Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Does Your Pet Really Need That Rabies Shot?

by Dr. Becker

In the fourth installment of this 4-part series (find the first three installments here: part 1, part 2, part 3), Dr. Becker continues her discussion with Dr. Ronald Schultz, a pioneer and expert in the field of veterinary vaccines. In this final segment, the doctors discuss the future of rabies vaccines and the vaccination protocol Dr. Schultz uses with his own pets.

Dr. Becker's Comments:
Today I'm wrapping up my 4-part interview with Dr. Ronald Schultz, Professor and Chair, Department of Pathobiological Sciences, School of Veterinary Science at the University of Wisconsin – Madison.
We're returning to the subject of rabies vaccines and Dr. Schultz's fascinating work in this area.

Are Rabies Vaccinations Really Needed Every Year or Three Years?

I asked Dr. Schultz to explain why there are 1-year and 3-year vaccines, but not, say, 7 or 12 or 20-year rabies vaccines.
Dr. Schultz explains he's conducting studies at the moment to successfully demonstrate a minimum duration of immunity for rabies at 7 years. This could enable us to extend the time between re-vaccinations. Up to now, no one has done the research to prove we can go beyond 3 years.
Part of the reason is because the studies are very expensive and take a lot of time
Currently Dr. Schultz is in year 4 of his 7 year study. You can read more about the study at the Rabies Challenge Fund. He is looking to be able to recommend that after an animal is vaccinated at from 12 to 24 weeks of age for rabies, it doesn't require a re-vaccination every 3 years.
Every state in the U.S. now has a 3-year rabies law, however, depending on what city or municipality you live in, the laws may be more restrictive, requiring every-year or every two-year rabies vaccines.
Dr. Schultz reminds every pet owner that you are the one with the ability to get the laws changed if you live in a location that requires your pet be vaccinated more frequently than every 3 years for rabies. There is absolutely no scientific reason for anyone to vaccinate an animal more often than every 3 years with products that are licensed by the USDA to be given at 3 year intervals.
Re-vaccinating that animal more frequently will not enhance herd immunity or protection against rabies. Animal owners who never have their pets vaccinated will continue to avoid doing it, so the requirement for more frequent rabies vaccines is nothing more than a penalty handed out to pet owners who do get their animals vaccinated per the law. It is those pet owners who are potentially causing harm to their animals because they are complying with the every 1 or every 2 year vaccine mandate.

Is There a Difference Between the 1-Year and 3-Year Vaccines?

I asked Dr. Schultz if the 1 and 3-year rabies vaccine products are the same. His opinion is most of them are. There is also a 1-year feline rabies vaccine that has no adjuvant, but there is not at this time a similar 3-year product.
I asked Dr. Schultz why there isn't a 3-year non-adjuvanted product. His answer is the adjuvant-free 1-year feline rabies vaccine is new technology. It is a recombinant vaccine that is similar in nature to a modified live vaccine, but there's no live rabies in it. The cat's immune system sees this vaccine as live. The company that developed the adjuvant-free 1-year vaccine did studies that showed vaccinated cats were still protected 100 percent from rabies 3 years later.
However, a problem in the control (non-vaccinated) group of cats (not enough of them died) prevented the USDA from issuing a 3-year license for the vaccine. In a second round of studies, even fewer non-vaccinated cats died, so again, the USDA refused to issue a 3-year license for the product.
With regard to vaccine-associated sarcomas (VAS) in cats, Dr. Schultz believes it's preferable to give the non-adjuvanted 1-year rabies vaccine over the 3-year vaccine containing adjuvants. Whereas the non-adjuvanted 1-year vaccine created no inflammatory response at the injection site (a marker for tumor development), adjuvanted rabies vaccines are known to cause more VAS. So even in genetically predisposed kitties, it is assumed the non-adjuvanted product, even given yearly, is less harmful than the adjuvanted vaccine.
Since it is known that cats are more likely to develop vaccine injection site sarcomas, the direction for feline vaccines is toward non-adjuvanted products.
Adjuvanted products are more likely to cause adverse reactions in general, across all species.
So the overall goal in future vaccine development is to 1) have fewer adjuvanted vaccines and 2) to develop new adjuvants that are less likely to create adverse reactions.

