Archive for the ‘Cats’ Category

How dogs protect your heart

Friday, December 20th, 2013

Adele and SparksRecent research adds to a growing body of evidence supporting the cardioprotective benefits of having a pet, especially a dog, according to physician Sandra Fryhofer. Pets are associated with reduced heart disease risk through lower blood pressure and in some cases lower cholesterol, as well as increased exercise among owners who walk with their canine friends. Also, dogs provide emotional support and help humans deal with stress, which also helps protect the heart.

Hello. I’m Dr. Sandra Fryhofer. Welcome to Medicine Matters. The topic: pets and heart disease risk, a new study in the journal Circulation.[1] Here’s why it matters.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in this country. But this new study says having a pet, especially a dog, could lower your heart disease risk. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes are risk factors for heart disease. Previous studies have linked having a pet to having lower blood pressure. I assume that’s once the pet is housebroken. There is even a study that found that men who had dogs had lower cholesterol levels.[2]

Now, people with dogs are generally physically more active than those who don’t have one. It makes sense if you walk the dog or if the dog walks you. No significant increases in physical activity have been linked to having cats or other pets.

Having a pet doesn’t mean you’ll weigh less, but in general, people who walk their dogs do.

Pets provide support in other ways. They provide encouragement and motivation, even in weight loss programs. Pets also provide support in a nonhuman way. Pets are companions and have a positive effect on the body’s reaction to stress.

For those with established heart disease, having a pet of any kind was linked to increased survival, dog ownership especially so.

Although this study stops short of recommending that people get a pet to protect their heart, having one does seem to provide some cardioprotective benefits. So don’t buy, rescue, or adopt a pet just to protect your own heart. You also have to be willing to share your heart with your furry friend.

For Medicine Matters, I’m Dr. Sandra Fryhofer.

 

USDA develops biodegradable cat litter

Friday, December 20th, 2013

The USDA’s Agricultural Research Service has developed a biodegradable cat litter from spent corn. The clumping, odor-absorbing compound is made with dried distiller’s grain, a byproduct of ethanol production, along with glycerol, guar gum and copper sulfate. Current clay-based litters are not biodegradable and are disposed of in landfills, but this new formulation could be more environmentally friendly.

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture have found a way to a way to make cat littler that is almost fully degradable.

The department’s Agricultural Research Service found that using spent corn called dried distiller’s grain DDGs may prove to be more environmentally friendly than popular but nonbiodegradable, clay-based litters that mostly end up in landfills. Dried distiller’s grain is what is left over after ethanol production. In this case, the DDGs were treated with one or more solvents to extract any remaining, potentially useful natural compounds. USDA has called these x-DDGs.

ARS researcher Steven Vaughn and his colleagues found a kitty litter formulation composed of x-DDGs and three other compounds: glycerol, to prevent the litter from forming dust particles when poured or pawed; guar gum, to help the litter clump easily when wet; and a very small amount of copper sulfate, for odor control.

The mix resulted in a highly absorbent compound that clumps and provides significant odor control, researchers found.

 

Cat adopts abandoned day-old puppy, helps shelter win $25,000

Friday, December 20th, 2013

Noland and LureneA cat who had recently delivered a litter welcomed a day-old puppy into her brood after workers at the Cleveland Animal Protective League placed them together. The odd pairing helped win the league a $25,000 grant from the Petco Foundation, which awarded 33 grants after receiving 4,500 applications.

The Cleveland Animal Protective League’s tale of a nurturing cat and a helpless puppy not only captivates and amazes, it added $25,000 to the nonprofit group’s budget.

The Petco Foundation received more than 4,500 applications for 33 grants, and Thursday announced the winners — based on the quality of an  organization’s overall work and the impact of their top success story.

The APL’s winning story began June 12, when a humane officer investigating a call about animal neglect found a fly-covered day-old puppy alone in a garage. The officer couldn’t find the puppy’s mother, so she rushed the tiny pit bull mix to the shelter on Willey Avenue, where the animal care team named him Noland and discussed how to save his life.

“The team decided the best option would be to try placing Noland with a stray mom cat named Lurlene who had, two days before Noland’s arrival, delivered a litter of four kittens,” APL director Sharon Harvey said. “Remarkably, Lurlene welcomed Noland into her family, nurturing and nursing him as if he was one of her own. And the kittens were fine with him, too.”

Noland’s mother, Molly, was found later that day, chained behind the home, but she was too emaciated and frightened to care for her puppy, Harvey said, so Noland stayed with Lurlene and her kittens during the day and was bottle-fed at night.

