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Talkin' Pets News

August 25, 2018

Host - Jon Patch

Co-Host - Matt Nall - Superpet Tampa Florida

Producer - Daisey Charlotte

Network Producer - Quin McCarthy

Executive Producer / Social Media - Bob Page

Special Guest - Adam Peyman - Programs and Operations Manager for the Wildlife Department Humane Society International at 510pm EST


The largest known group of nesting Blue-throated Macaws — a Critically Endangered species numbering only about 300 in the wild, all in Bolivia — is now a protected nature reserve, thanks to a land purchase made by Bolivian conservation organization Asociación Armonía with support from American Bird Conservancy, the International Conservation Fund of Canada, IUCN Netherlands, and World Land Trust.

The 1,680-acre (680-hectare) reserve is located in central Bolivia in the Beni savanna. Previously a cattle ranch, it is the site of Armonía’s ongoing artificial nest box program, launched in 2005 to boost the macaw’s population. Demonstrating the potential for this area to support the recovery of the species, 51 Blue-throated Macaws have since fledged from the reserve, and in 2017, a pair of macaws that fledged from the nest boxes returned to breed.

The Blue-throated Macaw has been declining in population for the last century. Habitat destruction is a key driver of this decline, including the removal and burning of large trees suitable for nesting, while capture of the birds for the international pet trade has also played a role.

The new reserve, together with Armonía’s existing Barba Azul Nature Reserve, establishes a total area of protected land for the Blue-throated Macaw of 28,862 acres (11,680 hectares).

“Increasing the Blue-throated Macaw population is more likely now that Armonía has secured this important site as a reserve,” said Rodrigo Soria, Executive Director of Asociación Armonía. “This acquisition means that we can continue the successful nest box program without worry of changing land ownership and management.”

Armonía has named the new reserve the Laney Rickman Blue-throated Macaw Reserve in tribute to Laney Rickman (1952 – 2017), founder of the Texas-based nonprofit Bird Endowment. Rickman expanded and supported the macaw nest box program since 2006 in partnership with Asociación Armonía as an annual campaign, Nido Adoptivo™, to raise funds to build and deploy the boxes.

To further honor Laney Rickman’s legacy, the Laney Rickman Blue-throated Macaw Fund has been established by her family, Asociación Armonía, and American Bird Conservancy. Donations are welcome and will provide vital long-term support for the nest box program as well as habitat conservation and reserve management. Donations received in 2018 will be matched dollar for dollar up to $100,000.

American Bird Conservancy is grateful for the generous support of the Robert W. Wilson Charitable Trust, the March Conservation Fund, the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory-Tropical Forest Forever Fund, David and Patricia Davidson, and an anonymous donor, who helped make the purchase of this new reserve possible.

Some people may be misusing opioid pain medications that were prescribed for pets, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

To address the issue, the agency has developed a new resource containing information and recommendations for veterinarians who stock and administer opioids, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a statement. 

"We recognize that opioids and other pain medications have a legitimate and important role in treating pain in animals – just as they do for people," Gottlieb wrote. "But just like the opioid medications used in humans, these drugs have potentially serious risks, not just for the animal patients, but also because of their potential to lead to addiction, abuse and overdose in humans who may divert them for their own use."

Among the recommendations the agency announced for veterinarians last week is "a reminder about the importance of following all state and federal regulations on prescribing opioids to animals for pain management and how to properly safeguard and store these medications to ensure they remain in the legal supply chain," according to Gottlieb.

The FDA also said it is:

  • Recommending that veterinarians use alternatives to opioids for pain management when appropriate.
  • Educating pet owners on the safe storage and disposal of opioids.
  • Advising veterinarians to develop a safety plan in the event they encounter a situation involving opioid diversion or clients seeking opioids under the guise of treating their pets.
  • Taking steps to help veterinarians spot the signs of opioid abuse.

"As medical professionals, veterinarians have an opportunity to partner with the FDA and others to take on this public health crisis," Gottlieb said. "We encourage them to continue to work with their clients and both local and national organizations, such as their state board of veterinary medicine and AVMA, to join in the fight against this tragic epidemic. In turn, we’re committed to continuing to support these professionals in their efforts to curb the diversion of opioids that are meant to manage animal pain."

The Professional Animal Certification Care Council has announced that Gray Moore has joined the its board of directors. Moore was among the first to achieve the council’s level of Certified Professional Animal Care Manager.

As the president and founder of Dog Tired Services, her pet care facility in Charleston, SC, Moore fosters a culture of pet safety and certification. Currently, three additional members of her staff are certified. The council recently completed its sixth cycle of testing and will offer one more opportunity this fall for pet care professionals to become certified in 2018.

