Surgeries Since 1997: Over
Effective January 1, 2013 our spay/neuter package is
Nation’s Lowest Euthanasia Rate!
According to a report published in the
July/August issue of Animal People magazine, 4.2
million unwanted dogs and cats were killed in U.S.
shelters last year, at a rate of 13.8 per 1,000 people.
In Connecticut, that number was 2,282 animals, at a rate
of 0.6 per 1,000.
This significant and newsworthy difference
proves that our goal of ending feline overpopulation
through high-volume, low-cost spay/neuter can be reached
with your continued participation and support.
Since we began in 1997, we have sterilized
and vaccinated more than 115,000 domestic and feral cats
statewide. We have two mobile clinics on the road, and
our surgeons continue to perform 40-80 surgeries daily,
Thank you for making Connecticut the leader!
The Staff of Tait’s Every Animal Matters
April 16, 2007, the 100,000th
sterilization surgery was performed aboard the TEAM
Mobile Feline Unit.
100K cat honor went to a four-month-old black kitten
named Puma who lives in West Haven with her human
family. Puma was spayed by Dr. Art Heller with the
assistance of veterinary technicians Dina Sicuranza and
This achievement coincided
with our 10th anniversary.
you for helping us to reach this significant milestone
and congratulations! You are part of our winning TEAM.
The Staff of Tait’s Every Animal Matters
WHAT'S FOR DINNER?
years ago it was a lack of taurine in their food that
caused fatal heart problems for cats. Next, tainted wheat
gluten from China threatened the health of our pets.
response to the many calls we received from
concerned pet owners, TEAM President John Caltabiano,
DVM made these recommendations based on over 25 years
as a large and small animal practitioner.
since the taurine discovery, I have been skeptical of
the pet food industry’s claims that foods are
nutritionally complete,” Dr. Caltabiano said.
my clients that the best thing cats can eat are mice or
little birds—both of which are 100 percent nutritionally
complete,” he said.
course, Dr. Caltabiano realizes that this diet isn’t
appetizing to today’s cat caretakers for many reasons,
so he says the next best thing is boiled chicken and
rice or pasta with vegetables, and an occasional egg.
will find this to be more nutritious, more palatable,
less expensive and probably safer than commercial food,”
he says. He recommends this diet for dogs, too.
in moderation, can add variety to a feline diet, but Dr.
Caltabiano cautions against feeding seafood exclusively.
all the time is not beneficial and can cause a painful
inflammation of the fatty tissue,” he says.
commercial foods get the “all clear” is it okay to use
cat and dog food interchangeably?
according to Dr. Caltabiano. “Dogs can survive on cat
food if they must, but cats cannot survive on dog food.”
require more meat in their diets than dogs do, although
both are carnivores. However, neither species can live
on a vegetarian diet.
dogs marrow bones, cooked or raw, provide good nutrition
and satisfy the urge to chew.
An Act Concerning the Expansion of the Animal Population
President John Caltabiano, DVM and Executive Director
Donna Sicuranza were named to a study committee
established by Governor M. Jodi Rell to investigate and
make recommendations for legislation regarding the
expansion of the state’s Animal Population Control
Program, and to address the needs of feral cat
12-member committee included representatives of the
department of agriculture and several of the state’s
animal welfare organizations, ACOs, veterinarians and
legislators. The committee voted 9 to 3 in favor of six
recommendations which became the foundation for HB
public hearing on March 9, 2007, TEAM testified
in support of HB 7194 which expands
spay/neuter services to more of the state’s low-income
pet owners and feral cat caretakers at no additional
cost to Connecticut tax-payers.
also worked closely with the department of agriculture
to ensure that up to $40,000 from a new grant program to
spay or neuter and vaccinate feral cats was released in
August of 2006.
RESIDENTS ONLY: TEAM now offers these supplies to
your cat’s health and well-being.
Contains four treatments that will rid your cat of all
worms, including tapeworms.
Cats 1 - 10 lbs
Cats 11 lbs+
Ear Mite Treatment
Call the TEAM office to pay
by check or charge by credit card**
made by credit card will be mailed and additional fees
for shipping and handling will be applied.
TEAM is Hiring
openings for veterinarians.
We need incredibly proficient surgeons who are
personable, motivated and enthusiastic to work
aboard the nationally renowned TEAM Mobile
Feline Unit. Excellent compensation
for those who want to make a real
difference for animals. Send resume to TEAM,
P.O. Box 591, Westbrook, CT 06498. Attn: Search
know these feline facts?
