The Sun News 4/18/13 Vaccination Questions Sought by Readers…

Kelly Bebak

The Pet’s Perspective

I receive questions regarding my vaccination practices for my pets fairly often.  Vaccinations are a topic that can produce a great deal of passionate debate within the human or animal community.  All of my pets are vaccinated as required by law and as needed, but they are titer tested first to confirm whether or not they actually need booster vaccines.  If you research this issue, you may discover that our pets are submitted to too many vaccines and they may be causing more harm than the intended protection they provide.

Research doctors like Edward Jenner who discovered the smallpox vaccine and Jonas Salk who is responsible for the polio vaccine made incredible contributions to mankind by developing vaccines to prevent terrible and life threatening diseases.  Why is it that humans will receive a vaccine for a disease and be protected for life, but our pets, which are also mammals, having similar organ systems, are often subjected to yearly vaccines?

While vaccinations are important tools in building immunity, adverse and serious side effects have been associated with them. That is why one should consider having their pets titer tested, instead of arbitrarily re-vaccinating in some situations.  And, titer testing should be considered especially in elderly, immune-compromised, seizure animals or animals previously having serious side effects following vaccinations.

Blood Sample (Source:

The term titer refers to the strength or concentration of a substance in a solution. When testing vaccine titers in dogs or cats, a veterinarian draws blood from the animal and has it tested for the presence and strength of the animal’s immunological response to the disease. If the blood contains satisfactory levels of vaccine titers, the animal is considered sufficiently immune to the disease, or possessing good “immunological memory,” and not in need of further vaccination against the disease at that time.

Gus, my 12 year old Coonhound, has repeatedly received Parvo and Distemper titer test results that are “at or greater than the acceptable protective levels.”  This data indicates that Gus is still protected and does not need to be re-vaccinated for Parvo or Distemper at this time.  Worth noting is that the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) accepts and requires Hepatitis B titers for all “health care workers who have blood or patient contact” instead of continual Hepatitis B booster vaccinations.  And, some countries use titers to qualify animals for reduced periods of quarantine.  A compelling question I would ask is this…would you want your child vaccinated every year if a titer test showed acceptable immunity?

The issue of over vaccination in the pet world has garnered lots of attention over the past 15 years. Thankfully, Dr. Ronald Schultz, Professor and Chair of Pathobiological Sciences at University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine and Principal Investigator for The Rabies Challenge Study, has been researching this issue for over 30 years.  Dr. Schultz who is a strong proponent of titer testing and has real empirical data to support his position, has stated, “vaccines have many exceptional benefits, but, like any drug, they also have the potential to cause significant harm.  Giving a vaccine that’s not needed, creates an unnecessary risk to the animal.”

Do your own research, talk to knowledgeable and credible people and make your own decisions on elective vaccinations and titer testing.  You must consider what, if any, real risks are present for specific diseases like where you live, what types of activities your pets partake in, and whether or not your pet lives indoors and/or outdoors.  The age of your pet and existing medical conditions should also be considered, before proceeding with elective vaccines like Leptospirosis, Lyme Disease or Bordetella.  In New York State, the rabies vaccine is the only legally required vaccine for dogs and cats every three years (after initial vaccine at four months and booster one year later).

Make sure to involve your veterinarian in your pet’s vaccination protocols and educate yourself on the risks and the option of titer testing.  Although titer testing is a bit more expensive than vaccinating, in the long run your pets may be healthier.  It is much safer to draw blood, then it is to vaccinate unnecessarily!

Dr. Ronald Schultz, a world renowned vaccine expert, will be speaking on the topic of pet vaccinations on April 20, 2013 in Cheetowaga, NY.  If you would like to learn more about this event go to:

Kelly is a lifelong resident of Hamburg.  After selling her pet food & supply business, The Animal Kingdom, in 2012, Kelly has been blogging, teaching community education classes and volunteers with several animal rescue/advocacy groups.  Go to:

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Veterinary Chiro/Spinal Manipulation…

Gus Getting his Spinal Adjustment!

Hi Kelly,   I have a 7 year old Greyhound, and a 5 year old Greyhound/Borzoi/Irish Wolfhound mix. A year ago, my greyhound slipped in the mud while running in the yard and twisted her back. Our vet prescribed limited activity with steroids for a while which wasn’t seeming to a help a whole lot. I friend recommended a Veterinarian/Reiki Master by the name of Dr. Patrick Tersigni who did reiki and chiro adjustments on both my girls and the results were simply “amazing”. My greys injury healed well, and my mix became a much happier dog overall with the adjustments. While I cannot say enough about Dr. Pat, he is retired and lives way out near Dansville. He comes to Buffalo twice a month to do adjustments, however, because of where I work in Downtown, and live way below the Southtowns, it became too difficult for me to travel the distances to meet up with him for routine adjustments. My question for you, is if you can recommend a chiropractic vet in the Southtowns area I can take my girls to? My mix, Tessie, seems susceptible to a sore back, and I would much rather get her back into regular adjustments, rather than on pharmaceuticals from my vet. My vets are sight hound savvy, and I do not want to stop seeing them, especially as they also work with me on titers, but they absolutely do not recommend chiro treatments. I have seen first hand how well the chiro works for my girls, and go to one myself with amazing results. I hope you can recommend someone who you would have had first hand experience with, or direct me to someone who would know one?   Can you help me?    

- Belinda Brzezinski (FB ) -

Hey Belinda…  I agree with everything you said about Chiropractic care for you and your dogs… very beneficial treatment that should definitely be considered for some dogs (and humans!).   I’ve received some of the same negative feedback from conventional doctors (human and veterinary) when it comes to chiropractors, but the proof is in the results, Right?!!!

Well, I’ve asked around and there are only two veterinarians in WNY who do canine spinal manipulations besides Dr. Pat Tersigni (that I know of).

(1) Dr. Richard Payne, Haskell Valley Vet Clinic, located at 2148 Haskell Rd Olean, NY 14760; (716) 372-1759.  I got Dr. Paine’s name through another respected veterinarian who practices in Springville, NY.

(2) Dr. Richard Mathes, Pumpkin Hill Vet Clinic, located at 6265 Tower Hill Rd Byron, NY 14422; (585) 548-9097.  Many former customers saw Dr. Mathes and I got very positive feedback about him, particularly with regard to his use of both, conventional and holistic medicine.

Honestly, I’ve heard good things about both both vets and also like the fact that they recommend conservative vaccination programs and utilize titer testing in their practices.  I have taken Gus to Dr. Pat Tersigni several times and I know of at least a dozen former customers who had incredible results after spinal adjustments with him.  The list includes a Maltese, 2 Bassett Hounds, German Shep, Aussie, Dachsund, Black Lab, Lab Mix,Bchon Yorkie, Grt Pyrenes… all had hind end lameness and were “fixed” in some cases after only one or two treatments!  Since Dr. Pat probably still drives to East Aurora twice per month, it looks like that is still the closest for your, but at least you have other options. Good Luck.

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Canine Hydrotherapy…Not Just for “Water Dogs!”

Did you ever notice that most of us pet parents take better care of our pets than we do ourselves!?  Whether it’s veterinary care or alternative medicine and therapies, my pets have always received everything available to ensure their good health and longevity.  The most recent case in point is taking my 12 1/2 years young Coonhound, Gus, for some Canine Hydrotherapy!

Gus Enjoying his Swim Session!

Canine Hydrotherapy is different than Canine Recreational Swimming in that it is a controlled slow and deliberate swim in warm (90 degree) water guided by the therapist.  There is no launching into the water or full on racing from one end of the pool to the other… which is great fun and fantastic exercise for many dogs, but not appropriate for others.

The benefits of swimming and moving in water on the physical body are well known and have been used for centuries.  Water provides an increased resistance to movement.  Five minutes of swimming is equivalent to about a five mile run.  The buoyancy of water also supports and lessens stress on joints and encourages freer movement.  I discovered the incredible benefits of water therapy after I injured my knee in a skiing incident many years ago.


  • INCREASES circulation, endurance, flexibility, range of motion, balance, coordination, body awareness, and muscle strength.
  • DECREASES swelling, and inflammation.
  • LOOSENS up tight muscles.
  • RELAXES the body and mind.  And,
  • BUILDS confidence.

