Archive for March, 2013

Jones Natural Chews Co. recalls Woofers Dog Treats

Thursday, March 14th, 2013

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 6, 2013 Jones Natural Chews Co (877) 481-2663 or (815) 874-9500


Jones Natural Chews Co of Rockford, IL is recalling 245 boxes of Woofers (beef patties) because it has the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella. Salmonella can affect animals and there is risk to humans from handling contaminated pet products. People handling dry pet food and/or treats can become infected with Salmonella, especially if they have not thoroughly washed their hands after having contact with the chews or any surfaces exposed to these products.

Healthy people infected with Salmonella should monitor themselves for some or all of the following symptoms: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramping and fever. Rarely, Salmonella can result in more serious ailments, including arterial infections, endocarditis, arthritis, muscle pain, eye irritation, and urinary tract symptoms. Consumers exhibiting these signs after having contact with this product should contact their healthcare providers.

Pets with Salmonella infections may be lethargic and have diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever, and vomiting. Some pets will have only decreased appetite, fever and abdominal pain. Infected but otherwise healthy pets can be carriers and infect other animals or humans. If your pet has consumed the recalled product and has these symptoms, please contact your veterinarian.

The recall was the result of a routine sampling program by Colorado Department of Agriculture Feed Program which revealed that the finished products contained the bacteria.

The Jones Natural Chews Woofers were distributed in AZ, CA, CO, PA, VA, and WI. They were shipped to distributors and retailers between November 1, 2012 and November 12, 2012 where they were available for purchase.

Jones Natural Chews Co Woofers (beef patties) bulk 50 count box, Item UPC 741956008169, Lot 2962GPS-Best By 10/22/15 and Lot 2892PAL-Best By 10/15/15

***Woofers in bulk 50 count box may be sold individually***

Jones Natural Chews Co Woofers (beef patties) 1 pack shrink-wrap, 50 count box, Item UPC 741956008657, Lot 3102, Best By 11/05/15.

Jones Natural Chews Co Woofers (beef patties) 1 pack shrink-wrap, 50 count box, Item UPC 741956008183, Lot 2892BF-Best By 10/15/15, Lot 2962PWV-Best By 10/22/15, Lot 2962ASC-Best By 10/22/15, and Lot 3032ASL-Best By 10/29/15.

Jones Natural Chews Co Woofers (beef patties) 2pack shrink-wrap, 25ct box, item UPC 741956008190, Lot 2962ASC-Best By 10/22/15 and Lot 3032ASL-Best By 10/29/15.

No illnesses have been reported to date.

Consumers who have purchased any of these woofers are urged to return it to the place of purchase for a full refund. Consumers with questions may contact the company at 1-877-481-2663, Monday through Friday, 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM, Central Standard Time.

Steve’s Real Food and Bravo! recalled for Salmonella bacteria

Thursday, March 14th, 2013

CONTACT: Margaret Hart, Communications Coordinator 651.201.6131,

Minnestoa Department of Agriculture issues consumer advisory for two brands of raw pet food

Samples tested positive for Salmonella bacteria

ST. PAUL, Minn. – The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) is alerting consumers to avoid feeding or handling two separate brands of poultry-based raw pet food after the MDA laboratory found Salmonella bacteria in routine sample tests. The brand varieties include:

Bravo! Raw Food Diet 2 lb. Chicken Blend for Dogs and Cats manufactured by Bravo!, LLC, of Manchester, Connecticut. This is a frozen pet food product with the production code of 06/14/12, which is located on the white tag on the end of the package. This advisory is for the 2 lb. size of Bravo! Chicken Blend with the “best used by date” of 6/12/14 only. No other products, sizes, or production dates are involved. For further information, contact the company at 1-866-922-9222.

Turducken Canine Diet 8oz. Patties, manufactured by Steve’s Real Food, Inc., of Murray, Utah. This is a frozen pet food product with the “Use By” date code of 10/27/13 B209, which is located on the lower front panel of package. For further information, contact the company at 801-540-8481 or

There are no reports of human or animal illnesses associated with consumption of these products. Consumers are asked to discard any of these products they may have.

Salmonella can affect animals eating the product, and there is a risk to humans from handling contaminated products. People handling contaminated raw pet food can become infected with Salmonella, especially if they have not thoroughly washed their hands after having contact with surfaces exposed to this product.

