Archive for June, 2012

Another New AHF Caring Creatures Pet Partner Team

Monday, June 25th, 2012

 Cindy Daversa and her 6 year old Boxer, Bella, are ready to bring huge smiles to the faces of people and kids they will visit as a new AHF Caring Creatures Pet Partner Team.  Congratulations Cindy and Bella!

New AHF Caring Creatures Pet Partner Team

Monday, June 25th, 2012

Congratulations to Ben Buchanan and Yuki who passed the Pet Partner Team Evaluations in June!  Yuki is a “career change” dog who was originally trained by Guide Dogs of America in Orange County.  This loving dog will now serve in a different and just as rewarding way!

Worm-like organisms in stool may not be tapeworms

Monday, June 25th, 2012

Worm-like creatures in dog feces may be intestinal parasites, such as tapeworms, but fly larvae, also known as maggots, can rapidly colonize fresh fecal piles, often confusing owners, writes veterinarian Jeff Kahler. Dogs acquire tapeworms from fleas that carry tapeworm eggs, so treatment for tapeworms includes medicine to kill the worms and flea treatment to rid the dog of fleas. Fly larvae in feces are easily prevented — just promptly clean up after dogs, notes Dr. Kahler.



McClatchy Newspapers

            Darren was picking up his dog Robo’s waste and noticed white, wormlike creatures crawling in and on several of the stool piles. He finished cleaning up and then called the veterinarian.

Darren said Robo was prescribed medication to treat tapeworms. The dosage required several pills to be taken all at once by Robo. Darren followed the protocol and assumed the creepy little creatures were history. That was wishful thinking; about a week later, they were back on Robo’s stools.

Darren again treated Robo for tapeworms. This time, he also treated Robo for fleas, as tapeworms are often associated with fleas. Darren also began to scrutinize every stool Robo produced. His skepticism was rewarded as the ugly little beasts reappeared within the next week after the second treatment. Well, Darren wants to know what the heck is going on!

Darren needs to harvest stool samples containing the worms and have them examined by Robo’s veterinarian. I believe these wormlike creatures are not worms, but the insect larvae of flies.

If Robo had tapeworms, I would expect the initial treatment to have worked. There would not have been enough time for a new population of tapeworms to develop inside Robo in the week after the first treatment.

Tapeworms are intestinal parasitic worms that occur in several species of animals. The more common type in dogs is carried on the flea. When a dog bites at a flea, it can take in the tapeworm eggs by mouth and swallow them. This starts the development process in the dog’s intestinal tract, which culminates in a population of adult tapeworms. These adults mate and produce small segments that break off the adult worm and are passed in the stool. These appear as tiny, whitish, wormlike creatures that can wiggle and crawl in an undulating fashion. This fits with Darren’s description and his veterinarian’s assumption that Robo had tapeworms. These segments will dry up and appear similar to rice grains over time. The segments will eventually rupture, and the eggs inside stick to fleas and start the whole cycle over again. This is why it is important to treat for fleas when treating for tapeworms.

Of course, we know that Robo does not have tapeworms. In fact, Robo’s stool is not indicating he has any visible parasites.

Robo’s stool is likely colonized by fly larvae, most commonly referred to as maggots. Flies will lay their eggs in fresh dog feces and these will hatch into larvae that then feed on the fecal material. When the weather is warmer, hatching time can be very quick. I know, you’re thinking, “Yuck,” and frankly I am, too. I am not a big fan of maggots, but they are a part of the circle of life and nothing to be concerned about in the disease realm. If Darren were to pick up Robo’s stools more frequently, the fly eggs would not have time to hatch before disposal and would therefore not be seen.

(Jeff Kahler is a veterinarian in Modesto, Calif. Questions can be submitted to Your Pet in care of LifeStyles, The Modesto Bee, P.O. Box 5256, Modesto CA 95352.)

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Distinguishing the cause of allergic symptoms in dogs

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

Dogs exhibit allergy symptoms such as itchy, dry skin and gastrointestinal signs including chronic vomiting and diarrhea, and it can be difficult to distinguish the cause among the three most common allergies in pets: flea allergy dermatitis, environmental allergy and food allergy, writes veterinarian Chase Constant. Gastrointestinal symptoms usually accompany food allergies, which also occur year-round, Dr. Constant points out. He adds that a food trial directed by a veterinarian is the best way to diagnose a food allergy.

Unlike humans, dogs cannot scratch their paws and are forced to lick and bite them when they are itchy. There are two things to consider when caring for an itchy dog: Treat the underlying cause of the itch, and treat any secondary infections that have developed.

