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Features

A Trip Around St. Johns

by Maralyn Fink

An 82 degree day can be very enjoyable, so I decided to drive around to see Spring’s blossoms and whatever else she has to offer.

Knowing the rain would be moving in and knowing what the rain does to tree blossoms, I guessed this was the right time.

I hope you enjoy some of my findings.


A Look Back – Former Governor Kelly

by Barry Clark Bauer

In the back seat: Governor Harry F. Kelly, his wife, Anne, and behind the wheel, none other than local Judge Timothy Green.

Kelly was governor of Michigan from January 1, 1943 – January 1, 1947.

In the background is the office of the Clinton County Republican News on the corner which is today, Jackson, Jackson & Hayes, P.C., and next to it is the Miller Furniture store which is gone and is now a parking lot.

The downtown side streets such as Walker St. still had brick pavers which were later paved over. I know for sure that Railroad St. still has brick pavers under the pavement.

We guess this photo to be from the 1940s.


Benny and Jessie’s Pet Info – Food Allergies vs. Seasonal Allergies in Dogs

If you suspect that your dog’s daily roll in the grass is causing allergic reactions, such as excessive paw licking and rigorous belly scratching, you may be surprised to learn that he could actually have a food allergy.

While it’s common for dogs to suffer from seasonal allergies to things like the pollen they come in contact with while playing in the yard, there are several types of dog allergies that can manifest themselves in similar ways, said Dr. Sarah Nold, on-staff veterinarian for Trupanion, a Seattle-based insurance company.

“Food allergies and environmental allergies can cause similar symptoms. These symptoms can include itchiness, hair loss, skin infections and ear infections. In addition, there are other conditions that can cause similar symptoms. This is why your vet may need to start with diagnostics to first rule out skin mites, fungal infections and endocrine disease, such as hypothyroidism and Cushing’s,” Nold said.

Dr. Joseph Bartges, a veterinary nutritionist and professor of medicine and nutrition at the University of Tennessee’s College of Veterinary Medicine, said that seasonal allergies typically occur during certain times of the year while food allergies have no seasonality.

They do overlap, however, and approximately 30 percent of pets with food-responsive disease also have seasonal allergies or allergies to fleas, he said. Many of these allergies present themselves either with skin problems (like itchiness, recurrent infections, ear infections or hair loss) and/or gastrointestinal signs (like vomiting, diarrhea or decreased appetite), he added.

Since many of the signs and symptoms of allergies in dogs are not unique to either type of allergy, treatment may require a bit of educated trial and error to pinpoint the exact cause of your dog’s allergy. A visit to your vet should always be your first step. Here are some general guidelines to help dog owners understand food and seasonal allergies.

Symptoms of Food Allergies

Many owners may not immediately suspect their dog has a food allergy because it can take years for their dog to develop an allergy to the food it is fed everyday. Food hypersensitivity can occur at any age in a dog’s life.

Dr. Patrick Mahaney, a holistic veterinarian, says one possible indicator of a food allergy can be the location of the skin problems. “If you notice lesions all over your dog’s body, on the flanks, ribs, hips or knees there’s a big chance it’s a food allergy,” he said.

Other symptoms include recurrent ear infections, vomiting, diarrhea and itchiness that can lead to self trauma such as hair loss, scabs or hot spots (areas that have been repeatedly licked or chewed and have become inflamed). Gastrointestinal issues are usually symptoms that are specifically related to possible food allergies.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Food Allergies

Your vet will likely want to start with a review of your dog’s dietary history. It’s important to include the foods that make up his daily meals as well as any treats. Many dogs are allergic to chicken, dairy, beef, eggs, corn, soy and wheat as well as some of the additives contained in commercial brands of dog food.

Bartges says your vet may suggest eliminating certain proteins and substituting them for a novel protein, or a protein source that the dog has not been exposed to, such as duck, fish or kangaroo. Other options include a hydrolysate diet (where the protein source has been pre-digested to small pieces that are too small for the immune system to recognize), or to a homemade diet of either cooked or raw food.

It can take a few months to see an improvement in your dog’s food allergies, Nold said, but it’s important to diligently stick to the prescribed diet and to completely eliminate any treats and table scraps. Even certain medications can be flavored, Nold said, so make sure to discuss all medications your dog may be taking with your veterinarian to ensure they’re an approved part of the diet.

If your dog does well and shows no signs of an allergic reaction, you can gradually add in other kinds of food. But if he shows no sign of improvement, regardless of the food source, it may be time to consider that he could be suffering from a seasonal allergy.

Symptoms of Seasonal Allergies

Seasonal allergies generally occur at certain times of the year. Some of the common causes of seasonal allergies include dust, dust mites, pollen, grass and flea bites. Mahaney said that lesions on the top or underside of your dog’s feet often point to environmental allergies.

Your dog’s climate and environment can have a major impact on if they have seasonal allergies or not, he said. “In Los Angeles, for instance, it’s always warm, so things are blooming year round which can expose your dog to more allergies. But in New Jersey, things bloom in the spring, then they’re gone in the winter.”

Regardless of where your dog lives, it’s still possible for him to develop year-round allergies.

“Allergies can occur at certain times of the year, but they can turn into year-round allergies for older dogs. The more your dog is exposed to the allergens he’s sensitive to, the more intense and long-lasting his allergic response becomes,” Nold said.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Seasonal Allergies

There are a number of ways that seasonal allergies can be diagnosed and treated, most of which depend on the allergen itself.

These include:

– Testing: an intradermal skin test, in which a small amount of test allergens are injected under your dog’s skin, can help pinpoint the problem of moderate to severe allergies. Allergens are identified by which injections cause redness, swelling or small hives. Your vet can then create a specialized serum or immunotherapy shot which can be administered at home or in your vet’s office. Nold says 70 percent of dogs have good results after a year of shots.