The Vaccine Protocol Dr. Schultz Would Use with a New Puppy or Kitten in His Family

The last question I had for Dr. Schultz was how his vaccination protocol has changed over the years for his own pets and those of family members.
Dr. Schultz feels very confident about the effectiveness of vaccines. He is also a risk taker in his personal life (he rides motorcycles, has a pilot's license), and not everyone (including me) is as comfortable taking risks as he is. So his choices for vaccination of pets must be put into that context.
With that said, there are very few people who know more about veterinary vaccines than Dr. Schultz, so he is really not taking much of a risk with his pets, his children's pets, or his grandchildren's pets with the vaccine protocol he follows.
He does antibody titers on the mother to know the right time to effectively immunize (not just vaccinate) the puppy or kitten for the 3 core viruses. He titers the puppy or kitten 2 or more weeks post vaccine to make sure the animal responded, and as long as the response is adequate, he would probably not re-vaccinate for the rest of the dog's or cat's life. This is a protocol he has followed since 1974.
He would also give a rabies vaccine (which is technically also considered a core vaccine), the frequency of which is not dictated by Dr. Schultz's knowledge of immunology, but is dictated by the law. He gives the first rabies vaccine sometime after 4 months of age, re-vaccinates in a year, and then again in 3 years and every 3 years thereafter. Dr. Schultz reiterates his rabies vaccine protocol is because of the law, not because every 3 year vaccines are necessary immunologically.
The law is not interested in when an animal actually needs another rabies vaccine to be protected – the law simply demands every 1, 2 or 3 year vaccinations with no consideration for whether the animal's body is already immune to the rabies virus thanks to a prior vaccine.
If you choose not to re-vaccinate your pet for rabies, it is your choice, but you should be aware it is also against the law. Neither Dr. Schultz nor I are suggesting you do anything illegal. However, if you choose not to re-vaccinate, be aware your pet is probably protected for life from the virus anyway due to prior rabies vaccination.
If Dr. Schultz's 7-year rabies study can prove the vaccine is good for at least that long, prompting a change in current vaccination laws, then a dog might only receive 2 rabies vaccines in a lifetime.

My Sincere Thanks to Dr. Schultz

I want to point out to all of you that Dr. Schultz is single-handedly changing the face of immunologic veterinary medicine. I am so grateful for the work he does – his effort and his passion – and for helping all of us make better decisions for the animals in our care.
Dr. Schultz, in turn, thanks the veterinarians who've been willing to make changes to their vaccination programs, as well as the vaccine companies that conduct their own studies with their products. Every major veterinary vaccine manufacturer has completed a minimum 3-year vaccine study with the core vaccines, and they have all demonstrated their products provide a minimum of 3-years duration of immunity.
This should say something to any veterinarian out here who is wondering if it's really safe to go 3 years between vaccinations -- as well as any pet owner with similar concerns -- that yes, they can confidently go 3 years, regardless of the product used.
Dr. Becker is the resident proactive and integrative wellness veterinarian of You can learn holistic ways of preventing illness in your pets by subscribing to, an online resource for animal lovers. For more pet care tips, subscribe for FREE to Mercola Healthy Pet Newsletter.

Monday, September 14, 2015

8 Things Cat People Understand That Others Don't

By Dr. Becker

Opening your heart and home to a cat is an experience like no other. It's not like living with a dog, a bird, or a hamster.
Feline companions are fascinating in that they are domesticated, yet retain many of the natural instincts and behaviors of their wild cousins.
Cat lovers are also unique, because there are things about sharing life with a kitty that only "cat people" truly understand.

