6 Household Items Toxic to Dogs

from the Whole Foods Journal

By Editorial Staff Published:February 9, 2024

Dog Dangers eBook from Whole Dog Journal

This probably goes without saying, but always keep potentially harmful items in closets, drawers, or cabinets that your dog can’t open, not on a table or countertop or in a bag left on the floor. Make sure your kids understand these rules. And always supervise your dog’s play indoors and out. A curious puppy or dog can quickly find a way into even items that seem harmless — but can actually be quite harmful to pets. Here’s a rundown of common things you might have in your home.

  1. Xylitol. It’s a low-calorie sweetener that is derived from birch trees. It was first created in Finland during World War II, when sugar supplies were interrupted. Xylitol has a lot of dental benefits for humans, including the prevention of cavities, dental plaque, dry mouth, and bad breath. It also has the unique ability to remineralize tooth enamel. You can find xylitol in candy, nasal sprays, mouthwash, gum and as an artificial sweetener. Dogs, however, should not consume xylitol. In dogs, xylitol causes a rapid drop in blood sugar. This can cause seizures in dogs, which sometimes lead to death.
  2. Chocolate. While the rule that the darker the chocolate, the healthier it is may be true for people, the opposite is true for dogs. Chocolate’s problem ingredients are theobromine and caffeine, which dogs absorb through their gastrointestinal tracts too fast and put damaging stress on the liver. In dark chocolate, these naturally occuring ingredients are more concentrated and are likely to lead to serious problems, death included. Note: Cocoa powder, in some cases, can be as concentrated as dark or baking chocolate. Even cocoa bean shell mulch, a popular garden product, can be toxic when swallowed by chocolate-craving chow hounds.
  3. Grapes and Raisins. The toxicity of grapes to dogs is still not really understood by scientists. Reactions vary from dog to dog. Some dogs can eat grapes regularly and never have problems. Accidentally eating a few grapes probably won’t affect a dog of any size. But when ingested in siginificant quantities – as little as 2.5 ounces – this fruit can cause kidney failure.
  4. Onions. Onions and their cousins, garlic, are rich in a compound called thiosulphate, which is toxic to dogs. Being much more thiosulphate-potent than garlic, onions pose a threat to dogs if they eat just a single serving – about one good-sized onion. Thiosulphate causes hemolytic anemia (“Heinz factor”) in dogs, a condition that bursts red blood cells. Symptoms of hemolytic anemia can develop in a range of time – generally within a few hours, but can also be after a few days. Signs of hemolytic anemia include depression, weakness, no interest in food, vomiting and diarrhea. In a progressed case, the dog’s urine will become red from dam-aged blood cells. As oxygen-carrying red blood cells die off and leave the dog’s body, the dog becomes suffocated.
  5. Garlic. Garlic is a tricky one because when used topically and sprinkled over food, it is great for dogs. It fights ear infections, internal infections, boosts immune systems and lowers blood sugar. But it also contains thiosulphate. Many holistic veterinarians and health care experts believe that feeding doses up to 1 small clove of garlic per 20 pounds of body weight per day are not likely to pose problems for dogs. When uses topically for wounds or ear infections, it is harm-less. If your dog were to eat a whole head of garlic, on the other hand, refer to the earlier section on onions.
  6. Macadamia Nuts. The good news is that we have no documented cases of macadamia nut poisoning that has led to death. It alleviates after it passes through the dog – in around 12 to 36 hours. The bad news is symptoms are dramatic. Hind-end weakness, lethargy, depression, vomiting, and diarrhea all come after eating as little as 1 gram of macadamia nuts per pound of a dog’s body weight.

For a more comprehensive guide on keeping your dog safe, download Dog Dangers now.

What Is a Veterinary Behaviorist?


The best in health, wellness, and positive training from America’s leading dog experts

By  Pat Miller, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KAPublished: March 2, 2024

When neither your dog trainer nor your veterinarian have been able to solve your dog’s problem behavior – such as aggression, extreme fear, obsessive/compulsive behavior, or separation anxiety – a consultation with a board certified veterinary behaviorist is advisable.

All experts approach problems from the perspective of their education and experience. Given a dog with problematic behavior, a trainer may recommend equipment changes, behavior modification, and management steps. A veterinarian may prescribe medications that reduce anxiety and increase social behavior.

A consultation with a board certified veterinary behaviorist can help solve the most troublesome dog behaviours.

Aggression, self-mutilation, phobic or extreme fear, obsessive or compulsive behaviors, and severe separation anxiety are the behaviors that most frequently prompt a consultation with a veterinary behaviorist.

However, behavioral problems can result from neurochemical imbalances, medical conditions, past life experiences, current living conditions, and every combination of these. Veterinary behaviorists are uniquely positioned to use tools from both medicine and behavior science to most accurately diagnose and efficiently treat dogs with severely problematic behavior, such as aggression, self-mutilation, phobic or extremely fearful behavior, obsessive or compulsive behaviors, and severe separation anxiety.

One of the most valuable benefits of working with a veterinary behaviorist is their extensive knowledge of how psychotropic medications can further your dog’s behavior modification program. (By law, only veterinarians can prescribe or give you prescription medication for your dog.)

Some owners are resistant to using behavior medication for their dogs. Sometimes their resistance stems from working with a veterinarian who wasn’t experienced enough with behavior-modifying medications to tweak the dog’s prescriptions for the best results. The client’s dog may have been given medication that was too strong (“I don’t want my dog to be a zombie!”) or too weak (“It didn’t do anything!”).

This is sad, because often medication can make the most impactful contribution to improving the dog’s quality of life. In many cases, the right medication(s) can make a good training professional’s behavior-modification program much more successful, much sooner. If you are working with a skilled training professional, the addition of the right medication might make the visit with the behaviorist unnecessary!

But if neither your trainer nor your vet have answers to your dog’s challenging behavior – or when they are failing to work together to provide an all-encompassing treatment plan for your dog – a consultation with a veterinary behaviorist is well worth the cost.


