Archive for March, 2013

Pet treats recalled over possible Salmonella contamination

Monday, March 11th, 2013

One lot of Strippin’ Chicks Pet Treats, manufactured by Diggin’ Your Dog, is being recalled due to possible contamination with Salmonella bacteria. An infected sample was detected in Colorado. The pathogen puts animals and humans who handle their food at risk.  Food Poisoning Bulletin (3/9)

Below is the FDA Press Release

Contact Consumer: 1-775-742-7295

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – March 7, 2013 – Diggin’ Your Dog™ announced today that they are voluntarily withdrawing one lot of its Strippin’ Chicks™ Pet Treats produced on 8-30-12 because they have the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella. The sample was obtained in Colorado and the company has accounted for its distribution in Colorado of this lot.

No other Diggin’ Your Dog™ products, lots, or production dates are affected.

The lot being voluntarily withdrawn is: Strippin’ Chicks™ Pet Treats 5 oz Bag. Lot Code 250322 Use By Date: 2-23-14.

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.

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

Diggin’ Your Dog™ takes the matter of consumer protection and safety very seriously and strives to deliver only the safest products available.

Diggin’ Your Dog™ is committed to providing the highest-quality pet treats possible to their customers. As a precautionary measure, Diggin’ Your Dog™ will continue to produce all products in very small, handmade lot batches.

No Other Diggin’ Your Dog™ products are affected by this voluntary withdrawal. Customers who have purchased this lot code are urged to stop feeding the product to their pet, remove the lot code from the packaging, and discard the contents.

A full refund, plus $1.00 to cover postage will be received by mailing the UPC and lot code to: Diggin Your Dog, LLC, PO Box 17306 Reno, NV 89511. All refunds will be processed within ten business days (plus postage time).

Diggin’ Your Dog™ values the efforts of all agencies dedicated to the safety of the industry and is committed to consumer safety at all levels.

For questions or more information, contact Diggin’ Your Dog™. By phone at 775-742-7295 Mon-Fri 8:30AM – 4:00PM Pacific Standard Time Email us at

Parvovirus: A serious disease that needs intensive treatment

Friday, March 8th, 2013

Parvovirus is a potentially deadly viral infection that afflicts dogs, and treatment requires intensive care, writes veterinarian Karen Dye. The animal must be isolated because the virus is highly contagious, and care involves delivering intravenous fluids, monitoring and adjusting electrolyte levels, and treating secondary infections, writes Dr. Dye. An appropriate vaccination protocol is the best way to prevent parvovirus, she notes. Cats cannot contract parvovirus from dogs, but they do acquire a similar virus, panleukopenia, that can be deadly and must be treated by a veterinarian. The Culpeper Star-Exponent (Va.)

Q:   My puppy was diagnosed with parvovirus.  Can I treat him from home?

A: Ideally, puppies with parvovirus should be treated as inpatients in the hospital.  Parvovirus infection is an acute systemic disease that requires prompt, intensive supportive care in the hospital to be most successful with treatment.

Signs include sudden onset of lethargy, bloody diarrhea, anorexia and vomiting.  Some puppies may collapse and die without any signs.  Dogs that are from kennels, animal shelters and pet stores are at greater risk.  Also puppies that are younger than four months of age are at higher risk of severe infection.   Concurrent diseases such as intestinal parasites or other viruses such as coronavirus may exacerbate the illness.  Crowding and poor sanitation increases risk of infection as well.

Virus can be detected in the stool at the onset of disease and for 2-4 days afterward with in-house laboratory testing.  Lymphopenia is very common (low lymphocyte counts) and leukocytosis is common during recovery (increased White Blood Cell count).

Treatment is aimed at supportive, symptomatic care.  Controlling vomiting is of essence.  Correcting dehydration and electrolyte abnormalities are important as well.  This is best done in the hospital with intravenous balanced fluid therapy.  We are able to monitor patients’ response if they are hospitalized.  These patients do need to be hospitalized in isolation due to the highly contagious nature of the virus.  Thorough disinfection is needed with a bleach solution to destroy canine parvovirus shed into the environment.  Food and water is withheld until vomiting is controlled; once puppies are recovering, they should be fed a highly digestible, low fat diet.   Possible complications include secondary bacterial pneumonia, intussusception (prolapse of one portion of the intestine into the lumen of an adjoining segment of intestine), and septicemia (systemic bacterial infection).  This is another reason to keep puppies being treated for parvovirus in the hospital.