Pets with Salmonella infections may exhibit decreased appetite, fever and abdominal pain. If left untreated, pets may be lethargic and have diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever and vomiting. Infected but otherwise healthy pets can be carriers and infect other animals or humans. If your pet has consumed this product and has these symptoms, please contact your veterinarian.

Human symptoms of salmonellosis include diarrhea, abdominal pain and cramps and fever. Symptoms usually begin within 12 to 72 hours after exposure, but can begin up to a week after exposure. Salmonella infections usually resolve in 5-7 days, but approximately 20 percent of cases require hospitalization. In rare cases, Salmonella infection can lead to death, particularly in the elderly or those with weakened immune systems. Anyone who has become ill after handling this product should see their health care provider.





Behavior and Training suggested reading

Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

Below is a list of suggested reading when you want to have a fabulous relationship with your dog:

  1. The Other End of the Leash, Patricia McConnell; Ballantine Books
  2. Don’t Shoot the Dog, Karen Pryor; Bantam Books
  3. The Culture Clash, Jean Donaldson; James & Kenneth Publishers
  4. The Power of Positive Dog Training, Pat Miller; Howell Book House
  5. Positive Perspectives, Pat Miller; Howell Book House
  6. The Cautious Canine, Patricia McConnell; Dog’s Best Friend, LTD
  7. Feeling Outnumbered? Patricia McConnell, Karen London; Dog’s Best Friend, LTD
  8. The Dog Whisperer, Paul Owen; Adams Media Corporation
  9. Whole Dog Journal (800.424.7887) no ads just information
  10. Your Dog, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine atTuftsUniversity– no ads just information (800.829.5116)



1                 Take a Bow Wow – Dog Tricks , Virginia Broitmann, Sherry Lippman

2                 Take a Bow Wow Take 2, Virginia Broitman

3                 Click & Go, Deb Jones, PhD

4                 Click & Fetch, Deb Jones, PhD

5                 Click & Fix, Deb Jones, PhD





All videos and books are available through[1]

[1] Four Paws U, LLC

“Dr. Google” is not an expert on pet cancer

Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

It’s not uncommon for owners to search online for answers to their heart-wrenching questions when a pet is diagnosed with cancer, but they should proceed with caution, writes veterinary oncologist Joanne Intile. A trained veterinary oncologist is the best resource for owners with pets who have cancer, notes Dr. Intile, but she says veterinarians must approach all communication regarding cancer diagnosis, treatment, prognosis and even Internet research with patience and compassion. Daily Vet blog

The Internet can be a dangerous place for owners of pets with cancer. The sheer amount of virtual information available immediately at one’s fingertips is astonishing; bordering on overwhelming.
As an example, a quick search of the phrase “canine cancer” in a popular search engine returns over 3,240,000 hits. “Canine lymphoma” yields over 1,050,000 hits, while “feline lymphoma” reveals a mere 565,000 hits. How can an owner sift through all those pages and discern the “good from the bad” when it comes to learning more about their pet’s diagnosis?

When a diagnosis of cancer is made, owners are often placed in the difficult position of having to make decisions regarding diagnostic tests and treatments for their pet, frequently with limited information. This can lead to a feeling of helplessness and depression, or even defensiveness at times. I think it’s natural to turn to the Internet as a source of information, self-comfort, and self-education.

What I’m not so sure of is when exactly did entering phrases or words into a search engine begin qualifying as “research?” Having endured many years of rigorous academic training, when I think of actively researching a topic, it conjures up images of pouring over textbooks and critically reviewing clinical studies. To me, it means learning objective facts and studying information for accuracy of content, not clicking on random websites and reading unsubstantiated opinions backed typically by emotion rather than truth.

It is not unusual for owners to come to their first appointment armed with notes, printouts, suggestions, and/or questions they have garnered from searching their pets’ diagnoses on the Internet. My visceral reaction is typically one of tempered insult. I’m the one who endured many years of education and training and have several years of experience working as a clinical medical oncologist, yet I often joke in some cases that the (in)famous “Dr. Google,” who never went to vet school, once again has managed to usurp my recommendations. It’s challenging for me to remember that the intentions behind my clients’ questions or suggestions are typically pure. Owners simply lack the medical knowledge to review the Internet information accurately, but they really only want the best care and best treatment options for their pets.

