Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Aerosmith Concert Review and photos

Although I am known mainly as a veterinarian, I enjoy music, photography and writing. I have recently stumbled on a bit of a side gig which has combined the latter three and has been really enjoyable. One of our clients has a son who established an online magazine "Rock Chicago" ( He knew I enjoyed progressive rock music and in particular Greg Lake, former lead singer for King Crimson and Emerson, Lake and Palmer. He came into the hospital one day and asked if I would like to go to a concert and write a review for him. I told him I had never written one, but he said that with my writing skills I would do just fine. He said he had tickets for Greg Lake which he would give to me if I would write a review. I told him I already had tickets (having bought them the first day they went on sale) but would be happy to write a review. Thus began my new "side gig."

The latest concert I went to was Aerosmith where I had a photo pass  where I took some pretty good photos for an amateur. Despite not being the biggest Aerosmith fan it was an absolutely great concert. My ears were ringing for two days after the concert. The links to the various concerts I have reviewed are below. Check out the magazine!

Thus far for Rock Chicago I have reviewed concerts given by:

Greg Lake
Steve Winwood
Jon Anderson (of Yes)
Michael Firestone (a Michael Jackson impersonator)

If you have interest please read the reviews. I really enjoy writing them.

Peter S. Sakas

The Dangers of Pets in Vehicles

The danger of keeping pets unrestrained in vehicles. By the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Pets in Vehicles
Every year, hundreds of pets die from heat exhaustion because they are left in parked vehicles. We've heard the excuses: "Oh, it will just be a few minutes while I go into the store," or "But I cracked the windows..." These excuses don't amount to much if your pet becomes seriously ill or dies from being left in a vehicle.

The temperature inside your vehicle can rise almost 20º F in just 10 minutes. In 20 minutes, it can rise almost 30º F...and the longer you wait, the higher it goes. At 60 minutes, the temperature in your vehicle can be more than 40 degrees higher than the outside temperature. Even on a 70-degree day, that's 110 degrees inside your vehicle!

Your vehicle can quickly reach a temperature that puts your pet at risk of serious illness and even death, even on a day that doesn't seem hot to you. And cracking the windows makes no difference.

Want numbers? An independent study1 showed that the interior temperature of vehicles parked in outside temperatures ranging from 72 to 96º F rose steadily as time increased.
Estimated Vehicle Interior Air Temperature v. Elapsed Time
Elapsed time Outside Air Temperature (F)
70 75 80 85 90 95
0 minutes 70 75 80 85 90 95
10 minutes 89 94 99 104 109 114
20 minutes 99 104 109 114 119 124
30 minutes 104 109 114 119 124 129
40 minutes 108 113 118 123 128 133
50 minutes 111 116 121 126 131 136
60 minutes 113 118 123 128 133 138
> 1 hour 115 120 125 130 135 140
Courtesy Jan Null, CCM; Department of Geosciences, San Francisco State University Watch an animated video about in-vehicle temperatures.
This study also found that cracking the windows had very little effect on the temperature rise inside the vehicle.

This is definitely a situation where "love 'em and leave 'em" is a good thing. Please leave your pets at home at home when you can...they'll be safe and happily waiting for you to come home.

...but wait, there's more!

The risks associated with pets in vehicles don't end with heatstroke. Just as you should always wear your seatbelt to protect you in case of a collision, your pet should always be properly restrained while in the vehicle. That means a secure harness or a carrier.

A loose, small pet could crawl down in the footwell, interfering with use of the brake or accelerator pedal. A small pet sitting in your lap could be injured or killed by the airbag or could be crushed between your body and the airbag in a collision, and a large pet leaning across your lap can interfere with your view of the road and can be injured by the air bag in a collision. Unrestrained pets could be thrown out or through windows or windshields in a collision. And not only could your pet be injured in the collision, but it might also increase your risk of collision by distracting you and taking your attention away from where it should be – on the road.

To learn more about the importance of restraining your pets, visit Paws to Click.

Most of us smile when we see a dog's face happily hanging out a window, digging the ride and the smells wafting on the breeze, but this is a very risky venture for the dog for three reasons. One, it means your dog isn't properly restrained – and we've already told you why that's so important. Two, your dog is at high risk of eye, ear, face and mouth injury from airborne objects when it's got its face hanging out the window. Three, letting your dog hang any part of its body out of the window increases the risk that (s)he could be thrown out of the vehicle during a collision, lose its balance and fall out of the open window during an abrupt turn or maneuver, or jump out of the vehicle to threaten another dog or a person.

And let's not forget the severe dangers of driving with your dog in the bed of a pickup truck. Dogs can fall or jump from the truck bed and be injured or killed on impact, or be struck by other traffic. And just as letting your dog hang its head out of the window puts it at risk of injury from debris, a dog in a truck bed is even more exposed to airborne hazards. Using a appropriate-length tether may reduce the risk that your dog will exit the truck bed, but the tether could tangle, injure, or even choke your dog. If you must transport your dog in the bed of a pickup truck, use a secured and appropriately sized and ventilated dog kennel. (For more information, read our backgrounder.2)

Before you put your pet in the vehicle, ask yourself if you really need to take your pet with you – and if the answer is no, leave your pet safely at home. If you must take your pet with you, make sure (s)he is properly restrained so the trip is as safe as possible for both of you.

Dangers: Hot Cars and Loose Pets

With the stifling heat coming our way....this is an extremely important topic. This is information from the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Hot Cars and Loose Pets
(No, it's not the name of the latest tell-all tabloid bestseller. We're talking about seriously risky situations that happen every day, but are entirely preventable.)
Brutus, Duke, Coco, Lola and Jake...sure, they're fairly common pet names, but they're also the names of just a few of the pets that died last year because they were left in cars on warm (and not necessarily hot) days while their owners were shopping, visiting friends or family, or running errands. What's so tragic is that these beloved pets were simply the victims of bad judgment.