8 Things Only Cat People Understand

  1. Cats don't respect personal boundaries (except their own). Cat guardians are accustomed to sharing every square inch of space with their favorite feline.
    For example, most kitties figure out early in life that a human sitting on a toilet is a captive audience and the perfect target for some leg bunting (this is when your cat repeatedly head butts your lower legs and rubs against them).
    Needless to say, this isn't a two-way street, so don't dare even look in the direction of kitty when she's busy in her litterbox.
  1. The house belongs to the cat. Anyone with the audacity to shrink Fluffy's territory by closing doors to certain rooms will live to regret it – especially if he or she is on one side of the door while kitty's on the other. There will be howling, scratching, thumping, and paws appearing and disappearing under the door.
    More than a few clever cats have figured out how to work door handles after being locked out of rooms in "their" house.
  1. All sunny spots also belong to the cat. Cats prefer an ambient temperature about 20 degrees warmer than most humans find comfortable, so they figure out creative ways to stay warm.
    That's why kitties tend to stretch out in patches of sunshine wherever they may fall – on the floor, on furniture, on a windowsill, or right in the middle of your desk or the kitchen counter as you're working.
    Learning the spots where sunshine falls and clearing them ahead of time for Miss Kitty is the least you can do for She Who Will Not Be Denied.
  1. If it moves, it's prey. And this goes double if whatever "it" is moves quickly, furtively, or is underneath something. Obviously this makes for a very long list of "prey" around the house, including anything real or imagined moving under bed covers, paperwork, and area rugs.
    It also includes your ankles if kitty happens to be stalking you as you walk from room to room, and your toes if you move them underneath the sheets as you sleep.
    The good news is that once kitty has caught you with a quick swipe or dig of his sharp claws, he'll take off the second you scream out in pain. Until next time.
  1. The vacuum is evil. It's ungodly loud, and cats hate loud. Tiger could care less how you remove the fur he so generously deposits all over everything – he'd put that varmint vacuum out of the house if he could.
    Short of that, he'd like you to at least show some respect for his delicate sensibilities and warn him before you turn the horrible thing on.
  1. A cat's backend is every bit as cute as his frontend. Let's say you're lying on the couch or in bed and kitty jumps up on your chest in an affectionate mood. You scratch his head or stroke the fur on his back, and the next thing you know, his tail is raised and his bottom is an inch from your face.
    Cat guardians realize this is just a feline's way of being sociable. Your kitty is looking for attention and affection from you. You can try turning him to face you, but take no offense, since none is intended.
  1. The human head is an excellent rubbing post. Most cats enjoy rubbing against things as much or more than they enjoy being petted. And as your kitty's human, it's your job to cooperate while she uses your face as a rubbing post. This can get a bit dicey if you're sensitive to cat fur or dander and Fluffy seems determined to shove her head into your mouth or up your nose. In that case, it's best to try to distract her with some petting or a toy.
    Many cats also head bunt the top of their human's head. If your kitty does this, she's rubbing her scent on you so that everyone knows you belong to her.
  1. The best time to meow really loud is at night when the house is quiet. Sometimes cats vocalize for a reason, for example, it's mealtime or they're saying hi as you come through the door. Other times, they meow for no conceivable reason. This is especially true of older kitties.
    People with elderly cats are often awakened multiple times during the night by throaty, sometimes blood-curdling yowls, howls, and meows. The first few times it happens, we leap from our beds, sure a knife-wielding cat slayer has snuck into the house. Next, we visit the vet to make sure the otherworldly noises coming from kitty aren't health-related.
    Finally, we devise ways to sleep through the midnight wailing, because as we've also learned, there's no "shushing" a cat.

Dr. Becker is the resident proactive and integrative wellness veterinarian of You can learn holistic ways of preventing illness in your pets by subscribing to, an online resource for animal lovers. For more pet care tips, subscribe for FREE to Mercola Healthy Pet Newsletter.

Monday, August 31, 2015

3 Ways to Give Your Cat a Pill Without Being "Eaten Alive"

By Dr. Becker

If you’re like the majority of people owned by a cat, pilling little Fluffy – otherwise known as trying to place a tiny, hard object into the mouth of an unwilling creature with sharp claws and teeth – is not something you look forward to.
If you’ve never had to do it, you’re probably thinking it’s not a big deal. In fact, it’s the people who’ve attempted this feat in the past that recoil in fear when their kitty’s veterinarian hands them a bottle of pills or a dietary supplement in pill form.
Fortunately, there are a few different techniques for pilling a cat, because every cat is a little different, and what works for one may not work for another.
Note: the following method works only for medications or supplements that can be given with food.

