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The Real Facts: Ebola and Your Pet



  By Dr. Doug Aspros for the  American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)  for Pet News and Views

Dangerous. That’s the only word to describe the news coverage surrounding the Ebola outbreak. It’s easier for audiences to panic than learn the facts. Between hazmat suits and reporters’ spin tactics for ratings it’s no surprise that Ebola is the top online search; and now the focus has turned from humans to pets.

Today this disease seems to be creeping from somewhere far away to the foot of our beds. The coverage of the quarantine of Nina Pham’s King Charles Spaniel was painfully dramatized. Newscasters aren’t doctors. Former AVMA President Dr. Douglas G. Aspros, DVM, is here to set the record straight. Let’s take a step back from the 30 second hype to look at the facts:


Ebola Transmission only comes from Direct Contact with an Infected Individual

Dr. Aspros wants to make sure people understand the basics: the disease is spread through physical contact with an infected person. That means you must have close physical contact with someone showing signs of infection. Unless your pet was in close personal contact with an individual who was recently working in West Africa, they are not in any danger of potentially contracting the virus.

Dogs have not developed the disease, even in West Africa

Dr. Aspros points to the research and says, “There is evidence that dogs in Africa exposed to animals who died from Ebola infections generated antibodies to the virus…There have been no human cases of Ebola associated with dogs…all dogs that were tested remained asymptomatic, there was no evidence of transmission. “

Any Ebola patient’s pet in the US will be quarantined; NOT euthanized

Dr. Aspros says, “The World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) has called for quarantine and not euthanasia for dogs exposed to human cases, and that further studies be done…It is inhumane to automatically euthanize dogs that have been in contact with an infected human patient.”

It’s hard to make out the facts in the flood of media coverage. The AVMA and Dr. Aspros are helping get the truth out about our canine family members, and arm pet owners with facts instead of fears. For more information about keeping your pet safe and healthy visit the AVMA question and answer page HERE.

Jackson Galaxy wants his new book to change the way we live with our cats

Catification book cover







By Michele C. Hollow of Pet News and Views

Years ago, I was invited to the home of a well known cat behaviorist. I had read all of her books, and was a fan. I couldn’t wait to meet her and her cats.

When she led me inside of her spacious home, my heart sank. It was the perfect place for well cared for cats. Almost every inch of her home was filled with cat trees, scratching posts, and in the living room, she built a climbing apparatus where cats could jump from one place to the next without touching the floor. The cats found their Eden.

I looked around and couldn’t find a place to sit. So, I sat on the floor and was greeted by several cats in all colors, shapes, and sizes. I enjoyed the attention. Still, it felt strange.

In the kitchen was a tiny table with two chairs, which were next to more climbing posts. The bedroom had an assortment of cat toys, and–you guessed it—more climbing trees and shelving units, and a bed.

In truth, I’m a minimalist, and can live with few objects. However, this home was too one sided. It was great for the cats, but not for the human.

So, interviewing Jackson Galaxy  about his new book, “Catification, Designing a Happy and Stylish Home for Your Cat (and You!),”  which he co-wrote with Kate Benjamin, founder of the cat design website Hauspanther,  brought me back to the time when I visited the home of the cat behaviorist.

Jokingly, the star of Animal Planet’s “My Cat From Hell,” said “that successfully living with cats is about your ability to compromise.”

Thankfully, Jackson strongly believes that a home must be equally appealing to the two- and four-legged inhabitants. “What we really want,” Galaxy, explains, “is to live in a home that shows you care about your own comfort as well as the comfort and safety of your cats.”

His decorating talent comes from years of visiting and observing the homes of clients while trying to broker the peace between cats and their humans. His desire to create happy spaces is really about his love for cats.

Jackson has done a lot of volunteer work at numerous animal shelters. He is a spokesperson for Best Friends Animal Society,  and supports their Save Them All campaign.   He believes that good décor is akin to a happy home, and a happy home translates to people enjoying life with their cats.

You can meet Jackson and Kate on Wednesday, October 22, at 7 p.m. at the Union Square Barnes and Noble in NY.