Want numbers? An independent study1 showed that the interior temperature of vehicles parked in outside temperatures ranging from 72 to 96° F rose steadily as time increased. And cracking the windows doesn't help.
Elapsed time Temperature rise inside vehicle
10 minutes 19°F
20 minutes 29°F
30 minutes 34°F
60 minutes 43°F
1 to 2 hours 45-50°F
Click here to view an animated video of the temperature rise in a car over time.
...add to that the fact that most pets are not properly restrained while in the car, and you've got some dangerous situations – for people and pets alike. Unrestrained pets can be seriously or fatally injured, or could even hurt you, in a collision or sudden braking situation. In addition, they're a distraction for the driver, which increases the risk of driver errors. According to a 2010 American Automobile Association (AAA) survey, 2 out of 3 owners engage in distracting behaviors (playing with, feeding or petting their dog, or letting their dog sit in their lap) when pets are in the car...and according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), approximately 20% of injury crashes involve distracted driving.

Please don't become another statistic: only take your pets in the vehicle with you when you absolutely need to, and always properly restrain your pets while in the vehicle.

Traveling With Your Pet

As it is summer and vacation time, many of you take the family pet along. Here is a comprehensive guide to traveling with your family pet from the American Veterinary Medical Association.

  • Make sure your pet is comfortable with travel
    • Some pets cannot handle travel because of illness, injury, age or temperament.
    • If your pet is not good with travel, you should consider a reliable pet-sitter or talk to your veterinarian about boarding facilities in your area.
  • Make sure your pet has identification tags with up-to-date information.
  • Having your pet implanted with a microchip can improve your chances of getting your pet back if it becomes lost. The microchip must be registered with your current contact information, including a cell phone number. A tag is included when you have a microchip that has the microchip number and a mobile contact of the owner, so if the pet is found, they can use the tag to determine ownership without having to contact a veterinarian. Contact the microchip company for a replacement tag if you've lost yours, and for information on how to update your personal information when traveling.
  • If you are taking your pet across state or international borders, a health certificate is required. The health certificate must be signed by a veterinarian after your pet has been examined and found to be free of disease. Your pet's vaccinations must be up to date in order for the health certificate to be completed.
  • Make sure that your pet is allowed where you are staying. Some accommodations will allow pets and some will not, so check in advance. Also, when traveling, you should bring a portable kennel with you if you have to leave your pet unattended.
    • Staying with Friends or Family: Inform your host that your pet will be coming along and make sure that your pet is a welcomed guest as well.
    • Staying in a Hotel or Motel: Stay at a pet friendly place. Some hotels and motels only accept small pets or pets under a certain weight; when making a reservation, make sure you inquire about the terms of their pet policy. Try to minimize the amount of time your pet will be alone in the room. When leaving your pet alone in the room, inform the front desk that your pet is being left alone in the room and place a "Do Not Disturb" sign on the door. Make sure the hotel/motel knows how they can contact you if there are any problems.
    • Staying at a Park, Campground or Marina: Make sure these places are pet friendly, clean up after your pet and always keep your pet on a leash.
  • Your veterinarian
  • The airline or travel company
  • The accommodations: hotel, motel, park, camping ground or marina
  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal & Plant Inspection Service, Veterinary Services: or 800-545-USDA (8732) and press #2 for State Regulations
  • Foreign Consulate or Regulatory Agency (if traveling to another country)
    • If you are traveling to another country (or even Hawaii), there may be quarantine or other health requirements
    • If traveling out of the continental United States, you should contact these agencies at least 4 weeks in advance
  • Your veterinarian's contact information
  • List of Veterinarians and 24 hour Emergency Hospitals along the way and close to your destination
    To find a listing of Veterinarians & Pet Emergency Hospitals in the United States, contact:
  • National Animal Poison Control (ASPCA Web site)
  • Identification
    • Current color photo of your pet
    • ID tag should include:
      • Owner's name, current home address and home phone number
    • Travel ID tag should include:
      • Owner's local contact phone number and address
      • Contact information for your accommodations (hotel, campground etc)
    • The microchip registration should be updated with your current contact information including a cell phone number.
  • Medical Records
    • Current copies of your pet's medical records including pre-existing conditions and medications (especially when re-locating or traveling out of the country). For travel within the United States, a brief summary of medical conditions would be sufficient.
  • Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (health certificate)
    • Proof of vaccinations (Proof of rabies vaccination required) and other illnesses
    • Requires an examination by a licensed and accredited veterinarian to make sure the animal is not showing signs of disease.
  • Acclimation certificate for air travel
    • This is only required by some airlines, so check to see if your airline requires this.
  • Items for your pet
    • Prescribed medications (adequate supply for entire duration of trip and several days' surplus supply, just in case)
    • Collar, leash, harness
    • Crate
    • Bed/blankets
    • Toys
    • Food and cool, fresh water
    • Food and water dishes
  • First Aid Kit for your pet
    *For more information on Pet First Aid and First Aid Kits, please go to the AVMA Pet First Aid Site
Many states require an up-to-date Certificate of Veterinary Inspection from a licensed, accredited veterinarian when traveling. Your pet must be examined by a veterinarian in order for a health certificate to be issued. This certificate basically indicates your pet is healthy to travel and is not showing signs of a disease that could be passed to other animals or to people. Certain vaccinations must be up to date for a health certificate to be issued. As part of the exam, your veterinarian may check for heartworm disease and prescribe heartworm preventative medication. When you return home, your veterinarian may recommend a follow-up examination to make sure that your pet did not pick up any diseases or parasites while traveling.
You will need a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection to travel and some airlines require an acclimation certificate. Both of these certificates can only be completed and signed by a federally accredited veterinarian. If your veterinarian is not federally accredited, you will need to find an accredited veterinarian in your area, by contacting your USDA Area Office.
View our video about travel certificates for pets and livestock.