Cats and kittens that have not been wormed by a
veterinarian almost always have worms. Kittens
become infected through nursing (worm larvae reside
in the mother cat’s mammary tissue), and adult cats
that hunt or have fleas can pick up tape worms.
Symptoms include diarrhea, relentless
appetite, dull coat, pot
belly and coughing.
The treatment is simple
Contact your vet or purchase a
worming kit for just $10. See
Worming Your Cat.
number one health problem in cats is Feline Urologic
Syndrome (FUS). Symptoms of this serious urinary
tract problem are blood in the urine and frequent
urination, often accompanied by straining, and
occasionally “blockage,” or the inability to
best prevention is to feed your cat wet food mixed
with a bit of water and a pinch of salt. This will
help protect against FUS.
Follow this advice for cats that are overweight,
too, since wet cat food is lower in calories than
dry food, contrary to what most people think. By
adding a pinch of salt and a bit of water to wet
food, your cat’s water intake will increase, he will
feel full and eat less, aiding the weight loss
declaw a cat is to amputate the last joint of each
toe! Both the surgery and the recovery are very
painful. Plus, declawed cats are more likely to hiss
and bite, lose their balance, and become insecure.
In England it is against the law to declaw a cat.
For tips on how to
humanely prevent cats from
clawing furniture, see
TEAM article Declaw? Just
Antifreeze is poisonous to cats, dogs and other
animals, but they are attracted to its sweet taste.
Unfortunately, less than a teaspoon will cause an
agonizing death if not treated immediately, so watch
for leaks or spills around your car, or in the
driveway or garage.
Collars can be deadly for cats—they can get their
legs caught or hang themselves. Also a collared cat
cannot groom itself thoroughly.
TEAM advises against collaring a cat, but if you
insist, make sure
it is a “breakaway” collar, and
check it frequently
to make sure it is not too
tight. Cats and
dogs alike can quickly outgrow a
collar and be
severely injured or maimed by one
painfully embedded in the skin.
Need Another Reason to Spay
living in overcrowded conditions—be it in a shelter, a
house, or a feral colony—tend to develop diseases they
cannot overcome, including distemper, Leukemia, FIV
(feline AIDS), Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP) and
respiratory infections, in addition to parasite and flea
sequelae of overpopulation are morbidity and mortality,”
says TEAM President John Caltabiano, DVM.
dogs that form packs or herd animals such as horses or
cattle, cats do not naturally live in groups. Lions,
which live in a pride, are the only exception. Feral cat
colonies are essentially man-made.
response to feline overpopulation, many well-intentioned
people collect or horde cats and kittens to protect them
from life’s dangers. However, as one TEAM client put it,
“they are so passionate about saving cats they don’t
realize the potential harm they are doing.”
Fortunately, there is an answer that will not only
reduce the number of unwanted cats and kittens, but also
the incidence of disease.
things in veterinary medicine are as simple as this, but
it is true,” says Dr. Caltabiano. Spay or neuter is the
solution to most problems.”
Worming Your Cat
In addition to spay/neuter
and vaccines, ridding your cat of parasites is the most
important thing you can do to ensure health and
well-being. Here is why:
All kittens are born with
roundworms (puppies, too); they get them from their
mother’s milk because the larvae reside in the mammary
tissue. When the kittens nurse, they ingest the larvae
which then enters the gastrointestinal tract and, soon
after, the blood stream. These larvae migrate throughout
the body eventually making their way to the lungs
(except those that go to the mammary tissue where they
lay dormant until babies nurse). Once in the lungs, the
larvae are coughed up, swallowed, and re-enter the
gastrointestinal tract, where they mature and lay eggs.
These parasites rob your cat
of essential nutrients, compromise immunity, and can be
fatal for young kittens.
Unless your cat has been
treated for worms, he or she has them. However, visible
symptoms of parasite infestation include a dull coat,
increased appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, flatulence,
distended abdomen (pot belly), and possible weight loss.
Cats that are severely infested may vomit up roundworms
or pass them in their stool (they “look like
How do I rid my cat of roundworms?
Because of their migration
cycle, one oral worming will not rid your kitten or cat
of all worms. Treatment must be repeated at least three
times at weekly intervals. TEAM has a complete worm kit
available that is safe, effective and affordable.
Kittens should be treated at 6 to 8 weeks; adult cats at
treated my cat as you recommended, will I need to do it
No, probably not, unless
your cat spends time in an environment that is
contaminated by feces, like a dirty litter box.
Hint: To prevent fecal
contamination as well as behavior problems associated
with a dirty litter box (such as urinating or defecating
on the carpet or floor), TEAM recommends that each cat
in the household have his or her own litter box. The
cats may choose to share, but should have the option not
to. Also, litter boxes should be cleaned at least
other types of worms can cats get?
