Archive for May, 2014

Chattanooga Zoo chimpanzees advancing understanding of heart issues

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

ChimpanzeeChattanooga Zoo has lost two chimpanzees to heart disease, and veterinarian Tony Ashley is working with Memorial Health System’s Chattanooga Heart Institute to learn more about the issue. The zoo’s chimpanzees undergo an echocardiogram annually as part of their physical exam, and the work is part of the Zoo Atlanta-based Great Ape Heart Project. Cardiologist Bill Warren says he is seeing striking similarities in disease between humans and apes. The Washington Times/The Associated Press

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) – The camels paid no mind as the bulky white computer cart rumbled past their pen on a recent afternoon.

And the African spur-thighed tortoises barely lifted their wrinkly heads to acknowledge the ultrasound machine as it rolled into a bamboo thicket and entered the Gombe Forest.

But in a cavernlike back room at the Chattanooga Zoo, Goliath knew something was afoot in his domain.

And he didn’t like it one bit.

As a sedative-laced dart hit the 38-year-old chimpanzee’s skin, his powerful shrieks echoed through the building, until his eyes slowly closed and his head slumped to his chest.

Finally, when the anesthetic had lulled Goliath to sleep – his fingers gently curled at his side – four zoo staff members wrapped him in a blanket and hoisted his 154-pound frame over to a folding table covered in a flowered sheet.

There Eric Smith, an echocardiographer with Memorial Health System, leaned over the reluctant patient and rubbed some ultrasound gel on the chimp’s hairy barrel chest, as cardiologist Dr. Bill Warren readied the ultrasound machine.

The slice of screen suddenly lit up with the steady throb of muscle. A gushing sound filled the room – sound waves tracking the velocity of blood flow. And as the ape’s chest rose and fell with his breath, colorful lines spiked and fell across the screen:

Goliath’s heartbeat.

“His heart has the same measurements and valve structures as the human heart,” explained Warren. “If you had shown us pictures without telling us that it was a chimpanzee, we wouldn’t have known the difference.”

That’s why zoo veterinarian Dr. Tony Ashley first reached out to Memorial’s Chattanooga Heart Institute three years ago.

Hank – Chattanooga’s famous chimpanzee and the zoo’s former mascot – had recently died of heart disease, without showing any clear symptoms. Ashley wanted to introduce more preventive measures with the rest of the zoo’s chimps.

Heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death among chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans living in captivity. Three months ago another Chattanooga Zoo chimp, Annie, also died of heart complications. She was 28 years old.

Ashley’s skill with the animals doesn’t extend to the specificity of cardiology. But he knew an echocardiogram used on humans would be just as revealing for chimps. Such tests have become more common at zoos.

“I called the hospital and said, ‘I’d like to conduct an echocardiogram on a chimpanzee,’” Ashley remembers. “I got passed around until I was talking to the hospital’s CEO. I don’t think they really knew what to do with that statement.”

Goliath’s echo is now the third test performed by Warren and Smith at the Chattanooga Zoo, as part of a partnership between the two organizations that Warren calls “a public service.”

While the two have performed hundreds of such tests on humans, it hasn’t lessened the strangeness of working on the powerful apes.

“The first time, the chimp actually growled while we were doing the test,” said Warren. “Maybe it was my stomach. Either way, it was a little unnerving.”

The Chattanooga chimps’ initial echocardiograms have been submitted to a database with the Great Ape Heart Project based at Zoo Atlanta. The project is a national effort to investigate cardiovascular disease in great apes in hopes of curbing the number of such deaths.

So far, reports have shown remarkable similarities in how heart disease afflicts both apes and humans, Warren said.

Now the echocardiogram has become part of the chimps’ annual physical exams. As Warren and Smith examined Goliath’s heart Wednesday, Ashley and the other technicians worked quickly to measure Goliath’s height, collect his blood and conduct a TB test. Another worker swiftly clipped his fingernails and toenails.

