Archive for July, 2012

Are Your Prepared for Your Pets in a Disaster?

Friday, July 20th, 2012

AHF Board of Trustees member, Veterinarian Dr. Dirk Yelinek is a well-known disaster preparedness expert.  Go to our website and download his primer on “Disaster Preparedness for the Pet Owner”.

Meet one of our new teams

Friday, July 20th, 2012

Susannah and her beautiful Collie, Lacey!  Susannah was involved in pet therapy many years ago with her lab, Jasmine, who is now playing over the Rainbow Bridge.  So, Lacey and Susannah’s other new pet partner Checka will follow in the footsteps of wonderful Jasmine! Congradulations!

Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement – Chat Rooms Weekly

Friday, July 20th, 2012

The Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement hosts chat rooms for people to learn how to cope with the loss, and anticipated loss,  of pets.  There are certified pet bereavement counselors in every chat, and there is no charge for this service . Come see what we do, and chat with others who understand the pain of pet loss.

Land O’ Lakes expands pet food recall over vitamin D concerns

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

Land O’Lakes has expanded a recall launched earlier this month to include animal food made by three subsidiaries amid concerns about elevated levels of vitamin D, which over time can affect appetite and result in weight loss and joint stiffness. The recall covers pet food for small mammals, fish, birds and other animals sold under the AquaMax, Mazuri and LabDiet brands. Bird Channel


Addressing urinary incontinence in dogs

Sunday, July 15th, 2012

Owners should know that dogs that “leak” urine aren’t doing it on purpose, writes veterinarian Natalee Holt, and there may be an underlying anatomical abnormality or hormone imbalance causing the problem. Dr. Holt explains that ectopic ureters and estrogen insufficiency are two conditions that can lead to urinary incontinence. Both usually respond to treatment.


Canine bedwetting is usually a lack of urinary control

Published:         Monday, July 9, 2012   

By NATALEE HOLT Animal Medical Center of New England

Usually, I like to start an article with a personal anecdote about me or my pet. The topic of urinary incontinence makes me less inclined to do that.

Urinary incontinence is a lack of voluntary control of urination. What that means for you is that your dog leaves a puddle in the house. The important thing about urinary incontinence in dogs is that it is not intentional. They have no knowledge that they are urinating inappropriately; they just can’t help leaking urine. Usually, this occurs while they are sleeping, and they will leave puddles on the couch or the bed. Sometimes, a dog will drip urine while they are walking around. If you see your dog posture to urinate inside the house, that is not incontinence.

There are two major causes of incontinence. Puppies can be born with an inappropriately formed urinary system called ectopic ureters. In this case, the kidneys produce urine appropriately, but the tubes carrying the urine into the bladder attach to the urethra instead of the bladder. The urethra is the tube leading from the bladder out to the open world. There is a sphincter at the juncture of the bladder and urethra that acts like a rubber band and keeps urine in the bladder. If the ureters deposit urine past this mechanism, the puppy will not be able to store urine in the bladder, and the urine will leak.

Many puppies with this problem have ureters that exit into the bladder and the urethra. This puppy will be able to urinate normally, but may leak in between. Most puppies with ectopic ureters will present for being difficult to house break. Sometimes dogs are adults by the time they are diagnosed. While a history can help a veterinarian make an educated guess as to what the cause of a puppy’s incontinence is, usually further diagnostics are required to confirm. A camera can be placed in the urethra to look for where the ureters exit or a CT scan can be done to identify the path of the ureters from the kidneys to their end point. The abnormal ureters usually are corrected surgically. A newer technique uses a laser introduced through a camera as a non-invasive method.

The other major cause of incontinence in dogs is hormone responsive incontinence, also known as spay incontinence. This problem has been reported in 10 percent to 20 percent of spayed female dogs, although it can occur in male dogs as well. The sphincter (the rubber-band around the urethra) is controlled by several chemicals in the body. Estrogen controls the number of receptors available to receive these chemicals. When a dog is spayed, the estrogen level changes and the sphincter control can be altered. This usually develops within three years of the spay procedure, but occasionally, it will develop further out from the procedure.

This type of incontinence is treated primarily with medication. About 85 percent of dogs will respond to a daily medication that activates adrenaline receptors. Sometimes this medication can cause anxiety, high blood pressure and increased aggression. Supplementing estrogen once weekly can help about 65 percent of dogs and has fewer side effects. Some dogs require both to have control. Dogs with mild incontinence can benefit from supplementation of soy isoflavones, which are marketed for post-menopausal women.

While the majority of dogs can be treated with medication, a small number don’t respond to either or a combination. Therapies for these dogs get a little more creative. One recommended therapy is collagen injections into the urethra. The collagen bulks up the urethra and creates an artificial sphincter that can help them keep urine in the bladder. There is also a band that can be placed surgically around the urethra. The band is filled with fluid to help create an artificial sphincter mechanism. Finally, there is a surgical method that pulls the bladder forward to alter the physics of emptying. Dogs requiring these procedures usually require medication afterward.