There are many conditions where utilizing hydrotherapy can be extremely beneficial like:

  • Pre AND Post surgery
  • Joint injury/lameness
  • Hip/elbow dysplasia
  • Spinal injuries
  • Circulatory problems
  • Mobility issues
  • Arthritic conditions
  • Weight reduction
  • Chronic pain
  • Geriatrics

I would not say Gus is a “water dog,” but he does enjoy swimming or fetching a stick on occasion.  I decided to give hydrotherapy a try recently as Gus has had some intermittent limping and lameness issues…usually after ripping around the yard with the “Zoomies” acting like a puppy, but soon after realizing he is a senior dog… much as I hate to admit that!

Gus & Mary Beth “Bonding”

We arrived at The SandDancer Canine Swim Fitness Center located in Orchard Park, NY,  to find a very lovely and calming owner, Mary Beth Glatz, waiting to settle us in.  We went over some guidelines and rules (no eating at least three hours before, no launching into pool, doctors release required, etc.), signed our paperwork and then began our session.  Gus was fitted with a flotation device as all of the dogs are required to wear one during their swim session.  I sat on the pool stairs with my feet in the water which is recommended so your pet will be more at ease and relaxed.  And, Mary Beth uses yummy cheese and toys to encourage the dogs through the process.

Gus did extremely well and really bonded with Mary Beth (not that I was surprised by my little Angel LOL!).  I was so amazed to see how relaxed he was after a very short time with her.   But, that is a big part of the Hydrotherapy… physical and emotional healing.  He was only in the water for about 30 minutes total, but that is all that is needed due to the water resistance and the warm temperature of the water.

I honestly can’t wait until our next session!  I just need to work a little more on my old body and mind LOL!  For more information on Canine Hydrotherapy and SandDancer Canine Swim Fitness go to:   Make sure to mention Gus & Kelly referred you as Mary Beth offers a great referral system ($10 off a swim session for each referral!!).  All Good.  :-)

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L-Lysine… Must Have for Feline Herpes

Do you have any suggestions for an L-Lysine supplement for my cat.  I buy it in pills that I have to crush and it’s not very convenient to use.  Thanks.     -Sam-

L-Lysine Powder

L-Lysine (an amino acid) is a commonly recommended supplement for the management of the Feline Herpes Virus.  This supplement can slow down and retard the replication of the herpes virus, therefore preventing further illnesses from developing (i.e. upper respiratory infections).  Prevention is the best medicine and this easy to administer supplement is a must have for any cat that may have the Herpes Virus.

L-Lysine Easy to Administer in Food

I have been giving my (formerly feral/community) cats 500 mg of L-Lysine daily since I brought them into my household nearly three years ago.  L-Lysine is also given daily to the cats residing at the cat/kitten shelter I volunteer with.  You can reduce the daily dosage to 250 mg after a few weeks, but I prefer to maintain the 500 mg as my cats had a brother who developed a serious eye infection that required an eye enucleation.  (Fortunately, he is doing very well and manages just fine with one eye.)

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Thanks BLUE SEAL Pet Food!

Blue Seal Loading Dock…

Just wanted to give a huge THANK YOU to BLUE SEAL PET FOOD manufacturer located in Arcade, NY.  A friend reached out to me regarding cat food that “needed a home.”  Of course I said…“ABSOLUTELY” and “when and where do I go” LOL!  I immediately began contacting all of my cat rescue friends that could use much needed food.

Van, Truck Bed & Trailer… Filled with Pet Food!

When we arrived with our trailer at the Blue Seal plant Saturday morning, we were asked if we would like some dog biscuits and adult/puppy dog food… again… ABSOLUTELY!!  Three other rescue groups met at the plant and all left with van and truck beds full of food and biscuits.

Sunday morning two dog and cat rescue group volunteers met at my home to pick up their “share” of the donation… all left happy and grateful for any donation, large or small.

When all was said and done, FIVE dog and cat rescue organizations in Erie County and FOUR cat rescue organizations in Niagara County benefited from the generous donation from Blue Seal Pet Foods.  There is no better feeling than knowing many dogs and cats will be fed… all it took was a little effort and a little time on a Saturday… well worth it!  :-)

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Feeding Convalescing Pets…

I’ve received several questions recently regarding ideas on what to give a dog or cat when they are sick and refusing to eat or drink to keep them hydrated and to provide enough nutrition…  

NOTE:  It is very important to have your pet checked out at your veterinarian if they are sick or exhibiting symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, straining to urinate or defecate, fever, etc. for more than a day as they could have a life threatening situation like an intestinal or urethral blockage.

Coincidentally, three of my cats come down with a “virus” recently (we think… after about $500 worth of testing to rule serious issues out!).  Their symptoms included:  NO appetite and refusal to eat or drink, vomiting blood tinged bile (never experienced that before…pretty disconcerting honestly) and some diarrhea.  These kitties even refused to drink their favorite Answers Raw Goats Milk… check out this short video of my furry family waiting impatiently for their goats milk: 

NOTE:   As a precaution and because ALL pet owners should do this if ever their pet(s) become sick and food is a possible cause… I contacted both the canned food manufacturer and the dry kibble manufacturer to report that three of my cats who eat the same foods, had come up with the same symptoms, but nothing out of the ordinary showed up on their blood tests.  I provided all of the LOT NUMBERS and DATE CODE information from both the canned food and dry food to each company.  Additionally, the dry kibble manufacturer asked me to send them four cups of the kibble so they could have it tested by an outside lab just as a precaution.  Fortunately, their had been no other reports of illnesses, so I have to assume it was a virus situation.

It is very important that you keep your pets hydrated when they are sick, otherwise they can go down hill really fast which can lead to very serious health problems, including organ failure, if left too long.

Here are some suggestions… try offering these to your pets freely, but if they won’t eat/drink, then you should “force feed” them using a syringe until they begin to get their appetite back:

  • Answers Raw Goats Milk… Super nutritious, delicious, complete food, and very digestible…
  • Watered down low sodium chicken or tuna broth…
  • Clear Pedialyte… Contains lots of nutrients and electrolytes to stave off de-hydration…
  • Watered down canned food made into a “gruel…”
  • Baby Food…
  • Wysong PDG Supplement (just add water)… “Made of a base of gently processed, concentrated meats and organs from various sources to provide the major natural proteins, fats, and calories.  Vitamins, minerals, enzymes and probiotic cultures are naturally derived, and provide nutrients to cat or dog in the form that its system was designed to recognize and utilize (Source:

“Hydration & Nutrition Kit” = Raw Goats Milk + PDG + Syringe

My first choice is the Answers Raw Goats Milk as it is extremely nutritious and complete, very palatable and easily tolerated, particularly on the digestive system.  As I mentioned above, three of my cats became ill within a four week time frame.  Sophie, (now) eight months old, refused to eat or drink for FIVE days.  I syringed fed her the Raw Goats Milk with added PDG supplement and she remained hydrated.  Fortunately, her “flu-like” symptoms finally dissipated and she began slowly eating again.

Rule of thumb for Answers Raw Goats Milk:  MINIMUM Two Tablespoons per 10 lbs body weight per day… three or MORE Tablespoons per 10lbs is definitely better if possible.  Spacing out the feedings over the course of the day is also recommended.   NOTE:  I was giving Six to Eight Tablespoons to each of my cats (weighing 7-10 lbs) during their virus battle.

Always remember to be patient and give your pet plenty of nutritious liquids while they are convalescing.  And, know when to make another visit to your vet if your pet is not improving or getting worse.  There are times when Intravenous or Sub Cutaneous Fluids may be required.

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The Buffalo News 3/7/12 Curb Cat Population

Kelly Bebak

Let’s Work Together to Curb Cat Population

There has been so much attention and public scrutiny surrounding the mismanagement of the Niagara County SPCA and the recent raid conducted at the Wyoming County SPCA.  This is truly a unique opportunity for the community and local governments to work together on a real solution to end the cat overpopulation epidemic, whether in the city or out in rural farm country.

So True for any Feral/Community Cat Care Taker!”

Over past several years I have been involved in humanely trapping feral cats in my Lake Shore, Hamburg neighborhood and getting them through a process called TNVR (trap, neuter/spay, vaccinate and return).  I am like most people; busy with my job, in my case it was managing a busy retail store, taking care of my family and household and just having a life.  But, when you take a minute and really start to look around, you may notice a cat in your neighborhood that doesn’t seem to belong to anyone and more than likely she runs away if you approach her.

I like to call feral cats the “underdog” of the cat population because they are so misunderstood and undervalued.  These cats may have started out as a discarded pet, but over time living outdoors and left to fend for themselves, they adopt more wild tendencies.  Feral cats, also referred to as free roaming/community cats, may have been born in the “wild” and have never been socialized with humans.