To read a few of their decorating tips, check out my NY Post article.

Keeping Your Horse Healthy as Temperatures Climb

wild horses














By Mike James for Pet News and Views

We just welcomed autumn, and while we look forward to cooler temperatures, it’s important to note that those hot humid days are not behind us. Summer weather hasn’t left. When it comes to the hot weather, it can be uncomfortable and stressful for you and your horse.

With hotter weather occurring later on in the year, horses may experience a heightened sense of discomfort.  The stress of hot days and biting insects makes it a smart idea to be watchful and to take careful steps to ensure your horse stays healthy.

Staying Hydrated
Make sure your horse always has fresh water available. Check on the water regularly as it will quickly warm up in the heat. If your horse is reluctant to drink a lot of water, water down his feed to ensure that he stays hydrated, or provide a salt lick to encourage him to drink more.

Sometimes your horse may benefit from a cool hosing down or by using a fine mister. Take care not to leave the mister on as dusk approaches; this could cause your horse to get a chill. A misting machine is generally more effective than simply hosing down your horse once every few hours.

Insect Repellent
With the hot weather come pests and insects. Make sure to use insect repellents and fly sheets to prevent insects from biting your horse. If your horse has a longer hair coat, try to clip it to reduce heat and to prevent insects from nesting in the long hairs.

Ventilation and Gentle Exercise
You can also set up fans in the barn to create an air flow that will disrupt flying insects from coming into contact with your horse. Many biting insects aren’t very good at flying, so creating an air flow will both cool down the barn and repel insects.

If you work your horse every day, it is common sense to assume that a horse will not be able to handle the same amount of work in high heat. Try to lighten the work or spread the work out over the course of a few hours to give your horse enough time to rest and cool down. Take extra care in high humidity as this will make your horse tired much faster than normal.

Providing Shade and Shelter
For horses that live outdoors, it is important to provide a shelter or place of rest from the sun. A run-in shed is ideal for providing shade. Trees can provide ample shade, too, but if your horse is tied up remember that the shade will change depending on the position of the sun. Ensure that your horse has access to ample shade throughout the whole day.

Take care and observe your horse’s behaviour. Every horse is different. You should know what he needs better than anyone. On those hot days, it doesn’t hurt to be extra careful to ensure that he stays in good health.

Mike James has been passionate about horses and ponies from a young age and is privileged to be a member of an active amateur equestrian team. He also writes about relevant issues for Dollar Bedding, suppliers of natural animal bedding. 

This is a sponsored post.

6 Odd Cat Behaviors Explained



















By Michele C. Hollow for Pet News and Views

If  you have ever wondered why cats rub up against you, make mad dashes around the house late at night, or exhibit other somewhat odd behaviors, read on.

1. Why do cats run around the house late at night? Maybe it’s their way of saying “See, I exercised! Now leave me alone so I can take a nap.” Racing around the house often starts in the early evening, and can go on all hours of the night till morning. It actually stems from instinct, when all kinds of cats—from lions to pumas to house cats—are on the hunt. They run, dive, and chase prey. Yes, I know there is no prey in your house, but it’s their instinct.

2. Why do cats smell our breath? It’s to see if we are eating better than they are. Cats can learn a lot about us by smelling our breath. They are imprinting our scent into their brains.

3. Why do cats bat their food out of their dishes? They enjoy watching us stumble about the kitchen in our bare feet when we step on the dry crunchy bits. Well, that’s my theory, anyway. But scientists will tell us that it’s because cats need to simulate the capture and conquest of their prey.

4. Why do cats knead on our chests with their claws? Are they actually trying to check our tolerance to pain? Nope. This up and down kneading action stems from nursing. Kittens press against their mother with one paw and then the other. When an adult cat kneads, it reminds her of her mother when she was a kitten.

5. Why do cats rub up against our legs? They think we’re big lint brushes, right? Actually, this is a way of sharing their scent with you. It’s a bonding experience that lets other cats know that you are owned by a cat.