Pilling Advance Prep

The first steps in giving your kitty a pill or supplement should be taken long before she actually needs that pill or supplement. The goal is to help your cat learn to tolerate the handling that will be necessary to pill her, and also to take liquids and solids from a syringe or pill gun.
First get your cat used to being gently handled around her face and mouth, using treats to reward her for allowing the handling and to associate the activity with something pleasant. Make the initial face-and-mouth handling sessions short, and follow up with a meal, petting or playtime.
As your kitty gets more comfortable with having her face touched, you can begin using your thumb and middle finger to gently lift up slightly on her mouth, forming a C shape with your fingers. Place a special treat like a small morsel of meat that doesn’t need to be chewed into her mouth or immediately upon letting go.
The objective is to get her accustomed to the pilling motion and associate it with something positive.

Pilling in 5 Steps

Now that you’ve been fake-pilling your kitty for awhile, the day may come when you need to do it for real:
  1. Pick your cat’s favorite treat (you may need to try out a few different kinds to learn which one works best).
  2. Treat portion sizes must be small enough and soft enough so that your cat doesn’t chew, only licks and swallows. Chewing the pill can release a nasty taste into the treat; in addition, many medications must be swallowed whole to be metabolized properly.
  3. Have several treats ready before you begin, so that you can offer them in rapid succession once the fun begins.
  4. Hide the pill in one treat, and use your other hand to seal the pill in (so kitty won’t smell medication on the outside of the treat).
  5. Give a pill-free treat, followed by the treat with the pill, followed by another pill-free treat.
Since cats are extremely clever, it’s a good idea to vary the number of treats you give at each pilling session, as well as the order in which you give the treat holding the pill, so kitty doesn’t learn to predict which treat holds the pill.


Don’t Overlook the Benefits of Syringe- and Pill Gun-Training

It’s also a great idea to teach your cat early on to take things from a syringe or pill gun.
Start by rubbing a soft treat or some moist food on the outside of the device and letting her lick it clean. This will get her used to the feel of the thing in or near her mouth.
Next, place some moist food or tiny pieces of treat inside the device and gently push them into her mouth in very small amounts.
Once she’s reasonably comfortable taking solids from the device, switch to a few drops of water in the syringe (which she probably won’t enjoy) followed immediately by a syringe with a treat.
The goal is to get kitty comfortable taking liquid and swallowing the pill so the pill doesn’t get stuck in her esophagus. If she’ll take a small amount of broth, tuna juice, or soft food immediately after her pill, it can also help with proper digestion of the medication.
Warning regarding syringe dosing of liquid medication: A quite common cause of aspiration pneumonia is faulty administration of liquid medication either administered by drench (drench is when a stomach tube is passed down the back of the throat), or by a dose syringe. Any liquid that's given via syringe, whether medication or food, must not be given any faster than the animal can swallow, or the risk of aspiration pneumonia becomes very real.

What If My Cat’s Medication or Supplement Can’t Be Given with Food?