It is important to vaccinate appropriately for canine parvovirus.  Puppies that are vaccinated with reputable vaccines at the appropriate age intervals should be protected from parvovirus.   75% of puppies vaccinated with efficacious products will have developed immunity at 12 weeks of age.  Vaccination is not an effective control method in contaminated environments.

Q:   Can my puppy transmit parvovirus to my cat?

A:   No, canine parvovirus is specific to dogs, but there is a similar, related virus in cats.  This virus is called feline panleukopenia virus and causes similar symptoms in cats as parvovirus does in dogs.

Kittens between 8 weeks and 6 months of age are most susceptible to develop severe disease.  Adult cats often have mild or subclinical infection.  Exposure to this virus (like parvovirus in dogs) is more common in a shelter or cattery.  The onset of disease is sudden and includes symptoms similar to parvovirus in dogs (vomiting, diarrhea, anorexia and lethargy).  Dehydration occurs rapidly and may be severe.  Kittens may be infected in utero or neonatally can develop cerebellar hypoplasia (stunted development of the cerebellum portion of the brain).  This causes a drunken-like walk and incoordination.

The main principles of treatment are rehydration with electrolyte balancing via intensive intravenous fluid therapy in the hospital.  Sometimes, whole blood transfusions are required if plasma protein or total White Blood Cell Counts decrease enough.  The virus remains infectious in the environment for years unless the premises can be adequately disinfected with bleach solution.

Patients should be monitored for hydration status, electrolyte balance and Complete Blood Cell Counts.  Most cases are acute and last only 5-7 days.  If death does not occur during this time, recovery is usually rapid and uncomplicated.  Concurrent upper respiratory infections may occur which makes the prognosis worse.

Dr. Dye practices companion animal medicine and surgery at Clevengers Corner Veterinary Care.  She and Dr. Watts can be reached at (540)428-1000 or through

Green household products may not be entirely safe for animals

Friday, March 8th, 2013

Green cleaning products are gaining popularity, but owners should know that even environmentally friendly products may pose threats to pet health. “People expose their animals without even realizing the risk,” said Karl Jandrey, an emergency and critical care veterinarian at the University of California, Davis’ Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital. Veterinarian Camille DeClementi, a senior toxicologist with the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center, said any product with a warning for children isn’t appropriate for pets and recommended keeping animals away from any cleaning activity. San Jose Mercury News (Calif.) (free registration)/The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES—As the time nears for spring cleaning and companies offer more environmentally friendly alternatives to toxic cleaners, veterinarians say pet owners should keep in mind that what’s green to a human can be dangerous—even deadly—to animals.

“People expose their animals without even realizing the risk,” said Dr. Karl Jandrey, who works in the emergency and critical care units at the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital at the University of California, Davis. “That’s the most common thing that happens when you come to our emergency room—the clients put their pets at risk because they were unaware of how significant the damage could be.”

Most household cleaners are safe if used as directed on labels, but pet owners who make their own cleansers using natural ingredients don’t have the warnings or instructions that come with commercial products.

Cats, for example, can get stomachaches from essential oils added for orange, lemon or peppermint scents in cleaners, said Dr. Camille DeClementi, a senior toxicologist at the Animal Poison Control Center run by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Urbana, Ill.

Most commercial green products are safe for animals, DeClementi said, but owners should still exercise the same precautions as with chemical alternatives, such as keeping pets away from an area being cleaned, not using sprays directly on a pet and making sure that dogs don’t chew on the



If a product says “Keep out of reach of children,” keep it away from pets too, DeClementi said.

Caroline Golon, an Ohio mother of two children under 5 and owner of two Persian cats, said she became concerned about cleaning products before her children were born, when she noticed how often the cats jumped between floors and counters. The Columbus resident uses only unscented green products or vinegar and water to clean, a water-only steam mop on floors and washes the cats’ dishes and litter boxes with hot water and green dish soap.

“There are varying degrees of green, and there are a lot of mainstream brands now that have a green version. You have to do a little research to see what you like best,” said Golon, a pet blogger.

The “green” label on products can be misleading because it still can be dangerous, Jandrey added. “Some still have their own toxicities. In general, they probably are a little less toxic, but not free of toxic potential. They just have a need for a larger dose to cause the same kind of symptoms,” he said.

He cited antifreeze as an example. The pet-friendly version of antifreeze, propylene glycol, is “still an antifreeze product. It’s still intoxicating to patients, our dogs and cats. It’s just not as intoxicating as ethylene glycol.”

