Archive for October, 2012

Nature’s Recipe Dog Food Recall

Monday, October 15th, 2012

FDA News Release

7 Ways to cope with the death of a pet

Saturday, October 6th, 2012


Pets are more than just animals — they’re family. And anyone who’s ever lost a pet knows it’s terribly heartbreaking. Whether it’s your first time to lose a pet or your third, it never really gets easier, only more familiar. Thankfully, there are many ways to ease the sorrow and help you recover from such a devastating loss. If you or someone you know is suffering from the loss of a pet, then take a minute to read these seven tips to help you cope and return to a more peaceful state of mind.

  1. Allow yourself to grieve:

    One of the most important things you have to remind yourself of following the loss of a pet is that it’s important and perfectly OK to grieve. Everyone grieves in different ways and for different periods of time. It may last a few days or a few years. Either way, it’s a completely personal experience that may require taking off work or spending some time alone to bounce back.

  2. Express your grief openly:

    A big part of the healing process is expressing your grief openly. Don’t be afraid to talk about your feelings and memories. Holding it in will only make the grieving process more difficult and painful. This is especially important to remember when talking to your children about the loss of a pet. When explaining the situation, be sure to express your own grief and reassure your kids that it’s OK to be sad and that you also feel the same way.

  3. Spend time with your surviving pet:

    Spending time with your surviving pet can help you cope with grief and ease the pain of losing an animal. Surviving pets may need a lot of TLC at this time because they are also affected by the loss. Even if they weren’t close, your surviving pet may whimper and act lethargic because they are distressed by the sudden changes. Comfort your surviving pet and try to create a positive emotional state within the home.

  4. Do something in your pet’s memory:

    Whether it’s spending time at the park where you used to walk your dog, volunteering at an animal shelter, or making a donation in your pet’s memory, these special moments can help you turn a painful situation into a positive one. If you like to write, paint, or make music, you can dedicate it to your beloved pet.

  5. Keep a journal:

    Keeping a journal is one of the best things you can do to record your feelings, thoughts, and memories about your pet and keep track of your grieving process. Doing so will help you work through the grief and make sense of the things happening around you.

  6. Memorialize your pet:

    Memorializing your pet can help you overcome your loss and remember the good times you had together. You can have a memorial for your pet in private or with the company of friends and family. Some people write a letter to their pet or create a photo album and leave it by an urn or their pet’s burial spot. You can memorialize your pet on his or her birthday or anytime you feel like reminiscing.

  7. Seek support:

    Many people have been in your exact shoes and know what it’s like to lose a beloved pet. Seeking support is a healthy and encouraged way to cope with the death of a pet. There are many forms of support available to grieving pet owners, including pet-loss support hotlines, pet bereavement counseling services, and online support groups with chat rooms and message boards where people can tell their story and share comforting words. Support can also come from friends and family who knew your pet and can help you hold on to the good memories.

8 Health benefits of having a pet

Saturday, October 6th, 2012

Thinking about getting a dog, cat, guinea pig, or any other kind of pet? Do it! And if you need any reason beyond the animal’s cuteness to convince someone you live with, try one of these eight health benefits that can come with pet ownership. A potentially longer, healthier life should make up for all those chewed-up shoes, pooper scoopers, and hairballs, right?

  1. More physical activity:

    It probably doesn’t come as a surprise that owning a dog requires a little bit of energy. Dogs have to be walked and exercised, which means dog owners are out there getting more physical activity than people without dogs. Older people are more likely to take regular walks with a dog than they are with a human, according to one study. Another found that 60% of dog owners who took their dogs for regular walks were considered to get regular moderate or vigorous exercise based on federal standards.

  2. Less stress:

    Sure, it can be stressful to have pets when you are afraid one might be sick or you can’t figure out how to get them to stop breaking your blinds, but overall, pets are known to reduce stress. Cortisol is a hormone activated by stress, and studies have found that being around animals can decrease cortisol levels. For this reason, many offices are starting to allow employees to bring dogs to work, and some universities are letting students borrow dogs during stressful times of the year.

  3. Lower blood pressure:

    Can you feel your blood pressure start to rise when stress creeps into your life? Along with medications and lifestyle changes, a pet can help with hypertension. A study of stockbrokers found that having a cat or dog helped lower the spikes in blood pressure that happen when a person is stressed. Another study of hospitalized heart patients found that dogs decreased the patients’ blood pressure by about 10% in the left side of their hearts.

  4. Lower risk of heart attacks:

    Good news, cat owners! Your little furball could be fighting off heart disease for you. Studies have found that people with cats were 40% less likely to have a fatal heart attack. It’s unclear whether the cat’s calming effects make the difference or whether people who choose cats as pets are less at risk for heart disease to begin with. Either way, if you’re a cat person, you’re in luck! (It’s possible that dogs have similar benefits, but the study was only done on cat owners.)