Cats can also become
infested with tapeworm, which they get from eating
rodents or fleas. If your cat has tapeworm, you may see
segments that look like pieces or rice or seeds around
the cat’s rectum, but these are just the tip of the
iceberg—tapeworms can be 30 feet in length!
Q. How do
I get rid of tapeworm?
Praziquantel (droncit) given
orally or by injection is the best way. This medication
in oral form is included in our complete worm kit.
Q. I just
got a new cat, which I am planning to worm, should I
worm my other cat, too?
Not unless it hasn’t been
wormed before. If you’re not sure, go ahead and worm the
other one, too; it is not harmful to do so.
Q. How do
I order the complete worm kit from TEAM?
Go to the products and
supplies section of our website or call toll-free
1-888-FOR-TEAM. At this time, products and supplies are
available to Connecticut residents only.
Directions for administering the kit:
For roundworm: mix
the specified number of drops of liquid medicine in food
once a week for three weeks. For tapeworm: place pill(s)
as far back in cat’s mouth as possible. Gently hold
mouth closed and rub cat’s throat until cat swallows the
pill. Do not mix the pill in food.
To make the often difficult process of giving your cat a
pill go more smoothly, coat the pill with butter and
freeze. Then place in cat’s mouth. The butter will melt
and the pill will slide down easier.
A cat (or dog) will lick its
nose if it has swallowed a pill. If your pet does not
lick its nose, it has not swallowed the pill.
Fighting Flea Infestation
mites, lice or tapeworms—which are host
parasites—fleas are lair parasites, which means
they live in the environment and not on the animal. So,
you can’t just kill the fleas, you’ve got to get them
where they live, too.
can get fleas from other animals and from infested
bedding, furniture, floors or carpets. Fleas can live in
a dormant stage for two years, waiting for a warm body
to feed on. When you and your pet move into a new home
and start walking around, they wake up, ready to eat! If
you live in an apartment or condo complex, fleas can
even “come over” from the neighbor’s place.
from scratching, other signs of flea infestation are
hair loss, bumps on the skin, and black flecks that look
like dirt or pepper on your pet’s coat (this “flea dirt”
is actually undigested blood). You might also see the
not only cause extreme discomfort, they can cause fatal
anemia in kittens and cats. They also can spread to
other animals, including humans, and are a necessary
host for tapeworms.
your pet and your home of this pest, we recommend only
Frontline, Advantage or Revolution
for cats and kittens 12 weeks of age or older. These
treatments which kill fleas and improve the environment
are available from your veterinarian and at some pet
supply stores (TEAM sells Frontline). Other
over-the-counter brands can be harmful to pets and we
caution people against using them.
apply a treatment like Frontline, make a part in the fur
between your pet’s shoulder blades and pour the entire
application onto the skin. Pouring it on fur
doesn’t do any good. This is easiest to do with a
helper: one holds the pet; the other makes the part and
applies the treatment.
collars might repel fleas—sending them to the rear of
the cat —but they don’t kill them. Plus, collars are
dangerous for cats to begin with: they can hang
themselves and can’t groom themselves properly.
kittens under 12 weeks, a warm, soapy bath using (green)
Palmolive dishwashing liquid is a safe and effective
treatment. You can also catch a flea by dabbing it with
a Q-tip dipped in Vaseline. The flea gets stuck and you
pull it off.
great home remedy is to use Borax laundry
detergent to wash your pet’s bedding and then around the
house instead of an expensive, potentially toxic flea
bomb. Sprinkle the Borax powder on your furniture and
floors—anywhere fleas might be. Let it sit for several
hours, then vacuum it up, along with the fleas…just
don’t forget to take the vacuum cleaner bag outside to
the trash immediately.
Finally, there is the Awesome White Pan Trick!
white casserole dish or pan (must be white) two-thirds
full with water. Add 6-7 drops of dishwashing liquid,
gently swirl, place on the floor where you suspect fleas
may be dwelling. At night, shine a desk lamp or light on
the pan. The fleas will jump in and sink to the bottom.
It is nontoxic, inexpensive and it works.
TEAM and Testing:
Why We Won’t Test
handles hundreds of calls each week for spay/neuter
appointments, and it is startling to note how many
people ask if we test for Feline Leukemia (FeLV).
Unfortunately, these well-intentioned individuals have
been led to believe by the veterinary and animal welfare
communities that FeLV is as great a risk to cats and
kittens as overpopulation is.
opposes routine FeLV testing of healthy cats and, for
the sake of the innumerable cats that have been or will
be killed unnecessarily because of a positive test
result, here’s why.