Yes, but keep in mind that you have to follow both the United States regulations as well as the regulations in the other country to which you are traveling.
You should contact the Consulate or Embassy in that country to find out their regulations. Talk to your veterinarian about the risks of disease to your pet and have your pet vaccinated appropriately based on the risks. Some countries (and Hawaii) require quarantine of your pet upon arrival, Knowing the requirements before you travel helps you decide if you are going to take your pet or leave it at home, and prepares you for what to expect if you do take your pet with you.

Yes. The same rules apply when taking your pet camping. Talk to your veterinarian about flea, tick and heartworm prevention as well as specific risks associated with camping outdoors. (such as leptospirosis and other diseases).
Keep your pet on a leash and in your sight; and be considerate of other campers. Clean up after your pet.
Being outside, your pet can be exposed to many different wild animals like skunks, raccoons, snakes and other animals that can injure your pet or expose them to disease. Do not let your pet chase or come into contact with wildlife—it can be dangerous for both your pet and the wild animal.
View our information for outdoor enthusiasts.

Traveling by Plane
  • Check with airlines because they may have restrictions on breed and size.
  • Most airlines also require a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (health certificate) issued within 10 days of travel.
  • Federal regulations require pets to be at least 8 weeks old and they should be weaned at least 5 days before flying.
  • Talk to your veterinarian about feeding schedules. It is usually recommended that pets fly on an empty or nearly empty stomach. The pet's age, dietary needs and size, and the time and distance of the flight should all be taken into consideration.
  • Reservations should be made for you and your pet at the same time because airlines often limit how many pets are allowed on each flight.
  • Try to book a non-stop flight and avoid plane changes when possible.
  • When possible, avoid flying during busy holidays.
  • In warm weather, choose early morning or late evening flights.
  • In colder weather, choose mid-day flights.
  • Reconfirm flight arrangements the day before you leave to minimize the chance of unexpected changes.
  • Arrive to the airport early so you have time to exercise your pet.
  • If your pet will be in the cabin, check in as late as possible to reduce the time your pet will have to wait in the terminal.
  • Place your pet in its crate and pick it up as soon as you arrive at your destination.
  • Notify the flight attendant that your pet is in cargo hold.
  • This is a form from your veterinarian that will waive the low temperature Federal regulation as stated in the Animal Welfare Act.
  • If the airline cannot guarantee that the animal will not be in temperatures lower than 45°F (7.2°C) for more than 45 minutes when the animal is moved between the terminal and the plane, or for more than 4 hours when the pet is in a holding facility, and you don't have an acclimation certificate, the airline will not let your pet fly.
  • Airlines cannot ship animals if temperatures will be higher than 85° F (29.5 C) for more than four consecutive hours while in animal holding areas of airport terminals or for more than 45 minutes while transferring the animal between the aircraft and the animal holding area, under any circumstances.
  • Some airlines will require an acclimation certificate in order to let your pet travel.
  • Acclimation certificates are written at the discretion of the veterinarian, and are based on the veterinarian's assessment of the pet's health.
  • There are no acclimation certificates that allow pets to be shipped when conditions are above 85°F (29.5°C).
It is recommended that you DO NOT give tranquilizers to your pet when traveling by air because it can increase the risk of heart and respiratory problems. Short-nosed dogs and cats sometimes have even more difficulty with travel. Visit our FAQs about short-nosed dogs and air travel for more information.
Airlines may require a signed statement that your pet has not been tranquilized prior to flying.
According to Dr. Patricia Olsen with the American Humane Association, "An animal's natural ability to balance and maintain equilibrium is altered under sedation and when the kennel is moved, a sedated animal may not be able to brace and prevent injury."
It is best to purchase an approved crate prior to travel (at the airline or local pet store) so you have time to let your pet get used to the crate and be comfortable. If your pet is small and can fit comfortably in an airline approved carrier, your pet may be able to travel with you in the cabin.
Approved crates should:
  • Be large enough for your pet to stand (without touching the top of the cage), turn around and lie down
  • Be strong and free of interior protrusions, with handles or grips
  • Have a leak-proof bottom with plenty of absorbent material
  • Be ventilated on opposite sides, with exterior knobs and rims that will not block airflow
  • Be clearly labeled with owners name, home address and phone number, destination contact information and a sign stating "Live Animals" with arrows showing which way is upright
Traveling by Boat
  • For personal boats, take time to allow your pet to become familiar with your boat.
  • Provide a ramp for your pet to easily get on and off the boat, or carry your pet on and off the boat.
  • Call ahead to make sure the marina or park is pet friendly.
  • Your pet should wear a proper-fitting personal flotation device (a life jacket) at all times to keep your pet safe in and around water, even if they know how to swim.
  • Applying sunscreen prevents sunburn to your pet, especially pets with light skin and short or thin haircoats. Ask your veterinarian to recommend a non-toxic, non-skin irritating sunscreen for your pets.
  • Provide non-slip bathroom rugs to assist your pet from sliding on the wet boat and from burning their paws.
  • You should have your pet in a carrier, or on a harness or leash to prevent them from jumping or falling overboard.
You can train your dog to use a piece of astroturf, a box of sod or newspaper. For cats and other small animals that use litter boxes, make sure there is a covered litterbox secured to the floor inside the boat.
  • For public boats, check with the boating company to find out their requirements and restrictions.
  • Most boating companies will require you to provide a regulation carrier and a leash for dogs.
  • You will also need a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (health certificate) and possibly a travel form, depending on the areas that you will be visiting.
  • When traveling by boat, your pet should have exercise before boarding and when you make stops.
  • When traveling to foreign countries, you will need an International Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (health certificate).
  • You may also need a permit and have to fill out a form. Information about pet passports to foreign countries can be found at Pet Travel
  • Some pets get motion sicknesses on boats. If your pet becomes motion sick in the car, it will likely be sick on a boat. Talk to your veterinarian about alternate traveling suggestions or medications.
Traveling by Car
  • If your pet does not ride well in a car, consider leaving your pet at home, with friends or family, or in a boarding facility.
  • If you don't often take your pet in the car, start with short trips to "fun" destinations (such as a dog-friendly park or play area) to help your pet get used to riding in a car.
  • If your pet gets car sick, talk to your veterinarian about alternate traveling suggestions or medications to keep them comfortable.
  • Make frequent stops (about every 2-3 hours) to allow your pet to go to the bathroom and get some exercise.
  • Properly restrain your pet in the car to prevent injury to your pets, you and to other drivers.
  • Do not let your pet ride in the back of a truck. If your pet must ride in the truck bed, they should be confined in a protective kennel that is secured to the truck to prevent injury.
    » View the AVMA Policy
    » View the AVMA Backgrounder
  • Pets should not be allowed to ride with their heads outside the window. Dirt and other debris can enter their eyes, ears and nose and cause injury or infection.
  • Pets should not be allowed to ride on the driver's lap or near the driver's feet. Small pets should be confined in crates or in travel-safe dog beds, and larger pets should be appropriately restrained with harnesses attached to the car's seat belts.
  • Cats should be transported in carriers.
  • Providing a familiar blanket and/or safe toy can help make your pet more comfortable during the trip.
  • Pets in Cars
  • Pets in Vehicles
Traveling by Train or Bus
Most states restrict the travel of pets on trains or buses. Exceptions are made for guide or service dogs. Check with your carrier to find out if your pet can come with you and what rules and regulations apply.
For Pet Owners