  5. Alleviation of depression:

    You’ve probably realized that your pets can make you smile when you’re just feeling a bit down, but even those of us suffering with diagnosed depression can reap these mood-lifting benefits. The National Institute of Mental Health recognizes animal-assisted therapy as a treatment for depression and other mood disorders because pets can have a positive effect on depression in a number of ways. A pet requires its owner to remain active and can help him or her feel less isolated from society. A pet also remains a trusted companion, even when its owner withdraws from friends and family.

  6. Allergy prevention:

    A seven-year study of almost 500 children found that children who were exposed to dogs and cats as babies were half as likely to have allergies and risk factors for asthma as they grew up than those who had no pets. Infants with more than one pet in the home had the lowest risk of allergies. So even though you might have to be cautious with pets around babies to make sure the pets don’t become aggressive with them, having those pets around could benefit your child in the long run.

  7. Low blood sugar detection:

    If you have diabetes, you know how dangerous a drop in blood sugar can be. While many people have their blood sugar under control, those who often have unexpected changes could get a life-saving health benefit from having a dog. There are specially trained dogs who have been taught to detect drops in blood sugar by smelling. When they smell a change, they can alert the person before it becomes dangerous.

  8. Less risk of stroke:

    This must be payment for the number of times you’ve had to clean out that disgusting litter box: owning a cat cuts a person’s risk of having a stroke by more than a third! Researchers theorize that petting a cat can lower stress or that the type of people who own cats are more stress-free naturally. Whatever the reason, you should probably go adopt a pet just to be on the safe side.

Coughing cats likely have respiratory disease

Saturday, October 6th, 2012

A cat with a cough is more likely to have a respiratory disease, such as asthma, than a heart problem or an infectious disease, writes veterinarian Kathy Gagliardi. The most common symptoms of feline asthma, a dry cough and wheezing, are often misinterpreted by owners as failed attempts to expel a hairball. Because feline asthma is a chronic, progressive disease, Dr. Gagliardi recommends having a coughing cat evaluated by a veterinarian to make the diagnosis, identify the trigger — usually an environmental allergen — and begin treatment. Daily Camera (Boulder, Colo.)

Cats, unlike dogs, rarely cough due to heart disease or an infectious disease such as a common cold. Coughing in a cat is actually often due to a disease called feline asthma.

Feline asthma can be called by other names including chronic bronchitis, bronchial asthma, and allergic bronchitis. Regardless of the name, it is a common feline ailment that affects cats of any age and any breed.

Cats with feline asthma have inflammation and narrowing of the lower airways in their lungs — sometimes known as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Allergens are generally the cause, although which ones must be determined for each cat. Common allergens include grass and tree pollens, various sprays (hair sprays, deodorants, flea sprays, deodorizers), and dust from cat litter. Parasitic lung infections can also be linked to asthma, although such parasites are rare in Colorado.


Symptoms: Although symptoms can begin at any age, most cats are between 2-8 years of age when diagnosed. The common symptoms in cats with asthma are wheezing and coughing. The coughing is typically described as a dry, hacking cough that could be confused with gagging or retching. Often a cat’s guardian may think the cat is having hairball trouble, since the symptoms are similar.

The amount of the coughing varies from occasional in mildly affected cats to daily in severely affected cats. In addition to daily coughing, the most severely affected cats may have many bouts of airway constriction. This constriction of the airway can lead to open-mouth breathing and panting that can be life threatening. If severe and left untreated, the airway constriction can lead to irreversible lung damage, heart disease or even death.

Diagnosis: Diagnosis is typically made based on radiographs of the cats lungs and a history of coughing or wheezing. However, definitive diagnosis can require extensive testing to rule out infectious and neoplastic lung diseases. In addition to blood work and X-rays, diagnosis may require anesthesia, so that samples can be taken from deep in the lungs for culture and cytology.

Treatment: There are many different treatment options for feline asthma. The most common treatment is with medications that are aimed at decreasing inflammation and opening airways. These medications can be oral, injectable or even inhaled — yes, there is such a thing as a kitty inhaler! Some cats need continuous therapy while others just need it during asthma attacks. Along with medications, many asthmatic cats benefit from acupuncture or at-home oxygen therapy.

The most effective treatment for feline asthma has been the use of inhalers, the same as for human asthmatics, and decreasing the cat’s exposure to allergens. Unfortunately, there is no cure for feline asthma. It is a chronic, progressive disease, and medications may not fully eliminate the coughing but will reduce the severity of symptoms.