Would it surprise you to learn that literally anyone can call himself or herself a behaviorist? The title means nothing. There are any number of dog trainers – qualified and unqualified, educated and uneducated – who call themselves behaviorists. However, here are a few titles that include “behaviorist” that actually do mean something:

-Veterinary behaviorist. Only licensed veterinarians who have been certified by the can use the title of veterinary behaviorist. The formal term is Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Behaviorists (DACVB). You can find veterinary behaviorists at dacvb.org/search/.

-There is another professional organization that has “veterinary” and “behavior” in its title – the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) – but it does not provide certification of any kind. Veterinarians and persons holding a PhD in animal behavior or a related field may join this membership organization, but it does not confer certifications or presuppose a level of expertise in animal behavior. Behavior consultants who are members of AVSAB are listed on its website (avsab.org/directory/).

-Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (CAAB) and Associate Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (ACAAB). These are scientists, educators, or other animal professionals with advanced academic backgrounds in the principles of animal behavior. Certification for these titles is provided by the Animal Behavior Society, which describes its certificants this way: “A professional applied animal behaviorist has demonstrated expertise in the principles of animal behavior, in the research methods of animal behavior, in the application of animal behavior principles to applied behavior problems, and in the dissemination of knowledge about animal behavior through teaching and research.” You can find these professionals at animalbehaviorsociety.org/web/committees-applied-behavior-directory.php.

-Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC) and Certified Animal Behavior Consultant (CABC). These certifications are bestowed by the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC), which offers animal credentialing examinations for several animal species and specialties. Obtaining a CDBC credential indicates a superior level of knowledge as well as skill in practical application of behavior change principles following least intrusive, minimally aversive (LIMA)-based strategies.

What to Expect From a Veterinary Behaviorist Consultation

A particularly thorough medical and behavior history is the first prerequisite for any veterinary behaviorist consultation, with the behavior history being the longest and most detailed part of the intake form. When did the problematic behavior first start, how often does it happen, and how has it changed?

The behaviorist also needs to know what interventions have been tried and how the dog responded to those treatments. The intake form will also ask the owner, “What are your goals for your dog? What outcome do you hope for?”

If the problematic behavior is unlikely to be observed in a veterinary office setting, the owner will be asked to try to capture video of the dog while he’s displaying the troubling behavior. Video can often provide the most valuable clues to the causes or significant contributors to the dog’s behavior.

After reviewing all of the above, the veterinary behaviorist will then meet with the dog and owner in order to observe the dog’s behavior first hand (or at least via a video conference).

At the end of the first visit, the client is usually given some management strategies that can be implemented right away – especially if the dog’s behavior has the potential for endangering anyone.

Afterward, the veterinary behaviorist will prepare a comprehensive treatment plan for the dog’s owner, which is typically reviewed and discussed in a subsequent appointment. The plan may include a request for medical tests (or further medical tests) in order to diagnose or rule out medical contributors to the problematic behavior. Usually, it will also include recommendations for the owner to undertake behavior modification exercises under the guidance of a training professional working with or recommended by the veterinary behaviorist.

The treatment plan may also recommend the use of supportive therapies such as supplements, nutritional therapy, and/or prescription medications (when appropriate).

Because there are few veterinary behaviorists, it’s impossible for many dog owners to book an in-person consultation with one. That’s why most of these professionals also offer phone or video consultations with their clients’ veterinarians. Instead of seeing the dog and owner, they will review the veterinarian’s report of the dog’s issues and directly communicate with the dog’s veterinarian to offer suggestions for further medical testing, medication, and behavioral interventions.


Veterinary behaviorists are veterinarians who have achieved board certification in the specialty of veterinary behavior. Certification takes a minimum of three years of study and training after a candidate has obtained a veterinary graduate degree.  The certifying board for this specialty is the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists (ACVB); certificants, who are known as Diplomates, may use the initials DACVB along with DVM after their names.

To gain board certification, candidates must complete at least one year of internship or primary care practice. They must also undertake additional behavior-specific training, which includes at least three years of case supervision by an established DACVB. They must also conduct original behavior research that earns publication in a peer-reviewed journal, author three formal case reports that are approved by a review committee of Diplomates, and pass a rigorous two-day board examination administered by the ACVB.

There are only about 95 DACVBs located throughout the world (though other countries also certify veterinary behaviorists).

Some veterinary behaviorists have a solo practice, where they provide clients with support and referrals to other training or medical professionals as necessary. Others work in group practices, where other staff veterinarians can provide any diagnostic tests that the veterinary behaviorist recommends and staff trainers will work with the client and the client’s dog on behavior modification exercises.

Sample Case History

We asked a veterinary behaviorist to describe a typical case to illustrate how these professionals draw on their medical and behavioral expertise differently than their vet or trainer peers. Chris Pachel, DVM, DACVB, CABC, owner of the Animal Behavior Clinic in Portland, Oregon, accommodated us with a description of one of his veterinarian-to-veterinarian consultations.

The patient was a 3-year-old, intact male Labrador who had perpetrated a number of troubling episodes of what was described as unpredictable and unprovoked aggression in his home. His humans were highly experienced dog owners who were active in dog sports and had other dogs in the home, including additional dogs who would sometimes stay with them in a casual boarding scenario.

While the patient was usually a social butterfly with an affable temperament, the owners described a number of incidents where he had suddenly behaved aggressively. Fortunately, they had three of these incidents captured on video, thanks to their home security system.

One incident, where the patient became aggressive with his male owner, occurred in the backyard of the home when other dogs were present. In another incident, the dog aggressed toward that man’s mother when she moved a chair that was three or four feet from the dog. In the third incident captured on video, the patient aggressed toward a visiting dog.

Since the patient was perfectly social and appropriate in between these incidents – even in situations that were identical to the conditions in which he showed aggression – the owners brought the dog to their vet. About six months prior to the first aggressive incident, the dog had slipped and fallen with his front legs splayed out in an unnatural position. His owners were concerned that he might be experiencing pain that caused him to lash out at others.

On physical exam, their vet did find some pain and prescribed pain medication. The dog’s pain went away, but the troubling behavior did not. So, with the clients’ approval, the veterinarian scheduled a consultation with Dr. Pachel.

“It’s always necessary to have someone provide a thorough physical examination, but it doesn’t have to be me,” Dr. Pachel explains. In this case, he discussed the results of the primary care veterinarian’s physical exam, neurologic exam, and notes regarding the dog’s response to pain medication; he also read the behavior history and viewed the owner’s video clips.