Like people, dogs can have allergies, causing them to become itchy. We usually think of three types of allergies: flea allergy dermatitis (FAD), food allergy or environmental allergy. Some dogs are allergic to flea saliva, and it takes only one bite to set off them off and keep them itching for up to two weeks. The key to treating this allergy is avoiding contact with fleas, which is why most veterinarians recommend the use of regular monthly flea control.

Food allergies are very common in dogs and can cause mild to severe itching (paws, face, and ears), red skin, or even gastrointestinal signs (chronic loose stool or vomiting). Environmental allergies cause similar signs, excluding the gastrointestinal ones. One key to helping differentiate between these two types of allergies is timeline. Food allergies will continue year round, whereas most environmental allergies improve or resolve at some point during the year (in other words, they are seasonal, with the winter months usually being the better months).

Many times, a secondary infection (bacterial or yeast) has developed because the biting and licking has damaged the skin. If your dog is constantly licking or biting his paws, he should be evaluated by your veterinarian, because it can be a painful condition and these infections need to be treated with oral or injectable medications (antibiotics or antifungals), with medicated shampoos or with both. Then the underlying allergy needs to be addressed.

A food trial is needed to determine a food allergy. This involves feeding your dog a very strict diet over several months with a protein source he has never been exposed to, like rabbit or venison. Your vet can help you plan a proper food trial to determine if your dog has a food allergy, then what food should be fed on a long-term basis.

Environmental allergies can be treated with different medications. Some dogs with mild allergies or allergies that last only a few weeks or months each year can be treated with antihistamines like Benadryl. Some dogs require more aggressive medications that actually suppress the immune system. Skin testing or blood testing is available and can determine what things in the environment are causing the allergies. This information is used to formulate allergy shots, which sensitize your dog to the allergens. This process can take several months to a year to start working and will require lifelong use. This is a special procedure that not all veterinarians perform, and it may require seeing a board certified veterinary dermatologist or a veterinarian with a special interest in dermatology.

Remember: When you are sneezing constantly and rubbing your itchy, watery eyes, your dog may be going through the same thing and may need treatment.

— Chase Constant, VMD

Treatments resolve symptoms of IBD

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

From the Journal of the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association)

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), or lymphoplasmacytic, eosinophilic gastroenteritis, is characterized by chronic vomiting, diarrhea, and weight loss despite polyphagia. A retrospective study of dogs with IBD found that tylosin therapy in conjunction with a novel protein prescription pet food are the first-line treatments and often resolve the gastrointestinal symptoms and cause weight gain. Immunosuppressive therapy should not be used as an initial treatment but can be employed if tylosin or dietary therapy are not working

Blood test for canine lymphoma may also help people

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

U.K.-based Petscreen has developed a blood test that detects early stage lymphosarcoma in dogs using biomarkers. The company found the test may also benefit human patients and is developing a similar screening process for people. The test won’t be available for humans for at least three to five years.

Petscreen has already launched a test to diagnose lymphoma in dogs and the   business, which has won almost £100,000 of government-backed funding for its   research, is now developing a simple blood test to determine if a human has   early-stage lymphoma.

Their test uses biomarkers – a marker found in blood or urine that changes   when a certain disease is present – to detect the cancer.

“What we’re looking for are proteins that can be easily detected in a   non-invasive way, ie just from a simple blood sample which would then   indicate the presence of a tumour. You want to be able to pick up the tumour   early, confidently and non-invasively,” said Kevin Slater, Petscreen’s chief   executive.

“The holy grail is to try to make these tests specific,” he added. Petscreen   achieves this, said Dr Slater, by using an algorithm to measure a number of   different biomarkers.

Through their research to develop the canine test, he added that “almost by   serendipity”, Petscreen discovered that a similar test could be applied in   humans.

Petscreen’s initial trial will take a year and any human test could take three   to five years to get to market. If successful, it could simplify and speed   up diagnosis, as well as monitor remission. Currently, lymphoma – the   sixth-commonest form of cancer in Britain – is diagnosed through a biopsy   and scan.

Petscreen was established in 2004 by Dr Slater, along with Graeme Radcliffe, a   former journalist, after the pair met at a cricket match.

Dr Slater said the TSB funding will help Petscreen develop a ‘proof of   concept’ and the business will later need further investment or a   partnership with a major pharmaceutical company.

Olympic horses arrive in Longon via FedEx

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

Ten elite U.S. equine athletes arrived in London from Newark, N.J., via a special FedEx flight during which the animals were accompanied by the American eventing team’s veterinarian Brendan Furlong, as well as grooms. The animals are acclimated to world travel and usually arrive without incident, but the animal care team is always ready to intervene quickly if a horse gets nervous during transport

By Danica Kirka

They didn’t have to absolutely, positively get them there overnight, but when the U.S. Equestrian Federation sent some of its horses to London for the Olympics, it was a special delivery.
The elite U.S. three-day eventing equine squad landed in London on Monday on a FedEx flight, having taken the red eye from Newark, N.J. They’re not the first competitors to arrive as the countdown to the games clicks to less than 40 days away, but they are among the most pampered.

