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Animal Radio® Newsletter November 2009

Posted: 28 Oct 2009 04:59 PM PDT

Animal Radio® Newsletter

In this issue:

* What type of car do bears prefer?
* Talking Turkey with your dog
* Is your dog's mouth cleaner than yours?

Bears Select Minivan As “Car of the Year”

For a seven-year period, the top choice of vehicle by black bears in Yosemite National Park has been the minivan. The bears seem to base this decision on “fuel efficiency”—that is, which vehicle offers the best opportunity of finding a meal. As a result, black bears have shown a strong preference for breaking into minivans over other types of vehicles.

An article in the October 2009 issue of the Journal of Mammalogy examines the number of vehicles, by make and model, that black bears broke into from 2001 to 2007 in California’s Yosemite National Park. In all years, minivans had the largest or second largest number of break-ins by bears. When the number of break-ins was compared to the numbers of each type of vehicle visiting the park in 2004 – 2005, only minivans were broken into at a rate higher than expected based on their availability. The study explores possible reasons why the bears actively preferred minivans.

As humans and wildlife must increasingly coexist in closer proximity, animal populations will make use of anthropogenic resources, such as livestock, trash, and pet food. Black bears have been known to raid trash cans, break into houses and cars, and steal food from campers. In nature, black bears are selective in their foraging behavior. That same selectivity may apply when choosing from which vehicle to seek a meal.

The article offers four hypotheses about why Yosemite’s black bears are choosing the minivan:

* Minivans are more likely to emit food odors, based on the fact that minivans are designed for families with children—who are more likely to spill food and drink in a vehicle.
* Passengers of minivans are more prone to leave large amounts of food in a vehicle parked overnight.
* Minivans may be structurally easier to break into than other types of vehicles. Bears most often gained access to minivans by popping open a rear side window.
* A few individual bears could be responsible for all the break-ins, and they are displaying a learned behavior for choosing minivans.

Reports detailing 908 vehicles broken into by Yosemite black bears between 2001 and 2007 were reviewed. The rates of break-ins for nine categories included:

* Minivans -- 26.0 percent
* Sport-utility vehicle -- 22.5 percent
* Small car -- 17.1 percent
* Sedan -- 13.7 percent
* Truck -- 11.9 percent
* Van -- 4.2 percent
* Sports car -- 1.7 percent
* Coupe -- 1.7 percent
* Station wagon -- 1.4 percent

Read the full text of this article, “Selective Foraging for Anthropogenic Resources by Black Bears: Minivans in Yosemite National Park,” [Journal of Mammalogy, Vol. 90, No. 5, October 2009]

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Talking Turkey With Your Dog

Thanksgiving is not just for people. Some of the bounty filling your plate this holiday is good for your dog too, says a growing contingent of nutrition-oriented veterinarians. Turkey, green beans, pumpkin, carrots--it's all protein and fiber your dog thrives on. Check out a recipe for Turkey Mash

"Dogs' nutritional needs are fairly similar to people's," says Jean Hofve, a recently retired holistic vet from Denver. "If you're eating well-balanced, healthy, unprocessed food, your dog's plate should look a lot like yours."

People have been feeding table scraps to dogs since the first canine began hanging around the village campfire. But sharing food with your dog hasn't been as popular since--until a recent recall of more than 60 million cans of pet food.

The incident prompted many people to rethink their dog's diet and look for sources they could trust. In the weeks following the recall a dog food cookbook made it to the top 10 bestseller list for the first time ever, and one pet recipe website,, estimates their sales quadrupled.

"People want better, fresher food for their pets, and they're making it themselves," says Grant Nixon, a British Columbia veterinarian and co-author of Better Food for Dogs, who estimates that five to ten percent of his clients started cooking for their pets during the recall.

Not Necessarily Comfort Food
Being able to trust what goes into your pet's food is appealing. But before you scrape your plate of food into your dog's bowl, consider this: a sudden switch from kibble to people food can make your dog very sick.

"Every Thanksgiving, we usually see five or six dogs come in with vomiting or diarrhea," says Grant Nixon. "If you ate nothing but bread and water and then someone gave you a steak, it'd upset your stomach, too." Nixon advises easing your dog into a home cooked regimen slowly.

