Animal Radio® Network Newsletter February 2009

In this issue:

  • Pricey Pet Food Not Necessarily Better according to Consumer Reports.
  • What is the weirdest item eaten by your pet? Find out what made the last year's list.
  • Presidential First Dog - How about a "Chiwauzer" or a "Schnoodle?"
  • Do pet's like it when you talk 'baby-talk' to them? - Not according to Sylvia Browne.
  • Temple Grandin's autism allows her to see life from the same perspective as animals. So what's it like?
  • Has the economy affected your job? The vertical market of pet-sitting continues to strive.
  • HGTV's Clive Pearse wants you to prepare a list of friends that can adopt or foster animals in an emergency.
  • Breaking Bad News with Baby Animals. Letting an adorable bunny tell your husband you're leaving him.
  • Animal Radio® is on the road again! It's our New Pet Product Special from Global Pet Expo '09.


Consumer Reports: Pricey Pet Food Not Necessarily Better

Consumer Reports advises consumers about what to look for on pet-food labels; plus, fancy claims consumers can ignore.

When it comes to buying pet food, higher cost doesn't always mean higher quality, according to the March issue of Consumer Reports. A higher price could indicate better ingredients and better quality control during and after manufacturing, but it could also just mean prettier packaging, more marketing, or a fancy name. And despite food safety concerns that resulted from a recall of pet food tainted with melamine in 2007, Consumer Reports urges caution for consumers who are considering making their own pet food, a growing trend.  (The full report is available in the March 2009 issue of Consumer Reports and online at

Consumer Reports asked eight experts in dog and cat nutrition at seven top veterinary schools what consumers get by spending more for pet food. They were also asked what they served their own pets: Most of the experts said they use a variety of common brands sold at pet stores or supermarkets.

A recent survey by the Associated Press found that although Americans may be spending less on themselves, they're not scrimping on their pets. According to the survey, just one in seven pet owners said they had curtailed spending on their pet during the past year, even as they cut back on other expenses.

Thirty-seven percent of U.S. households have dogs, and 32 percent have cats. But because of multi-cat households, felines outnumber canines: As of 2007, there were almost 82 million cats and 72 million dogs.

The bottom line, says Consumer Reports: It's more important to look for the overall nutrient profile of a particular pet food brand than it is to shop by price or even individual ingredients. "As a pet owner, your main goal is to ensure that your animal is active and healthy," says Jamie Hirsh, associate health editor at Consumer Reports. "That suggests that the food you're buying is doing its job. But it's also important to know that you don't have to choose the most expensive food to get what's best for your pet. Look for food labeled 'complete and balanced,' which indicates it can be the pet's sole nourishment."

Hirsh advises pet owners to look for labels stating that the food's  nutritional adequacy was validated by animal-feeding tests based on protocols from the American Association of Feed Control Officials, a regulatory group. That statement is a step above the other one that AAFCO allows -- that a food was formulated to meet the group's nutrient profiles."In addition, make sure the package has contact information for the food's manufacturer, in case you have questions," Hirsh says.

Consumers should also take into consideration the age of their pet and whether he or she has special needs. For example, cats with kidney or urinary problems might benefit from the moisture in wet food, while animals with dental issues might do better with dry food.

What Pet-Food Labels Really Mean

For pet food, there's no official definition of organic, human-grade, premium, no fillers, or gourmet. Gluten-free foods are generally necessary only for the tiny percentages of pets that are intolerant of that protein. There's some evidence that antioxidants -- such as vitamin E -- and some omega-3 fatty acids might enhance pets' immunity or help protect against certain diseases, but the experts interviewed by Consumer Reports were split on whether consumers need to look for them.

Consumer Reports recommends that consumers educate themselves about pet food labeling, which is mostly defined by AAFCO, which sets standards for pet food manufacturing. Here are some examples:

* The 95 percent rule (Beef for Dogs). Named ingredient(s) must account for a least 95 percent of the product by weight.   

* Dinner; also Entree, Formula, Nuggets, Platter, Recipe (Chicken and Salmon Dinner for Cats). The named ingredients must make up at least 25 percent of the product by weight, not counting water. Each individual food must make up at least 3 percent.   

