April 24, 2012

That Fateful Ride: The View From the Top of a Station Wagon

Filed under: abused animal — Tags: , — Dr. Amber Reed @ 9:34 am

Just like looking at dog tumor pictures online, it’s hard to look away from the recent outburst of news stories revolving around Mitt Romney and Seamus, the family dog he strapped to the roof of his station wagon during a 1983 family trip.

The story, which was first reported by The Boston Globe in 2007, gives an account of how Romney put his dog in a crate equipped with a handmade windscreen, secured the crate to the top of his car, and drove from Boston to Ontario.

At one point Romney had to hose off his car, crate, and dog after the dog had a bowel movement accident inside his crate. Then, according to The Globe, Romney put Seamus back in his crate and drove to his destination.

Again, like the dog tumor pictures, Americans can’t stop reading and commenting on this story. Because this is an election year, stories like Romney’s treatment of Seamus dominate the political headlines and keep dog loving voters in an uproar. Readers empathize with the family dog and wonder, if Romney seems to treat his dog so poorly how will he treat voters? After all, how people care for their pets is seen by many as direct insight into their character. Right now Romney’s character is looking poor.

Many pet owners think of their dogs as part of their family, and they would as soon strap man’s best friend to the roof of their car as they would their own mother. Reactions to Romney’s behavior range from thinking him cruel and unpleasant to immoral and depraved. There are few who have no opinion.

Romney himself has not offered a statement on the story. And Seamus, who passed away years ago, is not offering his side of the tail either. Either way given a choice between looking at dog tumor pictures and seeing a dog like Seamus fastened on top of a moving car, it seems many animal lovers will choose the tumor pictures. How many of those same animal lovers will now choose a different candidate?

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Quiet Down You Animal: Incessant Barking Banned

Filed under: dogs — Tags: , — Dr. Amber Reed @ 8:56 am

“Sir, do you know how long, and how loud you were barking?”


“That’s the problem right there, Sir.”

Hawaii County has taken action against a new breed of criminals that has overrun the calm audible Archipelago with a new breed of social disruption: dogs barking to excess. A new law that some view as “draconian” and infringing on rights enables police officers to fine dog owners several hundred dollars in the event that “barks, bays, cries, or howls” continue for ten minutes interrupted, or for twenty minutes out of thirty intermittently.

Despite these objections, some residents view this legislation as the only way to deal with the near-constant assault on their ear drums. Some residents point out that they need to sleep with fans next to the heads just to drown out the barking in an attempt to fall asleep at night. Despite what you might expect from such a heating scenario, the residents in question are not cool such an arrangement.

Hawaii enables dogs that fall outside of the law to get professional help as part of a plea deal so as to allow dog owners to retain their canines.

Carl Oguss, who runs the East Hawaii Dog Psychology Centre, explains that excessive dog barking is the result of boredom of the part of the animal. He urges pet owners to take their dogs for walks and to engage in play dates with other dogs so as to curb this behavior.

“You have to focus on the cause as well as how to correct the symptoms,” he said of incessant barkers.

Carl Oguss is a self-professed ‘dog whisperer’ and teaches Hawaii County pet owners on how to communicate with their pets in this fashion.

While there are seemingly plenty of arguments present to support a world where the police do not patrol the streets for animal sounds, it should be noted that this law shows spots of compassion for the instinctual nature of canines, and the eventuality that situations will arise to provoke such innate responses—for example, the law allows dogs to bark over the allotted time limit if their owner is being physically attacked.

Hawaii (in particular Honolulu) describes a particular nightmare with noisy dogs, but they are not alone in their legislative actions. California has also imposed similar constraints on dog barking, with a few towns having set time limits on how long is too long.

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April 21, 2012

5 New and Unusual Cats

Filed under: Cat Breeds,Uncategorized — Tags: , — Dr. Amber Reed @ 8:14 am

an exotic cat Cats have been around for thousands of years, and in that time they have had a chance to evolve into some interesting varieties. Sometimes you can see a cat with an odd color, or really large or with a crooked tail. Well, the following breeds are unique to say the least; in fact, they take unusual to a whole new level.

