Animal Health Foundation Blog

Archive for the ‘Cats’ Category

A Pet Owner’s Guide to Flowers and Plants

Thursday, April 23rd, 2020

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We love our pets! The family cat or dog is vital part of our family, and we do everything we can to help ensure that they have what they need. Pet owners need to be certain that they provide the correct food and preventative medical care. While pet safety needs to be a big concern around the house, one of the most common dangers for pets are with the plants and flowers that can be redily found in the home.

Most homes have various types of plants and flowers inside the home. These plants and flowers help brighten up a home and provide a decorative flourish. While the addition of plants and flowers in a home are helpful in making the house attractive, it can also be a danger to pets. Knowing which plants are non-toxic and which plants are toxic to your dog or cat is important for the continued good health of your pet.

There are a number of plants that are commonly found around the home that are toxic to animals. Some of the plants that should be kept away from the family pet include Lilies, Tulips and Azaleas. All of these plants could have an impact on the health of pets if ingested. Therefore, it is important that prevention of potential danger is very important.

If you have a home with pets, and you have flowers and plants, it is imperative to keep an eye out for the possibility of the animal being poisoned. Some of the symptoms that you should look out for include diarrhea, vomiting, weakness and not behaving as normal. If you suspect that your pet may have been accidentally poisoned, it is important to contact your vet as soon as possible. The early the treatment for the poison the better chance of getting them back to health.

To learn more about which plants and flowers are toxic and what to do in the event of a poisoning, please review the following information.

  • Poisonous Plants – Informative web page from Cornell University which provides information on which plants are poisonous to animals.
  • Animal Toxins – Listing of items that are considered poisonous to all animals.
  • Plants Toxic to Animals – Helpful database of plants that are toxic to domesticated animals.
  • Toxic Plants for Pets – In this page you will learn about the plants that animals should avoid.
  • List of Poisonous Plants – Useful article which contains a listing of plants that are toxic to cats and dogs.
  • Pet Safe Gardening – Information from the Animal Health Foundation which offers ideas on having a pet safe garden.
  • Pets and Toxic Plants – This article from UC Davis discusses pets and plants that could be toxic to them.
  • ASPCA Information – Information on plants and flowers that are toxic and non-toxic to pets.
  • Keeping Pets Safe – Article from HGTV which offers ideas on how to keep pets safe from plants and flowers around the home.
  • Safe Indoor House Flowers and Plants – Helpful article from Better Homes and Gardens which provides information on plants and flowers that are safe for pets.
  • Signs of Poisoning – Useful information on how to tell if your dog has been poisoned.
  • Top Dog Poisons – This article informs dog owners about the top potentially harmful items that are poisonous to dogs.
  • Antifreeze Poisoning in Cats – Article which provides general information on how to determine if you cat was poisoned.
  • Poisoned Dog – In this helpful article you will find information and steps to treat a poisoned dog.
  • Treating a Poisoned Cat – Article which lists steps that can be taken to treat a cat suspected of being poisoned.
  • Poison Prevention Tips (PDF) – Publication which lists the top tips on how to keep your pet from being poisoned.
  • Pet Poison Prevention Tips – Information for pet owners on ways to prevent pet poisoning from occurring.
  • Poison Prevention Tips for Pets – Informative information on how to avoid pets being poisoned around the home.
  • Poison Prevention Publication (PDF) – Helpful brochure which provides pet owners with preventative measures to keep poisons away from pets.
  • Poison Control and Prevention – Information on how to keep pets safe from potential poisons.
  • Pets and Poisons – In this article from the American Humane Association you will find information on pet poisoning.
  • Pet First Aid – Red Cross information and class material on learning the basics of pet first aid.
  • Basic Pet First Aid – Useful information for pet owners which provides a basic understanding of first aid.
  • Pesticide Poisoning in Pets – Article which offers information on what to do if your pet is poisoned by pesticides.
  • Poison Information and Resources – Resourceful page with information about pet poisoning.
  • Pets and Poison – Web page which informs pet owners about the dangers around the home for pets.
  • Poison Safety for Pet Owners (PDF) – General information about poison safety from the University of Virginia.
  • Preventing Pet Poisoning – Information about pet poisoning prevention with outdoor pesticides.
  • Pet Poisoning Information – Helpful information about the basics of pet poisoning.
  • Plants and Household Products – Informative fact sheets with information about normal plants and products around the house that can be poisonous to pets.