* "With ..." (Gourmet Fillets with Turkey for Dogs). Contains 3 percent or more of the named ingredient.   

* Flavor (Beef flavor). No specific percentage required, but the product must contain enough of the food to impart the claimed flavor, or another substance that tastes like it (beef stock, for example).   

* Guaranteed analysis. Mandatory guarantee that the food contains the labeled percentages of crude protein, fat, fiber, and moisture.   

* Light, lite, low-calorie. Meets AAFCO limits for a reduced-calorie diet for overweight dogs and cats. "Lean" and "low-fat" have a similar meaning for fat.   

* Natural. Technically, the food has few or no synthetic ingredients.  But the claim is loosely defined.   

* Grain-free. Protein in the product comes from nongrain sources (perhaps for people who want pets to eat more animal protein). It's unclear whether there's any benefit to a diet high in animal protein.

What Consumers Can Do

Consumer Reports offers the following advice to pet owners:

* Be careful when making your own pet food. Most experts said they hadn't seen a pet get sick from inexpensive food; however, half said they had seen pets become ill from eating homemade pet food, a growing trend since the 2007 recall of some commercial pet food contaminated by melamine. Dogs and cats each require about 40 different nutrients in very specific proportions, so pet owners who insist on making their own pet food should consider enlisting a nutritionist certified by the American College of Veterinary Nutrition ( or get help from the Web sites or


* Consider your pet's age. Age-specific food is very important for puppies, kittens, and pregnant pets, who have especially stringent nutritional needs. Foods labeled either "for growth" or "for all life stages" meet those needs. Foods "for maintenance" are for healthy adult animals only. "Senior" is a marketing term, not a nutritional term.

* Weigh the costs and benefits of wet versus dry food. There's no nutritional difference between wet and dry pet food, but there is a cost difference. Wet foods contain about 75 percent water, so pets need more to get the same calories, and that makes wet food more expensive per serving.



On Animal Radio® this month

New York Times best-selling author Temple Grandin returns for her third appearance on Animal Radio®. The autistic woman views life much like animals. Shares her thoughts in "Animal in Translation," her first book, as well as in "Animals Make Us Human," her current best-seller, and on Animal Radio®. Grandin tells us that cattle hate to be "yelled at," and that she's tired of telling people that.

Clive Pearse is HGTV's host of Design Star and Designed to Sell.  While the new season of Design Star has not started yet, Clive has been using his "down" time to help the animals.

Remember Alex the African Grey Parrot with an IQ higher than the last US President? His guardian, Dr. Irene Pepperberg explains how she trained the world-renown bird.

Have you always wanted to tell someone that those pants make their butt look fat?  Or that they have bad breath?  Breaking bad news has just gotten easier - with baby animals.   Co-author Amanda McCall , along with Ben Schwartz, has created a book, "Grandma's Dead" to help break bad news.  You can use one of the perforated postcards and let a baby animal do the talking for you!

World famous psychic Sylvia Browne joins us to discuss her new book, "All Pets Go To Heaven," which not only contains encounters of people with their pets who have passed, but also how you can communicate with your pet.  Tune in to find out how Sylvia used her psychic ability and was able to potty train her dog in  just days!

Animal Radio® comes to you live from the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters' (NAPPS) Annual Conference on the Queen Mary.  If you're thinking about changing careers and are interested in becoming a pet sitter, please visit for more information.


-XM Satellite Radio ch. 158 Saturdays at Noon eastern - and again on Sundays at 5pm eastern.

-On any of the 90+ AM-FM Radio Stations including KOST 103.5 Los Angeles.

-Download the weekly two-hour Podcast from iTunes or

Listen to Animal Radio®


Temple Grandin, Animals Make Us Human

Not many people know that Temple Grandin is autistic and you would never know it by speaking with her.  She is now 61 years old, but when she was 2 and 1/2 years old, she had all of the autistic behaviors, including rocking and temper tantrums along with no language.   At that time, no one knew what autism was and her parents were told she should be institutionalized.   Fortunately, she was able to get good, early education.  She recommends anyone who has a young autistic child, to have a good teacher spend about 20 or more hours per week on one-to-one education and perhaps even get them a therapy dog.