If you have a bedwetting dog at home or a dog that leaks urine, it is important to realize your dog may have no control over this. Consult your veterinarian to see if your dog could be incontinent and to see what therapies are available.

Your Pet is published on the second Monday of each month. Dr. Natalee Holt holds a doctorate of veterinary medicine from the Kansas State College of Veterinary Medicine. She became board-certified in internal medicine in 2011. Holt loves all aspects of internal medicine, but has a special interest in gastrointestinal diseases and immune mediated diseases. She and her husband Jonathan share their home with Becca the dog, Jasmine the rabbit, and their three cats, Kitty, Clara and Appomattox. Holt is a board-certified internal medicine specialist who practices with the Animal Medical Center of New England, 168 Main Dunstable Road, Nashua.

More than just companions, trained dogs detect disease, save lives

Sunday, July 15th, 2012

Serving as companions, protectors and aides, dogs improve quality of life for humans with medical issues such as diabetes, conditions that cause seizures and post-traumatic stress disorder, says Rebecca Johnson, director of the University of Missouri’s Research Center for Human-Animal Interaction. For example, dogs can be trained to identify breast, skin and lung cancers by smelling the afflicted person’s breath or licking the skin.

By SANETTE TANAKA for The Wall Street Journal

Many dogs can be trained to sit, fetch and roll over. Now, pups are being trained to detect disease and help patients in distress. Rebecca Johnson, director of the Research Center for Human-Animal Interaction at the University of Missouri, explains how dogs can be useful in the medical field.


Dogs can be trained to detect low blood sugar levels in diabetics by picking up scents that go unnoticed by humans. Upon detection, the dog springs into action—”kind of like sounding an alarm,” Dr. Johnson says. Dogs may nudge the diabetic, fetch a blood-glucose monitoring kit or press a button on the phone to call 911.


Researchers don’t know what exactly enables a dog to detect seizures, but some dogs may notice a certain scent or subtle behavioral change that occurs right before an attack. Teaching a dog to pick up on these signs is difficult, Dr. Johnson says, and many seizure-response dogs simply have an innate ability to recognize when something is wrong. During the attack, dogs can seek help, move dangerous objects out of the way and lie next to the person.


A relatively new type of service dog can aid people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. These dogs typically serve as companions to war veterans. Dogs can help ease the anxiety and panic that often comes with the condition by leading the way around a corner or positioning themselves between people and their handler. In a stressful social situation, the handler can signal the dog, which then barks loudly and gives the handler a reason to make a graceful exit.


Dogs can also put their acute sense of smell to use by identifying certain cancer cells. Dr. Johnson notes that dogs have been trained to pick out bladder cancer cells by sniffing urine samples, while other researchers report that dogs have been able to identify lung and breast cancers by smelling patients’ breath, and melanoma by licking their owners’ skin.

—Sanette Tanaka, The Wall Street Journal

Artificial sweetener can be deadly for cats and dogs

Sunday, July 15th, 2012

Xylitol, an artificial sweetener used in sugar-free gum, baked goods and other items, causes a rapid, dangerous drop in pets’ blood sugar levels and, if left untreated, can result in liver failure in less than 36 hours after ingestion, writes veterinarian Dana Brooks. Symptoms that develop 30 to 60 minutes after ingestion of xylitol include lethargy and seizures, while vomiting can occur sooner. The condition may be treatable with emergency interventions, but signs of liver failure, such as skin and intestinal bleeding, carry a poor prognosis, even with treatment, Dr. Brooks notes. The Seattle Times/Tails of Seattle blog

Question: Why is xylitol so dangerous for dogs and cats?

Answer: Ingestion of xylitol primarily affects insulin release throughout the body. Insulin causes an increase of glucose (blood sugar) uptake into the liver, muscle, and fat cells resulting in decreasing blood glucose  levels.

Xylitol strongly promotes the release of insulin from the pancreas into circulation leading to a rapid decrease of blood glucose levels. Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) can occur within 30 to 60 minutes of xylitol  ingestion with levels as low as 0.1g xylitol /kg body weight.

Hypoglycemia may compound further into liver toxicity, liver damage, and ultimately liver failure. Ingesting amounts of xylitol greater than 0.5 g xylitol /kg body weight increases the risk for developing liver toxicity.

Sugar-free chewing gum is the most common cause of dogs that present to the emergency room. However, the recent introduction of xylitol as a substitute for sugar in grocery stores has increased the potential for toxicity.

Xylitol is perfectly safe for people, but because of different metabolisms, it can be fatal for dogs and cats. A simple piece of cupcake or cookie could kill an animal if the danger is unknown and not addressed immediately.