A bigger challenge to regularly serving your dog home-cooked fare is making sure it includes the right nutritional balance. Buying commercial food is not only convenient, most brands are formulated to give your dog appropriate amounts of protein, fat, fiber, and other nutrients with each meal.

Worth The Trouble?
Depending on who you ask, cooking for your dog either requires a degree in veterinary nutrition, or some healthy ingredients and a little common sense. Both Nixon and Hofve agree that, once you've figured out the right proportions and amounts, it's not rocket science. "It's kind of like cooking for another child," says Nixon.

Experts advise basing meals around meat, with the rest split between vegetables and whole grains. Your vet or a veterinary nutritionist can offer further guidance, especially since a dog's exact nutritional needs varies with age, size, breed, activity level, and special needs, such as allergies.

Is it worth the extra effort? For people uneasy about what goes into kibble and cans, the answer is yes. For others, a high-quality store brand with human-grade ingredients gives them peace of mind.

Or there's the middle-of-the-road solution: high-quality dry food supplemented with a little meat, fish, vegetables, eggs, cheese, or whole grains from their own plates. And on Thanksgiving day, a nice slice of turkey.

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Your Pet’s Got You Covered!
Zak George, SuperFetch

Are you too lazy to take out the trash? Need help meeting new people? With the help of pet trainer and host of Animal Planet's new series SuperFetch, Zak George, your pet's got you covered!

Zak explains that as long as you know what makes your dog tick and you have a good time doing it, you can teach your dog just about anything.

There are dogs that are more trainable than others, but you need to cater to your dog’s strength. Hyper dogs are probably the most trainable for advanced tricks. Look at what your dog can do well and then teach him how to do that better. Sort of like with children. If you have a child that likes playing baseball, you encourage him to practice to get better at it.

In SuperFetch, Zak George shows pet parents how to teach their animal new and unbelievable dog tricks! Some of the tricks you will see are a dog riding a bike and bowling! Check out his videos both on amazing dog tricks and on how you can train your dog.

Listen to Zak George on Animal Radio®

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On Animal Radio® this month

Cesar Millan returns once again to Animal Radio®. Cesar, the Dr. Phil for dogs, first developed his techniques as a youngster in Mexico and knew by age 13 that he wanted to become “the best dog handler in the world.” In Mexico, he grew up with a pack of dogs that were his closest friends. It was his grandfather who taught him the one lesson he still uses today: “Never work against Mother Nature.” Cesar believes that anyone can raise the perfect dog! In his new book, “How To Raise the Perfect Dog,” Cesar tells you everything you need to know to create the best environment for a well-balanced dog in order to avoid behavior issues in the future, and shows you how to correct the most common behavior issues for young dogs.

Animal Radio® once again welcomes Kinky Friedman - not only a man of the people, he's also a man of the animal kingdom! Kinky is a man who wears many hats -- not just a Stetson. Aside from being a politico, folksinger, and mystery author, he's also a longtime animal advocate and feels as passionately about his pets as he does about legislative reform. Kinky has written a new book, “Kinky’s Celebrity Pet files.” In his new book, the Kinkster writes about his famous friends and their pets you've never met, each with a story as delightful and offbeat as the author himself. Kinky is also running again for the Governor of Texas – we wish him luck!

We speak with Award-Winning Filmmaker Harris Done, the director of "War Dogs of the Pacific. " His new DVD chronicles the little-known and moving story of the Marine war dog platoons of World War II. It explores the unique bond that formed between the young Marines and their dogs, who teamed up to perform extremely dangerous missions. Their success at finding the hidden enemy saved countless lives in the Pacific.

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Declaw Hall of Shame

While declawing is illegal in most civilized nations, it is unfortunately still a common practice here in the United States. Declawing is culturally accepted in the United States, while other countries considering it unethical and unnecessary mutilation.

What most people don’t understand that declawing a cat is actually an amputation of not only the nail but also part of the bone up to the knuckle. This can result in behavior problems, as the cat can no longer scratch and my stop using the litter box. Also, a declawed cat’s behavior may change, as they can no longer defend themselves and may become fearful and hide. If you look at the cats in a shelter, you will find many declawed cats because of the problems that resulted after declawing.