To decrease symptoms:

Avoid exposure to smoke from fireplace or cigarettes

Reduce use of household sprays or air-fresheners

Change litter to low dust clay or alternative material

Avoid cold temperatures or activity that exacerbates coughing

Avoid excess body weight or obesity

Although many cats with feline asthma act fairly normal between asthma attacks, the disease is progressive over time and does need to be addressed as early as possible. So if your cat is coughing like it has a hairball, but never produces a hairball, talk with your veterinarian about the possibility of your cat having feline asthma.

Dementia service dog improves life of Alzheimer’s patient

Saturday, October 6th, 2012

Rick Phelps, who has early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, says his 14-month-old, specially trained dementia service dog, Sam, is “opening up doors I couldn’t open up” by helping draw attention to the illness while easing everyday tasks for him. Sam, a German shepherd, helps Phelps locate his car in parking lots, reminds him to apply his medication patch and notifies him when he leaves the stove on or the car running. But Phelps says the best thing Sam provides is unconditional love and a confidence boost. Coshocton Tribune (Ohio)


WEST LAFAYETTE — Rick Phelps said in three weeks, Sam the dementia service dog has done for him what more than two years of medication and doctors haven’t: help with his disease.

In June 2010, Phelps, 59, of West Lafayette, was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s. Since then, he’s become an advocate of awareness for all forms of dementia.

The 14-month-old German Shepherd has led Phelps to his latest crusade as he thinks such a canine companion is essential for anyone with early- to mid-stage dementia.

“This dog has changed everything,” he said. “It’s a psychological thing, I know it is. He hasn’t cured me of this disease, but it just works.”

Before Sam, going to Walmart was the scariest thing in the world to Phelps and something he rarely ever did. Now he’ll go without really needing anything, because he’s confident with Sam by his side.

Being able to enjoy a trip to Fort Rapids Indoor Waterpark and Resort in Columbus with his grandchildren, which he did Labor Day weekend, was out of the question in the past. Now, fun replaces the fear everywhere Phelps goes.

“I had stress and anxiety and was afraid of everything. On a scale of one to 10, I was probably a 12. Now, I would say I’m a two or maybe a three because of this dog. It’s a miracle and I can’t believe it yet,” he said. “We’re bonding more everyday and he’s trained to do that. He knows when I’m stressed out.”

As Phelps has always done, he’s using his experiences to bring awareness to the masses. Phelps said he’s been contacted by Us Against Alzheimer’s, ABC’s “Nightline” and Animal Planet to film segments about Sam.

He’s also taking speaking engagements to share his story with local organizations and those across the country. Phelps is due to speak at an Alzheimer’s symposium coming up in Tampa Bay, Fla.

“I didn’t know this was going to happen, but I hoped this was going to happen, because this is what needs to be,” he said. “It’s opening up doors I couldn’t open up, because nobody has heard of (a dementia service dog).”

As Phelps would say, he’s doing all this “while I still can,” which has become his motto through all his trials and tribulations. “While I Still Can” has served as the title of a book and a song Phelps co-wrote that came out last spring.

He’s also the founder of the Facebook page Memory People with more than 2,500 members worldwide for family members, caregivers, advocates and Alzheimer patients.

It was through Memory People that Phelps started on his path to getting Sam in March. Phelps said a woman on the site asked about a dementia service dog for her husband. Phelps did some research for her and discovered DogWish, a training facility in Colton, Calif. ran by Bob Taylor.

Phelps posted information about DogWish on Memory People only to answer the woman’s question. He was shocked to have received a call from Taylor the very next day saying an anonymous donor was footing the bill, more than $8,000, for Phelps to not only have a dog, but to fly to California to get him and receive training.

Phelps sent a T-shirt and blanket to Taylor so Sam would know his scent before ever meeting. When Phelps stepped out of the car the first time, he said Sam ran right to him knowing exactly who he was.

“Sure enough, he came right out of the house and right to me. He sat down and started licking me all over me. It’s like he knew me forever and I had just been away,” Phelps said.

Phelps is amazed by what Sam can do more and more each day. He alerts Phelps if he leaves the stove on or his jeep running in the garage. He can find the vehicle in a crowded parking lot by following the smell of Phelps having been in it. He’ll even lick Phelps shoulder at night if he forgets to put his medication patch on before going to bed.

If Phelps would get lost, Sam can track him up to 40 miles away and then bring him safely home. Sam isn’t an attack dog, but he can sense a dangerous situation and lead Phelps to safety or neutralize an aggressor if need be.