It takes more of the propylene glycol to be as deadly as the ethylene glycol, “but it is still intoxicating though it might say pet-friendly in the ads or on the bottle,” Jandrey said.

Labels can’t always account for every reaction, Jandrey said. “Each intoxicating product has different concentrations and each dog or cat, each species, has a different sensitivity to that product. So what might be intoxicating to a dog is really, really intoxicating to a cat because cats might be more sensitive,” he said.

Nancy Guberti, a New York City nutritionist and healthy lifestyle coach for the past 15 years, said some products will say green when they are not.

“Natural means nothing. The consumer has to be educated. It’s all about awareness,” she said.

Extra care also should be taken when cleaning around a pet’s area, such as its toys or bedding, the experts say. Don’t use fabric softener sheets that contain cationic detergents because they will give your pet—especially cats—stomach distress, DeClementi said, referring to a type of chemical soap that kills bacteria.

Such detergents and soaps, normally associated with helping to get clothes clean and fresh-smelling, can have chemicals that can sicken humans and pets alike.

Guberti switched to green cleaners out of necessity when her youngest son developed a liver disorder and many allergies. Guberti said the whole family became green—even their family’s 6-year-old Shih Tzu, Flower, because her son can’t hold Flower “if she is full of toxic chemicals or perfumes.”

She recalled how she took the dog to a groomer for the first time, and Flower came out covered in perfume. Guberti washed her again at home, and now she brings her own bottles to the groomer.

“I have a bottle of shampoo and a bottle of conditioner with her name on it. I always remind them: ‘No perfumes whatsoever,'” Guberti said.

Golon, who uses a maid service once a month, said she had the same problem when they brought their own products when they first started cleaning the house.

“I hadn’t thought about it but the smell was so overpowering, it really bothered me. I can just imagine what it was doing to the cats with their sensitivity to scents,” she said.


Map your cat: Interactive tool links felines around the world

Friday, March 8th, 2013

Feline lovers around the world are invited to add their cats to a new Cat Map. The Zoological Society of London is using the Cat Map to promote a new zoo exhibit featuring two endangered Sumatran tigers. The exhibit opens later this month, but the Cat Map is live now, allowing people to search, learn about and add to the collection of information about the world’s cats. FastCoCreate

Cat lovers, the day we have been waiting for has finally arrived!

A Cat Map pinpointing the exact locations of all of the world’s housecats is now live courtesy of the Zoological Society of London.

Well, actually, it doesn’t include all of the world’s cats…yet. There are just over 3,000 on the map now, but that number will surely grow. While the Zoological Society initially put out a call for Londoners to add their cats to the map, kitty lovers from around the globe are also welcome to submit photos and a few bits of info about their felines for inclusion.

The new map is searchable, so if, say, you are interested in checking out adult male tabbies, you can simply input that request into the search engine, and up pops a map full of adorable cat faces indicating the whereabouts of known tabbies, and some quick-hit info about them.

I clicked on a cat face situated above Italy and was treated to a photo of a handsome fellow named Ibra. He was sitting in a bag and described as a “natural bird killer.”

A search for blue-grey females led me to Sammie, a cute London cat said to have “used up more than her share of nine lives.”

In addition to providing a valuable service to those of us who enjoy oohing and ahhing over pictures of cats, the map–similar to those used by field conservationists tracking animal populations–is also designed to get people thinking about animal conservation and planning visits to the London Zoo’s new Tiger Territory.

Opening on March 22, the enclosure will be home to two Sumatran tigers, Jae Jae and Melati, both of whom are featured on the Cat Map. Sumatran tigers, native to Indonesia, currently number only 300 and are an endangered species, according to the Zoological Society.

Veterinary medicine’s central role in public health

Friday, March 8th, 2013

Veterinarians are known by most as compassionate practitioners of animal medicine, an important role, but veterinarian Joan Hendricks explains that they are also uniquely poised for crucial roles in public health. Veterinarians are the only medical professionals comprehensively trained in comparative medicine and human-animal interactions, she writes, and they have a deep background in infectious disease. This contributes to treatments for humans, solutions to global hunger, improved food safety and production, and surveillance and prevention of potentially devastating infectious diseases  The Huffington Post/The Blog

Most people think that veterinarians are doctors who treat cats and dogs, provide compassionate, expert care but also charge amply for their services.  This narrow view means that a vet’s work is underestimated and, often, not respected.  In reality their role is substantially broader and yet their leadership potential is generally overlooked.

While many vets are caregivers for our domestic animals — and it’s very important work — a larger mission is to focus on minimizing the transmission of infectious disease and help tackle world hunger issues.

