Posted in Features

Features

The Grand Mint Parade 2017


A Look Back – Breaking & Entering

by Barry Clark Bauer

St. Johns City Police Chief Everett Glazier is investigating a Breaking and Entry into Dean’s Hardware in downtown St. Johns back in 1972.


Benny and Jessie’s Pet Info – Why Dogs Lick and When to Worry

Dogs lick themselves, that’s a fact of life, but when does it get to be an issue? You may catch your pooch bathing daily to keep clean. This is an innate behavior in the animal kingdom. But there are times when licking can become excessive and can be a clinical sign of an underlying illness.

Allergies are the number one cause of excessive licking in dogs. Owners may note that their dog licks in between the toes (sometimes leading to staining of the fur due to enzymes in the saliva), they may lick and chew at their hind end and their inner thighs.

Environmental allergies are caused by dusts, danders, pollens, and other airborne particles which lead to build-up on the skin and fur of the dog and in turn cause itching. Allergies to flea bites and certain proteins in pet food can cause similar signs.

Cleaning your dog’s paws with doggie wipes or a warm washcloth after walks outside can help to decrease environmental allergens. Owners should seek veterinary attention for their dogs if the skin is changing color, if there are wounds, pimples, or crusts noted on the skin, if there is excessive scratching associated with the licking, and/or if fleas are seen.

Licking can also be a sign of nausea in some dogs. If your dog is licking abnormal places, such as the floors or the walls, or if your dog is licking his/her lips frequently, these can be a signs of gastrointestinal upset. Some dogs will also smack their lips or drool excessively when they feel nauseous.

If your dog is showing these signs and they last more than 24 hours, or if they are at all associated with vomiting, diarrhea, or lack of appetite, it is important to contact your veterinarian.

Addressing quality of life is the first step. There are shampoos that can help calm the itching as well as veterinary prescribed anti-histamines to keep your dog comfortable.

Your vet may also recommend some diagnostic tests, such as a fecal panel, blood testing, and/or x-rays, to rule out causes of belly upset. Your veterinarian can often prescribe or administer medications to help control and sometimes eliminate the nausea for your pet.

Dogs can also have behavioral causes of excessive licking, such as anxiety or a type of obsessive disorder where they over-groom themselves. Some studies have shown that the act of licking increases endorphins in the brain which calms the dog while it is licking. Loud noises, separation anxiety and/or change in environment can lead to this behavior.

It is important to intervene to lessen or stop this behavior before the dog licks off all of its fur (usually confined to one site on the body, such as a leg or the abdomen), which can lead to skin infection (hot spots) and acral lick granulomas (which are masses that occur secondary to chronic abrasion with the tongue and inflammation to the area). These infections and granulomas can be painful to the dog.

If there is trauma to the skin, your veterinarian will treat the skin infections and/or granulomas caused by the excessive licking and then determine if the licking is a medical disorder or something that can be alleviated with behavior training.

Diversion techniques can be instituted if your pet is over grooming. This entails close monitoring and side-tracking your dog when he starts to obsessively groom. Give him/her a favorite toy or treat to focus on, go for a walk, or even spend some quality time brushing your dog. This can help get his/her mind off of the compulsions.

If your veterinarian determines after examination (and possible diagnostic testing) that your dog is licking due to compulsive behavior or anxiety, there are some natural calming products that can be instituted. These include calming drops for the water, calming treats, pheromone collars, and thunder shirts. Very dilute apple cider vinegar can also be sprayed on the skin to deter licking but should be discussed with a veterinarian first to be sure it will not irritate the skin further. These natural products tend to have little to no side effects and are safest when starting a treatment plan.

Keeping a low stress environment for anxious dogs can be very helpful also; quiet, low lighting, and slow movements. Still, sometimes natural products are not enough to calm your dog and stop excessive licking. This is when a thorough discussion should be had with your veterinarian about behavior modification drugs such as Fluoxetine and Clomipramine. However, these medications can have side effects and are usually only given for chronic conditions. It is important to discuss all of the pros and cons with your veterinarian prior to starting your dog on these medications.