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Mother Says Son Saved From Drowning by Family Dog

An interesting article from the AVMA Health SmartBrief. It only reaffirms why we love our dogs so much and what a great human-animal bond exists.

Mother Says Son Saved From Drowning by Family Dog

A Marcellus (Indiana) woman says their family dog saved her son's life.  Patricia Drauch says she was heading to her garage with her 14-month-old son, Stanley, when she noticed he was not following her.

She found him face-up in the water and, she says, he appeared to be blue.  Drauch told police that the family dog, a black lab named Bear, was in the pool and holding Stanley out of the water on the dog's back.

"That image of seeing your child like that, it doesn't go away. It's still in my mind," says Drauch.

Drauch rushed her son to the nearby Marcellus Fire Department.  Stanley regained consciousness while in the car.  He was checked out at the station, then taken to a hospital in Three Rivers where he was treated and released.

Drauch says, "There's no water in his lungs, so we all believe if it wasn't for Bear holding him up out of the water, he would have sunk down."

The family is calling Bear a hero.

Meantime, the Drauch's are working to put up a fence around the pool.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Animal Smarts: What Do Dogs, Elephants and Dolphins Know?

An interesting article on found on the AVMA SmartBrief.

It's not just man's closer primate relatives that exhibit brain power. Dolphins, dogs and elephants are teaching us a few lessons, too.

Dolphin brains involve completely different wiring from primates, especially in the neocortex, which is central to higher functions such as reasoning and conscious thought.

Dolphins are so distantly related to humans that it's been 95 million years since we had even a remotely common ancestor. Yet when it comes to intelligence, social behavior and communications, some researchers say dolphins come as close to humans as our ape and monkey cousins.

Maybe closer.

"They understand concepts like zero, abstract concepts. They do everything that chimpanzees do and bonobos can do," said Lori Marino, a neuroscientist at Emory University who specializes in dolphin research. "The fact is that they are so different from us and so much like us at the same time."

In recent years, animal researchers have found that thought processes in critters aren't a matter of how closely related they are to humans. You don't have to be a primate to be smart.

Dolphin brains look nothing like human brains, Marino said. Yet, she says, "the more you learn about them, the more you realize that they do have the capacity and characteristics that we think of when we think of a person."

These mammals recognize themselves in the mirror and have a sense of social identity. They not only know who they are, but they also have a sense of who, where and what their groups are. They interact and comprehend the health and feelings of other dolphins so fast it as if they are online with each other, Marino said.

Animal intelligence "is not a linear thing," said Duke University researcher Brian Hare, who studies bonobos, which are one of man's closest relatives, and dogs, which are not.

"Think of it like a toolbox," he said. "Some species have an amazing hammer. Some species have an amazing screwdriver."

For dogs, a primary tool is their obsessive observation of humans and ability to understand human communication, Hare said. For example, dogs follow human pointing so well that they understand it whether it's done with a hand or a foot; chimps don't, said Hare, whose upcoming book is called "The Genius of Dogs."

Then there are elephants.

They empathize, they help each other, they work together. In a classic cooperation game, in which animals only get food if two animals pull opposite ends of a rope at the same time, elephants learned to do that much quicker than chimps, said researcher Josh Plotnik, head of elephant research at the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation in Thailand.

They do even better than monkeys at empathy and rescue, said Plotnik. In the wild, he has seen elephants stop and work together to rescue another elephant that fell in a pit.

"There is something in the environment, in the evolution of this species that is unique," he says.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Which Color Cars Attract the Most Bird Droppings?

As we see a large number of birds at Niles Animal Hospital and Bird Medical Center, I have become quite the expert on bird droppings. I came across this interesting article on the internet where a study was done in England where they were trying to determine which color of car attracted the largest number of bird droppings. (Maybe too much time on their hands?) Anyway it was an intriguing read.

To add my perspective to this. Through the years I have noticed certain things about birds, such as, they seem to be predominately left-footed (evidenced by which foot they hold their food in or reach out to grab something) and also that their favorite color is red (birds who are colored pellet eaters seem to prefer the red ones, followed by orange and green, with purple being the least favorite color). As they do see in color (unlike dogs and cats), color is very important to them. In the study described below, they were trying to determine why the birds preferred to poop on the red cars, suggesting various theories, but based on my experience I think it may be that they JUST LIKE THAT COLOR!

Peter S. Sakas DVM
Bright red cars attract more bird droppings than vehicles of any other color, according research from Halfords.

A study recorded the frequency that birds left their mark on cars in five cities around the United Kingdom, and found crimson motors were targeted the most.