These cats are not bad cats; they are just different than your typical socialized pet cats.  These cats can live very healthy lives and be content living outdoors, similar to barn cats.  These cats help to keep the large rodent populations under control.  And. these cats do belong to the community in which they were born and deserve to live.

My approach to solving problems is to identify the root cause of a problem and then work toward a solution.  In the case of cat overpopulation, using TNVR methods can and will reduce the numbers of cats through sterilization.  There are several studies to support this conclusion conducted in Florida (University of Central Florida, Ocean Reef and Alachua County).

The standard treatment of feral cats for many years has been to “trap and kill”…no need to candy coat this.  However, a 2007 telephone survey (Chu 2007 ACA Law & Policy Brief) found that 81% of the people surveyed would rather leave feral cats alone vs. trapping and killing them.  I am definitely in the 81% majority!

I’ve been working recently with two incredible organizations, Feral Cat Focus and Operation Pets the Spay Neuter Clinic of WNY, on this very issue and we are in the process of planning a larger scale TNVR of 200 cats in a targeted area in Erie County.  We are hoping that we can make this targeted project a model for future TNVR projects in the future.  This is how we need to tackle the severe cat overpopulation problem in our communities.  We all know that there are too many cats that need homes, but not enough people to adopt them.   The only civilized way to end the countless litters of kittens being born is through humane prevention.

Here’s a good argument based purely on economics for local governments and municipalities to collaborate with Feral Cat Focus and Operation Pets to adopt TNVR programs in their districts…TNVR is actually less expensive than trap and kill when you take into consideration all of the expenses incurred to trap, euthanize and dispose of feral cats.  So, lets start a real discussion on how to solve the cat overpopulation problem, one cat at a time, one street at a time, one village at a time…and let’s start now.

Kelly Ann Bebak, of Hamburg, is the former owner of The Animal Kingdom in Orchard Park, NY  and has worked in the Pet Retail Business.

Posted in Feral/Community Cats, Published Articles | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Rabies Titer Test Results…

Rabies Titer Test Results…

I get questions regarding TITER TESTING fairly often, so I wanted to share my nearly 16 year old indoor only cat’s recent Titer test results for Rabies.  Toby is VERY much protected from rabies!  I have been titer testing Toby for Rabies in place of vaccinating for the past several years due to Toby’s advanced age and compromised health.  I have retyped the results from the HEMOPET Rabies Titer Test below as the scanned image is a bit hard to read.   FYI…Titer tests can be conducted for many viral and/or bacterial diseases (i.e. Parvo, Distemper, Lyme, etc.).  The cost of titer testing is a bit higher when compared to just vaccinating, but titer testing is much safer, will prevent unnecessary vaccinations and possible adverse side effects… Your beloved pet’s good health is surely worth a few extra dollars !



2.70   IU/ml

Rabies Virus Neutralizing Antibody (RVNA) Concentration:   VERY GOOD LEVEL

Although there is no established protective rabies titer for dogs or cats, the CDC considers 1:5 (or 0.1  IU/ml) to be adequate in people.  Some countries use titers to qualify animals for reduced periods of quarantine.  Refer to state guidelines for rabies vaccination requirements in animals.


Note:  reporting unit now in International Unit per millileter (IU/ml)

Vaccine Titer Serology:

  • Serologic/vaccine level for Rabies Virus show very good level of humoral immunity indicating that this dog/cat should respond with a boosted anamnestic response to afford protection against the agent upon exposure.
  • Recheck serologic/vaccine level annually, or as required by law.


Comments on Toby’s Titer Test results from two experts in the fields of Immunology and Hematology respectively, Dr. Ronald Schultz and Dr. Jean Dodds:

Dr. Ronald Schultz’ comments:  ”Your cat’s titer is very protective!”

Dr. Jean Dodds’ comments:   ”As a rabies titer of 0.1 U/mL or higher is equivalent to the CDC’s accepted level to protect a person, Toby is still very well protected.”   AND… “If Toby were ever exposed to live rabies virus (God forbid) he would mount an even higher (anamnestic) response which would be even more protective.” 

Smudge (left) Toby (right) is our Kitty Elder Statesman!

NOTE:  I prefer to have my pet’s blood work sent out to HEMOPET (Dr. Jean Dodds):  Phone: 714-891-2022 | Fax: 714-891-2123 | | 11561 Salinaz Avenue, Garden Grove, CA 92843.   My conventional and holistic veterinarians have been accommodating my request to draw blood, package the blood sample and fill out the HEMOPET test request form so I can send it for testing, via UPS, to HEMOPET in California.  Amazingly, it doesn’t cost any more to send blood samples for testing to Dr. Dodds lab even with the added shipping cost.  Just an extra step to stop at the nearest UPS store… well worth it to have Dr. Dodds lab run the blood work.  :-)

Posted in Cat Health Topics, Dog Health Topics, Vaccinations | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments

Round Worms…

Just wondering if you can help me with another doggy problem.  I was all set to start Finnegan at a doggy daycare today but had taken a stool sample to my vets (the daycare requires this and I understand why).  I had to take him to have nails trimmed and thought I would pick up the paperwork saying he was free of worms.  Well he wasn’t. He had tapeworms right after I got him from Kentucky which I understand is common in dogs from the south. Well now he has roundworms.  They gave me the medication to treat it (two syringes) one for now and one in two weeks. None of my dogs have ever had worms so this is new to me. The medication they gave me is Strongid.  After I gave it to him I thought why did I do that I am trying to take care of things naturally.  I looked up natural remedies for treating worms and these are some of the things I found but wanted to check with you and Emily too.

The site I looked at said Wormwood or Artemisia, Eugenia Caryophyllata or cloves Granatum Vermifuge and finally Homeopet Worm Clear or Wormout.
As I already gave him one treatment I wondered if it is still ok to use any of these treatments.  I’m also thinking I should either take a sample in for McKenzie or just treat her naturally.  I also found a good preventative was to add ground pumpkin seed to their food daily and add wheat bran.
I’d love to hear your opinion on this.  Needless to say we couldn’t go to Doggy Daycare today and can’t for a month as they said I shouldn’t give the second dose of Strongid for two weeks and then 2 weeks after that bring in another sample.     -Jean-

Canine Round Worm (Source:

Hey Jean… I’m sure you’re a bit disappointed that Finn can’t start Doggie Daycare now, but he’ll be ready to go in a couple of months.  Worms and parasites are something most pet owners will have to deal with at some point!  Interestingly, I had never had any worm issues over the past 20 years until bringing “the Brothers” (feral mature kittens) indoors two years ago.  Fuzz had Round Worms and I discovered that because he had vomited a spaghetti like worm EWWWW!!  He also had intermittent loose stools that would improve then loosen up again…   I remember being so intrigued by this new found worm that I brought it in to The Animal Kingdom to show our team… I thought it would be a good learning experience for all of us… Funny thing… the other ladies were not nearly as fascinated as I was with the worm LOL!

I did use some natural methods to try clearing the worms including…

(1) Homeopet Worm Clear (Homeopathic Remedy- liquid):

Ingredients:    Granatum Vermifuge – 6c&30c;   Kamala Vermifuge – 6c&30c;   Chenopodium Anthelminticum – 6c&30c;   Filix Mas – 6c&30c;   Cucurbita Pepo – 6c&30c;   Thymol – 6c&30c;   Teucrium Marum – 6c&30c;   Cina – 6c&30c;   Spigelia Anthelmintica – 6c&30c;   Naphthaline – 6c&30c;   Nux Vomica – 6c&30c;   Arsenicum Album – 6c&30c in 20% USP alc. in purified water.   AND,

(2) Azmira Giardia Parasitic D’Tox (Herbal Tincture- liquid):

Ingredients:   A proprietary blend of Wormwood, Quassia Bark, Black Walnut Hulls, Neem Leaves, Bilva Herb, Embelia Ribes, Eclipta Alba, Phyllanthus Amarus, Gentian Root, Ginger Root, Grain Alcohol, and Spring Water.

I typically don’t recommend using several products together, but in this case I knew I could use an herbal and a homeopathic remedy together safely.  The most important thing to remember when using natural approaches to treat (vs. preventative) worms is that you must be diligent and give all of the recommended doses at suggested intervals… And, you will probably need a fairly large amount (multiple bottles) to treat one or both of your Labrador Retrievers.

