Holiday Hazards


The “scoop” on Canine nutrition!

Is kibble diet nutritious? Should I give my dog probiotics? What human foods are safe for dogs? Can I cook my own dog food? What about raw diets? We talk to the super qualified Dr. Joe Bartges, a board certified veterinary nutritionist and internist to see what he thinks.

Find out these answers and more. Click the link and listen for free!

Cat Brains: Are we ruining them by not understanding them?

It is true that many people don’t understand cats.   But Debbie Martin, licensed veterinary technician and specialist in behavior is going to help us! She shares some interesting and little known facts about cats and kittens.

At what age do kittens learn who they are? Is it a permanent part of who they are? What can we do to make sure they meet their potential?

Is a cat’s disposition more from his mom or his dad? Why do behavior issues come up and what can we do to help or prevent them?   Let’s explore how cats think  and see what we can do to help our cats be happy.

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3 Ways You Irritate Your Dog

Your dog might bug you occasionally, but guess what…you irritate him too! The most common cause of annoying your dog is when you expect him to be something he is not (or won’t let him be who he is).

1.Lack of discipline and structure

Normal dogs naturally live in a group. They understand rank and hierarchy. They love structure and order, but people can be random and inexplicable. We have to take steps to afford our dogs with routines and boundaries they can count on. They adore knowing where they stand in the pecking order (which is best to be below the humans in the household for everyone’s safety) and they want to be able to know what to expect. Having a predictable schedule with consistent bonding and playtime makes dogs feel in control and getting regular exercise helps balance their brain chemistry.

2.Placing value on things

Dogs understand the value of resource, but resources are things like food, water, and shelter. They will never understand why we would upset that they destroyed our possessions. Don’t enforce your value system on your dog, but instead try to understand the way he sees life. Shoes, pillows and house plants are just “stuff” to him. Don’t punish him if he doesn’t value items like you do. If an item is important to you, make it inaccessible to him, but don’t expect him to know not to damage it.

3.Imposing her friendships

We all have friends and they often have dogs. We imagine our dog wants to be friends with our friends’ dogs as well, but it may not work out. Dogs understand the value of coordination and teamwork, but they see you and your family as their pack. The family pack may not include your friend’s dog. If your dog doesn’t play well with a dog that you wish he would, give him space and keep everyone safe. Allow gradual acclimation and understand that some dogs are never going to get along. If the dogs must interact, keep them on leashes and carefully observed. Always reward your dog for ignoring or pleasant to the other dog and distract him from defensive or aggressive behavior. Stay safe in the event of a scuffle and never put your hands or body parts between fighting dogs.

Dogs are dogs and they have a different way of seeing the world than humans. Humans are supposed to be the brains of the operation, so make it your business to learn as much as you can about how your dog thinks. Think about life in a wolf pack. Our dogs are not wolves, but they share some similarities in their social structure. The more you know about your dog’s instincts and behaviors, the better friend you can be to him.

Do you love dogs? Join “the pack” on Facebook by clicking here and becoming my “fur-iend”.


Do you like Free Stuff? Great Pet Deals? Me too!

There is a brand new initiative called Fear Free Happy Homes and it is available to all pet owners at now charge.  Knowledge is power and this knowledge comes free! All you do is register and you get access to LOADS of great info!

Things like:

  • What puzzle toys to buy for your pets
  • How to set up routines for training
  • How to get rid of skunk smell
  • How to safely pet proof your home
  • Teaching your cat not to damage your furnishings
  • And more!

Check it out by clicking HERE. 


Goodbye, My Friend

I just said Goodbye to my friend. Do not pity me. It was a gift that I could give to him. When I walked into the room, where I have visited with him so many times in his life, he lifted his eyes and whined under his breath. His family did not hear him, but I did. It was then that I knew. I could not let him down.

I have power in these situations. Families look to me to help them know. Usually I explain what I think medically, but remain non-committal because this is the family’s journey. Their hearts have to lead them to the decision when they are ready. But sometimes, only occasionally, will I make a stand. At these times, I must disregard the needs of the humans and only care about the needs of my patient.

In this case, bone cancer had ravaged my friend. He was living with pain, every second of every day. I know this intellectually and I explained it to the family. I had prescribed appropriate pain medication and increased dosing along the way to do what I could. But in the end, the pain won. I saw it in his eyes and I could not let him down.

I told them that there was no wrong answer, but the whole situation was wrong. We had to address the pain, at least his pain. For me and the family, the pain continues. I will miss his sweet face. He was always happy to see me, even today.

And so we all said Goodbye and he slept, with dignity and peace. It hurt us all, but not him. He has always trusted me and I did not let him down. I have honored my friend, my oath and my profession, but oh, how it hurts.

Ask A Vet: Could Jurassic World Really Happen?

I went to see the new movie, Jurassic World with my family on its opening night. It was a fun and thrilling adventure and we had a great time. As is often the case, my 11 year old son posed a thought provoking question for me and his also medically trained father. It is always rewarding to revisit scientific principles from our college days to help our son have a good foundation for the facts as we see them.

As we talked about DNA and genetic codes, we discussed that a basic principle of the plot of these movies was the resurrection of the formerly extinct species of dinosaurs, using a mix of fragments of DNA found in ancient mosquitoes and modern day species, like frogs and fish. Then he asked, “Could we even almost do that today? If we had dinosaur DNA?”

My husband and I both started to explain that there are labs cloning animals and bioengineering them also, but we were both unsure if there had ever been an animal DNA strand that was completely engineered using puzzles pieces from different species. As a practicing vet, I am somewhat separated from my research colleagues but I told my son that I would use my access to the newest medical research to find out for him how realistic this premise was in today’s science world.

What I uncovered were instances of bioengineering positively affecting many lives every day. Although to my knowledge no one has found a way to create a brand new hybrid by slicing gene sequences, we have been able to splice sections of genetic code that give instructions for how to make or do certain things. For example, scientists know how to add genes to transgenic (genetically modified) cows allowing them to the produce milk that contains lactoferrin, a substance that benefits the human babies that drink it instead the calf offspring it was naturally optimized for. (1) Transgenic research has made leaps of which I was unaware.

There is genetic research being done on DNA of single species too. I found some somewhat astounding research being performed on human embryos to “edit” out defective DNA sequence and replace with normal sequences (also human). The embryos that were used were non-viable and would never have resulted in a live birth, but the research was able to cleave the DNA segments and in a few cases effectively replace them, but sadly, many times the cleaving was off target or another sequence inserted itself into the section creating mutations. (2)

The premise of the Jurassic series is that scientists were able to not only cleave and replace sections of DNA, but to replace and combine the sections with the genetic maps of entirely different species (some extinct for millions of years) and produce viable specimens. This is a stretch for sure, as movie magic often is, but the basic science is real. We have some of this technology and in our blind mission to improve civilization, hopefully we likewise will not get something we did not bargain for.

  1. Transgenic Research. 2015 Jun 10. [Epub ahead of print]Production of human lactoferrin and lysozyme in the milk of transgenic dairy animals: past, present, and future. Cooper CA, Maga EA, Murray JD.
  1. Protein & Cell.2015 May;6(5):363-72. doi: 10.1007/s13238-015-0153-5. Epub 2015 Apr 18. CRISPR/Cas9-mediatedgene editing in human tripronuclear zygotes. Liang P, et al.