Green cars were found to suffer least, followed by silver, while white vehicles escaped more often than black in the analysis of 1,140 cars in Brighton, Glasgow, Leeds, Manchester and Bristol over two consecutive days, to see whether color made a difference to birds.

During the study, drivers were also asked how quickly they removed droppings from their cars. Only 17 per cent, one in six, said they wiped off deposits immediately when they saw them, 20 per cent said they took action "within a couple of days" while 55 per cent waited until the next car wash. The remaining 8 per cent never washed their cars or left it to others to organize.

As well as being unsightly, insurance industry figures show bird droppings on vehicles can be an expensive problem and estimate the damage caused by bird-poop-stained paintwork costs motorists $57 million a year in unnecessary repairs.

Halfords car cleaning expert David Howells said: "This research does have a serious side because the problem annoys drivers, causes damaged paintwork and affects the value of vehicles. To protect your bodywork from damage, droppings should be carefully cleaned off as soon as possible."

Theories abound on motoring and social networking websites as to why birds are attracted to pooping on some cars more than others. A Lexus driver reckoned newly polished cars suffer because birds see a reflection of themselves. A Ford Focus owner agreed and said the darker the color the deeper the reflection and the more violent the reaction. An Alfa Romeo owner said it depends where you park and a Mercedes driver said blue was the worst as it reminded birds of water.

Others thought birds saw red as a danger or birds went for similar colors to their own plumage, such as in seaside resorts seagulls went for white cars, while in cities pigeons go for grey.

The Halfords study found little difference between cities and the seaside in the colors that specific species of birds apparently aim for.

Researchers who compiled the results found 18 per cent of red cars were marked with droppings, blue 14 per cent, black 11 per cent, white 7 per cent, grey/silver 3 per cent, and green 1 per cent.

Leading car polish experts Autoglym said the damage to vehicle paintwork arose not from the acid or alkali in bird feces, but from paint lacquer softening and expanding to form an uneven mold around the dropping which produced a dull patch. Grainier textures from seed eating birds produced the most blemishes, so pigeons are worse for motorists than seagulls.

Autoglym says that bird dropping damage can only be prevented by owners removing the poop as soon as possible.

The British Trust for Ornithology was more circumspect on the role of colour in the "drop zone" for birds. "We do know that birds can be attracted to certain colours during display but it [droppings on cars] is probably more to do with where you park; if you park where birds roost, then you are going to get more droppings on your vehicle," said a spokesman.

Halfords study was carried out in June 2012 on 1,140 cars in Brighton, Glasgow, Leeds, Manchester and Bristol.

Advice on removing bird deposits from vehicles

1. Remove at the earliest opportunity

2. A moist cloth should be used  to gently lift the deposit from the vehicle surface.

3. If the deposit is dry or doesn't lift easily, place a moist cloth over it for ten minutes to soften the deposit

4. Dispose of any cloth or wipe used to remove bird droppings immediately and carefully wash your hands, as bird droppings can harbor diseases
News Source: Halfords

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

7 Ways Dogs Can Help Your Health

Article I found on the AVMA Health SmartBrief. I always knew pet ownership was beneficial but this article helps to quantify it a bit.

7 Ways Dogs Can Help Your Health

VIDEO: New research finds pets can improve the health of owners, especially children.
Dogs may be good at more than fetching sticks and greeting you after a long day at work. As it turns out, simply having them around may lessen your kids' chances of getting the common cold.

Owning a dog may improve the health of children in that household, according to new research from the University of California, San Francisco. In a study of mice, researchers found that the house dust from homes with dogs worked to protect against a common cold strain, the respiratory syncytial virus.

"Mice aren't identical to humans. There are obvious differences," explains Dr. Susan Lynch, co-investigator of the study and a professor at UCSF. "But we can do things in the animals that we could not possibly do in humans, and we can get samples to examine disease that would be very difficult to assess in humans."

Animals fed house dust from dog-owning homes did not exhibit the usual symptoms of RSV, including mucus production and lung inflammation. In fact, their symptoms were comparable to animals that weren't exposed to the virus in the first place.

So what's the big deal about RSV? It's a virus to which almost everybody has been exposed within the first few years of life. However, it can be severe -- and sometimes fatal -- in premature and chronically ill infants. It is the leading cause of bronchiolitis, which is an inflammation of the small airways in the lung, as well as pneumonia in children under 1 year of age in the United States, and it is associated with increased risk of developing asthma.

What excited researchers is that this work may help explain why pet ownership has been associated with protection against childhood asthma in the past. Their thought process is as follows: exposure to animals early in life helps "train" the immune system, which plays an integral part in asthma development. In short, there is reason to believe that germs, such as those associated with dogs, may be good for children's health under certain circumstances.

"Everybody appreciates the fact that we're all missing something big in asthma," says Dr. Robert Mellins, a pediatric pulmonologist at Columbia University in New York. "People have appreciated that viral infections clearly have an association, and this kind of experiment is interesting because it suggests a mechanism of how that could come about."

The study is far from the first to suggest the health benefits of having a canine in the family. The following are six other ways that owning a dog may improve your health and well-being.

Dogs and Cardiovascular Health
Could owning a dog keep your heart healthy? Research has supported a connection between owning a dog and reduced risk of cardiovascular problems, including high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol levels. In addition, a study published in the American Journal of Cardiology found that male dog owners were less likely to die within one year after a heart attack than those who did not own a dog.

Dogs and Anxiety
For people with all forms of anxiety, having a dog may be an important coping mechanism. This is especially true in times of crisis. A study out of the Medical College of Virginia found that for hospitalized patients with mental health issues, therapy with animals significantly reduced anxiety levels more than conventional recreational therapy sessions.

Dogs and Loneliness
Dogs function as important companions and family members, but certain groups may benefit more than others. The elderly, particularly those in residential care facilities, often become socially isolated once separated from immediate family. Researchers in Australia have found that dogs improved the well-being of residents by promoting their capacity to build relationships.