Ideally, your veterinarian can prescribe medication or supplements that can be given with food, because “treating” kitty at pill time as described above is the easiest and best way to keep her stress level down.
However, if the medication has to be given away from food, I recommend you practice the steps below a few times in your mind prior to actually engaging your kitty; the more efficient you are with your cat, the smoother the process will go.
(These instructions are for right-handed people. If you’re left-handed, you’ll need to adjust them accordingly.)
  1. Place kitty on a sturdy, flat surface like a tabletop. Your cat will naturally try to back away from the pill, so you want to rest your right arm on the table and tuck him into the crook of your right elbow.
  2. Trying to approach your cat from the front will have him backing away and escaping from you and the pill. That’s why your body should be behind the cat, with both of you facing the same direction.
  3. Hold the pill in your left hand.
  4. With your right hand, place your right thumb on one side of your cat’s face on the cheek and your index finger on the other cheek and gently lift his nose toward the ceiling. This will make his mouth drop open a bit.
  5. Now use a finger of your left hand to open his lower jaw wider. This position prevents him from being able to bite because he can’t control his lower jaw.
  6. Place the pill as far back as possible into his mouth, then let go of his face, but keep him tucked into your elbow. If he licks his lips, it’s an indication the pill has gone down.
  7. Please note: It’s futile, not to mention dangerous, to try to give your cat a pill with his head in a natural position. You will likely be bitten, which is why you must position his head vertically.
  8. Many cats actually pretend they’ve swallowed the pill when they haven’t. As soon as they get free, out pops the pill and the joke’s on you.
  9. So don’t let kitty go before checking his mouth for the pill. Cats figure out pretty quickly we’re waiting for licking motions and many clever felines have been known to make the licking motion with the pill still in their mouth.
  10. If you can still see the pill in there, re-open your cat’s mouth as described above, reach a finger in and move the pill further back on the tongue if possible. If that doesn’t work, let kitty spit the pill out and start over.
  11. If possible, you can try to squirt a small amount of water into your cat’s mouth (see discussion above about teaching your cat to accept a syringe) to encourage him to swallow. This helps float the pill off the tongue and sends it on its way down to the stomach.

Dr. Becker is the resident proactive and integrative wellness veterinarian of You can learn holistic ways of preventing illness in your pets by subscribing to, an online resource for animal lovers. For more pet care tips, subscribe for FREE to Mercola Healthy Pet Newsletter.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Vacationing with Your Pet? Great Tips to Make it Memorable!

Knowing more pet parents are choosing to bring their four legged furry family members along on vacation, more hotels and vacation destinations are welcoming pets. 

For proof of this trend in travel all you need to do is Google “traveling with pets” and see how many results pop up!

Speaking from personal experience often traveling with at least two of our three dogs, staying at hotels and vacation home rentals we have had many great experiences and some not so great experiences as well.

Often, when chain hotels offer pet friendly rooms, they are not generally the pristine rooms you see in the photos on the website. We generally find that we get tired rooms, though clean and neat, are ready for renovation. 

They also are generally on lower floors, which is a good thing for making late night and early morning potty walks easier, are not on a high floor and may not have that ocean view you were hoping for, even though you are paying the same or an even a higher room rate. 

We have had our best hotel experiences at the non chain fully pet friendly hotels, these hotels are as dedicated to making your pet’s stay as comfortable and accommodating for your pets as it is for you. It really pays to do your research and be prepared.

Here are some tips and resources to help prepare when bringing four legged family members along on vacation.

There is no doubt that sharing your vacation with your pets will make your trip even more memorable, as long as you do your research and prepare. 

All of us at Cherrybrook wish you safe and happy travels!

Claudia Loomis

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Truth Behind Your Cat's Quirky Sleep Habits

By Dr. Becker

If you share your life with a feline companion, you’re aware that cats love to sleep. They sleep a lot… as in, 16 to 18 hours a day.
And because Fluffy spends so much of her life sawing logs, as her naturally curious guardian you’ve probably found yourself asking questions like, “How can she sleep so much?” Or, “She’s sleeping again? She just woke up!” Or, “What’s with the twitching and hissing? Is she dreaming?”

But Seriously… Do Cats Dream?

Just like humans, cats cycle through multiple stages of sleep, from periods of slow wave sleep to REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, which is the stage of slumber during which most dreaming occurs
According to Matthew Wilson of MIT’s Picower Institute for Learning and Memory, kitties dream about their daily activities just as we do.1 The part of the brain called the hippocampus controls memory, and it is wired very similarly from one vertebrate or mammal to the next. The hippocampus of a rat contains all the same pieces as that of a dog, cat, human, and other animals.
Even more interesting is that the electrical activity pattern in a sleeping cat’s brain is remarkably similar to that of a sleeping human’s.