I’ve discussed before how I understand that a diagnosis of cancer can be emotionally provoking for owners, and a common frustration many will express is their complete lack of control over the situation. Owners cannot alter progression of the disease once it occurs, they are simply told, “Here are the facts and here are the recommendations.”

An example would be an owner focusing on nutrition and diet after a diagnosis is obtained. What food their pet ingests is one of the few things pet owners can control in an otherwise uncontrollable situation. It is also one of the most Internet-searched topics owners will discuss with me during an appointment. Unfortunately, the lack of evidence-based information supporting nutrition as playing a role in the outcome for animals with cancer makes it difficult to make solid recommendations.
This isn’t to say I can’t relate to the need to try to learn as much as possible about a diagnosis, and I’m aware of how daunting terminology related to science and health and medicine can be for individuals not trained specifically within those subjects. The vocabulary is unfamiliar, anxiety provoking, and even uncomfortable for some. Equally as challenging on my end is determining how to present complicated diagnoses and treatment options in terms the average non-medically inclined individual can understand. Despite my best efforts, even with the most medically educated clientele, I know the emotional aspects surrounding a diagnosis can create barriers to truly understanding the technicalities.

Following initial consults, I provide owners with an in-depth written summary of all the points discussed during the appointment. I believe this is something unique to the veterinary profession. Think about the last time your human MD counterpart provided you with a written summary of any aspect of your visit. Even with the information literally in hand, it’s not uncommon for owners to specifically ask for websites they could use to better understand all the topics I’ve discussed. I’m not sure I will ever understand the need to turn to non-validated sources of information when it comes to learning about health and disease, but I do understand my obligation to being able to point people in the right direction.

Therefore, I generally recommend websites directly affiliated with veterinary schools, professional veterinary organizations, and websites run by respected and prominent veterinarians and advocate such pages as resources for owners seeking additional information. I also have no problem discussing the pros of seeing another medical oncologist for a second opinion when appropriate.

I think one of the main reasons I enjoy being able to write weekly articles for petMD is because I feel it is my small way of contributing factual information about veterinary oncology on the Internet. Though I’m still frequently challenged by owners about something they read on a website or through an online forum, I try to maintain patience when these topics come up.
I take comfort in knowing there are good resources for pet owners, and that I play an active role in keeping truthful information available to a large-scale audience, one week at a time.

Is your veterinarian America’s Favorite Veterinarian?

Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

If you think your veterinarian should be recognized by the AVMA at this year’s AVMA Annual Convention, nominate him or her for the American Veterinary Medical Foundation’s America’s Favorite Veterinarian contest by writing about him or her on the organization’s Facebook page. The winning veterinarian and the client each receive $250 cash, as well as travel and lodging for the award event in Chicago. The winning veterinarian also receives free registration to AVMA’s conference.

Is your veterinarian your hero? Would you like to see your veterinarian honored at the upcoming convention of the American Veterinary Medical Association by the American Veterinary Medical Foundation?

The story you tell may be dramatic, a veterinarian saving a pet’s life….or might be a story of compassion, how end of life was handled. Maybe your story is a bit off-beat, about a veterinarian helping a turtle to win a race.

You can enter your story in the contest, America’s Favorite Veterinarian, conducted by the American Veterinary Medical Foundation. Any story about any veterinarian, if the story touches you – it will likely touch the judges. Those judges will narrow the entries to a final 12 – then it’s up to you to vote.  So, appropriately, America will chose America’s Favorite Veterinarian.

Clients are encouraged to nominate their veterinarians through the Foundation’s Facebook page. Submit a photo of the animal alone, with themselves, or with the veterinarian, along with a short story—250 words or less—on why the veterinarian deserves to be America’s Favorite Veterinarian.

The winning veterinarian will be honored at the AVMF Impact and Partner Breakfast July 21 during the AVMA Annual Convention in Chicago. The winning veterinarian and the nominating client will each receive a $250 cash prize. In addition, each will receive a free night’s stay in Chicago, plus travel expenses for those outside the area. The veterinarian will also receive complimentary registration to the convention. Perhaps, best of all – you can thank, you can celebrate your veterinarian in a public way.

The contest runs through June 1.  Nominations will be presented to a panel of judges: Dr. Bernadine D. Cruz, a chair of the former AVMA Council on Communications; Ginger Brainard, chair of the America’s Favorite Veterinarian Task Force; Kimberly Topper, from the AVMF board of directors; Dr. Susan Giovengo, senior director of Central Garden & Pet Co. and myself, and this is a great honor for me. Tell your friends. Share this post. And write about your veterinarian.