Dogs and Rehabilitation
In the setting of a severe illness or prolonged hospitalization, therapy dogs can be integral in the process of rehabilitation. A review of the literature looking at the function of service dogs proved that dogs can assist people with various disabilities in performing everyday activities, thereby significantly reducing their dependence on others.

Dogs and Activity
Before a dog is introduced into the home, the most commonly asked question is, "Who is going to walk the dog?" Turns out this responsibility may be important for the health of the family as well as the dog. Studies from the American Journal of Public Health and the American Journal of Preventive Medicine have shown that children with dogs spend more time doing moderate to vigorous activity than those without dogs, and adults with dogs walk on average almost twice as much as adults without dogs.

Dogs and Doctors
With all of these specific health benefits, could dogs keep you away from the doctor altogether? A national survey out of Australia found that dog and cat owners made fewer annual doctor visits and generally had significantly lower use of general practitioner services.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Garden Hazards for Pets

There's something wonderful about watching your pet frolic outside in warm weather, but beware. Some common plants and gardening products can be hazardous, even fatal, to a dog or cat.

According to veterinarian Ahna Brutlag of the Pet Poison Helpline, springtime calls to the 24/7 telephone center are frequent from pet owners in a panic. Calls, which are taken by veterinary and toxicology experts, are $39 per incident, including follow-up consultation for the duration of the poison case.

"Many of the calls we receive this time of year involve pet ingestion of yard and garden products that may have harmful chemicals or ingredients," Brutlag said. "Additional yard-related emergencies involve pets that have dug into and ingested the contents of compost piles or consumed various plants and flowers that can be poisonous."

Such plants and products include:
Crocuses that bloom in spring generally causes gastrointestinal upset while the fall crocus is highly toxic and can cause severe vomiting, gastrointestinal bleeding and multisystem organ failure with bone marrow suppression.

Lilies such as peace, Peruvian and Calla only cause minor symptoms when ingested, while tiger, Asiatic, Easter, Japanese show and daylily varieties are highly toxic to cats. A very small ingestion of the latter petals, leaves or pollen can result in severe kidney failure.

Lily of the valley - An early springtime favorite, contains cardiac glycosides and can cause vomiting, diarrhea, a drop in heart rate, severe cardiac arrhythmias and possibly seizures.

Cocoa bean mulch - Made from discarded hulls of the cocoa bean, a tempting treat to dogs. Unfortunately, the mulch contains theobromine and caffeine, two toxins that can cause vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, seizures and, in extreme cases, death.

Compost - As organic matter decomposes, tremorgenic mycotoxins are released from mold spores. When consumed by an animal, symptoms such as agitation, panting, drooling, vomiting, tremors and seizures can result within 30 minutes.

Fertilizers, soil additives and pesticides - Avoid products that contain blood meal, bonemeal and feather meal, which can form a concretion in the stomach and ultimately obstruct the gastrointestinal tract, causing severe pancreatitis.

Iron is another ingredient to avoid, as it can cause iron poisoning. Pesticides and additives containing organophosphates should not be used around pets; it can be fatal in even small amounts.

Slug and snail bait - An active ingredient called metaldehyde, found in most forms of slug and snail bait, is highly poisonous and can cause excess salivation, restlessness, vomiting, tremors, seizures and life-threateningly high body temperatures within one to two hours of ingestion. Symptoms can last for several days and can be fatal.

"People need to remember that some drugs, such as aspirin or heart medication, contain ingredients that come from plants. When the plant is ingested, you can see similar signs as when the drug is ingested," said veterinarian Evelyn Vega, owner of Happy Pets Veterinary Clinic in Valencia.

While Vega tends to see more holiday-related plant ingestions, such as poinsettias at Christmas, rather than those that happen outdoors, she suggested all scenarios be treated promptly and seriously.

"If an owner suspects their pet has been poisoned, it's crucial to bring the pet into the vet office and to find out the name of the plant so we can look it up and determine the best treatment," Vega said. "Symptoms can vary depending on the plant. Most plants can cause gastrointestinal upset with vomiting or diarrhea."
Preventing plant and garden-related ingestions is pretty simple, as Vega illustrated.

"Keep such plants and products out of reach, or don't have them at all," she said. "If you're concerned about what plants are already on your property, go to a local nursery and do some research."

Pet Poison Helpline is available in North America by calling 800-213-6680. Additional information can be found online at Pet Poison Helpline's new iPhone application contains an extensive database of plants, chemicals, food and drugs that are poisonous to pets and also has a direct dial feature to the Pet Poison Helpline in case of emergency. The app, called Pet Poison Help, costs $0.99 and is available on iTunes.

Article originally posted on AVMA Health Brief.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Pets Can Transport Bed Bugs (and Other Critters)

Parasites and creepy crawlers are right up my alley as while in graduate school my areas of concentrations were parasitology, immunology and medical entomology (the study of bugs of medical significance). So this is a topic that is close to my heart and one that needs addressing.

I hate to gross everyone out, this being vacation season and all. but forewarned is forearmed. We all know that bed bugs are a real problem in hotel/motel rooms, but it can also be a problem for your pet as well as the following article explains. In addition, when you stay in a "pet friendly" hotel/motel the cleaning of the rooms may not be adequate enough so you pet can be exposed to a wide range of parasites or disease organisms that had been brought in by the previous animal guests. Make sure your pets are up to date with all their vaccinations and are on their preventative medications. The heartworm preventatives (depending upon which one you use), in addition to protecting against heartworm disease also prevent roundworms, hookworms and in some cases, whipworms. To be certain about which parasites it does protect your pet against check the manufacturer's information or speak with your veterinarian. In addition, due to the heightened risk that fleas may be in these rooms it is imperative that your dog be on a flea/tick preventative medication as well. If you do not normally use flea preventatives, it might be worthwhile to use an application before you bring your pet on vacation with you. Check with your veterinarian and follow their recommendations.

