Pet Tales: Once again, Labs rule

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For the 22nd consecutive year, the Labrador retriever is the most popular dog in the country on the American Kennel Club's registration list. The breed's 2012 ranking ties the record of the poodle, which was top dog for 22 years.

Here's the national 2012 list, with the 2011 rankings in parentheses:

1. Labrador retriever (1)

2. German shepherd dog (2)

3. Golden retriever (4)

4. Beagle (3)

5. Bulldog (6)

6. Yorkshire terrier (5)

7. Boxer (7)

8. Poodle (8)

9. Rottweiler (10)

10. Dachshund (9)

In Pittsburgh we like two breeds that didn't make the national Top 10: Maltese, which are 25th on the national list, and shih tzu, which are 11th nationally, tied for ninth here.

Neither poodles nor dachshunds made Pittsburgh's top 10 list:

1. Labrador retriever

2. German shepherd

3. Golden retriever

4. Yorkshire terrier

5. Bulldog

6. Boxer

7. Rottweiler

8. Beagle

9. Maltese and shih tzu

Poison problems

Labrador retrievers received another No. 1 ranking. In 2012 they were the dog breed that "gets into the most trouble at home," according to the ASPCA Poison Control Center.

The headquarters in Urbana, Ill., got telephone calls for more than 180,000 cases of pets exposed to possibly poisonous substances in 2012. Nearly 14,000 cases involved Labs.

"Curious canines far outpaced their feline counterparts," said the center, with domestic shorthair cats coming in second with 10,000 cases. Rounding out the top of the list were 8,000 cases involving mixed-breed dogs, 4,833 Chihuahuas, 4,819 golden retrievers and 3,800 Yorkshire terriers.

For the fifth year in a row, topping the toxins list were prescription human medications, with 25,000 cases. The biggest offenders were blood pressure pills, antidepressants and pain medications.

"Many of these exposures were due to people dropping their medication when preparing to take it," says the ASPCA news release. "Before they knew it, Fido had gobbled the pill off the floor."

The other top four problems reported:

• Insecticides used in the yard, home and on animals. Fifty percent of the cases were insecticides.

• Over-the-counter human products (18,000 cases) including acetaminophen, ibuprofen, fish oil and joint supplements.

• Veterinary products (6 percent of calls) including pain meds and joint supplements.

• Household products (more than 10,000 calls) including cleaning products and odd items such as fire logs.

The number for the 24-hour hotline is 1-888-426-4435. The service fee is $65, payable by credit card.

Low-cost shots

Animal Friends is hosting two low-cost clinics with vaccines, microchips and flea treatments for dogs and cats.

The dates are Thursday and March 21. Both clinics are 1-3 p.m. at the Ohio Township shelter, 562 Camp Horne Road, (15237). Spots are limited, so you must call 412-847-7029 to register.

Rabies, distemper, bordatella and FVRCP vaccines are $10 each. Flea treatments are $5. Microchips are $20. Implanted under the skin, tiny chips contain ID that helps reunite lost pets with owners.

Multiple veterinarians have emailed me to suggest that low-cost vaccine clinics are not a good substitute for regular health care. Some pets only see a vet when they are sick or need shots. Owners should establish a relationship with a veterinarian who sees pets at least once a year for preventative care.

On the other hand, having your pet vaccinated at low-cost clinics is better than not getting any shots at all. That's especially true of the rabies vaccine, which guards against a disease that's highly contagious and potentially lethal to pets and people. And, low-cost clinics raise some money for the shelters and nonprofits while helping cash-strapped pet owners.

Easter Bunny photos

The Easter Bunny will pose with pets at Animal Friends in Ohio Township from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 10. Three 4-by-6-inch photos are $10 that will be mailed after the shoot. In past years the bunny posed with hundreds of dogs, cats, rabbits, turtles and ferrets.

Best of Pet Tales

Post-Gazette readers gave 1,100 Facebook "likes" to the story of Sam, the pit bull who was rescued from the world of dog fighting. Now you can meet Sam at the Pittsburgh Home & Garden Show at 11:30 a.m. next Saturday.

Sam will be on the PGU Showcase Stage on the second floor in the lobby area. I'll be there, too, revisiting the dog I met last fall at the Hello Bully "safe house" where he lives. Sam's coming with people from the local non-profit group that rescued him and many other pit bulls.

Sam's body is scarred from many years of fighting, but his personality is not. He is sweet and gentle and will melt your heart when you meet him. He's living in a good place, but he's looking for a permanent home.

mobilehome - pets

Linda Wilson Fuoco: lfuoco@post-gazette.com or 412-263-3064. Got a pet health question? Email it to petpoints@post-gazette.com. It may be answered in an upcoming Pet Points column by veterinarians at the Point Breeze Veterinary Clinic


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