At the time Fuzz had roundworm I was still socializing “the Brothers” in a separate room with a separate litter box from my other resident cat and dog.  Hence, I only treated Fuzz and his brother, Smudge, for the Round Worms.  Fortunately, Fuzz’ worms cleared up after  about eight weeks of treating with the homeopathic remedy and the herbal tincture.  However, Smudge must have had a more severe case and after trying for over 10 weeks to get rid of the worms naturally, he just couldn’t get rid of them.

I made the decision to use the STRONGID for Smudge and had to give him two treatments over the course of four weeks.  Thankfully, the Strongid got rid of the worms and Smudge had no ill affects from the stronger chemical wormer.  I did, however, give Smudge Milk Thistle for about five days and one dose of the Homeopathic Remedy, Thuja 30c, to cleanse his liver following the use of Strongid.

REGARDING Finnegan… It’s up to you whether or not you continue to treat with the Strongid or try the natural protocol.  If you decide to go with the remedy and herbs, I would wait about one to two weeks and begin treating him with the two products I mentioned above…but be diligent with both products.  REGARDING McKenzie… I would begin treating her naturally with both products as they are safe and are also used for general colon cleansing.  If you notice your dogs are getting loose stools after you begin using the remedy and herbs, just cut back a little bit on the doses.

My opinion… I will usually try to treat conditions with natural approaches whenever possible.  However, there are times, when I will have to reach for the conventional treatments, in this case the Strongid.   Minimizing the use of chemicals and strong medications with potential side affects is very important, but it’s okay to use them when necessary.  Just follow up with some Milk Thistle and Thuja should you decide to use the Strongid.  Good Luck!

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The Sun News 2/21/13…Volunteering…a Rewarding Experience!

Kelly Bebak

The Pet’s Perspective

Most people would agree that volunteering for any cause or organization has to be the worst paying (no paying) job ever, but it is also one of the most rewarding and fulfilling jobs you will ever have!

Many years ago I read a wonderful book, The Simple Living Guide, which provides many insights into how to lead a less stressful and more joyful life.  I revisited some of the chapters of this book and I swear it was reaching out to me as I read how “donating money is helpful, but donating your time is even more compelling.”   Certainly writing a check is a lot easier and less effort than actually giving up your precious time, but not nearly as gratifying.

Volunteering of any kind is a great life lesson for any child and a way for them to have a deeper connection to their community, whether it is through helping people or animals.  Many of the animal rescue/advocacy organizations welcome children into their volunteer programs and recognize the value of teaching children to have compassion for animals early on in their development.  Schools, churches and Girl or Boy Scout troops can work with an animal rescue group on specific projects to earn badges, points or credits… a win-win situation for everyone.

Socializing with the Kitties >^..^<

People will often ask me which animal groups need volunteers…  ALL of them!   Get started by determining which organization you’d like to help.  Perhaps a certain group took in a stray cat, dog or injured wild animal for you or maybe you love certain animals.  Find that personal connection and you can find an organization that is right for you.  Then, narrow down what your interests are (i.e.  fund raising, writing, socializing animals or dog walking, adoption events, answering phones, setting humane traps, transporting animals, shelter duties, fostering …the opportunities are endless.

Operation Pets Prepares for Spay/Neuter Clinic of Feral/Community Cats (TNVR)

Currently, I volunteer with Feral Cat Focus and Operation Pets Spay Neuter Clinic of WNY with TNVR (trap/neuter/vaccinate/return) projects to humanely reduce the overpopulation of cats and kittens in our WNY communities.  I also spend about three hours per week (cleaning, feeding and medicating cats) at the Precious Paws Kitty Shelter in Hamburg.  And, I recently got involved with The Tango Fund which was founded to help defray the cost of physiotherapy rehabilitation for needy WNY pet owners.  I have a very personal connection to all of these amazing organizations, hence why I chose to give them my gift of time.

WNY is incredibly lucky to have such a strong network of animal rescue and advocacy groups who take in many different animals.  These mostly volunteer based organizations also work tirelessly on educating the general public on humane solutions to animal overpopulation and preventing animal cruelty.  We all know shopping locally is important to our communities, so too is volunteering and donating to our local animal welfare organizations.

John Grogan wrote, “Animal Lovers are a special breed of humans, generous of spirit, full of empathy, perhaps a little prone to sentimentality, and with hearts as big as a cloudless sky.”   No better time than the present to start your volunteering career…our furry friends are counting on you!

Coonhound Gus (Short Hair) Sporting a Fleece Coat & Siberian Husky Dakota has a Naturally Thick Dense Coat…

PET TIP:    An animal’s ability to tolerate cold temperatures is dependent upon their age, general health, diet, and coat density.  Use common sense during frigid weather…if it’s too cold for you, keep your pet indoors and only let them out for potty breaks!  Shivering is a sure sign that it is too cold to be outside.  Use a coat and boots on your dog, as needed, if you walk in cold temperatures or where road salt is present.  Remove snow balls and corrosive salt on paws by dipping them in luke warm water then towel dry.  Also a good idea to use paw balm on your dog’s paw pads as an added layer of protection and to soothe dry cracked pads.

NOTE:  NYS Agriculture and Markets Law § 353-b (Appropriate Shelter for Dogs Left Outdoors), “requires that any person who owns or has custody or control of a dog that is left outdoors provide them with appropriate shelter” (and food & water).  If you see any animal outdoors in freezing weather and he appears to be in danger, please call your local SPCA or Animal Control officer so they can investigate.     If you have questions or comments for Kelly, go to:

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Gus Re-Unites with Foster Family!

Charlie, Denise & Gus Reunited!

Gus and I were on a long walk at Chestnut Ridge Park, located in Orchard Park, NY when we ran into the people who literally saved Gus’ life more than  12 years ago!  I almost didn’t hear the man call out, “Is that Gus?”  Fortunately, my friend did hear the comment and we turned around to see Charlie and Denise looking at Gus.  I honestly don’t know if Gus recognized them, but he went up to this wonderful couple and gave them his usual, nonchalant greeting as if to say, “Hey what’s up?!”

For those of you who are not familiar with Gus’ story…  he was about 6 months old when a man in a truck pulled up and dumped him off on the side of the road in Rushford Lake, NY.  Did I mentioned that it was January 21st and it was about 20 degrees with two feet of snow on the ground!!  Gus was Cryptorchid (testicles never descended) so the theory is that the owner dumped him as Gus was defective and couldn’t be sold.

Charlie and Denise were staying at a cabin with their two young children and their 100 pound foxhound mix in the middle of nowhere (Rushford Lake).  The children were playing outside in the snow when a strange man opened his truck door and let Gus out near the them… really the only nice thing he did!

Long story longer… Gus’ new friends were getting ready to return home that day and Charlie couldn’t leave Gus behind as he knew he would surely freeze to death all alone in the wilderness.  Awe!!

Fast forward a bit to that Saturday night…  My husband, Jim, was leaving to play hockey at the same time my friend, Cheryl, had just arrived to hang out and watch some movies.  Out of the darkness… a cute goofy hound dog literally ran into Cheryl’s car as she was getting ready to come into my house.   Cheryl thought that I was dog sitting this playful puppy that just would not leave her alone.  Gus ran right into my house.  My three cats and I were a bit surprised by this strange energetic bundle of energy running around the house (okay, that’s an understatement…let’s just say there was a lot of hissing and my cats all puffed up to double their size!).

Once the dust settled, I brought Gus down to the basement to settle in for the night.  I gathered several warm blankets to keep him warm.  Gus wasn’t wearing a collar and by the smell of him, he had never experienced a bath either!  I ended up snuggling up with him for the night and fell asleep listening to his loud snoring!

The next morning I called the dog warden to see if anyone was looking for a sweet hound dog mix.  Gus looked to be a cross between a Beagle and a German Shorthair Pointer, or so we thought.  The dog warden arrived and told us that he would take Gus to the Hamburg pound (a local vet’s office) where he’d stay in a kennel, then he’d be taken to the SPCA if he wasn’t claimed within one week.  I just couldn’t see Gus caged up for that long, so I asked if I could keep him in our home until he was claimed and the warden agreed to let us hold him.

Our Boy Gus… The Best Dog Ever!

Jim and I were trying to think of temporary names for Gus… I chose Gus and Jim decided on Rex which I thought was totally wrong and didn’t fit his personality!  We decided to take Gus for a walk to see if someone in our neighborhood recognized him.  We didn’t get more than 50 feet when we heard children screaming, “Rex…they have Rex!”  OMG if that wasn’t the strangest coincidence ever!  Our neighbors then told us the story of how Gus was dumped in the country and they brought him home… and I could see the relief on Denise’s face that he was now in our hands…

I would have to say that the look on Jim’s face was the complete opposite!!  More like shear terror and the realization that this sweet dog that I was already madly in love with had no home and was now an orphan!

