Make it a New Years Resolution to Microchip your Pet

microchipping a dogIf your new year includes adding a furry friend to your family, consider microchipping your new pet to help locate them if they ever get lost. Dr. James Barr, clinical assistant professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, said microchipping is one of the newest ways to locate and identify lost animals.

A microchip is a glass encased device that bears an identification number unique to every marked animal. Once the microchip is inserted under the animal’s skin and registered with the device’s company, the microchip can be activated with a scanner at a veterinarian’s office or local animal shelter. With no batteries or power source required to activate a microchip, this device will provide a permanent identity for your pet that will last their entire lifetime.

While many owners protect and identify their pet with a personalized collar, there are many strong advantages to microchipping your pet. For instance, pet collars may fall or slip off and personalized tags may become unreadable after several years. Microchips do not face any of these challenges and have no chance of being removed, no matter where Fido wanders off to.

“The biggest advantage is that a microchip can’t be lost,” Barr said. “It allows access to detailed information about the pet and its owner with a quick phone call to the device’s company.”

Barr also added that most microchips can be conveniently installed at veterinarian offices and sometimes even spay and neuter clinics. He further explained that the process of installing a microchip is quick and does not hurt the animal, contrast to what some might believe.

“A microchip is implanted under the skin between the shoulder blades using a needle and plunger, which is similar to a syringe,” Barr said. “The needle is a rather large needle comparatively to what would be used for a vaccine, but it usually does not require sedation and is only transiently uncomfortable for the animal.”

Microchips, which are about the size of a grain of rice, can be installed into dogs, cats, horses, ferrets, and most other mammals. If you are considering microchipping your pet, consult your local veterinarian to see which microchipping companies are most commonly used in your area. Some chips are more universally read than others, so it is important to consider which microchips your local veterinarian and animal shelters can read. Finally, do not forget to register your chip to your name and phone number. If you move to another address or change phone numbers, you will be required to update this information with your microchip’s company. A microchip will only bring your pet home if your contact information is kept up to date.

Though personalized collars have been traditionally used as a method of identification in pets, microchipping is on the rise of becoming the modern solution for lost animals. To help prevent your new furry companion from becoming lost this year, consider a microchip that is registered to your name and updated contact information.

Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University. Stories can be viewed on the Web at vetmed.tamu.edu/pet-talk. Suggestions for future topics may be directed to editor@cvm.tamu.edu .

Pet Transportation Safety

Small dog maltese sitting safe in the car on the back seat The holiday season has ended, meaning most families are returning from their travels. For some people, pets are a part of the celebration and are included in travel plans. While some pets are easy travel companions, others are better left at home in the care of a trusted friend or neighbor. Even if visiting your veterinarian is the most you travel with your pet, every owner should understand pet transportation safety.

When making travel decisions, it is important to consider your pet’s behavior, health, and daily needs. For example, if your destination will not allow you to spend time with Fido and include his daily exercise, then it is best he stay at home. As a general rule, most cats are more comfortable in their home environment and should probably stay home during family trips.

Taking your pet to the veterinarian for a quick check up will also help you decide if your pet is healthy enough for travel, especially if your pet will be traveling by airline. Your pet’s behavior is also a deciding factor in allowing them to travel. For instance, a playful and energetic puppy may not appreciate riding in a kennel for several hours.

Traveling by car is the most common way to transport pets, but many owners do not know the safest way to allow furry friends to ride in the car. Dr. James Barr, clinical assistant professor at the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, explained the best way to transport your pet by car. “The best way to transport pets in a car is to restrain them in some way,” he said. “If you have a small dog or cat, then they should be placed in a pet carrier. They will be safer and less likely to climb in your lap and interfere with driving. Although this may not be feasible in larger dogs, there are a number of seat belt devices that can be used for dogs to limit their mobility in the car.”

In addition, it is also recommended to keep pets in the back seat to prevent them from being a distraction from the road. You may also consider inviting a friend or family member along to help watch the pets. On long road trips, this will allow you the opportunity to buy snacks or refuel while your pets are under the supervision of your friend.