Quality of life is the most important thing when it comes to our pets. Excessive licking can cause that quality to decrease over time. If you think your dog is excessively licking, it is pertinent to discuss these signs with your veterinarian. Together you can determine if the signs are something to be concerned about, or if your pet is simply taking his/her daily bath.

Dogs lick themselves, that’s a fact of life, but when does it get to be an issue? You may catch your pooch bathing daily to keep clean. This is an innate behavior in the animal kingdom. But there are times when licking can become excessive and can be a clinical sign of an underlying illness.

Allergies are the number one cause of excessive licking in dogs. Owners may note that their dog licks in between the toes (sometimes leading to staining of the fur due to enzymes in the saliva), they may lick and chew at their hind end and their inner thighs.

Environmental allergies are caused by dusts, danders, pollens, and other airborne particles which lead to build-up on the skin and fur of the dog and in turn cause itching. Allergies to flea bites and certain proteins in pet food can cause similar signs.

Cleaning your dog’s paws with doggie wipes or a warm washcloth after walks outside can help to decrease environmental allergens. Owners should seek veterinary attention for their dogs if the skin is changing color, if there are wounds, pimples, or crusts noted on the skin, if there is excessive scratching associated with the licking, and/or if fleas are seen.

Licking can also be a sign of nausea in some dogs. If your dog is licking abnormal places, such as the floors or the walls, or if your dog is licking his/her lips frequently, these can be a signs of gastrointestinal upset. Some dogs will also smack their lips or drool excessively when they feel nauseous.

If your dog is showing these signs and they last more than 24 hours, or if they are at all associated with vomiting, diarrhea, or lack of appetite, it is important to contact your veterinarian.

Addressing quality of life is the first step. There are shampoos that can help calm the itching as well as veterinary prescribed anti-histamines to keep your dog comfortable.

Your vet may also recommend some diagnostic tests, such as a fecal panel, blood testing, and/or x-rays, to rule out causes of belly upset. Your veterinarian can often prescribe or administer medications to help control and sometimes eliminate the nausea for your pet.

Dogs can also have behavioral causes of excessive licking, such as anxiety or a type of obsessive disorder where they over-groom themselves. Some studies have shown that the act of licking increases endorphins in the brain which calms the dog while it is licking. Loud noises, separation anxiety and/or change in environment can lead to this behavior.

It is important to intervene to lessen or stop this behavior before the dog licks off all of its fur (usually confined to one site on the body, such as a leg or the abdomen), which can lead to skin infection (hot spots) and acral lick granulomas (which are masses that occur secondary to chronic abrasion with the tongue and inflammation to the area). These infections and granulomas can be painful to the dog.

If there is trauma to the skin, your veterinarian will treat the skin infections and/or granulomas caused by the excessive licking and then determine if the licking is a medical disorder or something that can be alleviated with behavior training.

Diversion techniques can be instituted if your pet is over grooming. This entails close monitoring and side-tracking your dog when he starts to obsessively groom. Give him/her a favorite toy or treat to focus on, go for a walk, or even spend some quality time brushing your dog. This can help get his/her mind off of the compulsions.

If your veterinarian determines after examination (and possible diagnostic testing) that your dog is licking due to compulsive behavior or anxiety, there are some natural calming products that can be instituted. These include calming drops for the water, calming treats, pheromone collars, and thunder shirts. Very dilute apple cider vinegar can also be sprayed on the skin to deter licking but should be discussed with a veterinarian first to be sure it will not irritate the skin further. These natural products tend to have little to no side effects and are safest when starting a treatment plan.

Keeping a low stress environment for anxious dogs can be very helpful also; quiet, low lighting, and slow movements. Still, sometimes natural products are not enough to calm your dog and stop excessive licking. This is when a thorough discussion should be had with your veterinarian about behavior modification drugs such as Fluoxetine and Clomipramine. However, these medications can have side effects and are usually only given for chronic conditions. It is important to discuss all of the pros and cons with your veterinarian prior to starting your dog on these medications.