When Molly’s owner was convicted of animal neglect, Noland and the kittens were thriving together. They were placed in a foster home until they were old enough to be neutered for adoption.

“We were a little concerned that Noland would get to be too big and rough for his less robust feline family, but Lurlene had things under control and it didn’t take the kittens long to learn how to put him in his place,” Harvey and APL director of development, Judy Hunter, wrote to Petco. “Actually, Noland blended in with the family so well, he was even found using the litter box a few times.”

Noland then was placed in a foster home with a litter of puppies his age, and learned how to be a dog, while Lurlene and the kittens returned to the shelter and all were adopted.

When Noland returned to the shelter, he and his mother, Molly, were reunited for play sessions.

“Actually, Noland blended in with the family so well, he was even found using the litter box a few times.”

“Noland had certainly thrived with Lurlene, his feline siblings and foster families as he was nearly 18 pounds when he went home with his new family,” Hunter wrote to Petco.

Molly fully recovered and learned to trust people, and she, too, was adopted.

“Truly, Noland and Lurlene’s story encompasses everything we do at the APL — protecting animals from cruelty and neglect, staff members and volunteers working together to nurse them back to health, finding them wonderful new homes, and learning from them about the power of forgiveness and unconditional love and acceptance,” Harvey said. “And when you get right down to it, that’s really what it’s all about, isn’t it?”

Katrina lessons keep Colo. flood victims and pets together

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

Colorado FloodPets have been routinely evacuated from flood areas in Colorado, despite life-threatening conditions for the rescuers, because officials there made a conscious decision to save pets and people, adopting the motto “No pets left behind,” according to a National Guard spokesman. Lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina led rescuers to include pets in their evacuation plans, and temporary shelters have been ready with pet essentials including water bowls and kenneling capabilities. The Seattle Times/The Associated Press

By JERI CLAUSING   Associated Press

Some helicopters rescuing people after massive flooding in Colorado carried more dogs, cats and fish than people. Rescuers using zip lines to evacuate people over raging rivers also risked their lives to make sure the four-legged members of families were safe.

In contrast to stories of people forced to leave their pets when New Orleans was swamped by Hurricane Katrina, the motto during one of the largest evacuations in Colorado history was “No pets left behind,” said Skye Robinson, a spokesman for the National Guard air search and rescue operations during Colorado’s floods. That’s because including pets in the rescue effort helped convince even reluctant residents to leave their homes. Officials also had more than enough space for the animals and even carried animal crates with them.

More than 800 pets have been ferried to safety with their owners via helicopter, the National Guard said. Hundreds more were rescued by ground crews. Livestock, like horses and cattle, were left behind, but a monkey was among those saved.

Once safely on dry ground, Red Cross shelters had water bowls, on-site dog kennels and all the necessary supplies to ensure already stressed evacuees wouldn’t be separated from their pets.

“We kind of learned after Katrina, when people wouldn’t evacuate because of their pets,” said Kathy Conner, a worker at a shelter at a YMCA in Boulder.

Evacuees Jerry Grove and Dorothy Scott-Grove said they never would have abandoned their vacation cabin in Estes Park without their two golden retrievers. But they didn’t have to make that hard choice. Firefighters carried the two large dogs to safety on the same zip line used to rescue the retired Ohio couple.

“They put them in a harness and one of the firefighters hooked himself to them and brought them across,” Dorothy Scott-Grove said. “We will not be separated.”

Once out, the Red Cross found the couple a pet-friendly hotel where the dogs the next day “were resting comfortably on our king-sized bed,” she said.

In a state where dog passengers are as common as humans in cars, Lisa Pedersen, CEO of the Humane Society of Boulder Valley, said taking care of pets has become a central part of disaster planning.

It appears to be working. One week after floods and mudslides forced the local evacuation of more than 3,000 people, Pederson said the Boulder area shelter had just 72 pet evacuees – all but two of which were delivered by their owners for temporary shelter after they were forced from their homes.

“It just makes sense that you bring the pets along. They are part of the family,” Robinson said. “You wouldn’t leave a family behind because they had kids.”

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Follow Jeri Clausing on twitter (at)jericlausing

AHF Pet Partner Orientation – October 12, 2013

Friday, September 20th, 2013

This Orientation is a mandatory step in the process of becoming an AHF Caring Creatures Pet Partners Team. AND it is the last one of the 2013 calendar year.