From early on, Dr. Pachel suspected a medical cause for the aggression. “What stood out to me was the inconsistent relationship between the antecedents (things that happened around the dog prior to the aggression) and the behavior,” Dr. Pachel says.

“Seeing the variability and expression of those aggressive behaviors, and understanding that the dog has been in identical situations hundreds of times without eliciting any aggression – the most notable thing about the incidents were how inconsistent they were. That increased my level of suspicion that something internal, not external, was driving the incidents. The inconsistency also made me think about potential causes that have a waxing and waning, variable expression, such as hormonal issues or endocrine- related disorders.”

Dr. Pachel first suggested that the dog’s vet run a comprehensive thyroid profile (laboratory test). Dogs whose bodies produce too much or too little thyroid often experience changes in behavior and coping skills. However, the test results were normal.

Next, he considered endocrine conditions that could have an intermittent influence, impacting the dog’s ability to respond to mild provocations and stress. He suggested testing the dog for Addison’s disease – which may have appeared to the dog’s primary care vet as a stretch. “The dog had never had an Addisonian crisis (collapse, lethargy, dehydration), his electrolytes were normal – there were none of the hints in his bloodwork that would make you want to run an ACTH stim test (a test that demonstrates the capacity of the dog’s adrenal glands to produce cortisol),” describes Dr. Pachel. “It was the waxing and waning nature of the aberrant behavior and lack of response to other treatments that led me in that direction.”

While he may have thought the test was a shot in the dark, when the results came back, the dog’s primary care vet was happy to report that the picture was now clear: The dog had Addison’s disease, a deficiency of the hormones that regulate electrolytes, blood pressure, hydration, metabolism, and … stress responses! Addison’s patients require lifelong supplementation of those hormones, but thankfully, with treatment, the dog’s troubling behaviors stopped.

Is it just marketing?

It bears repeating: Anyone can call themselves a behaviorist. The term doesn’t guarantee that they are educated or experienced with complex behavior problems. When hiring a dog trainer, we recommend you choose a behavior professional who is certified by and/or a member of one of the organizations we list here: whole-dog-journal.com/training/find-the-best-trainer-for-you-and-your-dog.

Any ethical behavior professional will explore your dog’s behavior with you, help with behavior modification if they can, and refer you to a veterinary behaviorist if they realize your dog’s issues are beyond their experience and capabilities, or if their efforts to help are not successful.

Pat Miller, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA

Pat Miller, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA, grew up in a family that was blessed with lots of animal companions: dogs, cats, horses, rabbits, goats, and more, and has maintained that model ever since. She spent the first 20 years of her professional life working at the Marin Humane Society in Marin County, California, for most of that time as a humane officer and director of operations. She continually studied the art and science of dog training and behavior during that time, and in 1996, left MHS to start her own training and behavior business, Peaceable Paws. Pat has earned a number of titles from various training organizations, including Certified Behavior Consultant Canine-Knowledge Assessed (CBCC-KA) and Certified Professional Dog Trainer – Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA). She also founded Peaceable Paws Academies for teaching and credentialing dog training and behavior professionals, who can earn “Pat Miller Certified Trainer” certifications. She and her husband Paul and an ever-changing number of dogs, horses, and other animal companions live on their 80-acre farm in Fairplay, Maryland.

Household Cleaner Puts Puppies at Risk, a Veterinary Toxicologist Says


Many cleaning products contain chemicals that, in large enough amounts, can be toxic to animals.



Cleaning products are crucial to keeping our homes clean and fresh. But are they safe for the furry creatures that live with us? Pets like cats and dogs stick their noses in so many things, not all of which are good for them. With that in mind, here’s how to ensure your cleaning routine is safe for your non-human best friend.


Many cleaning products contain chemicals that, in large enough amounts, can be toxic to humans and animals. Senior veterinary toxicologist Ahna Brutlag at the Pet Poison Helpline and member of the American Board of Veterinary Toxicology, says bleach, ammonium, phosphoric acid, hydrogen peroxide, sodium hydroxide, and any type of phenol all appear in common household cleaners. When applied to the eyes or skin, like the exposed paw pads, they can irritate and even burn your furry friend.

But there is some good news: The concentration of these products matters, Brutlag says. Multipurpose surface and glass cleaners, for example, “have a pretty wide margin of safety,” she tells Inverse. What’s most crucial is using these products according to their directions. For example, if a spray directs you to rinse a surface with water after applying, then you certainly should.

Brutlag also suggests keeping pets away from freshly spritzed areas. A rule of thumb is that the area is safe again once you can no longer smell it. At that point, the spray has set and evaporated into the ether. Opening a window or turning on a ventilator while you’re cleaning can help to circulate fresh air for you and your pets and get rid of the smell faster.


Opting for homemade cleaners made from vinegar, baking soda, and lemon isn’t necessarily safer, either. Vinegar may seem like a more wholesome option, but it will still sting your cat’s tongue if they walk through some and then groom themselves.

Brutlag calls out exotic pets. Birds are vulnerable to inhaling airborne particles that aerosols and spray bottles produce, so removing them from a room when using these chemicals is imperative. Amphibians can absorb compounds through their skin, so ensuring they’re safely locked away in their enclosures is a must. Once a cleaner’s scent disappears, feel free to uncover their tank again.


More potent, corrosive cleaners like oven, drain, and toilet cleaners and rust removers, “have the potential to be significantly more harmful for people and pets.” These more caustic ingredients come in higher concentrations, so these products are much less diluted. “An ingredient is safe or dangerous based on the concentration,” she says.

These products also have a significantly higher or lower pH balance, which measures how acid or alkaline a substance is on a scale of 0 to 14. Water, for example, is completely neutral at 7. Bleach, oven cleaner, and drain cleaner come in at 13 and 14, making them extremely basic. These extremes make them such effective cleansers, but if you’re still concerned about their potency, you can dilute them further.

Dogs, especially puppies, are at high risk for poisoning because of their penchant for eating foreign objects. The form a cleaner comes in may also make it more dangerous to animals. According to David Dorman, professor of toxicology at North Carolina State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, bite-sized dish and washing machine pods are of particular risk to dogs, who love putting things in their mouth. He urges pet owners not to discount any substance as a potential harm. This isn’t to say you should stop buying them, but rather that you should use and store them carefully.