  • Khao Manee is actually a very old breed that has been in the Philippines for over 650 years. It is considered to be a very lucky animal to own and as such was kept by the Indonesians until finally a breeding pair was allowed to leave to the United States in 1999. The cats look like a Siamese cat but are pure white and have one gold eye and one blue. They are so valuable that kittens can sell for $8-10,0000 dollars apiece.
  • American Bobtail is a large sturdy cat that is very playful and can be easily taught to play fetch. Although it resembles a bobcat, it does not have any of that breeding in it, although to be a registered cat, it must have a short stub tail that stands up straight. It can be trained easily to walk calmly on a leash. They are very clever and can free themselves from almost any crate or enclosure, and this may reflect their strong bond onto their owners.
  • Don Sphynx was just developed in 1980 in Russia. It is a genetically bred hairless cat where the hairless gene is dominant unlike the regular Sphynx cat where it is recessive. Being dominant assures that this cat loses its hair by the age of 2. Being hairless, their skin does require extra care and a daily bath is recommended. They have elongated toes, which they can use much like fingers to play with their toys. They have higher body temperature which makes them more immune from disease, but increases their caloric demands.
  • Peterbald is a cross between a Don Sphynx and Oriental Shorthair and is a very new breed that was just recognized by the International Cat Association in 1997. It is a friendly breed that gets along with other cats and pets. It can be hairless, but also comes in 3 other coat types including a curly haired coat. They have a medium build with a whip like tail, long ears and almond eyes.
  • Tea Cup Persians are actually regular Persians that have been bred to be very small by selection. They are not genetic mutants but can have more problems if highly inbred to be this small. They grow to be only 6 lbs or less at adult weight. They have become increasing popular in the last few years along with the popularity of teacup pigs, teacup dogs and miniature horses. They have the same features as the full size Persians along with the same health problems Persians have. Due to their rarity, they can be more expensive than full size Persians.

A good place to see many exotic cats and their enthusiastic owners is a local cat show. The exhibitors are always ready to share their knowledge and years of experience with visitors and it is amazing to see the variety of cats being exhibited at even a small event.

April 19, 2012

What Type of Music Do Pets Prefer?

Filed under: Cat behavior,dog toys — Tags: , — Dr. Amber Reed @ 9:35 am

dog listening to music Elvis sang about hound dogs and the Baha Men asked “Who Let the Dogs Out,” not that your dog cares; according to researchers, Fido would rather listen to pet music than humans singing about dogs or any other subject matter. Cats care even less. What is music to our ears is screeching and wailing to theirs. At best most pets are uninterested in human music, and at worse your pet may become distressed with your love of gangster rap. But while your dog, cat, or pet goldfish may never appreciate your favorite CD they might tune in if you play specialized pet music with tones and tempos made to suit their species.

According to Discovery News, Animal Psychologist Charles Snowdon has studied animal reactions to music and created songs based on a species’ frequency range and heart rate. On a music recording for animals, a lower frequency would lead to a lower pitch and tone, while reduced heart rates mean slower tempos. A cat’s vocal range and heart rate is higher than a human, making for pet music that sounds awful to us but like classical music to them. On the Music For Cats website, Snowden has teamed up with Music Composer David Teie to compile a series of “authentic music for cats.”

On the other hand, man’s best friend has proven harder to please with dedicated pet music. Discovery News notes that differences in dog breeds mean differences in frequency and heart beats per minute. This means that the vocal range and resting heart rate of a Chihuahua is different from that of a Bull Mastiff, and one size may not fit all when it comes to dog tunes. However, there are some songs for dogs available and if your dog doesn’t like your first selection, try to get a little more breed specific with the second one. Larger dogs, like Labradors, may even prefer human music, so don’t rule out your music collection for them yet.

And what about pet owners looking for the perfect little fish melody for your goldfish? Pet music for fish has yet to be researched, but fish heart rates vary widely and they communicate with both audible sounds and body movements. Since we tend to think of fish as relaxed quiet animals, classical music might be the answer for those looking for the best goldfish songs. Or perhaps the low, steady beats of reggae music would enhance their quality of life?

How To Tell If Your Pet Is Suffering From Allergies

Filed under: cat health — Tags: , — Dr. Amber Reed @ 9:03 am

cat allergyYour cat scratches, scratches, and scratches, but you’ve yet to find a flea on her. Perhaps she’s displaying pet allergy symptoms. Many pet owners are unaware that their furry friends can get allergies just like humans do. According to the Winnipeg Free Press, allergies in dogs or cats can be caused by variables as diverse as pollen, grass, mold, mildew, fleas, fragrances, food, and chemicals. In other words, anything from a flea to the dog shampoo you lovingly bathed your puppy might be making them miserable.

