A new study led by a Michigan State University researcher shows people who owned and walked their dogs were 34 percent more likely to meet federal benchmarks on physical activity than those who don’t have dogs. The study appears in the current issue of the Journal of Physical Activity and Health.
According to epidemiologist Mathew Reeves, the study shows that promoting dog ownership and dog walking could help many North Americans to become healthier. Currently fewer than half of the American population meets recommended levels of leisure-time physical activity.
“Walking is the most accessible form of physical activity available to people,” Reeves said. “What we wanted to know was if dog owners who walked their dogs were getting more physical activity or if the dog-walking was simply a substitute for other forms of activity.”
Obviously if you are taking your dog for daily walks your level of activity increases, but the team found that not only did owning and walking a dog increase the amount of walking a person does but that they were more active overall.
“There appears to be a strong link between owning and walking a dog and achieving higher levels of physical activity, even after accounting for the actual dog walking.”
Reeves also noted that spending time with a dog has been shown to have a positive impact on quality of life.
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If your dog or cat spends any amount of time outdoors, winter can be a particularly dangerous time. While the freshly fallen snow can make the world appear as a winter wonderland, there are a lot of hidden hazards to be aware of. Ice covered sidewalks, chemicals scattered across driveways and walkways, these conditions can be hazardous to animals and humans alike. Keep yourself and your pet safe this winter season by being aware and taking precautions.
Chemicals on the Ground
It is common practice to apply chemicals to sidewalks and driveways so that the ice can be made to melt, or just to make it so that the feet can grip the ground easier. The problem with these chemicals is that they get onto animals’ unprotected feet, where they can irritate the skin or get into small abrasions in the foot pads. The animal may also lick the chemicals off of their feet and ingest them, resulting in stomach and intestinal problems. There are products that are relatively safe for animals, but not everyone uses a pet-friendly product for their sidewalks and driveways.
One solution is to outfit your dog with a set of booties, so that the foot pads are protected. Booties are also good for keeping hard snow and ice out of the spaces between the toes, something that can be very painful for an animal.
If your pet will not tolerate wearing booties, you will need to be vigilant about cleaning your pet’s feet and underside as soon as you return home from a walk. A simple rag that has been dipped in warm water will do the job.
Ethylene Glycol (Antifreeze) Poisoning
Another common winter practice is the changing of antifreeze/coolant in the car engine. There will always be unintentional spills to watch out for, and not everyone is conscientious about cleaning up the spills in the driveway or on the garage floor. While a lot of companies have changed the formula of their antifreeze products so that they do not have a sweet taste, there are still plenty of antifreeze products on the market that do have that tempting sweet smell and taste to them. Dogs and cats, of course, do not know any better, and they lap up spilled antifreeze solutions when they find them on the ground.
The main ingredient of most antifreeze solutions is ethylene glycol, an extremely toxic chemical that leads to a lot of accidental illnesses and deaths in pets every year. If there is no one around to witness the pet ingesting antifreeze and the symptoms are not treated immediately, the animal may suffer severe nervous system and kidney damage within a short period after ingestion. Even the newer pet-safe products have a degree of toxicity, and the only way to avoid accidental poisoning is keep the products out of reach of pets, and off of the ground.
All antifreeze products need to be carefully secured in an area that is out of reach for pets – and children, for that matter. All spills should be cleaned immediately using a water hose or similar procedure. In addition, if you are out walking and see a puddle in the street or on a driveway, do not let your pet walk through it or drink from it.
If you suspect that your pet has ingested even a small amount of antifreeze, the best thing you can do is call your veterinarian or local emergency animal clinic immediately. Ethylene glycol is a fast acting chemical, and minutes can make a difference.
Your pet may not be complaining about the cold, and is probably even having a blast playing in the snow, but just like us, animals do not always notice that their skin has started to feel funny. As the body’s temperature decreases in response to the outdoor temperature, blood is diverted to the core systems, leaving the outer organ, the skin, at risk of freezing. Once the skin has been frozen by the ice and snow, there is tissue damage, basically causing a condition akin to burning. At highest risk for frostbite are the footpads, nose, ear tips and tail.