The Benefits of Coconut Oil for Your Pet

Friday, February 28th, 2020

Pet-friendly fabrics and flooring make decorating a breeze for dog and cat lovers

Tuesday, February 25th, 2020

Pet Connection

by Dr. Marty Becker, Kim Campbell Thornton and Mikkel Becker

By Kim Campbell Thornton  –  Andrews McMeel Syndication

 

We’re in the market for a new sofa, and my friend Tamela Klisura, an interior designer, is urging me to get one in a light neutral shade instead of the colorful patterns that I love — in part because they hide pet hair so well.

“It’ll get dirty,” I argued. Dogs will be napping on it all the time, after all.

Tamela, who has three dogs herself, pooh-poohed that.

“They have performance fabrics now that clean up really easily,” she says.

She’s right. You don’t have to buy furnishings that are the same color as your pug or Labrador’s fur — or the Holstein cow pattern I’d need for my chestnut-and-white cavaliers. If you’re considering buying new furniture, reupholstering what you have or putting down new flooring, you have a lot of options to help keep your home looking and smelling clean, even if you have multiple dogs and cats.

Many fabrics and carpets these days are made to withstand odors and stains from spills, dog drool, pet accidents or animals who simply need a bath, thanks to a moisture barrier that keeps liquids and other messes on the fabric’s surface instead of soaking in. They can even be safely disinfected with a product that knocks out pathogens including E. coli, salmonella, MRSA, parvovirus and canine distemper virus.

“Those Crypton fabrics are made for a variety of high use and abuse,” says commercial architect Heather E. Lewis of Animal Arts, a firm that designs veterinary hospitals, shelters and other facilities. “What I have seen as an architect is an explosion in the number of cleanable fabrics that are used in health care, and those fabrics are also appropriate for use in a home.”

Flooring and carpets are also more pet-friendly, thanks to advances in materials. Vinyl, for one, has come a long way. Rosemary George replaced her wood floors with commercial-grade vinyl. “It looks just like wood but holds up better and is impervious to accidents,” she says. Melissa Frieze Karolak has vinyl planks in her basement, “luxury” vinyl in one bathroom and old-fashioned linoleum in the laundry area. “I like them all, and so far they have held up well to our two dogs and three cats,” she says.

If you’ve ever wished that you could just throw large rugs into the washing machine, well, now you can. A company called Ruggable makes lightweight rugs that go over a nonskid pad. The low-pile rugs, which come in a variety of styles, sizes, colors and patterns, are stain-resistant and waterproof. When they need to be cleaned, even the 8-by-10-foot size fits in a home washing machine.

“I have Ruggables and love the look, durability and washability,” says Marion Schuller, responding on Facebook to a friend who was considering buying one. “There is little or no padding, but the dogs like them and choose the rug instead of tile.”

Another option is carpet squares made with solid vinyl backing. When vomit, urine or poop accidents happen — and they will — the affected squares can be pulled up and cleaned or replaced altogether.

Wall-to-wall carpets are also made now to resist depredations from dogs and cats. Some are treated to prevent stains from forming after spills or pet potty accidents, prevent urine from penetrating to the pad and resist soiling. They can be good choices for people with asthma or allergies who prefer carpet to hard-surface flooring.

Whether it’s furniture or flooring, homes are being designed around pets. “I think that’s cool and it makes it easier for busy families,” says Lewis, who has kids and pets. “I love to see that.”

