew up, there are no skunks. They do have some large mammal species like fox, badgers and some members of the weasel family, which are closely related to skunks. Skunks appear to be members of North, South and Central Americas. He also tells us of a strange species of mammal that live in Asia, which are closely related and are also considered skunks.

In Michigan, where Christopher currently lives, there seems to be an explosion of skunks. While this explosion is going on across the country, it seems to be worse in the Midwest, in such places as Michigan, Illinois and Ohio.

Looking out his window at night, which overlooks the driveway, Christopher sees many skunks just wandering about for food. But, he wondered, does he really know anything bout them? For Christopher, Skunks were such a new thing. This made Christopher set out on a journey to learn everything he could about them.

One of the first things he did was to buy a striped skunk skull online, which turned out much smaller than he expected. He tells us that it fits comfortably on the screen of his smartphone. He has inspected its ridged surfaces, and traced his finger along the delicate zygomatic arches, counting its white teeth.

He also bought a small glass screw-top jar of skunk scent from a hunting-supply company. When he received it, he removed the bottle and shook it, watching the viscous liquid swirl around. Then he opened the bottle. The moment he broke the wax seal, the pungently aggressive odor of rotten eggs filled the room. With his nose over the bottle, he gagged. For the next hour, his stomach lurched and rumbled and he felt nauseated. It's the same familiar smell that wafts into his room late at night after a dog has tangled with a skunk in a nearby backyard.

The smell can cause temporary blindness. It's also disorienting and it totally disables your sense of smell. A predator can no longer function as a predator for a period of time if it gets a good hit.

Skunks can spray a good distance, up to 20 feet, and they can aim their spray. They actually have two of these spray glands on either side of their body, so their spray comes out like twin streams.

SkunkSo what about the old wives tail of using tomato juice to get rid of the smell? Christopher tells us that like most old wives tail, this one is not correct. To get rid of the smell, you have to approach it in a chemical way, and use substances that chemically break down the smell. This is something that tomato juice doesn't do, which is why it doesn't work. You need to make a mixture of bleach, baking soda, dish soap and water. Together, those things will break down the odor compounds and will neutralize them. This mixture is for smells on clothing, your house, car, or things of that nature.

If you are washing a family pet, use hydrogen peroxide (1 cup), instead of bleach, along with baking soda (1/4 cup), dish soap (1 tablespoon) and water (10 cups). Tomato juice just camouflages the smell, so you end up with a dog that smells like skunk and tomatoes, which is probably worse.

So how do you keep skunks away? Unfortunately skunks do remarkably well cohabitating with humans. Skunks usually like to occupy places underneath sheds, under a deck or in crawl spaces. You need to block these places off and make them inaccessible to them. Next, try to cut off their food source. This means no composting, no birdseed and no trash that they can access. Unfortunately, they can still find food sources from bird eggs, etc., so you just want to make sure they don't make a den in your yard.

Skunks actually do a lot of good for the environment and there is a misconception that they are big carriers of rabies. They are a carrier, but no more so than raccoons, squirrels or any other mammals.

After all of his research, Christopher says he found out he really likes skunks. Now, when he looks out over his driveway, he actually hopes to see one.

Girl adopting kitten

"HERO PEOPLE OF THE WEEK" - Small Town Hero Barry Kives, Southern Polyurethanes, Inc.

This week's Hero Person made a big difference in a small town. Businessman Barry Kives of Southern Polyurethanes, Inc., paid the adoption fees on 60 pets in his local shelter.

Barry was on the Board of Directors at the Mountain Shelter Humane Society. They are almost a no kill shelter and only animals that are severely ill are put down.

When Barry decided to stop in at the shelter one day, he noticed a lady who wanted to get a dog for her ill mother who had just lost her dog. Unfortunately, she couldn't come up with the $125 adoption fee. Barry immediately opened his wallet and paid the adoption fee. He said this made him feel real good!

Because of that, he came up with the idea of funding many more adoptions for people who couldn't afford it. On the first day, there were 14 adoptions, with two of those being two little girls who each got a kitten. Barry tells us there were 46 more adoptions that happened.

Barry lets us know it's not all about the money. If you have some free time, you can go to your local shelter and help clean out the cages or even walk the dogs and pet the cats.

Barry's company, Southern Polyurethanes, Inc. specializes in the manufacturing and global distribution of ultra-premium polyurethane based transportation coatings such as primers, basecoats, clearcoats, solvents, additives and spray-in truck bedliners.

Pheromones In Puppy Training - Dr. Debbie Dr. Debbie White

So you just got a new puppy and you have all your training tools at the ready, the collar, leash and dog crate. But beyond that, do you have the one thing that can make your training tasks easier all around? Tap into your puppy's own sense of smell using canine pheromones and ease your new pup's training and transition into the home.

Pheromones are scent signals emitted by all animal species, including humans. Various pheromones work under the radar to influence the perceptions and behaviors of others within a species.

Shortly after whelping, a pheromone is emitted from the bitch's sebaceous (oil) glands located between the mammary glands. The pheromone, dubbed the canine appeasing pheromone, reassures the puppies, calms them and facilitates nursing. The bitch stops emitting this pheromone as the pups mature, but all dogs retain the ability to "read" this pheromone. Not only do older dogs recognize this pheromone, but it continues to have a natural calming effect on canines of all ages.