Question: What are the signs my dog might have eaten xylitol?

Answer: Immediately after ingestion, vomiting may occur. Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) develops within 30 to 60 minutes, resulting in lethargy and weakness. These signs may quickly develop into ataxia (trouble walking), collapse, and seizures. Prolonged blood clotting times as well as skin and intestinal hemorrhaging are clinical signs that may develop within hours and warrant a very poor prognosis.

Question: What do I do if I think my dog has eaten xylitol? What is the treatment and prognosis?

Answer: If xylitol ingestion occurs, consult your veterinarian immediately. Inducing vomiting to remove the xylitol is imperative, but close monitoring of blood sugar levels and intravenous infusions of glucose (sugar) may also be needed depending on the amount ingested and how quickly the problem was recognized.

The prognosis for dogs with hypoglycemia is good with immediate and proper treatment, while the prognosis for dogs that have developed liver toxicity is poor. Large ingestions of xylitol (a relatively small amount of the product) that are not caught immediately can result in fulminant liver failure and death despite aggressive supportive care. This can occur in less than 36  hours in dogs that are otherwise young and healthy.

Dr. Dana Brooks

Dana Brooks is a internal-medicine specialist at Seattle Veterinary Specialists (SVS) in Kirkland. She graduated from Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 1991 and completed her residency at Michigan State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital in 1995. She worked in the Northeast until 2007, when she joined SVS. Her special interests include hormonal and immune-mediated diseases as well as endoscopy. She lives with two black cats named Jasper and Logan.

Nature’s Variety recalls dog food over odor

Sunday, July 15th, 2012

Nature’s Variety has initiated a voluntary recall of its Prairie Beef Meal & Barley Medley Kibble for Dogs because of an off-odor that may  develop over time.

The Lincoln,NE-based pet food manufacturer said the product is not contaminated,  but some food is not remaining fresh for the shelf life of the product.

The products affected are the five-, 15- and 30-pound bags of Prairie Beef  Meal & Barley Medley Kibble, as well as the three-ounce sample size.

Consumers who have purchased one of the products can obtain a full refund or  exchange it for a different variety by returning the product in its original  packaging or bringing a proof of purchase back to their retailer


Responsible pet ownership from American Veterinary Medical Association

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

Owning a pet is a privilege, but the benefits of pet ownership come with responsibilities.

Be a Responsible Pet Owner:

  1. Commit
    • Avoid impulsive decisions when selecting a pet.
    • Select a pet that’s suited to your home and lifestyle.
    • Keep only the type and number of pets for which you can provide appropriate food, water, shelter, health care and companionship.
    • Commit to the relationship for the life of your pet(s).
    • Provide appropriate exercise and mental stimulation.
    • Properly socialize and train your pet.
  2. Invest
    • Recognize that pet ownership requires an investment of time and money.
    • Make sure your pet receives preventive health care (vaccinations, parasite control, etc.), as well as care for any illnesses or injuries.
    • Budget for potential emergencies.
  3. Obey
    • Clean up after your pet.
    • Obey all local ordinances, including licensing, leash requirements and noise control.
    • Don’t allow your pet to stray or become feral.
  4. Identify
    • Make sure your pet is properly identified (i.e., tags, microchips, or tattoos) and keep its registration up-to-date.
  5. Limit
    • Don’t contribute to our nation’s pet overpopulation problem: limit your pet’s reproduction through spay/neuter, containment or managed breeding.
  6. Prepare
    • Prepare for an emergency or disaster, including assembling an evacuation kit.
    • Make alternate arrangements if you can no longer provide care for your pet.
    • Recognize any decline in your pet’s quality of life and make timely decisions in consultation with a veterinarian.

Committing to a Lifelong Relationship

Thursday, July 12th, 2012
May 24th, 2012 by AVMA@Work Editor
 There are good intentions, and then there are good deeds. When it comes to raising a pet, good intentions just don’t cut it. Our pets thrive only because of the attention we give them, and the effort and time we invest in them. As much as we encourage and support pet ownership, veterinarians also recognize that pet owners need to be aware that pets of all types come with responsibilities.

As part of our ongoing efforts to support the human-animal bond, we are pleased to provide you with the AVMA’s newly created responsible pet ownership guidelines. The inspiration came from AVMA members who expressed an interest in having easy-to-read guidelines that can be handed out to clients, particularly new pet owners, or conveniently hung on a clinic wall. Volunteers from our Committee on the Human-Animal Bond developed the content, and then we turned to staff members in our Communications and Animal Welfare divisions to create materials that are both pet-owner friendly and encouraging of pet ownership.

We invite you to download the guidelines . You can also check out other pet ownership resources on our website. Feel free to share whatever you’d like. The more we can spread the word, the better off our pets will be.