However, above all that, the number one element Sam provides that Phelps desperately needs is unconditional love. He has that from his family now, but with his wife of 28 years, Phyllis, still working, Sam is a friend that can be with Rick all the time. As Sam has alleviated Rick’s anxiety and tension, it’s done the same for her.

“If he had a 24/7 person with him all the time, the dog is the same thing. The dog is there and protects him,” Phyllis said.

Negotiating a truce in litter box wars

Saturday, October 6th, 2012

When two cats are in the house, owners need at least three litter boxes to keep the peace between pets, writes veterinarian Marty Becker. Boxes should be in locations that offer easy access yet privacy, adds Dr. Becker. Although most cats prefer soft, unscented, clumping litter, preferences may differ, so Dr. Becker recommends trying several types to find the best fit. The Sacramento Bee (Calif.)


Q. We already had an adult cat. We adopted a kitten, and now that she’s half-grown, we have litter box issues, specifically wars over the box. What should we do to make them “share the bathroom”?

A.  One box is not enough. You should have one box for each cat, plus one. If you have one cat, you need two litter boxes. Two cats, three litter boxes. Put them in different locations. For instance, keep one upstairs and one downstairs. That way, one is always convenient. And with more than one cat, it prevents fights over who gets to use which box when it’s needed.

Some cats like to ambush others when they use the litter box, so place litter boxes in locations with easy escape routes. Privacy is important, too.  Another good reason to have multiple litter boxes: Each cat may prefer a different type of litter.

What about what goes inside the box? There are all kinds of different cat litter, and they all have pros and cons. Most cats prefer clumping litter because of its soft, sandy feel. It’s easy on the paws and easy to scoop. Other cats might like a fine-grained clay litter. Look for one that comes in a dust-free formula. Some cat litter is easier on the Earth, made from recycled paper or natural substances like corncobs or wheat. But if your cat doesn’t like it, you’ll be throwing a lot of it out, which is not that environmentally friendly. Let the cats pick their preferences by offering a “litter box buffet.”

Avoid scented litter. It might smell good to you, but that perfumed odor can be sensory overload for a cat.

– Dr. Marty Becker

People can pass influenza to pets

Saturday, October 6th, 2012

Dogs, cats and ferrets have contracted influenza from humans, and some of those animals have died, prompting concerns over “reverse zoonosis,” the transmission of disease from people to animals. “We worry a lot about zoonoses … but most people don’t realize that humans can also pass diseases to animals, and this raises questions and concerns about mutations, new viral forms and evolving diseases that may potentially be zoonotic,” said veterinarian Christiane Loehr, an associate professor at Oregon State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Loehr and veterinarian Jessie Trujillo at Iowa State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine are researching reverse zoonosis to help predict and prevent emerging threats.

CORVALLIS, Ore. – By KTVZ.COM news sources

As flu season approaches, people who get sick may not realize they can pass the flu not only to other humans, but possibly to other animals, including pets such as cats, dogs and ferrets, Oregon State University scientists said Wednesday.

This concept, called “reverse zoonosis,” is still poorly understood but has raised concern among some scientists and veterinarians, who want to raise awareness and prevent further flu transmission to pets. About 80-100 million households in the United States have a cat or dog

It’s well known that new strains of influenza can evolve from animal populations such as pigs and birds and ultimately move into human populations, including the most recent influenza pandemic strain, H1N1.

It’s less appreciated, experts say, that humans appear to have passed the H1N1 flu to cats and other animals, some of which have died of respiratory illness.

There are only a handful of known cases of this phenomenon, and the public health implications of reverse zoonosis of flu remain to be determined. But as a concern for veterinarians, it has raised troubling questions and so far, few answers.

Veterinary researchers at OSU and Iowa State University are working to find more cases of this type of disease transmission and better understand any risks they pose to people and pets.

“We worry a lot about zoonoses, the transmission of diseases from animals to people,” said Christiane Loehr, an associate professor in the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine.

“But most people don’t realize that humans can also pass diseases to animals, and this raises questions and concerns about mutations, new viral forms and evolving diseases that may potentially be zoonotic,” Loehr said. “And, of course, there is concern about the health of the animals.”

The researchers are surveying flu transmission to household cat and dog populations, and suggest that people with influenza-like illness distance themselves from their pets.

If a pet experiences respiratory disease or other illness following household exposure to someone with the influenza-like illness, the scientists encourage them to take the pet to a veterinarian for testing and treatment.

The first recorded, probable case of fatal human-to-cat transmission of the pandemic H1N1 flu virus occurred in Oregon in 2009, Loehr said. Details were published in Veterinary Pathology, a professional journal.