Cats Probably Dream About Daily Life Just as People Do

Dreams in the non-REM stage involve brief snapshots of the day’s happenings. During deeper REM sleep, dreams last much longer and can revolve around experiences that happened days, weeks, months, and even years ago.
Humans enter REM sleep about every 90 minutes; for cats it’s about every 25 minutes.
When your kitty enters REM sleep, his body knows to “turn off” the large muscles that control his arms and legs to prevent him from acting out his dreams while sleeping.
However, the off switch in the brain doesn’t function perfectly 100 percent of the time, which is why animals occasionally twitch or thrash around in their sleep.
Your kitty in REM sleep may display a range of body movements and sounds that indicate he’s dreaming about his day. He may twitch his tail, wiggle his whiskers, extend and retract his claws, raise his lip in a bit of a snarl, and murmur, chatter or hiss. With a little imagination, you may even be able to guess what he’s dreaming about by observing the way his body moves.
As pets age, the off switch becomes less effective, resulting in more physical movement during sleep.2 Sometimes the movements are so sudden they wake the animal up, causing him to be momentarily startled and confused.
In an attempt to interpret cat dreams, researchers have tinkered with the suppression mechanism (the off switch) so that motor activity was possible during REM sleep.
The result was “sleepwalking” cats that acted out behaviors they’d normally perform while awake, such as walking, swatting at objects with their front paws, and pouncing on prey.

Rats Replay Memories in Their Head as They Go About Their Day

Several years ago, MIT’s Wilson used electrodes to record the brain activity of rats as they ran around a track, and also as they slept. He observed that while the rats were in REM sleep, they appeared to be running the track in their dreams. About half the time, the rats’ REM-sleep brain activity repeated the same pattern as their brain activity when they ran.
According to Wilson, the rats’ brain activity in both situations was so similar he could determine the location of the dreaming rats on the track, and whether they were standing still or running.3 He assumes the same thing occurs in pets.
"My guess is -- unless there is something special about rats and humans -- that cats and dogs are doing exactly the same thing," Wilson said.
More recently, Wilson has examined what goes on inside a rat’s brain during waking hours. He discovered that the rodents appear to replay memories in their head as they go about their daily life, whether they’re eating or just resting quietly. He believes the rats are thinking about the past, and possibly contemplating the future.
"The idea that rats may actually be thinking — just as humans think when they're sitting, appearing not to be doing anything — suggests the full range of cognitive abilities that we have," said Wilson.

Cats Waking Up Slowly from Deep Sleep Act Out a Specific Sequence of Movements

According to animal behavior consultant and cat expert Amy Shojai, a cat’s sense of hearing and smell remain active during 70 percent of her sleep time. This is so that she can react quickly to “the squeak of a mouse or smell of a rat.”4
The other 30 percent of the time, she’s likely to wake up more slowly and with predictable sequential movements that include blinking, yawning, and stretching, followed by first flexing the front legs, then the back, and finally the rear legs. Most cats also do a bit of grooming when they first awake.
Typically, geriatric cats and very young kittens sleep more than healthy adult cats
However, all cats tend to sleep more when the weather is cold, overcast, or rainy.
As you’ve probably noticed if you spend any time around cats, dawn and dusk tend to be party time for felines. Fortunately, most pet cats adapt to their human’s sleep schedule. Many older kitties, however, start prowling the house again in the wee hours as they get up in years.

Sources & References:

Dr. Becker is the resident proactive and integrative wellness veterinarian of You can learn holistic ways of preventing illness in your pets by subscribing to, an online resource for animal lovers. For more pet care tips, subscribe for FREE to Mercola Healthy Pet Newsletter.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Born to Run: 12 of the Best Canine Companions to Run With

By Dr. Becker

If you’re looking for a canine workout partner, look no further than these 12 dogs that were born to run. (And look first at your local shelter or rescue organization for a breed or breed mix that loves to run).
Before you start exercising with your dog, have your veterinarian check him out to ensure he’s in good enough condition to run with you.
Always keep an eye on your dog for signs of extreme fatigue, limping, excessive panting, heaving sides, and other signs she’s overdoing it.
Don’t push your luck by running in extreme heat, cold, or high humidity; when the air quality is poor; or where road conditions are hazardous.