Her autism has made her a visual thinker, which enables her to design equipment for animals and do test runs in her head.   This also allows her to go inside the minds of animals.   As a result, she has designed humane and stress-free slaughter systems that are used now to process about half of all the cattle in the United States and Canada. Animals are sensory-based thinkers, which means they don’t think in language, they think in smells, sound and in visual pictures, as well as in touch sensations.

As an autistic person, Temple knows that fear is her main emotion.   So she knows what fear is like and that a lot of animals get scared.  What she has tried to do in her new book, "Animals Make Us Human", is to look at behavior from an animals’ point of view.  She discusses the core emotional system that all animals have of fear, rage, seeking and separation anxiety. 

Grandin also has a problem with the popular television trainer Cesar Millan. After watching 2 years worth of Cesar Millan's "Dog Whisperer" episodes, she feels that Cesar was good with Rottweiler types of confident dogs with aggression problems and felt that he did some good things.  However, she doesn't believe that he knows how to handle separation anxiety. 

Temple Grandin has a Ph.D. in animal science and is a professor at Colorado State University.  She is also the author of four previous books including the classic memoir Thinking in Pictures.  HBO has just wrapped production on “The Temple Grandin Story” starring Claire Danes as Temple, which is set to air in May 2009.

Listen to Temple Grandin on Animal Radio®



Vinnie Penn, Animal Radio's Resident Party Animal

Changing of the Guard – Obama's Dog Selection

I’m very enthusiastic about the changing of the guard, the whole inauguration thing and watching it.  It was an incredible day and an historical day.  But what I’m really waiting on is the dog selection and I know that all of you are too, because you’re pet lovers. 

We’ve heard a lot about it and it has gotten a lot of media coverage, “What’s their dog going to be?” “ The two little girls get to bring a pet into the White House!”   You know it’s going to be a Beagle.  And I’m against that too.  I was thinking about it, and I would love for it to be kind of a hybrid dog we’ve never heard of before, like a Chiwauzer, half Chihuahua and half Schnauzer; or a Schnoodle, half Schnauzer and half Poodle.  I would like it to be kind of kooky like that. 

At first I thought that all of this talk about, hey, the Obamas are going to get a dog, they’ve got to have a pet, it’s not the White House without a pet, every pet has to stain the carpet in Lincoln’s bedroom.  And I just thought, is this what we should really be hearing a lot about?  And then I got caught up into it, and I want to see if, I want to know what they are going to get! 

And one last thing, I’ve got a name.  They should name it Palin, Palin the Pup.  I think that’s awesome – you tell me!

Listen to Vinnie Penn on Animal Radio®


Sylvia Browne, All Pets Go To Heaven

Sylvia Browne, the world famous psychic, states that all animals have a personality as well as an afterlife.  One of the reasons that she wrote this book is not only because she is a maniacal pet lover, but also because she got sick and tired of scientists and even some religious people saying that animals don’t have souls and that got her fired her up.  She states that she has seen pets from the other side with their owners, and not only that, but when we go over, we also see our pets.

Animals communicate with us from the other side almost telepathic.  You just know that if you get centered into your animals, and you love them, and you’re very cognizant of their behavior, you can really tell when they’re happy or sad, when they are grieving or when they are comfortable.

Her book, "All Pets Go To Heaven," contains stories of such encounters as well as communicating with your pets.  In fact, she states that she was able to potty train her dog in a couple of days just by taking his face in her hands and talking to him just as she would if he were a person.  Now people might think she is crazy for doing this, but she states that it works!  And she says to stop that baby talk – your animals think you're an idiot when you do this!

Sylvia also hates it when people think that animals are dumb.  Another pet peeve of hers is when you are grieving for the loss of an animal, and then someone walks up to you and says, “It’s just an animal.”  That makes her crazy and she wants to nail them!

When her spirit guide told her that when she goes to the other side all of her pets will be waiting for her, she thought to herself, good, because there are some pets she would rather see than people!

When we asked her if animals like it when we talk 'baby-talk' to them, she emphatically told us "NO!!! They Hate That!"

Listen to Sylvia Browne on Animal Radio®



British Vets List The 10 Weirdest Items Eaten By Pets

Britain's People's Dispensary for Sick Animals, a charity that provides free veterinary care to the pets of low-income Brits, has released a list of the weirdest items its vets have removed from pets' stomachs.

