Monday, May 16, 2016


As we are all aware, cats are very particular creatures, and where that is extremely evident is in their litter box habits.  If your cat will not use his box, especially when there has been no difficulty before, something is definitely amiss.  

Before trying anything else, be sure to have kitty checked out by a veterinarian to eliminate any possible health issues.  Urinary tract infection (UTI) is one of the most common problems.  Like humans, cats can also get cystitis, an inflammation of the bladder, which causes a sense of urgency to urinate.  This urgency can cause a cat to eliminate outside the litter box.  Bladder stones or a blockage may also cause frequency.  In this case, kitty may also experience pain and mew when trying to void.  Other common medical circumstances that may contribute to litter box avoidance are diabetes, arthritis, and bowel issues.  Once your feline gets a clean bill of health from the veterinarian, it is time to figure out what else is going on.

A cat's sense of smell is fourteen times stronger than a human's olfactory sense.  One can only imagine what it would be like for feline to use a stinky box.  If we would not like to use an odiferous lavatory, why would they?  Also, in the wild, predators locate prey by tracking scent.  A dirty box, to your cat, is a beacon for those predators.  Do the kitty a favor and keep the box clean.  Scoop out waste products at least daily, more if more than two cats are using it (especially if the box is undersized).  Scrub the box with warm soapy water regularly, avoiding scented cleaners since your cat could develop an intense dislike for the lingering aroma.

Some cats are perfectly content and do not care what type of box it is (covered / uncovered), how many boxes or cats there are, where the boxes are located, or what type of litter is in it.  Other cats, however, are a great deal more persnickety and, for reasons known only to them, the current set-up is not their ideal.  If only they could talk and tell us what the difficulty is.  But, if your cat was content with the way things were but you decided to change the litter, or the box location, or its size, etc., and the cat is now not using it, the simple solution is to change everything back to the way it was.

Unfortunately, whatever the reason, once a cat shuns his litter box that avoidance can become a chronic problem because he then develops an alternative preference for where to go to the bathroom.  Most likely, that alternative is not your preference.  The following are some suggestions to assist in getting your feline friend back to using his box. 

First, make the inappropriate areas less appealing.  Aluminum foil or sticky tape covering the areas is an effective deterrent.  If kitty soils in just a few spots, place a litter box in each spot.  If that is not feasible, place food and water dishes there, because cats do not like to eliminate near where they eat or drink.

Be sure to clean any accidents immediately and thoroughly with an enzymatic cleanser designed to neutralize pet odors.  Cats are attracted back to any area where they have already “done their business”, and the odor leads the way.  Since urine also contains ammonia, do not clean accidents with any ammonia-based products.  You might also consider using a repellant spray after the area has been cleaned.

Move the box to a new location, or add more boxes to various other locales.  Felines like quiet, perceived safe places with easy egress to do what is required.  Choose spots that ensure that the box is in a convenient, unhindered area so the animal can use it without difficulty.  Once a location is established, avoid changing it

Choosing a litter type will be a “trial and error” process.  Cats generally prefer unscented clumping litter with a medium to fine texture, placed one to two inches deep within the box, but offer various types in boxes placed side by side in order for the animal to show its own preference.

Change is incredibly stressful on a cat and can lead to soiling outside the litter box.  Consequently, try to keep the animal’s routine as predictable as possible.  If you cannot eliminate the source of the stress, try to reduce it by using a synthetic pheromone spray.

Hopefully, with a few simple adjustments, your cat will overcome any litter box avoidance issues it has.


With the weather getting warmer, we are not the only ones eager to get outside to enjoy some fun activities.  It is important to remember that when temperatures climb, the heat can be devastating to your canine companion.  Being prepared can insure that Fido stays safe and comfortable during the coming months.

Every year, hundreds of pets die because they are left in vehicles.  Do not let your pet be a statistic.  On an 85-degree day the temperature inside a car with the windows slightly open can reach 104 degrees within 10 minutes, after 30 minutes 119 degrees and after one hour, 130 degrees.  Dogs do not perspire like humans.  They pant to evaporate moisture from their lungs, which takes heat away from their body.  If the air that they are taking in is too hot, like it is in a parked car, then panting does not help and the animal quickly overheats.  Rolling down a window or parking in the shade does not offer protection either, since temperatures can still escalate to dangerous levels. 

If you walk your dog, keep in mind that asphalt and pavement get very hot during the summer.  In fact, hot enough to burn a dog’s pads.  If you would not walk barefoot on it, then do not walk your dog on it.  Take care, also, when exercising your pet, being sure to moderate intensity and duration in accordance with the temperature.  On very hot days, limit any exercise to the cooler early morning or evening hours. 

Whether the two of you are playing in the back yard or taking a jaunt, always make sure you have plenty of water on hand.  At home, make sure your pet’s water bowl is in the shade so the water stays as cool as possible and so your pet does not burn its tongue on an over-heated bowl. 