Upon returning home after being outdoors for an extended time, or when the temperatures are especially low, check your pet’s risk points (along with the rest of the body). Early symptoms of frostbite include pale, hard skin that remains very cold even after being inside. As the skin warms, it may swell and change to a red color.
Your pet may try to relieve the irritation by licking and chewing on the skin, in which case you will need to have the skin treated and covered immediately before permanent damage is done.
Never apply direct heat to the skin, water or otherwise. Only tepid to warm water should be used on the skin, and non-electric blankets to cover the animal. You may need to consult with a veterinarian to make sure that the condition is not severe.
In some cases of severe frostbite the tissue needs to be removed, or the limb removed before the dead tissue allows infection to set in.
Hopefully, this has educated you and not frightened you. These are just some of the ways you can protect your pet, so that you do not need to worry yourself over anything, and so that you and your pet can have a great time in the snow and on the ice.
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A cat survived a four-hour, 200-mile ride under the hood of a car traveling through Ohio.
a man who’d left Xenia in southwest Ohio on a drive to Cleveland on Sunday afternoon stopped at a rest area south of his destination when he smelled something. A patrolling state trooper found the motorist with his hood up and a large black and white cat that wasn’t his stuck in the engine compartment. The animal had burns on the right side.
The cat was taken to an animal hospital in nearby Lodi, where Dr. Linda Randall said he was going to be fine.
Randall is calling him “Eclipse” because that was the model of the car. The SPCA is trying to find the feline’s owner.
There’s a saying that curiosity killed the cat, but in this case it only cost him one of his nine lives.
He survived a 200 mile trip down the interstate, not riding inside the car, but under the hood.
“This is Eclipse and Eclipse rode 200 miles in the engine of a car holding on for dear life”, said Veterinarian Linda Randall of Cloverleaf Animal Hospital in Lodi.
Last Sunday around 4:00 p.m., 41-year-old Wayne Polk left Xenia Ohio for Cleveland on business.
After driving for 3 hours, he stopped at a rest area on I-71 in Medina. It was then that he noticed a smell coming from under his hood.
“I was patrolling the northbound rest area on Interstate 71, and I approached a parking area, and there was a gentleman there with his hood open, and he had a cat stuck in the engine. The cat was pretty calm, seemed really scared, and he had burns on his right side”, said Ohio State Patrol Trooper Aleksander Tot.
Once the cat was removed, Trooper tot called the Medina SPCA, who arrived within minutes.
“When I got there, the cat was a large cat, and I’m looking at this little small Eclipse that he was in and I just said how did you get in there”, said Medina SPCA Rescue Tech Mike Bombaris.
“He’s a good cat, and as you can see he’s feeling pretty good, he has some major singeing of his coat, and he also has some burns. We’re going to sedate him, and we’re going to debride his wounds, in other words remove any dead tissue that is there. I just can’t even imagine what that four hours must of been like for him”, added Veterinarian Randall.
“Oh it’s a very lucky cat, I think the cat got saved, that’s for sure”, added Bombaris
“Even the gentleman, it wasn’t his cat, but he still had a feeling for it, so do we, so we were happy to rescue it”, added Trooper Tot.
“As you can see, he is feeling pretty good, he’s really friendly. He loves to play and I think he’s going to be fine”, said Randall.
Medina SPCA Rescue Tech Mike Bombaris told Fox: ‘When I got there, the cat was a large cat, and I’m looking at this little small Eclipse that he was in and I just said how did you get in there.’
Dr Randall (of Cloverleaf Animal Hospital) said: ‘He’s a good cat, and as you can see he’s feeling pretty good, he has some major singeing of his coat, and he also has some burns.
‘We’re going to sedate him, and we’re going to debride his wounds, in other words remove any dead tissue that is there. I just can’t even imagine what that four hours must of been like for him.’
Cats Should Be More Careful Where They Take Shelter
The SPCA are now trying to locate the feline’s owner.
We know cats like to take shelter in warm, restricted places, so maybe we should all check under the hoods of our cars before driving, especially when it’s cold! And yes, cats do have nine lives.
