RIP Isaboo, Rachael Ray’s 15-Year-Old Rescue Pit Bull

Celebrity chef Rachael Ray is most known for her cooking, but she’s also a big animal lover and advocate. In April, Ray announced plans to donate $4 million to COVID-19 relief projects through The Rachael Ray Foundation and her Yum-o! Organization. Half of those funds were allocated to animal welfare organizations, including the North Shore Animal League, Best Friends Animal Society and Lost Our Home Rescue. Why is this issue so close to Ray’s heart? She had a rescue Pit … Read more
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Woman Freaks Out After Man Asks Her To Leash Dog

WARNING: Photos and videos depict blatant abuse, but the pup has been checked out and is fine. As amazing as dogs are, not every dog parent deserves to have a loving dog by their side. This became especially clear when a video went viral overnight, showing a woman’s nasty reaction to being asked to leash her dog. Her dog had been running free in Central Park, despite the many signs that clearly state the rules. When a man politely asked … Read more
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Cool Cats: Chillin’ With the Power of Music

Scientists have long known that playing a recording of classical or otherwise pleasant music such as Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony or even Everybody Hurts by R.E.M. can make plants grow faster1
and encourage cows to give more milk.2
Music has the charm to soothe the savage beast, as the ancient saying goes.
Except for a few who may argue the point that not all cats are beasts, research reveals that much like humans, cats, too, have been found to respond measurably well to the calming strains of beautiful melodies. According to a study published in Scientific Reports,3
it’s also been shown to improve both motor dysfunction and cognitive function in patients recovering from a stroke.
What constitutes tranquil music may also be up for debate, but researchers at Louisiana State University based their initial studies on classical songs. With its mathematical precision and well-defined structure, balance and cadences, it’s been tested on cats with positive results — even cats on a dreaded car ride to the vet.
What better time would there be to test the theory? Pooling their experiential resources with cats, the scholars agreed that tension mounts exponentially when the pet carrier appears. When the humans start kitty-calling in the tone of voice every cat must associate with harrowing experiences occurring immediately afterward — that’s when the chase is on and the anxiety level (in the cat) skyrockets.
By the time you’ve got the cat in the carrier and the carrier in the car, the stress level could be considered at its peak, and that’s precisely when the theory was tested. What the researchers found was that when “relaxing” music was played, the cats in their carriers, even when they had been yowling miserably, mellowed out considerably.
As a side note, if you have a cat that has a substantial fear of travelling, I highly recommend finding a vet that makes house calls. If this isn’t an option, partner with a certified Fear Free veterinarian who can prescribe a stress-reducing protocol to minimize anxiety related to the whole process of traveling to and from the vet.
As in many other studies, however, there were caveats. Study Finds4
noted that cats listening to “chill” music responded in kind compared to other felines exposed to pop or heavy metal selections. Even anesthetized cats remained “physiologically responsive” and showed lower cat stress scores as a result, according to a study published in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery.5
A New Twist: Calming Composition for Cats

Knowing that previous studies had already established that plants, animals and humans react favorably to strains of what is generally considered classical music stylistically, the researchers went a step further and tested their theory using compositions developed especially for cats, or cat-centric music. An example can be heard in the featured video, titled Scooter Bere’s Aria, which notes:

“This music was designed from the ground up to appeal to the sensibilities of cats, just as human music is designed to appeal to humans. If we want to connect with our cats through sound in a meaningful way, shouldn’t we try to hear the world as they hear it?
The brain development and vocalizations of cats are the bases for this music, making it a new and unique form of communication and environmental enrichment that can enhance the relationship between you and your feline companion.”6

What measurable musical principles have the most positive effects in helping to mollify flustered felines when they’re primed for potential panic? According to the study, what’s worked best on humans is a combination of vocal and instrumentals with rhythms that most closely follow the human pulse rate.
So what could be more natural for inducing serenity in cats than compositions created just for them? Composers implemented subtle, fluid tunes with that idea in mind, but added in what might be most likely to inspire calm, such as purring, scratching, suckling noises and feline vocal sounds in frequencies two octaves higher than that of humans.