Outside there should always be available protection from heat and sun.  Shade from trees and tarps is ideal because they do not obstruct air flow.   Another way to keep your pet cool is by providing a kiddie pool to play or lay in.  Like people, overexposure to UV rays can give your dog a nasty case of sunburn and also increase the risk of skin cancer.  A natural coat that has been groomed offers protection from sunburn and can act as cooling insulation. If you give your dog a close cut for summer, consult a veterinarian about whether your pet will require a pet-approved sunscreen on its exposed areas.

When going boating with your pet, be sure your pet always has proper identification and is micro chipped in case he happens to fall overboard.  Fit your dog with a personal flotation device even if you are comfortable about his swimming ability.  Accidents do happen and, when on a lake or river, it’s a long way to swim to the shore.  Life jackets made for dogs keep their heads above water and have a handle on the back to make it easier to grab them from the water.  Swimming with your dog is great exercise for the both of you and can provide relief from the heat.  When encouraging a dog to swim it is important to be aware of its ability, stamina, shape, and breathing ability, because not all dogs are natural swimmers.

Animals are at particular risk for heat stroke if they are very old, very young, overweight, or have heart or lung disease.  Some breeds, like boxers, pugs, and other dogs with short muzzles, will have a harder time breathing in extreme heat.  Signs of heat stroke include heavy panting that does not ease upon rest, abnormal gum and tongue color, collapse, drooling, lack of coordination, vomiting and difficulty breathing.  If you suspect your pet is suffering from heat stroke, move him into the shade or into an air-conditioned area immediately.  Spray the dog down with cool (not cold) water, or drape him with cool, wet towels.  It is very important to avoid ice or very cold water.  Lowering the animal’s temperature too quickly can cause other health problems.  If he wishes, allow your dog to drink cool, not cold, water freely, but do not force him to.  Even if he seems to be cooling, get him to a vet as quickly as possible to ensure that a normal temperature has been reached and that no organ or tissue damage has occurred.

If it is too hot for us, whatever the location, it is even hotter for our furry faithful friends and it is our duty to protect them.

Lyme Disease

I am an animal lover and, though I am not fond of spiders or other creepy-crawlies, I will try my best not to hurt them.  The one exception is ticks.  If you are like me and have felt or seen one crawling on you or your dog or, worse yet, had to extract its stubborn little body, you know exactly what I mean.  These small blood suckers are nasty and transmit serious diseases to both people and pets.  One of those ailments transmitted is Lyme disease.  April has been designated ‘National Prevent Lyme Disease in Dogs’ month by the American Lyme Disease Foundation (

I am happy to report that, according to the California Department of Public Health for the years 2004 through 2013, there were zero confirmed cases of Lyme disease reported in Tehama County.  Unfortunately, the neighboring counties of Butte, Shasta, Mendocino, and Trinity did not do as well.  However, do not rest easy, because besides the bacteria that causes Lyme disease, ticks can transmit at least eight other microbial agents, such as those causing relapsing fever, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tularemia, Colorado tick fever, or babesiosis.  Evidence also indicates that the deer tick and the western black-legged tick, the same ticks that transmit Lyme disease, are the transmitters of Anaplasmosis, a potentially fatal disease which can infect both people and pets. 

If you or your dog are often outdoors, you can reduce the risk of disease by taking a few simple precautions.  The first is learn how to recognize a tick.  The immature form, known as a “nymph”, is about the size of a poppy seed (1/25 inch long).  It has eight legs, a dark brownish-black plate on its back, and a light-colored, translucent abdomen and is most active during spring and early summer months.  Nymphs are often found on logs, grasses, fallen branches, low-growing shrubs, and among the damp leaves that accumulate under trees.  An adult is about 1/8 inch long, has long mouthparts, brownish-black legs, a dark brownish-black plate that covers the front half of its back, and a reddish-orange abdomen.  Feeding ticks can expand to almost ½ inch in length.  The adults are typically found in open grass or chaparral, along the vegetative borders of hillside trails, and other areas that have populations of deer.

There are several effective tick control products available.  Examples are: the Preventic collar, Advantix, Frontline, Vectra 3D and Promeris Canine.  Knowing what kind of product to use, and how to use it, is critical to the health and well-being of your pet.  Consult your veterinarian to determine what product is best to use.  Certain factors such as age, breed, and pet health affect type and the dose of the product.  If you do use one of them, watch for any signs of an adverse reaction, such as: anxiousness, excessive scratching, skin redness, vomiting, or any other abnormal behavior.  If you see any of these signs, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Even the best repellants may not prevent these little buggers from attaching themselves to your beloved companion, so a tick check should be part of your dog’s daily routine.  To do one, simply run your fingers slowly over his entire body, and check between toes, under armpits, the insides of ears, and around the face and chin.  If you feel a swollen area, there might be a tick burrowed there.

If you do find a tick on your dog, you need to remove it as soon as possible.  Since ticks can transmit disease to people, I would suggest wearing gloves to avoid any contact with your skin.  With a pair of tweezers, grasp the tick as close to your dog’s skin as possible.  Once grasped, pull outward in a straight, steady motion, making sure that you have removed the entire tick, since anything left behind could cause an infection.  Do not twist the tick as you extract it as this could cause the mouth parts to break off.  Dispose of it in a small container containing isopropyl alcohol, since the alcohol quickly kills the offending varmint.  Finally, cleanse the dog’s skin with a mild antiseptic solution of povidone-iodine.