It is common for pet owners to allow their dog to put their head out the window, but the reality is that this can be dangerous. Although Fido may enjoy the fresh air, he can potentially be injured by debris. “There are a couple of problems that arise when a dog has his head outside of a moving car window,” Barr said. “The first is the possibility that something could hit them at high speed, such as bugs, sticks, or other debris. This is especially problematic for the dog’s eyes. The next problem is with the possibility that the pet could jump out of the window and severely injure themselves.”

In addition to these safety tips, it is also important to never leave your pet unattended in the car. Having a friend with you to help watch the pets while traveling will solve most dangers associated with leaving pets alone.

Although some veterinarians may not recommend allowing your pet to travel by airline, it is not impossible. “The most important thing when it comes to airline transport is to ensure your pet is healthy enough to make the trip,” said Barr. “Airlines generally require that you have a veterinarian sign a health certificate to prove your pet is healthy enough for travel. If the pet is to ride in the cabin, then it will need to be calm enough to be carried through security. In the baggage area, your pet may get hot or cold, so the health of the pet needs to be good to enable them to withstand that.”

No matter the occasion, knowing how to safely travel with your pet is a must. Whether you’re traveling by car or airline, it is important to first consider the health and safety of your pet.

Pet Talk is a service of the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. Suggestions for future topics may be directed to editor@cvm.tamu.edu.

Getting your Pets Microchipped

microchipping a dogMany of us take every precaution we can to protect our pets. With growing technology in the veterinary field, new measures of protection for companion animals are now available to owners at a low cost. Microchipping, one of the newest ways to locate and identify lost animals, is growing in popularity and efficiency.

A microchip is a glass encased device that bears an identification number unique to every marked animal. Once the microchip is inserted under the animal’s skin and registered with the devices company, the microchip can be activated with a scanner at a veterinarian’s office or local animal shelter. With no batteries or power source required to activate a microchip, this device will provide a permanent identity for your pet that will last their entire lifetime.

Many owners protect and identify their pet with a personalized collar. While this method can certainly help identify your pet, there are many strong advantages in microchipping your animal. For instance, pet collars may fall or slip off, and personalized tags may become unreadable after several years. Microchips do not face any of these challenges and have no chance of being removed, no matter where Fido wanders off to.

Dr. James Barr, Clinical Assistant Professor at the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, explains the biggest advantage microchipping has over other methods of identifying animals, “The biggest advantage is that a microchip can’t be lost. It allows access to detailed information about the pet and its owner with a quick phone call to the company,” he said. Barr also adds that most microchips can be installed at veterinarian offices and sometimes even spay and neuter clinics. He further explains that the process of installing a microchip is very quick and does not hurt the animal, contrast to what some owners might believe. “A microchip is implanted under the skin between the shoulder blades using a needle and plunger, which is similar to a syringe,” he said. “The needle is a rather large needle comparatively to what would be used for a vaccine, but it usually does not require sedation and is only transiently uncomfortable for the animal.”

Microchips, which are about the size of a grain of rice, can be installed into dogs, cats, horses, ferrets, and most other mammals. If you are considering microchipping your pet, consult your local veterinarian to see which microchipping companies are most commonly used in your area. Some chips are more universally read than others, so it is important to consider which microchips your local veterinarian and animal shelters can read. Finally, do not forget to register your chip to your name and phone number. If you move to another address or change phone numbers, you will be required to update this information with your microchip’s company. A microchip will only bring your pet home if your contact information is kept up to date.

Although personalized collars have been traditionally used as a method of identification in pets, microchipping is on the rise of becoming the modern solution for lost animals. Even if your pet has been microchipped, providing a collar for your pet is still important. Remember to register your pet’s microchip to your name and updated contact information in order for your pet to return safely home if they ever become lost.

Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University. Stories can be viewed on the Web at vetmed.tamu.edu/pet-talk. Suggestions for future topics may be directed to editor@cvm.tamu.edu .

