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The Ruff Report: News about dogs

People medication causes most pet poisonings

Accidental ingestion of human medications is the leading cause of pet poisonings, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says.

The ASPCA's Animal Poison Control Center in Urbana, Illinois, which handled more than 140,000 cases in 2008, says other top causes of poisoning include pets being exposed to toxic household substances and eating certain people foods.

"Keep all medications in a cabinet," ASPCA veterinary toxicologist Helen Myers states in a media release. Over-the-counter medicines like ibuprofen and acetaminophen as well as antidepressants and decongestants are all harmful to pets, she said.

The ASPCA managed more than 50,000 calls in 2008 involving prescription and over-the-counter drugs. Pets often snatch pill vials from counters and nightstands or gobble up medications dropped on the floor.

The ASPCA has compiled a list of the top 10 leading causes of pet poisonings in 2008. After people medications, the list includes:
  • Insecticides, especially those involving the misuse of flea and tick products such as applying the wrong topical treatment to the wrong species.
  • People food, such as like chocolate, grapes, raisins, avocado and certain citrus fruits that can cause serious illness or even death.
  • Rodent pesticides, especially those used for mice and rats, that are baited with food that pets unknowingly snatch. - Veterinary medications, which are often often misapplied or improperly dispensed by pet parents.
  • Chemicals, such as antifreeze, paint thinner, drain cleaners and pool chemicals.
  • Common house plants, such as azalea, rhododendron, sago palm, lilies, kalanchoe and schefflera which are toxic to pets if ingested.
  • Household cleaners, such as bleaches, detergents and disinfectants which can cause serious gastrointestinal distress and irritation to the respiratory tract.
  • Heavy metals, such as lead, zinc and mercury found in paint chips, linoleum and lead dust.
  • Fertilizer, which can cause problems for outdoor cats and dogs.
The Animal Poison Control Center’s 24-hour hot line can be reached 888-426-4435.

Marley movie prompts adoption warning

"Marley and Me," the film about a lovable and rambunctious Yellow Labrador, has led to a surge of adoptions of dogs like the movie's namesake, but a humane organization is urging people to research the breed before bringing one home.

The American Humane Association says people can expect most puppies and young adult dogs to display similar antics to the movie's star, who chews, shreds and wreaks havoc.

"In the case of the dog in Marley & Me, what you see is what you might get," American Humane Society president Marie Belew Wheatley states in a media release. "It’s important for potential pet owners to keep this in mind when deciding whether to adopt a dog."

The unconditional love is inspiring from the main pooch that plays "Marley," a rescue dog, which proves animals in shelters can make great pets, Wheatley states.

Before adopting a Labrador, the American Humane encourages people to determine whether the breed is right for them.

Some facts to consider about Labradors:
  • They are the most popular breed in the United States.
  • They can develop slowly and continue puppy-like behavior past age 2.
  • They can be wonderful companion dogs for active families.
  • They are multi-talented and can excel in animal-assisted therapy, swimming and retrieving.
Max again most popular pooch name

For the sixth consecutive year, Max is the the most popular name that dog parents choose for their pets.

A survey by Veterinary Pet Insurance found that Baily is the second most popular name given to dogs listed in the Brea, Calif., company's 2008 database.

VPI's database of insured dogs indicates traditional pet names, such as Fido, have taken a back seat to people names like Max, Bella, Chloe and Sophie and Bailey - which also rank among the Social Security Administration's most popular baby names.

"Pets are often viewed as members of the family, treated like members of the family and, as a result, named like members of the family," VPI spokesman Curtis Steinhoff states in a media release. "Max may sleep on his owner's bed, eat gourmet food and wear clothes to go out on the town. Rover probably does not. Max is short, yet easy to distinguish from common commands, so it is easy to understand why it's such a popular pet name."

The report also found that Max has many variations, such as Maximum Max, Max Power, Max Avalanche, Maximus Gladius Spartacus, Minimax, Sergeant Maxwell T. Steel, Max the Moose, Max Crime Fighter, Cherokee Max, Peanut Max, T.J. Maxx, Duramax, Fatmax, Maxmax, Maxator Midnight and Mad Max McNaughty.

Rounding out the top 10 most popular names are Bella, Molly, Lucy, Buddy, Maggie, Daisy, Sophie and Chloe.

Sophie and Chloe replaced Jake and Rocky on the top 10 list.

Pet adoption campaign tops one million

A campaign to get one million pets adopted in a three-month period has surpassed its goal.

The Iams Home 4 the Holidays annual pet-adoption drive found new homes for 1,202,751 pets from Oct. 1 to Jan. 5. Seventeen countries participated with 591,533 dogs, 543,569 cats, and 67,649 other animals (such as rabbits, reptiles, birds and more) were placed into homes, according to a media release.

The program was founded in 1999 by the Helen Woodward Animal Center in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. A small group of shelters in the San Diego area participated in the first couple of years, then the program caught on, Trisha St. George, a spokesman for the center, told the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Prior to the program, most shelters shied away from processing adoptions around Christmas because families were thought to be too busy to bring home pets for the holidays, St. George told the newspaper. People ended up going to pet stores, and some of those animals landed in shelters come January, she said.

In 1999, Mike Arms, president of the Helen Woodward Animal Center, realized that many people wanted to take in pets during the holidays, so he persuaded 14 shelters and groups in the area to join him for the first Home 4 the Holidays campaign.

The idea quickly caught on. In the first year, 2,563 pets were adopted, and in 2001, 100,000 were adopted. The annual totals reached 491,612 in 2007 before more than doubling to more than one million in 2008.

Visit for more information about the Helen Woodward Animal Center.

UK pets bearing brunt of hard economic times

Hard economic times are forcing some pet parents in the United Kingdom to try to save money by substituting table scraps for pet food and cutting back on medical care, according to a study.

The research, conducted for Petmeds, an online pet medication and product store, found owners are cutting back in all aspects of pet care.

"It is shocking to see how UK pets are bearing the brunt of economic pressures," Petmeds official Ricky Thomas states in media release. "And we strongly encourage people not to cut back on medical care and food for pets as they can clearly cause their animals lasting harm by doing so."

The study found:
  • 17 percent say they will not be renewing pet insurance policies.
  • 14 percent are buying cheaper pet food.
  • 14 percent are buying fewer treats for their pets.
  • 10 percent are avoiding buying medication for their animals.
  • 6 percents have stopped taking their pets to the veterinarian.
  • 5 percent are feeding their pets table scraps.
  • 3 percent are considering generating money from their pets by breeding or showing them.
Pet parents in need should seek out financial help, Thomas states. "There are a number of charities that provide help with veterinary treatment and care for animals whose owners are struggling financially," he said.

Petmeds recently launched an online and telephone help service, staffed by trained animal experts and veterinarians, who can help those in need identify where they can get help, Thomas said.


VOLUME 2, PAGE 2 (Jan. 4 to 10, 2009)

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