In that instance, a pet owner became severely ill with the flu and had to be hospitalized. While she was still in the hospital, her cat – an indoor cat with no exposure to other sick people, homes or wildlife – also died of pneumonia caused by an H1N1 infection.

Since then, researchers have identified a total of 13 cats and one dog with pandemic H1N1 infection in 2011 and 2012 that appeared to have come from humans. Pet ferrets have also been shown to be infected, and some died.

All of the animals’ symptoms were similar to that of humans — they rapidly develop severe respiratory disease, stop eating and some die. Serological studies suggest there is far more exposure to flu virus in cats and dogs than previously known.

“It’s reasonable to assume there are many more cases of this than we know about, and we want to learn more,” Loehr said. “Any time you have infection of a virus into a new species, it’s a concern, a black box of uncertainty. We don’t know for sure what the implications might be, but we do think this deserves more attention.”

Natural and experimental transmission of the H3N2 influenza virus from dogs to cats in South Korea showed the potential for flu viruses to be transmitted among various animal species, Loehr said. It’s unknown if an infected cat or other pet could pass influenza back to humans.

The primary concern in “reverse zoonosis,” as in evolving flu viruses in more traditional hosts such as birds and swine, is that in any new movement of a virus from one species to another, the virus might mutate into a more virulent, harmful or easily transmissible form.

“All viruses can mutate, but the influenza virus raises special concern because it can change whole segments of its viral sequence fairly easily,” Loehr said. “In terms of hosts and mutations, who’s to say that the cat couldn’t be the new pig? We’d just like to know more about this.”

Veterinarians who encounter possible cases of this phenomenon can obtain more information from Loehr or Jessie Trujillo at Iowa State University. They are doing ongoing research to predict, prevent or curtail emergent events.

A variety of strategies for treating arthritic pets

Monday, October 1st, 2012

Veterinarian Donna Solomon can relate to owners of arthritic pets, as she recently diagnosed her own dog with severe degenerative joint disease. Dr. Solomon describes a multifaceted approach to treating arthritis in pets, including an initial veterinary exam with radiographs, medications, supplements and appropriate exercises. The Huffington Post/The Blog

Caring for an Arthritic Dog or Cat

My Golden Retriever, Zack, loves to go to the beach. He loves to run on the sand and chase his ball into the water. Three weeks ago, I took him to a beach and an unfortunate event happened.  With his tail wagging, he pounded down the steep beach stairs to the water.  Then, he raced across the sand to dive into the water. Suddenly, before he reached the water’s edge, he stopped and held up his front left leg. I thought he stepped on something. So I ran over to examine him and discovered that he was pained when I extended and flexed his left elbow and shoulder. Sadly, I collected his ball and together we limped away from the beach.

The following day, I took radiographs of his forelimbs and discovered severe degenerative joint disease (arthritis) not only in his left elbow but also in his right elbow. It truly amazes me how he was so asymptomatic until this beach injury.  Immediately, I started supportive medical therapy and restricted his activity to leash walks only.

Is your pet having difficulties going up and down the stairs or jumping onto the couch? What do you do when your dog or cat starts to limp? Here are some of my suggestions for potential therapy options for your aching pet to discuss with your veterinarian:

1. Complete physical examination.  If your pet is showing joint pain, take your pet to your veterinarian and discuss his/her symptoms. Take radiographs to document your pet’s problem and degree of pathology. If your dog is diagnosed with arthritis or a soft tissue injury, consider starting your dog on a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) to decrease joint inflammation. Did you know that an inflamed joint heals much slower than one that is not? By decreasing inflammation, a NSAID allows your dog to feel better and heal faster.  For cats, in my opinion, there are no safe NSAID available today. In cats, NSAID can cause or aggravate kidney disease.

2. Pain medication.  Today, there are a number of effective pain medications available to pets- like gabapentin, buprenorphine and tramadol. In addition, there is a drug, called amantadine, which enhances the effect of your dog’s NSAID.  It is an antiquated and non-compassionate thought to withhold pain medication in pet’s with orthopedic injuries for fear that they will be more active and re-injure themselves. As pet owners, it is our responsibility to restrict their activity and minimize their pain. For cat owners, buprenorphine is a great drug choice because it can be given either orally or as a simple injection underneath the skin. Initially, my clients are nervous about giving injections to cats, but soon find it easy, non-stressful and relatively painless.

3. Evaluate your pet’s body condition. Does your pet look like an ottoman?  If you can’t easily touch your pet’s ribs or the belly swings when it walks, then I suspect your pet is overweight. Excessive weight is a burden for worn joints. By simple weight reduction alone, it’s amazing how much better your pet will feel. Weight loss can be achieved by a combination of restricting your pet’s caloric intake and by exercising your pet.

