Blog Posts by Mother Nature Network (mnn.com)

  • New Fungus Species is Deadly to Cats, Humans

    A cat with a swollen eye due to a fungal granuloma in its eye socketA cat with a swollen eye due to a fungal granuloma in its eye socketResearchers have discovered a new species of fungus that causes life-threatening infections in humans and cats.

    Since the species was identified, more than 20 Australian cats and one from Britain have been diagnosed with the fungus. All of the cats were otherwise healthy.

    It's also been diagnosed in two people and has proved fatal in both; however, they each had a compromised immune system.

    The fungus, which infects the respiratory tract, is not thought to be passed between cats and humans.

    Vanessa Barrs, associate professor of small animal medicine at the University of Sydney, recently confirmed the new fungal species after six years of investigation.

    Also see: 12 pets that survived crazy accidents

    "This all originated from spotting an unusual fungal infection in three cats I was seeing at the university's cat treatment center in 2006," she said in a news release. "These cats presented with a tumor-like growth in one of their eye sockets, that had spread there from the nasal

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  • Want to Improve Your Love Life? Eat This, Not That

    Carrots are well-known libido enhancerCarrots are well-known libido enhancerPlanning a romantic evening? You might think a juicy steak, a good bottle of wine and some chocolate will set the stage. But you'd be wrong.

    Saturated fats from meats, alcohol and chocolate are the exact things you'll want to avoid for good sex. Each is filled with chemicals and stimulants that have the opposite effect on libido and performance.

    "If the body is spending its time and energy cleaning itself constantly from these chemicals we put in it, it cannot begin to perform at its peak sexually," says Brian Clement, Ph.D., L.N.C., the co-director of the Hippocrates Health Institute in West Palm Beach and co-author with his wife of "7 Keys to Lifelong Sexual Vitality."

    Also see: Sex is better for headaches than painkillers

    "One-third of young marrieds have fertility problems today and instead of seeing men with performance problems at age 70 the way we did a few decades ago, we now see it at age 40," says Clement. "Fifty percent of 40-year-old men cannot perform."

    "Almost everyone we see

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  • Why Do Cats Groom People?

    A cat's tongue speaks volumesA cat's tongue speaks volumesAdult cats spend about 50 percent of their waking hours grooming themselves. While friendly cats and litter mates often groom each other, felines may also groom their humans by licking their skin or hair. Sometimes they may even nibble or suckle clothing and drool profusely.

    Such behavior is generally a way for cats to show affection. Just as mother cats lick their young, grooming communicates a cat's fondness for a person, as well as a sense of belonging.

    The licking marks you as a member of the animal's family group and spreads the cat's scent. Just as cats scratch certain places to mark their territory, licking your skin or hair is a way of claiming you.

    Also see: 8 great cat tricks caught on video

    Of course, if your feline friend licks your hair after a shower or your hands after you've applied lotion, it could simply be that your shampoo or lotion has an enticing scent or taste.

    If your cat is suckling or licking excessively, it may have been orphaned or weaned too early. Some

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  • Scientists Prove that Women Pay More for Car Repairs

    Woman are charged more for car repairs, according to new studyWoman are charged more for car repairs, according to new studyLet's face it, we all suspect that service providers are fleecing us, especially if the service provided is mysterious to us-fixing cars, for one thing. The phrase "lambs to the slaughter" leaps to mind. How are we supposed to know if a brake job should cost $500 or $2,000? Well, it pays to know, especially if you're a woman. Have you heard that phrase, "They see you coming"? It's true, they do.

    According to a new study, "Repairing the Damage: The Effect of Price Expectations on Auto-Repair Price Quotes," from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, women get the short end of the stick a lot of the time. According to the report,"When it comes to auto repairs, women who don't appear knowledgeable about cost may end up paying more than men. However, gender differences disappear when customers mention an expected price for the repair." In other words, if you have no idea what something should cost-and you're female-it will cost more.

    The Northwestern team dreamt up

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  • How to Help an Anxious Dog Deal with July 4th Fireworks

    Lulu the dog wearing her Thundershirt to calm her downLulu the dog wearing her Thundershirt to calm her downMy dog Lulu has issues traveling by car, but loud noises don't seem to bother my 8-year-old pooch. But Fourth of July festivities can be stressful for some cats and dogs. If your dog has trouble embracing the concept of bombs bursting in air, take measures now to help make the holiday more tolerable. Certified dog behavior consultants Amber Burckhalter and Chris Redenbach offer a few training tips for calming anxious pets.

    Music matters
    Desensitize anxious dogs by introducing music or similar sounds. Redenbach has been introducing loud music to prepare her Bouvier des Flandres for a potential parade of cherry bombs and Roman candles. (Fortunately, no neighbors live close by.) She also notes that desensitizing anxious pets can take time, so start early. Trial and error is part of the process.

    "There are some DVDs and CDs you can buy for dogs that are firework-phobic and gunshot-phobic," says Redenbach, owner of The Balanced Dog Academy in Tucker, Ga. "For some it works; for others it

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  • Why Do Dogs Lick Themselves Excessively?