How the Researchers Tested the Cats’ Stress Levels
The 20 cats that found themselves participants in the study were taken on three separate visits to the vet, two weeks apart and with three different conditions: 20 minutes of cat music, 20 minutes of classical music or 20 minutes of silence. According to Study Finds:

“During each subsequent vet visit the cats’ stress levels were assessed using video footage and their overall body behavior and posture. The cats’ reactions to handlers were also considered, as well as neutrophil to lymphocyte ratios assessed via blood tests in order to account for physiological stress.”7

Medical News Today8
explains that neutrophils are white blood cell types that help heal damaged tissues and stop infections. Neutrophil blood levels are elevated in those cases, but also when there’s stress. Lymphocytes are white blood cells that are a main type of immune cells.
EMCrit9
explains the neutrophil to lymphocyte ratio (NLR) as the total number of neutrophils divided by the number of lymphocytes. Under stress, lymphocytes decrease and neutrophils increase; combined, the two have a greater impact than one by itself.
Although a lower NLR wasn’t reflected in the cats’ blood samples, which the researchers attributed to insufficient time after the 20-minute music segments to measure the ratios, they did report that the felines appeared to be “much more relaxed.”
And while there wasn’t a measurable NLR response in the blood samples, the obvious decrease in trauma after the stressed cats listened to kitty-inspired tunes suggests that music does indeed have the power to soothe the soul, even if it isn’t old time rock and roll. In fact:

“Besides the obvious benefits here for cats’ own wellbeing, the study’s authors say using specialized music for vet visits can also make life a whole lot easier for the cats’ owners as well. Not to mention the fact that it will allow veterinarians to more easily and thoroughly examine their feline patients.”10
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Choosing Feline-Friendly Houseplants and Flowers

Many of us enjoy bringing a little outdoors inside with plants and flowers, but as cat parents we have to be very careful what types we choose. Lots of kitties can’t resist sampling living greenery, and unfortunately, there are many varieties that are toxic to felines.
If your cat likes to nibble houseplants, I recommend providing roughage that’s more palatable and safer than houseplants. You can do this in the form of cat grass, which is wheatgrass, or by offering fresh sunflower sprouts.
Health Benefits of Indoor Greenery

In addition to the beauty and color plants add to indoor environments, they can also improve the air quality by removing toxins like carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, and benzene from the air you and your two- and four-legged family members breathe. These toxic compounds are released into the air each time you use chemical-based products inside your home.
Plants also increase the level of health-inducing oxygen in homes by absorbing the carbon dioxide exhaled into the air by both humans and pets and replacing it with oxygen. Safe indoor plants help cleanse the air in your home and increase oxygen concentration while decreasing waste products.
Plants can also raise the humidity level of indoor air by releasing moisture vapor. In nature, the roots of plants absorb groundwater, which then evaporates through the leaves in a process called transpiration. Indoor plants do the same each time they’re watered. Moist air is a natural skin conditioner and airway cleanser beneficial to both people and pets.
Cat-Safe Air Purifying Plants for Your Home

Air-purifying plants that are also safe for feline family members include:1
Areca Palm
Lemon Balm
Bamboo
Old Man Cactus
Basil
Painted Lady
Boston Fern
Reed Palm
Cilantro
Rosemary
Dill
Sage
Dwarf Date Palm
Shrimp Cactus
Friendship Plant
Spider Plant (Spider Ivy)
Hens and Chicks
Venus Flytrap
Lady Palm
Zebra Haworthia
Hens and ChicksFeline-safe flowers:2
Alstroemeria
Orchid
Asters
Roses
Freesia
Snapdragon
Gerber Daisies
Statice
Liatris
Sunflowers
Lisianthus
Wax Flower (Madagascar Jasmine)
Snapdragon5 Common Indoor Plants to Avoid

1. Plants from the Araceae family — These include the philodendron, pothos, peace lily, calla lily, dumb cane, arrowhead vine, mother-in-law’s tongue, sweetheart vine, devil’s ivy, umbrella plant, and elephant ear.

These are common houseplants and contain insoluble calcium oxalate crystals. If your kitty chews on one of them, it can cause severe mouth pain. Signs your cat may have sampled one of these plants include drooling, pawing at the mouth, a swollen muzzle or lips, and occasionally, vomiting.
Fortunately, these plants aren’t considered deadly, so if your kitty chews one, give him some milk or yogurt to minimize damage from the calcium oxalate crystals. Keep a close watch on him, and if his symptoms don’t subside or get worse, call your veterinarian.
2. English shamrock, rhubarb (leaves), and tropical star fruit — These houseplants contain soluble calcium oxalates, which are very different from insoluble calcium oxalate plants. Fortunately, pet poisonings involving these plants are rare, but when it happens it’s a life-threatening emergency because ingestion causes blood calcium levels to plummet and can also cause calcium oxalate crystals to form in the kidneys, causing acute kidney failure.

Signs of poisoning include drooling, lack of appetite, vomiting, lethargy, tremors, and abnormal urination. If you know or suspect your cat has ingested one of these plants, call your veterinarian right away. Blood tests and intravenous (IV) fluids will be necessary.
3. Kalanchoe — Kalanchoe plants are absolutely beautiful but unfortunately, they’re also absolutely deadly if your cat nibbles on one because they contain cardiac glycosides.

