Friday, March 18, 2011

Pet owners cautioned against giving potassium iodide to animals

March 17, 2011

Pet owners anticipating the possible movement to the West Coast of radioactive material from Japan’s damaged nuclear power plants should not give their dogs, cats or other pets potassium iodide tablets, cautions a UC Davis veterinary cancer researcher.

"At this point there is no risk to pets in California stemming from radiation released from the tragedy that continues to unfold in Japan," said Michael Kent, a faculty veterinarian who specializes in radiation cancer therapy.

He noted that UC Davis’ William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital has been receiving dozens of phone calls daily this week from pet owners concerned about possible radiation health risks to their pets.

“While potassium iodide might help protect dogs, cats and other pets, as it would people, from the risks of radiation exposure in the unlikely event that radioactive iodine reaches here in appreciable levels, giving it ahead of time carries risks and would be ill advised,” Kent said.

He cautioned that side effects for pets taking potassium iodide — especially if they consume too much — include severe allergic reactions; gastrointestinal upsets including vomiting, diarrhea and anorexia; decreased normal thyroid function; and damage to the heart. At high enough levels, potassium iodide can even cause death.

His recommendations mirror a March 15 public advisory from the California Department of Public Health, which warned Californians to not take potassium iodide as a precautionary measure:

Kent is available to talk with news media today, Thursday, March 17, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Center for Companion Animal Health, adjacent to the William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital. Reporters should call ahead to arrange interview times.
About UC Davis

For more than 100 years, UC Davis has engaged in teaching, research and public service that matter to California and transform the world. Located close to the state capital, UC Davis has more than 32,000 students, more than 2,500 faculty and more than 21,000 staff, an annual research budget that exceeds $678 million, a comprehensive health system and 13 specialized research centers. The university offers interdisciplinary graduate study and more than 100 undergraduate majors in four colleges — Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Biological Sciences, Engineering, and Letters and Science. It also houses six professional schools — Education, Law, Management, Medicine, Veterinary Medicine and the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing.
Media contact(s):

* Pat Bailey, UC Davis News Service, (530) 752-9843,

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Friday, March 11, 2011

Snowflake heads to her new home

Snowflake, the cat we rescued from the cold, icy New England winter this year (she was living under our deck) heads to her new home today. A couple has decided to adopt her. We can't call it a "forever home" until they take the necessary time to allow her to adapt to their home and be introduced to their own cat, Bogie. If all goes well over the next few weeks and Snowflake settles in and gets along with Bogie, she will have a wonderful new home.

It's very sad to see her go, though. After having a cat in your home for a month (and seeing her outdoors for months before that), you of course feel as if the cat is part of your family. In our case, we have four other cats and they just weren't prepared to fully accept a fifth. We know it's best for Snowflake, our cats, and us if Snowflake finds a home with more space, fewer cats, and more attention that can be devoted to her. But it doesn't make it easy to see her go.

Hats off to all of the great volunteers out there who foster cats, dogs, and other animals for animal rescue organizations, giving them temporary, loving, and comfortable homes while they wait for forever homes. I've learned how difficult the job can be when you have to let them go! But you do it knowing that you prevented suffering and saved a life; and what could be better than that?

We wish you a happy life full of love, Snowflake!