Pets and Ebola: What’s the Risk?


Yesterday it was announced that Dallas nurse Nina Pham’s beloved dog Bentley tested negative for the Ebola virus. Bentley had been placed in quarantine when Nina contracted Ebola. This good news is tempered by the earlier story of a Spanish nurse’s dog being euthanized when she contracted Ebola, despite strong objections from her husband and the general public.

With Ebola so much in the news lately, what exactly are the risks to pets from the Ebola virus? The “Ask Well” blog in The New York Times recently addressed this issue. They explain that Ebola is primarily an animal disease, most likely originating in the fruit bat. Humans and primates are highly susceptible to the Ebola virus. Ebola has also been found in some wild African animals such as antelopes and rodents. Experiments on pigs, guinea pigs, horses and goats show that these animals may also contract a mild form of the disease.

But what about dogs and cats? Wild cats in Africa are not known to get Ebola, suggesting that all cats may be immune to the disease. Dogs that come into contact with humans can get infected. While the virus has not been found in their blood, antibodies have been detected, so it is likely they can survive infections.

Studies of previous Ebola outbreaks indicate that the greatest number of dogs testing positive for antibodies were found in villages that had human deaths, and also were known to feed dogs scraps of bush meat. Although no dogs became sick, they most likely contracted the virus through contact with the bush meat or human vomit.

It is unknown whether or not dogs can pass on the virus to humans or other animals. No animals in North America have been found to have Ebola, including bats, but it is unclear if they can be carriers. It is speculated that dogs might act as vectors, transmitting Ebola from humans to other animals. Also currently unknown is how long a dog remains infectious, and how long it should remain in quarantine.

Click HERE for the full story.

Say “Treats!” Tips for Taking Great Pet Photos

We’ve all grabbed the camera and taken a quick picture when we see our pets do something cute. But how do you take that special photograph of your dog or cat, one that shows them at their best? We asked professional San Diego pet photographer Allison Shamrell of Allison Shamrell Pet Photography for some advice.

Allison and Bailey

              Allison and Bailey

An experienced pet photographer and student of animal psychology and body language, Allison believes in the importance of highlighting your pet’s unique beauty and personality. Here are Allison’s top pet photography tips, using her work as examples:


  1. Get on their level! Shooting close to the ground from your pet’s perspective makes your pictures more interesting.


  1. Look for the light. The best place to take pictures, especially action shots, is outdoors. If you stay inside, make sure you uncover all windows for the best natural light.


  1. Make it fun for your pet! Your pets will look their best when they are happy, so don’t forget to incorporate play and treats into your photo session.
  2. Tucker him out first! Take your dog for a walk before a session so that he will expend some energy and be more willing to sit for the camera.


  1. Look for the details. Focus on an interesting part of your pet’s body, such as ears, tail and paws, or zoom in for a close shot of your pet’s fur.


  1. Know your camera. Whether you’re using your phone or a high-end camera, get to know your camera’s features and experiment with different settings.


  1. Take plenty of photos. Getting that perfect shot takes work, even for professionals, so don’t be discouraged if your first pictures are disappointing…keep snapping away!
  2. Ask for help. Grab a friend or family member to help out with your photo session. Another person makes it easier to wrangle treats and leashes, and also to help get your pet’s attention.
  3. Keep the background simple. Busy, distracting backgrounds (indoors or outdoors) take the focus away from your pet. Try a session in your backyard instead of a crowded dog park.


10. Take your time. It takes time for all of the elements of a good pet photo to come together.   You can plan on spending at least 10-15 minutes on your photo session, so relax and enjoy spending time with your best friend!

Halloween and Cats

Black Cat

Are cats, especially black cats, in danger of harm at Halloween? There are many opinions about this issue, with some experts stating that Halloween poses no extra risk to cats, and others who argue that people with an anti-cat bias are more likely to abuse cats during Halloween. Some shelters will not adopt out black cats during this time of year, while others use Halloween as an opportunity to promote black cat adoptions.