– Fatty acids: omega-3 fatty acid supplements like fish oil can help reinforce the skin’s barrier, reduce inflammation, and can be helpful for all types of allergies in addition to chronic issues including skin, joint and cardiac problems.

– Antihistamines: the same over the counter antihistamines that people take can be given to dogs to help reduce itching. Depending on the dog and his condition, however, it can take some time and effort to find the right one. “I’ve seen owners give their dog Benadryl because it helped their friend’s dog, but it won’t be affective if your dog has developed a secondary skin infection,” Nold said. “It’s always a good idea to consult with your vet before giving your dog over the counter drugs so you don’t make things worse.”

– Steroids: dogs who are severely itchy and uncomfortable may need a steroid, which can quickly reduce itching. But owners should be aware that there are increased side effects of steroid medication, such as high blood pressure and kidney disease. Your dog should receive regular blood and urine testing if he is taking steroids on a long-term basis.

– Antibiotics: Your vet may prescribe antibiotics if your dog’s constant licking, chewing or rubbing has created a secondary skin infection. His skin may look red and inflamed or have a circular bald patch with a crusty edge.

– Environmental control: Mahaney said simple things like preventing your dog from making contact with known irritants can go a long way toward providing relief. “Don’t let your dog go on specific surfaces that irritate him like grass. You may have to make a lifestyle change. If you can’t rip out your grass, try putting boots on your dog. Or give him a localized footbath or a cleansing foot wipe down. It may also be a good idea to keep your dog on a regular bathing schedule which can help remove abnormal bacteria,” he said.

– Flea control and prevention: It’s common for dogs to have an allergic reaction to flea saliva, which can cause itchy spots and red bumps toward the back end of his body. Ridding your dog of a pesky flea infestation can be a difficult task. Make sure to apply flea preventative medication as directed by your veterinarian, as improper use of flea and tick medication can result in an infestation. Other ways to help keep the flea population down include regularly vacuuming carpeted surfaces, using a flea comb and washing your dog’s bedding weekly with hypoallergenic, non-toxic detergents instead of household cleaners that may contain chemicals.

Overall, getting to the root of your dog’s allergy can take a bit of educated detective work. The most important thing is to seek help from your vet and not to get discouraged with the process.

“It can be frustrating if something isn’t working [but] there’s always something else we can try,” Nold said. “It might seem like you didn’t accomplish anything, but your dog’s response to therapy is helpful in determining the next step. We can find a plan to help your pet.”


Maralyn’s Pet Corner – 6 Healthy Treat Ideas for Cats

After a long day at work, chances are you’re happy to go home and play with your cat. We all want to make our pets happy, so your bonding time might include a few extra treats. However, cat experts caution that giving your cat too many treats can be harmful.

“Obesity is a huge problem in both dogs and cats,” says Dr. Rachel Barrack, DVM, a veterinarian and veterinary acupuncturist at Animal Acupuncture. “It has been shown that obesity is linked to major medical problems in both dogs and cats including cancer, degenerative joint disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and decreased life expectancy and quality of life. The most commonly seen cause of obesity in pets is overfeeding—particularly overfeeding treats.”

That’s not to say that you can never give your pet treats, of course. But you should think about when you treat and how much you give each time. Giving healthy treats to a cat might seem like the obvious answer, but it’s a little harder to treat cats than dogs, says Dr. Amy Farcas, DVM, a veterinary nutritionist with Veterinary Nutrition Care in California.

“Cats are different,” she says. “They don’t really eat most of what we think would make a good treat for animals.” Most aren’t likely to eat fruits or vegetables either, she said.

So what kinds of healthy treats can you give your cat? Here are six ideas.

Small pieces of lean meat

Cats need an amino acid found in protein, so it’s essential they get enough meat, according to the ASPCA. While a balanced diet is the best way to do this, many cats appreciate meat as a treat, too.

“Some cats are more likely to take pieces of meat as a treat, and I think that’s a reasonable expectation, but there are some cats who will just say, ‘Where’s my kibble?’” Farcas says.

Their kibble

Sure, it might not sound like such a treat to you, but think of it this way: Your cat already enjoys their kibble and this is one way to give them fewer calories.

“Try setting aside some of your dog or cat’s food to allocate as a ‘treat’ throughout the day,” Barrack says. “This will eliminate excess calories. Make sure that all members of the household are on board with the amount to avoid overfeeding.”

Dried liver

Again, cats need protein in their diet, which dried liver has. Of course, the Knox County Humane Society says that this treat should be given in moderation.

Wet cat food

Many cats eat and enjoy dry kibble, but wet cat food can be a good treat option, says the Oregon Humane Society.

Commercial treats

If you enjoy preparing treats for your cat, it can be a part of the bonding experience, Farcas says. But if you don’t, there’s no need to worry that commercial treats are necessarily unhealthy. A cat’s needs are individual, so check with your veterinarian to see what they recommend.

Affection

When you’re craving a late-night snack, a pat on the head will certainly not take its place. Luckily, cats are a little different—they don’t always need a treat to know you love them or that they’ve done something good.

“I understand that treats are a way for owners to show praise and affection but this can also be accomplished through petting, playing, or a long walk,” Barrack says.

Limiting treats

It’s important to keep in mind that cats don’t actually need treats, regardless of how healthy the treats may be.

“Even if you’re feeding an item that’s considered to be healthy, it’s still considered an unbalanced food item because it doesn’t provide that whole package that a complete diet does,” Farcas says.

And keep in mind that over treating can actually diminish that healthy diet your cat normally eats: “Most commercial pet foods are balanced in such a way that it is safe and reasonable to give 5-10% of that animal’s daily intake as treats without creating any deficiency in the main part of the diet,” Farcas says.