Pet Connection

Fun Pet Facts


"Did you know?" That's always a great conversation starter, especially when it's about our pet pals. Here's our contribution to your next water-cooler gathering, barbecue or cocktail party:

1. Cats rub on people, other cats and even other animals as a sign of affection. They may do it most insistently when we are about to feed them, but they also do it just to say, "Hey, I like you."

2. In mythology and folklore around the world, dogs are associated with the afterlife. They were believed to act as guides to the underworld and howl as a warning of impending death. The jackal-headed Egyptian god Anubis was a protector of the dead.

3. If you want a long-lived pet, consider a bird or reptile. With good care, leopard geckos can live 20 to 30 years, and cockatoos and Amazon parrots can live an average of 50 years, with some living much longer.

4. Lionfish are popular to keep in aquariums, but if released into the ocean, they can wreak havoc on reefs, eating up other fish that are important to reef health.

5. According to a 2013 survey by the American Pet Products Association, 32 percent of dog owners take their pets with them in the car when they are away for two or more nights.

6. By the numbers, freshwater fish are the most popular American pet, with 145 million found in U.S. homes. If we're talking mammals, cats are most numerous: They number 95.6 million. Dogs are nipping at their heels with 83.3 million.

7. Canine ergonomics is the study of how working dogs learn to traverse rubble and other environmental hazards or barriers, all the while using their nose and then indicating finds to their human teammates.

8. Nearly half of pet owners -- 45 percent -- buy presents for their dogs or cats for Christmas or Hanukkah, but only 20 percent celebrate a pet's birthday with a gift, according to a 2013 survey by the APPA.

9. The color of a goldfish will fade without exposure to sunlight or full-spectrum artificial light.

10. Rabbits love to run and twist in the air, then land facing a different direction, an activity that rabbit lovers call "binking."

11. Hamsters eat grains, greens, vegetables and fruits, plus the occasional insect or other form of protein. A good daily diet might include a tablespoon of commercial food, a few leaves of lettuce, spinach or other greens, a small, thin slice of apple, and a broccoli or cauliflower floret.

12. The word for the sound a cat makes is similar in many languages. In English, cats "mew"; in India, cats say "myaus"; in China, "mio." In some Arabic-speaking countries, the word is "naoua," and in Egypt it's "mau."

13. In no particular order, 10 of the most pet-friendly cities in the United States are Santa Fe, New Mexico; Laguna Beach, California; Portland, Oregon; Seattle; San Francisco; Boston; Colorado Springs, Colorado; San Diego; Charlotte, North Carolina; and Austin, Texas.

14. Letting your dog give you kisses is probably less germy than letting a human lick your face, according to our veterinarian pal Dr. Patty Khuly, who practices in Miami. But skip playing kissy-face with your pooch if your immune system is compromised by illness or recent surgery.

15. The most popular reptiles kept as pets include red-eared slider turtles, ball pythons, iguanas, bearded dragons, corn snakes, Burmese pythons and redtail boas.

16. Kittens start out meowing at their mothers when they want to eat, but it doesn't take long for them to learn to meow at people for food -- or anything else they want!


Tapeworms are icky

but treatable

Q: We adopted a stray cat who ended up having kittens. When we had their fecal exams done, the little black one had a tapeworm. How do kittens get tapeworms and how are they treated? -- via email

A: Tapeworms are common intestinal parasites in cats. The long, flat worms can grow to be more than two feet long. The segments of their bodies contain egg packets, which are passed in a cat's feces to begin the life cycle all over again.

Tapeworms are a good example of the importance of flea control, because they are transmitted when cats ingest fleas or rodents that host immature tapeworms in their bodies. The tapeworms take up residence in the cat's gut, latching onto the intestinal wall with hooks and suckers. Yuck!

Cats with tapeworms may vomit or lose weight for no apparent reason. Occasionally, you may see pieces of the worm -- they look like grains of cooked rice -- stuck to the fur around the cat's rear end or wiggling on the feces. That's the ultimate ick factor!

Outdoor cats and those who aren't regularly treated for fleas are most likely to acquire tapeworms. The parasites are easily treated, but cats who don't get treatment can develop complications.

Your veterinarian can diagnose tapeworms through a fecal exam and prescribe an appropriate dewormer. You may see dewormers sold over the counter at pet-supply stores, but tapeworms are one parasite that few over-the-counter dewormers kill. They're also not affected by flea and tick products that kill some other internal parasites. For these reasons, it's best to rid your cat of tapeworms with powerful products prescribed by your veterinarian.

To prevent a recurrence, be sure your cat is on an effective flea-control product. If he's a successful mouser, a twice-yearly fecal exam can help identify any internal freeloaders. -- Dr. Marty Becker

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Minnesota enacts new

rules for breeders

-- A new law in Minnesota requires commercial dog and cat breeders to register with the state Board of Animal Health. Starting next year, they must also obtain a license. It is the first time that the state has had specific regulations regarding commercial breeding. According to a report by The Associated Press, the new law establishes specific standards, including clean water and good ventilation, collars that fit comfortably, and a requirement that sick animals be separated from healthy ones.

"The goal is not to punish people," says state Sen. John Marty of Roseville. "It's to make sure animals are treated humanely."

-- Arthur, a 4-year-old flamepoint Siamese cat, needed a kidney transplant, but he was rejected from two transplant programs because his body did not properly absorb Cyclosporine, a drug that reduces the risk that the body will reject the new organ. But at the University of Georgia's Veterinary Teaching Hospital, he became the second beneficiary of a new procedure: an injection of feline adult stem cells derived from his own fat. The stem cells have an anti-inflammatory effect and can lessen immune response, reducing the risk of rejection, says John Peroni, a board-certified large-animal surgeon and associate professor at UGA.

-- Do you worry that your dog dislikes being boarded? A new study published in the journal Physiology and Behavior suggests that staying at a kennel might not be as stressful for dogs as we think. They may even view their "vacation" as exciting -- at least for a while. Factors measured to evaluate stress levels included skin dryness, nose temperature, core body temperature, levels of stress hormones, and behaviors such as lip licking, paw lifting, yawning, shaking and restlessness. The dogs were more excited at the kennel than they were at home, researchers found, but not necessarily because they were stressed. -- Kim Campbell Thornton


Pet Connection is produced by a team of pet-care experts headed by "The Dr. Oz Show" veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker and award-winning journalist Kim Campbell Thornton. They are affiliated with and are the authors of many best-selling pet-care books. Joining them is dog trainer and behavior consultant Mikkel Becker. Dr. Becker can be found at or on Twitter at DrMartyBecker. Kim Campbell Thornton is at and on Twitter at kkcthornton. Mikkel Becker is at and on Twitter at MikkelBecker.


Caption 01: The bacteria in a dog's mouth are usually not the type to cause disease in people. Position: Main Story

Caption 02: Caption 02: A short stay in a boarding kennel doesn't necessarily lead to higher levels of stress in dogs. Position: Pet Buzz/Item 3

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