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Waylon, a 1-year-old tabby, was found in Colorado after he disappeared from his newly adopted father’s home in Goodland. Daniel Johns said he had Waylon for an hour and realized he was missing the next day.
When Daniel Johns met Waylon, it was love at first sight.
The romance started in June at Collier County Domestic Animal Services. Johns, 39, regularly visited Waylon, a year-old, orange-striped tabby. Right before the cat’s 90-day stay ended, Johns made it official. He adopted Waylon.
But within an hour of arriving at his new home, still in the carrier, in Goodland, the cat hid behind the dryer. The next day, Johns discovered a hole in the dryer vent. Waylon was gone.
Johns received an early Christmas gift. Waylon was found — more than 2,000 miles away.
An embedded microchip enabled an animal shelter in Golden, Colo., to reconnect Johns and Waylon.
“It’s awesome,” said Johns, who is the executive chef at the Marco Island Yacht Club. “Now I know what happened, or don’t know, but there’s an ending to the story and it’s not terribly sad.”
It is not clear how Waylon made it to Colorado, or for how long he’s been there.
A “good Samaritan” found Waylon wandering a snowy neighborhood in Golden, Colo., a suburb of Denver. The unnamed woman brought Waylon to the Foothills Animal Shelter, one of the largest animal rescue shelters in the Denver area, on Wednesday morning.
Jennifer Strickland, director of community relations at the animal shelter said Waylon is in good condition and very friendly.
“He had a good weight and looked like he had been well cared-for,” Strickland said.
After he was brought into the shelter, it is protocol to check for a microchip. Johns said he luckily registered Waylon’s microchip to his name, address and phone number.
“That’s what’s so great about a microchip,” Strickland said. “If not for the microchip, I don’t know what would have happened. We would have no idea about the cat.”
Strickland said the shelter currently has more than 350 cats and dogs of which about 95 cats are looking for a home.
Since receiving the news, Johns has been looking up flights to bring his “forever friend” home.
“That’s what we love to hear,” said Daniel Christenbury, spokesman for Collier County DAS. “We hope (Johns) gets his cat back and has a joyous Christmas.”
Christenbury said Johns is an ideal pet owner.
“People generally don’t have that responsibility for pets. They think they’re disposable, especially cats,” Christenbury said. “We gotta get away from that and let people know pets are a lifelong commitment, a forever friend. We owe that to them.”
Both Strickland and Christenbury stressed the need for microchipping pets as well as checking to see if lost or stray pets have one.
“People don’t think about getting a cat scanned,” Strickland said. “They don’t realize a microchip is a permanent form of identification. They don’t think this cat could belong to someone.”
Johns said he is thrilled to bring his cat, whom he knew for only a short time, back home to Florida.
“He’s really cool, sweet cat,” Johns said. “He walks on a leash and knows his name.”
Johns said he didn’t try to get a new cat after Waylon disappeared. He said he posted fliers and kept all of Waylon’s belongings — a bed, food, treats and toys — on the off chance he would come back.
“It’s a Christmas miracle,” Johns said. “It’s weird how it all happens at the same time. Here comes Waylon just in time for Christmas.”
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I think the best presents are boredom-relievers. Research has shown that boredom and stress play huge roles in the development of behavioral and other health problems in both dogs and cats.
For cats, how about a comfy fleece pad (or even an old sweatshirt) placed on a chair or perch in front of a sunny, south-facing window? If you are feeling flush, buy a birdfeeder and mount it within site of the window. If your cat could benefit from some exercise, tie a string on a cheap “mouse” and make it scurry across the floor, but keep the string away from your cats when you are not supervising play since the last thing you want is to have one of them swallow it.
For dogs and cats, how about a puzzle feeder? Simply put a portion of your pet’s regular food ration inside and make him work for it. Zoos use these kinds of things all the time to provide mental stimulation for their animals.
An active dog would love anything that gives him more opportunities to be outside and/or play. Toys don’t have to be elaborate; it’s more about finding time. Perhaps you could give your dog some “coupons” he can redeem for trips to the dog park, or walks on especially beautiful days, or a discount package at a doggy daycare provider that emphasizes play.
