L.A. Unleashed

All things animal in Southern
California and beyond

Category: Health & Safety

Ask a Vet: How can I help an allergic roommate live comfortably with my cat?

Have a nonemergency question about your pet's health? Dr. Heather Oxford of L.A. veterinary hospital California Animal Rehabilitation (CARE) is here to help! In this installment of Ask a Vet, Dr. Oxford has some tips for reader Meiling about living with a cat and a cat-allergic roommate:

Calico Meiling's question: My very fluffy calico cat and I are moving in with a friend who is mildly allergic to animal dander. She's suggested that I shave Pineapple, but I think that's just a temporary solution. Is there any way I can reduce the amount of dander from Pineapple?

Heather Oxford, DVM: Interestingly, the main allergen from cats is in highest quantity in their saliva and their anal glands. Therefore, shaving Pineapple will do little to decrease your friend's symptoms.

There have been several products advertised for use on cats to decrease human allergies but none have proved effective in various studies.

My advice would be to bathe Pineapple regularly and apply a flea preventative product monthly to limit how much she grooms herself. While I wouldn't recommend surgical removal of the anal glands, you should change the litter box at least once daily to prevent allergens from the anal secretions from getting emitted into the air.

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Procter & Gamble announces voluntary recall of some Iams canned cat food over thiamine concerns

Iams The Procter & Gamble Co., which owns the Iams pet food brand, announced a voluntary recall of canned Iams ProActive Health cat and kitten foods Wednesday.

The affected cat and kitten foods contain dates between September 2011 and June 2012 printed on the bottom of the cans.

"Diagnostic testing indicated that the product may contain insufficient levels of thiamine (Vitamin B1), which is essential for cats," Procter & Gamble said in a news release Wednesday. "Cats that were fed these canned products as their only food are at greater risk for developing signs of thiamine deficiency."

Procter & Gamble, in its news release, advised cat owners who have purchased the affected food to throw it out, although Petco, a major Iams distributor, said in its own release that it expects to have details soon about a refund process for affected cat food cans.

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Owners' finances have a big impact on veterinary care for their pets, survey finds


When a vet told Nancy Gates that her dog Arabella had heart problems, needed surgery and it would cost $500, she had no choice but to put her pet down.

"It was pretty straightforward because I had four young children to feed. The vet said surgery was my only option. I did not want my dog to suffer," she said.

Gates, 41, of Cotati, about 50 miles north of San Francisco, made that decision 11 years ago but said nothing has changed. She still can't afford high-priced healthcare for her current pets, an 11-year-old cat, Cocoa, and a 9-year-old golden retriever, Sadie. And Gates isn't alone.

Money is a consideration for the majority of people when dealing with the cost of healthcare for animals, according to an Associated Press-Petside.com poll conducted by GfK Roper Public Affairs & Media.

While 62% of pet owners, 62% would probably pay for veterinary care if the bill was $500 or less, the percentage drops below half when the cost hits $1,000. The number drops to 35% if the cost is $2,000 and to 22% if it reaches $5,000.

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California Assembly passes bill that would mandate greater disclosure from pet insurance providers


California lawmakers are bringing a version of healthcare reform to your pets.

A bill that passed Tuesday in the state Assembly would require greater disclosure from health insurance companies that cover animals.

The bill by Democratic Assemblyman Dave Jones of Sacramento would require an insurer to disclose on the main page of its website any policy that limits coverage. Insurers also would have to make it clear whether they deny coverage based on preexisting conditions.

A.B. 2411 passed the Assembly on a 43-16 vote and now moves to the Senate.

The bill originally sought to ban pet insurers from denying coverage to animals with a preexisting condition, but that provision was removed from the bill.

Assembly passes declawing-devocalization bill affecting California landlords and tenants
Georgia lawmakers weigh a ban of gas chambers as a means of euthanizing shelter pets

-- Associated Press

Photo: A dog is prepared for surgery by staff at a Monrovia veterinary clinic in 2007. Credit: Annie Wells / Los Angeles Times

Arizona towns to quarantine cats in response to rabies outbreak


FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — A persistent rabies outbreak has prompted a renewed cat quarantine in areas around Flagstaff through at least mid-September.

The lockdown of domestic cats will allow health and wildlife officials to trap local wildlife and to disperse vaccine in feed packets scattered in the area. Dogs are already subject to leash laws.

Rabies vaccine packets will also be scattered using airdrops in areas from Williams to Winona and prompt localized lockdowns lasting about two weeks.

Coconino County's Board of Supervisors approved the quarantine on Tuesday for east Flagstaff, Mount Elden and Cheshire. It takes effect in two weeks.

Last year, 35 wild animals tested positive for rabies in the county and one man was attacked by a rabid animal in his driveway.

Thirty cats and kittens removed from East L.A. home
Assembly passes declawing-devocalization bill affecting California landlords and tenants

-- Associated Press

Photo: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

Ask a vet: How can I stop my dog's excessive licking?