Goliath’s heart looked good, said Warren, and the group finished up just as Goliath began to stir. Quickly, the zoo workers detached him from the mechanism and gently moved him to a bed of hay.

And before the chimp awoke from his slumber, the ultrasound machine had been whisked out of the ape den, past the turtles and the camels, and back to more hospitable territory.

 

Bravo Dog and Cat Food Recall

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

http://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/dog-food-recall/bravo-dog-and-cat-food-recall/

FROM DOGFOODADVISOR.COM

May 14, 2014 — Bravo of Manchester, CT is recalling select lots of Bravo Pet Food because they have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.
Bravo Logo
Listeria is an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people and others with weakened immune systems.

Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

However, healthy cats and dogs rarely become sick from Listeria. Animals sick with Listeria will display symptoms similar to the ones listed above for humans. People who have concerns about whether their pet has Listeria should contact their veterinarian.

Where Was the Product Sold?

The recalled product was distributed nationwide to retail stores, internet retailers and directly to consumers. The product can be identified by the batch ID code (Best Used By date) printed on the side of the plastic tube or on a label on the box.

What’s Being Recalled?

The recalled products include:

1) These products are being recalled because they may have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

PRODUCT: RAW FOOD DIET BRAVO! BEEF BLEND FOR DOGS AND CATS (Made in New Zealand)
All 2lb., 5lb., and 10lb. tubes
Product Numbers: 52-102, 52-105, 52-110
Best Used By Date: 10/10/15 or earlier

PRODUCT: RAW FOOD DIET BRAVO! BEEF BLEND FOR DOGS AND CATS (Made in New Zealand)
All 2lb., 5lb., and 10lb. tubes
Product Numbers: 52-102, 52-105, 52-110
Best Used By Date: 10/10/15 or earlier

2) These products are being recalled out of an abundance of caution because while they did not test positive for pathogens, they were manufactured in the same manufacturing facility or on the same day as products that did test positive.

PRODUCT: RAW FOOD DIET BRAVO! LAMB BLEND FOR DOGS AND CATS (Made in New Zealand)
All 2lb., 5lb., and 10lb. tubes
Product Numbers: 42-102, 42-105, 42-110
Best Used By Date: 10/10/15 or earlier

PRODUCT: RAW FOOD DIET BRAVO! LAMB BASIC FOR DOGS AND CATS (Made in New Zealand)
2lb. tubes
Product Number: 42-202
Best Used By Date: 10/10/15 or earlier

PRODUCT: RAW FOOD DIET BRAVO! BEEF & BEEF HEART FOR DOGS AND CATS (Made in New Zealand)
5lb. tubes
Product Number: 53-130
Best Used By Date: 10/10/15 or earlier

PRODUCT: RAW FOOD DIET BRAVO! 100% PURE & NATURAL PREMIUM GRASS-FED BUFFALO FOR DOGS AND CATS (Manufactured by: Bravo! Manchester, CT)
NET WT 2LBS (32 OZ) .91KG (Tubes)
Product Number: 72-222
Best Used By Date: 1/7/16

PRODUCT: BRAVO! TURKEY BALANCE FORMULA (Manufactured by: Bravo! Manchester, CT)
NET WT 2 LBS (32 OZ) .09KG, Chub (tube)
Product Number: 31-402
Best Used By Dates: 1/7/16 and 2/11/16

NET WT 5 LBS (80 OZ) 2.3KG, Chub (tube)
Product Number: 31-405
Best Used By Dates: 1/7/16 and 2/11/16

PRODUCT: RAW FOOD DIET BRAVO! LAMB BLEND FOR DOGS AND CATS (Manufactured by: Bravo! Manchester, CT)
5 LBS (80 OZ) 2.3KG, Chub (tube)
Product Number: 42-105
Best Used By Date: 2/11/16

Reason for the Recall

This voluntary recall has been issued because the FDA has reported an independent lab detected the bacteria in a sample during a recent review.