We (Animal Radio®) talk with one of the creators of the Declaw Hall of Shame. The Declaw Hall of Shame publishes the names of veterinarians and animal hospitals as well as other individuals and organizations that practice, promote, and perpetuate the cruel and needless practice of digital amputation, popularly and euphemistically known as declawing.

It is believed that most veterinarians don’t declaw for the money, they are just not adept at handling behavior issues. Some veterinarians also believe that if they don’t do it for their client, they will go somewhere else, it might not be done as well, or the cat will end up in a shelter.

Some vets offer to declaw a cat while they are undergoing other surgeries, such as a spay or neuter. The Declaw Hall of Shame considers that “Supersizing” sort of like asking if you want a shake with your happy meal!

Please think again if you are thinking about having your cat declawed! There are alternatives!

Listen to Declaw Hall of Shame Founder on Animal Radio®

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Scratching Beneath The Surface – Right Dog Diet Can Remedy Allergies
Andrea Arden

As dogs across the country are scratching incessantly, licking at “hot spots,” and “messing” on the carpet, half of their owners are turning to prescriptions to relieve their distress when instead, a simple remedy is readily available: the right natural diet. Don’t just over up the problem with medications; you need to get to the root of the problem! Food allergies are now the third most common type of allergies after airborne and flea allergies, which is on the rise.

This could be because more and more people are feeding commercial foods, and maybe some dogs are having a hard time digesting this food. More often than not, dogs are allergic to the protein in food, which is difficult for them to break down.

Some people automatically switch to an alternative diet, such as venison or duck. But don’t do this unless your dog has been diagnosed, because if they do develop a food allergy, you can no longer use that food. You should reserve these special diets for a time when your dog has actually been diagnosed with a food allergy.

There are two ways to test for food allergies. A good vet can take a guess at it being a certain type of allergy by the symptoms. For example, if a dog has very red irritated feet and stomach and they are scratching them, this is more likely a food allergy. Flea allergies are also pretty easy to determine, as you will see the “flea dirt.” While it is costly, some veterinarians will do an allergy panel, which can average around $600 in the New York area.

Large populations of dog owners complain that their animals suffer from diarrhea, flatulence, scratching and dermatitis. They don’t understand how easy it can be to give their dogs relief without a prescription by feeding them the right kind of food. Fewer than half of owners recognize which ingredients exacerbate these distressing symptoms, dairy and wheat being the biggest offenders.

If your dog does have allergies, try to avoid potential allergens such as wheat, gluten or soy. And if possible, you want to avoid foods that have artificial flavors, colors or preservatives. These are not necessary and there are so many good options out there that are of a more natural approach.

Listen to Andrea Arden on Animal Radio®

Dogs Mouths Are Cleaner Than Humans
Vinnie Penn, Animal Radio's Resident Party Animal

You know one saying, that may be true or may be not, but even if it is true (which I would find hard to believe) I’m sick of hearing it. That saying is, “Dogs’ mouths are cleaner than humans!”

My two beloved dogs, you know I always gave them kisses on the head and played with their ears, but I never really did, and I am just going to come right out and say it, the French kiss with my dog or the full on their tongue lapping at my lips kiss. I never really did that. When I see people doing that, especially after you’ve just seen the dog in particular spend a good 20 minutes giving himself a “genital bath,” and then the person says, “You know, the dogs’ mouths are cleaner than humans!”

I’m finding it hard to believe. Is there Doggy Scope? Is there Doggy Floss? I know my two dogs didn’t get up in the morning and brush their teeth. So how is it possible that this dog who just ate a lizard, lapped at his own crotchery region and maybe even ate his own feces, or licked another dog’s but, his mouth is really cleaner than your own you’re saying?