FeLV test was designed as a diagnostic tool for sick
cats, not as a screening tool for healthy cats.
According to the Journal of the American Veterinary
Medical Association in a Special Report, positive
Feline Leukemia (ELISA) tests (the test most commonly
used), obtained in a screening program “should be
interpreted with caution because a high proportion,
approximately 72 percent of such, are likely to be false
blood tests are not always accurate. That is why there
is more than one type of blood test on the market and
why radiographs, microscopy, histopathology and biopsies
are often necessary to confirm a diagnosis.
who adopt cats and presently own cats are concerned
about the spread of leukemia from one animal to another.
However, according to the American Association of Feline
Practitioners, cats over the age of 16 weeks are
virtually immune to the disease. As a matter of fact,
pharmaceutical companies must artificially compromise
the immune system of cats used for research to test the
efficacy of their FeLV vaccines (JAVMA, 11/15/91).
isn’t enough, the FeLV vaccine has been implicated as a
cause of cancer in cats.
Declaw? Just Say No!
TEAM is asked if a “declaw” is part of our spay/neuter
package, the answer is emphatically “NO.”
staunchly opposes this painful procedure and we believe
pet owners would, too, if they knew that a declaw—the
layman’s casual term for onychectomy—is, in fact, an
amputation of the last joint in each toe of a cat’s paw.
And if that’s not gruesome discouragement enough,
declawed cats— having had their best defense removed—are
often more skittish and more prone to hissing, biting
and urine marking. They are also easy prey if allowed
what’s a humane home owner to do to reduce wear and tear
on finely upholstered furniture? Try one or more of
these recommendations, but remember—some shredding and
scratching is an inevitable part of the “feline
1. Trim your cat’s front
claws monthly. This practice is best begun when cats are
kittens, so they get used to it, but many older cats
will adjust. Gently squeeze the toe pad so that the claw
extends, then clip the tip, but be very careful
not to nip the quick. This is easiest to do with
assistance—one person holds the cat, the other clips.
Buy nail clippers at a pet supply store.
2. Purchase an
inexpensive scratch pad. Since most cats ignore
expensive carpet-covered posts as if by instinct, try
the corrugated cardboard type that can be found for
under $10 at a discount or pet supply store.
Cork board and carpet
remnants are also great choices, as are hemp or sisal
door mats. For cats that crave the feel of wood, place a
split log where kitty has access. Just make sure it’s
positioned so it doesn’t roll.
To make a scratch pad
appealing, sprinkle it with cat nip and run the cat’s
paws over the top—he’ll get the idea. But a little nip
goes a long way. Keep your cat attracted to the scent by
not using it everyday; make it a special treat.
Finally, make sure the
scratch pad is placed securely. Cats hate shaky ground
(one reason most aren’t crazy about car rides) and will
avoid using the item if it moves underfoot. Remember,
too, some cats like to stretch upward when
scratching…others prefer a horizontal pose.
3. To discourage
scratching, squirt the cat with a water pistol or spray
bottle when he is caught in the act, shake a can of
coins, or place double-stick carpet tape on the spot
where he scratches—the cat won’t like the tacky surface
and will move on to another spot (hopefully one you
4. Consider purchasing
Feliway, an odorless Pheromone spray that helps prevent
scratching and clawing of rugs and furniture or talk to your vet about
temporary nail wraps, such as Soft Paws.
5. Follow this writer’s
advice: invest in slipcovers for when company comes and
designate one piece of (irreparably destroyed) furniture
as “the cat’s.”
Corner Q & A
question? A TEAM vet has the answer.
My dog keeps
getting ear infections. What can I do?
A. TEAM veterinarians agree: Causes
for ear infection can include yeast, bacteria or
external parasites such as ear mites. Dogs naturally
have species of yeast and bacteria in the ear canal and
when conditions are right—for example, decreased air
circulation or a build up of moisture in the ear—these
organisms simply overgrow. Many toy breeds have
excessive hair in the canal, other breeds have large,
heavy ears that cover the canal, and others love to
treat the condition by eliminating the predisposing
factors. If a dog has an abundance of hair in the canal,
pluck it or shave the inner surface of the earflap to
help increase air circulation (your veterinarian or a
dog groomer can help with this). If your dog swims, dry
his ears by using a cotton swab gently within the canal.
infections of the external canal can be treated with a
topical product containing an antifungal (yeast), an
antibacterial, and an anti-inflammatory. Refractory, or
recurrent, infections and those of the middle or inner
ear may require systemic therapy, like an antibiotic, as
well as topical medication, based on the results of a
culture and sensitivity test which identifies the
organism and determines what medical therapy will kill
or stop its growth.
the infection has been treated successfully, periodic
ear cleaning can help prevent further infections. Severe
chronic cases many require surgery.