Another aspect of cleaning and pet safety comes from how well-prepared you are. Dorman has three safety rules: “Prevention, prevention, and prevention,” he tells Inverse. Properly storing cleaning agents out of reach can save you and your pet a world of suffering. If that fails, then having a poison control number on the fridge means less vital time wasted looking up information.

If your pet walks through a puddle of cleaner or spills some on their coat, their skin or eyes may burn. You may notice your pet pawing at their eyes or chewing on a body part more than usual. In some cases, the strongest corrosives can even burn your pet’s tongue. Dorman suggests doing your best to wash the exposed area off with running water, though he acknowledges not every pet, especially those in discomfort, will be amenable to that.

Household cleaners are safe to keep around your pets as long as you’re mindful of where you keep them and how you use them. Provided you do that, cleaning around your pets should be a stress-free chore.


Angel Fund Helps Cheeto, a Tabby, with Blocked Bladder

One day a few weeks ago, Ashley Bettencourt came home from her job as a pre-school teacher and found her tabby cat Cheeto in distress.

“He wasn’t himself,” she said. “He wasn’t eating.  He was lethargic and was lying on the tile in the hallway.  He wasn’t moving.  Nothing worked that I knew would make him excited. 

“I thought maybe he was constipated but I pressed on his belly and it was really hard.  It made me nervous.  So I called the Cat Care Clinic where my in-laws take their cats.  After taking him in for an examination, I was told that he had a blocked bladder – he wasn’t able to urinate.”

That was on a Friday.  Dr. Maggie Mills treated Cheeto.  “They didn’t have to do surgery but they kept him in the hospital the whole weekend so they could keep an eye on him,” Ashley said.  “They put in a catheter.  But they said he took it out himself.  So they put the tubes back in and he didn’t fight them again. 

“When I took him in to the clinic, I wasn’t expecting what was coming,” she said. “I thought he was constipated and they would fix it and I would take him home.   So when it came time to pay I was like, ‘I can’t do this.’

But the staff at Cat Care was understanding and helpful.   April, the assistant practice manager, “was so sweet and nice,” Ashley said.   “She printed me out a list of foundations that could help and she pointed out who to call and told me what to do.   Angel Fund was the first to say, ‘We’ll help you.’  I had never done something like that before.  It was overwhelming in a good way.

“I went home and I cried that night.  I thought what happened was amazing.  I couldn’t believe it.”  She said that she found another charitable group that helped pay her bill.  And the Cat Care Clinic found some money from another fund and they used that to help as well, she said.

“They said (at Cat Care) that, if we couldn’t do this, they would have had to euthanize Cheeto.  He always had been such a healthy cat that is horrible to even think about.  I love that Angel Fund and the veterinary association are letting people know about this.   I wouldn’t have known if it wasn’t for Dr. Mills and April.”

Cheeto recovered quickly.  “Now, he is good, he’s happy,” Ashley said.  “He’s lost a lot of weight.  But he’s eating well. He’s drinking a lot of water.   And he’s fine, he’s active and he’s playing with our other cats.”

Cheeto is the father of the other cats, Roxy, Khola Man and Sprinkles – all named by Ashley’s daughters.  There is also a dog in the family, Benny a miniature Doberman, with whom Cheeto is a best buddy.  “We are a house that loves our fur babies,” Ashley said.

Cheeto became a member of the family after Ashley’s husband found him hiding among tires at the warehouse where he worked.  He was a three-week-old kitten at the time and had to be bottle fed.

Ashley is a single parent to three daughters: Bella, 13; Skylar, 11 and Audrina, 7.  She loves her job as a pre-school teacher.  “It’s challenging but I love it.  my students are four and five.  They talk fast but they’re willing to learn and they love it.”

Cat-transmitted sporotrichosis: A looming threat?

infectious disease news logo

ByCaitlyn Stulpin Fact checked byCarol L. DiBerardino, MLA, ELS

A potential threat on the CDC’s radar is a fungal infection being transmitted by feral cats — initially in Brazil, but now in other countries as well.

Cats carry high loads of Sporothrix brasiliensis 
that are easily transmitted to other animals and humans.
Image: Adobe Stock

The CDC issued a warning last year about the potential threat of sporotrichosis in the U.S.

According to CDC, cats carry high loads of Sporothrix brasiliensis that are easily transmitted to other animals and humans via bites and scratches, contact with lesions, droplet exposure and inhalation.

“It’s super contagious, so you can imagine where it just took off in the feral cat population. There are hundreds of thousands of feral cats in these cities,” Tom M. Chiller, MD, MPHTM, chief of the CDC’s Mycotic Diseases Branch, told Healio, referring to the large cities in Brazil where it was first recognized. “Before you knew it, you saw this increase from 100 cases to 1,000 to hundreds of thousands of cases in cats.”

According to the CDC, sporotrichosis has spread across Brazil and other areas of South America but has not been identified in the U.S.

“A cat can shake its head and the spores can fly and land on your skin and you can become infected. That’s unheard of for these types of fungi,” Chiller said. “It’s a bit freaky that this organism has the ability now to be infectious in this other form. That concerns me.”

In 2022, researchers reported the first three cases of cat-transmitted sporotrichosis outside South America, occurring in the United Kingdom. According to the report, the first case was in an older woman with no history of recent travel to Brazil or immunosuppression who was scratched by a domestic cat. The second case occurred in the woman’s daughter, who also had no history of recent travel to Brazil but had been scratched by the same cat. The third case was in a healthy veterinarian who was scratched by the same cat during an exam at his veterinary practice.

The infections were “likely acquired from an indoor domestic cat which had previously lived in South-Eastern Brazil 3 years previously,” the authors concluded. “This suggests that S. brasiliensis can lay dormant for many years and has implications for global public health.”

The authors urged veterinarians to be vigilant in taking a travel history when seeing cats with unexplained lesions and for animal health authorities worldwide to reexamine border control policies to consider pre-import screening of cats from endemic areas.

According to Chiller, no human-to-human transmission has been documented yet.


Published by:infectious disease news logo

Novel cancer vaccine offers new hope for dogs — and those who love them

A Yale researcher developed a vaccine that can slow or halt certain cancers in dogs. And it could be used to treat humans in the future.

By Mallory Locklear march 5, 2024

During a sunny morning on Florida’s Gulf Coast last month, an 11-year-old golden retriever named Hunter bounded through a pine grove. Snatching his favorite toy, a well-chewed tennis ball attached to a short rope, he rolled through the tall grass, with an energy that seemed inexhaustible. A passerby might not have even noticed that this playful golden has only three legs.

For Deana Hudgins, the dog’s owner, it seems almost unthinkable that two years ago Hunter was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a form of bone cancer that kills upwards of 65% of the dogs it afflicts within 12 months, in his left front leg.

For many years Hunter worked alongside his owner as a search-and-rescue dog, helping find victims of building collapses and other disasters. He no longer performs those duties, but does still help Hudgins train other dogs. The energetic golden can also run, fetch, and catch as well as ever.

And two years since his initial diagnosis, Hunter has no signs of cancer. The dog’s life-saving treatment incorporated typical approaches, including amputation of the left leg and chemotherapy. But Hunter also received a novel therapy — a cancer vaccine developed by Yale’s Mark Mamula.

If we can provide some benefit, some relief — a pain-free life — that is the best outcome that we could ever have.”

The treatment, a form of immunotherapy that is currently under review by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which regulates animal treatments, has been subject to multiple clinical trials over the past eight years. And the results are promising; for hundreds of dogs, including Hunter, the vaccine has proved effective.

Mamula, a professor of medicine (rheumatology) at Yale School of Medicine, believes the vaccine offers a badly needed weapon in the fight against canine cancer.

“Dogs, just like humans, get cancer spontaneously; they grow and metastasize and mutate, just like human cancers do,” said Mamula. “My own dog died of an inoperable cancer about 11 years ago. Dogs just like humans suffer greatly from their cancers.

“If we can provide some benefit, some relief — a pain-free life — that is the best outcome that we could ever have.”

Even as recently as a decade ago, Mamula didn’t anticipate that he would one day develop a cancer vaccine for dogs. A rheumatology researcher, he studies autoimmune diseases like lupus and Type 1 diabetes and how the body gives rise to them.

But that work eventually led him to cancer research as well.

Autoimmune diseases, Mamula says, are characterized by the immune system attacking the body’s own tissues; in the case of Type 1 diabetes, the immune system targets cells in the pancreas.

Then several years ago, using what they knew about autoimmunity, Mamula and his research team developed a potential cancer treatment that they say initiates a targeted immune response against tumors.

“In many ways tumors are like the targets of autoimmune diseases,” he said. “Cancer cells are your own tissue and are attacked by the immune system. The difference is we want the immune system to attack a tumor.”

It was a chance meeting with a veterinary oncologist soon thereafter that made Mamula think that this novel treatment might work well in dogs.

Targeting tumors

About 10,000 dogs are diagnosed each year with osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer. With typical treatment, only 30% of dogs with this type of cancer live longer than 12 months. (Courtesy of Deana Hudgins)

There are about 90 million dogs, living in 65 million households, in the United States alone. Around one in four dogs will get cancer. Among dogs 10 years or older, that ratio jumps to around one in two.

Yet the therapies used to treat these cancers remain fairly antiquated, Mamula says.

“There have been very few new canine cancer treatments developed in decades — it’s a field that is begging for improvement,” he said.

In 2015, Mamula met a veterinary oncologist named Gerry Post. During his 35-year career Post has treated cancer in snakes, turtles, and zoo animals. But most of his patients are dogs and cats.

Through conversations with Post, Mamula realized that it wouldn’t be difficult to make the leap from human to dog cancers. Together they would launch an early-phase study into Mamula’s dog cancer vaccine.

“Dog and human cancers are quite similar in a number of ways,” said Post, chief medical officer of One Health Company, a canine cancer treatment group, and an adjunct professor of comparative medicine at Yale School of Medicine. “Whether it’s how the cancers appear under the microscope, how the cancers behave, respond to chemotherapy, develop resistance, and metastasize.”

After talking with a veterinary oncologist, Mamula realized that it wouldn’t be difficult to make the leap from addressing human cancers to dog cancers.

Even the types of cancers that afflict dogs and humans are similar. Like humans, dogs can get melanoma, breast cancer, colon cancer, and osteosarcoma, among others.

When it comes to curing these diseases, these similarities bring an important benefit: understanding cancer in one species will help scientists understand cancer in the other. And treatments that work well for one may actually work well for both.

Several types of cancers in both humans and dogs have been found to overexpress proteins known as epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2). These include colorectal cancer, breast cancer, and osteosarcoma. One type of treatment currently given to human patients with these cancers involves monoclonal antibodies, proteins that can bind to and affect the function of EGFR and/or HER2. However, patients can develop a resistance to them and their effects wane over time.

For their treatment, Mamula and his team wanted to take a different approach.

Monoclonal antibody treatments are produced from one immune cell and bind to one part of the EGFR/HER2 molecules, but Mamula and his team wanted to induce a polyclonal response.

Doing so, he says, would create antibodies from multiple immune cells, rather than just one, which could bind to multiple parts of the EGFR/HER2 molecules instead of a single area. This would, in theory, reduce the likelihood of developing resistance.

The research team, led by Hester Doyle and Renelle Gee, who are both members of Mamula’s Yale lab, with assistance from the New Haven-based biotechnology company L2 Diagnostics, LLC, tested many different candidates in order to find just the right compound. They eventually found one.

After first testing it in mice, and finding promising results, they initiated their first clinical trial in dogs in 2016.

Hester Doyle, Mark Mamula, Renelle Gee.
In Mamula’s lab, from left, Hester Doyle, Mark Mamula, and Renelle Gee. (Photo by Allie Barton)

‘I was willing to try whatever I could’

Deana Hudgins knew there was something special about Hunter before she brought him home as an 8-week-old puppy, back in 2012, and began training him to be her next search-and-rescue partner.

The smallest of 18 puppies from two litters, Hunter wasn’t the obvious choice when she began looking for a partner.

“He was the runt,” said Hudgins, who has been training search-and-rescue dogs since 2001 and now runs her own company, the Center for Forensic Training and Education, which provides canine training in Ohio and Florida. “But in his case, it made him a little scrappy. He was small but very confident and very brave.

“When all of the other puppies were sleeping at the end of the day, he was still running around, climbing all of the toys, retrieving things. We need confident puppies, and that’s what he possessed.”

Hunter searching debris after Hurricane Michael made landfall in 2018.
Hunter searches debris after Hurricane Michael made landfall in Florida in 2018. (Courtesy of Deana Hudgins)

By the time he was a year old, Hunter began aiding searches at sites across the United States, working with local law enforcement and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), following natural disasters. His first search, in 2014, was at the site of a mudslide in Oso, Washington that killed 43 people. In his final FEMA search, he helped search for victims of the devastating condominium collapse in the Miami suburb of Surfside, Florida, in June 2021. Hunter was involved in hundreds of searches in the years between.

In 2022, Hunter was still very active — and had just earned another service certification — when Hudgins noticed that he seemed uncharacteristically sore following a five-day training class.

“I’ve always been very proactive with my dogs because I spend every day with them, and so I notice very little things,” she said. “And he’s not a dog to limp.”

A veterinarian assumed that Hunter had strained something, suggesting anti-inflammatories, but Hudgins insisted on an x-ray. The test revealed the osteosarcoma in Hunter’s leg.

After doing a lot of research, and consulting with different veterinary groups about what steps to take, Hudgins decided that amputation offered the best chance for Hunter’s survival, along with chemotherapy.

Hudgins and her dog (and former sergeant rescue partner) Hunter
Hudgins with Hunter, her dog (and former search-and-rescue partner). (Courtesy of Deana Hudgins)

But during that research, Hudgins had also come across Mamula’s vaccine trial. So she reached out to a colleague, James Hatch, a former Navy SEAL who trained dogs in the military and whose nonprofit supports service dogs. Hudgins knew that Hatch also happened to be at Yale, where he is a student in the Eli Whitney Students Program.

“I was willing to try whatever I could to keep [Hunter] around as long as possible,” said Hudgins. “We ask a lot of our working dogs. They work in environments that are very dangerous and often deadly. And my promise to all of them is I will do whatever I have to do to give them the best, healthiest, longest life possible. Dogs don’t survive this disease so there was no downside to me for trying the vaccine.”

Hatch connected her with Mamula, and soon Hunter was part of the clinical trial. He received his first vaccine dose ahead of his amputation surgery, his second before initiating chemotherapy, and a booster last summer.

Twenty-two months since his cancer diagnosis, Hunter is now considered a long-term osteosarcoma survivor and Hudgins says he’s thriving.

“He adjusted very well to his front limb amputation,” she said. “He continues to run around the yard. He swims in the pool. He comes with me to training and chases the other dogs around the yard.”

Hunter, with three legs, on a boat
After consulting with doctors at The Ohio State University Veterinary Medical Center, Hudgins decided to have Hunter’s front left leg amputated. Hudgins credits that surgery, along with the Yale-developed vaccine, for the osteosarcoma remission. (Courtesy of Deana Hudgins)

During a recent morning in Florida, Hunter drifted toward a nearby pond while playing outside. Hudgins, knowing the potential risks of straying too close to a pond in Florida (“There are alligators everywhere.”), quickly called him back. Hunter immediately returned to her.

“From a very young age, Hunter wanted to learn the rules of the game,” she said. “He was eager to go to work every day. I am very, very lucky to have been able to be his partner for 10 years. Hunter is one of those once-in-a-lifetime dogs.”

‘A whole new toolbox’

Hunter’s positive response to the treatment is one many other dogs have experienced as well.

To date, more than 300 dogs have been treated with the vaccine during a series of clinical trials, which are still ongoing at 10 sites in the U.S. and Canada. The findings, which have been published in a peer-reviewed study, have shown that the treatment creates antibodies that are able to home in on and bind to tumors, and then interfere with the signaling pathways responsible for tumor growth.

According to the research team, the vaccine increases the 12-month survival rates of dogs with certain cancers from about 35% to 60%. For many of the dogs, the treatment also shrinks tumors.

While future studies will determine if the vaccine can reduce the incidence of cancer in healthy dogs, the treatment for now remains a therapeutic treatment option after a cancer diagnosis has been made.

Witnessing the happiness that successful therapies provide to families with dogs is incredibly rewarding.

But even this represents something more than just “a new tool” in the fight against canine cancer, Post says. It’s a whole new toolbox.

“And in veterinary oncology, our toolbox is much smaller than that of human oncology,” he said. “This vaccine is truly revolutionary. I couldn’t be more excited to be a veterinary oncologist.”

Mamula has created a company, called TheraJan, which aims to eventually produce the vaccine. Last year, the company (whose name is inspired, in part, by the late Yale immunologist Charles Janeway, who was Mamula’s mentor) won a Faculty Innovation Award from Yale Ventures, a university initiative that supports innovation and entrepreneurship on campus and beyond.

While launching clinical tests of the vaccine’s effectiveness in humans may be a logical future step, for now Mamula is focused on getting USDA approval of the vaccine for dogs and distributed for wider use.

No matter where it goes, it’s a project close to his heart.

Mamula on a beach in Madison, CT with his golden retrievers Tripp and Sherman.
Mamula on a beach in Madison, Connecticut, with his golden retrievers, Tripp, left, and Sherman. (Photo by Allie Barton)

“I get many emails from grateful dog owners who had been told that their pets had weeks or months to live but who are now two or three years past their cancer diagnosis,” he said. “It’s a program that’s not only valuable to me as a dog lover. Witnessing the happiness that successful therapies provide to families with dogs is incredibly rewarding.”

And once the vaccine becomes available for public use, he says, for working dogs like Hunter it will always be free of charge.

 media contact Fred Mamoun: fred.mamoun@yale.edu, 203-436-2643

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What To Do If Your Dog Or Cat Is Stung By A Bee

Exploring new places with your pets often includes spending time outdoors. And being out in nature means you’re more likely to run into stinging insects. In this post you’ll learn what to do if your dog or cat is stung by a bee.

No one likes being stung. At the very least, it’s going to be uncomfortable. And because dogs and cats can have allergic reactions similar to humans, being stung by a bee can be a serious concern. Fortunately, there are some steps that you can take to help keep the bees at bay.

Avoid Confrontations

The safest strategy is to avoid a tangle with the wrong insect … though convincing your pets to cooperate can be difficult! So, it’s important to take some precautions to help your dog or cat stay away from bees.

Start in your yard by growing plants like chrysanthemums, lemongrass, or primrose, which don’t attract bees. When you and your pet are outside, burn citronella candles and don’t leave food outdoors. And make sure you’ve trained your dog to “leave it” whenever he’s tempted to put his nose where it doesn’t belong.

Your Dog Or Cat Has Stung By A Bee – Now What?!

Still, even if you take all the precautions, accidents happen. Pets can be stung on the face, inside the mouth, on their paws, or on other parts of their bodies if they snap at, sit on, or step on a bee. So it’s best to be prepared!

How To Tell If Your Pet Has Been Stung

If you don’t actually see your dog cat get stung by a bee you’ll need to look for other clues of the encounter. Check for swelling, pawing at the face, or obsessive licking. These are signs that your best friend has met business end of a stinger.

If you notice these symptoms, you’ll need to watch your pet carefully for the next few hours. Some animals, like some people, are highly sensitive to insect toxin. In those cases, your pet could experience Anaphylactic Shock, a severe allergic reaction which can cause the circulatory system to shut down.

Signs Of A Serious Allergic Reaction To A Bee Sting

If you notice any of the following symptoms, which usually occur within an hour of the sting, DO NOT DELAY in getting veterinary care:

1. Severe and profuse swelling (i.e. entire face as opposed to just the lip)

2. Difficulty breathing or increased respiratory effort possibly due to throat swelling

3. Very pale or blue-tinged mucous membranes (inner lips and gums)

4. Rapid and/or irregular pulse

5. Prolonged Capillary Refill Time (Refer to “Checking Your Pet’s Vital Signs,” but if gums are pale, or if it takes longer than 2 seconds for the color to return to the gum when pressed with your finger, your pet needs immediate medical care.)

Treating Your Pet’s Bee Sting

Even if your pet doesn’t appear to be having a severe reaction, the sting might still be painful. Keep a close on him while you gather the following items:

  • Cold Pack
  • Baking Soda or Meat Tenderizer Containing Papain
  • Epi-pen, if your pet has had previous encounters with bees and is known to be allergic
  • Water
  • Syringe, Eye Dropper, or Spray Bottle
  • Diphenhydramine/Benadryl®
    (Note: The product you purchase should contain diphenhydramine as the only active ingredient. Some products contain additional ingredients such as xylitol (in Benadryl no-sugar syrups) or decongestants such as pseudoepinephrine. Both xylitol and pseudoepinephrine are potentially lethal to dogs. So check with your vet, and only consider giving Benadryl if it contains diphenhydramine and nothing else.)

Depending on where your dog or cat has been stung by bee, there are some steps you can take to help speed their recovery.


— Offer your pet an ice cube or small amount of ice water to minimize swelling

— Seek immediate advice from your veterinarian, as the mucous membranes of the mouth will more quickly absorb the insect toxin. Should your pet’s tongue swell, giving rescue breathing might be impossible, and a veterinarian will be best equipped to help.


The stinger might be concealed in your pet’s fur, or it could already have been pawed away. But if you can see it, flick it away with a credit card, popsicle stick, or your finger nail. Do not pull the stinger with your fingers or tweezers as you can puncture the poison sac, allowing more toxin to enter your pet’s body.

If you have an epi-pen prescribed specifically for your pet due to previous allergic reactions, read and follow the attached instructions. Follow up immediately with your veterinarian as anaphylaxis can occur.

If you can locate the sting site, dab it with a paste made from 1 Tablespoon baking soda or meat tenderizer mixed with a drop of water. (Meat tenderizer and baking soda are both alkaline and work to counteract the acidity of the toxin. Also, the papain in tenderizers breaks down the protein in the toxin.)

Administer diphenhydramine (Benadryl® antihistamine). While this medication is generally considered safe for cats and dogs, consult with your veterinarian to determine the proper dosage. Also discuss any other medications your pet is taking and any pre-existing medical conditions. Diphenhydramine will help relieve mild allergic reactions and make your pet sleepy, allowing him to relax and prevent him from scratching the sting site. If swelling persists for more than 6-8 hours, consult your veterinarian for further treatment.

Apply a cold pack to reduce swelling, but remove every few minutes to avoid frostbite. Placing the cold pack in a damp washcloth will help keep your pet’s skin from getting too cold.

Homeopathic Tip: Apis Meliffica, also known as Honey Bee, can aid the body in reducing the burning or stinging pain.

Preparations For Traveling With Pets

Of course, bee stings don’t always happen when you’re at home. So make sure the items you’ll need to treat a bee sting are in the first aid kit in your car and in your hiking backpack.

Also, if your pet is too large to fit into your backpack, consider getting an emergency sling (affiliate link) that would allow you to carry him back to your car.

Being prepared allows you to give your pet the attention he needs quickly. And the sooner he’s better, the sooner you can both get back to having fun.

About the Author: Denise Fleck has trained with 12 national animal organizations and has taught more than 10,000 pet lovers animal life-saving skills. She’s developed courses, written nine books, and created a line of pet first aid kits and posters so people can help their pets BEFORE veterinary care can be reached.


GoPetFriendly is the nation’s fastest-growing pet friendly travel planning platform, with more than 1 million trips booked every year. Their unique content provides loads of inspiration, and their best-in-class database provides all the information you need to plan a memorable pet friendly experience. With free web and mobile applications, GoPetFriendly is helping people and their pets do more together.ABOUT GOPETFRIENDLY

Angel Fund Helps Mitzy, Blind Dog Diagnosed With IMHA

Helen Uitermark lives alone in her home in the San Gabriel Valley, except for her pets, including dogs large and small.  About a year ago, she adopted Mitzy, “so, if nothing else, I can hug her on my lap.” 

Mitzy is a West Highland White Terrier mix and is about the size of a Maltese-Poodle mix. She was just the right medicine to lift Helen out of a depression arising from her own medical problems.

Helen, is a senior citizen who often uses a cane or walker because of a broken ankle suffered nearly a year ago.  Mitzy replaced two tuxedo cats that were apparently lost to coyotes. 

Last spring, Helen said, “it was obvious that Mitzy wasn’t feeling well so I took her to Covina Animal Hospital.  The diagnosis was glaucoma in her left eye.”

Dr. Karryssa Fenderson-Joseph, the hospital’s medical director, said that, when Mitzy’s condition did not improve with medical management, the best option she could offer was to remove the eye.  The surgery took place a few days later.

Mitzy soon was able to run around in Helen’s backyard.  “Everything was fine for several weeks,” she said. “Then, because Mitzy didn’t seem to be herself, I checked her, and the other eye seemed to have a white haze across it.  I took her back to the hospital and she was diagnosed, again with glaucoma.”  Dr. Fenderson said she recommended removal of Mitzy’s remaining eye after Helen told her that she didn’t want Mitzy to have on-going problems.

“After removal of the right eye, Dr. Fenderson had me come back several times because of an anemia condition (Immune-Mediated Hemolytic Anemia). I had never heard of it.

“Dr. Fenderson gave Mitzy a full-blood transfusion,” Helen said, “and she improved every week. We’ve been back to the hospital every month for a checkup. According to the doctor, the numbers have been holding so – unless something else happens – we’re good to go!”

Dr. Fenderson said that Mitzy has done so well since her transfusion that she is in remission and no longer is taking medication for IMHA.

Helen had been told about Angel Fund by friends and she asked Dr. Fenderson about it. “She immediately said: ‘Let me see what I can do.’ There was no further discussion about it but a few visits later, she said: ‘By the way, the grant has been approved.’ I almost danced out of her office! You have no idea how much I appreciate the Angel Fund grant.

“Dr. Fenderson has been so terrific, that’s where I will be going. It’s 15 miles from my home but, yes, she will be taking care of all my animals. I love her dearly.”

Mitzy seemed to be depressed after the second eye was removed. “She wasn’t interested in much and wasn’t even exploring. I was offered a kitten, about eight weeks old, and I said yes, since I’d lost the two cats last year.

“The kitten, Rusty, a male who is about six months old, and Mitzy get along fantastically. Mitzy’s depression has improved so much. It was wonderful to see. She gets around the house and backyard just fine. Every day her awareness seems to get better.”

Helen is getting used to dealing with a sightless Mitzy and she often forgets that her dog is blind. “She and I are getting accustomed to it. I can hear Mitzy on the other side of the door when I drive into the garage. It’s as if she’s trying to jump into my arms when I come through that door – then she does.”

But the household got a shock when Helen was pressured into accepting two Shi Tzu dogs that needed a new home. Helen said that she really did not want more pets, especially with a pinched sciatic nerve that added to her mobility problems. “They were absolutely loveable animals but it was too much,” she said.

A month after they arrived – the Shi Tzus were adopted by another family – much to Helen’s relief.

“My household is down to Mitzy and Rusty now. After the Shi Tzus left, Rusty came over to Mitzy when she was lying down and cuddled up to her. And she is walking through the house like it’s her domain again. I hope it is for many years to come!!”

Viva Raw Recall Notice One Lot Duck Recipes

Truth about Pet Food


BySusan Thixton

Recall Due to Salmonella, Listeria monocytogenes Contamination.

This notice was provided to TruthaboutPetFood.com from Viva Raw pet food.

This notice is to inform you of a voluntary recall of: Viva Duck for Dogs (Ground),
Viva Duck for Dogs (Chunked), Viva Duck for Cats, Viva Pure Duck. The lot
under recall is Lot 22853. The product is distributed as frozen 1 lb bricks in
clear vacuum packaging. Viva started shipping this lot out on 10/24/23 and the last units were distributed on 12/06/23.

The FDA obtained and tested samples of Viva Duck for Dogs (Chunked) Lot
22853 after a consumer complaint and found that the samples were positive for
Salmonella, Listeria monocytogenes. Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes
can affect animals eating the products and there is risk to humans from handling
contaminated pet products, especially if they have not thoroughly washed their
hands after having contact with the products or any surfaces exposed to these

Healthy people infected with Salmonella should monitor themselves for some or
all of the following symptoms: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or bloody diarrhea,
abdominal cramping and fever. Rarely, Salmonella can result in more serious
ailments, including arterial infections, endocarditis, arthritis, muscle pain, eye
irritation, and urinary tract symptoms. Consumers exhibiting these signs after
having contact with this product should contact their healthcare providers.
Pets with Salmonella and Listeria infections may be lethargic and have diarrhea
or bloody diarrhea, fever, and vomiting. Some pets will have only decreased
appetite, fever, and abdominal pain. Infected but otherwise healthy pets can be
carriers and infect other animals or humans. If your pet has consumed the
recalled product and has these symptoms, please contact your veterinarian.
Please check your freezer for any remaining products of Lot 22853. If you still
have products from the lot, complete this response form and we will reach out to
you to provide a refund for any remaining product—you can then destroy the
food in a way that children, pets, and wildlife cannot access. Make sure you do
not touch the contaminated food product with your bare hands. While wearing
gloves or using paper towels, place the contaminated food in a sealed plastic bag
and throw it in the garbage. Then you will need to sanitize your kitchen and any other area that may have come in contact with the contaminated product. Do not
sell or donate the recalled products. Do not feed the recalled product to pets or
any other animals.

Even if you do not have any packs of food remaining, please complete this
response form so that we can account for all customers that have received this

The health of your pet has always been Viva’s #1 priority and we have always
been committed to making safe & transparent pet food. We started this company
to change the industry and make the best pet food available. From choosing to
manufacture in a USDA facility & sourcing 100% human-grade ingredients, we
are committed to going above and beyond. We have conducted a detailed
root-cause analysis in our USDA facility to ensure we continue to exceed the
highest industry food safety standards & will continue to push the boundaries for
how safe, fresh pet food is made. If you have any questions regarding this notice,
feel free to email us at info@vivarawpets.com or call/text us at (919) 371-8882
between 9:00 am – 5:00 pm EST Monday to Friday.

This recall is being made with the knowledge of the Food and Drug