Whether your cat is black or any other color, there are a few common-sense cat safety guidelines to keep in mind this Halloween. Cats can get upset by ringing doorbells, loud voices, and increased activity in and around the house. Here are some useful tips from to help keep your cat safe and secure:

  • Begin keeping indoor-outdoor cats inside several days before Halloween. (Cats are always safer living indoors.)
  • Secure your cat in a comfortable room away from the front door, and don’t forget to visit between trick or treaters.
  • Keep your cat away from candles and any tempting decorations that could be hazardous if swallowed.
  • Don’t let your cat eat chocolate or any other type of candy, and don’t let him eat those candy wrappers he’s playing with.
  • Resist the urge to dress your cat up in costumes (they really don’t like it!). Cats can also get frightened when their humans look different, so remember that masks and wigs can be scary to them.
  • If your cat does get out on Halloween, keep calm and encourage your cat to come back inside with gentle calls and his favorite treats.

Halloween can be a stressful time for cats…a little planning can ensure that your cat feels safe this Halloween!

Falling Leaves, Healthy Pets

Dog Leaves

Pet health is important all year round, but did you know that your pets have special health concerns in the fall? Here are some autumn pet health tips to keep in mind, courtesy of Pets Best pet insurance:

Parvovirus: Vets see an increase in Parvo infections in unvaccinated puppies in the fall. Make sure your pets are protected!

Allergies: Dust and pollen in the air, triggered by the changing seasons, can bother dogs and cats as well as humans. Keep an eye out for respiratory symptoms, ear infections, and itchy skin.

Arthritis: Similar to humans, older pets can experience an increase in achy joints in colder weather.

Antifreeze: Car antifreeze tastes appealing to dogs and cats. Be sure to keep your pets away from antifreeze, as it can be fatal if ingested.

Hunting Injuries: Do you take your dog hunting in the fall? Dogs can experience limb injuries and lacerations. And be sure to protect your dog against fleas and ticks.

Halloween: Keep your pets away from chocolate, and make sure they don’t ingest loose candy wrappers.

Thanksgiving: Turkey alert! Feeding your pet too much, or inappropriate, human food can lead to pancreatitis and gastrointestinal problems.

Rodenticides: Rats and mice could seek warmth in your house or garage when the weather gets colder. Rat and mouse poison is flavored to entice rodents to eat it. Keep your pets away from rodent bait, as it is highly toxic to dogs and cats.

Cat Winter

For more information on keeping your pets safe this fall, click HERE.


New California Animal Welfare Legislation

Dog face

California Governor Jerry Brown signed two important animal welfare bills into law during the 2014 legislative session! They are Assembly Bills 1809 and 1810.

A.B. 1809 requires that dogs or puppies brought into the state for the purpose of resale or change of ownership must have a health certificate completed by a licensed veterinarian, done within 10 days prior to the date that the dog arrives in the state. This health certificate would be submitted to the appropriate county health department. According to the ASPCA, this legislation is especially important due to the large growth in online puppy sales. With this documentation, local governments will be better able to manage shelter, spay/neuter, and licensing programs.

A.B. 1810 provides more humane options for animals abandoned at veterinary offices, kennels, groomers, animal hospitals, or other animal care facilities. Previous law stated that the animal care facility, if unable to find a new home for the animal, should euthanize the abandoned animal. Under the amended law, an animal care facility can attempt to find a new home for the animal, or turn the animal over to a shelter, rescue group, or other appropriate humane organization, provided the organization first agrees to take the animal. If the shelter is unable to find a new home, the abandoned animal may then be euthanized.

One additional bill, A.B. 2326, is still in committee. If passed, this bill would allow a tax deduction of up to $100 for costs associated with the adoption of a pet from a qualified animal rescue organization.

Please join us in thanking the animal-friendly California legislators who are doing so much to help our pets!