AHF Pet Partners at CSUF

Tuesday, February 18th, 2020

From DailyTitan

Titanwell advocates self-care with four-legged friends

Students with AHF Pet Partner Jen McCormick and Moana

A photo of students gather in front of the Titan Wellness patio to de-stress with therapy animals.
(Jiyo Cayabyab / Daily Titan )

Before the full force of the sun shined on campus and thousands of students rushed to their classes, the early risers got the chance to play with some four-legged friends.

Titanwell hosted its monthly Animal Therapy session yesterday at the Student Wellness patio. Animal Therapy gives students a new way to de-stress from the challenges they face at school.

“As students, we get so caught up in being focused on when the next paper is due — when our next exam is — but pet therapy allows us to really take in the moment, live in the moment and just pause,” said Angelika Sann, a social work graduate student.

After signing a liability form, everyone is welcome to spend time with the animals. In order to make the animals feel safe, groups are limited to 2-3 people at a time. Each animal has a handler with them at all times who is happy to answer any questions visitors may have about the animals.

“I believe that it’s a good way to advocate self-care, which is really important for college students,” Tiffany Nguyen said. “It’s our stress reliever because now school is getting harder.”

Titanwell is focused on giving their students and faculty members the best resources they can for mental health, which includes picking the right animal therapy organization to team up with.

Pet Partners and Animal Health Foundation have very high standards. They’re one of the few organizations that are allowed to be around children. So we figured Cal State Fullerton deserves the best,” said Gloria Flores, peer health educator at the wellness center.

Pet Partners is a nonprofit organization with more than 10,000 volunteers that offer animal-assisted therapy to diverse facilities such as hospitals and rehabilitation centers.

The Animal Health Foundation is a charity organization that works together with the California Veterinary Medical Association to improve the health and well-being of animals by supporting and promoting animal-related activities.

People wanting to become Pet Partner volunteers go through a screening process where the AHF assesses the interested applicants. The pet and pet-owner are viewed as a unified “team”; therefore, both must pass the screening process together. The test depends largely on the pet.

Jen McCormick, a therapy animal handler, registered her jet-black mini-rex rabbit, Moana, after being told that Moana would make a good therapy animal.

Before Moana helped the mental health of Titans, her partner saved her from a high-kill shelter. Moana had a mangled leg when Jenn adopted her, but she got help from SomeBunny Rabbit Rescue for an amputation.

“It’s very different from what dogs have to do. The dogs have to know how to sit, stay and leave it. The rabbits have to be calm. This is not normal for a rabbit. Rabbits, because they’re prey animals, they don’t like to be touched or picked up,” McCormick said.

The prey mentality makes rabbits unlikely therapy animals; however, Moana is one of 150 registered rabbits with Pet Partners. Her velvet-soft fur and big, entrancing eyes made her a big hit with students.

The student wellness center introduced animal therapy between 2015 and 2016. The positive reactions from students have motivated the center to provide more animals.

“We like the simplicity of it, so we try to keep it that way but decided to bring more animals because more people were coming,” Flores said.

Student Wellness workers look forward to seeing the students’ reactions with the therapy animals.

“First, [the students] come in and they come out and the reaction to all the animals is really rewarding,” said Sabrina Gonzalez, a peer health educator.

All forms of mental health care are equally important. Even if some methods like animal therapy seem small in comparison to more formal ones, like one-on-one therapy, every step counts.

According to CRC Health, some of the benefits from animal-assisted therapy can include a decrease in feelings of anxiety, loneliness and grief. It can also improve focus and attention, as well as offer an alternative to those who are resistant to other forms of treatment.

“Things like this are very important for us to have access to. I feel like people don’t realize  that even just petting animals is very therapeutic,” said Sarah Stahl, a social work graduate student.

Almost 40% of college students struggle with mental health issues; therefore, they can benefit the most from something as simple as petting animals.

DEMENTIA IN DOGS | COGNITIVE DYSFUNTION SYNDROME

Monday, February 17th, 2020

Unfortunately, just like people, dogs and cats also develop degenerative brain diseases known as canine or feline cognitive dysfunction syndrome. But unlike humans, often the signs a pet is in mental decline go unnoticed until the condition is so advanced there’s little that can be done to turn things around or at least slow the progression of the disease.