In order to attend this meeting, you must have successfully completed the Pet Partners Handlers Online Course at www.petpartners.org.

In addition, pre-registration for this meeting is required.

For more information, contact petpartner@animalhealthfoundation.net

 

 

Protecting dogs from Lyme disease starts with your veterinarian

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

ticksLyme disease in humans is garnering attention lately because it’s often misdiagnosed, but veterinarian Richard Goldstein, chief medical officer at Animal Medical Center in New York, reminds dog owners that canines are also susceptible to the disease. Protection begins with a conversation with a veterinarian, and a preventive vaccine is available. ChicagoNow.com/Steve Dale’s Pet World blog

Lyme Disease is getting more pub – how it’s being underdiagnosed in people. Dr. Richard Goldstein, chief medical officer of Animal Medical Center in New York City notes we can do more to protect our dogs than we can to protect ourselves. From my national radio show Steve Dale’s Pet World, listen HERE to Dr. Goldstien explain that Lyme isn’t any longer only associated with New England, it’s spreaded West and South and it continues to spread – even to places like in downtown Chicago!

The key is for veterinarians to screen for Lyme, for starters. Protection depends on where you are, but don’t guess at what you should do (you may guess wrong), ask your veterinarian. A vaccine is also available.

Lyme is most often transmitted to dogs in the fall – so it’s certainly not too late in the year to think about protection. Learn more through this website about dogs and ticks and tick disease.

Dr. Joe Cortese Dog Park Dedication

Monday, September 9th, 2013

On August 17th, the city of San Juan Capistrano dedicated their new dog park in honor of beloved local veterinarian Dr. Joe Cortese, also know as “Dr. Fleas”Dr. Joe Cortese.The dog park welcomes small and large dogs and features picnic tables, benches, and an access ramp for people with disabilities. Enjoy the beautiful mature oak, avocado, and Valencia orange trees that are being preserved as part of this wonderful new park. The area will include drinking fountains for both people and pooches.

Dr. Cortese was a past president and member of the Animal Health Foundation’s Board of Trustees.  He passed away suddenly in 2008 while visiting friends in New Mexico with his wife, Goldee.

The AHF is proud to have made a donation to the park to honor such a dedicated and loved individual.

Transfusion from dog saves poisoned cat, veterinarian says

Monday, August 26th, 2013

bag-of-transfusion-bloodNew Zealand veterinarian Kate Heller says she was out of conventional options and time to save a cat that had ingested rat poison, so she took an unorthodox approach and used dog blood for a transfusion. Because she was unable to determine the cat’s blood type, Dr. Heller could not use cat blood — using the wrong type would have sparked a fatal response. “If we didn’t do it, he would have died, so we had nothing to lose by giving it a go,” Dr. Heller said. An hour after the transfusion, the cat had made a remarkable recovery, Dr. Heller said. FoxNews.com/Agence France-Presse (8/21), The New Zealand Herald/APNZ News Service (8/20)

Traditional animal rivalries were set aside in New Zealand when a dog’s blood was used to save the life of a poisoned cat in a rare inter-species transfusion, reports said Wednesday.

Cat owner Kim Edwards was frantic last Friday when her ginger tom Rory went limp after eating rat poison, rushing to her local veterinary clinic at Tauranga in the North Island for help.

Vet Kate Heller said the feeble feline was fading fast and needed an immediate transfusion to survive, but there was not enough time to send a sample to the laboratory for testing to determine the cat’s blood type.

Instead, she decided to take a gamble and use dog blood to try to save the animal, knowing it would die instantly if she gave it the wrong type.

Edwards called up her friend Michelle Whitmore, who volunteered her black Labrador Macy as a doggie blood donor in a last-ditch attempt to save Rory, a procedure Heller said she had never performed before and was very rare.

“People are going to think it sounds pretty dodgy — and it is — but hey, we’ve been successful and it’s saved it’s life,” Heller told the New Zealand Herald.

Edwards said the cat appeared to have come through its ordeal unscathed, seemingly without any canine side effects.

“The vets just went above and beyond… it’s incredible that it worked,” she said.

“Rory is back to normal and we don’t have a cat that barks or fetches the paper.”

