Issue 3: January 2003

Welcome to our third issue of the newsletter. As with previous issues, we welcome your feedback and your suggestions. We want to know what interests you, and how you feel about all things pet related. Please send your comments and/or suggestions to

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Inside This Issue

  1. Cat Scratch Disease
  2. Pet of the Month
  3. Children and Dogs
  4. Breeder Listings
  5. Featured Products
  6. Classified Ads
  7. Farewell to Fleas
  8. Calendar of Events
  9. Pets411 Listings
  10. In The News
  11. Jobs at
  12. The Fine Print

Cat Scratch Disease

by Susan Little, DVM

For almost 100 years, cat scratches have been associated with illness in people. Cat Scratch Disease (CSD) is also called Cat Scratch Fever and benign lymphoreticulosis. While CSD is found all over the world, it is an uncommon disease. One estimate by the Centers for Disease Control found that there were 2.5 cases of CSD per 100,000 people per year in the United States. While multiple cases of CSD in one household can occur, this situation is rare. A study in Florida found that more than one member of a family contracted CSD only 3.5% of the time. The majority of individuals who contract CSD are under the age of 17, and are usually under the age of 12.

Typically, a small skin lesion (resembling an insect bite) develops at the site of a cat scratch or (less commonly) a bite, followed within two weeks by swollen lymph nodes and sometimes a fever. The illness is mild and self-limiting in the majority of patients, although it may take some months for the swollen lymph nodes to return to normal. Treatment is usually not required. Reports over the last few years, however, have extended the spectrum of problems associated with CSD to include such things as tonsillitis, encephalitis, hepatitis, pneumonia and other serious illnesses in a very small number of cases. People with compromised immune systems, such as AIDS and cancer patients, are most at risk and can become most seriously ill.

Diagnosis of CSD may not be easy. There is no simple diagnostic test. Most physicians rely on history of exposure to a cat , the presence of typical clinical signs, failure to find another cause, and examination of tissues, such as biopsy of a swollen lymph node. Other diseases, such as tuberculosis, brucellosis, and lymphoma, can cause similar symptoms.

Over the years, the cause of CSD had remained elusive, although bacteria were commonly suspected to be the culprit. In 1988, a bacterium called Afipia felis was cultured from the lymph nodes of patients with CSD. In recent years, many studies have implicated the gram negative bacterium Bartonella henselae as the primary (but not the sole) cause of CSD. B. henselae is related to the agent of Trench Fever, B. quintana, a disease common in the trenches of World War I. Other Bartonella species may also be involved in CSD.

Cats are the main reservoir for B. henselae. Surveys for B. henselae antibodies in cats in the United States have found average infection rates to be from 25% to 41% in clinically healthy cats. The lowest rates were in the midwest and great plains regions (4-7%) and the highest were in the southeast (60%). Warmer, more humid climates are most supportive of fleas, which have been shown to transmit B. henselae from cat to cat. It appears that the majority of cats do not become ill when they are infected with this bacterium and kittens are more commonly infected than adults. Experimental infections in cats, however, have caused a mild illness with fever, anemia, and transient neurological dysfunction. Once infected, cats carry bacteria in their blood for many months. It is important to note, however, that despite widespread presence of B. henselae in cats, CSD itself is uncommon. It appears that CSD is not easily acquired.

While most patients with CSD have a history of a cat scratch or bite, not all do. Some patients have had no contact with cats at all. This makes the exact modes of transmission unclear. It is likely that CSD can also be contracted from environmental sources of the bacteria or from other animals. For this reason, the term “bartonellosis” is a better way to describe the variety of illnesses that are caused by B. henselae. Recently, it has been found that dogs can become ill with a related Bartonella species and the role of dogs as a possible reservoir for human infection is undergoing study.

CSD is primarily a concern in homes with immunocompromised people. Since kittens are more likely to carry B. henselae than adult cats, it is recommended that people with compromised immune systems adopt cats older than 1 year of age as pets to reduce the risk of contracting CSD. Any cat suspected of carrying B. henselae should be isolated from sick or immunocompromised individuals. However, there is no reliable and available diagnostic test to determine if a cat is a carrier of B. henselae. Since carrier cats are always healthy and multiple cases of CSD within a household are rare, euthanasia of a suspected carrier is not warranted. Onychectomy (declawing) is also not recommended, since infection can occur without a cat scratch. As is always the case, any cut or scratch should be promptly washed with soap and water. In addition, children should be taught not to tease or annoy cats and rough play should be discouraged. A common sense approach is the best way to safeguard against CSD.
© Susan Little, DVM

Comments and additional discussion of this article is available on our website. Just click here to go directly to our forum.

