Crash-Test Dummy Dogs Hunt for a Safe Seat Belt

Article excerpted from a 10/2/2013 article by Matthew Dolan (

Auto makers have used crash-test dummies to simulate stresses and strains on human forms from big men to tiny women. Now, it’s Fido’s turn.

The nonprofit Center for Pet Safety in Reston, Va., has teamed up with auto maker Subaru to run preliminary tests on 11 pet safety belts.

The goal: To figure out which pet restraints work well enough to earn a seal of approval from pet-advocacy groups, which the center hopes will one day set national safety standards.


Center for Pet Safety - A specially designed canine dummy gets buckled in by researchers in a collaborative crash-test study of pet harnesses conducted by Subaru and the Center for Pet Safety.

This summer at a private product-testing lab in Virginia, seven of the 11 pet harnesses underwent crash testing. The center designed some of the world’s first crash-test dogs, simulating a 25-pound terrier mix, a 45-pound border collie and a 75-pound golden retriever.

The final results, expected to be released this week, weren’t encouraging. Sleepypod’s Clickit three-point safety harness was the only restraint that consistently kept a dog from launching off the seat. It was also the only one judged to offer substantial protection to all passengers, dog included, in the event of an accident.

Subaru says it will soon offer Sleepypod’s Clickit Utility Harness as an accessory in its vehicles.

The Center for Pet Safety, which says it doesn’t receive any funding or free products from the pet-device industry, is in the first stages of trying to establish a uniform standard to judge all pet restraints.

“It establishes a good baseline,” said Sean Kane, a noted auto-safety researcher with Safety Research & Strategies, who reviewed the study at The Wall Street Journal’s request. The variations in test-dummy size were particularly important, he noted, since larger dogs consistently fared worse in the tests.

An untethered pet can create a safety hazard. Pet advocacy group Bark Buckle Up argues that unrestrained pets act like missiles in accidents, endangering passengers and themselves. In one calculation by motorist-advocacy group AAA, even a 10-pound unrestrained dog in a crash at only 30 miles an hour will exert roughly 300 pounds of force.

Law-enforcement groups say an injured or disoriented pet thrown from a car crash can turn violent or impede rescue efforts.

Several pet-restraint manufacturers say consumers should be cautious of these early test results. The firms say they crash-test their products at accredited facilities. The devices, however, aren’t tested by the American Pet Products Association, the federal government, traffic-safety groups or other product-safety groups.

“Our members are continuously striving to develop products that enhance the lives, health and safety of pets,” says Bob Vetere, chief executive of the American Pet Products Association, who says he hopes consumers will continue using pet restraints.

Nearly 90% of U.S. pet owners say they travel with their pets, but few strap them in, despite recommendations from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and others. Some 17% of drivers surveyed in a 2011 AAA study admitted driving with a pet on their lap.


What’s wrong with my cats teeth?

What’s Wrong With My Cat’s Mouth?
Posted by: Randi Case
Written By: Dr. Jim Humphries, Certified Veterinary Journalist, Veterinary News Network

Many cat owners look at the grace, athleticism and beauty of their pets and think that they have the “perfect” animal. Unfortunately, many of these same cats will have a very “imperfect” mouth, due to a serious and very painful condition that causes teeth to resorb, dissolve and even break! Here’s what we know about Tooth Resorption in cats.

Ask any cat owner about how they care for their feline’s teeth and most will reply that “he eats dry food” or, more commonly “I really don’t clean her teeth”. While most veterinarians will acknowledge that brushing a cat’s teeth is a challenge for many owners, they will stress the importance of routine oral assessment of your cat’s mouth. These exams help find preventable problems and even some very concerning issues. One of those concerns we are seeing more frequently is called Feline Tooth Resorption.

Tooth Resorption, or “TR” as it is commonly called, is a condition seen in a growing percentage of cats over the age of six years. The same strange condition is also seen in dogs and in people, but it is not nearly as common.

In the past, this disease has been called “neck lesions”, “cervical line lesions” and even the cumbersome “Feline Odontoclastic Resorptive Lesions (FORLs)”. Whatever the name, we know that this condition is seen in cats who often appear normal. The process will continue to develop, causing extreme pain because of the exposure of the root canal. This can even lead to behavior changes and lack of normal appetite.

Dr. Brett Beckman, a noted board-certified veterinary dentist, says that an exact cause for TR has not been determined yet. Theories about exposure to certain viruses, breed prevalence and chronic inflammation of the mouth and gums have all been proposed as root causes. According to Beckman, a single study suggests that high levels of Vitamin D in cat foods could be linked to resorptive disease, but that research is still ongoing. Interestingly, there has even been evidence of TR in cat skeletons that are 800 years old!