Keep an eye on the area where the tick was attached to see if an infection develops.  In addition, watch for possible symptoms of tick-borne diseases.  Lyme disease can be difficult to distinguish from Anaplasmosis because symptoms are very similar.  Symptoms could include lameness, decreased activity, joint swelling, fever, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, loss of appetite and neurological problems. 

Additional information can be found at the American Veterinary Medical Association (, and the University of California, Davis ( ) sites.

Cyber Bullying

As a child, I was inspired by stories of courageous people who did wonderful things and changed the world around them.  They were my heroes.  Some of them were real, others were not, but each one followed a code of moral ethics, persevered in the face of adversity, and were dedicated to helping those who could not help themselves.  They had honor and integrity.  Nowadays, there simply are not enough heroes and, in my opinion, if you cannot display the qualities of admirable character, then at least do not be cruel.

For this article, I am not talking about animal cruelty.  What I am discussing is a development that is occurring frequently on social media.  Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc. are superb venues for animal advocacy groups, rescues, and shelters to network animals in need, spread awareness about welfare issues and promote events.  However, if you spend much time on these sites, you will come across a number of individuals who are just downright nasty and cruel.  They appear to take pleasure in spreading rumors, damaging reputations, broadcasting half-truths, and often acting as self-appointed judge, jury, and executioner, all of which they accomplish in a few  posts and comments.  Do not let anyone kid you, this is bullying.  While it may not be the elementary- or high-school variety, it is definitely not benign.  It is called cyberbullying and it can happen to anyone.

Unfortunately, cyberbullying has surfaced as a disturbing trend in animal advocacy/rescue work.  Believe it or not, even charitable organizations and veterinarians are not immune to this unacceptable behavior.  It is important to remember that animal advocates and rescuers are just ordinary people who are trying to do the best that they can for animals in need.  These people spend days networking, transporting, fostering, volunteering at shelters, or rescuing animals to facilitate their adoption.  They often put their own life and needs on hold while also devoting an extraordinary amount of time, energy, and money to aid and support these helpless creatures.  It is unclear what the motivation is but, whatever the reason may be, cyberbullying within the animal welfare/rescue community causes unbelievable harm.

Cyberbullying extracts a huge emotional toll on the target.  It also has the potential to dissuade many others from trying to be an advocate or rescuer and, perhaps most of all, it takes time away from the true goal of helping the helpless.  If we are dealing with these people, we are not working on everything else vital to protect and save animals.  Programs to improve animal welfare, transporting, fostering, rescuing, fundraising for crucial revenues necessary to provide food, shelter, medical, etc. all take a back seat because of the need to protect reputations that years of painstaking work have built.

Perhaps the worst part is that these cyberbullies claim they are also animal welfare advocates.  They vocalize vehemently on how they have nothing but the best interests of the animal in mind.  Yet, instead of assisting, they merely agitate and incite.  For those of us involved with animal welfare, it is difficult enough to deal with the end- result of constant heartless acts perpetuated on the animals without having to deal with the aggressive acts of supposedly “one of our own”. 

What can we do prevent cyberbullying?  We can report abuse and harassment.  Facebook, for example, provides information at ( on what to do, depending upon where the abusive content is located.  We can block or delete offenders from our sites.  If you are a bystander (not the person or group targeted) step up on behalf of the victim and encourage others to do the same.  Do not spread malicious gossip and, if you see or hear see something that is wrong, inform the person or group being besieged, for they may not be aware.  It takes courage for someone to step up on behalf of a bully’s victim, but remember that using insults or threats to defend does nothing to diffuse or aid a situation. 

The positive, life-saving results of those active within the animal welfare community speak for themselves.  They have strength of character, they persevere against tremendous odds, they work together towards a common goal, and they positively encourage others to do the same.  For the animals that benefit, these people are true heroes!  If you do not wish to work alongside these individuals and get in the trenches with them, then do not hinder or hurt them.  Do not become a villain.  Not one animal has ever been saved by online harassment, verbal abuse, or acts of cruelty. 

Monday, March 28, 2016

Human Pain Meds Are Not For Dogs

In today’s world, accessing a vast array of information is extremely easy.  Ask a question on the internet and you will receive at least a hundred answers.  Discerning whether the information provided is correct, personal opinion or simply a tool to promote a particular product is not as simple.  A perfect example would be pet medications, among which are NSAIDs, medications to relieve pain in dogs.

NSAID’s are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs that help reduce swelling, stiffness, and joint pain in humans.  Our over-the counter products are known, generically, as Ibuprofen, Naproxen, and Aspirin, whose familiar manufactured names are Advil, Motrin, Aleve, Ecotrin, Ascriptin, and Bayer.  A number of prescription NSAIDs for humans are sold under the names:  Anaprox, Celebrex, Daypro, Feldene, Indocin, Naprosyn, Vimovo and Voltaren.