Microchips are the best insurance if pet goes missing

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

animal microchipMicrochips can mean the difference between being reunited with a lost or stolen pet or losing that friend forever. An estimated 10 million-plus U.S. pets go missing annually, but about 94% of animals with microchips are reunited with their owners. Once the microchip is implanted, a quick and relatively painless procedure that can be done during routine veterinary exams, a pet owner’s most important task is keeping contact information current so he or she can be quickly located if a lost pet is found. The Huffington Post/The Blog (8/12)

The picture above is meant to compare the size of the microchip with a grain of rice.

Last weekend Wellington, my 9-year-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, provided me with a somber reminder of why it is so important that we provide our pets with some type of identification. In the midst of a furniture delivery he decided to take a walk on his own. By the time we noticed that Wellington had gone missing he was nowhere to be seen. With my heart in my throat I ran down our driveway, only to find one of my neighbors walking a contrite-looking Welly back to the house.

The prospect of losing a beloved pet is every pet parent’s worst nightmare. But pets do go missing every day, and despite the best efforts of owners and local animal control, many of these pets are never reunited with their families.

If accidental losses weren’t enough to be concerned about, a disturbing new trend of pets being stolen is cropping up in news reports this summer. The American Humane Association estimates that more than 10 million dogs and cats are lost or stolen in the U.S. every year. Some of these pets wind up for sale on local Craigslist boards and sadly, others are sometimes sold to medical laboratories, where they become unwitting test subjects in the name of science.

Protecting our pets from loss and theft is fairly simple, but hardly foolproof. As pet parents, we do everything we can to keep our furry friends out of harm’s way, but there are times when even the most vigilant among us become distracted; furniture deliveries being a case in point. On warm August nights, it can be tempting to just open the back door and let our pets roam in the yard unsupervised. Or you may think, “What’s the harm?” and tie Fido up to pop in a shop for an iced coffee. It only takes a split second for a thief to snatch your pet, and once he is gone, your best chance of recovering him may be his microchip.

Microchips are the only permanent method of pet identification, and not only are they extremely helpful in the event your pet is lost, but having your contact information linked to your pet’s chip can help you prove rightful ownership in the event that your pet is stolen. One of the very first things I did when Welly joined the family was get him microchipped.

Don’t have your pet microchipped yet? Here’s what you need to know:

• It is estimated that more than 94 percent of lost pets who have a microchip are successfully reunited with their families.

• Microchip scanning devices are available to all U.S. animal shelters and veterinary clinics. If you’re not sure whether your pet is chipped, have him scanned.

• Injecting a microchip into your pet’s back takes less than 10 seconds and is only as painful as a vaccination.

• Microchips are made of biocompatible silicon and encased in glass, and rejection and infection are rare.

• The biggest reason microchips fail to reunite lost pets with their owners is that the owner information either was never registered or it wasn’t current. Register your pet’s contact information immediately when you get the new chip. If you already have a chipped pet and are unsure of your pet’s microchip number or manufacturer (info you will need to update your contact details on the chip), take him to your local vet clinic or animal shelter to be scanned. Don’t take any chances!

While microchips are the only permanent form of identification for your pet, there are some promising new options for pet identification that can work in tandem with a chip to make sure you always know the whereabouts of your best friend.

GPS-enabled collars can help you find your lost pet using your smartphone. When your pet goes missing, you get a text message with the GPS coordinates of the collar. The message contains a link to the coordinates on a map, which you can open on your smartphone and use to start your search efforts. Some models even act as a virtual fence, sending you an SMS message when your pet leaves a predefined zone. In other words, as soon as your dog leaves the yard, you can be notified of his location. While the technology can be pricey (some models fetch close to $500), it can be well worth it for the extra peace of mind.

After Welly’s escapade last weekend I am investing in a GPS collar; next time he may not be so lucky as to end up in the arms of a friendly neighbor! No one wants to think about their pet being lost or stolen, but being proactive about protecting pets against the unexpected can help create a happy ending for everyone.

 

Itchy pet’s problem may be more than skin deep

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

dog scratchingDiagnosing and treating itchy pets is a tall order, writes veterinarian Lyssa Alexander, who explains the many causes of itchy skin in pets. Some pets have only mildly itchy skin while others are so irritated that it affects their quality of life. In many cases, an underlying allergy is to blame, according to Dr. Alexander. Causes of allergies in pets are numerous and include environmental allergens, flea allergies and food allergies. Other causes of itching include mite and ringworm infections or systemic or immune diseases. AnnArbor.com (Mich.) (8/14)

The end of the summer is a beautiful time. The plants are mature and the fields are abloom with gorgeous yellow and purple flowers. It is truly one of my favorite times of year.