4. Start your pet on a glucosamine chondroitin supplement. Did you know that nutrapharmaceutical products are not FDA regulated? It is for this reason that I only recommend an independently tested product produced by Nutramax, called Dasuquin. This product supplies your pet’s joints with building materials to help rebuild your pet’s cartilage and decrease joint inflammation. For dogs, it is a tasty chewable product.  For cats, it’s available as a capsule that you sprinkle on their food. I find this product works well in most pets, but not all. Try it for at least six weeks before you evaluate its efficacy.
5. Add Fish oil — omega 3’s — to your pet’s diet. Omega 3’s decrease joint inflammation up to 20 percent. This product can be purchased over-the-counter at any pharmacy. It does not have to be specifically labeled for pets only.  I recommend dosing fish oil based on the omega 3 concentration of eicosapentaenoic (EPA). Dose 20 mg EPA for every pound of body weight ONCE daily. (Pets with fish allergies should avoid Fish oil.) For example, a 20 pound dog will need approximately 400 mg EPA per day.

6. Keep your pet active with horizontal play. Good muscle mass can help compensate for structural abnormalities. I do not encourage jumping activity or running great distances. Walking and swimming are great exercises for arthritic dogs. In Chicago-land area, there are a number of rehabilitation facilities that have swimming pools just for dogs. Swimming is a non-weight-bearing activity that can increase your dog’s joint range of motion and muscle mass. For cats, I recommend playing with a flashlight, or putting their food in a food- dispensing ball and letting them play with it. Another inexpensive and fun toy for most cats are empty boxes . Cats love to climb in and out of cardboard boxes. Lastly, I have a few clients that put their cats on a leash and take them outside for walks. Try it! You and your cat may enjoy the walk together.

7. Physical and acupuncture therapy.  Just like in human medicine, physical therapy and acupuncture can help pets recover from injuries. When choosing a therapist, make sure they are certified and licensed to work on pets. I believe a therapist should be a veterinarian or a certified veterinary technician working directly under the guidance of a veterinarian. For the greatest long-term success, I find it best if the therapist teaches the owner how to perform as many exercises as possible at home.  With regards to laser therapy, I’m still unsure of its benefit. If you’d like to try it on your pet, go ahead — in experienced hands, there are no side effects and only a potential gain.

8. Adequan — polysulfated glycosaminoglycan (PSSG).  For pets that have degenerative joint disease or have experienced a traumatic musculoskeletal event — like a torn cruciate — I really like this product. It helps decrease the rate of decay of cartilage, stimulates the synthesis of new collagen and hyaluronic acid (a lubricant in joints).  In addition, Adequan works synergistically with Dasuquin.  This is an injectable product that I teach clients to give their dog or cat underneath the skin. This product is initially given twice weekly for three to four weeks and then, once monthly. In both species, by the fifth or sixth injection, most clients usually see a more comfortable and agile pet. This product is extremely safe and well tolerated by most pets.

9. If your pet does not respond to the above recommendations,  surgical intervention may be necessary. For an orthopedic evaluation, please consult a board certified veterinary surgeon.


So, it’s been a few weeks since Zack’s injury on the beach. He’s doing much better but unfortunately we have had to make some major adjustments in our life together. We do go to the beach regularly. But now, it’s only for 15-30 minutes to play in the water. I throw his ball in the water and he happily swims out to get it. We no longer walk or run along the shore. I’m sad about this, but I don’t want to risk Zack re-injuring himself as he twists and turns on the sand chasing after his tennis ball. Yes, he’s on a restricted caloric diet, Dasuquin, Fish Oil, Metacam (his NSAID), Adequan and occasional pain medication. And yes, I believe he is enjoying life — which is the most important thing!

Finally, for this week’s Adoptable pet; Mickey is a 10-year-old blind sweetheart of a boy who is a snuggle buddy through and through! While his favorite pastime is lying in the grass, listening to the world go by, don’t let his age or impairment fool you — Mickey also loves to explore the world, romp with other dogs and go for walks with his human companions!

In addition to his calm and docile temperament with people, Mickey lights up like it’s Christmas morning every time he gets a chance to play with other laid back dogs. A home with another “vintage” canine companion could be the key to Mickey’s happiness.