The company has received a limited number of reports of dogs experiencing nausea and diarrhea that may be associated with these specific products.

The company has received no reports of human illness as a result of these products.

Bravo discontinued all manufacturing in New Zealand on October 10, 2013. Bravo will immediately start working with distributors and retailers to properly dispose of any affected product left on freezer shelves.

The company will also be announcing the recall to pet owners to ensure they dispose of any affected product that has been purchased.

Bravo is issuing this action out of an abundance of caution and sincerely regrets any inconvenience to pet owners as a result of this announcement.

What to Do?

The recalled product should not be sold or fed to pets. Pet owners who have the affected product at home should dispose of this product in a safe manner (example, a securely covered trash receptacle).

Customers can return to the store where purchased and submit the Product Recall Claim Form available on the Bravo website www.bravopetfoods.com for a full refund or store credit.

More information on the Bravo dog food recall can also be found at bravopetfoods.com by calling Bravo toll free at 866-922-9222.

U.S. citizens can report complaints about FDA-regulated pet food products by calling the consumer complaint coordinator in your area.

Or go to http://www.fda.gov/petfoodcomplaints.

Canadians can report any health or safety incidents related to the use of this product by filling out the Consumer Product Incident Report Form.

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Cloud, Therapy Dove

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

cloud 3 READBy Daleen Comer

Cloud, my 5-year-old male Ringneck Dove, has been working as a registered therapy animal since October of 2010. He is a popular visitor to a senior day care in Mission Viejo, and he is also certified as a “Reading Education Assistance Dog” (or “Dove”, in his case). In his role as a “Reading Dove”, he visits children in an elementary school classroom on a regular basis, and the children read aloud to him. At the senior day care, Cloud is placed in an open basket, and he is carried from person to person. The seniors are encouraged to reach into the basket and pet him and talk about him. Many of the seniors have owned birds before, but smaller birds (canaries, parakeets) are not as docile and don’t permit handling.  Cloud’s gentle demeanor and quiet cooing make them smile. Many of the children Cloud visits have never had a pet. Their first question is always, “Does he bite?” I encourage them to pet him and see that he is very tame and friendly, and soon the students are feeding him seeds or shredded lettuce, and giggling at his attempts to pick up the treats from their palms. Cloud also participates in elementary school presentations about therapy animals.

cloud 4 with older couple Cloud was hatched in our home, so he has been handled regularly since he was a few days old. He enjoys riding in the car, going to different places, and meeting new people, so training him to pass the therapy animal test was easy. In the test, animals must be handled by a variety of people and tolerate loud noises and other situations they may encounter during visits.  Birds must wear a harness and leash, and must be carried in a basket for their safety. The most difficult part of the preparations was getting the equipment. The harness and leash were available for purchase (“Flightsuit” by Avian Fashions), but the basket and a carrying bag had to be made. Sewing is one of my hobbies, so I designed and made a tote bag with a flexible cage built in, so he could be easily transported from the car to the facility. I got a large basket and sewed in a lining and partial cover, so that he doesn’t try to fly straight up, as doves do not have their wings clipped. Cloud had to learn to stay in the basket for an hour, the typical length of our reading sessions. By sprinkling seeds in the basket and sitting with him, with the suit and leash on, I taught him to stay in the basket quietly

cloud 6 beauty shot (2) Cloud is registered with AHF Caring Creatures. Although a variety of animals can be registered, including cats, rabbits, birds, mini horses and llamas, most of the therapy animals in the group are dogs. Our senior and school visits are done in a group, with several therapy dogs and Cloud. Many of our dogs are of hunting breeds, so we have to be careful to keep Cloud at a distance. The dogs are too well trained to attack him, but if they are distracted, they cannot do their job properly. Because he is so quiet, the dogs are often not even aware he is in the room with them. Cloud even worked at AHF’s booth at a pet fair, at the same time as a cat and two dogs. None of the other animals even knew he was there, because he didn’t flutter around and make noise. Their quiet demeanor and positive associations make doves ideal therapy animals.