6. Why do cats groom us? It’s not grooming; it’s tasting! So for your own safety, buy better cat food. I’m kidding; the truth is, cats that get along often groom each other as well as groom themselves. So they are extending the same courtesy to us.

In Search of Wildlife

By Michele C. Hollow of Pet News and Views

Many of you know I have been writing about pets and wildlife at Parade, which makes it somewhat difficult in posting as often as I would like here.

I recently interviewed Yanni about his work on behalf of panadas, a marine and his service dog from Afghanistan being reunited here in the states, and several pet health stories.

I have also written a few investigative news stories for a site called Who What Why.

I’m taking a short vacation, and will return mid September. See you mid September. Thank you for your continued support.

Sunday is National Black Cat Appreciation Day

This is Karma, my black cat.

This is Karma, my black cat.

For Pet News and Views

August 17 is Black Cat Appreciation Day and the CATalyst Council, a national initiative comprised of animal health and welfare organizations working on behalf of cats, has some suggestions on how you can celebrate.  “Unfortunately, black cats are frequently in shelters longer than other cats because there is still some unfounded stigma against them,” says Dr. Jane Brunt, executive director of the CATalyst Council. “I share my home with a black cat and can attest to the fact that they make wonderful companions—he is just as loving and playful as my other two cats—a silver tabby and an orange tabby.”

Here’s how you can help celebrate National Black Cat Appreciation Day:

1. Be a Myth Buster. Surprisingly, some people still hold on to a superstition carried over from the Middle Ages (500 A.D. to 1500!) that black cats are unlucky or evil.  “I can verify that my black cat has crossed my path on innumerable occasions without any negative consequences,” jokes Dr. Brunt.

2.  Consider adopting a black cat. Cat personalities aren’t linked to their coloration, as some people may believe.  The best way to find a cat with the personality you’re looking for is to ask the staff at your local animal rescue or shelter which cat they have that would best mesh with your lifestyle. It’s more than likely that they have a petite panther with the temperament you’re looking for.

3. Take your black cat to the veterinarian. If you already have a black cat, Black Cat Appreciation Day is a great day to schedule an annual wellness visit with your vet. What better way to show your appreciation for your feline friend than to ensure it receives a lifetime of care?

4.  Spread the word. Let other people know how great your black cat is by sharing your favorite story about your pet with your friends and family. Even better, consider sharing your story via social media.

5.   Celebrate your cat. Let your black cats know how much you appreciate them on this special day by giving them an extra scratch behind the ears or an extended play session. They’ll show they appreciate you right back with purrs and maybe a head butt.

“We know for most cat owners, every day is a cat appreciation day, but it’s always good to take a little time out occasionally to let your feline friends know how much they mean to you,” adds Dr. Brunt.


8 Reasons to Adopt A Senior Dog


By Nicola Reynor

Dogs that usually have trouble getting adopted are the ones with a little more grey on their muzzles. Our bias earns these dogs the tag of being “less adoptable.”

Dogs that are seven years or older are regarded as seniors.  Unfortunately, dogs five or older have a harder time getting adopted.  Most people prefer adopting puppies. Puppies, however, can be a handful, and many people don’t realize how much more effort goes into training a puppy.

Adopting a senior dog can prove to be an enriching experience for both you and your family. Here are eight reasons for adopting a senior dog:

1. They are Accustomed to Human Routine 

Adopting a senior dog could mean that you spend less time training the dog and more time bonding with it. They are often experienced and trained to obey basic commands like sit, stay, and the all-important no.  A senior dog will not be as energetic and frisky as its younger counterpart, but that could be a good thing if you are looking for a more sedate companion.


2. What You See Is What You Get 

When adopting a dog for a family, it is important to know the nature and personality of the dog. Does he do well with children? How is he with strangers? Will he be loyal or aggressive? These are important  questions to ask.  A senior dog already has his personality established, which you can gauge with a short walk outside, and a few visits to the shelter

  1. They Cost Less 

An older dog, as opposed to a young dog or puppy, will cost less in adoption fees quite simply because there is less demand for them. But once you get one home you’ll realize what a great deal you have landed. Spend the cash you save on getting some delicious treats for your pooch or some toys that will help him acclimatize.