Q. Am I
at risk of catching rabies from the stray cat I have
John Caltabiano responds:
is always a risk. As a matter of fact, in U.S.,
approximately two animals annually contract rabies even
though they have been vaccinated, so it is important to
have a basic understanding of how this fatal infection
runs its course.
animal—or human—is bitten by a carrier of rabies, the
virus travels through the central nervous system to the
salivary glands. This can happen quickly or over the
course of several weeks; however, rabies cannot be
spread until it has reached the salivary glands. This is
also the stage at which the symptoms of rabies appear.
animals seem to have a “fear of water” or to “foam at
the mouth”; this is because it is painful to swallow.
Furious attacking and disorientation are also signs, but
any central nervous system anomaly can indicate
rabies—there are no steadfast rules. Once these clinical
manifestations are present the animal has about two
weeks to live.
are bitten by the stray cat, wash the wound immediately
in cold, soapy water. Don’t use warm water since it will
increase circulation to the area and hasten the speed at
which an infection travels. Then, call your doctor.
there is no cure for rabies, and the only definitive
test is decapitation, prevention is imperative. A rabies
vaccination is required by law for domestic animals and
Raccoons and skunks are the reservoir hosts for rabies
in Connecticut and throughout the Northeast, and feral
cats often share space, food and diseases with them.
However, according to the Journal of the American
Veterinary Medical Association, rabies is significantly
TEAM has vaccinated over 111,000 domestic and feral cats,
we like to think that we, and the thousands of
Connecticut residents who have utilized our program,
played an important role in reducing the incidence of
the disease in our state.
are to continue to care for this stray cat—and I hope
you do—you should have it vaccinated against rabies as
soon as possible.
Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association,
Dec. 15, 2004
is fatal to all mammals except bats. These winged
creatures can harbor and spread the disease without
Q. Do horses need to be wormed and, if so, what regime
A. According to TEAM veterinarian Art Heller, DVM,
establishing an effective parasite
control program is critical to your horse’s health and
well-being. In fact, it is second only to providing your
horse with clean fresh water and high quality feed.
There are numerous species of equine
internal parasites and many of them can be present in
your horse at once, with some species laying more than
200,000 eggs per day. Some can damage tissue and vital
organs as they migrate through the horse’s body to
complete their life cycles. Others can cause
obstructions and ulcerations in the digestive track.
Parasites can lower a horse’s resistance, rob him of
essential nutrients, and cause gastrointestinal
distress. At their worst, they can cause colic,
intestinal rupture and death.
Fortunately, most parasites can be
controlled, if not eliminated, with a complete
management program that addresses the particular needs
of the horse, taking into consideration age and stage of
development, environment, and exposure potential. No
single horseshoe will fit all horses perfectly;
likewise, no single parasite management program is
appropriate for all horses. Every animal is unique and
every farm situation different—a single horse enjoying
ten acres of pasture will have different needs than 25
horses sharing a stable and a one-acre pasture. The
best way to determine what is best for your horse is to
consult with your veterinarian, but in general parasite
prevention falls into three categories:
This simple process
performed by your veterinarian determines the type and
number of parasites infecting your horse.
There are a variety of drugs available for the treatment
of gastrointestinal parasites and they are divided into
different classifications as follows:
Fenbendazole (Panacur, Safeguard)
Oxibendazole (Anthelcide EQ)
Ivermectin (Eqvalan, Phoenectrin, Zimectrin)
Pyrantel pamoate (Strongid paste and suspension,
Pyrantel tartrate (Strongid C)
These medications may be administered
using an oral paste syringe, a feed additive, or through
a nasogastric tube (tubing). All methods are effective:
the key is that the proper dose must be given at the
proper time, and be fully consumed and retained by the
Parasites may develop resistance to the
chemicals used to kill them, however, so it is important
to rotate the classes of drugs used in your program.
Some manufacturers claim that certain products do not
require rotation. Do it anyway, so that there is no
question about resistance developing, but don’t simply
change brands since many products contain the same drugs
under different labels. Ask your veterinarian how often
dewormers should be rotated.