The next day I took Gus to our veterinarian for an physical exam and to get his required vaccines.  My vet mentioned that Gus was most likely a Coonhound and would have a very distinctive “voice” some day!  Hmmmmm??   I also took him to the pet spa to clean him up and get the stink off of him!  I was already head over heals in love with this hound dog, but Jim wasn’t as convinced that we should have a dog.  So, I found three very loving and deserving families who wanted to welcome Gus into their families.  We literally had “meet and greets” with all three families and all of them wanted to adopt Gus!

It was decision time now… We’d had Gus for almost a week and there were three loving families wanting to take him into their lives.  Of course I wanted to keep Gus, but I used the old “reverse psychology” with Jim.  I said, “you know I want to keep Gus, and you know there are three families who also want to adopt him… it’s totally up to you…it’s your decision.”  Well either Jim totally fell for my plan or he had also fallen in love with this very special dog…

As the old saying goes…the rest is history!

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Chicken Meal vs. Whole Chicken…

Hi Kelly!  After reading the latest WDJ there is a new food named Spring Natural.  On their website it talks about ‘chicken meal’ ‘beef meal’ etc… as being not as good as whole meats?  What are your thoughts on that?    Thanks.    -Mary-

Hello Mary…  The debate whether whole chicken or chicken meal is better has been ongoing for quite awhile.  Both have there positives and negatives, but I am comfortable using foods containing “meals” as long as the sources of the meals are from reputable and human grade sources and not from rendering sources who use “4D” (dead, dying, diseased or disabled) meat sources.  Further, I only consider using a pet food that contains meal as long as the protein source is named (i.e. chicken meal or beef meal).  A meal that includes chicken “by product” meal is NOT acceptable.

AAFCO (the Association of American Feed Control Officials) defines chicken meal as the dry rendered product from a combination of clean chicken flesh and skin with or without accompanying bone, derived from whole carcasses of chicken, exclusive of feathers, heads, feet and entrails.  A meal in general is “an ingredient which has been ground or otherwise reduced in particle size.”   Essentially, all of the moisture has been removed from the chicken after this process making the protein content much higher than that of whole chicken.  One of the possible negatives with chicken meal is the higher level of ash that may or may not be be present after the cooking process.  And, it all boils down (no pun intended!) to the quality and sources of the chicken meal that is used… if a pet food company uses chicken meal with inferior quality meats (“4D’s”) then it isn’t as good as using whole meat.

For arguments sake, it has been said that the rendering (cooking) process will kill any bacteria, parasites, viruses, and other organisms that may be present in “4D” meat.  But, the potential for any of the harmful ingredients to still be present after rendering is why this type of meat is always considered “NOT fit for OR to be used for human consumption.”  I do wonder about animals that may have had cancer or other diseases and what affect the presence of any of those tissues, etc. may have on long term health?  Again, the quality and source of the chicken meal is important and there are many reputable natural pet food companies who source from high quality and reputable renderers.

Whole Chicken Meat = High Moisture Content

Certainly using (high quality) whole chicken is a good thing, but the negative here is that whole chicken contains a great deal of moisture which will restrict the amount of meat that can actually be used in the final pet food product.  To give you an idea…

Pet food using whole chicken meat may only include 20% of the chicken in the final product, providing 3.6% protein.  An equal proportion of chicken meal would provide 13% protein.  (Example:  100 pounds of chicken meal yields 65 pounds of protein, whereas 100 pounds of whole chicken meat yields only 18 pounds of protein (source:  Wikipedia).

Just another reason I am a proponent of rotation feeding our pets (with the exception of pets who require special diets or who have very sensitive digestive systems).  I believe it’s a good idea to provide a variety of foods using different protein sources and other ingredients when possible.  Nature did not intend for animals to eat the exact same thing, day in and day out, throughout the entire life of an animal.  Providing only one food or diet is often times the reason some animals develop food sensitivities…they are never able to acclimate or get used to other types of foods.

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Salve on Kitty’s Bottom >^..^<

Would you ever consider using Bag Balm instead of a Calendula Salve (prescribed and prepared by a holistic veterinarian) on a kitty’s inflamed and irritated bottom (rectum)?       -Email Question-

The Calendula salve prepared by your holistic veterinarian sounds like a great idea for the kitty’s bottom as it does have very good healing benefits for her including reduction of pain and swelling, wound healing and new tissue growth.  You need to see if it is helping or not… if you introduce a new variable (Bag Balm), hard to determine a correlation if there is improvement.

Bag Balm…Not for Use on Dogs or Cats

Also, I have used Bag Balm for my horse (mare) many times in the past, but I don’t think it should ever be used for a kitty as she will definitely be licking it off.  The Bag Balm is meant only as a topical (not meant to be ingested) originally formulated for cows udders/teats…horses and cows cannot really reach their teats/udders to lick it so it’s not an issue… Here are the ingredients in the Bag Balm…

The active ingredients of Bag Balm are 8-hydroxyquinoline sulfate 0.3% (antiseptic) in a petroleum jelly USP and lanolin base.

If you look at the MSDS (Material Data Safety Sheet) the 8-hydroxyquinoline sulfate is not safe for ingestion, in fact quite the contrary.  The MSDS is at 100% vs. 30%, but still not something that should be ingested.  Here’s a link for the MSDS sheet: .  Just as with humans, cats should never ingest Bag Balm as it is “hazardous if ingested.”

Hence, the Calendula salve that was prescribed by your holistic veterinarian would be the best product to use.  I’m confident that the salve base that your veterinarian uses is “safe if ingested” and only contains Calendula which is safe and therapeutic if the kitty licks it off.

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My Maltese is Limping…

My 4 year old Maltese has a really bad limp.  He won’t use his back right leg. He’s always been occasionally gimpy ever since he contracted Lyme’s when he was a year or two old, but this limp seems to be sticking with him. any ideas for healing him? I am thinking a vet might give antibiotics but i’m thinking that must be as bad for dogs as it is for people?  I am not aware of any injuries that might have caused the limp, although he is kind of a klutz.   -Facebook Post-

Lyme Disease is an incidius disease and should be taken VERY seriously… My 8 yr old Coonhound, Gus, almost died from the disease and it took us a while to get him healthy. Fortunately Gus is 12.5 years young now and doing fairly well.  We’ve been taking him to our holistic vet for acupuncture every 2 months since the diagnosis in 2008.  The Lyme Disease attacks the joints so it’s possible your dog is getting the intermittent limp from that.  Lyme mimics and causes arthritis… Gus will go for long periods with no limps or issues…then a limp will come on for a month or so…then it will cease after a few weeks of rest.

I’ve been using Azmira Joint EZ’r  (concentrated Glucosamine and Chondroitin supplement) + Azmira Yucca Intensive + Prozyme + Pet naturals of Vermont Joint Treats for joint support.  I also home cook for Gus every week using fresh chicken, turkey or beef along with The Honest Kitchen Preference Foundation mix and added eggs, pumpkin, cheese, herbs, and krill oil.  He also gets different Chinese herbs, homeopathic remedies and prescription strength supplements as prescribed by my holistic veterinarian.

Blood (& Urine) Tests to Check for Presence of Lyme

I would have your dog blood tested for the presence of Lyme and use the test with the actual Lyme titer number (C-6 Peptide ELISA Test) as it is better than 4 Snap (Lyme/Erlichia/Rocky Mtn Spot, etc.).  I don’t overuse antibiotics for myself or my pets, but the Doxycycline was a life saver for Gus who almost bled out from the disease (extremely low platelets (which help with blood clotting) is one of the very serious symptoms). Gus had to have the Doxycycline for eight weeks, but he finally got a clean bill of health (confirmed with C-6 Test, CBC Test, Urinalysis, and physical examination) within a year of his original diagnosis.  Of course, I have never stopped all of the supportive measures since his battle with Lyme Disease began.  Just use Milk Thistle and added Probiotics if you have to use antibiotics for a short time.   Antibiotics can be life saving in some situations and should be considered.  However, it’s the overuse of antibiotics that you should be careful of.