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It’s possible that poinsettias get the bummest rap in all of the plant world. They’ve got a bad-girl reputation as deadly beauties, but is the ubiquitous holiday plant actually toxic? About 70 percent of the population will answer yes, and although every year there is a bumper crop of stories explaining otherwise–the myth persists. In reality, ingestion of excessive poinsettia may produce only mild to moderate gastrointestinal tract irritation, which can include drooling and vomiting–kind of like drinking too much brandy-spiked eggnog? The poor poinsettia, so misunderstood…
It all started back in the early part of the 20th century when the two-year-old child of a U.S. Army officer was alleged to have died from consuming a poinsettia leaf. As these things have a habit of doing, the toxic potential of poinsettia has become highly exaggerated–and many a cat-keeper now treat poinsettias as persona non grata (or, as the case may be, poinsettia non grata) in their households. Keeping this plant out of the reach of your pet to avoid stomach upset is still a good idea, but according to the ASPCA, you need not banish the poinsettia from your home for fear of a fatal exposure.
So poinsettias, consider yourself absolved. As for the other holiday fave? Mistletoe has the potential to cause cardiovascular problems (and not just from forced smooches)–however, mistletoe ingestion usually only causes gastrointestinal upset. But there are other common household plants that have been reported as having some serious systemic effects–and/or intense effects on the gastrointestinal tract on animals.
Lilies. Members of the Lilium family are considered to be highly toxic to cats. Many types of lily, such as Tiger, Asian, Japanese Show, Easter, Stargazer, and the Casa Blanca, can cause kidney failure in cats. While the poisonous component has not yet been identified, it is clear that with even ingestions of very small amounts of the plant, severe kidney damage could result.
Marijuana. Ingestion of Cannabis sativa by companion animals can result in depression of the central nervous system and incoordination, as well as vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, increased heart rate, and even seizures and coma–even if they don’t inhale. But cats can get all the same fun without the buzz-killing side effects from marijuana’s cuz, catnip!
Sago Palm. All parts of Cycas Revoluta are poisonous, but the seeds or “nuts” contain the largest amount of toxin. The ingestion of just one or two seeds can result in very serious effects, which include vomiting, diarrhea, depression, seizures and liver failure.
Tulip/Narcissus Bulbs. The bulb portions of Tulips and Narcissus contain toxins that can cause intense gastrointestinal irritation, drooling, loss of appetite, depression of the central nervous system, convulsions and cardiac abnormalities.
Azalea/Rhododendron. Members of the Rhododenron family contain substances known as grayantoxins, which can produce vomiting, drooling, diarrhea, weakness and depression of the central nervous system in animals. Severe azalea poisoning could ultimately lead to coma and death from cardiovascular collapse.
Oleander. All parts of Nerium oleander are considered to be toxic, as they contain cardiac glycosides that have the potential to cause serious effects–including gastrointestinal tract irritation, abnormal heart function, hypothermia and even death.
Castor Bean. The poisonous principle in Ricinus communis is ricin, a highly toxic protein that can produce severe abdominal pain, drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst, weakness and loss of appetite. Severe cases of poisoning can result in dehydration, muscle twitching, tremors, seizures, coma and death.
Cyclamen. Cylamen species contain cyclamine, but the highest concentration of this toxic component is typically located in the root portion of the plant. If consumed, Cylamen can produce significant gastrointestinal irritation, including intense vomiting. Fatalities have also been reported in some cases.
Kalanchoe. This plant contains components that can produce gastrointestinal irritation, as well as those that are toxic to the heart, and can seriously affect cardiac rhythm and rate.
Yew. Contains a toxic component known as taxine, which causes central nervous system effects such as trembling, incoordination, and difficulty breathing. It can also cause significant gastrointestinal irritation and cardiac failure, which can result in death.
Amaryllis. Common garden plants popular around the holidays, Amaryllis species contain toxins that can cause vomiting, depression, diarrhea, abdominal pain, hypersalivation, anorexia and tremors.
Autumn Crocus. Ingestion of Colchicum autumnale by pets can result in oral irritation, bloody vomiting, diarrhea, shock, multi-organ damage and bone marrow suppression.