12 Dog Breeds That Were Born to Run

Jack Russell Terrier

Small in body but with oodles of energy to burn, the Jack Russell can run for surprisingly long intervals. And he’s fast, reaching speeds up to 25 mph in short bursts.
Brittany Spaniel
The blazing fast Brittany is often called “the breeze.” She’s a medium-size sporting dog with high energy and a light build perfect for running.
Dalmatians were actually bred to run alongside carriages and horseback riders, so a love of running side-by-side with their humans is in their genes.
With their long legs and sleek bodies, Greyhounds are built for speed and have been clocked at 45 mph. In between energetic bursts of speed-running, Greyhounds can be found napping on the couch.
The Whippet is thought to be a blend of Greyhound, Italian Greyhound, and terrier. With that lineage, it’s no wonder they’re sometimes called “the poor man’s racehorse.” Believe it or not, a Whippet can run 200 yards in under 12 seconds!
German Shorthaired Pointer
This breed is athletic, with tremendous endurance, and those muscular hindquarters are custom-built for running. Since he requires exercise every day, he’s the perfect companion for a long run or bike ride.
Standard Poodle

Don’t let the hairdo fool you – the Standard Poodle is loaded with energy and was originally bred as a gun dog and water retriever, making her an excellent partner for long runs.
Australian Cattle Dog
This dog was bred to herd livestock on ranches in Australia, so a love of running is in her blood. She can go for miles, and she doesn’t like to skip a day, so she’s an excellent choice if you need occasional prodding to lace up your running shoes.
Airedale Terrier
Airedales do well in hotter climates thanks to their short, wiry coats. This isn’t a large or heavily muscled dog, so shorter runs (10K or less) are well suited to his energy level and stamina.
Border Collie
Better known for their incredible intelligence and skill at flyball and agility events, Border Collies are also great runners and have been clocked at speeds up to 30 mph.
The agile “grey ghost” is adaptable to all types of running. She excels at short, quick bursts of speed and can cover long distances just as easily. Her short coat makes running in warm weather a breeze, and she’s also confident on rough terrain and trails.
Siberian Husky
If you live in a cold climate, a Husky is the perfect running companion. This dog was bred to pull sleds, so endurance running is in his blood.

  Sources and References

Dr. Becker is the resident proactive and integrative wellness veterinarian of You can learn holistic ways of preventing illness in your pets by subscribing to, an online resource for animal lovers. For more pet care tips, subscribe for FREE to Mercola Healthy Pet Newsletter.

Monday, June 8, 2015

12 Signs Your Pet Is Too Hot: Can You Recognize Them All?

By Dr. Becker
Sunday, June 21st is the first day of summer this year, and after a particularly long cold winter in many parts of the US, I know we’re all looking forward to sunshine, warmer temperatures, and getting outdoors. As enjoyable as this time of year is though, it’s important to play it safe when it comes to fun in the sun for furry family members.
Our dogs have a higher body temp than we do, and less ability to cool down. Humans are covered with sweat glands, but a dog's are confined to her nose and the pads of her feet.
An overheating dog can only regulate her body temperature through panting, which isn’t terribly efficient in hot weather. In a very short period of time, an overheated dog can suffer critical damage to her brain, heart, liver and nervous system.

Recognizing the Signs of Overheating in Your Pet

Heatstroke -- the ultimate and often deadly result of overheating -- is caused by a dangerous elevation in an animal's body temperature. While it most often occurs in dogs left in cars during the summer months, it can also happen in late spring and the first weeks of summer if a pet is exposed to high temperatures before he or she has acclimated to the heat.
Symptoms of overheating include:
Heavy panting or rapid breathing Elevated body temperature
Excessive thirst Weakness, collapse
Glazed eyes Increased pulse and heartbeat
Vomiting, bloody diarrhea Seizures
Bright or dark red tongue, gums Excessive drooling
Staggering, stumbling Unconsciousness
In addition to hot vehicles, other contributors to pet overheating include humid conditions, lack of drinking water, obesity, and overexertion. Some pets are at higher risk for heat-related illness than others, including brachycephalic breeds (dogs and cats with flat faces and short noses), older pets, puppies and kittens, animals that are ill or have a chronic health condition, pets not used to warm weather, and any pet left outside in hot weather.