Quality of life is the most important thing when it comes to our pets. Excessive licking can cause that quality to decrease over time. If you think your dog is excessively licking, it is pertinent to discuss these signs with your veterinarian. Together you can determine if the signs are something to be concerned about, or if your pet is simply taking his/her daily bath.


Letters – City thanks community for Mint Festival success

We would like to thank the St. Johns Chamber of Commerce, the Downtown Development Authority and Principal Shopping District, the City of St. Johns Department of Public Works and St. Johns Police Department for all their hard work during the 33rd Annual St. Johns Mint Festival.

We also want to recognize all the volunteers who put in countless hours of their time to make the Mint Festival a huge success.

Also a thank you and shout out to the owners of Oh Mi Organics who organized and hosted the First Annual Mint City Market and to the businesses who participated. This was a great weekend for our community!

City of St. Johns


Maralyn’s Pet Corner – 5 Things That Stress Out Your Cat

Sounds and smells we may enjoy or don’t think twice about can make our feline family members miserable. Cats have a heightened sense of smell and hearing that serves their wild counterparts well. But our homes are not the wild.

Nobody can say precisely why your cat reacts to a certain stimulus, mostly because there’s not a lot of scientific research available on this subject. Still, experts agree it’s beneficial to identify sounds and smells that stress out your cat, and make necessary adjustments to your environment. The following are some of the most common irritants for cats.

Thunderstorms and Fireworks

Unexpected loud noises and sudden changes in air pressure likely alert cats to be on guard, says Lauren Demos, president of the American Association of Feline Practitioners. “They can warn of impending situations that may require the cat to fight or take flight.”

A cat’s reaction to loud and abrupt noises is an evolutionary response, says Dr. Bruce Kornreich, associate director of the Cornell Feline Health Center at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. While humans also get startled by sounds, we can easily figure out that the noise won’t harm us, unlike cats. Cats may also equate loud noises with negative experiences, Kornreich says. And sometimes, there’s just no logical explanation for their reaction.

While you can’t control every noise, you can pre-plan for certain situations, such as fireworks and thunderstorms. “I recommend confining your cat to a room where she feels comfortable and away from the noise,” says Adi Hovav, senior feline behavior counselor at the ASPCA Adoption Center in New York. “However, if she’s already found a hiding spot, consider leaving her there, as moving her to another spot may increase her stress.” If you do set up a quiet “sanctuary” room for your cat, make sure she has access to a litter box, Hovav adds.

A white noise machine to mask the sound may be useful, too. “Or, offer her some quiet attention in the form of yummy treats or gentle petting,” Hovav says. “Not all cats are going to be comforted by being held if they are frightened or stressed, even if they enjoy being held under normal circumstances, so don’t force your cat if she’s not accepting of this type of attention.”

Compression shirts designed for cats can also be helpful for short periods, as can synthetic pheromone sprays, collars, or diffusers, Demos suggests.

High-Frequency Sounds

Loud and startling thumps, bangs, and clanks aren’t the only noises that can stress cats. High-frequency sounds such as whistling tea kettles and even the sound of our voices can cause anxiety, says Dr. Jill Sackman, head of behavioral medicine service at Blue Pearl Veterinary Partners in various locations in Michigan.

Scientists say cats hear a broad range of sounds, including high-pitched ones. This means cats can hear a lot of sounds we can’t, Kornreich says, such as “ambient sounds like fluorescent light bulbs, video computer monitors, dimmers on light switches, and whistling tea kettles.” (If you put your ear close enough to an LCD screen, you may be able to hear the buzzing.)