Often, even an animal’s veterinarian is unaware there’s a problem because he or she doesn’t see the pet that often and always in a clinical setting vs. at home. In addition, according to Dr. Jeff Nichol, a veterinary behavior specialist in Albuquerque, NM, many DVMs aren’t aware of just how common cognitive dysfunction syndrome is. Vets assume pet parents will tell them when an older dog or cat is experiencing behavior changes, while owners assume the changes are just a natural part of aging.

In a large Australian study published in 2011 on canine cognitive dysfunction (CCD), scientists at the University of Sydney reported that about 14 percent of dogs develop CCD, but less than 2 percent are diagnosed. In addition, the risk of CCD increases with age — over 40 percent of dogs at 15 will have at least one symptom. Researchers also estimate the prevalence of cognitive dysfunction in geriatric dogs at 68 percent.

In a study also published in 2011 on cognitive decline in cats,2 a researcher at the University of Edinburgh, Hospital for Small Animals estimated that a third of all cats between 11 and 14 years of age have age-related cognitive decline. That number increases to 50 percent for cats 15 years and older.

Our blind Jack Russell Terrier of 18 years old started to pee and poo all over the place even though when he got blind, he was able to find his pee/poo area. Initially, we did not think much about it except for the fact that he was getting old and he had trouble locating his usual spot.

We were so wrong. Whenever we left the house for a while, he would be found sitting by the main door quietly for our return. One day, when we opened the door, he was not there. He was pacing in circle. We knew almost immediately this is bad news. So this began our quest to find a holistic approach for Dementia.

REFERENCES

Wendell O. Belfield, DVM
Author of How to Have a Healthier Dog

Jeffrey Feinman, DVM, BA, VMD, CVH
Jeffrey Feinman holds both molecular biology and veterinary degrees from the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Jeff was the first dual degree recipient at Penn in the prestigious University Scholar program (which was designed to foster medical scientists).

Karen Becker, DVM
Diplomate American Veterinary Medical Association, American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association Academy of Veterinary Homeopathy

Stephen Tobin, DVM
Holistic veterinarian who provides treatment using homeopathy, herbs, and nutrition. He is a veterinary graduate of the Ludwig Maximillian Universitat in Munich, Germany.

Peter Dobias, DVM
Founder and CEO of Dr. Dobias Healing Solutions Inc. Advanced Professional Course in Veterinary Homeopathy. Homeopathic Master Clinician  (human homeopathy)

Steve Marsden, DVM ND MSOM LAc DiplCH AHG

Shawn Messonnier, DVM

What causes Dementia in Dogs?

At present there is no conclusive cause known although it is believed that certain changes in the brain can contribute. Nerve function is vital to cognitive function and this relies on the chemical reaction of transmission of information across nerve pathways – from structures known as synapses.

Each nerve firing is a message to the body to react, whether this is physical or mental, the nervous system has overriding control of the speed of reactions in the dog.

Although the exact cause of cognitive dysfunction syndrome is currently unknown, genetic factors may predispose an animal to develop the condition.

However age related cognitive decline is not the only condition that causes dementia in dogs. Some other conditions that can cause dementia include:

  • Brain tumors
  • Brain trauma or other acute injury
    encephalitis from various causes
  • Tick-borne diseases
  • Liver abnormalities

Another theory on a contributing factor to dementia is as the dog ages a protein known as beta amyloid accumulates in the brain clustering around the nerves (known as a plaque). The build-up acts as an insulator to the chemical process of the nerve firing and thus prevents or slows the nerve sending the message to the receptors in the body.  As the amount of beta amyloid increases it becomes increasingly difficult for the nerves to work effectively.

Another view related to the nerve action is that decreased dopamine production has been identified in cases of dementia. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter and its presence is essential for effective nerve transmission.