Everything the non-profit American Veterinary Medical Foundation does is designed to benefit veterinary medicine, promote animal well being, and enhance research, so that we will be even better prepared to deal with difficult problems of animal health today and in the future. The AVMF also facilitates the rescuing of animals in times of disaster.

Understanding antibiotic-resistant bacteria in pets

Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

Methicillin-resistant bacteria occur in humans and animals and don’t respond to the usual spectrum of antibiotics, writes veterinarian Mary Ann Crawford. The human culprit, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, only occurs in pets as the result of reverse zoonosis, so pets with this bacteria will trigger an investigation into the health of their human companions, Dr. Crawford points out. The methicillin-resistant bacteria of concern in animals is Staphylococcus pseudintermedius, and although it’s unusual, transmission to humans can occur, so gloves, hand-washing and hand sanitizer should be used to prevent transmission, Dr. Crawford notes. The Record (Hackensack, N.J.)

Q. My neighbor’s dog has a wound that is being treated with antibiotics but it is not healing. I have heard lots of information about the bacteria called MRSA being such a terrible thing. Could this be affecting my neighbor’s dog?

MRSA stands for methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Resistance means that a bacterial infection is not able to be treated effectively by the most commonly used antibiotics. MRSA is a type of bacteria that may affect people but can also be transmitted to animals. It is known as a “reverse zoonosis,” meaning a condition that would travel from a person to an animal, rather than the other way around. When animals have an infection cultured that reveals the MRSA bacteria, we want to question the owners about any infections the people may have in the household.

We do not mean to imply that animals don’t get resistant bacterial infections, because they do, although it is not common. The Staph bacteria affecting animals is called Staphylococcus pseudintermedius (SP), rather than Staphylococcus aureus (SA). There is a methicillin resistant form called MRSP. It is an easily transmissible bacteria from animal to animal, and gloves should be worn when treating any open wounds or known areas of infection. It would be very rare for a person to acquire an infection of MRSP, but anytime there is an open wound present either in an animal or person, the area should only be touched with gloves. Hands should also be cleaned with soap and water after being in contact with the dog or person, followed by an alcohol based disinfectant such as Purell.

We identify bacterial infections by obtaining a sample of the infected area and sending it to a laboratory for identification (culturing). The laboratory also provides us information about which antibiotics the bacteria are susceptible to. The laboratory informs us if the bacteria are a resistant strain such as MRSA or MRSP, and this helps guide our treatment recommendations for therapy. Since the wound has not been responding, your neighbor should consider returning to their veterinarian where they will likely consider culturing the infected area.

— Mary Ann Crawford, DVM

Protecting pets from household toxins

Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

Pets are exposed to the same potentially harmful substances as the humans they live with, possibly to a greater extent because they are smaller and closer to the ground, according to this article. Simple changes can reduce pet — and human — exposure, including vacuuming frequently and keeping potentially harmful substances such as medications in a safe place. Emergency veterinarian MeiMei Welker discusses the harms of slug bait, rodenticide and marijuana poisoning, while veterinarian Marli Lintner explains the uniquely sensitive nature of birds to home toxins, such as fumes from nonstick pans, due to their respiratory systems. The Oregonian (Portland) (3/1)

We think that our indoor pets are safe from predators, cars and disease, but our homes may be exposing our pets – and ourselves – to risks of a different realm.

Everything from the mattresses we sleep on to the motes of dust on the shelves may contain flame retardants or other chemicals, says Laurel Standley, an environmental consultant and author of “#ToxinsTweet: 140 Easy Tips to Reduce Your Family’s Exposure to Environmental Toxins.”

Standley began studying the effects of household toxins in pets after she, her mother and sister all lost pet cats to cancer.

She grieved the losses but Standley, who earned a doctoral degree in chemical oceanography, also grew concerned about what made them sick in the first place.

She worries about the prevalence of chemical flame retardants known as polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) found in many electronics, polyurethane foams, carpet padding, furniture, mattresses and other common household items.

“Each time we sit down on couches with foam cushions, dust particles fly out and fill our homes with dust containing flame retardant chemicals,” Standley says.

The products are being phased out after growing concern about their health effects. Last month, California Gov. Jerry Brown proposed new standards to reduce use of fire-retardant chemicals in furniture and baby products.