In veterinary behavior cases, the dog appeasing pheromone is used for dogs with noise phobias, car travel anxiety, separation anxiety and other fearful situations. Various forms are available including pheromone collars, plug in diffusers and sprays. The canine appeasing pheromone doesn't sedate the dog; rather it decreases fear and excitability.

The dog appeasing pheromone is also helpful for newly adopted puppies. Those first few days to weeks in a new home are full of changes for the pup faced with novel environments far from the comfort of mother and siblings. The dog appeasing pheromone has been shown to ease the transition of the pup into new home and improve sociability and training during a pup's critical socialization period.

Pheromone Research
For skeptics that need to see the proof in the studies, veterinary behavior studies have examined the positive influence of the dog appeasing pheromone. When comparing treatment responses for dogs with separation anxiety, the use of the dog appeasing pheromone equaled the benefit of the anti-anxiety medication, amitriptyline.

One study looked at 66 puppies as they settled into new homes after adoption. Approximately half of the puppies wore a pheromone collar and half wore a placebo. The study found that puppies wearing a pheromone collar displayed significantly fewer nuisance behaviors like vocalizations or scratching within 3 days of adoption. Pups wearing the pheromone collar woke their owner's less during the night and displayed fewer signs of distress and vocalizations throughout the course of the study.

The researchers concluded that pheromone collars helped both the pup and family. Pups were less stressed and adapted easier. By decreasing the pup's stress and fearful behaviors, the pet owners found a more enjoyable bonding experience with the new pup and faced less frustration through the training process.

NikkiIn another study, puppies 8 to 15 weeks were enrolled in an eight-week long puppy socialization and training class. Half wore a pheromone collar and the other half wore a placebo collar. The pups wearing the pheromone collar were calmer in the face of novel experiences and displayed less fear, anxiety, and aggression. In the end, the pups with the pheromone collar not only were less nervous, but had fewer behavioral problems and learned better. And a long-term effect on sociability was recognized in dogs up to one year after the class and study was completed.

Pheromones and My Pup
As a previous owner of a nine-week old Bouvier puppy named Nikki, I used both the pheromone collar and diffuser upon welcoming my new pup home. One day before bringing Nikki home, I placed a pheromone diffuser close to the puppy crate, where it would have maximum benefit during her first nights in the kennel away from mother and siblings. Immediately upon leaving the breeder's home, Nikki was fitted with a pheromone collar to serve as a source of reassuring pheromones that went everywhere she did. The pheromone collar became a tool in Nikki's socialization. It was on her when she met new people or animals, when she explored new environments and during puppy kindergarten class.

Did pheromones help in my pup's transition and training? The four hour drive home from the breeders was a dream, no crying or whining the entire trip. After returning home, Nikki never soiled in her kennel during the day or night. I'll admit I had my share of interrupted sleep in the first two weeks, but most of Nikki's night time wakes were for genuine elimination needs. Overall, her transition into the home was smooth and lacked the wailing, inconsolable cries of a stressed pup.

The canine appeasing pheromone isn't a magic bullet though. Nothing matches a quality pup obtained from a reputable breeder who focuses on health, genetics and early socialization. Likewise, pheromones do not replace the hard work and consistent training efforts that any new pet owner must provide. However, by adding the the canine appeasing pheromone to your new puppy training, you can help your pup become the best he or she possibly can.

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 - Tammy Trujillo

Dog with tear stainsTear Stain Products Received Warning
We all want our pets to look their best, and if you have the type of dog, or cat, that gets those 'tear stains' you've probably tried ways to clean them up. However, the FDA put out a warning to companies that made unapproved drugs to deal with them, specifically Angels' Eyes, Angels' Glow, Pets' Spark and the exported products Glow Groom and Health Glow. These products used an antibiotic, tylosin tartrate, which was not approved for use in dogs or cats. Tear staining is mostly caused by a condition called epiphora. The FDA has serious concerns about unapproved animal drugs because they have not met standards for safety and effectiveness.

Lost Dog FlyerLost Pets Bring Out Scam Artists
If it's not enough to lose a pet and anguish over it's safety and whereabouts, now warnings are coming out about scam artists taking advantage of the tragedy. These crooks generally use the description from the ad or poster to convince a person they have the lost pet and wants a reward, or claim to be a driver who has found your injured pet and claims to have taken it to the vet and wants your credit card information to pay the bill. So what should you do when all you want is your baby back? Authorities suggest asking details about your pet that you didn't include in the ad or flyer, or asking for the name, address and phone number of the vet where the callers says he or she took your pet and then deal directly with the vet's office.

Henry McMaster and BootsSee What Politicians Are Kissing Now!
Many actors say that if you're doing a TV show or a movie with an animal, get ready to work with a scene-stealer. But many politicians appear to think differently. There is a dog in nearly half of American homes and a number of politicians started featuring their own best friends in television ads, on their websites and on their Facebook pages. Some of the dogs also became celebrities in their own right. Dogs are part of American culture more than ever before and a dog in an ad can humanize a candidate. Guess we will find out how that works out on Election Day!

Ear Listen to the entire Podcast of this show (#1283)

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