Cloud 1 in Tux (2)

 

Threats to pets: Tulip bulbs, cocoa mulch and others owners might not know

Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

CHOCOLATES
Many common household and yard items can be toxic and even deadly for pets, and many owners aren’t aware of the dangers of some items, according to a Petplan survey. Lesser-known dangers include tulip bulbs and cocoa mulch. The most common source of calls to the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center in 2013 was human medications. Green Bay Press-Gazette (Wis.) (tiered subscription model)/McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Grapes and raisins are still killing dogs, and lilies are still killing cats.

Chocolate, xylitol, prescription drugs and other items can be life-threatening, and life-saving treatment can rack up hundreds or thousands of dollars in veterinarian bills.

None of this is new information, but many people still don’t know that our houses and yards are full of things that can sicken or kill pets.

Only 34 percent of pet owners know that cocoa mulch is toxic, according to a survey conducted by Petplan insurance. Only 16 percent know that tulip bulbs are dangerous, and that’s a new one for me. A total of 67 percent knew the dangers of grapes, xylitol in sugar-free candy and gum, diced onions and coffee grounds.

Medications intended for humans topped the 2013 list of reasons people called the Animal Poison Control Center of The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The telephone hotline handled 180,000 calls, and nearly 20 percent were for prescriptions, including 4,151 calls about pills intended to control blood pressure or heart rate and 2,836 cases involving pain killers.

Here’s the rest of the ASPCA Top 10:

2. Insecticides, 15.7 percent of calls.

3. Over-the-counter drugs including acetaminophen and ibuprofen, 14.7 percent.

4. Household items including expandable glues and paints, 9.3 percent.

5. Food for humans, including onions, garlic, grapes, raisins and xylitol.

6. Meds prescribed by veterinarians. Some are available in chewable form with nice flavors, and pets have been known to break through pill bottles to eat the whole batch.

7. Chocolate, the darker the chocolate, the higher the toxicity, 7.7 percent.

8. Rodenticides, 5.5 percent.

9. Plants, mostly houseplants eaten by cats, 5.4 percent.

10. Lawn and garden products, 2.8 percent.

Here are the symptoms that indicate you need to get to a veterinarian quickly: vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, loss of appetite, tremors, seizures, excessive thirst and infrequent urination.

Human and pet meds can cause stomach ulcers and kidney failure, especially in cats, according to veterinarian Jules Benson at Petplan. Internal bleeding, pancreatitis and kidney failure can all be caused by things that are toxic to pets.

The number for the ASPCA’s 24-hour poison hotline is (888) 426-4435. Have your credit card handy because the call will cost you $65.

There’s no charge for calls to national Poison Control Center hotline at 1-800-222-1222. They handle calls for people and for pets, but if they feel they can’t help they refer callers to the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center. Go to aspca.org/apcc for further information.

Canines’ Cancer-Sniffing Snouts Showing 90%-Plus Accuracy

Tuesday, May 20th, 2014
By Angela Zimm May 18, 2014 9:00 PM PT
Source: the University of Pennsylvania Veterinary School
Cancer detection dog McBaine

Which is better at detecting cancer, a laboratory or a Labrador retriever?

Consider the talents of Tsunami, a regal-looking dog with attentive eyes and an enthusiastic tail wag for her trainer friends. University of Pennsylvania researchers say she is more than 90 percent successful in identifying the scent of ovarian cancer in tissue samples, opening a new window on a disease with no effective test for early detection that kills 14,000 Americans a year. When found early, there’s a five-year survival rate of over 90 percent.

With 220 million olfactory cells in a canine snout, compared with 50 million for humans, dogs have long helped on search-and-rescue. Now, a growing body of evidence supports the possible use of canines by clinicians. The largest study ever done on cancer-sniffing dogs found they can detect prostate cancer by smelling urine samples with 98 percent accuracy. At least one application is in the works seeking U.S. approval of a kit using breath samples to find breast cancer.