Protecting Your Pets from Killer Bees

Close-up photo of a Western Honey Bee gathering nectar and spreading pollen on a young Autumn Sun Coneflower (Rudbeckia nitida). ** Note: Shallow depth of field ** Note: Visible grain at 100%, best at smaller sizesMany of us remember our first experience with bees, and it’s usually not positive. You may have been the curious kid who got a little too close to the bee hive, or you may have been the innocent victim who was stung completely by surprise. No matter the situation, the afternoon was spent running and screaming into the house looking for help. Although we know better, our pets may think the humming and buzzing of a bee nest sounds like a good time. Before Fido sniffs too close to a dangerous hive, here are the facts you need to know about protecting your pet from killer bees.

Africanized honey bees, or so called “killer bees”, arrived in the United States during the 1990’s. They appear no different than the common European honey bee and can only be told apart by an expert. Although the nick-name suggests a fatal sting, killer bees are no more harmful than the common honey bee. Killer bees gained their nick-name from the aggressive way they defend their nests. The more hostile bees readily protecting the nest, the more likely a person or pet is to be stung multiple times.

Even though it is common for people to have an allergic or even deadly reaction to a bee sting, dogs are not as susceptible to these harmful responses. Dr. James Barr, clinical assistant professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, explains the common reactions dogs experience from a bee sting.

“In most cases of pets being stung by a bee, there are not many side effects other than swelling and pain of the area that was stung.  They can have occasional more significant reactions, but this is far less common than in people,” he said. “Most of the bee stings in dogs are on the face and head as they are investigating the bee when it stings them. Occasionally there are pets that will try to catch and eat them. A mouth sting could result in swelling of the throat, but this is an unlikely occurrence,” Barr adds.

The best way to treat your pet’s bee sting is to prevent it. Owners should regularly check their property for bee hives and consult a pest control operator to safely remove it. Hives can be found in obvious places like trees and shrubs, or in more secluded places, such as in the ground, an undisturbed flower pot, or even inside your walls. It is not safe to tease the bees in any way or try to remove the bee hive on your own. Pets should be kept away from the area until it is cleared by a professional. “The best prevention is limiting your dog’s exposure to bees.  If you see them, then keeping the dog away from the area until the hive can be removed is ideal,” advised Barr.

If your pet happens to be stung by a bee, swelling is the most important reaction an owner should watch for. According to Barr, owners should have their pet seen by a veterinarian if the swelling seems unusually painful or causes trouble breathing. Giving your pet a bath after the incident to remove any remaining stingers may be necessary. It is also important to scrape the remaining stingers from the skin, rather than pulling or tweezing them out. Stingers can be effectively scraped from the skin with a knife or fingernail.

Although it is uncommon for pets to have serious reactions to a bee sting, prevention is still important to protect your pet from an afternoon of regret. Keeping your property clear of bee hives will significantly decrease the chance of Fido coming into contact with a bee, but remember to leave bee-keeping to the professionals.

Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University. Stories can be viewed on the Web at vetmed.tamu.edu/pet-talk. Suggestions for future topics may be directed to editor@cvm.tamu.edu.

Independence Day Safety

With the July 4th holiday come celebrations and outdoor activities that can be fun for people, but sometimes harmful for our pets. Here are some tips to keep this day an enjoyable and safe holiday for the whole family, Fido included.

“Fireworks can frighten dogs and cause them to escape and become injured,” said Dr. James Barr, assistant professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. “Make sure your pet is supervised during the day and nighttime hours as well.” The best idea is to keep dogs, particularly those with noise phobias, away from the commotion if at all possible.

Another factor that can cause anxiety and stress in dogs is being around large crowds of unfamiliar people. If you know ahead of time that your dogs do not do well with large groups, it is better to leave them at home or board them for the day. If you do decide to bring them to the festivities, it is recommended to have a safe, calm area where the dogs can relax.

“Being outdoors in the hot humid environment may cause those pets not used to the heat to have problems with heat,” said Barr. “Allow the pets to be in a shaded area and have plenty of fresh water available at all times.”