  1. They Are Always up for a Cuddle

 Senior dogs are usually not as energetic as younger ones. They tend to enjoy their time spent lazing on the couch, in front of the TV, or just sprawled out under the sun on your veranda. If they find you in bed with a book, do not be surprised if they snuggle up to you for a nap. These dogs, to a great extent, are self-sufficient and have little need for round-the-clock engagement like puppies do. That is not to say that they won’t need exercise, but instead of a power walk they will not mind a long stroll.

  1. No More Surprises to Clean

 Older dogs are usually housebroken.

  1. Train Them with Ease

 Have you ever heard the saying, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? Well, that seems to not hold true for dogs as much as it does for humans. Older dogs have considerably longer attention spans and can learn faster than puppies or younger dogs.

  1. They Are Loyal to a Fault

 When you adopt a senior dog, he not only looks up at you as his companion but as someone who gave him a better life. This is one bond that is not easily broken.

  1. You Can Save A Life

 Adopting a dog from a shelter makes you a life saver.

When you go to the shelter to adopt a dog, try to go in the middle of the week. Most shelters are busy with visitors on weekends making the animals anxious and loud. If you want a better idea of the personality of the dog take him out for a short walk. Do not make prolonged eye-contact with him. Talk to him, and sit with him so that he can get used to your presence and scent.

When you bring your new friend home, you will be glad you did.

This is a sponsored post by Nicola Reynor, a community manager and a web presence strategist for Dog Love It, the best doggy supply store ever! In her spare time, Nicola loves to write about her pets, and go hiking with her two dogs.

What A Cat's Teeth Can Tell You about Your Cat's Health

My friend Andrew brushes his cats” teeth every morning. They’ve come to expect it. It’s something I never thought about doing–until I had to take one of my cats to the vet.

My cat had a foul odor coming from his mouth, and he was dripping saliva. What I found strange was that the day before he was fine. When we got up in the morning, I noticed his breath and the wetness around his mouth. When we went downstairs for breakfast, he wouldn’t eat.

Open wide!

At the Vet
We were lucky. The vet dentist was in. He removed my cat’s rotten teeth, and my kitty was fine–until the following year.  This time we saw the partner of the vet we usually see. Since she didn’t see a rotten tooth this time, she thought his foul breath was kidney related. I didn’t believe her. I said it was the exact same symptoms from last year when he had two rotten teeth.

She seemed convinced it was kidney disease or feline leukemia. I was firm and told her, no, I think it’s his teeth. But since she is the expert, I started to worry. She wanted to run tests.

Bad Breath and Disease
“A healthy cat’s breath should not be offensive,” says Eric Davis, DVM, a fellow of the Academy of Veterinary Dentistry and director of the Dental Referral Service at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. As my vet said, bad breath can be the result of periodontal, kidney, respiratory, liver disease, or even diabetes.

“However, by far, the most common problem associated with bad breath is periodontal disease,” says Dr. Davis. “Just think how your breath would smell if you didn’t brush your teeth for a week, months or even years.”

It’s important to check your cat’s teeth and gums regularly. If you see any blood, inflammation, or if your cat wince–and not because he doesn’t want you checking his mouth–but because he feels pain, then take him to the vet.

Test Results
Fortunately, the tests for kidney disease and feline leukemia came back negative. The situation resolved itself because the tooth had fallen out, and the area in his mouth that was inflamed healed–just like in the wild. It saved us money too. The dental visit, tests, and complete exam added up. A tooth extraction would have cost more.

Daily Brushing
Following my friend Andrew’s advice: “You need to make your cat comfortable with having his teeth brushed; so start early and make it part of his daily routine,” he explains. “First you will need to introduce your cat to the toothbrush. The earlier your cat is introduced to the toothbrush, the easier it will be for him to accept the brushing routine later on.”