Pet sensitivities are harder to diagnose than human ones, and it might take a while to figure out that they are sick. A cat or dog cannot tell you that they started feeling sick and congested after their morning walk through the flower fields, or that the new diet you put them on made them feel nauseous which is why they threw up on your favorite shoes. However, the allergy symptoms your pet may be displaying can help you diagnose the cause. The pets section of WebMd says that skin reactions are the most common pet allergy reactions but other symptoms include sneezing, difficulty breathing, watery eyes, runny noses, scratching, rashes, vomiting, diarrhea, and in extreme cases death. All symptoms can range from mild to alarming, and pet owners may not realize they are being caused by allergies. It helps to be familiar with your pet and their habits, so if anything out of the ordinary arises you will know right away.

Because pet allergy symptoms are so assorted it can take owners months or even years to realize why their pet is sick. A veterinarian can identify whether allergies are the cause of illness, but it can be expensive and time consuming. With all the possible sources pinpointing the exact reason for an allergic reaction is often difficult. Veterinarians can perform skin tests and food trials to determine the origin for sensitivities. Once the reason for the allergy is found, it may take a special diet to overcome root causes.

Is it worth it? Most pet owners love their four-legged friends and consider them to be a part of the family. Like all family members, when you see them suffer you want to do whatever it takes to aid their recovery. If your dog or cat is experiencing pet allergies and is feeling unwell, with time and devotion you relieve the symptoms and help them get better.

April 13, 2012

Help! My Dog Has a Tumor!

Filed under: Cancer,Dog health — Dr. Amber Reed @ 8:46 am

One of the scariest health problems a dog owner might someday come across is finding a lump on their pet’s body where there wasn’t one before. Looking up dog tumor pictures and trying to diagnose your dog yourself will quickly lead you to assume the worst: cancer. But all lumps aren’t necessarily cancerous even when they look just like other tumor pictures. A sudden new lump on a dog usually means one of two things: mast cell tumor (cancerous) or oil cyst and other types of cysts (non-cancerous). It’s important to understand the differences between the two types, and what pet owners should do in either case.

Mast cell tumors (MCT) are malignant tumors which generally need to be surgically removed or treated. According to the Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine these cancerous tumors are common in dogs and are found in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and overall appearances. Pictures of dog tumors confirm that MCT can look like anything from small white lumps to large, red, hardened masses. Early detection is the best prevention from MCT becoming aggressive and fatal. Because these cancerous tumors like to spread throughout the body, surgical removal is usually necessary, but radiation is sometimes used when surgery is not an option. Courteous Canines, LLC writes that tissue samples from any questionable lumps are removed by a veterinarian prior to any other form of treatment to perform a biopsy and diagnose a lump as MCT.

Sebaceous cysts, or oil cysts, are small bumps found under the skin that are caused by blocked pores from hair follicles, dirt, and oil. Sebaceous cysts can also be common in dogs but unlike MCT they are non-cancerous and benign. Unfortunately, sometimes a cyst can look like cancerous tumors, and a veterinarian will need to perform a biopsy to rule out malignant cells. According to VetInfo, occasionally a veterinarian will suggest having a cyst removed surgically if it has ruptured to decrease the risk of infection.

If you believe your dog could have mast cell tumors or cysts you’ll want to get a final diagnosis from your dog’s veterinarian. Finding a dog tumor or cyst can be a scary experience, but it doesn’t have to mean the end of the world. Even if your dog is diagnosed with cancerous mast cell tumors there are different options at varying price points that can help ease pain and increase survival rates. Remember not to make an ultimate diagnosis based off dog tumor pictures, instead get a professional opinion and save yourself the potentially unnecessary grief.

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Disclaimer: CritterCures is an educational resource, and all information herein is strictly for educational purposes. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure diseases, nor is it meant to replace the (prescribed) treatment or recommendations of your veterinarian or healthcare provider. Always inform your veterinarian or healthcare provider of any products that your pet are taking, including herbal remedies and supplements.