Additionally, it is imperative that you closely supervise Fido or Fluffy throughout the day and night so that they aren’t tempted to indulge in the human food. July 4th celebrations bring with them many tasty human treats that might be toxic to animals, and with the large crows of people, that can be easily and unnoticeably accessed by our pets.

“Accidental ingestion of rich foods and bones are common on July 4th,” said Barr. “Be careful about what your pets have access to and make sure to keep a close eye on them to avoid sickness.”

Another good rule of thumb is if you are going to be in a place where unvaccinated dogs might be, such as soccer fields, baseball fields, or parks, you want to make sure your dogs are up-to-date on their vaccinations. It isn’t smart to take an unvaccinated puppy, or a dog that hasn’t completed the whole vaccine series, to a place with potential transmittable diseases or threats.

Keeping these tips in mind, you and your whole family can enjoy Fido’s presence while celebrating this fun-filled holiday.

Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University. Stories can be viewed on the Web at vetmed.tamu.edu/news/pet-talk. Suggestions for future topics may be directed to editor@cvm.tamu.edu.

Pool Safety

School is out, the temperatures are high, and the days are long. For children and pets alike, this makes taking a dip in your backyard pool seem more attractive than ever. Although your children may be competent swimmers, do not assume that your pets are. Preventing pool accidents for your pets takes adequate planning and careful supervision.

Limiting their access to the pool is an easy and effective way to prevent accidental fall-ins. “A good gate will be the best way to limit pet access to the pool,” said Dr. James Barr, assistant professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. “Keeping the door closed at all times is important for children and dogs alike, as is only allowing them to be in the pool area supervised.”

Contrary to popular belief, not all dogs are efficient swimmers. This common misconception can be life threatening to your pet. “The dogs that are considered to be brachycephalic, such as English bulldogs, American bulldogs, and French bulldogs, are notoriously bad swimmers,” said Barr. Therefore, it is smart to teach these dogs how to swim and exit the pool safely to prevent drowning.

Another popular concern among pet owners is whether it is safe for Fido or Fluffy to drink pool water. Dr. Barr explains that while it typically is not safe, there are some pool waters that are worse than others for drinking. It is also important that your pool’s chemical balance is correct, as algae can be disruptive to pets’ health.

“The typical chlorine pool could be quite irritating to the gastrointestinal tract and could cause some electrolyte issues if enough is drunk,” said Barr. “Saltwater pools, although not as salty as seawater, can also cause electrolyte problems if enough is consumed.”

Though your pooch may be eager to splash into the pool on a hot, summer day, there should be set limitations for dogs of a certain ages or medical conditions. You should always consult with your veterinarian before allowing your dog to swim.

“By far, the most common reason why a dog drowns or nearly drowns in a pool is because they suffer from dementia or are blind or both, fall into the pool and are unable to get out,” said Barr. “Otherwise, safety depends on your dog’s ability to get in and out of the pool.”

While there are many effective ways to ensure your pet’s safety when near a pool, the most important precautionary measure is adequate supervision. Just like with children, leaving them unattended around a pool can lead to unnecessary injury. This, along with teaching Fido how to swim and correctly exit the water, can keep the pool area a fun and safe environment.

Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University. Stories can be viewed on the Web at vetmed.tamu.edu/news/pet-talk. Suggestions for future topics may be directed to editor@cvm.tamu.edu.

Pet First Aid

Many of us can remember being cared for by our parents when we were injured as children. Whether cutting our leg while climbing a tree or swallowing one too many pieces of candy, our parents always came to the rescue with soothing words and a first aid kit in hand. Since our pets are beloved members of the family, shouldn’t we do the same for them? Here are some tips and tricks to help ease your pet’s pain in case of emergency.

Just like for people, there are some basic first aid supplies for your pet to always have readily available in your home. “A good idea is to have a pet first aid kit so that you can concentrate on what you can do for your pet constructively rather than looking all over the place for something that might ‘work’ but is less than ideal,” said Dr. James Barr, assistant professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. “However, the most important thing is to have the phone number of your local veterinarian in case of emergency, including what to do after hours.”