Cats develop their super-sonic hearing at an early age. “Responses to sound are seen by 10 days of age, so cats are very in tune with the sounds happening around them,” says Dr. Amy Learn, a veterinarian with the Veterinary Referral Center in northern Virginia. Having acute hearing is essential for survival in the wild. “Those large, funnel-shaped ears are mobile and allow them to hear in ‘surround sound,’” she says. Since animals that cats prey on, like mice, communicate in high frequency, this makes sense.

But what works well in the wild doesn’t necessarily translate well to domestic life. Unlike in the wild, cats have few places for escape. “Being bombarded by noises makes cats feel vulnerable,” Kornreich says.

One important way to reduce potential stress associated with high-pitched (and low-pitched) sounds is to be mindful of where you place your cat’s litter box, Demos advises. “Try to locate the litter boxes away from the furnace or water softener, which can produce noises at unpredictable times, and in addition to being an auditory stressor, can have the potential to lead to litter box aversion.”

Strong Scents

We may find the aroma of peppermint invigorating, but it’s a strong scent, so your cat may not share your enthusiasm. “A cat’s sense of smell is roughly 14 times that of a human,” says Learn, who specializes in behavior medicine. Cats display a well-developed sense of smell at birth (as with their hearing), and by adulthood it eclipses ours.

Nobody knows for sure why cats are sensitive to citrus, but Learn has a theory. “Cats have to eat meat,” she says. “There is no need to eat citrus or carbohydrates. Their sense of smell helps them to hunt, and preferentially leads them toward what they want to eat and away from things they don’t need.”

Given kitty’s strong sense of smell, it may also be that the aroma is just too overwhelming. “Sweetness from the juice, sourness from the aroma, and bitterness from the peel mixed together and intensified…I know I would get a headache,” Learn says.

And some citrus may even be toxic, she says. Provided your cat will even want to eat a piece of citrus fruit, first check to make sure what you’re offering is safe for cats. For example, the fruit of the orange is edible, but the skin and plant material can cause issues, according to the ASPCA.

Be careful with non-food items, too. “Avoid using citrus-scented sprays or cleaners on their bedding, food bowls, and litter boxes,” Hovav advises.

If a scent can’t be avoided, you can still work to reduce the stress it may cause to your cat. “For strong smells, minimizing indoor pollution by taking those activities outside is one option,” Demos says.

Cleaning Agents and Essential Oils

Cats are highly sensitive to aerosols, Learn says. “They have sensitive respiratory systems, and when they breathe these types of chemicals in, they can cause a reaction and even lead to an asthma attack or chronic bronchitis.”

Cleaning agents heavily-scented with pine or bleach are also unpleasant, Hovav says. “It’s best not to use these types of cleaners, especially for the litter box. Instead, opt for a mild, pet-friendly cleaner, preferably one that is unscented. Look for enzymatic cleaners to help neutralize any unwanted pet odors.”

Use caution with essential oils around your cat, too. They may be more than just a source of unpleasantness for your cat—some are also toxic. Examples include lemon oil and orange oil, the ASPCA warns.

Dogs, Predatory Animals, and Other Cats

Dogs top the list as the biggest source of anxiety-causing scents and sounds for cats, says Dr. Elyse Kent, owner of Elite Cat Care in Los Angeles. “It’s one of the big reasons I had a cat-only practice for so many years.”

Second on Kent’s list is the smell of other cats’ urine. “Smell is how cats communicate with each other. When a cat smells another cat’s urine, it’s as if their privacy has been invaded.”

Scents from dogs, predatory animals, and even other stressed or frightened cats can put kitty on edge. “Many of these smells likely come in the form of pheromones, which are chemical messengers cats detect through a specialized organ called the vomeronasal organ,” Demos says.

Cats are both a prey and a predatory species, she explains. “Their nervous system has evolved to produce an appropriate physiological stress response to situations that might require action for self-preservation.”

If your cat has an especially tough time with the smell of dogs, Demos says finding a feline-only veterinarian, or an AAFP certified Cat Friendly Practice that has separate waiting and exam areas for cats, can help lessen the stress.