Some studies have associated hyperthyroidism in cats to the presence of PBDEs, including one published in February 2012 in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health.

“Proving cause and effect is extremely difficult,” Standley says, “But that’s not an excuse to not protect our pets.”

Plastics also contain harmful chemicals, including bisphenol A and phthalates that have been associated with reproductive and other endocrine effects.

Some of these chemicals have been restricted from children’s products (such as the Multnomah County ban on sippy cups and baby bottles made with BPA).

“The same chemicals haven’t been regulated for dog or cat toys,” says Jennifer Coleman, outreach director at Oregon Environmental Council. “They could still have an impact on endocrine systems.”

Like infants, pets are also smaller than adults, metabolize more quickly and are closer to the ground. This makes them more vulnerable to harm from many of the products humans use, she says.

One way to reduce their exposure is by replacing plastic food bowls with those made from stainless steel, ceramic or glass instead, Standley suggests.

The fish in those food dishes can also be toxic; fish living in polluted streams can accumulate toxic substances in their systems, she says.

Even the plastic liner of the cans they come in may leach BPA.

Pigments and dyes are also likely to contain chemicals, so look for toys without a lot of color or bleaching, Coleman advises.

“My strategy with my own dog is to do the simple things that make the most sense to me,” she says.

She avoids vinyl and PVC plastic and opts instead for those made from rubber or fabric, such as tug ropes and stuffing-free toys. Even tennis balls can be toxic; the ones designed for dogs often contain lead.

Of course, some toxins will make your pet sick sooner rather than later.

At DoveLewis, veterinarians see some toxins more often than others. Metaldehyde slug bait ingestion can cause major muscle tremors that can be fatal, as well as liver problems, says staff veterinarian Dr. MeiMei Welker.

The emergency animal hospital also sees a fair number of dogs sick from marijuana ingestion, while rodenticide toxicity – suspected in the death of a prize-winning Samoyed recently– is a near-daily occurrence.

There are several kinds of rat bait, but the anticoagulant rodenticides are slower to act and allow more of a window of time to administer the antidote.

If your pet consumes poison of some sort, it’s best to bring the packaging to the veterinarian so he or she can treat it most effectively.

Other common toxins seen at DoveLewis include raisins and grapes; the sugar substitute Xylitol; Easter lilies; chocolate; ibuprofen and naproxen (Aleve); and acetaminophen.

The canary in the kitchen

Birds are uniquely sensitive to their environment; there’s a reason the phrase “canary in a coal mine” became so popular.

They’re very sensitive to aerosols, and their respiratory systems are very different than ours, says Dr. Marli Lintner of the Avian Medical Center.

Bird lungs are designed to breathe in very clean, thin air, so breathing in some toxic inhalants can kill them immediately or make them very sick.

“Any sort of fume that makes your nose tingle or your eyes water is bad news for the birds,” Lintner says.

Fumes from nonstick pans pose one of the biggest threats to our feathered friends.

Once the pans overheat – usually when the temperature reaches above 530 degrees Farenheit – a gas called polytetrafluoroethylene is released, says Dr. Deborah Sheaffer, staff veterinarian at the Audubon Society of Portland.

They can die very quickly, so if you see your bird panting or having trouble breathing, you should take it to the veterinarian immediately.

Lead poses another common avian household hazard. Paint, stained glass window frames, curtain weights, costume jewelry; foil from champagne bottles; and old bird cages can all be toxic.

“When people have pet birds, they really need to be cognizant of what’s around them,” Sheaffer says. “They’re curious and inquisitive and they like to chew on things.”

This may be a lot of information for you to chew on too. Just remember that making your home safer for your pets makes it safer for humans as well.

Offering your pet toys made from fabric or natural rubber instead of vinyl and PVC plastic can help reduce their exposure to harmful chemicals.Jennifer Coleman

How to help reduce toxins in your home

Vacuum frequently, preferably with a cleaner fitted with a HEPA filter, even on tile or wood floors (the goal is to not sweep dust up from the floor).

  • Eliminate carpet wherever possible; the less carpet you have, the easier it is to control dust.
  • Use rugs made of natural fabrics, such as cotton, wool or jute.
  • Vacuum your couch regularly.
  • Dust with a simple damp rag. Dry dusting can stir dust back into the air.
  • Replace plastic food dishes with those made from stainless steel, ceramic or glass instead.
  • If you have birds, avoid using nonstick pans whenever possible.
  • Don’t expose birds to smoke or household aerosol products such as harsh cleaners, perfumes, hairspray, etc.
  • Keep pets off the countertops and secure medications and other toxins safely in cupboards.
  • If you’re afraid your pet ingested something he shouldn’t have, call the Pet Poison Helpline at 800-213-6680 (consultations cost $39).
  • Don’t try to make your pet vomit; in some cases it could make the situation worse.









The most common toxicity cases at DoveLewis last year include:


  • Total toxicity: 512
  • Food toxicity (chocolate, grapes, salmon, Xylitol, raisins, Methylxanthine, alcohol, mushrooms): 121
  • Plant toxicity: lilies (19) and marijuana (125) = 144
  • Medication: 161 (includes NSAID, Albuterol, Cholecalciferol, Ibuprofen, Phenlpropanolamine, Acetaminophen, Ivermectin, Vitamin D, Metronidazole)
  • Household: 71 (includes Anticoagulant Rodenticide, Metaldehyde, Bromethalin, Ethylene Glycol, Zinc Phosphide, OrganoPhosphate)
  • Flea product toxicity: 15

Monique Balas

Pets are masters of deceit

Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

More than 80% of pets over 8 years old have an illness their owners aren’t aware of, writes veterinarian Donna Solomon, who says it’s not because owners aren’t looking. Rather, pets are masters of deceit, deftly hiding symptoms or exhibiting only barely noticeable changes in behavior because that’s what their wild ancestors had to do to stay alive. Regular veterinary examinations are the best way to ensure covert illnesses may be detected in time for intervention. The Huffington Post/The Blog (3/11)

In a recent focus group study presented at the January 2013 North American Veterinary Conference, veterinarians were asked if they found it challenging to diagnose medical conditions in dogs and cats.  Fifty-seven percent of the veterinarians found it challenging to diagnose conditions in cats and 34 percent challenging in dogs. Now, imagine asking pet owners who have no medical training the same question. I’m confidant that the percentage of people finding it challenging to diagnose conditions in their dog or cat substantially higher.  In fact, many clients do not even recognize their pet is ill or in pain.  Did you know that over 80 percent of all pets over eight years of age have at least one unrecognized disease by their owners?

Why is it so difficult to recognize a sick pet? First, pets do not clearly articulate what is wrong with them. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if your cat told you the reason she is urinating in your bathroom sink is because she has a bladder infection?  Second, dogs and cats hide their illnesses for instinctual purposes. In the wild, pets that are ill and display overt signs of not feeling well will likely fall victim to predators.

To highlight the difficulties of recognizing an illness in your pet I would like to present you three recent medical cases I have seen at Animal Medical Center of Chicago.

Case 1: The case of the fighting brothers.

Last week I had the pleasure of examining two beautiful Somali cats for their annual physical examination. Historically, these 2-year-old cats were loving brothers. They played, groomed and slept curled around each other every night. Recently, however, the owners had noticed that the cats were fighting more and not sleeping together.  On physical examination of both cats each had severe stomatitis — which is a term reserved for severe inflammation of the gum tissue.  The gums were ulcerated and cherry red in color. I informed the clients that both of their cats needed immediate dental care, which would include a dental cleaning, probing, radiography and oral surgery to remove numerous problematic teeth. The owners were shocked that they did not notice any problems. The cats were eating well and showed no obvious dental pain like drooling, difficulties chewing or facial swelling. I told the clients that pet’s can be very secretive about their pain — it is an adaptive response to living in the wild. To temporarily reduce their pets’ discomforts, I sent the clients home with pain medication and antibiotics. We scheduled oral surgery for the following week. Two days later I called the client for an update and the pets were doing great. They were playful and positively interacting with each other again. As the client reported, “They are acting like kittens again.”

Case 2: The case of the stoic shelter dog.