Vets are trained as rigorously as doctors of human medicine; four years of college, four of vet school and additional internships and residencies if they become specialists.  Uniquely trained in comparative biology, veterinarians are the only members of the clinical profession — including physicians — who see many different species, and understand medicine fundamentally such that all species benefit.

Veterinarians approach medicine with a global perspective and support public health, enormously impacting people’s well-being. They also play an integral role in food safety and food production.  Since people share many of the same diseases and biology as animals, veterinarians have a large role in preventing and controlling diseases, as well as providing research that helps treat diseases like cancer, neurological disorders and immune diseases.
In fact, veterinary medicine is the profession that stands between all of humanity and plague and famine.


For instance, many of the infectious diseases (e.g. avian flu, swine flu, AIDS, West Nile Virus, Lyme disease) that spread in humans come from animals originally. The CDC estimates that number to be 75 percent. Preventing new diseases in humans, as well as potential plagues, is crucial, and well-trained animal care professionals play a vital role. In Pennsylvania, veterinarians developed surveillance technology that provides the ability to stem an outbreak of avian influenza.  Within one month, a potentially devastating outbreak was stopped at a cost of $400,000, while a similar outbreak in Virginia at the same time cost the state over $100 million. Undoubtedly, it is safer, cheaper, healthier and more effective to identify a disease before it appears in people.

Beyond infectious diseases, many veterinarians transcend the animal world by applying the knowledge they have gained through their research to develop better treatments for animals and people.  For example, Dr. Ralph Brinster became in 2011 the only veterinarian ever to win the National Medal of Science.  He developed a reliable in-vitro culture system for early mouse embryos.  Now the system is used in embryo manipulations such as human in-vitro fertilization, mammalian cloning, and embryonic stem cell therapy.  And vets are leading the way in critical advances in gene therapies — including cures for two forms of blindness in animals and humans, one of which is now in human trials. The American Academy of Neurology cites more than 12 neurological diseases or disorders that animal research has helped cure, treat, prevent, or further understand.  Clearly, human and animal health are more connected than most people realize, and doctors can learn much from the breakthrough work of veterinarians.


Not only are we concerned about diseases of epidemic proportions but as our world population grows, we also are increasingly faced with issues related to famine. Hunger is the world’s number one public health threat — killing more people than AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria combined, according to James T. Morris, Executive Director of the U.N. World Food Program.  Food availability, safety and production are key areas of research and service for veterinarians. Our food sources need to be safe, healthy and plentiful.  Veterinarians, for instance, have developed a food safety system whereby poultry eggs can be tested for Salmonella 10 times more swiftly, saving millions of dollars and ensuring public safety.  And by gathering information from dairy farms, vets can examine this data and advise farmers on how to modify their feed formulations and additives and change milking schedules.  Not only does this tremendously increase animal well-being, it also positively impacts the economics. Eating “local food” is a direct result.

And beyond eating local, this knowledge has global implications and can be shared with developing countries who demand a higher quality of food and more animal protein, such as meat, milk, and eggs. While the number of dairy cows in the U.S. has decreased, milk production has grown. This isn’t the case in developing countries — the number of cows continues to grow while milk production doesn’t. Our knowledge related to increasing yield per animal for dairy cows can help feed developing countries.

The Importance of Human-Animal Interaction

It has been well-documented that the human-animal connection provides a powerful healing bond. Service and therapy dogs really do enhance our quality of life. A common situation that develops among the elderly is the repercussion of a pet’s illness. Often times, this event leads to the pet needing to leave the home. An additional outcome may be that the person ends up in a nursing home with little animal contact, which has been shown to improve their quality of life as well as, at times, their health.  The human-animal connection extends into other areas as well.

We have a moral obligation to study our companion animals on this planet; it’s a practical issue that the animals that serve us, feed us, and take care of us be healthy. In doing so, we must redefine the veterinarian’s role.

Vets will always be needed to treat cats and dogs. But it is their ability to link animal science to human well-being, advance food production and safety, and provide critical defense from global pandemics that needs to be better understood.

It is far and away today’s and tomorrow’s veterinarians who are best suited to tackle important issues such as these.

Study measures the life expectancy cost of size among big dog breeds

Thursday, March 7th, 2013

Large-breed dogs age faster than small-breed dogs, and larger breeds’ risk of death increases more with age than it does for small breeds, according to a recent study of 56,000 dogs representing 74 breeds. The study found that a 4.4-pound increase in body weight is associated with lowered life expectancy by one month. The researchers plan to study the leading causes of death among large-breed dogs.