“PACCC’s ranks of independently certified pet care providers continue to grow thanks to professionals like Gray and her team at Dog Tired Services,” said board chair Anna Torres-Radle. “Gray brings to the PACCC board a lifetime dedicated to improving the lives of animals and we are thrilled to have her experience and enthusiasm on our pet safety mission.”

The council was founded by industry leaders to bring independent certification to the pet care services industry, an important step for a rapidly growing, easy to enter industry frequently damaged by news reports of serious pet accidents and deaths. It offered its first certification exams in late 2016 and has surpassed 100 certified professionals. Sitting for the  exams requires an application process establishing level of education, work experience in the pet care industry, and supporting letters of reference. The council offers three levels of certification, Certified Professional Animal Care Provider, Manager and Operator.

For more information, including the next opportunity for pet care professionals to become certified, the levels of certification offered, and current directory of pet care professionals, visit

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is considering changing what it asks of drug makers to demonstrate efficacy of new heartworm preventive medications in dogs, in light of the parasite’s evolving resistance to drugs.

The agency is soliciting public input through Nov. 20 on the design of studies evaluating the effectiveness of prospective heartworm drugs. “Currently, there are gaps in knowledge that prevent the FDA from fully evaluating which alternative approaches are suitable for meeting the standards of effectiveness,” the agency said in a notice requesting comments.

Heartworm is a parasitic worm, Dirofilaria immitis, spread by the bite of infected mosquitoes. It can inhabit the arteries of a dog’s lungs and the heart, causing potentially fatal disease, including congestive heart failure. Preventive drugs kill heartworm larvae.

The FDA review comes as the incidence of heartworm disease appears to have increased in the United States, along with reports of drug resistance. “The need to evaluate alternative approaches is emphasized by the evolving susceptibility of Dirofilaria immitis larvae to heartworm preventatives containing macrocyclic lactones,” the FDA said.

In 2016, the average number of dogs diagnosed per clinic rose by 21.7 percent compared with diagnoses in 2013, according to the American Heartworm Association (AHS). The figure is based upon a survey of 4,705 veterinary practices and shelters around the country.

The survey found cases of heartworm in every state, with concentrations in the South and Southeast. “[T]he top five states in heartworm incidence were Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas and Tennessee — all states that have been in the top tier since AHS began tracking incidence data in 2001,” the group reported.

While veterinarians still consider pet-owner compliance with using heartworm-control drugs to be a crucial factor in combating infections, among veterinarians who reported an increase in cases, 3.3 percent cited insufficient efficacy of the preventives as a factor, the AHS said.

During the last decade, researchers have identified several strains of heartworm that are resistant to a class of drugs known as macrocyclic lactones that are used in all major brands of heartworm control. According to Dr. Chris Rehm, AHS president and a veterinarian in Alabama where heartworm is endemic, there is no widely accepted estimate of how common resistance is.

“The data indicate that there is resistance out there,” Dr. Andy Moorhead, a parasitologist and faculty member at the University of Georgia, said during an interview with the VIN News Service earlier this year. “What we all agree on is there’s smoke on the horizon … the size of the fire is what we don’t know.”

A recent survey of 111 veterinarians conducted by Kindred Biosciences Inc. found that the majority were not performing feline muscle condition score (MCS) evaluations during physical exams.

Body condition scores (BCS) and MCS evaluations are a key part of a complete nutritional assessment for cats, said Christina Fernandez, DVM, MRCVS, DACVECC, professional services veterinarian with Kindred Biosciences.

In the survey, 59 percent of veterinarians said they captured BCS during physical exams, but only 14 percent said they perform MCS assessments.

“MCS evaluations are a relatively new practice but are increasingly recognized as a best practice in feline care,” Dr. Fernandez said. “BCS has been a standard practice for many practitioners, and there are multiple validated scoring systems. Most veterinarians perform a BCS during regular visits, but BCS only evaluates the animal’s body fat. MCS evaluations are easy to incorporate into the physical exam and provide extremely valuable information for trending patient body composition status over time. It helps veterinarians watch for any muscle loss over time to ensure our feline patients maintain a healthy body composition — and maybe even offer early warning signs of disease.”

Muscle loss can be a result of age, illness, and/or injury; no matter the cause, muscle loss can make an animal weaker, depress immune function, and reduce the ability to recover from illness, surgery, or injury, according to Kindred.