Approximately two weeks ago a client rescued a really sweet, probably 2-year-old pit-bull, named Pilot, from a local shelter. Pilot had been sitting in a shelter cage for almost four weeks after being abandoned on the streets. The dog walked with a slight limp on his left hind limb. When he was standing still, I noticed that he would shift almost 75 percent his weight onto his right hind limb. A pelvic radiograph revealed multiple pelvic fractures. Although it was tragic that this pet was in a shelter cage for almost a month without any medical care, this benign neglect worked to his benefit. His immobility allowed the fractures to almost heal by itself.  Since the fracture was healing nicely on its own, I recommended to the owner to start anti-inflammatory and pain medications along with some nutra-pharmaceutical drugs to help with wound healing. I told her to continue to severely limit his activity and repeat pelvic radiographs in four weeks. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately??) Pilot has an extremely high pain threshold that masked his true problems.  I believe the well-intentioned shelter workers did not perceive Pilot in discomfort and therefore, did not seek appropriate medical or surgical care.

Case 3: The case of the playful Labrador retriever.

Just the other day one of my clients brought in her playful 8-year-old Labrador retriever, named Bentley, for a yearly examination. When I entered the room Bentley was jumping up and down off our examination table looking for treats. I asked the owner routine questions like, ” Is Bentley eating well? Is he having normal stools?  Any signs of orthopedic discomfort, like difficulties going up and down stairs or stiffness after rising?” The owner told me that after daycare Bentley is exhausted and can barely walk. She told me that she thinks he is just tired and that’s it. During my physical examination, I discovered that Bentley was moderately painful when I palpated both hips and shoulders. I told her that her dog is most likely suffering from degenerative joint disease (arthritis) and not exhaustion. I recommended radiographs of the problematic joints. The owner had not perceived Bentley in pain or suffering from any musculoskeletal problem given her dog’s energetic personality but it was obvious from my examination that he was uncomfortable.

These three cases are perfect examples of pet’s hiding their illnesses or diseases from their owners. Every day clients bring their “apparently healthy pet” to see me for their yearly examination and I frequently discover a medical condition that the client did not recognize. It is not that my clients are not observant or loving, it is that a pet will do their best to hide a problem.

Given their secretive nature, if your pet’s behavior deviates from its normal routine, please take note of it. Maybe he/she is trying to discretely tell you something.  If he/she is sluggish, seeking more or less attention, or not eating with the same gusto as it normally does, this may be your only sign that something may be awry. Please contact your veterinarian for advice.

Be observant. Be your pet’s best advocate for good health care. Don’t let your pet keep secrets!

Owners beware: Poisoning from this rodenticide is tough to treat

Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

Pet owners using rodenticides should be aware that cats and dogs are susceptible to the products’ poison, and veterinarians fear an increase in bromethalin toxicity in pets because of a ban on brodifacoum. Bromethalin is the active ingredient in Assault, Fastrac, Gladiator, Rampage, Talpirid and Vengeance, and it causes brain and spinal cord swelling characterized by weakness, incoordination, seizures, paralysis and death. There is no definitive diagnostic test and no antidote, note veterinarians Lee Pickett and Jennifer Coates. Supportive treatments are available but they are intensive, and animals that survive are often left with neurological deficits. Vetted blog (3/12), (Reading, Pa.) (3/11)

The EPA provides a list of rodenticides that meet their safety standards and are approved for homeowner use on their website. Two, diaphacinone and chlorophacinone, are short-acting anti-coagulants similar to warfarin, which we touched upon yesterday. Any pet poisonings that are caused by these products should be comparatively simple to diagnose and treat, as long as pets are seen by a veterinarian in a timely manner.
The third active ingredient on the EPA list, bromethalin, is more concerning. Bromethalin is a neurotoxin. It causes fluid to build up within the brain. The swelling puts pressure on nerves, which inhibits their ability to transmit impulses. The symptoms that develop depend on the dose of the poison that an animal ingests. At relatively low exposures, symptoms include unsteadiness, weakness that starts in the hind end and can progress forward, muscle tremors, depression, and vomiting. When a dog gets into a large amount of bromethalin, the symptoms are more severe. Pets typically develop some combination of the following:


  • muscle tremors
  • seizures
  • hyperexcitability
  • unsteadiness
  • paddling of the limbs
  • high body temperature
  • a loss of voice
  • stiffness in the front legs