Pasture Management. There are two parasite
populations on every farm – those in the ground and
those in the horse. Since parasites are transferred
primarily through manure, you should:
Pick up and dispose of manure at least twice
Mow and harrow pastures regularly to break up manure
piles and expose parasite eggs and larvae to the
Rotate pastures by allowing other livestock such as
sheep or cattle to graze them, thereby
life cycles of equine parasites;
Group horses by age to reduce exposure to certain
parasites and maximize the deworming program geared
to that group;
Keep the number of horses per acre to a minimum to
prevent overgrazing and reduce the fecal
contamination per acre;
Use a feeder for hay and grain rather than feeding
on the ground;
Remove bot eggs from the horse's haircoat to prevent
Q. My dog loves to play in
the snow—should I take any precautions to protect her
from the elements?
depends on what breed of dog you have. Breeds such as
the Alaskan malamute and Siberian husky actually thrive
in this environment. If you own a dog with a dense
undercoat such as these, there really aren’t any
precautions to take aside from having fresh water
available. If, however, you have a short-coated breed
such as a Doberman or Boxer, you may elect to have your
pet wear a sweater to protect from wind and snow. Some
pets also have sensitive feet, and are prone to
developing ice/snow between their digits and some may
even result in small lacerations of the foot pads. K-9
boots can prevent discomfort from these conditions.
general rule, use common sense. If your dog enjoys the
snow-- great! If not, don’t force the issue; limit your
dog’s outside activity to bathroom purposes only. Dogs
do get frostbite! If there is a winter advisory warning
you to limit your exposure outdoors, do the same
for your pet. Finally, be careful of poor footing.
During the winter months it is not uncommon for dogs to
rupture ligaments in the knee or injure their hips after
slipping and falling on the ice.
Q. My dog
starts scratching in October and continues all winter
long! Why? Does he have dry skin?
veterinarian Art Heller, DVM responds:
Welcome to Canine Seasonal Dry
Winter is a common
time for pets suffer from dry, flaking,
scaling skin. Sometimes there is
severe itching. As
soon as we turn on the heat in the fall, our
skin and theirs require more care. Dry types
of heat, such as electric, radiant, and
especially forced hot air, dry the coat much
worse than in houses where humidifiers are
part of the heating system.
"Dry skin" is a
result of the outer layer of the skin losing
excessive amounts of moisture. This causes
the skin to become dry, brittle, flake
excessively and itch.
for dogs with dry skin
Healthy hair and skin comes from
within. The addition of fatty
acid supplements can make
for healthier, glossier hair and
improve the general well being
of your pet.
good quality food and consider
the addition of digestive
enzymes which can
increase the absorption of vital
nutrients and essential fatty
acids from your pet's food and
your dog often to remove dead
hair and dander.
bathing is necessary, use a
moisturizing shampoo made for
dogs. Their pH is different from
ours, so don't be tempted to use
a human shampoo-- it is much too
harsh for their skin. When
necessary, follow a bath with a
moisturizing rinse made for
Consider the addition of a
humidifier for your house.
Warning signs that your pet has
more than dry skin
problems and poor hair quality
in pets can be symptoms of
parasites, hormonal imbalances,
hereditary, and/or dietary
disorders. All of these
conditions may appear to be "dry
skin" to the pet owner, but they
actually require treatment by a
notice any of these conditions
consult with your veterinarian.
Skin irritation, including
redness, bumps, and rashes.
Open sores of any kind.
Excessive hair loss, either
in concentrated patches or
Dull, dry hair that pulls
Constant licking, scratching
or face rubbing (with or
without runny eyes or itchy
What’s Black and White…?
owners, it’s a rite of passage that usually occurs late
at night, just before bed, when someone opens the door
to let the dog out one last time. A few minutes later
the dog races in and, with the first potent whiff, all
thoughts of sweet dreams are dashed as reality
dawns on the household: the dog has been sprayed by a
people think filling a tub with gallons of tomato juice
is the solution to this odiferous problem, but what
follows is a more practical, proven method for removing
skunk odor from dogs. The recipe as printed here
appeared in the April 2003 newsletter of the Neponset
Valley Humane Society, Norwood, MA, but our own Dr.
Caltabiano has been recommending it to clients for
together the following:
of 3 % hydrogen peroxide
¼ cup baking soda
1 teaspoon liquid soap
the dog with water and then work the solution into a
thick lather on the dog. Leave the lather on for 3-5
minutes, then rinse off. Do not to get any solution in
the dog’s eyes.
Please, No Puppies!
boyfriend is threatening to get me a puppy for
Christmas. Don’t get me wrong. I like puppies, but
adding an energetic bundle of fur and needle-teeth to
the menagerie I have at home—two house cats, two barn
cats, two horses, a dog and a pony—is nuts.
you insane?” I asked him the other night at dinner when
he brought it up—again.
think the dog needs a puppy to play with.”
dog?” I asked. “Is she going to train it, too? Or are
you planning to do that-- because I’m on animal
see,” he said, laughing.
truth is: he isn’t the only one with this crazy idea.