The top 10 items, according to the Telegraph:


1. Ten-inch tent peg

2. Christmas decoration (star-shaped)

3. Kitchen knife

4. Alphabet fridge magnets

5. Man's wig

    6. Ann Summers underwear

    7. Bell

    8. Fishing hook

    9. Socks

    10. Rubber duck

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So just how big a deal is it when a pet ingests a foreign object? Very big, says, which offers this advice:

Intestinal obstruction is an emergency that requires immediate veterinary attention! Make sure to give your veterinarian a complete history, especially if your pet has eaten any foreign material. Your vet will perform a physical examination and take x-rays to look for signs of obstruction. Treatment consists of abdominal surgery to remove the obstructing material and to examine the full length of the intestine. Sections of intestine that appear dead will need to be removed, with the healthy ends sewn together.  So keep these objects away from your pets!


HGTV's Clive Pearse – Helping the Animals

Clive Pearse recently went on a terrible mercy dash that turned out very well. He went to an animal shelter and grabbed six dogs that were going to be euthanized.

It all started when Clive got one of those emails about animals currently in shelters whose time was running out.  This email was about 23 animals that were in trouble in Bakersfield, California. Clive lives in Los Angeles, but along with a friend, drove to Bakersfield because they felt that had to do something. They grabbed six dogs, an amount they felt they could handle quickly.   Clive and his friend weren't the only ones there.  There were also many other people that responded, along with a woman from Las Vegas who was loading 20 dogs into a truck. Clive was able to find homes for the six dogs that he rescued.

Clive called Animal Radio® to make people aware that they don’t have to wait until they get that S.O.S. email to do something, and that if we can, we should do something a little bit sooner.   Clive was able to find people who knew people, who knew people, who would foster.  He has even accumulated his own “I will take a dog” list.  You all probably know someone who will either take or foster a dog, so you should compile your own list.

Clive wants to remind everyone about all of the dogs in the shelters and look for people that you know who would adopt or would foster.  He also wants to give a mention to the Bakersfield Animal Shelter.   Sadly, they still have many animals that need homes. Go see Angela, Sally, and Sherri and tell them “That Clive sent you (the Brit).”  And if you can’t make it to Bakersfield, go visit your local shelter and help out.

Listen to Clive Pearse on Animal Radio®



NAPPS Annual Conference - Live from the Queen Mary

NAPPS (National Association of Professional Pet Sitters) has been around for a dozen years and is the largest non-profit pet sitting organization in the United States. NAPPS offers certification, educational programs and business advice to pet sitters. They provide all the tools necessary to start up a business, including everything from contracts to marketing and advertising.

For someone considering pet sitting as a career, NAPPS has an annual conference both in the business field as well as people in the pet care and behavior industries. This year’s 2009 Annual Conference was held at the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California. It included everything from the pet sitting business basics for the novice pet sitter to programs for the more seasoned pet sitter.

The Animal Radio® live broadcast from the NAPPS Conference featured the following interviews:

Monica Leighton – President (NAPPS)

Monica Leighton is the current President of NAPPS. When you think about a pet sitter, you no longer think about the young neighborhood kid who came in and fed your poets. Today, pet sitting is a multi-dollar, big business industry. And, like any big business, there are a lot of things involved in making it successful.


John D’Ariano - President Elect NAPPS

John D’Ariano, the President Elect of NAPPS, explains that to get started in the pet business, go to You will find all the tools and aids necessary to get started. Once you become a member, you will be able to access a step-by-step guide that will lead you into starting your business and advise you as to what you will need to succeed in your new pet sitting business. John and his wife launched A Pet Sitter Plus one year before his retirement from the Palm Beach County School District Police Department, where he was district commander. He headed the K-9 unit - which he organized and launched - made up of 30 officers and 15 canines.

Shannon Keith - Animal Rights Attorney

Shannon Keith spoke at the conference with regard to pet sitters who might deal with liability issues. Shannon also gave a general overview that animals are still considered property. She has been striving to change that while defending animal rights activists in the courtroom, saving dogs being prosecuted in Los Angeles by getting them off death row, as well as prosecuting those who abuse animals.Shannon specializes in animal rights defense, plaintiff’s cases against animal abusers and animal exploiters, “dangerous dog” hearings and any case defending animals and those who risk their freedom for them.

