Fear Free and Please NO Declaw on WGN Radio


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2018 was the breakout year for Fear Free. Listen HERE as Dr. Marty Becker explains what the Fear Free initiative is all about on my WGN Radio Steve Dale’s Pet World

Fear Free really extends into all our homes, emotional health and well-being does matter, explains Dr Becker. “How could (veterinarians) have ignored this?”

We mean well for our pets – but do we realize how anxious they may be day to day. Of course, you know there’s an issue if the cat is screaming seeing other cats outside a window. But what do you do? There are answers. Also, sometimes you may not even understand how anxious your pet may be.

“The entire ecosystem matters,” says Becker. And that is why there are now (or will soon be) Fear Free certified trainers, Fear Free shelters, Fear groomers, and even Fear Free homes Learn more, FearFreeHappyHomes.com.

To Declaw or Not

Dr. Margie Scherk, editor of the Journal of Feline Medicine & Surgery doesn’t mince her words, agreeing declaw is an elective amputation.

There are many alternatives to declaw – and the best answer may be to combine very basic behavior modification — making it uncomfortable to scratch where people don’t like, such as on a sofa and offering better and more appealing choices. And now there’s a product called Feliscratch. Mostly this is a copy of pheromone that cats deposit naturally each time they scratch. Feliscratch also has catnip in it and a visual marker, a blue dye. Use the Feliscratch on a post, and it’s like a sign (written in feline) that says, “scratch here!”

Scherk says offering scratching posts in the right locations matters a lot as well. 

Scherk also addresses the health concerns of being scratched by a cat.

Learn more HERE about Feliscratch

Winn Feline Foundation Offering Free 50th Anniversary Book

I mention that 2018 was the 50th anniversary of the non-profit funder of cat health studies, the Winn Feline Foundation. A Free pdf version 50th anniversary celebratory book is available.

Winn has funded studies on everything from identifying what feline leukemia is to understanding many other illnesses including a once common heart disease called dilated cardiomyopathy. Also how to limit the spread of feline panleukopenia in shelters to a test to determine if a gene defect for the most common heart disease today, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, occurs among breeding Ragdolls or Maine Coons. The list is in the hundreds, and includes understanding and now on our way to a treatment for feline infectious peritonitis (FIP).  Two young filmmakers, Ally Miller and Paul Castro Jr. made a film about their kitten Aeris, and the idea is to educate and support the Winn Feline Foundation Bria Fund for FIP research. If you are a Prime member, the award-winning short movie is now available on Amazon.

2019 Year of Generics

For the first time ever, in 2019 a generic heartworm preventive will be available, called MllbeGuard. And additional generic products will follow throughout the year. Just as generics are a choice for our own medicine, they increasingly will be for pets. Cost will no longer be an “excuse.”

Bird Sniffing Dog Like You’ve Never Seen

kia bird

It’s astounding what dogs can do. Ajax is the only dog that is training for finding kea birds.

The kea is an endangered flightless parrot species only found on New Zealand’s South Island. And researchers need to keep tabs on how many there and where they area. And Ajax is the nation’s official and the world’s only Kea finder.  This dog is quite amazing, going into places which aren’t easily accessible and amazing to sniff out these birds in the first place.

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Steve Dale is a certified animal behavior specialist who has been a trusted voice in the world of pet health for over 20 years. You have likely heard him on the radio, read him in print and online, and seen him speaking at events all over the world. His contributions to advancing pet wellness have earned him many an award and recognition around the globe.

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