If that’s the case, then might I suggest you just have all of your teeth and your gums removed? Just stitch your mouth up. Because if your dog’s mouth is cleaner than yours, than yours should never be allowed to be open again

Listen to Vinnie Penn on Animal Radio®

Asking the Animal Radio® Dream Team
Animal Radio® Dream Team
Ask A Question

Sick Pit Bull

Paul: My grandson called from FL. and said his 6 yr. old Pit Bull is lactating and that there is sometimes blood in the secretion. She has had a litter about 3 yrs. ago but has lactated a couple of times and for the first time noticed the blood. She has been a great companion for him. She has such a great disposition. Major problem is, he has no money for anything major and we are on a fixed income w/ limited funds.Could you suggest what the problem might be and possible future for his friend? - Thanks, Paul

Doctor Debbie: Sorry to hear of the situation. I am assuming that the dog is not spayed and is not currently pregnant....if that is correct then we two health concerns come to mind. Cancer of the mammary tissue is a possibility- some are benign and some are malignant. The other concern is mastitis- an infection of the mammary glands that can cause swelling, discharge, bleeding, and pain.

My best suggestion is to see a veterinarian to get a better idea what you are up against. Then you can have a better idea what options, costs, etc are involved. If mastitis is diagnosed then antibiotics and possible surgery may be advised. One home treatment step that I often advise along with medical treatment of mastitis is to apply cabbage wraps to the mammary area. It sounds crazy, but can often help draw out infection- in fact women often use this remedy to help mastitis with nursing. To apply the cabbage wrap you take raw cabbage leaves and bandage close to the mammary areas with bandaging material.

As an aside, spaying dogs can completely prevent these types of mammary problems. I strongly encourage that your grandson get the dog spayed to prevent future reproductive issues.

Dog Eats Cat Poop

Susan: I just adopted a Pomeranian last week from Harrisburg, PA Humane Society (great people) and I love her 2 pieces but she has 1 really bad habit, she eats cat poop. I understand it is common but how do I break her of it? She is 2 yrs old approx. according to the HS. Also her paperwork says she's a longhaired chihuahua but 2 breeders have told me she's a pom, how do I tell what she is short of DNA test, it doesn't really matter to me I would just like to know.

Doctor Debbie: The greatest difficulty in dealing with dogs that graze from the kitty's litter box is that the behavior rewards itself. It sounds crazy to us, but dogs find enjoyment (reward) from eating the poop. It makes it very difficult to stop a behavior that is self rewarding especially since few of us can patrol the litter box 100% of the time. The way to fix this behavior is entirely about preventing access to the litter box. If your dog is prevented access to the area, then the memory of the "reward" will fade with time. Do not use scent or noise deterrents to keep your dog away from litter pan as this can have the unwanted result of keeping your cat out of the box- and end up with urine/feces elsewhere in home!

Methods that you can use include:
-elevating the litter box area
-restricting access to litter box area with a baby gate that cat can jump clear, but dog cannot
-restrict access with a privacy barrier that blocks visual access to litter area- can be made with cardboard
-keep litter box in separate room & install a kitty door that is activated to open with remote cat collar

As for figuring out the breed background of your pooch....I definitely recommend the dna tests. Otherwise you would just compare your pet's appearance to that found in a dog breed book. Poms tend to have more of a "mane" than long haired Chihuahuas. But with mixed breeds all the typical guidelines on appearance get swirled together!

Good luck with your litter pan diving doggie! Let us know if you have any further questions!

Listen to Dr. Debbie on Animal Radio®

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November is Adopt-A-Senior-Pet Month

Adopt a petNovember is adopt-a-senior-pet month, so there's no time like the present to welcome an older dog or cat into your home. While there might be challenges, there are also many benefits to adopting a senior pet. Cats are dogs are usually considered senior by age seven.

If you are considering adding a new member to your family, the Seattle Humane Society has five reasons for adopting a senior pet:

MELLOW PERSONALITY. Senior pets have fully-formed personalities, so you know what you are getting! Plus, senior pets have just the right level of playfulness for busy families.

ALREADY HOUSE-TRAINED. Senior pets have already learned many of life's lessons.

FIT IN TO YOUR FAMILY QUICKLY. Older pets seem to acclimate more quickly to new settings.

HAVE A LOT OF LOVE TO GIVE. Many of our adopters say that senior pets really seem to appreciate it when they are adopted and bond to their new family more readily than younger pets.

OLD DOGS CAN LEARN NEW TRICKS. With older pets, you don't have to waste time teaching them all the basics -- they already know them! Instead, have fun teaching them new tricks!


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