Bed bugs, pets, and travel

Critters will hitch a ride with your furry friend

Updated: Friday, 15 Jun 2012, 6:41 PM EDT
Published : Friday, 15 Jun 2012, 6:41 PM EDT
(WPRI) - More people are taking their pets with them when they travel. And hotels are often happy to cater to visiting pets. One problem: bed bugs love it when pets visit too.

Charlotte Reed is an expert at traveling with her dog, but does worry about exposing the pooch to the bugs: "My dog sleeps in the bed with me. So, just like I'm exposed to bed bugs at night in the bed, so is she."

Recent surveys have found 67% of pest management companies have treated bed bugs in hotel rooms. Jeffrey White, a research entomologist with BedBug Central, a web site devoted to researching and providing expert information on the critters, says all pets are fair game.

Vet Kimberly May of the American Veterinary Medical Center agrees: "Pets can transport bed bugs. Just mechanically, the bed bug hitches a ride on your pet and gets into your house."

And don't forget your pet's bedding, she says: "You also need to check their soft toys, because there could be bed bugs in there."

Check-in, then check room

The experts say when you arrive at the hotel room, thoroughly inspect it for bugs before bringing Rover or Princess through the door. You can see the bugs easily; they're visible to the naked eye.

"One of the most common areas that you want to inspect when you stay in a hotel room is either the headboard, where bed bugs will typically hide, or the bottom of the box-spring," says White.

Consider leaving your pet's bedding and carrier in the bathroom, where there will be less chance of bugs.

Try treating the carrier with a pet safe bed bug repellent spray. "I always spray the carrier prior to leaving my house," says Charlotte.

Finally, when you get home, take further precautions with the bedding or blankets. "Immediately launder it in the hottest water that you can," says May. "If there are any rips or holes in it, you want to discard it."

The good news, of course -- bed bugs aren't known to carry disease, unlike fleas and ticks. The bed bug bites are merely irritating and itchy to both pets and people.

The experts also say it can't hurt to use flea and tick spray to help keep your pets bed-bug free -- but, there's no research to prove that this method is entirely effective.
Copyright WPRI 12

Human Salmonella Cases Linked to Recalled Pet Food

You can never be too careful. Practice proper storage and handling techniques with the pet foods you use. It will be safer for you and your pets. Store them in a resealable container so insects and rodents cannot get into the food. Wash your hands if you handle the foods directly to prevent the risk of bacterial contamination. Always check the expiration dates of the food and be careful with foods which have short dating. If you have multiple bags of food make sure you rotate the bags so you are always using the freshest foods.


Diamond Pet Foods Partly Linked To 22 Human Salmonella Infantis Cases 

6/15/2012 2:04 PM ET
(RTTNews) - The Center for Disease Control and Prevention attributed the multi-state outbreak of human salmonella infections to various brands of dry pet food, including those manufactured by Diamond Pet Food in South Carolina. A total of 22 persons have been infected with human salmonella infantis, out of which twenty are reported from 13 states, while two are from Canada.

Among the 17 patients with available information, 6 were hospitalized. No deaths have been reported. Illnesses were reported between October 2011 and May 11, 2012.

The number of ill persons in each state is as follows: Alabama (2), California (1), Connecticut (1), Illinois (1), Michigan (1), Missouri (3), North Carolina (3), New Jersey (1), New York (1), Ohio (2), Pennsylvania (2), South Carolina (1), and Virginia (1).

Diamond Pet Foods started recall of certain brands of dry dog and cat food manufactured in South Carolina facility due to possible contamination with Salmonella. On April 6, the company recalled one formula of Diamond Naturals Lamb Meal & Rice. The same month it expanded its recall to include one production run and four production codes of Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover's Soul Adult Light formula dry dog food. It also added Diamond Puppy Formula to its recall list.

Last month, Diamond Pet Foods again expanded its recall to include more brands of dry pet food formulas manufactured in the South Carolina facility between December 9, 2011 and April 7, 2012.

The recalled brands include Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover's Soul, Country Value, Diamond, Diamond Naturals, Premium Edge, Professional, 4Health and Taste of the Wild.

The company also announced recall of Diamond Naturals Small Breed Adult Dog Lamb & Rice Formula samples, 6 pound and 18 pound bag sizes, manufactured on August 26, 2011.
by RTT Staff Writer

Friday, June 15, 2012

Hot Weather Tips for Pets

Hot Weather Tips (from the ASPCA)

We all love spending the long, sunny days of summer outdoors with our furry companions, but being overeager in hot weather can spell danger, warn ASPCA experts. 

"Even the healthiest pets can suffer from dehydration, heat stroke and sunburn if overexposed to the heat," says Dr. Lila Miller, ASPCA Vice President of Veterinary Outreach, "and heat stroke can be fatal if not treated promptly."

Take these simple precautions, provided by ASPCA experts, to help prevent your pet from overheating. And if you suspect your pet is suffering from heat stroke, get help from your veterinarian immediately.

Visit the Vet
A visit to the veterinarian for a spring or early summer check-up is a must. Make sure your pets get tested for heartworm if they aren't on year-round preventive medication. Do parasites bug your animal companions? Ask your doctor to recommend a safe flea and tick control program.

Made in the Shade
Pets can get dehydrated quickly, so give them plenty of fresh, clean water when it's hot outdoors. Make sure your pets have a shady place to get out of the sun, be careful to not over-exercise them, and keep them indoors when it's extremely hot.

Know the Warning Signs
According to Dr. Lila Miller, ASPCA Vice President of Veterinary Outreach, "symptoms of  overheating in pets include excessive panting or difficulty breathing, increased heart and respiratory rate, drooling, mild weakness, stupor or even collapse. They can also include seizures, bloody diarrhea and vomit along with an elevated body temperature of over 104 degrees." Animals with flat faces, like Pugs and Persian cats, are more susceptible to heat stroke since they cannot pant as effectively. These pets, along with the elderly, the overweight, and those with heart or lung diseases, should be kept cool in air-conditioned rooms as much as possible.