“Our study demonstrates the use of dogs might represent in the future a real clinical opportunity if used together with common diagnostic tools,” said Gian Luigi Taverna, the author of the prostate cancer research reported yesterday at the American Urological Association in Boston.

While smaller studies have long shown dogs can sniff out a range of illnesses, the question of whether they can be used on a large-scale basis to find disease has drawn skepticism. Questions remain on whether one type of dog is better than another, how to systemize their use and the financial viability of any such system. As a result, most current research is looking at how to copy the canine abilty to smell disease either with a machine or a chemical test.

‘Method Reproducible’

“Our standardized method is reproducible, low cost and noninvasive for the patients and for the dogs,” said Taverna, the head of urology pathology at Istituto Clinico Humanitas in Rozzano, Italy, in an e-mail.

Taverna tested the ability of two professionally trained explosive detection dogs, Zoe and Liu, in 677 cases to assess their accuracy, according to his paper. The next step, according to Taverna, will be to extend the research into prostate cancer subgroups and to other urological malignancies.

The results may one day be used to help develop an electronic nose that follows nature’s lead in how a canine snout works, he said.

Taverna’s finding comes at a time when use of standard PSA testing for prostate cancer is being challenged as not accurate enough, with false positives leading to unnecessary treatment.

In 2012, the Preventive Services Task Force, which reports on medical issues to the U.S. Congress, recommended that healthy men shouldn’t be screened for prostate cancer using PSA tests after research showed that false positive rates of men tested may be as high as 80 percent. The test measures a protein made by prostate cells called prostate-specific antigen.

Volatile Compounds

When dogs sniff for cancer, they are detecting the chemicals emitted by a tumor. These chemicals are referred to as volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. VOCs have been found in the breath of lung cancer patients and colon cancer patients, as well as in the urine of prostate cancer patients. The most recent findings have spurred increased interest in dog cancer-detection research, including efforts to develop devices that can mimic the animal’s exquisite olfactory system.

Dina Zaphiris, a nationally recognized dog trainer who works with canines on federally funded studies in detecting early cancer in humans, is leading the charge for U.S. Food and Drug Administration clearance of a system that would use the unique olfactory talents of dogs in medical care.

In 2009, Zaphiris, a dog trainer for 25 years with an extensive list of celebrity clients and an education in biology, founded the In Situ Foundation, a nonprofit organization that trains cancer-sniffing dogs and conducts research in the field.

‘Early Warning’

Her organization is in the process of submitting an FDA application for approval of a canine medical scent detection kit. In her system, patients exhale through a tube on to a cloth, which captures molecules, or VOCs, of a malignancy. Trained dogs would then sniff the cloths for their presence.

The dog screening would be an “early warning test,” she said, possibly used in connection with a mammogram for reviewing results before proceeding to a biopsy.

“You should see the amount of e-mails I get saying ‘I got an unclear mammogram and I don’t know if I want a biopsy so could I have dogs screen my breath sample?’,” Zaphiris said.

Zaphiris’s interest in the issue began in 2003 when she worked with a research group on a study to detect breast and lung cancer. A paper on that limited study, published in 2006 in the Journal of Integrative Cancer Therapies, found that dogs could detect lung tumors with 99 percent sensitivity and 99 percent specificity; for breast tumors, results were 88 percent sensitivity and 98 percent specificity.

Training Time

Now Zaphiris is working with Jeffrey Marks, an associate professor of surgery and pathology at Duke University to train dogs to detect breast cancer, she said. It takes about six weeks to teach a dog for a study, and Zaphiris says she usually trains a new team of canines for each one, working at her 3-acre facility in West Hills, California.

Zaphiris isn’t alone in her quest to get dogs involved in medical care. At the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, researchers are studying whether dogs can find ovarian cancer in tissue and blood samples. If so, it would be a breakthrough for a difficult disease.