“They are all special,” said Tim Dutta, who owns the international horse transport company that organized the trip. “We are working on everybody’s dream.”

Bringing these elite athletes across the Atlantic Ocean is a logistical feat – one small example of the many people and efforts under way behind the scenes to make the games go off without a hitch. This is particularly true for horses — the only animals that take part in the games, which start July 27 and end Aug. 12.

Let’s just start by saying that these 10 are not just any old group of horses. These animals have passports that would be the envy of any human wishing to travel the world. That said, they get used to traveling, and most of the time, they don’t ask for much — not even an in-flight meal.

But grooms traveling with Twizzel, Mighty Nice, Arthur and the other seven horses that made the journey would maybe give them a bit of hay.

Horses like these can move in their boxes quite a bit, unlike human sardines on regular flights. But in case any of them gets bothered by the noise, the grooms might stuff some cotton in their ears, says Dr. Brendan Furlong, the veterinarian for the American eventing team.

Carrots are always a good way to calm any horse who gets nervous — or even a horse tranquilizer in the rare case a prized animal gets really edgy. The goal is to get them to London stress-free.

As for the grooms, the vet, and the other humans that cater to these pampered prancers, well, they aren’t exactly going first class. Furlong says he’ll usually ask the pilots to keep the plane kind of cool, so sometimes this crowd finds itself wrapped in blankets to keep warm. There’s no in-flight movie, so jokes about whether they choose between “Seabiscuit” or “War Horse” don’t really cut it.

“It’s not a job for the faint of heart,” Furlong said. “You need to have someone who is a very confident flier and who can intervene quickly to calm a stressed horse.”

After all, 1,200 pounds of stressed horse can be an intimidating prospect.

Furlong says the crews are usually very accommodating — and always want to come back even briefly to see their precious cargo.

But even these horses didn’t escape Britain’s strict rules on quarantine. Furlong arranged to have a farm near Newark International Airport set up as a special quarantine area to comply with the U.K.’s rules – though admittedly the cherished 10 only needed five hours of intense scrutiny to meet the criteria. Nothing but the best for this crowd. Really.

But do they know — do the horses know that it’s the Olympics? That it’s a special event that happens only every four years?

Dutta swears they do.

“They’re athletes,” Dutta said of horses that jump big big fences and run oh so fast. “They love what they do.”

Puppy poison control: the phone number that could save you dog’s life

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012

By Allen St. John for

It turns out that Tessie, my golden retriever, likes brownies. Which are poisonous for dogs. Fortunately, she lived to tell about it.

When we found her with her face in a pan of Ghirardelli double chocolate brownies yesterday evening, we knew what to do: Call the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center.

Here’s the number: (888) 426-4435

(Enter it into your cell. Right now.)

  • Tessie’s weight, age, sex, breed
  • What she ate, how much, and when
  • Her symptoms
  • Information from the package of the poison if possible.

Armed with this info, a vet walked us through the procedure for inducing vomiting. (Which is only indicated for certain kinds of poisons.) Fortunately, Tessie was lucky. She didn’t eat that much, we called immediately, and she’s young and in good health, so today’s she’s none the worse for the experience. And it was well worth the $65 consultation fee.

If the incident had been more serious, we would have been instructed to take Tessie to our vet or to an emergency vet clinic. (Search for your nearest emergency vet right now and enter that number in your cell and add it to your household emergency numbers.) Even if the dog is sick enough that a trip to the vet is clearly necessary, a call to the Poison Control Center can be a lifesaver because they’ve got Antox, a database with over a million animal exposure case histories. So if it’s an unusual–or unknown–poison, the database can help the vet identify the poison quickly and accurately and zero in on the best treatment. (If you do take a dog to the vet, remember to bring anything that’s left from the suspected poison, including the packaging or the plant, as well as any thing the dog may have vomited or defecated.)

Of course most of the substances  that are poisonous to humans are also harmul to dogs but here are a few items—like the brownies–that are delicious for people but potentially poisonous to a dog.


  • Chocolate
  • Coffee
  • Alcohol
  • Avocado
  • Macadamia Nuts
  • Grapes and Raisins
  • Gum
  • Onions, Chives, Garlic
  • Salt

In addition to a fresh bottle of hydrogen peroxide, here’s a link to a few things that should be in every pet owner’s medicine cabinet.