Some items to include in your first aid kit could be an assortment of bandages, an instant cold pack, gauze and roll pads, medical gloves, triple antibiotic ointment, alcohol and antiseptic wipes, a slip-style leash, lubricating jelly, tongue depressors, and tweezers/forceps. Knowing how to perform basic CPR on your pet and stop external bleeding by applying a pressure wrap are also important skills you should acquire.

Two common examples of emergencies in which basic first aid knowledge can be life saving for your pet include exposure to toxins and excessive external bleeding. “If your pet is exposed to a toxin, get the name of the toxin and try to figure out how much they have ingested, and then call your vet to give you further instructions,” said Barr. “If your pet is experiencing severe blood loss resulting from external bleeding, wrap the wound with a towel or bandage to help stop the bleeding and apply pressure to help slow the loss of blood.”

Just remember that if being injured is traumatizing for us, imagine how it must be for our pets. In the event of an emergency, it is important to do everything you can to minimize their anxiety. This will not only help prevent further injury for them, but also to you and your family. “One must be very careful with injured pets because they are unable to communicate with us and us with them, so they are often afraid,” said Barr. “That fear is then translated into aggression, and pets can injure even the best meaning bystander because they are in pain.” Much like you would to a distraught person, it is best to talk gently to them using comforting words.

While first aid is certainly not a substitute for proper veterinary care, it may be extremely helpful in preventing further injury and easing your pet’s pain. Keeping these tips in mind can save you a lot of troubles in the long run and even ultimately help to save your pet’s life.

Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University. Stories can be viewed on the Web at vetmed.tamu.edu/news/pet-talk. Suggestions for future topics may be directed to editor@cvm.tamu.edu.

Dog Parks

Whether you have fond memories of playing tag with your classmates, or sharing secrets with your best friend on the swing set, most would agree that parks can be an integral part of their childhoods. This can also be true for your pooch.  But just as our parents took precautions when letting us run wild around our neighborhood park, pet owners must also be aware of the risks that accompany dog parks.

For most, dog parks are a great opportunity for exercise and socialization. Letting your dog run around unleashed helps maintain a healthy lifestyle by increasing longevity, reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases, and extending muscles and joints. In addition to getting exercise, they gain valuable social experience with dogs and other people.

If your dog is friendly and loves interacting with others, taking them to a dog park can be a wonderful experience. However, if your dog is indifferent when it comes to interacting with other canines, dog parks aren’t always the best idea. “Any dog that does not get along with other dogs should not be brought to a dog park, out of respect for the others there,” said Dr. James Barr, Assistant Professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. “Also, if your dog is debilitated, immunosuppressed, or unvaccinated, then they should not go either.”

Even if you have an extremely well-behaved and healthy dog, there are still risks to keep in mind before letting them off leash at a dog park. The most common and obvious are dog fights. “This happens daily at dog parks and owners all need to look for signs that dogs are posturing for a fight before it occurs, as most fights or injuries can be prevented.” said Barr. The most important thing to remember is that you must always keep a close eye on your dog.  If your dog does engage in a fight, remember that your safety is paramount. “Your dog is only concentrating on fighting and will bite whatever comes close to their mouth,” said Barr. “Do not place your hands near their mouth; the use of verbal commands by both owners should be done first.” If that does not work, attempts to pull the two fighting dogs apart should only be done very, very carefully.

In addition to fights, another risk to consider is the exposure to diseases carried and transmitted by other dogs. “While this is an uncommon occurrence, the transmission of respiratory diseases (like kennel cough) and GI viral diseases (like parvo) can occur at dog parks,” Barr said. If these risks concern you, alternatives, such as doggy day care facilities that have vaccination records of all the dogs, or supervised doggy play dates with a familiar dog, are options to consider.

If you do decide that your dog is a viable candidate for the dog park, choose a park best suited for both you and Rover. “An area with access to running water to fill up your dogs’ bowl is ideal, and a fence is a must,” said Barr. It is smart to consider the location of the park, as it should be positioned away from any major roads and easily accessible to you, and to be aware of the rules and regulations specific to that park.