“We’re trying a multiprong approach,” including the dogs and laboratory efforts, “to determine if there’s some signature in blood in women with ovarian cancer so we can develop a detection system,” said Cindy Otto, director of the university’s Penn Vet Working Dog Center in Philadelphia. “We’re using the dogs because we know the dogs are much more sensitive than any of our chemical techniques.”

The goal of the research is to one day produce a new screening system or electronic sensor to detect ovarian cancer’s odor signature, Otto said.

Blood Samples

The project, which began last year, is now focused on training the dogs using tissue samples from both cancerous ovaries and ovaries with benign disease. Although the three dogs in the research learned to recognize cancerous samples, the researchers have recently turned to studying the dogs’ reaction to blood samples because of lack of tissue.

The german sherpherd named Tsunami, named for her tendency to come happily at you when you least expect it, has been particularly successful early in her training, Otto said. When she’s working, she becomes a quiet, pensive animal. She works very slowly, circling a wheel containing blocks of samples. She sniffs, she stops, she thinks, Otto said.

When she identifies cancer, she sits; that’s the sign.

“She’s very serious about it all,” Otto said.

Electronic Nose

The research effort is a collaboration among chemists, doctors and physicists at the university, with a primary focus of developing an “electronic nose” that duplicates a dog’s ability to smell disease. Otto said she doesn’t think using dogs in a clinical setting may be practical.

“The challenge is the expense,” she said. “If you’re talking about screening every woman from 25 to 90, that’s a lot of samples.”

Zaphiris said the medical system shouldn’t wait for the development of technology that can accurately sense cancer with the ability of a dog. Her goal is to open canine scent detection centers that will make her animals accessible beyond just their use for research.

“If there is a machine as accurate as a dog, I say do it,” Zaphiris said. “It’s highly impractical to wait until the machines can catch up.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Angela Zimm in Boston at azimm@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Reg Gale at rgale5@bloomberg.net Andrew Pollack

Animal Behaviour and Welfare – FREE Online Course

Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

 The University of Edinburgh logo

SIGN UP ONLINE:  https://www.coursera.org/course/animal

Course at a Glance

5 weeks
1-3 hours of work / week
English
English subtitles

Animal welfare has been described as a complex, multi-faceted public policy issue which includes important scientific, ethical, and other dimensions. Improving our understanding of animal welfare, involves the fascinating study of animal behavior as well as the challenge of accessing the emotions of animals.


About the Course

Animals occupy a huge part of the planet and our lives, and although we rely on them for all aspects of our own wellbeing – food, draught power, medical advances, clothing, sport as well as pleasure, protection and comfort – often their quality of life is questionable. Appreciating how animal’s experience the world they live in and the different behavioural needs of the various species we interact with, enables us to gain a better understanding of their welfare requirements, so that long term improvements to animal lives can be made.

There are now more than 60 billion land animals raised for meat each year around the world, and with increasing human populations and a rise in meat consumption in many parts of the world, these figures are set to double by 2050. Added to this is a huge and growing world population of dogs and cats, many of whom are strays with associated health and welfare issues.  International concern for animal welfare continues to grow with rising demand for measures to protect animals and improve their care and wellbeing. The link between animal welfare and human wellbeing is clear, and yet we still have a long way to go if we are to address welfare needs globally. Finding ways to achieve higher standards of animal welfare, is therefore a key priority for any developed and developing nation. Due to gaining in importance internationally, there is increasing recognition of the need for animal welfare issues to be addressed objectively in a scientifically credible manner.

In this animal behaviour and welfare course, you will learn about animal welfare and why it matters, develop an understanding of some of the main welfare issues animals have to cope with as well as gaining an insight into the behavioural needs and the emotions of dogs, cats, farmed animals and captive wildlife.

 

This course is delivered collaboratively by academics from the University of Edinburgh and Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC).