Author Archives: Lorie Huston, DVM

Lost Pets and What To Do When Your Dog Runs Away

Imagine the horror of having your beloved dog run away from home. What would you do? How would you go about finding him?

According to statistics from the National Council on Pet Population, only 15 percent of dogs (and 2 percent of cats!) that enter animal shelters are reunited with their owners. That’s a pretty dismal number. And that’s assuming that your pet actually makes it to a shelter. Unfortunately, there are many other dangers in the great outdoors that can injure or kill an unsuspecting animal.

Even worse may be never knowing what happened to a missing pet that is never located. Wondering whether your dog is still alive, whether he’s living in someone else’s home, whether he’s being fed and cared for or forced to fend for himself, whether he’s feeling frightened and alone. Those are tough thoughts for a dog owner to swallow.

Unfortunately, that type of scenario plays out all too often. In fact, that’s exactly what happened to Mel Freer of No Dog About It when her canine companion, Lady, ran away. Mel was horrified and in tears. But she found a great source in Tammy Humphries of Lost Dog – MN to turn to for help.

In the interview below, Mel shares her experience dealing with her missing pet and Tammy offers some great tips and suggestions for helping to find a missing pet. She also talks about some of the things you should do now, before a crisis occurs, in order to be prepared in the event of an unexpected escape. I think you’ll find the interview enlightening.

All About Cats – Tips, Tricks and Necessities

According to statistics collected by the American Pet Products Association (APPA), 62% of U.S. households own a pet. That’s 72.9 millions homes that have a pet of one type or another.

Of those pet-owning homes, 38.9 million of them own cats and many of them own more than one cat. According to the APPA statistics, there are 86.4 million cats owned in the United States. That compares to 78.2 million dogs. That means that, currently the number of cats kept as pets outnumber dogs by almost 10 million!

Cats and Cat Care

Yet despite these statistics, cats continue to be misunderstood. Too many cat owners don’t understand that cats require regular veterinary care in the same fashion that dogs do. It’s somewhat disturbing that, regardless of the fact that the number of cats kept as pets is higher than the number of dogs, the number of veterinary visits involving cats is much lower.

Cats are surrounded by their own mystique. There are lots of myths about cats; some of them true, many of them not. Cats also get blamed, somewhat unfairly in many cases, for spreading various diseases.

The Truth About Cats

In this week’s interview, Dr. Marty Becker, aka “America’s Veterinarian”, joins me to talk about cats. Dr. Becker has just released a new book, Your Cat: The Owner’s Manual. In the interview, Dr. Becker shares with us some of his best tips for caring your cat, including how to control loose hair in a home with cats, what to feed your cat, what type of cat litter to use for your cat and much more. Listen in.

The Facts About Pet Insurance – Frequently Asked Questions Answered


Pet Health Insurance: Is It Right for You?

Is pet health insurance right for you?

Advances in veterinary care  have given us the opportunity to keep our pet’s healthier and living longer than ever before. However, these advances don’t come cheap. They come at a cost; a very real cost that can adversely affect a pet owner’s wallet. That’s where pet insurance enters the picture.

Pet Health Insurance Versus Human Health Insurance

Most of us understand the value of health insurance for ourselves and our families. After all, even a short hospital stay for a minor medical procedure can run into the thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars. It makes sense, then, that purchasing health insurance for our pets might be a wise decision as well. And it might very well be.

Still, there are very real differences between human health insurance and pet health insurance. Understanding these differences is important in making an intelligent decision about insuring your pet.

Pet Health Insurance: What Company? What Policy?

Currently, there are several companies that offer pet health insurance. On top of that, there are many different types of policies available. There is an insurance option available to fit the needs of almost any pet owner but it is important for pet owners to understand exactly what they are purchasing, what the policy covers and what it doesn’t.

Common Pet Health Insurance Questions Answered

We’re fortunate in this episode of Animal Cafe to have Laura Bennett joining us. Laura is the CEO and co-founder of Embrace Pet Insurance. In this interview with Animal Cafe’s Dr. Lorie Huston, Laura shares some of her insights about pet health insurance. She talks about her experience being the first pet insurance actuary in the US and discusses the ins and outs of purchasing and taking advantage of pet health insurance.

Heartworms in Dogs and Cats – The Latest Recommendations

Search for heartworms on the internet and you’ll find tons of information. Unfortunately, as with many other things on the internet, not all of the information you’ll find there is accurate. And, in this case, what you don’t know can hurt your pet.

Adult Heartworms Removed from the Heart of a Dog

These are adult heartworms removed from the heart of an infected dog.

Dogs with Heartworms Must Be Confined for Months During Treatment

Dogs with heartworms must be confined for months during treatment.