The MCS is determined by feeling the cat’s muscles over its back, head, shoulders, and hips. Muscle loss contributes to weight loss and can occur in the absence of fat loss. Even an overweight animal can still have declining muscle condition.PharmaceuticalsVanguard CIV H3N2/H3N8


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“Including an MCS evaluation takes less than a minute to perform,” Fernandez said. “It’s easy to make it a part of the routine during a regular physical exam, takes no additional equipment, and can be trending over time by recording it in the medical record along with the BCS. It’s a best practice that also provides an excellent opportunity to discuss the importance of overall body weight, body fat, and muscle condition with cat owners.”

Ask 10 breeders how they wean foals and you may receive ten different responses! How a foal is weaned can greatly affect short- and long-term health, according to a new study*.

“In feral horse populations, foals aren’t weaned until they’re almost one year of age, when the mare is about to foal again. The process occurs slowly and the mare-foal bond remains intact,” explained Laura Petroski-Rose, B.V.M.S., a veterinarian for Kentucky Equine Research.

In many domestic equine operations, weaning occurs “abruptly and definitively” at approximately 4-6 months of age. In the current study, Lansade and colleagues pointed out, however, that abrupt weaning:

  • Negatively impacts behavioral, neuronal, and hormonal responses in the foal;
  • Induces stress, manifested as increased locomotion, vocalization, and stereotypies;
  • Results in physiological responses, such as increased cortisol and catecholamine levels (stress hormone levels):
  • Decreases immune system functioning, potentially putting foals at risk for infection or decreased response to vaccination; and
  • Contributes to weight loss.

“Early weaning reportedly also has negative long-term effects caused by changes at the genetic level, called epigenetics, resulting in behavioral changes and personality modifications,” relayed Petroski-Rose.

The positive power of progressive weaning was supported by directly comparing two groups of foals: one that was weaned suddenly while the other was weaned progressively. The veterinary research team reported the following:

  • Progressively weaned foals whinnied and trotted less, and had lower cortisol levels than foals weaned suddenly; and
  • Progressively weaned foals became more curious, less fearful, and less gregarious than suddenly weaned foals, and those behaviors persisted for at least three months;

Petroski-Rose added, “The study also showed that progressive weaning was also beneficial and less stressful for the mare.”

“In conclusion, this study shows that progressive habituation to separation alleviates the negative effect of definitive weaning on both the mother and her young compared to sudden separation,” concluded the researchers.Knowing that weaning is stressful and that stress influences essentially every body system, including the immune and nervous systems, supplement mares and foals with omega-3 fatty acids. Offering this type of product during gestation and nursing and then continuing to supplement both the mare and foal separately will support brain development in the foal, as well as the immune system.

A Minneapolis company is making national headlines for an employee benefit it's offering called "fur-ternity leave."

When workers at Nina Hale, a digital marketing company, get a new pet, they're entitled to a week of flexible hours, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.

"What we’re trying to do is make sure we have benefits that accommodate people throughout their lives, whether they're needing more flexibility to care for an aging loved one or whether they're adopting a new pet at home," said Allison McMenimen, executive director for the company.

The perk applies to "any animal that doesn’t primarily live in a cage," she told the Star Tribune.

Last year, in reporting on its annual roster of the country's Best Workplaces, Inc. magazine noted that 9 percent of those employers offered perks designed to appeal to pet owners. Examples of such benefits included animal-friendly workspaces, pet insurance and pet-product discounts.

At the request of Columbus Humane, the ASPCA is assisting in the removal of more than 600 birds from an overcrowded, 1,000 square-foot home in Columbus, Ohio, where a search warrant was executed for the removal of animals from the property. 

A variety of bird species, including parakeets, cockatiels, finches, and large exotic parrots were found living in overcrowded conditions, some with medical issues, missing feathers, and experiencing a lack of adequate husbandry.

The seizure is the result of a public complaint concerning living conditions and reports of animal neglect at the property.

In addition to working alongside Columbus Humane to remove the birds, the ASPCA is assisting with evidence collection, subject matter expertise, and in transporting the animals to a temporary shelter at an undisclosed location. There, Columbus Humane will conduct medical assessments and veterinary forensic exams, and provide ongoing care for the animals.

“Upon arriving at the home, it was clear an intervention was needed to remove these birds from the property and provide them with the quality of life they deserve,” said Jessica Rushin, Senior Manager for ASPCA Field Investigations and Response. “The ASPCA is pleased to be able to provide resources and assist Columbus Humane with their lifesaving efforts. Our immediate goal is to relocate the birds to a temporary shelter where Columbus Humane’s avian experts can evaluate the condition of each bird to ensure they receive the care they need.”

The birds will be cared for at the temporary shelter by Columbus Humane until custody is determined by the court. The ASPCA and Columbus Humane are working closely with local prosecutors to ensure the best outcome for these animals.


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