    A tongue-wagging FidoA tongue-wagging FidoDuring a recent visit to Southern California, I was able to join my friend and his dog for a morning ritual. Every morning, as the rest of the family sleeps, Mike Telleria and pooch Sheila descend the stairs of their condo, cross the parking lot and head for a nearby field to enjoy a game of fetch. At 12 years old, Sheila doesn't move quite as fast as she used to, but this ritual proves that a well-worn tennis ball can turn back time.

    After a few rounds, Mike and Sheila walk across grass still wet with dew and ascend the stairs once again. Before returning inside, Mike dips each of Sheila's furry paws into a bowl of water just outside the front door. Then he grabs an old rag and rubs her paws clean before they go inside and start the day. Without this morning ritual, Mike says, Sheila will lick her paws to raw nubs, removing hair along the way.

    Sheila most likely suffers from a contact allergy caused by chemicals used to treat the lawn, said Dr. Annie Price of Ormewood Animal

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  • Pet Supplements: 5 Things You Need to Know

    Supplements can be good for aging dogsSupplements can be good for aging dogsOur pets are living longer, but with those extra years comes a drawback: age-related health problems. Many pet owners try to turn back the clock by giving their furry companions vitamins and supplements. Packaged Facts market research firm estimates that last year pet owners spent about $1.3 billion on supplements or treats with nutritional benefits. Joint deterioration and cognitive dysfunction fueled a large chunk of those sales. While pets share our aches and pains, they shouldn't share human treatments. Here are five things you need to know before adding vitamins and supplements to your pet's diet.

    1. Your pet's kibble may be enough.
    "Your average healthy dog or cat on a quality commercial pet food does not require any dietary supplementation," said Dr. Jennifer Monroe, a veterinarian with Eagles Landing Veterinary Hospital in Georgia. "Most commercial pet foods add vitamins and minerals to their diets to provide complete and balanced nutrition for pets."

    When in doubt, look for

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  • Georgia Town to Open Paula Deen Museum

    The Paula Deen Museum is set to open soonThe Paula Deen Museum is set to open soonCelebrity chef Paul Deen's admission last week that she had used racial epithets "a very long time ago" has turned into a nightmare public relations disaster for the 66-year-old.

    Following a bungled public apology, Deen received word that the Food Network would not be renewing her contract - a network where her Southern cooking had been a fixture for more than a decade. Now other companies -- Smithfield Foods, Home Depot, and Wal-Mart among them -- also announced that they weredropping Deen.

    "Paula Deen will survive but she will never be whole again," Howard Bragman, vice chairman of Reputation.com, told USAToday.

    Maybe, maybe not. In the wake of all this bad news, many notable figures have come forward to urge focus and not blow past comments out of proportion.

    Also see: 8 painfully embarrassing media moments

    Last Friday, comedian Bill Maher also chimed in saying: "If you're 66 years old, and you were raised in Georgia, and you were a child before the civil rights movement, do you

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  • Dog Days of Summer Can Be Deadly for Pets

    Dogs don't fare well when left in hot carsDogs don't fare well when left in hot carsYou may enjoy taking your canine companion for a ride during the dog days of summer, but experts advise pet owners not to leave dogs, cats or any other pets unattended in a hot car.

    On an 85-degree day, the temperature inside a car with the windows cracked can reach 110 degrees in 10 minutes, according to the Animal Protection Institute. In 30 minutes the interior can reach up to 120 degrees.

    Such temperatures can be deadly for dogs, which can't sweat like humans do. Dogs can cool down only by panting and drooling, meaning it's easier for them to suffer from heat exhaustion. Signs of heat exhaustion in dogs include excessive panting or drooling, trouble breathing, agitation, vomiting, diarrhea and loss of consciousness.

    Also see: 10 companies that let you bring your dog to work

    But hot cars aren't the only places that put pets at risk. Even being outdoors on a warm day can be deadly, as evidenced by the death of Louisiana Tech's mascot, Tech XX, who died of heat stroke last summer.

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  • Diabetic Alert Dogs Save Lives

    A registered service dog in CaliforniaA registered service dog in CaliforniaRebecca Farrar was just 4 years old when she became seriously ill and was diagnosed with diabetes. Today, as a Type 1 diabetic, 9-year-old Rebecca's blood sugar can drop without warning, putting her at risk of hypoglycemia, which can lead to a coma or even death. Often, Rebecca doesn't realize her blood sugar is dropping, but someone else does: her yellow Labrador, Shirley.

    Dogs have provided assistance for people with physical and mental disabilities for decades, but in recent years researchers have discovered that canines can also detect illness in humans. With a sense of smell 100,000 times more sensitive than ours, dogs have sniffed out many things, including cancer and dips in glucose levels.

    Originally, Rebecca's dog was being trained in the U.K. as a seeing-eye dog, but she had to replaced because she didn't like her harness. However, her diabetic owner had noticed that she always licked his hand before he became hypoglycemic, so Shirley was retrained as a diabetic alert dog.

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