Pet of the Month (Jan) Meet Sabrina

  • Name: Sabrina
  • City: Houston
  • Province/State, Texas, U.S.A
  • Type/Breed: Himalayan
  • Date Of Birth: 10/21/01
  • Sex: Female
  • Weight: 10 lbs
  • Height:29 inches
  • Coat Colour: Seal point
  • Eye Colour: Blue
  • Can bear children: Yes


Click here to view Sabrina’s Page

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Children and Dogs

by David the Dogman

The most frequently bitten people are children. By the age of 14, about half of all children have been bitten by a dog. The overwhelming majority of bites occur in children under nine years of age, sometimes resulting in both physical and emotional damage. Through an understanding of canine behavior and preparation for what to do in the event of a canine confrontation, many such bites can be avoided. Most dogs are fun and safe to be with, but certain dogs, and it’s hard to tell which ones, have their own set of “rules” regarding children. Whether or not we humans feel the rules of this minority appropriate, we must help our children become aware of situations to avoid.

This article is not meant to blame children if they are bitten. There is rarely a good excuse for a dog biting a person, but knowing the reasons a dog might bite, from the dog’s point of view, may be helpful in avoiding bites. Here are some statistics from Chicago and Dallas University which were based over a three year period of reported dog bites. Many are not reported. Of all dog bites of children under four years of age, most were bitten in early May. Sixty percent were bitten on the head, neck and face, 90 percent were bitten in their own home, 40 percent were bitten by their own dog and 60 percent of the dogs had no previous history of biting. Of all dog bites of children age four to 16, most were bitten in early July. Eighteen percent were bitten on the head, neck and face, 38 percent were bitten in their own home, 18 percent were bitten by their own dog and 50 percent of the dogs had no previous history of biting. Further studies showed that 51 percent of the infants bitten were bitten in their cots and most were bitten by their own pets. None of the reported bites were by strays, and most were not witnessed by the parents. This posed questions:

Why were the dogs allowed in children’s sleeping area’s? Where were the parents?
Many of these potential bite situations can be avoided by providing the proper training and environment for our pet dogs. It is not, however, the intent of this article to give information on how to bite-proof dogs, but rather how to bite-proof children.

You can tell if a dog is upset.
Any dog can bite, but most won’t if you act the way you should around them. The signs are: tail up, hairs on its back raised, baring teeth and growling. If a child keeps on doing what makes the dog angry, it might get angrier and perhaps bite. If the dog’s ears are laid back with the tail between the legs, it is scared. It might run, but it might also bite if it cannot get away. Do not go closer if it looks like that. If a child is bitten, he/she should try to remember what the dog looked like and in which direction it went.

The child should tell an adult who can wash the wound with soap and water. If a doctor has to be seen, ask for a report to take to the police.

The warning body language of aggressive dogs is:
Ears erect, body stiff, tail high, hackles up.

A fearful posture is:
Ears back, body crouched, head low, tail tucked in.

Other signs to watch for are:
Growling and barking, lips lifting, teeth bared

Dogs that have assumed either a defensive or offensive threat posture frequently have a “critical zone”. A child is safe around this zone until entering the imaginary circle the dog has projected. The problem is that this zone varies between dogs and can even be different for the same dog if the situation changes. So it’s impossible for humans to accurately determine the critical zone. A defensive threat posture is adopted by the shy or fearful dog. It is hesitant, easily frightened, timid, tends to avoid certain persons or things. Frequently, these traits are not noticed until the dog encounters a new situation. The dog might assume elements of the defensive threat posture when frightened.

Shy dogs can be gentle, loving, obedient pets, but may try to bite when frightened. The dog’s motive is to chase that person away. The problem is, we cannot always tell which people or actions frighten the dog. The fearful dog may fool you by appearing brave. The dog growls and raises the fur along the neck and back like a brave/aggressive dog, but ears may be pinned back, body lowered, tail between the legs. The tail may even be wagging, but a wagging tail doesn’t always mean a friendly dog. The dog might bark and stare, but then turn away, only to turn toward you again and start all over. This dog would really rather not deal with you and hopes to frighten you away but, if pushed, it might bite.

An offensive threat posture is when a dog is hostile, assertive, ready for combat, dominant and self-confident. It does so when provoked. The dog can be a loving and loyal pet to his immediate family if given proper training, but this type of dog can bite if challenged. The motive is to hurt the challenging person. The problem is, we do not always know what the dog may regard as a challenge. The brave/aggressive dog’s offensive threat posture, may include growling deeply, raised hackles, staring, a show of fangs, standing tall with ears and tail erect and leaning toward the opponent. If the situation is not handled carefully, this dog might bite.

So how does a child avoid getting bitten?

  • Never touch a dog when it is feeding
  • Do not tease a dog, its ears are not hankies.
  • If chased by a dog while cycling, get off. Place the bike between you and the dog. LOOK AWAY.
  • Avoid packs of dogs, if confronted, do not run away or scream.
  • Do not disturb a sleeping dog.
  • If meeting a new dog, pat him on the side of the face, under the chin or on the chest. Never place your head above a dog’s head. Crouch down, and approach on his level.
  • Ask an owner if it is permissible to pat their dog. If it is, let the dog sniff your knuckles to show you are a friend.
  • Do not pat dogs in cars, it is a space they consider worth defending.
  • Do not try to separate dogs fighting, go for help if necessary.
  • Never approach a dog when it is chained up.
  • If a strange dog comes up to you, stand still, like a lamppost

Children and dogs can live happily together as long as they follow the rules we have just been through. The presence of an adult is a deterrent. Never leave dogs and children alone.