Chrysanthemum. These popular blooms are part of the Compositae family, which contain pyrethrins that may produce gastrointestinal upset, including drooling, vomiting and diarrhea, if eaten. In certain cases depression and loss of coordination may also develop if enough of any part of the plant is consumed.
English Ivy -I Also called branching ivy, glacier ivy, needlepoint ivy, sweetheart ivy and California ivy, Hedera helix contains triterpenoid saponins that, should pets ingest, can result in vomiting, abdominal pain, hypersalivation and diarrhea.
Peace Lily (AKA Mauna Loa Peace Lily). Spathiphyllum contains calcium oxalate crystals that can cause oral irritation, excessive drooling, vomiting, difficulty in swallowing and intense burning and irritation of the mouth, lips and tongue in pets who ingest.
Pothos. Pothos (both Scindapsus and Epipremnum) belongs to the Araceae family. If chewed or ingested, this popular household plant can cause significant mechanical irritation and swelling of the oral tissues and other parts of the gastrointestinal tract.
Schefflera. Schefflera and Brassaia actinophylla contain calcium oxalate crystals that can cause oral irritation, excessive drooling, vomiting, difficulty in swallowing and intense burning and irritation of the mouth, lips and tongue in pets who ingest.
What do do? Should your cat eat part of a poisonous plant, promptly bring your cat to your veterinarian. If you can, take the plant with you for ease of identification. If you think that your animal is ill or may have ingested a poisonous substance, contact your local veterinarian.
Last night there was an urgent plea about a black and tan dog who was dumped by his owner at a train station in Sofia, Bulgaria. (photo below) A witness saw the car pull up, the door open and then the care drove away leaving the confused and worried dog behind.
“He has waited for 3 days now for his owner to return,” explained our Bulgarian rescue squad leader Candy Sasse. “He refuses to move from the spot, despite being attacked by another dog. He stays just in case his owner returns. With no street skills, Joseph’s future is bleak and he won’t survive long. Today it has started to snow and is bitterly cold here now. Joseph is lost in a place where he has never been before, frightened and lonely. What do we do? Our rescue funds are empty, and without funds, we can do nothing. All our foster homes are full to overflowing.”
“What do you need to get him out of there?”
I asked Candy exactly what she needed to get Joseph off the street and she explained, “We need to raise a month’s kenneling at 5 Euros per day to give us the time to get him ready for travel to a new life in Europe in mid January and an additional 125 Euros to cover all his preparation costs to allow him to go. We simply don’t have it.”
And with that, I had just three simple words for Candy. ”Go get him.”
Though Joseph is a four hour drive from the headquarters of our Bulgarian teammates at Colonel Angels Bulgarian Street Dogs, there was no shortage of volunteers to immediately set out to save him. But on arrival, getting Joseph to leave the train station proved challenging.
He Wanted to Stay and Wait for His Family
“When approached we first gave him a bag with dog treats,” explains volunteer Nina Tchouparova. “It was no problem putting the leash round his neck. He is, however, difficult to walk on a leash. He walks you instead of the other way around and the only direction he wanted to go was back to the train stop to wait for his family who will, sadly, never return.”
In the end, Nina was forced to call a taxi, and much to her surprise, Joseph jumped right in the car.
“He hoped into the back seat and contently laid down,” Nina continued. ” The cab driver didn’t even realize Joseph had just been picked up off the street. He had definitely traveled in a car before and when we got out of the cab, he walked right into the veterinary clinic.”
Safe at Last & Making New Friends
Today Joseph is in a kennel next to another rescued dog named Buba who welcomed Joseph as though they’d been best friends for years.
Our gift to Joseph this Christmas is not only his rescue from the train station, but to find him the kind of family who would lay down their lives for him. This dog is incredibly loyal and he deserves to be on the receiving end of boundless devotion.
Truth be told, the rescue of Joseph comes at a time when the Harmony Fund has just exhausted it’s bank account for the year, but we put Joseph’s expenses on credit with the knowledge that donations will begin to come in again once the holiday festivities are over with. For today all that matters is that this dog is safe and now we begin the very tender work of healing his heart.
Pet Rescue’s and Rescue’s around the world need help. Please consider giving to a worthy charity near you.