If you are going to brush your cat’s teeth, you can buy a toothbrush that will fit on your finger. You can also buy a cat toothbrush with a handle. Both versions have extremely soft bristles. And whatever you do, don’t use toothpaste designed for humans. It will upset your cat’s stomach. You can buy tuna or chicken flavored toothpaste at your local pet shop.

According to Andrew, his cats enjoy their daily toothbrush routine. For Andrew, it’s more time for him to bond with his fur kids.

A Bat in My House

By Michele C. Hollow for Pet News and Views

I wrote the story below a few years ago. Well, we had another bat visit us this past weekend. We came home from a wedding, and my son was outside waiting for us on our front porch. This time, the bat in our house was much bigger and quite active.

Our two cats, had their rabies shots, were chasing it around. We called animal control and are now waiting to find out if it is rabid.

In all truthfulness, I thought it was quite impressive looking. I like bats–out in the wild–because they consume mosquitoes. Following is the story of our first bat encounter.

My husband, Steven, was telling our son, Jordon, a bedtime story. Steven looked up and did a double take. He saw a brown bat on a wall in our bedroom. He calmly had Jordon go downstairs and called animal control. I wanted to catch and release it.

When the animal control officer caught it, he also wanted to let it go. However, he said it needed to be tested for rabies since we have a small child and a cat living in the house. Within the last two weeks, eight bats were found in homes in South Orange and Maplewood, NJ. One in Maplewood came back positive for rabies.

Rabies is found in the brain of an animal. So, it has to be destroyed in order to find out if it is positive or negative. A few days later, we got a call, and were told the bat tested positive, and that we were the first family living in South Orange to have a rabid bat in our house. I really didn’t believe it. I also did’t want to go for rabies shots, and I was sad that the bat had to be destroyed.

First, I took Earl Gray, our cat, to the vet. He was due for a rabies shot. Then it was our turn. Steven and I picked Jordon up from camp, and told him we needed to head to the emergency room.

A Series of Rabies Shots
The staff at Saint Barnabus Medical Center in Livingston, NJ, is great. The nurse who administered the shots was painless. Steven and I had to get a Tetanus shot. Jordon recently had one. Next was the rabies vaccine. While we waited, we played games and entertained Jordon. I felt so bad that he had to get three shots. I had three shots (plus the Tetanus). One in the arm and one on each butt cheek. Because he’s a big guy, Steven had to get five shots–plus the Tetanus–one in each butt cheek, his arm, and his thighs.

That marked day zero. Three days later we went back to the hospital for one additional shot. Tonight, which is day seven, we each get one more shot. And on day 14, we get our last shot.

We felt so bad for Jordon that we let him eat dessert for dinner. He ordered an ice cream Sundae.

Bats and Bites
I was almost going to nix the shots. However, the animal control guy said we needed them. I was certain we weren’t bitten. As a rule, bats don’t bite people, unless you handle them. The majority of bats eat insects and some eat fruit. The vampire bat, which this wasn’t, feeds on the blood of animals–mostly cattle. Vampire bats are mostly found in South America.

The bat in our house was a brown bat. Brown bats are not endangered, but many are being decimated by White Nose Syndrome. This disease is spreading rapidly throughout the northeast, and is killing bats in large numbers. I like bats. Any animal that eats its weight in mosquitoes is good.

How Is Rabies Spread?
According to the Center for Disease Control, “rabies is a viral disease that affects the central nervous system. The rabies virus can be passed to humans via the bite of a rabid animal, its saliva, or feces.” This means that you have to touch the rabid animals’ saliva or feces. I don’t know how anyone would not know if they were bitten or came in contact with saliva or feces.

Every doctor, nurse, and the animal control officer all said that if you are sleeping you would not know if you were bit. Apparently bats’ teeth are quite sharp; the puncture holes are tiny, and because they are so small, you don’t feel it.

We were also told that a bat can brush up against you, and if you had a cut on your body and that cut came in contact with the rabid animal’s saliva, you could get rabies. It seems a bit of a stretch to me, but that is the truth.

As I said, I like bats, and I don’t want to start a bat scare. According to the State Health Department, each year between two and three people in the U.S. contract rabies.