Lee Van Kirk, Tartan Media Group

Lee Van Kirk spoke at the conference with regard to advertising and public relations (without spending piles of money!)

Lee Van Kirk is the CEO of Tartan Media Group, Inc. He has been in the insurance industry as a general agent and consultant for more than 17 years. Since 2001, he has focused on the pet insurance industry.

Arden Moore, America’s Pet Edu-Tainer

Arden Moore spoke at the conference regarding “It’s cool to be catty.” Even though cats reign as America’s most popular pet (with no apologies to those d-o-g-s), people remain puzzled as to why their cats do what they do. Getting catty no longer needs – or deserves – a negative connotation. Arden touts the fascinating, fun and yes sometimes frustrating, feline antics.

Listen to the NAPPS Live Broadcast on Animal Radio®


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Breaking Bad News With Baby Animals

Amanda McCall, Grandma’s Dead

Studies have shown that if you put a baby animal next to bad news, the person will not react to the bad news, but will concentrate on the kitten or baby bunny wearing a bonnet.

So, are you afraid to tell your girlfriend that her butt looks fat? Do you need to explain to your nephew that dreams don't come true? Why not let a cute, fuzzy bunny do it for you! It is very hard to tell someone that you're sleeping with his wife, so let a photograph of a duckling sleeping on a teddy bear soften the blow. These 40 perforated postcards answer all of your cowardly prayers--you'll finally be able to tell the truth without ever conquering your fear of confrontation. Let these adorable baby animals supply a silver lining to any bad situation and avoid, a long, tearful afternoon explaining why daddy's never coming home.

Co-authors of Grandma’s Dead, Amanda McCall and Ben Schwartz feel they are doing a service to mankind. They don’t mean to be awful, but hope that this makes people’s lives easier and saves them time. After all, who has time these days to sit down and explain bad news to someone!

Amanda doesn’t like confrontations, and this all started about a year ago when she went home for the holidays. Her sister had just had a baby, and Amanda felt that the baby was the ugliest baby she had ever seen. Amanda felt she had to tell her sister, but couldn’t bear the thought of telling her to her face. So instead, she sent her sister a postcard. Her sister took it very well and believe it or not, they are still on speaking terms.

Listen to Amanda McCall on Animal Radio®


Animal Radio's NEW PET PRODUCTS Special brought to you by Herm Springer.


Global Pet Expo on Animal Radio® Booth 2580LIVE and Nationwide from the Global Pet Expo in Orlando.

Animal Radio® hosts Hal Abrams and Vladae Roytapel will be broadcasting live from Orlando for the annual New Pet Product program February 14-15. They'll be showcasing the latest and greatest to be added to the 39 billion dollar industry. Last year it was doggy wigs and kitty toilets.

We'll be center stage - best seats in the house. You're our VIP guest! You'll get a sneak peek at all the new pet products becoming available in 2009. See and hear the cutting edge technology for your furry-friend. And best of all, we're giving away samples of everything featured in this two-hour special.

Some of the best new products for 2009 so far:

Parrot Wraptz - you can now dress your parrot for any occasion or holiday; Veterinary Ventures' 360 Degree Water Fountain; Support Our Troops Loofa by Multipet; Behavioral Toys for dogs from Company of Animals; Idea Factory brings us the Pet Shower Deluxe Plus; the All Season Snuggly Sleeper by K & H Pet Products; the new Bolt Laser Cat Toy from Lucky Litter; ....and lots more.


Learn more about the annual New Pet Products Special


Animal Radio® adds new Sunday airtime on XM Satellite Radio

Animal Radio® Air-staffWe're happy to announce a new airtime for SUNDAYS ONLY. We're still at noon eastern on Saturdays on XM channel 158. Our Sunday 9am EST broadcast moved to 5pm EST. We're also on 90+ AM-FM stations from LA-NY.

Don't forget to call in with your questions for Vladae, Dr. Debbie, Hal, Vinnie, Britt, Bobbie, Joy, Judy or any one of our weekly experts or celebrities! Toll free: 1-866-405-8405.

Listen to Animal Radio® NOW!


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