No Parking!
Never leave your animals alone in a parked vehicle. "On a hot day, a parked car can become a furnace in no time-even with the windows open-which could lead to fatal heat stroke," says Dr. Louise Murray, Director of Medicine at ASPCA Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital. Also, leaving pets unattended in cars in extreme weather is illegal in several states.

Make a Safe Splash Do not leave pets unsupervised around a pool-not all dogs are good swimmers. Introduce your pets to water gradually and make sure they wear flotation devices when on boats. Rinse your dog off after swimming to remove chlorine or salt from his fur, and try to keep your dog from drinking pool water, which contains chlorine and other chemicals that could cause stomach upset.

Screen Test "During warmer months, the ASPCA sees an increase in injured animals as a result of High-Rise Syndrome, which occurs when pets-mostly cats-fall out of windows or doors and are seriously or fatally injured," says Dr. Murray. "Pet owners need to know that this is completely preventable if they take simple precautions." Keep all unscreened windows or doors in your home closed and make sure adjustable screens are tightly secured.

Summer Style Giving your dog a lightweight summer haircut helps prevent overheating. Shave down to a one-inch length, never to the skin, so your dog still has some protection from the sun. Brushing cats more often than usual can prevent problems caused by excessive heat. As far as skin care, be sure that any sunscreen or insect repellent product you use on your pets is labeled specifically for use on animals.

Street Smarts When the temperature is very high, don't let your dog linger on hot asphalt. Being so close the ground, your pooch's body can heat up quickly, and sensitive paw pads can burn. Keep walks during these times to a minimum.

Avoid Chemicals Commonly used flea and tick products, rodenticides (mouse and rat baits), and lawn and garden insecticides can be harmful to cats and dogs if ingested, so keep them out of reach. When walking your dog, steer clear of areas that you suspect have been sprayed with insecticides or other chemicals. Keep citronella candles, oil products and insect coils out of pets' reach as well. Call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 if you suspect your animal has ingested a poisonous substance.

Party Animals Taking Fido to a backyard barbeque or party? Remember that the food and drink offered to guests may be poisonous to pets. "Keep alcoholic beverages away from pets, as they can cause intoxication, depression and comas," says Dr. Steven Hansen, ASPCA Senior Vice President of Animal Health Services. "Similarly, remember that the snacks enjoyed by your human friends should not be a treat for your pet; any change of diet, even for one meal, may give your dog or cat severe digestive ailments. Avoid raisins, grapes, onions, chocolate and products with the sweetener xylitol."

Fireworks Aren't Very Pet-riotic
Please leave pets at home when you head out to Fourth of July celebrations, and never use fireworks around pets. "Exposure to lit fireworks can potentially result in severe burns or trauma to curious pets, and even unused fireworks can be hazardous," says Dr. Hansen. "Many types of fireworks contain potentially toxic substances such as potassium nitrate, copper, chlorates, arsenic and other heavy metals."

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The 9/11 Dogs Today

I received this as an email from a friend of mine. I felt that it was worth sharing and honoring these hero dogs.

9/11 Dogs Today
Nearly 100 dogs worked at the trade center ten years ago; only 13 are left.  THESE OLD WONDERFUL FACES SAY IT ALL...  These are the surviving dogs that worked the trade center that are still alive but retired, they are heroes too.  Their eyes say everything you need to know about them. Just amazing creatures
True heroes of 9/11 still with us today
Moxie, 13, from Winthrop , Massachusetts , arrived with her handler, Mark Aliberti, at the World Trade Center 
on the evening of September 11 and searched the site for eight days.
Tara, 16, from Ipswich , Massachusetts , arrived at the World Trade Center on the night of the 11th. 
The dog and her handler Lee Prentiss were there for eight days.
Kaiser, 12, pictured at home in Indianapolis , Indiana , was deployed to the World Trade Center
on September 11 and searched tirelessly for people in the rubble.
Bretagne and his owner Denise Corliss from Cypress , Texas , arrived at the site in New York 
on September 17, remaining there for ten days.
Guinness, 15, from Highland , California , started work at the site with Sheila McKee 
on the morning of September 13 and was deployed at the site for 11 days.
Merlyn and his handler Matt Claussen were deployed to Ground Zero on September 24, 
working the night shift for five days.
Red, 11, from Annapolis , Maryland , went with Heather Roche to the Pentagon from September 16 
until the 27 as part of the Bay Area Recovery Canines.
Abigail, above, was deployed on the evening of September 17, searching for 10 days while Tuff 
arrived in New York at 11:00 pm on the day of attack to start working early the next day.
Handler Julie Noyes and Hoke were deployed to the World Trade Center from their home in Denver 
on September 24 and searched for five days.
Scout and another unknown dog lie among the rubble at Ground Zero, just two of nearly 100 
search and rescue animals who helped to search for survivors.
During the chaos of the 9/11 attacks, where almost 3,000 people died, nearly 100 loyal search and rescue dogs and their brave owners scoured Ground Zero for survivors.  Now, ten years on, just 12 of these heroic canines survive, and they have been commemorated in a touching series of portraits entitled Retrieved.  The dogs worked tirelessly to search for anyone trapped alive in the rubble, along with countless emergency service workers and members of the public.
Traveling across nine states in the U.S. from Texas to Maryland, Dutch photographer Charlotte Dumas, 34, captured the remaining dogs in their twilight years in their homes where they still live with their handlers, a full decade on from 9/11.  Their stories have now been compiled in a book, called Retrieved, which was published on the tenth anniversary of the attacks.  Noted for her touching portraits of animals, especially dogs, Charlotte wanted Retrieved to mark not only the anniversary of the September 2001 attacks, but also as recognition for some of the first responders and their dogs.
"I felt this was a turning point, especially for the dogs, who although are not forgotten, are not as prominent as the human stories involved," explained Charlotte, who splits her time between New York and Amsterdam.  "They speak to us as a different species, and animals are greatly important for our sense of empathy and to put things into perspective."