Have a non-emergency question about your pet's health? Dr. Heather Oxford of L.A. veterinary hospital California Animal Rehabilitation (CARE) is here to help. In this installment of Ask a Vet, Dr. Oxford offers some advice to reader Tiffany about potential causes of problem licking in dogs.

Doglick Tiffany's question: My dog has recently begun licking excessively. We thought it was because of allergy season [during] which he would lick his paws a lot. However, we're beginning to think that's not the case because he ends up licking the couch or the bed for five minutes! Is there something we can do to stop his excessive licking?

Heather Oxford, DVM: This is probably one of the most frequently asked questions for veterinarians. Interestingly, the majority of pets that lick excessively have some form of upper gastrointestinal problem involving the mouth, esophagus or stomach.

Your veterinarian can do a thorough examination of your pet's oral cavity and can perform imaging procedures of the esophagus and stomach, including X-rays, a barium study and ultrasound. Licking has also been associated with diet sensitivity, or toxins. Rarely, it can be a type of seizure disorder as well.

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Long Island animal shelter seeks Viagra donations for pit bull with heart condition

Viagra A New York animal shelter is seeking donations of Viagra to treat a pit bull with a heart condition. Staff members at the Little Shelter Animal Rescue and Adoption Center in Huntington, on Long Island, say 6-year-old Ingrid needs two of the little blue pills every day or she will risk heart failure. They said a vet suggested it.

The pills cost about $10 apiece, and the shelter has been asking Viagra users to pitch in and donate their unused pills.

Viagra was originally developed as a heart medication but is now used mainly by men to give their sex lives a boost.

One woman donated her husband's stash to the dog because she suspected he was having an affair.

Firefighters rescue Illinois dog stuck in recliner
Man sues PetSmart, claims he slipped in feces

-- Associated Press

Photo: Viagra tablets can be seen at a Montpelier, Vt., pharmacy in a 1999 photo. Credit: Toby Talbot / Associated Press

Assembly passes declawing-devocalization bill affecting California landlords and tenants


State legislation that would make it illegal for landlords in California to require animal declawing or devocalization as a condition of tenancy passed in the Assembly on a 63-7 vote Thursday.

"Declawing and devocalization are permanent, complex surgeries that can have unintended consequences for property managers, physical complications for animals, and emotional and financial consequences for pet owners," said the bill's author, Assemblyman Pedro Nava (D-Santa Barbara), in a statement.

AB 2743 also would forbid landlords from giving preferential treatment to tenants with declawed or devocalized animals and from advertising in a way designed to discourage applicants whose animals have not been declawed or devocalized.

The California Apartment Assn., which represents more than 50,000 rental property owners, managers and industry professionals, supports the legislation. 

Declawing is a surgical procedure in which the claws and last bones of an animal's toes are removed to prevent the animal from scratching. Devocalizing, or debarking, involves surgically cutting an animal's vocal cords to reduce barking or other vocalizations.

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Pet obesity an expanding problem, say veterinarians, nutrition experts

Dogtreadmill The popularity of cats and dogs isn't the only thing that has grown in the last 20 years. So have their bellies.

Some veterinarians say Americans are feeding their pets to death without even knowing it.

Treats take the brunt of the blame, said North Carolina veterinarian Ernie Ward, author of a book released earlier this year called "Chow Hounds" and founder of the Assn. of Pet Obesity Prevention. He calls treats "kibble crack" and "calorie grenades."

"We confuse food with love. In the dog world, what they want most is interaction and affection. It's not a cry for food, it's a cry for attention," he said.

The most egregious offense may be the "guilt treat" -- those dropped by the handful when pets have to be left alone, said Marion Nestle, a nutritionist, New York University professor and author of the 2006 book for humans called "What to Eat." Her book with Cornell animal nutrition expert Malden C. Nesheim, "Feed Your Pet Right," is due in bookstores this month.

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Ask a vet: How often should I brush my pet's teeth?

Have a nonemergency question about your pet's health? Dr. Heather Oxford of L.A. veterinary hospital California Animal Rehabilitation (CARE) is here to help! In this installment of Ask a Vet, Dr. Oxford has some tips for reader Cheryl about proper dental hygiene practices for pets.

Cheryl's question: How often do dogs and cats need to have their teeth brushed? In reality, this hardly ever happens for my pets. What is a minimum frequency you recommend?

Heather Oxford, DVM: Great question, Cheryl. Veterinary dentists recommend brushing pets' teeth every other day for optimal dental health. Pet toothbrushes come in different sizes, depending on the size of the mouth, and they even have finger brushes that resemble thimbles with bristles for cats.

It is imperative that you use veterinary toothpaste since pets will swallow the toothpaste, and regular paste for people can cause severe stomach upset. Besides, they make salmon, beef, chicken and malt flavor, which could actually help to make teeth brushing a more pleasant experience for everyone.

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