TEAM got a call just last week from another
have any puppies?” the young man asked assertively,
interrupting my telephone greeting.
We’re not an animal shelter,” I said, ready to follow up
this statement with an explanation of what we do but
before I could go on, he continued.
I know,” he said, “but I called the pound and I got a
recording. I left a message, but nobody got back to me,
and I want to get my girlfriend a puppy for Christmas.”
wasn’t surprised that he hadn’t heard from the shelter.
Most conscientious animal welfare groups won’t adopt out
pets during the holiday season in order to reduce the
number of returns afterwards, but I could hear the
determination in his voice. He was going to get a
your girlfriend want a dog?” I asked, trying to make him
think. There was silence, and then, “I don’t know.”
Then, another pause, followed by an emphatic
declaration: “But if she doesn’t, I do. And I want it
for Christmas. Thanks anyway.” He hung up.
only hope, for the dog’s sake, he would want it after
Christmas, too. But that’s not always the case.
old neighborhood, the O’Brien family got a puppy for
Christmas every few years or so. It was always a
short-coated black and tan type with floppy ears and a
skinny, pot-bellied body: a happy little mongrel that
Mr. O’Brien, an orderly, picked up on his way home from
third shift. He’d sneak it into the basement while the
kids were sleeping, tie a big red bow around its neck,
and bring it upstairs first thing in the morning.
that day, the O’Brien kids would cart their wriggly new
pup door-to-door through the neighborhood for the rest
of us kids to see. “This is Tippy,” one of them would
say with excitement, which is what they always called
the week off from school between holidays, we spent our
days on toboggans and ice skates. We made snow angels,
built Eskimo forts and played long and hard, impervious
to the cold, until somebody’s mother called us in for
hot chocolate. Through all of this, the little Tippies
tagged along, eager to please, delighted to be part of
time the break was over, however, so was the novelty of
a puppy. From that point on, each and every Tippy was
chained to a ramshackle dog house in the O’Brien’s back
yard where they would remain, in confused isolation, for
six months or so until they “ran away” or “went to a
farm to live.”
child, I didn’t question this fate since a kitten my
Uncle Richie gave me ran off to a farm, along with the
two rabbits he gave my sister. Now I know what really
sure. Some pets stray and become lost—especially those
that are not spayed or neutered. Others are stolen. Some
even find their way to my farm—like the young German
shepherd who wandered into our barn one bitterly cold
day. She was half-starved, shivering and scared. There
was no collar, no sign posted for her return. We called
around, but nobody answered. We named her Tracy and she
lived with our family for 12 years, but the majority of
abandoned pets don’t last long on their own. Those that
are surrendered to shelters are sentenced to life in a
cage to await an adoption that may never happen, or they
are killed by euthanasia.
my boyfriend knows better than to surprise me with a
puppy; it’s just his way of teasing me about a lifestyle
that’s been shaped by the needs of animals. However,
there will be plenty of unsuspecting recipients of cats
and dogs this year, including the friends of a woman who
cancelled a spay appointment with our mobile clinic a
cat’s already pregnant,” she said indifferently. “I
might as well let her have the kittens and then give
them away as Christmas gifts.”
she take them back if they didn’t fit her friends’
lifestyles? I hope so.
shelters are full of living, breathing gifts that nobody
wanted. The others ran off to that farm.
Pets as Gifts? No Returns or
Although a puppy or kitten seems like an adorable
holiday gift, animal shelters are inundated by
mid-winter with dogs and cats that were given to, or
purchased by people who were not prepared for pet
“Shelters are full of animals that were purchased or
adopted in the spirit of the season by people who did
not think about the long-term responsibility of pet
ownership,” says John Caltabiano, DVM, president of
Tait’s Every Animal Matters, of Westbrook. “This means
not only providing the animal with food, exercise and
affection, but also covering the cost of routine
check-ups, vaccinations, spay or neuter, and medical
treatment if the animal is sick or injured.”
is a gift that is meant to last a lifetime, so before
you let that cuddly ball of fur tug your heartstrings,
use your head.
to find your new pet:
are countless dogs and cats in shelters that need homes,
although most conscientious rescue groups do not release
animals during the holidays in order to prevent impulse
adoptions. You can use this time, however, to visit the
shelter and get acquainted with the staff and animals.