Protecting You and Your Pets
If you see a bat in your home, call animal control, and have the bat tested. If the tests come back positive, go for the series of rabies shots. The odds of getting rabies are slim to none; it is best to make sure, and also make sure that your pet’s rabies vaccinations are up-to-date.

If you want to read a story on avoiding wildlife encounters, and what to do if you come into contact with wildlife this summer click here.


NJ and NY Pass Ban on Ivory and Rhino Horn Trade

ElephantBy Michele C. Hollow of Pet News and Views

NJ and NY Pass Bills to Save African Elephants and Rhinos

The New Jersey legislature passed S. 2012/A.3128, a bill that seeks to eliminate trade in ivory and rhinoceros horn. Introduced by Senator Raymond Lesniak (D-20) and Assemblyman Raj Mukherji (D-33), illegal trafficking of these wildlife products is directly responsible for shocking declines in wild populations in recent years, and this bill is a crucial step toward reducing the target market.

“The elephant poaching epidemic across Africa has reached crisis levels and rhino poaching is escalating exponentially,” said Adam Roberts, CEO at Born Free USA. “As the second largest ivory market in the world, the United States bears a significant responsibility to act now. New Jersey is of particular importance because the port of Newark is a hub for illegal wildlife trade.”

Elephant poaching has become increasingly severe over the past several years, and it is estimated that more than 86,000 elephants have been poached since January 2012.  “If the killing rate continues, certain African elephant populations could be extinct within a decade,” said Roberts.

Additionally, all five rhino species are in serious danger due to poaching. Africa’s black rhinos are critically endangered, with a population of fewer than 5,000. There are only 3,000 one-horned rhinos remaining in India and Nepal, and Southeast Asia’s Sumatran rhinos number only in the hundreds.  Javan rhinos are less than three dozen. The horns, made of a substance akin to fingernails, are used in traditional Chinese medicine. Despite conclusive evidence that they have no curative properties, hundreds of rhinos are killed for their horns every year.

Senator Lesniak, stated, “The illegal trade in ivory products for which Port Newark-Elizabeth is a major factor also contributes to organized crime, not only throughout the world but also here in the state of New Jersey. Also, we don’t exist as a state in isolation. We’re part of a worldwide population that’s concerned not only about animal rights but also what this illegal trade has done in terms of fueling organized crime, drug smuggling and gun running — which has a tremendous impact on society as a whole.”

Assemblyman Mukherji, sponsor of the Assembly bill, said, “Terrorist organizations such as Al Qaeda-affiliated Al-Shabaab, The Lord’s Resistance Army, and Janjaweed are funding their operations with profits from poaching and the illegal ivory trade.  With New Jersey ports serving as a hub for illegal wildlife trafficking and our proximity to New York City, the largest ivory buyer in the country, we as a legislature needed to act now.  Just two weeks ago, U.S. Attorney Fishman secured a lengthy federal sentence for the ringleader of a rhinoceros trafficking ring and pointed to the threat to the United States posed by the multibillion-dollar illegal wildlife market.”

Mukherji added, “Ivory trafficking is at the highest rate ever recorded, and it is driving elephants and other endangered and threatened species toward extinction.  By prohibiting sale and importation, this bill closes loopholes in ivory commerce and, coupled with federal law and recent U.S. Fish and Wildlife regulations, will take our state out of these nefarious activities.”

More Good News

And as I was editing this story, I received word that the New York State legislature passed a bill banning the sale of ivory and rhino horn. “These bans are important tools for regulating, and, we hope, eventually ending the ivory and rhino horn trade,” says Jeffrey Flocken, North American Regional Director of International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). “Every 15 minutes on average, an African elephant is slaughtered for its ivory tusks to support a mass consumer demand. Rhinos, which are also poached for their horns, are similarly threatened. The U.S. ranks as one of the largest ivory consumers in the world and New York serves as one its biggest entry points and markets.”

 Michele C. Hollow writes the animal advocacy blog Pet News and Views. She is also the pets/wildlife columnist at Parade. You can read her stories by clicking here