Just as you would do with your child, never let Rover out of your sight and always be cautious of your surroundings. A dog park can be a great experience for the right dog, and it is up to you to decide if the benefits outweigh the risks.

Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University. Stories can be viewed on the Web at vetmed.tamu.edu/news/pet-talk. Suggestions for future topics may be directed to editor@cvm.tamu.edu.

Controlling Your Cat’s Hairballs

Many pet owners love their feline friends, and will do whatever it takes to keep them relaxed and happy. This makes it especially alarming for pet-owners to witness their cat suffer from the discomforting symptoms that come with hairballs. Knowing how to prevent this common problem and how to treat it when it occurs is essential to keeping your cat healthy.

“A hairball is an accumulation of hair in the GI tract,” said James Barr, associate professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM).” It simply accumulates together and is usually contained within the stomach.”

A hairball is formed when cats accidently ingest loose hair while cleaning their fur. The fur that is not digested accumulates in the stomach, forming a hairball.

While clinical signs of hairballs may vary, common symptoms include decreased appetite, constipation, and vomiting.

“In the worst case scenario, the hair passes through the stomach and lodges in the small intestine,” said Barr. “The result is an obstruction in the GI tract which can be life threatening.”

If you believe your cat is feeling sick due to a hairball it is important to see your veterinarian right away. They may prescribe medication or give treatments that can help cats deal with the discomfort associated with hairballs.

“Numerous cats, especially those with long hair, will occasionally vomit up hairballs and not show any clinical signs, which may be completely normal for your cat,” said Barr. ” If there seems to be an abnormal amount of hairballs produced, then steps should be taken to prevent the pet from ingesting  large amounts of hair or to help the hair move through the GI tract before it accumulates together.”

Pet owners can also help reduce the severity of their cat’s hairballs by frequently brushing the cat and discouraging it from excessively grooming itself.

“There are over-the-counter medications that are designed for cats with hairballs to aid in digestion,” said Barr. “As always, if there are concerns for your cat’s health, please call your veterinarian for guidance.”

About Pet Talk

Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University. Stories can be viewed on the Web at vetmed.tamu.edu/news/pet-talk. Suggestions for future topics may be directed to editor@cvm.tamu.edu.

Springtime Gardening and Pet Safety

Spring is the season for being outdoors. For many that mean slipping on their rubber boots and gloves, grabbing their shovel, and planting seeds in the hope of an ample garden in the near future. While preparing your plot, it’s important to take steps to ensure that it’s safe for your pets to enjoy as well.

“When planting your garden it is important to note that there are numerous house and garden plants which can be toxic to animals,” said James Barr, Assistant Professor at the Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. “Some include brunfelsia, oleander, and even lilies.”

Brunfelsia, also known as the “yesterday, today & tomorrow” plant, causes convulsive seizures in dogs, while cycads, low growing palm trees used indoors and outdoors, are toxic to the liver of dogs and they trend to chew on the roots.

“When the liver is contaminated, the dog’s body stops producing the normal clotting factors and the dog starts bleeding excessively. This can progress to the point where the dog bleeds to death,” said Barr.

While brunfelsia and cycads have not been known to cause problems in cats, lilies are especially harmful to them. Once ingested, cats develop symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, depression, and will stop eating altogether.

“Once ingested, the cat must be treated by a veterinarian, preferably within 24 hours and not later than 48 hours,” said Barr. “The toxin(s) present in the lilies are very toxic to the kidneys.”

Kolanchoe is a house plant that is known to be toxic. It contains a chemical which is similar to the human heart medication, digoxin.

“The garden plant oleander also contains digoxin-like compounds. Both kolanchoe and oleander can be toxic to all animals, including dogs and cats, if ingested,” said Barr.

Spring is a great time to enjoy the outdoors. Taking the time to make sure that everything you put in your yard is safe for your pet will ensure this time is special for the entire family.

About Pet Talk

Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University. Stories can be viewed on the Web at vetmed.tamu.edu/news/pet-talk. Suggestions for future topics may be directed to editor@cvm.tamu.edu.