Take a photo of the pet you are considering, wrap it up,
and give the family something to look forward to
after the holidays.
a purebred will do, thoroughly research the breed that
interests you to become familiar with its
characteristics, from size and temperament to activity
level and potential medical problems associated with the
selecting a breeder, ask your veterinarian for a
referral, or contact the American Kennel Club for
information. Make sure to visit the breeder’s facility,
check the health and temperament of the animal’s
parents, and see how they are cared for.
purchasing from a pet store, make sure it is clean and
that the animals are alert, friendly, and have plenty of
room to move in their cages: diseases are easily
transmitted in overcrowded conditions.
animals, like children, get excited by holiday activity.
A puppy or kitten might jump on the tree, eat ribbons,
tear at packages, or break ornaments in addition to the
typical mischief like climbing on furniture and
curtains, or chewing shoes, cords and other items. What
is more, winter isn’t the optimum time for
animals, in contrast, are most likely housebroken or
litter box-trained, calmer, and might have obedience
training in addition to already being spayed or
neutered. If you’re at work all day, an older pet could
be better suited to spending time alone without getting
anxious or destructive.
your new pet comes home:
need time to adjust to new surroundings, including other
household animals. Make sure your pet has a comfortable
bed or crate to go to, away from noise and activity. A
crate must be big enough for the animal to stand up and
turn around in, and should be used as a safe place, not
as punishment. Getting the pet used to the crate, bed,
or any quiet place is especially helpful when you have a
houseful of holiday guests.
Remember that pets, like people, are not perfect.
Accidents will happen. There will be muddy paws,
scratched upholstery, hairballs, and an occasional flea
or tick-- it’s all part of pet ownership. Furthermore,
adults who buy a pet for a child must realize that they
will become the animal’s caretaker, no matter what the
kids say before the pet arrives.
aren’t ready for the commitment of pet ownership, there
are plenty of other gifts to give. For the sake of the
millions of unwanted animals that die on the streets or
in shelters each year, keep shopping.
Hit Horse Racing Where it Hurts
By Donna Sicuranza
remember my first Kentucky Derby. It was 1972 and I was
a 12-year-old horse-crazy kid. My parents, my sister and
I joined several other families at our riding
instructor’s house to watch the race. The adults sipped
cocktails and made friendly wagers while we kids munched
chips and picked our favorites by color, name or a
resemblance to a beloved horse. Then, they were off.
And whether we were winning or losing our dollar bets,
we cheered in unison as Riva Ridge led the field, awed
by the speed and spirit that drove the bay colt across
the finish line ahead of his peers. After all, we
weren’t gamblers. We were horse lovers. And I’ve loved
horses and looked forward to the Triple Crown races ever
this year was different. On Thursday before the Derby,
my friend Penny sent an e-mail that now seems prophetic.
“Root for the filly Eight Belles on Saturday, or have
you sworn off racing after the ugly accidents?”
haven’t sworn off yet,” I replied, but after Barbaro’s
breakdown in the Preakness Stakes and George
Washington’s fatal run in the 2007 Breeder’s Cup, I was
having a tough time getting psyched for the party I was
hosting. But the cheese platters were ordered and the
guests on the way, so with a pit in my stomach, I told
myself that the odds of another prime-time injury were
there is a thorny side to racing. Hundreds of horses
suffer fatal injuries every year, hundreds more are
permanently crippled, and thousands die in the slaughter
house—although the two foreign-owned horse slaughter
houses in the U.S. have closed, horses are still trucked
to meat-packing plants in Mexico and Canada.
now, these dirty secrets were kept on the back-side of
the track. Yes, racing has its share of unscrupulous
individuals, but we expect more from those at the
pinnacle of the sport. Triple Crown contenders put on
racing’s best face for the millions of viewers who tune
in that day. The catastrophic accidents that are common
at bush-league tracks across the country aren’t supposed
to happen—live—at Churchill Downs. So when Eight Belles
fell, the living room fell silent. The poor filly never
recovered and neither did the party or I for that
matter. If this is happening at the top, what is
happening at the bottom?
not believe horse racing is inherently cruel. Few of
God’s creatures love to run like the thoroughbred. And
as a horse owner and rider, I do not believe anyone gets
into equestrian sports to abuse animals. But money talks
and the welfare of these great athletes is too easily
sacrificed in favor of investor return. Race horses are
in serious trouble when their careers are to be managed
like hedge funds, the way Derby winner Big Brown’s will
only way to enforce change is to hit racing where it
hurts: TV ratings, race attendance, tourism,
sponsorship, advertising dollars—yes, even wagering.
Those who believe there is still beauty and purpose in
the Sport of Kings—and I do—must refuse to support an
industry that sweeps away horses like cards on a