Though some dogs are relinquished due to lack of commitment from their owners, that is not the case with our buddy Mickey. This lovely gentleman was a beloved companion to a doting owner, but at the age of 91 she was no longer able to provide adequate care and decided Mickey would thrive most in a new home. Mickey is available for rescue through One Tail at a Time. For more information, please visit

Debunking the myth of hypoallergenic dogs

Monday, October 1st, 2012
Veterinarian Karen Becker writes that contrary to common belief, there are no truly hypoallergenic dogs, as shown by a 2011 study that evaluated household allergen levels by dog breed. The study evaluated homes with one dog, finding no breed-linked difference in levels of Canis familiaris 1, the most common canine allergen. However, Dr. Becker says pet allergens in the home can be reduced by taking steps such as washing bedding in hot water, using an air purifier and ensuring good pet nutrition. The Huffington Post/The Blog

The Allergy-Free Dog: Real, or a Myth?

A 2011 study published in The American Journal of Rhinology and Allergy reveals the amount of dog allergens found in households with dogs does not vary depending on the breed. In other words, families with so called “hypoallergenic” dogs are living with the same level of allergens in their homes as people who own non-hypoallergenic canines.

Study researchers measured the level of the most common dog allergen, Canis familiaris 1, or Can f 1, found in the homes of 173 families that owned one dog. Out of the 173 samples, only 10 had less than measurable amounts of Can f 1. No matter what type of dog was in the home, there was no significant difference in the level of allergens measured.

No One Knows How the Myth of Allergy-Free Dogs Got Started

“I have no idea where this whole concept came from. It’s been around a long time, and maybe people associated it with shedding. I think it’s just a legend,” says Dr. Christine Cole Johnson, an epidemiologist at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit and senior author of the study.

The scientists who conducted the study discovered 60 of 161 recognized breeds were named as hypoallergenic on various Internet websites. However, there is no official list of hypoallergenic breeds, though the American Kennel Club (AKC) does suggest 11 canine candidates for people with allergies. The kennel club only suggests certain breeds might be beneficial for allergy sufferers — it doesn’t recommend or endorse any specific breed.

How This Study Differs From Previous Studies on Dog Allergens

Studies conducted in the past looked at the skin and hair of dogs to measure and compare the amount of allergens contained on individual dogs. The results showed wide variations from dog to dog, but not from breed to breed.

The study authored by Dr. Cole Johnson is the first of its kind. The researchers set out to see whether so-called “hypoallergenic” pups were shedding less Canis familiaris 1 around their homes.

The study involved 173 single dog homes, and 163 of those produced measurable levels of Can f 1. Even though there weren’t enough dogs of each breed to analyze results by breed, the researchers compared allergen levels across various categories of purebred and mixed-breed dogs, both supposedly “hypoallergenic” and non-hypoallergenic. They even compared the AKC-suggested hypoallergenic breeds against all other dogs.

No matter how they did their comparisons, the scientists found no statistically significant differences in the levels of Can f 1 in dust samples in those 163 homes.

Per Dr. Cole Johnson:

“You can’t be assured that some breed is going to produce less allergen than another. Allergists, based on their experience, really think that it’s just individual dogs who have some variations based on genetics or behavior, who produce more allergens than others. But it’s not going to be a breed classification that predicts that.”

Suggestions for Controlling Pet Allergens in Your Home

•  Feed your pet an anti-inflammatory, species-appropriate diet. By reducing allergenic foods going into your pet you can reduce allergenic saliva coming out of your pet.

•  Make sure your pet’s essential fatty acid requirements are met. By assuring your dog or kitty has optimal levels of EFAs in the diet, you can reduce shedding and dander associated with EFA deficiency. Adding coconut oil has also proven to help reduce dander and shedding.

•  Bathe your pet often. Even kitties can be bathed regularly, but take special care to use only safe, non-drying herbal animal shampoos. Whatever you do, avoid using people shampoo on your dog or cat, and skip any shampoo containing oatmeal.

•  Invest in a good-quality vacuum designed for households with pets.

•  Clean your home frequently and thoroughly, including any surfaces that trap pet hair and dander like couch covers, pillows and pet beds. This will also help control other allergens in your home that could be contributing to the allergic load of family members.

•  Wash bedding frequently in hot water.

•  If your pet rides in the car with you, consider using washable seat covers.

•  Purchase a good quality air purifier for your home.

•  Remove carpeting, drapes and other fabric that traps animal dander. Tile or wood floors are much easier to clean of allergens.


Dog allergen levels in homes with hypoallergenic compared with nonhypoallergenic dogs. Authors: Nicholas, Charlotte E.; Wegienka, Ganesa R.; Havstad, Suzanne L.; Zoratti, Edward M.; Ownby, Dennis R.; Johnson, Christine Cole. Source: American Journal of Rhinology & Allergy, Volume 25, Number 4, July/August 2011, pp. 252-256(5)

Dr. Karen Becker is a proactive and integrative wellness veterinarian. You can visit her site at:

Her goal is to help you create wellness in order to prevent illness in the lives of your pets. This proactive approach seeks to save you and your pet from unnecessary stress and suffering by identifying and removing health obstacles even before disease occurs. Unfortunately, most veterinarians in the United States are trained to be reactive. They wait for symptoms to occur, and often treat those symptoms without addressing the root cause.