Tips for Keeping Your Pet Safe in the Heat

  1. Never, ever leave your pet alone in a parked car on a warm day. Not even for a minute. On a warm day, the temperature inside your vehicle can rise quickly into the danger zone. For example, on an 85-degree day it takes only 10 minutes for the temperature inside your parked car to climb to 102 degrees. In a half hour, it can hit 120 degrees. Leaving windows cracked doesn’t drop the temperature inside the vehicle. Leaving your car running with the air conditioner on is dangerous for a whole host of reasons.
  2. Leaving a pet unattended in a vehicle in extreme heat or cold is a criminal act in several states and municipalities. Most statutes have rescue provisions that allow certain individuals – for example police officers, firefighters, animal control officers, store employees -- to do whatever is necessary to rescue an animal trapped in a vehicle in extreme temperatures.
    On summer days, it’s best to leave your pet home where she can stay cool, hydrated, and safe.
  1. Don't walk or exercise your pet on hot pavement. This can be a tricky one to remember (unless you’re in the habit of walking your dog barefoot), but it’s extremely important. Not only can pavement on a hot day burn your dog’s paws, but the heat rising from concrete or asphalt can quickly overheat an animal that lives close to the ground. Also don't allow your pet to stand, walk or rest on hot outdoor surfaces like sidewalks or parking lots. 
  1. Exercise your dog during the coolest parts of the day. In most locations, this means early in the morning or after sunset. Try to stay in the shade during daylight hours, and no matter the time of day, don't overdo outdoor exercise or play sessions. Even on an overcast day or in the evening, a long period of physical exertion in hot weather can cause heatstroke in your dog.
  2. A good rule of thumb is if outdoor temps hit 90 degrees, your pet should be indoors where it's cool.
  1. Provide plenty of fresh clean drinking water at all times. In addition to overheating, your pet can become dehydrated very rapidly in warm weather. A good general guideline is that a healthy dog should drink between ½ and 1 ounce of water per pound of body weight each day. And if she’ll be outside for any length of time, she should have access to complete shade. Periodically encourage her to play in the sprinkler or gently hose her down with cool water to prevent overheating.

Attention City Dwellers with Cats: Beware of Feline High Rise Syndrome

While overheating is less of a problem for cats than dogs (because kitties tend to find a nice cool napping spot on hot days), during the warmer months of the year more than a few city dwelling cats fall from open windows and fire escapes to the ground below. This is known as Feline High Rise Syndrome, and it can have devastating consequences.
Well-intentioned cat guardians who live in tall buildings often allow their kitties to sun themselves in open windows and on fire escapes. It sounds safe enough, however, the feline prey drive can lead a cat to try to pounce on moving birds or insects. Falls from tall buildings often result in shattered jaws, punctured lungs, broken limbs, and even death.
A few facts about High Rise Syndrome:
  • When a cat falls from a high perch it's unintentional, not deliberate. Cats are smart. They don't leap from high places because they know it's dangerous. 
  • The reason cats fall is usually because they are intensely focused on something outside, perhaps a bird, and either lose their balance or their prey instinct sends them out the window before they realize what they're doing. Another cause of falls is normal muscle twitching and other movement during deep sleep. A kitty can roll off a windowsill while changing sleep positions. 
  • While cats won't intentionally jump from a high perch, they also don't realize they can't dig their claws into brick, concrete, or steel surfaces to help prevent a fall if they lose their balance. 
  • When a cat falls from a high perch, he doesn't land squarely on all fours. He lands with his feet slightly apart, which is how serious head and pelvic injuries occur. And falling shorter distances can actually be more dangerous, because kitty doesn't have enough time to adjust his body to land correctly. 
  • Even if your cat survives a fall in relatively good condition, she'll land in an unfamiliar, frightening place on a sidewalk or street and can easily run away before you can get to her.

Dr. Becker is the resident proactive and integrative wellness veterinarian of You can learn holistic ways of preventing illness in your pets by subscribing to, an online resource for animal lovers. For more pet care tips, subscribe for FREE to Mercola Healthy Pet Newsletter.