Sandail, a Mini Yorkie, has a Luxating Patella

Another thing you should research is a condition called, Luxating Patella also known as floating kneecap, floating patella or trick knee.  Basically, the patella (kneecap) dislocates or slips out of its normal place.  It is a very common problem with tiny and small breed dogs and is thought to be mostly congenital.  My Mother’s five pound Yorkshire Terrier has lived with a Luxating Patella for many years and is approaching her 13th birthday soon.  Your veterinarian will have to palpate the knee and may also recommend an X Ray to determine the severity of the condition.  Depending on the severity, treatment options can include anti-inflammatory medications, herbs and/or supplements, weight loss program (if needed), resting the knees, and even surgical intervention in some cases.  Note:  The Maltese is one of the toy/miniature dog breeds that is commonly predisposed for medial patellar luxation.

It’s always a good idea to get your dog examined by your veterinarian first to see what, if anything, you are dealing with…then decide on the treatment.

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The Sun News 1/17/13…Animal Lovers!

Kelly Bebak

The Pet’s Perspective

I’m always amazed, though not surprised, at how much we truly love our pets and how most of us are willing to do just about anything to keep them healthy and happy.   While working in the pet food and supply industry, I heard first-hand accounts from many pet owners regarding their dedication to their beloved pets.  I know I’m not alone in my adoration for my furry family.  To take that one step further, we “crazy” pet owners may be the new Normal!

Incredibly the pet industry has experienced continual growth year after year even with a very sluggish economy.  According to the American Pet Products Association, in 2011, over $50 Billion was spent on pet food, supplies, medicine, veterinarian care, live animal purchase, pet grooming and boarding.  WOW!   No other industry has remained as healthy and viable as the pet industry.  This speaks volumes about the people who are behind all of that growth… the devoted pet owners.

As any pet owner can attest, these simple yet sometimes very complicated creatures provide much entertainment, frustration, heartache, and absolute joy in our lives.  Some people actually prefer to be around animals rather than people…you know who you are!   And our relationships are often symbiotic.

Gus & Me at the Mt. Jo Summit, Lake Placid, NY 2012

Animals have incredible power, not just in the physical sense, but in their ability to break down barriers.  One of my dearest friends became a quadriplegic after diving into a pool at a young age.  Amy experienced, firsthand, how an assistance dog could allow her independence with daily activities, as well as made her wheelchair “disappear” when meeting new people.  Fortunately, Amy was incredibly outgoing, intelligent and beautiful inside and out.  But having her canine partner, Yanz (a black Labrador Retriever), to break the ice with people was certainly a plus.  There are also therapy dogs who provide much needed stress relief with hugs and kisses under extremely devastating circumstances and cats who reside in elder care facilities to give the residents companionship.  And, there are horses who give disabled individuals the chance to experience riding a horse for the first time.  The list goes on and the benefits are numerous, but in all cases a special bond develops.

Many studies show that owning a pet can have a very positive impact on our health including reducing or controlling high blood pressure and stress, improving overall state of mind, encouraging more physical activity, and even staving off loneliness and isolation.  I can certainly attest to all of these!

In the world of animal lovers, our love and devotion to our pets is the Universal Equalizer.  It does not matter what your annual income is, what neighborhood you live in, what religion you practice, the color of your skin, or political affiliation…when it comes to loving our pets we are all equal.

PET TIPS:  Avoid the typical weight gain with your pets this winter…  Less activity = less calories required.  Cut back a bit on your pet’s food.   Add healthy fiber in place of the reduced food like unsweetened canned pumpkin, cooked vegetables or plain rice cakes.  Give your dog some frozen pumpkin ice cubes…yum!

Less activity will also contribute to stiffness in joints, particularly in older pets.  Try incorporating a daily joint supplement that includes glucosamine and chondroitin (additional MSM, HA, Vitamin C, and Turmeric, even better).  Tasty “functional” joint treats are available for finicky pets.  Adding a high quality fish oil (Omega 3 Fatty Acid) to the diet will also help with joint inflammation, among other things.

Kelly is a lifelong resident of Hamburg.  After selling her pet food & supply business, The Animal Kingdom, in 2012, Kelly has been blogging, teaching community education classes and volunteers with several animal rescue/advocacy groups.  Go to:

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Responses to Huffington Post Article (Feral Cats)

I am always so disappointed and greatly saddened when I hear of such negative propaganda and, quite frankly, inaccurate statistical references toward (feral) cats and their ”unbelievable” negative impact on wildlife.  The latest came in the form of a plethora of news coverage on re-posted “studies” on free roaming cats reported by The Huffington Post on February 1, 2013 “Domestic Cats Kill Billions of Mice-Birds Annually, Study ESTIMATES…”

For the record, I love cats and I love wild life and birds, but once again the cats are not getting a fair shake.  Cats are just one of the many contributors to the reduction in bird populations.  Humans are much more at fault…pollution, habitat destruction, chemical pesticides abound, wind turbines, window strikes, etc… where are the studies on all of these contributors?!   I’m so tired of biased media manipulation honestly.  Not to mention, ignorant people who don’t have their cats spayed/neutered in the first place!   URGH!!!   Why can’t just one of these news organizations do a story on the success stories of TNVR (trap/neuter/vaccinate/release), something I’m very proud to be a part of…the Humane Solution!     >^..^<

Here is a great response to this article from a respected member of the WNY community, Carol Tutzauer, Director of Assessment at SUNY Buffalo & Co-founder & President, Buffalo Humane, ( and a no kill advocate in WNY…

Carol Tutzauer’s Response…Every year at this time, these jokers (Peter Marra and others) send out this thing as some sort of new study.  It isn’t a study, just a “lit review” (and a bad one at that), not new data. Every year, same bat-time, same bat-channel, they just review the same set of studies OVER and OVER again every year — studies they choose (that tend to produce the results they want). Then they find some schlocky “research journal” that will publish it (usually a weekly, that also allows authors to pay for public access to their work — not exactly the model for upstanding academic journalism).

Feral/Community Cats…

Nature Communications actually publishes “reject” articles from the journal Nature, does so in a weekly format (not very selective), and makes money by having authors pay for the public to be able to access their article. All this shenanigans is accompanied by the authors generating a press release with links to their “new” study (with paid public access), and the popular media jump on it. The final indignity relates to some of the quotations, where the co-authors and anti-TNR friends quote themselves in the press release, such as this jewel from Peter Marra: “I was stunned at the results.” If Marra is “stunned” by the results of his own research, repeated over and over for the last several years, then he suffers from Alzheimer’s (and no intention of disparaging those brave souls with Alzheimer’s).

Think of this “study” and these jokers as Bill Murray in Ground Hog Day…

Even if you accept any of their figures, they focus on cat predation to the exclusion of deaths attributable to humans, primarily from destruction of habitat. More birds die flying into windows, getting hit by cars, pollution and fossil fuels and pesticide use in agriculture than could ever be killed by cats (and those cats might very likely have died or been killed anyway). I remember the “bird lovers” talking about the cats at Olcott Beach (on Lake Ontario, northern Niagara County). Most of those “bird lovers” were hunters who wanted to go out to shoot birds (and cats). Don’t you think the bird habitat was pretty much destroyed when they put in the marina there for all the fishermen (the ones complaining about the cats)? Sand dunes? Tufts of grasses? All gone, because of people, and no more nesting areas for birds.

Even granting all of this, there’s no way you’ll wipe cats of the face of the earth. And the goal of TNVR is to reduce cat populations, which theoretically would also be good for birds, assuming they kill that many anyway. [And I take a distinctly Darwinian view here -- predation leads to improvement of the species as a whole. But humans destroying habitats isn't quite the same thing.]