By reading Dr. Becker’s information, you’ll learn how to make impactful, consistent lifestyle choices to improve your pet’s quality of life.


For more by Dr. Karen Becker, click here

For more on pet health, click here.

Pet anxiety disorders manageable with medication and training

Monday, October 1st, 2012
Dogs, cats and even birds can suffer from anxiety disorders, explain veterinarians Mike Heinen and Alycen Adams. Medications prescribed by a veterinarian and designed for pets can help them cope with stressful conditions, such as thunderstorms or separation anxiety, especially when combined with behavioral modification, said Dr. Heinen. The Herald Weekly (Huntersville, N.C.)

by Tori Hamby

With so many behavioral treatments for pets – from dog whisperers to medication and expensive training programs – exasperated owners might have difficulty sifting through their options.

Like humans, pets can suffer from a variety of mental disorders that cause behavioral problems, veterinarians say. These disorders – including obsessive compulsive and anxiety disorders, and even Alzheimer’s disease – can show themselves in a pet’s predilection to tear up the house when left alone, tendency to urinate when panicked, aggression or other destructive behaviors.

“Pretty much anything you see in human behavior, we have on the animal side as well,” said Mike Heinen, owner of Lake Norman Animal Hospital in Mooresville.

Alycen Adams, a veterinarian at Carolinas Veterinary Care Clinic in Huntersville, said symptoms of OCD in pets include walking in circles to the point where paws become bloody and, in cats, excessive grooming. OCD is also common in birds, which pick at their feathers as a result.

Dogs that have traditionally been bred to perform jobs – such as Golden Shepherds and Border Collies – often have an overabundance of energy, which can manifest itself as anxiety, Adams said. When left home alone that anxiety can trigger destructive behavior.

“It’s like a high energy person with nothing to do,” Adams said. “They are going to cause mischief.”

Separation anxiety is also especially pronounced in dogs, Adams said, who have poor concepts of time. The sound of an owner’s key jingling at the door, for instance, can trick a dog into thinking their owners will be gone forever.

Medication options

The most effective behavior modification regimens, he said, combine medication and behavioral therapy. Pets can use medication to improve their coping skills, increasing the chances that non-medical treatment – such as reinforcing positive behavior through treats or attention – will stick.

“We can use medicine to break the pattern and help the animal realize ‘hey, I can cope with this; it isn’t so bad,’” Heinen said. “Then we get them over that small phobia.”

“A cat who has had a urinary tract infection can develop a fear of its litter box because of the pain it associates with it,” Adams said. “(Medicine) can ease that aversion.”

There are also drug treatments available for short-term anxiety-induced behaviors caused by thunderstorms or loud noises. Alprazolam and diazepam, known to humans as Xanax and Valium, can be administered temporarily.

Owners can give their pets a dose of these drugs about 24 hours before a thunderstorm is predicted to hit or Fourth of July fireworks go off in the pet’s surrounding neighborhood.

“These pet aren’t lying in the corner drooling like a vegetable when they are on these medications,” Adams said.

Other alternatives

Just as a number of natural treatments are available to humans for stress, anxiety or depression, pets may also benefit from these remedies. The scent of lavender, a flower known for its calming affects on humans, can sooth an anxious pet, Heinen said.

Facial pheromones are available for cats in sprays or plug-in diffuser devices. These chemicals are synthetic versions of naturally occurring familiarization pheromones used to mark objects in its surroundings as familiar.

“They make animals feel like they have their own little baby blankets,” Heinen said.

To prepare dogs for thunderstorms, owners can play sounds of thunder, wind and rain at low volumes to acclimate pets to startling noises, Adams said. Owners can gradually turn the volume up until the dog no longer becomes anxious during storms.

Owners can also buy a Thundershirt online at The gentle pressure of the snug fitting doggie jacket provides dogs with a sense of security.

“We have some owners who swear by it, and others who say it doesn’t really make a difference,” Adams said. “A dogs reaction to things like the Thundershirt and pheromones really depends on the sensitivity of the dog and the severity of the problem.”

A warning

While pet variations of some behavioral medicines, such as Prozac, Xanax or Valium are identical to the medications a human night take, Heinen said owners should never give their pets medicine prescribed to humans. Dosage amounts and idiosyncratic properties of different drugs could have adverse affects on pets.

“A pinch of Tylenol will kill a cat,” Heinen said. “You need the right drug and the right diagnosis.”