A Publication of St. Louis Critter Sitters
February 2008

Breed of the Month – The Australian Shepherd

While there are many theories as to the origin of the Australian Shepherd, the breed as we know it today developed exclusively in the United States. The Australian Shepherd was given its name because of their association with the Basque sheepherders who came to the United States from Australia in the 1800's.

The Australian Shepherd is an intelligent, medium-sized dog of strong herding and guardian instincts. He is also a delightful and loyal companion and a great family dog. He loves to be part of the daily hustle and bustle, and enjoys riding in the vehicle just to be with his beloved master. As a farm dog, he diligently carries out his responsibilities, be they bringing in the stock or finding that stray one that got tangled in the brush. He is easy to train, easy to housebreak, and eager to please.

The Aussie (as he is lovingly nicknamed) is a very active dog that needs a great deal of exercise on a daily basis to prevent him from become bored or frustrated and developing destructive habits. Because of their high energy level, combined with high intelligence, Aussies need to be given a "job" to perform, be it shepherding the children, protecting the house, herding livestock or competing in dog events.

Source:  www.australianshepherds.org

We at Critter Sitters are asking you to please remember shelter animals if you are considering a new pet. Rescued animals often make the best pets. In return for a little affection and attention, they reward their new owners with a love and loyalty unmatched anywhere.  Click here to see a listing of AUSTRALIAN SHEPHERDS available for adoption in the St. Louis area.

National Pet Dental Month article from February 2008 edition of St. Louie Tails:

Mouthing Off

February is National Pet Dental Health Month, but is there a set of pearly whites hiding behind your pet’s smile or rapidly advancing periodontal disease? Take our quick quiz to determine whether you need to brush up on what’s really going on inside your best friend’s mouth.

True or False:
You should be paying more attention to your pet’s dental health.*
(*The answer is true!)


1. Dogs have 42 permanent teeth.

true or false

2. Symptoms of periodontal disease in pets include yellow and brown tartar buildup along the gum line, red and inflamed gums, and persistent bad breath.

true or false

3. Studies show that by middle age, 80 percent of dogs exhibit signs of gum disease.

true or false

4. Large-breed dogs are more likely to develop periodontal disease than small ones.

true or false

5. The cause of gum disease in cats and dogs is the same as in people.

true or false

6. It is OK to use human-grade toothpaste to brush your cat or dog’s teeth.

true or false

7. Cavities are the most common problem associated with feline oral care.

true or false

8. Dogs are susceptible to breaking their teeth.

true or false

9. Only an experienced vet should attempt to clean an animal’s teeth.

true or false

10. Depression is a habitual indicator of oral disease.

true or false

St. Louis Critter Sitters
Recipe Corner

Dehydrated Liver Diamonds

  • 3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 3 cups quick oats
  • 2 tablespoons brewers yeast (optional)
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 pound chicken livers, pureed
  • 3/4 cup molasses
  • Eggs (about 6)

Mix first 4 ingredients together until well combined. Add the chicken livers, molasses and enough eggs to make the mixture into a cake batter consistency. Pour into a greased 9 x 13-inch cake pan. Bake at 275 degrees F for 30 minutes.

Remove pan from oven and cut into diamond shapes. Reduce oven temperature to 200 degrees F and place pan back in oven. Bake for 2 1/2 hours more, until dry.  Turn the oven off and leave the pan in the oven overnight to complete the drying process (this will prevent mold).  In the morning remove treats from the pan. Store treats in refrigerator. The diamonds may be frozen, if desired.

Furry Forum from February 2008 edition of St. Louie Tails:

Q. My 14-year-old dog keeps digging holes in our yard, and I can’t get her to stop. Can you help?

—Dolores Terhune, Roselle Park, New Jersey

A. First determine why she is digging, because [this behavior] is a symptom, not the problem. If she is left outside because she cannot behave indoors, train her so she can come inside. Does she try to escape? She needs more exercise. Does she dig because she is bored? Give her more toys. Is she hunting gophers or mice? Then get rid of them. Does she dig because she watches you as you work in the garden? Stop gardening when she is present. Does she dig to cool off in a pit or to get shelter from rain, etc.? Give her shelter. Or does she dig because she likes to dig? Then give her a pit of her own to dig in and train her to use the pit. At 14, her hearing and sight may be diminishing, and she may be scared by being left alone. If she is lonely, then spend more time with her.

—Caryl Wolff, CPDT, NADOI, CDBC, Los Angeles, California

Q. My Black Lab mix has lesions on the edges of her earflaps that have a V-shaped notch where there is flesh missing and the skin is open. This appeared last fall, seemed to get better, and then reappeared this fall. Her vet is at a loss, as is the vet dermatologist whom he contacted. Do you have any idea what this is and how to treat it?

—Rachel Henzi, Cincinnati, Ohio

A. This is quite a strange problem. Three things pop into my mind as I read your email. The first would be a bacterial infection possibly caused by staphylococcus, a common cause of skin infections in pets. The second would be another infection caused by yeast. Finally, disorders of the immune system like pemphigus could also [be an issue]. Here’s what I would do if your pet was one of my patients: I would do a complete blood profile, taking a special look at the thyroid and adrenal gland values. While I expect these blood tests will be normal, occasionally the cause for dermatitis will be revealed. Ultimately I would suggest a biopsy of the affected skin. The pathologist can look at the tissues microscopically to determine the cause, which is usually evident in about 95 percent of the skin cases I treat. Once diagnosis has been made through biopsy, the most appropriate treatment can be selected for your pet.

—Dr. Shawn Messonnier, DVM, Plano, Texas

Scoring and Answer Key


8–10 correct - Congratulations! You are a dental expert. Your pets probably have the cleanest teeth in the neighborhood.

4–7 correct - You need to bone up on your pet dental-health savvy. Schedule an appointment with your vet today.

1–3 correct - Egads! Not only should you take your pet to the vet immediately, but you may want to consider a trip to your own dentist.

Answer Key

1. True. At about four months of age, dogs will emerge with a set of adult teeth that includes 20 on top and 22 on the bottom.

2. True. If your companion animal is exhibiting any of those symptoms, you should schedule a checkup with your veterinarian.

3. False. Studies confirm that as early as age three, 80 percent of dogs exhibit signs of gum disease. Seventy percent of cats will also show signs of gum disease by age three.

4. False. Small-breed dogs are more likely to develop periodontal disease than their large-breed counterparts because the teeth of small dogs are often too large for their size.

5. True. Gum disease is an infection resulting from buildup of soft dental plaque on the surfaces of the teeth around the gums. The bacteria in dental plaque irritate the gum tissue if plaque is allowed to accumulate, which often leads to infection in the bone surrounding the teeth.

6. False. Human-quality toothpaste can upset your pet’s stomach. Ask your veterinarian about toothpaste that is specially formulated for your canine or feline friend.

7. False. Odontoclastic resorptive lesions are the most common tooth disease in domestic cats. About 28 percent of domestic cats develop at least one of these painful lesions during their lifetime. Purebred cats may be more susceptible.

8. True. Aggressive chewing on hard objects may cause canines to crack, splinter, or break their teeth.

9. False. In addition to regularly scheduled checkups, people with pets are encouraged to practice a regular dental-care regimen at home. There are also specially formulated foods and treats available that help prevent the buildup of tartar.

10. True. If your pet is lethargic or depressed, he could be having oral trouble. Other ways your pet might be trying to tell you he is having trouble include a change in chewing or eating habits or pawing at the face.

*Sources: PetEducation.com, PetDental.com, VOHC.org, Wikipedia.org
Canine Comics

"The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them. That is the essence of humanity."
...George Bernard Shaw