Heartworms are parasites, worms that actually live inside of your pet’s heart and blood vessels. Currently, heartworm infections have been diagnosed in every state, in every county, and in every parish in the southern states, according to Dr. Sheldon Rubin, the immediate past president of the American Heartworm Society. See these heartworm incidence maps for more information about the prevalence of heartworms in your area of the country.

Unfortunately, even though preventing heartworms is easy, cheap and effective, there are a huge number of pets (both dogs and cats) that are currently unprotected and at risk for heartworm disease.

Dr. Shelly Rubin examines Larry at Blum Animal Hospital

Dr. Shelly Rubin examines Larry at Blum Animal Hospital

Listen to Dr. Sheldon speak about heartworms, how your pet can get them, how you can protect your pet and what can happen if your pet does get heartworms in this podcast interview with our own Dr. Lorie Huston.

Preventing heartworms for your pet can cost less than a couple of cups of Starbuck’s coffee every month. Why take the risk and leave your pet unprotected?

Loews Hotel Feral Cats: A Model TNRM Colony Threatened

In 2004, when cat lover George Ricci first established the model managed feral cat colony on the Loews Portofino Bay Hotel property in Florida, he likely never dreamed that one day those cats would be cruelly and inhumanely ripped from their home. But that’s exactly what is happening.

George Ricci and Loews Model Feral TNRM Cat Colony

Hailed as a hero by hotel staff and management, Ricci was once recognized by his department manager through his nomination as “Employee of the Month” for January, 2007 and was also nominated for “Outstanding Employee of the Year” with the Central Florida Hotel and Lodging Association. This was all in part due to his handling of the situation with the feral cats on the property.

Since 2004, when the existing colony of feral cats was established, Loews welcomed them, touting themselves as a “pet-friendly” hotel and allowing George to build “cat mansions” for the cats on their property.

Take a look at these videos created by cat advocate Deb Barnes and Christine Michaels of Riverfront Cats Miami to learn more about feral cats and meet some real live feral cats. (Note: the cats featured in these videos are not the Loews cats but they and their lives are pretty typical of a managed feral cat colony.)

Unfortunately, times have changed and, according to the hotel management, the cats are no longer welcome on their property.

Loews Orders Their Feral Cats Removed!

In fact, Loews has hired a company to trap and remove the cats from their premises. Even more, Loews management has prohibited staff members from even feeding the cats during the removal process, threatening them with disciplinary action and even loss of employment for disobedience. What was once a well-managed and stable population of feral cats now has an extremely uncertain future ahead of them.

In almost all instances, feral cats are unadoptable unless they are kittens still able to be socialized. What happens to most feral cats turned over to animal control facilities? Sadly, most are euthanized.

Relocation? It may sound like a reasonable option but most feral cats try to find their way back to their original home, resulting in injuries, illnesses and even death as they face unknown predators and try to cross busy streets.

To learn more about the ongoing plight of these cats, listen in on this interview with blogger, author (The Chronicles of Zee and Zoey) and cat advocate Deb Barnes.

Free Eye Examinations for All Service Dogs

U.S. Army Service Dogs

U.S. Army service dogs pose for a photo during a training session.
Photo Credit: The U.S. Army

Service dogs perform jobs that are not only difficult but sometimes even dangerous. Their jobs range from detecting bombs and sniffing out drugs to search and rescue missions. Some of them provide more individualized tasks, like guide dogs or diabetes alert dogs.

Any way you look at it, these dogs often provide a life-saving function no matter what their primary task may be. Without them, many individuals who suffer from diabetes, seizures, blindness and other health issues and/or disabilities would be unable to continue to lead their current lifestyle. And no one can dispute that dogs who perform search and rescue missions as well as dogs who sniff out explosive devices, drugs, and other contraband, perform a necessary and important public safety service.

Why Eye Examinations Are Necessary for Service Dogs

Needless to say, these service dogs rely on a number of talents to perform their necessary tasks. However, good eyesight is at the top of the list of necessities for these dogs.

Without adequate eyesight, these dogs simply would not be able to perform the tasks that they are assigned to safely and effectively.

Free Eye Exams for Service Dogs: The National Service Dog Eye Exam Event

In order to make sure these talented canine individuals retain their eyesight and do not suffer from vision problems, the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists (ACVO) has partnered with Merial Pharmaceuticals to offer free eye examinations for all certified service dogs during the month of May.

Dr. Bill Miller talks about the National Service Dog Eye Exam Event in the podcast below. During the course of the interview, Dr. Miller explains the purpose of the eye exam event and details what each eye examination entails. He even shares the story of one service dog that was diagnosed and treated for a serious eye issue during the course of the event last year and was able to continue providing his services for an entire year after the diagnosis.