Testing for bromethalin exposure is not readily available so diagnosis is dependent on a history of exposure (if that is known) and a pet’s clinical signs.
With hindsight, I think I may have treated one dog for bromethalin poisoning, though I didn’t know it at the time. This dog belonged to an owner who was in town for a horse show. My patient was brought into the clinic with a weird panoply of symptoms, some of which fit with those mentioned above. We suspected that he had gotten into something at the horse show, but could never determine exactly what that might have been. My guess is that someone may have put out a bromethalin-containing rodenticide around the barns.
Decontamination (e.g., inducing vomiting and giving activated charcoal) is very helpful within a few hours of ingestion, but once symptoms develop treatment for bromethalin poisoning revolves around trying to decrease swelling within the brain, dealing with symptoms as they arise, and patient support. Since I didn’t have a definitive diagnosis for my patient, I was limited to symptomatic and supportive therapies. It was touch and go for awhile, but he was much improved after a few days of hospitalization, and a follow-up phone call to his home in California revealed that he had made a complete recovery.
He was lucky, if he had eaten more of the poison or had been brought in even a day later, I probably wouldn’t have been able to save him.
I hope bromethalin poisonings do not increase as a result of the ban on brodifacoum. Sending pets home with vitamin K after exposure to brodifacoum is far less stressful than hospitalizing them for severe neurologic dysfunction without a way to reach definitive diagnosis and no antidote in sight.

Be vigilant about aging cat’s health

Monday, March 11th, 2013

To maximize the length and quality of an aging cat’s life, veterinarian Julie Damron writes that owners should schedule semiannual veterinary exams and have regular lab work and routine dental care performed. Be sure vaccinations are current, feed a high-quality diet to provide essential nutrients and maintain a healthy weight, and keep cats indoors, Dr. Damron advises. Owners must remain vigilant because cats are good at concealing health issues, and subtle changes may be difficult for owners to detect, according to Dr. Damron. The Record (Stockton, Calif.) (tiered subscription model) (3/9)

It’s important to keep close watch on your feline during his or her golden years. Traditionally, cats are considered senior when they reach age 7. At this point in life, their bodies will change more rapidly and there can be several health issues of concern.

Make sure your feline has a veterinary exam every six months. This is important. Although your cat may appear healthy to you, there are subtle changes that can be occurring within his or her body. Cats are very good at hiding disease. Because they are smaller, it can be difficult to notice changes in weight.

Keep your cat’s vaccines current unless otherwise recommended by your veterinarian. Even indoor cats can be exposed to illness. Routine RCP vaccines, which protect from viral rhinotracheitis/herpes and calicivirus, should be given to help protect from respiratory infections as your feline ages. It is also important to keep your feline protected from rabies.

Have lab work done at least once a year. Felines are very prone to develop organ disease as they age, especially hyperthyroidism and kidney disease. Symptoms and physical exams can suggest maladies but these illnesses can only be diagnosed through blood and urine analysis. When a medical problem is identified in the earliest stages and treated promptly, it allows for the best outcome.

Provide a high-quality diet that is designed specifically for senior cats, given in the correct quantities. Feeding a premium pet store-quality diet makes a big difference in the longevity of your feline companion. The phrase “you are what you eat” applies to felines as well as people. A higher quality of nutrition is directly connected to longevity in cats. It is also just as important to control caloric intake in our companions as it is in people. Cats that are obese are at risk for diabetes, heart disease, joint problems, and other issues just like in people. If you have more than one cat, feed them individually, so that you can be more aware of how much each feline is eating.

Provide routine preventive dental care. Dental disease affects much more than the wellness of your cat’s mouth. Bacteria from infection of the mouth can be spread to other organs in the body, bathing them in pathogens. Pain and inflammation at the mouth can also lead to decreased appetite, causing a cascade of illness. Tartar on the teeth leads to inflammation along the gum line. Over time, the gum tissue will recede from the base of the teeth. Continued infection allows for loosening of the ligaments that hold the teeth in place. Eventually the teeth will fall out.

There is a lot that you can do to keep your feline’s mouth healthy. A high-quality dry food helps to reduce tartar development. Routine oral care in the form of brushing, treats and rinses can help to reduce plaque buildup. Dental cleanings can help to treat and limit the advancement of dental disease.

It is recommended that all cats are spayed or neutered, and this is especially important for older felines. Older females that are not spayed are more prone to infections in the uterus as well as mammary, ovarian and uterine disorders.

It is also best to keep felines mainly indoors, especially when older. When cats live outside, they are at risk of ingesting toxins, being attacked by other animals, being hit by a car, and other hardships.

Consistency with these steps in combination with love and attention will help to improve the quality and quantity of the years with your feline companions.

Julie Damron is a veterinarian at Sierra Veterinary Clinic in Stockton. Contact her at