Unfortunately, for many of our dog friends, the end of the summer comes with bad allergies. Dogs who have environmental allergies can react at any time of the year, depending on what they are allergic to. However, this time of year seems to bring me a lot of itchy pets.

Humans are no stranger to allergies. Many of us can chart the change of the season with levels of snot and congestion. Though our allergy symptoms overlap quite a bit with what we see in dogs, the main presentation of an allergic dog is itching.

They lick their paws (major sign of itching), scratch their bodies, shake their heads and get widespread skin and ear infections. For many dogs, these signs are mild, and they come and go with the season. However, many dogs can develop debilitating skin and ear infections or are simply too miserable to sleep. These are the dogs that come through my doors in droves.

When an itchy dog walks through my door, the first step is to try to determine if they have any infections. Regardless of why they are itching, hot spots, skin infections and ear infections can develop. Dogs with ear infections will have debris, inflammation and a foul smell in their ears and will exhibit head shaking or pawing at the ears.

Skin infections will take the form of scabs, ulcers and crusting along any part of the body. The skin is a complex organ with many important jobs. Besides keeping your insides on the inside, the skin also has to serve as a complex cellular barrier against naturally-occurring yeast and bacteria in the environment.

Every dog and person has low numbers of these organisms living on their skin at all time. However, for most of us, the skin’s barrier function and intelligent immune system keep these organisms in check. When the skin is inflamed and immune compromised, the yeast and bacteria grow to impressive numbers and cause even greater levels of rashes and itching.

Once we have diagnosed and treated the infections that come along with itchy conditions, we need to determine the underlying cause. Sometimes this is easy and sometimes it takes a lot of time and patients.

The most common reasons for an itchy pet are environmental allergies, food allergies, flea allergies, ringworm infections and mange. Other less common reasons include local reactions to insects or chemicals or certain systemic illnesses and immune conditions. Cats also get a similar variety of itchy conditions.

Environmental allergies or (Atopy or Atopic Dermatitis) is by far the most common itchy condition in dogs. There is usually a history of recurrent itchiness or skin and ear infections that come and go throughout the year. As a dog’s immune system matures, their allergy season may change or expand.

Dogs can be allergic to almost anything (just like people). Some of the main offenders are pollens, grasses, plant materials, dust, dust mites, molds, cats and insects. For many pets, we can decrease their itching through dietary supplementation, environmental management, antihistamines (please ask your veterinarian before giving your dog any medications) and judicious use of steroids for short periods of time.

For animals with severe allergies, more elaborate measures are needed. For these pets we recommend either going on a long term medication protocol with an immune modulating agent or starting a series of vaccines to try to desensitize their immune system to the allergens that are most offensive to your pet. Both of these strategies have their pitfalls at times, but for miserable dogs they can be lifesaving.

Another leading cause of itchy pets is food allergy. This is a well recognized condition that has been a bit twisted by dog food marketing. You can’t walk down a pet food isle without encountering bags that advertise “grain free” diets or “low allergen formulations.” Though wheat and corn are common food allergens in dogs that are truly food allergic, they are by no means the only offending ingredients. Diagnosing a food allergy in dogs can be tricky.

The best way to diagnose food allergy is to do a strict food allergy trial. This can be done with various veterinary prescription diets, but is most effective when done with a strict home-cooked diet formulated from novel ingredients (ask your vet for advice on how to do a trial). If an itchy dog clears up on the food, it is important to challenge them with their previous diet to make sure that the food was really the cause.

I have seen a lot of people switch their pets’ diets in the fall and see a big improvement. But many dogs with environmental allergies get better as the winter sets in anyway, so it is hard to say why the dog actually got better without doing a proper challenge at the end of the trial. For dogs with true food allergies, finding the right diet can be life-changing.

Flea allergies are also fairly common. hen a dog is heavily infested with fleas they can be quite itchy. However, dogs with flea ALLERGIES only have to be bitten occasionally to become wildly itchy. It can sometimes be a big challenge to convince owners that their dog has flea allergies when they haven’t seen any fleas.

Depending on the dog’s environment, even if they are on a good flea preventative they can get an occasional flea bite that can cause a flare-up. These cases can be frustrating at times, but as long as we keep them as flea free as possible, they can usually be managed well.

Mites and ringworm infections are also somewhat common, especially in puppies. Some of these conditions can spread to humans. Scabies mites cause dogs to be extremely itchy, especially on their ears. People in contact with scabies mites can develop itchy red rashes.