NSAIDs can also reduce swelling, ease stiffness, and alleviate joint pain in dogs.  But dogs are not human, and those NSAIDs in your medicine cabinet can actually do more harm than good.  There are a number of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs available just for dogs.  Some are Carprofen (Rimadyl, Novox, Vetprofen Carprieve, Quellin, Carprofen), Deracoxib (Deramaxx), Firocoxib (Previcox), and Meloxicam (Metacam, Loxicom, Orocam, Meloxidyl, Meloxicam).

When a guardian observes their dog showing signs of pain, I am sure some have considered giving their pet one of their own over-the-counter pain relievers.  Even though an NSAID may be safe and effective for humans, it may not be safe for dogs because it may last longer in the body, have a higher absorption rate in the stomach and small intestine, and can attain high blood levels.  These differences can cause toxicity resulting in severe liver and kidney damage and gastrointestinal problems for your companion.  Even veterinary drug products approved for one species, such as dogs, may be toxic to another species, such as cats.  Therefore, it is always advisable to consult with your veterinarian before giving any medication to your pet.

Aspirin may be one over-the-counter NSAID that your veterinarian might suggest giving to your dog for a limited period, but usually only if he has an injury or another short-term condition.  It is not recommended for long-term usage because of the greater potential of side effects.  Again, discuss usage with your veterinarian and follow any recommendations regarding dosage and frequency of administration.

There is no denying that the cost of medications for both humans and pets can be quite expensive and, for those on limited budgets, purchasing discount drugs with no prescription necessary through the internet may be quite enticing.  While there are sites that are reputable pharmacies, there are many more companies that sell counterfeit products, expired drugs, or make fraudulent claims.  If a pharmacy claims that one of its veterinarians will "evaluate" the pet after reading a form completed by the pets’ guardian, and will then prescribe a drug, it should be a “Red Flag” warning to you.  One of the best ways to purchase pet medication online is to order from an internet pharmacy service recommended by your veterinarian.  These licensed services work directly with the veterinarian, and require prescriptions be written by him.  They actively support your veterinarian- patient relationship.  In addition, do not hesitate to ask your vet if the medication can be purchased inexpensively through a regular “human” pharmacy in its generic form.

It is also important to realize there are many pet healthcare sites that freely give out incorrect and possibly harmful information.  When researching information, I would advise sticking to veterinary colleges and associations. 
Examples are The AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) (, and Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine (  If you do find an article on a medication that applies to your pet, be sure to check it out with your veterinarian.  What works for one animal may not actually help, or can potentially harm, another.  Incorrect dosage for size or breed, other drug interactions, your pet’s anatomy and physiology, and any chronic health issues play an important role on the ultimate well-being of your dog when giving medications. 

We are used to treating ourselves with over-the-counter (OTC) medications.  We should then be able to do the same with our pets, you might think.  Unfortunately, pet metabolism and physiology is different from ours, thus making it difficult, at best, to extrapolate from our own experiences.  Any OTC med, even if deemed “safe” for pet use, can have the possibility to do harm.  If you would not give yourself a potentially fatal or damaging drug without consulting a physician then, please, give your beloved friend the same consideration.  

Tips For People Adopting A Dog

Imagine being brought to a foreign country where customs and people are unfamiliar, and you cannot speak the language.  The experience would be not only stressful, but terrifying, too.  When you adopt a dog from the shelter, that scenario is similar to what he will feel when he goes home with you.  Understand that the dog that you just adopted is landing in territory that is alien, filled with strangers and customs he either does not know or does not comprehend.  He will be confused and stressed.  He will require some time to adjust.  The solution for him to smoothly transition into your home is to be prepared, patient, and consistent in your actions.

Before you bring your dog home, determine where he will initially be spending most of his time and make it dog-friendly.  Move all items out of reach that he might find appealing to chew, remove any hazardous items, and have plenty of appropriate dog toys available.  If you plan on crate-training, be sure to it set-up.  A crate can be a place where the dog feels safe and secure during the transition period, and also during those times you are absent.  Never use a crate as a punishment.  If you prefer not to crate but still want to confine, try baby gates in the kitchen or another area that can be easily accessed and cleaned.  It is important to remember that each time you leave your dog he should know that he has done nothing wrong when being confined in a crate or restricted to a particular area.

When you bring your new pet home, leash-walk him, even in fenced yards, until he relieves himself.  Start getting him used to the area by sniffing and becoming acquainted with all the smells.  Allow plenty of opportunity for elimination.  If you have a special area you want him to regularly use, go to it and praise or reward when he does.  If your new pet is a male, he will most likely want to mark territory, especially if he detects other dogs.  Understand that he may accidentally mark inappropriate items when coming into your home, so it is best to keep him on leash when entering the first time.  If he starts to lift his leg, immediately walk him to his spot outside.  Be sure to always praise or reward appropriate outside bathroom behavior.  Keep in mind that if he does have a few accidents, it might be because he is nervous and stressed.

Some dogs experience stomach upset and may throw up or experience diarrhea due to dietary changes.  When you adopt your dog, ask what brand of food was given and what time he usually ate.  In the beginning, try to duplicate both.  If you wish to switch to a different brand, do so for about a week by adding one part of the new food to three parts of the previous kibble for a few days; then switch to equal parts of each, and finally decreasing to one part old to three parts new.  This should assist in avoiding any gastric issues.  However, if symptoms persist after a couple of days, or actually worsen within the 48 hours, or if his energy or appetite diminish, it is definitely time to see the veterinarian.

Take time to create a vocabulary of commands that everyone in your home will unfailingly use when giving direction.  This will help alleviate any confusion on the animal’s part and help him learn more quickly.

For the first few days, try minimize excitement.  Give him time to acclimate to you and your family before introducing him to any strangers.  Teach children how to properly behave around him, and never allow harassment or mistreatment.  Also, be sure never to leave young or inexperienced children around the dog without supervision.

After passing his health exam by the veterinarian, enroll the both of you in training classes.  Even if you are not a new dog owner, training can be quite valuable.  Be sure to involve all family members in the training process to maintain uniformity.  Establishing a regular routine will provide the dog security and is invaluable in speeding up the adjustment process.  This includes feeding times, exercise and play times, bedtime, and when it is time to go outside to relieve himself.  

Dogs are resilient, and with a bit of preparation, some patience, and consistency in routine and direction you can shape your relationship with your newly adopted shelter dog into something that truly gets better each day.

Living With an Adopted Shelter Dog

I recently read an article in HSUS’s Animal Sheltering magazine, by Courtney Thomas.  In it, the author discusses what it is like to live with an adopted shelter dog, who is and has been a challenge since he became a part of her family.  On a personal level, my husband and I also adopted a dog who has challenged us on many occasions and, as she gets older, caring for her has taxed our patience levels at times.  However, like the author, I love her “to the moon and back”. 

A common mantra among those of us who strive to improve the lives of homeless animals is "saving one animal won’t change the world, but it will change the world for that one animal”.  What we fail to add is that it also changes our world.  In more ways than we could express, it is for the better.  However, as with many of life’s occurrences, there are times we wish things were different.

Are all shelter dogs difficult?  The short answer is a resounding, “No!”  Adopting an animal from a shelter is no different than beginning any new relationship.  There is always risk involved and you never truly know how everything will eventually turn out.  Unfortunately, for the animals that end up at the shelter, it is often because their guardians’ expectations and the reality of the situation do not agree.  The reasons they become wards of the county are as innumerable as the types, sizes, and colors of the animals, themselves.  The shelter is filled with dogs that have relatively minor behavioral issues, most of which could have been prevented through a bit of forethought, some training and patience.  Other explanations often given for surrendering to a shelter are, “We do not have enough time”, “ It’s too expensive”, “We are moving, having a baby, changing jobs, etc.”, all of which are human foibles and not the animals’.

Regardless of the reason, understand, when you adopt, that many of these animals have been through hell.  In addition, they have had their previous world, whether good or bad, turned upside down.  They are scared, confused, and stressed.  They will not immediately comprehend that the new home you are bringing them into is their salvation.  For some, a few days or weeks may be all the adjustment time they need.  For others you may, throughout the rest of their lives, deal with a result from earlier history.  Our past plays a significant role in the way we think and feel.  Why, then, would we even consider that an animal’s past has no bearing on the way it responds to various current situations.

For example, one of the most common complaints of guardians is that their dog becomes unruly or destructive when separated from them.  A behavioral condition called “separation anxiety” is one where the animal is so distressed by being left alone that he will destroy the house, barks incessantly, or urinates or defecates inappropriately.  Both my husband and I know this behavior well.  Even after being in a safe, loving home for almost five years, with a regular schedule, plenty of training, counter-conditioning and every other suggestion offered, as soon as we begin to think about leaving, Noel, goes ballistic (for lack of a better word).  Apparently, something in her past traumatized her to the point that she may never get over the fear of us being gone.  At times, her conduct is mildly frustrating, at other times it takes every bit of self-control not to get angry at her behaviors.  Would I ever give her up because of the baggage she brought with her?  It isn’t even a consideration for she is, as I call her, “my princess”.

Every animal I have adopted, or have come in contact with at the shelter, has been extraordinary in its own unique way.  They give unconditional love when there is no reason for them to do so.  They show us how to live with gentleness and joy in the midst of adversity.  They teach us about how precious all life is.  So, do not be put off about adopting a shelter pet.  Any relationship takes work and, just like any other relationship, adopting a shelter dog requires caring and commitment.  If you are patient, the rewards of sharing your life with one of these wonderful companions far outweighs, in my opinion, any initial challenges faced.

Sunday, March 6, 2016


Many items inside and outside our home can have potentially lethal consequences for our pets.  As responsible pet guardians, our duty is to insure that risks to the well-being of our beloved companions are minimized.

According to the Pet Poison Helpline, in 2012 43% of all calls had to do with the animal ingesting human medications.  It is extremely important to keep all prescription and over-the-counter medications, even those in childproof bottles, out of harm’s way.  Closed cabinets, not easily accessed by prying paws, are the best for storage.  Drugs containing acetaminophen (e.g. Tylenol®), NSAIDs (e.g. Advil®, Aleve® and Motrin) and antidepressants such as Prozac and Paxil, are examples that can be lethal, even in small quantities.  Pets can also incur Vitamin toxicity, especially with iron, Vitamin D, and alpha-lipoic acid.  Supervise anyone who may require assistance taking medications, in order to prevent pills from being dropped on the floor and easily accessed by pets.  As a last note, do not think it is cute to get your pet “stoned”.  Narcotics, including marijuana, can create a life-threatening risk to your pet.

Common household cleaning products can be equally dangerous.  The key to safety lies in following the directions for proper use and storage.  If the label warns, “keep pets and children away from area until dry”, follow the guidelines.  Products containing bleach can disinfect surfaces when used correctly, but can cause stomach upset, vomiting, diarrhea or severe burns if swallowed, and respiratory tract irritation if inhaled.  In addition, skin contact with concentrated solutions can produce serious chemical burns.  Mothballs, potpourri oils, fabric softener sheets, dishwashing detergent, batteries, cigarettes, and hand and foot warmers are also potentially deadly to pets.

Automotive products such as gasoline, oil, and antifreeze should always be secured away from inquisitive mouths.  Antifreeze in any amount is lethal to dogs and cats.  If any is spilled, immediately clean it up.  While antifreeze products containing propylene glycol are less toxic than those containing ethylene glycol, they can still be quite hazardous to pets.  In addition to antifreeze, other substances typically stored in the garage include insecticides, fertilizers, and weed killers, which can threaten your pet’s health if ingested.  In fact, certain types such as organophosphates (like those found in rose-care products), can be life threatening when ingested in even small amounts.  When applying the agents outside, be sure to keep your pet away for the manufacturer’s recommended time.  If they are exposed to chemicals or granules that adhere to their body, they may lick it them, resulting in stomach upset or even more serious problems.

If a pet ingests rat poison, life-threatening illness can result.  When using any rodenticide, it is important to place the poison in areas completely inaccessible to pets.  Only one type of mouse poison (anticoagulant or blood thinner) has an antidote to counteract the effects of the poison.  The rest, unfortunately, have no antidote and are much more difficult to treat.  Remember, too, that a poisoned rodent carcass is a serious hazard, as well.

Certain foods can be potentially deadly to pets.  I recommend that you commit the following list to memory:  alcoholic drinks, avocados, chocolate, coffee grounds, any fatty foods, tea, macadamia nuts, moldy or spoiled foods, onions, garlic, raisins and grapes, salt, yeast-based  dough, and  any food product containing xylitol, which is an artificial sweetener.

Have fleas?  Always read the label first before using any flea-control product on or around your pet.  When these products are misused, vomiting or diarrhea can result.  Some of the more serious effects such as difficulty breathing, muscle tremors, and seizures can also occur.  Never use a dog flea-control formula on your cat, or vice versa.  There are multitudes of flea products for dogs that contain permethrin, which can be life threatening to cats.

They may be pretty, but many house and yard plants can be poisonous to your pets.  Some of the most common that should be kept away from pets include: certain types of lilies, Lily of the Valley, oleander, yew, foxglove, kalanchoe, sago palms, azaleas, rhododendrons, tulip/narcissus bulbs, castor bean,  cyclamen, amaryllis, chrysanthemums, pothos, English ivy, philodendron, corn plant, mother-in-law’s tongue, hibiscus, hydrangea, rhubarb leaves and certain varieties of mushrooms.

Additional information regarding poisonous substances can be located at the Pet Poison Helpline ( and the ASPCA (

Accidents will happen.  It is best to be prepared.  Keep your local veterinarian’s telephone number easily accessible, plus the following numbers for the ASPCA Poison Control Center (888-426-4435) and the Pet Poison Helpline (855-764-7661).   

Wednesday, March 2, 2016


All these Bully- bunnies want you to know-

“You're no bunny until some bunny loves you
You're no bunny till some bunny cares…
Just as sure as the stars shine above,
You’re no bunny until some bunny comes and loves you,
So find yourself some bunny to love !!!!

They all want you to Hop on down as quickly as you can, to the at the Tehama County Animal Care Center, at 1830 Walnut St., Red Bluff, CA (530-527-3439) this week to find yourself some-bunny to LOVE !

Starting Monday, February 29 through Saturday, March 5, all Bully-Bunnys will be $45.00 or less AND EVERY ADOPTION, will come with a set of Bully-Bunny Ears!

Bunnies can't find homes on their own, so they are asking you to keep on sharing and reposting them!!! If you have any questions... PLEASE contact the Tehama County Animal Care Center.

Everyone needs some bunny to LOVE and we are just the ones to give it to you !!!!

Bro-Bunny RESCUED 2/29/16
Dutch -Bunny
Jerry-Bunny ADOPTED 2/27/16
Rocco-Bunny ADOPTED 2/29/16
Tanner-Bunny ADOPTED 2/27/16
Venus-Bunny ADOPTED 2/29/16







Saturday, February 6, 2016


A comic strip called MUTTS delves into the special bond between animals and guardians, while advocating for various animal issues.  Last year, the MUTTS team created a Manifesto, to encourage compassion with animals, humans, and the planet.  The first point on it is “To Be Kind”.

I wondered, isn’t being kind what all humans should be?  Unfortunately, acts of kindness are not the typical headlines dominating the news. A kind person often appears as the exception, rather than the rule.  In today’s society, it is a sad commentary.  So, how do we change the status quo?  We start by setting an example and treating not only our own pets, but all animals with the respect and compassion they deserve.

Humans do have a moral obligation to animals because, if for no other reason, we and they are not as disparate as we believe.  According to the July 3, 2014  New York Times article ‘Zoo Animals and Their Discontents’, by Alex Halberstadt,  “A profusion of recent studies has shown animals to be far closer to us than we previously believed — it turns out that common shore crabs feel and remember pain, zebra finches experience REM sleep, fruit-fly brothers cooperate, dolphins and elephants recognize themselves in mirrors, chimpanzees assist one another without expecting favors in return and dogs really do feel elation in their owners’ presence.”  If we pay attention to the scientific data that indicates animals have emotion and are self-aware, then it is a valid argument that we should also reconsider our treatment of them. 

Science is not our only source to aid us in reaching the conclusion that animals should be treated with respect.  All of the world’s major religions recognize the value of animal life and the need to avoid animal suffering.  Judaism embraces the Hebrew concept of tsa'ar ba'alei hayim – a principle which bans inflicting unnecessary pain on animals.  Evidence of caring attitudes towards animals can be found in the Bible, an example being: ‘A righteous man regardeth the life of the beast’ (Proverbs 12.10).  With Hinduism and Buddhism, nature is held sacred and humans are not any more significant than any other living thing.  The prophet Mohammed said, "It behooves you to treat the animals gently".  Native American traditions and beliefs vary extensively, but the common premise is all of Nature is sacred.

According to the National PTA Congress, “Children trained to extend justice, kindness, and mercy to animals become more just, kind, and considerate in their relations to each other. “ What that tells us is, when children learn to treat animals kindly, even the least adored, they are also learning how to treat fellow members of society.  Learning about compassion in the formative years aids in helping reduce instances of violence to all living beings. 

It is believed that Mahatma Ghandi said, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”  If this is true, then the ethical standards of the community are weakened by the acceptance of inhumane treatment of animals.  If we can discount and ignore the well-being of animals, then it becomes much easier for us to ignore the welfare of other humans.  Our capacity to understand another person's condition from their perspective becomes diminished.  We find that we are no longer empathetic and our ability to look beyond our own self-absorbed interests to help others is decreased.  Teaching kindness and respect for animals is a good first step in teaching empathy.

On another note, research documents the importance of the human-animal bond in child development, elderly care, mental and physical illness, dementia, abuse, and trauma recovery, and the rehabilitation of the incarcerated.  By cultivating our compassion for all living creatures, we can consequently improve our own physical and mental health. 

In the 1975 book, ‘Animal Liberation: A New Ethics for Our Treatment of Animals’, author Peter Singer states “
The animals themselves are incapable of demanding their own liberation, or of protesting against their condition …Human beings have the power to continue to oppress other species forever … Will our tyranny continue… Or will we rise to the challenge and prove our capacity for genuine altruism by ending our ruthless exploitation of the species in our power ?… The way in which we answer this question depends on the way in which each one of us, individually, answers.” 

We can answer with compassion, respect, and kindness to animals.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Teaching Children How To Be Safe Around Dogs

Check that it's sweet, before you meet!  This is sound advice for either a child or adult.  Always ask permission from the dog’s guardian before approaching any dog.   The guardian can let you know whether the animal is friendly and enjoys being petted, or prefers not to be touched.  When approaching the animal use caution, because you never know if, that day, the dog is not in the mood for a meet and greet.

To understand, they sniff your hand!  Dogs truly rule when it comes to their sense of smell.  According to the Alabama Cooperative Extension System (ACES), a dog's sense of smell is approximately 1,000 times more sensitive than that of humans, and they use it to get to know those around them.  When initially meeting a dog, let him sniff the back of your hand.  This will keep your fingers out of the way and will not appear threatening to the dog. 

Chin or chest, that's the best!  Once the guardian has given permission, and the dog seems agreeable to being touched, gently stroke under his chin, on his chest or along its side for a few seconds. Pause and see what occurs. If the animal moves closer, nudges your hand, or interacts in a social way, he is letting you know that being touched is okay.  If he stiffens, moves away, or does not show any favorable body language, stop stroking.  Dogs, like us, do not like to be patted on the top of their heads.  Not only is it uncomfortable, but even a small hand approaching from above can feel threatening to a dog.

To meet a pup, ask a grown-up!  Always ask the adult guardian before picking up and nuzzling any puppy.  The puppy’s mother may be quite protective and might snap if a stranger approaches her puppies.  Even if the mother is not present, puppies can also bite and scratch like their more mature counterparts. 