Signs of poisoning involve the gastrointestinal (GI) tract (drooling, vomiting), the cardiovascular system (very slow or rapid heart rate, arrhythmia), electrolyte imbalances (e.g., high potassium levels), and central nervous system signs (dilated pupils, tremors, seizures).
Immediate veterinary intervention is required, and will include decontamination, IV fluids, heart and blood pressure monitoring, heart medications, and supportive care.
4. Corn plant/dragon tree — Corn plants contain saponins, which are anti-nutrients that interfere with absorption of essential nutrients. If your kitty should sample a corn plant, it can cause dilated pupils, drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy. This is a much more benign type of poisoning than some others, but you’ll still want to keep this plant out of your cat’s reach.

5. Spring flowers — Certain spring bulbs, including daffodils, hyacinth, and tulips, can cause mild vomiting or diarrhea in cats who ingest them. If a massive number of bulbs are eaten, they can cause an obstruction in the stomach or intestines. Complications can include an elevated heart and respiration rate, and much less commonly, a drop in blood pressure and tremors or seizures.

The greens and flowers themselves are generally thought to be safe if your cat nibbles on them — it’s the bulbs that pose the greatest danger. If your kitty ingests the bulbs, she’ll be treated with decontamination, fluid therapy, and anti-vomiting meds if necessary.

It’s also important to note that most cut flowers come with a powdered flower food to keep them fresh, and this substance can be toxic to cats. In fact, even the vases can pose a problem, especially if your cat likes to drink from them.
Even if you only suspect your cat has sampled a toxic plant, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Contact your veterinarian, the nearest emergency animal hospital, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435, or the Pet Poison Helpline at 855-764-7661.

New Dog Breed Sparks Debate: Does The World Need A Walrus Dog?

Many dog lovers think they know almost every dog breed in existence. However, there are quite a lot of them, so it’s no surprise that one new dog breed has gone unnoticed: the Walrus Dog! After the surprising reveal of the Walrus Dog, many dog lovers were left wondering if we even need more dog breeds in this world. But once you get to know this special breed, you’ll definitely fall in love with them. They have the charm and … Read more
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Passerby Smashes Mercedes Window To Rescue Overheating Dog Inside

Even on a mild 78° F day, the temperature inside a car can increase to over 100 degrees in a matter of minutes. To a dog who can’t let itself out, this can be lethal. It might be a quick visit or shopping trip to you, but that means mean torture for your dog left behind. Last week, an informed passerby in the UK smashed the window of a parked Mercedes. He didn’t do it for the sake of destruction. He … Read more
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Dogs Won’t Love It When We Return To Work

It’s up to us to help them with this transitionTransition whiplash—that describes spring 2020 for people and dogs alike. Millions of dogs accepted the constant company of people who are home all day quite seamlessly, but the next big transition is going to be a doozy. Being alone again when people return to work after months at home will pose challenges for dogs. Nobody expects this change to go as smoothly as the one that gave us all that extra time at home with our dogs, but we can take steps to minimize the difficulties for dogs. Tags: covid-19 & dogsEnrichmentslifestyledog behaviorlife with dogs

Airport Dogs Could Soon Sniff Travelers For COVID-19

Dogs can be trained to do lots of incredible tasks, especially when it comes to using their noses. Currently, airport dogs are used to sniff out drugs and weapons, but soon they could become even more valuable. With a history of being able to detect cancer and malaria, scientists expect that airport dogs will soon be able to sniff travelers for COVID-19 too. During the ongoing pandemic, it’s difficult for people to travel. However, with these dogs on the lookout … Read more
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My Dog Freezes on Walks – Is That Normal?

As a dog behaviourist, one of the questions I am asked with almost every new client is “Is what my dog doing normal?”. There are many adorable behaviours that dogs act out that make them the goofy oddballs we can’t help but love. There are also some things they do that are really rather disgusting. It can be tricky to know what is normal when it comes to our pets and what should be a cause for concern.Tags: is my dog normal?dog behavior

UK Government Gives £500,000 to Support COVID-19 Research

A study carried out by the Durham Univesity, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, along with the charity Medical Detection Dogs, is using facemasks and clothes worn by coronavirus patients to test if dogs can identify the virus.
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Man Surprises Dog Cancer Survivor With 100 Giant Tennis Balls

Rocky Kanaka, host of the YouTube show Save Our Shelter, has a strong passion for rescuing dogs. He currently has two rescue dogs: a Boxer named Flip and a smaller dog named Zoey. He’s even caring for a blind foster puppy at the moment. He always wants what’s best for dogs in need, so when he discovered that Flip had cancer, he knew he couldn’t give up. Many vets thought that the young dog wouldn’t make it, but now, he’s … Read more
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