Canine Bloat

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012
By Dr. Kristel Weaver for the Danville Press, Danville, CA

Bloat, or gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV), is when the stomach fills with gas and flips over. This twists blood vessels, blocks blood flow and traps gas. The gas and pressure builds up, forcing the stomach to expand. Within a few hours or less the stomach is extremely stretched and hard, and the stomach tissue begins to die. Circulation is cut off, causing the dog to go into shock. Without emergency treatment GDV is fatal. Even with aggressive therapy, some dogs do not survive.
What does a dog with GDV look like? Dogs with GDV are very uncomfortable – as you can just imagine! They act restless and try to vomit but nothing comes up. As their stomachs fill with gas, their abdomens appear bloated just behind the ribs. If you think your dog has these symptoms, regardless of the breed, take him or her to your veterinarian immediately.
What causes GDV and what breeds are at risk? No one knows exactly what cause GDV. Past cases show the biggest risk factor is a big, deep chest. The risk increases as a dog gets older and the ligaments around the stomach stretch out. The breed most at risk is the Great Dane; about 2 out of every 5 have GDV. Some other breeds at risk are St. Bernards, Setters, Weimaraners, Standard Poodles, German Shepherds, and the list goes on.
What can be done to prevent GDV? A surgery called a gastropexy can prevent GDV. In it, the stomach is sewn to inside of the body wall, preventing it from flipping over. This surgery can be done safely with either a laparoscope or traditional surgical method. It’s typically done at the same time a deep-chested or large breed dog is spayed or neutered. Aside from a gastropexy, there is no guaranteed method to prevent GDV. Another factor to consider is that emergency GDV treatment and surgery can range from $3000 to $7000, depending on the hospital, while a preventive laparoscopic gastropexy is about a third of that cost.
If you’re concerned about bloat, talk to your veterinarian about a gastropexy. In my opinion, it is absolutely worth the peace of mind!

Dr. Kristel Weaver is a graduate of the Veterinary School at the University of California, Davis where she received both a DVM and a Master’s of Preventative Veterinary Medicine (MPVM). She has been at Bishop Ranch Veterinary Center & Urgent Care in San Ramon since 2007.

Cause of pet vomiting could be serious

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012
HANDOUT Dr. Emily Coatney-Smith – Dayton, Ohio

When we see our pets vomit, we get a sinking feeling. As we are cleaning up the mess, we are deciding if the episode warrants a trip to the vet.

There are some cats and dogs that occasionally vomit and don’t appear to be affected by it. There are the cats that vomit up hairballs or undigested food that they ate too quickly. Those cats can be given a hairball gel or fed small meals.

But for some cats, vomiting can be a sign of an underlying medical condition. Cats are very good at hiding illness, and if vomiting is associated with other signs, it is important to get it addressed.

If there also is diarrhea, poor appetite, lethargy or weight loss, it could indicate a liver, kidney, pancreas issue or diabetes, especially in older animals.

Younger cats, meanwhile, love to eat things like string, needles, thread, fishing line, yarn and tinsel. The longer the string, the more likely it is to get caught up in the intestinal tract and require surgery. These cats are generally very sick and vomit a lot and become very uncomfortable. Delaying treatment can allow the string to bunch up the intestinal tract like an accordion and damage it.

Then there are the dogs that vomit up yellow bile in the morning or after eating grass. Sometimes feeding them a late night snack will keep enough in their stomach overnight to give the bile something to work on. Grass is more complicated as sometimes they just like the taste of grass, but sometimes they eat it to try to settle their stomachs, which can indicate a bigger problem.

Dogs are worse than cats for eating things that they shouldn’t. They eat toys, clothing, things out of the garbage, and other animals’ feces. At the very least, these things can cause an upset stomach but they also can obstruct the intestinal tract and cause irreversible damage. When something is stuck, dogs will vomit very frequently, not eat, and act painful.


Very serious issue

One issue that is unique to dogs is Gastrodilatation and Volvulus, or GDV for short. It is a gastrointestinal issue that can occur in any dog but is mostly seen in deep-chested large breed dogs.

When it occurs, the stomach gets bloated then twists and rotates in the abdomen. This is a life-threatening situation that requires immediate attention and surgery.

Dogs with this condition do not vomit and cannot vomit because the twist blocks things from coming out of the stomach. They retch without bringing anything up and they often develop a noticeable, firm bloated abdomen.

So don’t think that because nothing is being vomited up that everything will work itself out.

Vomiting can be just a thing a pet will do occasionally, but it also can be an indication of an underlying medical condition. You can never be too safe by having your pets seen by a veterinarian for vomiting.