Big dogs apparently die younger mainly because they age quickly, researchers say.

These new findings could help unravel the biological links between growth and mortality, the scientists added.

Normally, across species, larger mammals live longer than their smaller counterparts; for instance, elephants can get up to 70 years old in the wild, while house mice reach only 4 years. Puzzlingly, within species, the opposite seems true — in mice, horses and perhaps even humans.

The apparent cost of bigger bodies is especially conspicuous with dogs, a species that people have bred over the millennia to come in an extraordinary range of sizes. The heaviest known dog may have been Zorba, an English mastiff that weighed 343 pounds (155 kilograms), while the smallest dog alive may be Meyzi, a terrier less than a quarter-pound (110 grams) in size.

Large breeds often die young compared with smaller ones, with a 155-pound (70-kg) Great Dane having an average life span of about 7 years, while a 9-pound (4-kg) toy poodle can expect to live up to 14 years. [The 10 Most Popular Dog Breeds]

To shed light on the possible tradeoffs of large size, researchers analyzed ages at death in 74 breeds, using data from more than 56,000 dogs that visited veterinary teaching hospitals. The researchers focused on why large dogs lived shorter lives on average.

“My main scientific interest is life-history evolution. I’m also a bit of a dog nerd in private life,” said researcher Cornelia Kraus, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Göttingen in Germany.

The scientists found that large breeds apparently aged at faster rates; the speed at which the risk of death increased with age was greater with larger breeds than smaller ones. Indeed, among dog breeds, an increase of 4.4 pounds (2 kg) in body mass leads to a loss of approximately 1 month of life expectancy.

“Their lives seem to unwind in fast motion,” Kraus told LiveScience.

The investigators now want to follow the growth and health histories of a large number of dogs and pinpoint the leading causes of death for large dogs. For instance, bigger canines apparently suffer from cancer more often, which could make sense; large dogs grow more than smaller breeds do, and cancer is rooted in abnormal cell growth.

“This research should be feasible in dogs, since I found that dog people in general seem very open, interested in and interested to contribute to research on their favorite species,” Kraus said.

Kraus and her colleagues Samuel Pavard and Daniel Promislow detailed their findings in the April issue of the journal American Naturalist.

Popular pet car restraints fail in safety test

Thursday, March 7th, 2013

Subaru teamed up with the nonprofit Center for Pet Safety to test four popular brands of pet car restraints, finding that none conferred protection in a 30 mph crash that used crash dummy dogs, and the devices may actually cause serious harm or death to pets or drivers. Further testing is planned, and researchers are working to develop standards for the restraints. MediaPost Communications/Marketing Daily

Subaru of America Inc. is partnering with the Center for Pet Safety to fund testing of car safety  restraints for pets.

Currently, there are no performance standards or test protocols in the U.S.  for pet travel products. Although many manufacturers claim to test their  products, without test standards, these claims cannot be substantiated. Subaru  and the Center for Pet Safety will create standards for testing restraints,  while announcing those that perform best.

The center, a non-profit research and advocacy organization based in  Washington, is dedicated to companion animal and consumer safety.

The Center for Pet Safety conducted a pilot study which showed that the  majority of pet safety restraints currently on the market do not provide  acceptable protection in a crash situation, says Michael McHale, Subaru’s  director of corporate communications.

“As many of our owners have dogs, we feel it’s our responsibility to help  them keep their pets as safe as possible when they journey with us,” McHale says  in a release.

The center conducted rigorous crash testing on commonly available pet safety  restraints using realistic, specially designed crash test dogs, not live  animals. A 55-pound crash dummy dog was used to see how the seatbelts would hold  up in a collision at 30 miles per hour, patterning the same motor vehicle safety  standards used to test child seats.

Of the four popular dog car harness brands, none held up in the tests. All of  them demonstrated that they either could lead to plausibly serious or fatal  injuries for not only the canine but the driver too.

Lawmakers in Subaru’s home state of New Jersey are the first to consider the  requirement of pet restraints when riding in vehicles.

The center has received requests from all over the world from manufacturers  who want guidance on developing a safer harness, says Lindsey Wolko, the founder  and CEO of the Center for Pet Safety, which is not affiliated with the pet  product industry.

“Through this partnership, we can finally conduct additional testing to help  develop a suitable standard, provide the needed knowledge-base to manufacturers,  as well as determine the top performers,” Wolko says in a release.

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