Clinically, most cats will appear normal, but observant owners may note that their cat prefers to chew food on just one side or that the cat stops grooming. They may “toss” dry food into the back of their mouth. As TR progresses, some pets will even develop sullen or aggressive attitudes, as if they are mad at the world!

Eventually, your veterinarian may point out how some of your cat’s cheek teeth are showing lines of inflamed, fleshy material right near the base of the tooth. At this point, the erosion has exposed the tooth to the bacteria of the mouth and this is when affected cats become extremely painful. Even under a general anesthetic, a slight touch of these teeth will cause a cat to “chatter” their jaw, indicating very serious pain!

Dental x-rays are the only way to diagnose TR. When the radiographs are taken, if TR is present, your veterinarian can see changes in the density of the roots and crowns of the teeth. All teeth can be affected, but the major “signal” tooth is the first one in the lower jaw. Some teeth can be partially affected, while others may have completely dissolved away leaving a “ghost image”.

Unfortunately, there is no effective treatment that can save the pet’s teeth. A normal cleaning and polishing will not work! Veterinary dentists have even tried root canal therapies (endodonics), but they fail, as this resorption occurs on a microsopic basis. A tooth that is showing any signs of resorption needs to be extracted. Some cats will need full mouth extractions. All cats with a known history of TR should be x-rayed every six months to a year. It is likely other teeth are affected and they must be monitored.

The good news in all of this is that once your veterinarian knows about the disease, several things can be done to keep your cat comfortable. Experience has shown that cats who were once not eating well or even aggressive will often have a positive behavior change in just a matter of weeks. It is surprising how the removal of these painful teeth can often bring back your affectionate feline friend.

Owners are often unaware that their pets are experiencing such discomfort. But, regular visits to your veterinarian can help identify the issue and start work that will make your cat feel better. Contact your veterinarian to have a comprehensive oral examination for your pet, including dental x-rays and regular dental cleanings.

Clean Those Teeth!

by Jim Harrington

Ever gotten close to your favorite four-legged friend and gotten a whiff of something nasty?!  Similar to how our mouths function, pet bad breath typically stems from anaerobic bacteria that thrives in areas such as gums and in between teeth.  Once that bacteria transforms into plaque and accumulates, that wonderful stank becomes more noticeable.

A combination of patience and a willing pet can enable teeth to get brushed.  Generally, dogs are a bit easier to do teeth cleaning than cats.  Most dogs feel more of a need to please and bond.  A cat’s mouth is typically smaller and their teeth are also smaller and sharper – plus they choose when they feel like engaging with their human.

Brushing is an unnatural act for your pet, especially since they also cannot rinse, spit or floss on their own.  If your pets (or you) get too stressed by trying to utilize some of the traditional oral hygiene approaches, it may be best to consider alternative products.  Take a ride to your favorite pet store and you’ll see the ever-expanding teeth cleaning options that are available.  Products range from special chew toys and ropes to hard treats and cookies.  If none of those work, you can also ask your veterinarian about special foods and diets that support good oral health.

Make sure you do NOT use human toothpaste though…  the foaming action and an inability to spit leaves only one option for our furry friends – they swallow it.  Once that happens, plan on an upset tummy – or worse.  If your pet cooperates with the brushing concept, be sure to purchase a foamless flavored gel specially designed for animals.  These gels are safe for pets to swallow.  Brushing once a day should be sufficient to maintain good oral health for your dog or cat.

Lastly, be aware that oral care products for animals are not specifically regulated by any federal agency.  The FDA does provide some general oversight of products that make claims of cleaner teeth, fresher breath, etc, but it doesn’t do specific testing.



by Randi Case (originally published on  

Tick tock goes the summertime clock!  As summer rolls in and activities go outdoors we need to be cautious about ticks.  In rural areas like ours that are heavily wooded, ticks are very common.

Ticks are not jumping insects.  Instead, they climb grasses and trees and hitch a ride on passers-by.  Different species of ticks prefer different hosts – dogs, cats, humans.  Ticks can carry diseases like Lyme Disease, which can infect the host when the tick attaches.  The tick feeds on the blood from the host and can then transmit disease.

The best prevention against ticks is to use a product that specifically targets ticks.  These products may include spot on products and collars.  Speak to your veterinarian about which option is best for your pets.

It is also important to carefully examine yourself and your pets for ticks after spending time outdoors.  With the proper precautions, outdoor time with your pet can be a wonderful bonding experience without the worry of unwanted insect hitchhikers!

Randi is the owner of Caring for Animals in Mendham, NJ.  Visit for a description of the pet sitting and animal chiropractic solutions we offer in Morris County (NJ)…