For LOTS of stuff and critiques of all these “studies” that the American Bird Conservancy likes to tout, check out the blog, VoxFelina. Here’s a listing of blog entries on the cats vs birds debate:

Thanks to Carol for providing a different point of view on the issue of Feral Cats and their impact on the wild bird populations.  Not to be discounted Carol has quite a background in research…so I think she may just know a little bit about methodology and data collection, particularly, regarding the ”studies” in question.   Always two sides to every issue!  :-)

Here are a few more intelligent opinions from very reputable organizations in response to the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute study on cat predation…

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Bindi’s Itching… :-O

Hi Kelly… I am finally here….WOW, you are famous now!  :)  I have so many questions to ask you…I have a YEAST problem…you know my mom is fanatical about taking care of me…a little overboard at times…LOl..Anyway, my yeast problem is mainly affecting the warm spots of my body ( arm pits, butt and female parts…and the front of my legs and chest…just a small amount in the ears)….I am scratching myself RAW….I am eating a very good grain free dog food from your old stomping grounds…some raw bones…a little goat milk …and of course I stay away from human food!  My mom ( Tammy) has taken me to the vets…they pumped me with Benedryl and send me home….Now mom is not happy with this…She is driving herself crazy cleaning the house up (no fragrances or unhealthy cleaning products)…spraying with eucalyptus (pure essential oil blend she makes herself) to rid the house of dust mites…BUT nothing is helping…here is the problem Kelly….when I stay at the kennel for 15 days I COMPLETELY heal….ALL my food remains the same, she sends me with my own bed (the fancy one she bought from you)…the only thing that I do not get at the kennel is my Raw bones….once I am home for about 3 days…it all comes back…I do stink a little (just like yeast)….Mom has been giving me tea tree oil baths followed with a RAW apple cider vinegar rinse…for a few days I seem to relax a bit…BUT again it all comes back….what to do….Would a nice dog lover lady like you have any suggestions?  The other lady Julie gave me a new holistic doctor to go see…we’re gonna make an appointment…But since you led mom on the right path with my food to begin with…well, we kind of trust you BIG TIME….oh …I’m the really cute American Bulldog with one black eye and one white….I am hard to forget….Big sloppy dog kisses to you…Hope all is well with you…we think about you all the time…I heard you see my friend Valerie too…geez , I miss her!  Stay well….be healthy, happy and beautiful!      –Bindi and Tammy–

Of course I remember that beautiful American Bulldog “Bindi” (your Mom’s kind of cute too!!) and I’m envisioning a lovely picture of you in your pink fleece coat sitting in your Mom’s car!  

Okay Tammy…Hmmmm… interesting scenario you have.  It would appear that there may be something environmental that is causing Bindi’s “allergic” reaction that occurs upon her return home from the kennel based on her getting the exact same diet at both places (except for the raw bones).  I know you have already perused my previous post on “itchy & sensitive dogs” where I laid out many causes of the allergy type symptoms and possible solutions to what Bindi is experiencing.  It certainly can be a daunting task to figure out the cause of Bindi’s itchiness and possible yeast overgrowth, but just be patient and pull out your detective tools.

Oh That Itching & Scratching!! (Source:

Something to Rule Out:   One thing I noted is that Bindi’s area of inflammation and itchiness seems to be where her body comes into contact with the floor and carpeting… I recall a friend with a yellow Labrador Retriever having an itchy dog situation where diet was ruled out as a cause.  It turned out that this dog was highly allergic to the owner’s favorite (mostly) wool area rug… Once the rug was removed from the environment, the itching/scratching stopped…the owner was pretty bummed as she had just gotten the awesome rug from Crate & Barrel and it wasn’t cheap… Darn!!  Thankfully, she was able to determine the actual cause… Give this some thought and take a survey of your house and surfaces Bindi is laying on frequently…

I just had another blog reader from Tampa, Florida advise that he recently had his dog Allergy Tested for, both food and environmental panels, for his dog and discovered his dog is allergic to several grasses and foods.  Dr. Jean Dodds (Hemopet & Nutriscan) offers a patented food allergy Salivary test ( which you can do in the comfort of your own home with a saliva collection kit that you mail back to Nutriscan…it’s super easy!  Once you get the results from this test, you can determine if anything in Bindi’s diet is making her situation worse… FYI:  I’ve been sending my pets’ blood for blood Titer Testing and Thyroid Testing to Hemopet for years as Dr. Dodds is a veterinarian hematologist and one of the leading experts in this field.

The Environmental Allergen Blood Test is the other test that I would suggest Bindi have done… Over the years I have seen many of these test reports and it’s amazing what airborn and environmental allergens plague dogs… including human dander, many grasses, tree saps, bacteria (can be good bacteria probiotics too) and molds…the list is lengthy.  It would be well worth the money to get some real data to work with versus grasping at straws… I recall a conversation with one of my veterinarian friends wherein she described how it is somewhat difficult to figure out certain illness or diseases as there is no real input from the patient…rather, the doctor must begin ruling out certain illnesses or triggers with various tests.  I’m not sure if you’ve already done any of the above allergen testing recently, but it would still be a good idea to have some new information to see what your actually working with…then go from there.  As with humans, new allergies can develop at any age.

NOTE:  Incredibly, I’ve also heard of many high positive allergic reactions to Human Dander!  This is another environmental allergen that Bindi may have… as hard as it is to consider, she may be allergic to your or your husband’s dander… just like many people are allergic to dog or cat dander… Surely she is not exposed to nearly the same amount of human dander in the kennel environment as she would be in a normal home environment… all those hugs, snuggles, etc…just a thought.

Last, I think going to a holistic veterinarian is a great idea as you can use an integrative approach to the problem and get a different perspective on the situation.  As you probably know, I’ve been taking all of my pets (dog and cats) to my holistic veterinarian for over twelve years now… Gus (12.5 yrs) has been going every six to eight weeks and my 16 year old kitty goes about every three months for acupuncture and prescribed Chinese herbs, homeopathic remedies and/or supplements as needed.  I like to utilize both conventional and holistic medicine for my pets and me!

Good luck and keep me posted…. Above all else…be PATIENT.  :-)

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Feline Injection Site Sarcoma :-(

Beth’s Kitty after Biopsy Surgery…

I have a 13 year old female cat who has never had any real medical issues her whole life, who now has Fibrosarcoma in her rear right leg due to a 3yr rabies vaccine she received  this past summer.  The tumor was removed but to insure it will not recur  she will need to have her leg amputated.  To make matters worse, she was found to have a large cyst on her liver upon pre-surgical examination.  Now I have to make a very difficult decision.  In spite of everything she is a very healthy cat (her liver enzymes are normal.).  I don’t know what to do.   I wish I could take the vaccine back.  At the time of the injection I was told that the odds of developing the sarcoma was 1 in 10,000.  I think vets are fooling themselves and misleading their clients with these statistics.  I think we need to start questioning and researching before assuming the vets always know best.  I like my vet’s office but I am not sure anymore if vets always have their patients best interest in mind.           -Beth-

Hey Beth… I don’t even know what to say, except I am so sorry that you and your kitty are having to go through this unnecessary nightmare.  I am also so angry as the medical condition known as Feline Injection Site Sarcoma (Fibrosarcoma) or Vaccination Associated Sarcoma is more commonly found then we are led to believe by some of our veterinarians… the same conclusion you have come to.  I have actually seen the statistic 1 in 1,000 cats will develop a FISS many times when doing research on the topic.  And, based on the hundreds of accounts I have heard from so many pet owners, I tend to believe the statistic showing a higher prevalence exists.  Perhaps the huge difference in reported cases of FISS is due to the lack of proper reporting when FISS occurs.

Of interest…    In 1993, a causal relationship between VAS and administration of aluminum adjuvanted rabies and FeLV vaccines was established through epidemiologic methods, and in 1996 the Vaccine-Associated Feline Sarcoma Task Force was formed to address the problem.  There have also been similarities found between injection site tumors in dogs as well (Wikipedia).   

Rabies & Feline Leukemia Vaccines have been Linked to Feline Injection Site Sarcoma…

For the record, I am not opposed to vaccinations, rather I am vehemently opposed to OVER vaccinating when it is not necessary, particularly for low risk indoor only pets.  I have been Titer testing my pets instead of booster vaccinating for most of the vaccines (except Rabies as it is NYS mandated by law to vaccinate every three years).   It is more expensive to Titer test, but it prevents unnecessary vaccinations and potential for adverse events like FISS.   I have posted on the  vaccination controversy many times on my blog in the hopes that even one person will read a different opinion and do their own research and draw their own conclusions.  A question I asked myself over 15 years ago was this, “why do we (humans) get vaccinated once as infants (plus a booster) for serious and sometimes life threatening diseases like Chicken Pox, Measles, Mumps, Polio, etc., but our pets are vaccinated yearly for many viruses (Parvo, Rabies, Feline Leukemia, etc)?  Honestly, there is no logical answer except that there has to be some kind of incentive for someone or some company to promote annual vaccinations because there is so much research out there to show duration of immunity is much longer than one year for many, if not most of the viruses.  Fortunately, several vaccine protocols that were formerly recommended to be on an annual basis have been changed to every three years including Rabies.

Did you know that one of the reasons cats now get the Rabies and Feline Leukemia vaccines in their back legs is because if a Fibrosarcoma develops the cats leg (and tumor) can be amputated.  Whereas the original vaccination site, between the shoulder blades, makes it virtually impossible to remove all of a tumor!  Frightening and pretty sad really.

Vaccinations and the required booster protocols remain a hotly debated topic, but check out this link for a 14 minute interview of pet vaccination expert, Dr. Ronald Schultz, by Dr. Karen Becker for a better understanding:  Worth noting, Dr. Schultz has served on many vaccination related advisory boards and task force groups over his 40+ year career including the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Vaccine-Associated Feline Sarcoma Task Force in 1996.