If a dog has a snack, keep well back!  Approaching a dog while he is eating or chewing a bone might cause him to think you want to take his food or treasure away.  This may cause the dog to protect what it has by initially growling, then possibly snapping and biting.
Keep your face out of their space!  It is common sense to keep any face, whether child or adult, away from a dog’s mouth.  Even if the animal does not want to bite, he could nip accidently.

If you run and shout, it freaks us out!  Dogs react to the way we behave.  Screaming, shouting, or swinging arms wildly and running around are more likely to cause any dog to chase or attack.  Even more affected by rowdy children are shy or nervous dogs.  Being calm around such dogs can help them feel more secure.

A dog is not a toy, do not tease and annoy!  Never tease, hurt, or annoy a dog by its taking toys or by pretending to hit or kick him.  In addition, teach children not to yank on a dog’s tail, pull its fur, poke its eyes, or try to climb on its back and ride it.  Dogs cannot say in words that they want you to stop horrid behavior, but they can definitely growl and bite.

Quiet and slow is the way to go!  It is important that children be taught not to stare when confronted by an aggressive type dog and to move quietly and slowly away.  Direct eye contact is interpreted by dogs as aggression.  It is also imperative to tell them to “be a tree” and stand quietly, keeping their head down, with their hands low and clasped in front of them if a dog goes after them.  If they are knocked down, teach them to immediately cover their head and neck with their arms, and curl into a ball and “be like a rock”.

We know that children are the most common victims of dog bites.  Teaching children a few simple rules on how to be gentle, how to respect a dog’s space, and on what to do with unfamiliar dogs can go a long way in keeping children safer.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Start your new year on the right foot by walking your dog!

If you were like me, you did too much sitting, too much eating and not enough moving around this past holiday season.  But, it just so happens that January is National Walk Your Dog Month.  What a perfect time for both you and Fido to get off the sofa and get some overdue exercise, the benefits of which for the both of you are wonderful.  Not only will you have a reason to get out and enjoy some fresh air and maybe lose some of those extra holiday pounds, but you will also have a faithful companion to do it with.  What a perfect way to reinforce the bond between the two of you.

Healthy dogs are energetic and, unless they have constructive outlets for that pent-up energy, bad behaviors can ensue.  If the animal is bored and has nothing else to do, be prepared for the possibility of destructive chewing, barking for no reason, or him being uncontrollable and uncooperative.  Taking Fido for a walk helps to give him something positive to do instead.  Just as we need physical and mental stimulation to function well, so do our dogs.  Exploring the world with him by your side helps to provide it.  In addition, you will have a multitude of opportunities to teach him new things.  He could learn to “sit” before crossing a road, to “lie down” quietly while you rest, and to “drop it” when he gets into something he shouldn’t.  The more you share time with your dog, the stronger your relationship becomes.

Socialization is equally important, especially in the early stages, for a well-behaved, confident animal.  Walking provides exposure to a wide variety of situations, such as loud noises, other animals, unfamiliar people, and noxious smells.  Dogs without varied exposure can become fearful or, worse, territorially aggressive.  When puppies learn how to interact and communicate with people, other canines, and other species they will become less likely to show aggressive behavior when they reach adulthood. 

While walking is the perfect opportunity to do some training, there is no reason it cannot be fun and pleasurable for you both.  Before heading out be sure to prepare adequately for your jaunt.  Always carry disposable bags for picking up your dog’s feces.  Leaving dog waste is not only a health hazard, but also extremely inconsiderate to others who may be enjoying a relaxing stroll.  If you would not like to step in a pile of dog dung, why would you then consider that anyone else would like it?  Be sure to carry water for yourself and your dog to hydrate, especially in warm weather.  There are easy to carry, collapsible water bowls available, or you can always have the animal lap the water from your cupped hands.  You will also need to have some of the dog’s favorite bite-sized treats, easily eaten, for rewards as you train good behavior.

According to Tehama County Animal regulations, anytime you and your dog leave your property, the dog must be restrained by a leash and under your physical control.  It is important to be aware that, if the dog is loose and does any damage, you as the owner can be held liable for any costs incurred.  There are many types of leashes available to meet the need, so pick one that is comfortable to hold.  However, I would recommend that you avoid using a retractable lead, especially if the dog has not been properly trained to walk on a regular leash. 

It is also important to remember that, until your dog learns to walk politely on loose leash, all walks the both of you take are training walks, because good leash skills are mandatory for both you and your dog’s safety.  Even a small dog can cause injury to you and himself if he pulls too hard, wanders back and forth in front of you, or jerks you around.  When properly trained, your dog should walk steadily beside you with the leash slack (loose leash).  Initially, especially with puppies, it is also advisable to keep walks frequent, short in duration, and positive for your dog.  Until he has mastered leash walking, you may have to find additional means to exercise the dog since the training sessions might be too short to provide the necessary exercise.  

So celebrate National Walk Your Dog Month, by grabbing a leash and walking with your furry friend.  Fido will not be the only one benefiting from the exercise.  You can be sure you will, too!