Commitment, Firmness, but kindness.

Comments and additional discussion of this article is available on our website. Just click here to go directly to our forum.

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January’s Featured Products

Heart ID tag


This exquisite steel and virtually indestructible ID Tag features a picture of a Heart in the middle of it.

Your pet will look sharp wearing one of these custom engraved unique tags. Our price: $12.99 (Canadian)

Light switch cover – dog with bone


A beautiful accessory that will liven up the home of any dog lover. This switch plate is made of pewter finished metal. It has a mat finish and was cast in one solid piece.
Our price: $15.50 (Canadian)

Arthronat homeopathic pellets


These pellets are helpful in treating non-inflammatory arthritis, stiffness in spinal joints, loss of muscle mass, osteoporosis and hip dysplasia in patients.

Our price: $11.95 (Canadian) for 80 PELLETS

Dogs and cats with arthritis and joint problems will appreciate the relief they can gain from using this non-toxic product.

Classified Ads

Dog Trainers wanted to teach Group Obedience Classes throughout Canada. Animal Behavior and Training Associates is a nationwide company with locations in 45 states and 5 Canadian provinces.
Please call 1-800-504-6105 for more information.

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Farewell to Fleas

by Frances Gavin

Are you worried about the effects of chemicals on your dog? Why not make your own safe, non toxic flea repellents?

CITRUS REPELLENT: Cut a lemon into quarters and place in a pint jug. Cover the lemon with boiling water and let it steep overnight. Next day you have a flea repellent that you can use in a spray bottle. Spray all over your dog remembering especially behind the ears and around the head generally (careful of eyes), around the base of the tail (once again keep away from delicate bits) and under your dog’s ‘armpits’.

Aromatherapy repellent. Using 10 ml. of sweet almond oil as your base, add 10 drops of lavender and 5 drops of cedarwood. Shake well and use 1 or 2 drops spread over the skin at least twice a week to keep the fleas away.

A flea collar can be made by rubbing a few drops of one of the following into an ordinary webbing or rope collar or even a doggy bandanna: eucalyptus oil, Tea Tree Oil, citronella, lavender or geranium. Don’t forget to do this weekly.

YOUR HOME: Fleas spend most of their time in your furnishings and only hop onto your dog or you for their next meal. Make sure you wash your dog’s bedding regularly because no flea ever survived a hot wash cycle. If you add eucalyptus oil to the final rinse it will also kill 99% of house dust mites according to research from the University of Sydney, Australia.

Vacuum your home very thoroughly and sprinkle a fine layer of ordinary table salt over your upholstery and carpets and leave overnight before vacuuming again to evict your unwelcome guests safely but don’t forget to empty your vacuum bag.

BATHING: A badly infested dog really needs to be bathed so use your favorite dog shampoo. Rinse the dog off very thoroughly and in the final rinse add a couple of drops of Tea Tree Oil or Lavender oil. An alternative is to make your own herbal flea dip which will also work on ticks. Steep two cups of fresh rosemary in two pints of boiling water for 30 minutes. Strain the liquid, discard the leaves and make it up to one gallon ( 8 pints) with warm water. Pour this mixture over the dog until it’s saturated. Do not rinse off and allow the dog to dry naturally so this is a remedy to use on hot summer days.

INTERNAL FLEA REPELLENTS: Garlic may not be your favorite cologne and it’s not the flea’s favorite smell either. When your dog eats garlic, the smell is excreted through the dog’s skin making your dog less likely to be the flea’s next meal. In case you think you might need to give your dog a breath freshener along with the garlic, my dogs, Mack and Josh, eat a garlic clove every day and I don’t find their breath smells from it at all.

Brewer’s yeast tablets will also help to make your dog less attractive to fleas because once again the smell is excreted through the skin.

Adding a dessertspoon of apple cider vinegar to the water bowl will make the skin more acidic and unpleasant to fleas and ticks. If your dogs don’t fancy apple cider vinegar in the water bowl, dilute it 50/50 with water and use in a spray bottle instead of the citrus repellent.

Comments and additional discussion of this article is available on our website. Just click here to go directly to our forum.

Calendar of Events

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In the News

A Nutty tale: Jaws of Life Rescue Cat

In a twist to the old standby of a fireman rescuing a cat from a tree, the Dawson Creek Fire Department used the Jaws of Life to free a trapped feline from a storm sewer.

‘Angel’ saved girls from vicious dog

A quick-thinking Edmonton university student is credited with saving a Vermilion girl during a dog mauling which left her with numerous bites and bruises.

Teen who set fire to cat must do community service

A teenage girl who set lit a cat on fire has been found guilty of animal cruelty and sentenced to 80 hours of community service.

More articles from Canada and around the world are available here.

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