Feline Fibrosarcoma (Source:

With regard to your next steps and the very difficult decisions you must now make for your kitty… It really depends on how large the tumor was and if your veterinarian was able to get clean margins when doing the surgical biopsy/removal of the tumor.  And, whether or not the tumor has metastasized (spread) to other parts of the kitty’s body…the spot on your kitty’s lung is probably not a good sign.  You must weigh many factors including age, general health, metastasis, long term prognosis (success rates), and, unfortunately, cost when considering if leg amputation is even a viable option.  I must say that I have seen several people have good outcomes when their cats had the rear leg amputation surgery though in all of those cases the cats were younger and the tumors were detected very early on.  Radiation and/or chemotherapy are also options for your kitty, but all of these factors and possibilities must be discussed with your veterinarian.

If you decide to not to go ahead with the leg amputation, you can still employ many of the diet and supplement therapies I’ve discussed in previous posts to boost your cat’s immune system ( most of the diet, herb and supplements referred to in this post apply to cats as well).  With a little effort your kitty may still have many more healthy months or years ahead.  My heart is very heavy for you and your beloved kitty at this time, but try to stay positive and cautiously optimistic.

NOTE:  This most recent story from Beth has provided yet another reason for me to continue on this journey of educating pet owners on the many important topics that face us.  For anyone interested in learning more on this very important topic, I will be hosting the world renowned expert veterinary immunologist, Dr. Ronald Schultz, on April 20, 2013 in Cheektowaga, NY.  For more details check out:

Posted in Cat Health Topics, Vaccinations | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Transitioning to Raw Diet…

Wondering what you think…I officially started feeding McKenzie & Finnegan raw today.  I am doing it one out of two times per day. Wish me luck.  My main goal is to reduce their weight and of course keep them as healthy as possible.  I was planning on going away at Easter but am very nervous about leaving the kids at the kennel.     -Jean Kishbaugh-

Jean & Finnegan!

Hey Jean…Great to hear from you.  YES, Raw Diet is a great way to go for any dog or cat and glad you are giving it a try.  Raw is the least processed and a highly digestible food choice which most closely resembles a canines true ancestral diet.  Definitely good for weight reduction as most (frozen) raw diet formulations are low in fat. The most important thing to remember is to transition your dogs gradually over the next week or so… If you go too quickly to raw with some dogs they can get bad diarrhea which causes people to stop feeding raw, but really they may not have transitioned gradually enough.  Every dog is different and some dogs move right over to raw without any issues, while others have loose stool for a longer period of time.   Just go slow and have some unsweetened canned pumpkin and probiotics on hand.  Interestingly, if either of your dogs vomits fairly quickly after ingesting the raw that can mean that they can’t tolerate or digest the raw.

Another consideration is to make sure you are feeding the appropriate amount of raw and kibble so your dogs (chocolate and yellow Labradors) don’t lose too much weight as the raw diet is very lean protein and not carbohydrate based.  See where your dog’s weights are in about one month and re-evaluate the kibble and raw food amounts.

Also, you may want to check with your kennel well before you go on vacation to make sure they will do the raw diet for your dogs.  Many kennels will not handle or feed the raw food so you’d just have to transition your dogs back to more kibble & a little canned for a week or so before kenneling them.

FYI… I have posted on the benefits of raw diet in many previous posts if you’re interested…just type in raw diet under the SEARCH function (on the right side of the blog page).  Good luck!

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Preventing Tragedies…Dogs Hit by Cars

It’s taken me many weeks to even think about or write about this, but I know it is truly important and even if one person rethinks their position on this issue I feel it is worth it to potentially save one dog (or cat).  I’m sorry if I upset or anger anyone with my post, but that is nothing compared to how devastated I have felt each time I have heard about or witnessed one of my neighbors’ dogs or cats being hit by a car…

According to Animal People Newspaper, >1.2 million dogs were killed on U.S. roads in 2012, and most of them were likely chasing something…a ball, a child, a cat, a squirrel.  And, >5.4 million cats per year were killed on U.S. roads most of them at night. Check out this link for more information on Roadkill Avoidance Tips:

I live on a very busy four lane highway road and in the past five years FIVE dogs and THREE cats have been hit by cars and KILLED in an area that encompasses less than 1/8 of a mile!  All of these poor pets suffered and died needlessly due to their owners’ reckless actions… Incredibly five of my pet owning neighbors all allowed their pets free access to their (unfenced) front yards that border the roadway.  And, four of the five neighbors have fenced back yards!  I don’t live on a dead end street or out in the sprawling countryside (not that it really matters), rather, I live on a major roadway.  I just don’t get it!

Two days before Thanksgiving around 8:00 p.m. (very dark outside) I was sitting at my desk inside my house when I heard horrific screams and yelps… My husband also heard a loud thud from inside our basement!  One of my neighbor’s 30 lb dog had run across the road (again) and was hit by a car.  Honestly, I knew it was only a matter of time that this poor dog would die such a horrible death, but no matter how many times I mentioned seeing the dog running in or near the road to the owner, it always fell on deaf ears.  Sadly, this was not the first time that this particular dog had been running freely about the neighborhood over the past several years.  Actually the town police had been called to this particular house twice in the past year by motorists who had nearly hit the dog… I’m not trying to be insensitive here, but I’m so sickened over this situation as it was so preventable.  Not to mention, our entire neighborhood heard about it each time one of the other above-mentioned pets was killed by a car… shouldn’t that have been enough for anyone to reconsider letting their dog run freely near the road?  Really?!

My husband and I ran to help the dog and I covered him with a blanket as he was in shock and in tremendous pain.  The owner was apparently in shock too, but I couldn’t even look at her because I was so angry and upset and had to be careful not to say something I would regret or feel bad about later!  The police arrived along with the couple who had hit the dog and another good Samaritan (with a young toddler in the car) who had also witnessed the tragedy.  This poor young man was riddled with guilt and he and his girlfriend were visibly shaken and crying with the rest of us.  Even though this was obviously a terrible accident, this guy now has to live with the fact that he hit a dog who was now obviously in great pain and would ultimately have to be euthanized due to his severe injuries.

My husband drove to the vet hospital with my neighbor all the while holding the dog in the back seat and comforting him.  I picked up my husband from the vet hospital, but we did not know what the dog’s outcome would be, but judging from the impact and everything we witnessed, we figured it did not look good for the poor sweet dog.  I’m still amazed that our neighbor never called to let us know how her dog made out… no thank you… my blanket was never returned (not that I really care a bout a blanket, but no follow up whatsoever)!  Incredibly, while en route to the vet hospital, my neighbor declared that, “she just didn’t understand why her dog ran into the road as he never left her front yard.”  OMG… I give up!   I just heard that she just got another puppy recently… I can’t even think about it.

My dog trainer friend told me, “A dog is a dog is a dog and no matter how smart or well trained he is, he will always be a dog, not a human who is capable of critical thinking!”  And, over the course of my life I have heard variations of this tragic story literally hundreds of times and I can’t help but think (protected in my thought bubble of course!), why didn’t that pet owner have the dog in a fenced yard, or tethered/leashed, or even on an electric fence (though I don’t think I could go that route especially considering where I live).

All emotions aside, lets not overlook the obvious danger posed to motorists who may hit another vehicle or go off the road and hit a tree trying to avoid killing someones pet running in the road.  That’s why there are DOG CONTROL LAWS in every village, town and city.  The Dogging Question here:  How do people think that they have any control over a dog when the dog is not leashed, tethered or behind a fence?  Really?!  Laws are typically formed out of the need to protect the lives of people.  For arguments sake, let’s just say that the driver who hit my neighbor’s dog hit another motorist and was killed trying to avoid the dog… I’m sure there would be one heck of a lawsuit brought forth by his family… Something to really think about…  If the thought of losing ones’s beloved pet isn’t enough to keep the dog out of harms way, then maybe the thought of losing all one’s worldly possessions might!

I’m not heartless and I do realize that this type of tragedy is often just that a tragic accident where the dog escapes from his yard or someone opens a door and the dog runs out or jumps through a window out of fear… For those heart broken pet owners my heart absolutely breaks for them and the loss that they are experiencing.  I pray to God that I never experience this devastating event with any of my precious pets.  But, a situation where something so terrible could be 100% prevented is totally unacceptable in my opinion.  :-(

Posted in "Pet Peeves", Dog Health Topics | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments