Friday, December 10, 2004

Corvids are Smart! Good news for ET

Corvids: crows, ravens, jays, and jackdaws, are some pretty smart birds. While not the only smart birds around, some parrots (like the New Zealand Kea) are considered quite intelligent as well, they certainly get their mensa membership. In a recent paper published in Science, the birds were able to make a functional 'hook' out of a twig to pick insects out of hard to reach places. In the lab, a crow named 'Betty' was able to select the correct length of wire, then shape it and extract a meal from a vertical tube, showing Betty has better spatial recognition then I do. Corvids are also able to cash their food, and remember the expiration dates on up to 30,000 different items. I have a hard time remembering to get fresh milk. The birds also notice where and when their buddy stores his food, and pilfers it when he's not looking. The paper goes on to describe how intelligence in Corvids is an example of convergent evolution, and perhaps intelligence is not as rare as we first thought. If indeed intelligence is a rather common occurrence to social ecological situations, then our search for ET may not be in vain. Finally, with the realization of bird intelligence the insult 'bird-brained' may be used 'never more'.

Famous Vets!

John Boyd Dunlop - Scottish - graduated from Edinburgh Veterinary College at age 19. Even young for a Vet back then. The college is now part of Edinburgh University. At any rate, he eventually moved to Ireland and became irritated with the rough Irish roads (much like I find the roads in Los Angeles). As a cunning Scotsmen, he proceeded to develop the inflatable tire (or Tyre as they spell it over there) out of his rubber Vet smock. Never made much money out of it, but has become the grandfather of tires to all of us! I assume he helped a few animals along the way as well. Look for another famous vet next week -I promise it will be better! Cheers!

Friday, December 03, 2004

Medical Breakthrough -repair the nervous system

Polyethylene Glycol (PEG) has been around for a long time. It has been used in treating wood products and has become a standard tool in the bioengineers toolbox. A recent clinical trial involving paralyzed dogs found that if PEG is administered quickly after spinal cord injury, the chance of successful recovery is amazingly improved. Usually nerve damage is considered permanent. Doctors and scientists have been trying for years to figure out how to 'heal' the nervous system without much success. So, this use of PEG is an amazing breakthrough. The theory is that PEG prevents the damaged neurons from self-destructing, and taking out their neighbors with them. Instead PEG acts as a 'band-aid' of sorts coating the damaged nerves and giving them time to repair. Often discoveries like these are found in animal medicine before being transferred to human trials.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Seriously, who let one rip?

I can no longer blame my dog. The no-nonsense folks over at Flat-D Innovations have come up with a stinker, or not. The canine flatulence odor control invention while not very attractive may be just the trick after those sausages. This stuff is great, I mean really, I can't make this kind of crap up.

How Many Pets Can You Own?

Apparently Provo Utah has a law which states you can have either 2 dogs or 2 cats, just not at the same time. Citizens are apparently frustrated with these tight laws, and are seeking to allow cats and dogs to live together. Do you know how many pets you'r allowed to have? In my deep research of the subject I found that laws range wildly.

Boat Dog

The NRS canine floatation device is an example of a phenomenon picking up in popularity over the past few decades, safety. I remember when people would recklessly ride their bikes, or ski without a helmet, but no more. Now, our pets get into the safety business, I'm still looking for doggy pepper spray to ward off unwanted people. But I digress, the floatation device looks, well you can see it, I guess the important thing is they are safe.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Rubber For The Holidays?

Pet Care Mats may not seem like a fancy high ticket item, and well...that's because they aren't. But, if you have ever wanted a larger selection, or if you are dealing with volume, such as if you run a vet practice or doggy day care center, then check out Pet Care Mats by Rubber-Cal. They offer a wide variety of pet mats, and also rubber mats of all varieties. May your holiday season be recycled and bouncy!

Fetch by Yourself

GoDogGo is a new toy which lets your dog play catch with...well themselves. The toy shoots the ball 15 to 30 feet away to your dogs delight, the video shows a happy pooch with the toy. For hours of fun, I would train my dog to put the balls back in the hopper before it shoots another one, otherwise I would spend every ten minutes picking up 30 balls all over my yard.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Thanksgiving Week Celebration

We here at VetMD wish you a Happy Thanksgiving Day. We will be back with more amazing products and news for this holiday season next week. Until then, take care and give an animal a hug.

Monday, November 22, 2004

World's first artificial fin

In a world's first, Bridgestone (yes, the tire manufacturers) designed, constructed, then donated a $95,000 artificial replacement tail fin to Fuji, a 34-year old dolphin from Okinawa whose tail was amputated after she was stricken with a mysterious necrosis. Currently Fuji can only wear the fin for 20 minutes a day, and only became comfortable with it after 5-months of exposure. The bionic limb now allows her to swim at the same speed as other dolphins, and has even restored her ability to jump. Alas, the other dolphins have become increasing distressed by this bottle-nosed Frankenstein and are threatening to eat the fin should it fall off during play.

According to Bridgestone, they specialize in "foots of sort," and are willing to consider other offers for unique construction of artificial animal appendages -- but they can't guarantee it will prevent them from rolling over.

Genetic Savings and Clone

Yes that's right, Clone. Although some might object to clones hanging around the place, I've always found it useful to have two or three of myself, so why not my pets? The company's website does an admirable job of presenting the issues surrounding the procedure. The only thing that annoys me is that they charge more for the service if the animal is sick, dying, or dead...which makes no difference to DNA storage, it is just a way for them to make more money since most people only think of cloning a lost love one...seems like a sleazy business plan to me. My advice, if you really want it...I know you to forget cloning..the animal will never be the same anyway. There is more to life then DNA. But if you must clone your loved ones, take a cue from the price listing, and plan ahead, get their DNA on ice while they are young and healthy.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Poco Tribute

Poco the whale died this week. Poco was a wild and playful beluga who liked to hang around the coast of New England and curious about people. Often Poco would approach small boats and scuba divers, looking for a belly rub, or to squirt water and cause mischief. Poco became quite an enigma however, as beluga whales are not often seen outside the arctic. It is unknown why Poco was so friendly, and why Poco was outside of the belugas home range. Poco was found on a mudflat in Maine, and the necropsy (autopsy for animals) will be conducted at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution to try and determine why Poco died at such an early age. We will keep an eye on the developing story.

Doggy Wheelchair

Disabled dogs need not drag themselves around, or be upset at their lack of mobility. Even if only for temporary breaks or sprains, the website 'wheelchairs for dogs' provides a wonderful service for our fuzzy friends.

Factory Farming = Mad Cow?

All of the news recently of Mad Cow Disease has got me thinking of why? Why are Mad Cow and other diseases spreading around the world of production animals? The answer lies in the uncomfortable subject of Factory Farming. By treating animals like they are products on an assembly line we are able to feed millions of people, we also threaten our own lives by creating conditions where disease propagation is easily spread throughout the world. is a website that abounds with connections between horrible animal living conditions and human health. While some might go to extremes and give up meat forever, a solution with it's own problems...I view everything in moderation and respect for all -especially animals and our environment. Humane treatment of animals not only provides benefits for the animal...but also for us.
So if you want to eat meat, and want to help animals, shop at stores that have animal welfare standards such as WholeFoods and look for the FreeFarmed label shown at right in your local store.