Signs and Symptoms of Dementia in Dogs

Signs of Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome can be wide ranging, some may appear slowly but others can occur and become an issue for the dog relatively quickly. It is important to talk over the signs with your Vet or Vet nurse as some signs can potentially indicate underlying conditions.

Some of the most common signs are as follows:

  • A blank, lost look in the dogs eyes – they appear distant and unreactive
  • Circling – walking round in a circle continuously
  • Getting lost/stuck in their own home – may get stuck in places around the house
  • Repetitive actions
  • Urinating /Defecating in the house
  • Makes uncharacteristic noises – may whine, pant or bark at inappropriate times
  • Change in sleeping patterns – erratic sleep patterns may be sleeping all day and awake all night , excess sleeping or insomnia
  • Behavioural changes – often due to confusion dogs may become irritable and snappy, even one that was once very placid can withdraw into itself and snap when interrupted.
  • Change in family behaviours – your dog may no longer react to his name or your voice, and may not greet you happily at the door as he has done in the past.

Diagnosis process of Dementia in Dogs

There is no single test which can diagnose canine cognitive dysfunction syndrome. Your veterinarian will base the diagnosis on examination, observations and exclusion of underlying conditions. As your veterinarian carries out a full examination he will take notes on your concerns and what you have noticed at home, he may recommend a blood test and a urine sample. These simple tests will allow the vet to exclude any other conditions often found in senior pets and monitor the function of your dog’s vital organs such as heart, liver and kidneys. You will need to give a thorough history of your dog’s health to your veterinarian, including the onset and nature of the symptoms and possible incidents that might have precipitated the unusual behaviors or complications.

Your vet will be likely to ask you to return for a review after a few weeks of trying any treatments and will wish to monitor the progression of the symptoms.

Dementia-Like Conditions in Dogs

Conditions that Resemble Dementia

There are also conditions with similar symptoms to dementia. They include hepatic encephalopathy, with its signature symptom of head pressing, and vestibular disorder, a condition of the inner ear and brain.

Head Pressing

Head pressing is most often associated with a liver condition called hepatic encephalopathy, but can be a symptom of other conditions, all of them serious.

In head pressing, the dog presses her head against a wall. This can resemble the behavior of standing in corners or next to walls that dogs with canine cognitive dysfunction perform, but is different in one important way: the dog visibly presses her head against a surface.

Geriatric Vestibular Disorder

Geriatric vestibular disorder is an abnormality of the parts of the brain and inner ear that control balance. The behaviors that dogs suffering from it exhibit can resemble those of a dog with dementia, but there is generally no cognitive decline involved.

Vestibular disorder often has an unknown cause, but can sometimes result from an ear infection, so a vet visit is in order.

Current Available Treatment in Singapore for Dogs diagnosed with Dementia

There is no magic cure for age-related dog dementia, but a number of treatments appear to help slow the process somewhat, and to varying degrees. The following canine cognitive dysfunction treatments have been shown in scientific studies to help. Please check with your veterinarian if you suspect your dog has canine cognitive dysfunction.

Anipryl (U.S. brand name for selegiline)  has been shown to slow the progression of canine cognitive dysfunction. It is a drug that is used to treat Parkinson’s in humans. It is available now for dogs in tablets and chewables. If your vet prescribes it, try to shop around. Its price really varies. The doses for dogs that you can buy on cards are quite expensive. But it can also be purchased in generic tablets quite cheaply.Some prescription drugs commonly used in Europe for canine cognitive dysfunction are nicergoline, propentofylline, and adrafanil. Of these, adrafanil has shown the most promise in studies.

Like all drugs, Anipryl comes with a risk of side effects, including — but not limited to — diarrhea, vomiting, restlessness or hyperactivity, loss of appetite, seizures, staggering and lethargy.

(There is no drug approved for treatment of CDS in cats, although some veterinarians report promising results using L-deprenyl in cats.)

IMPORTANCE OF PROPER NUTRACEUTICALS FOR DEMENTIA DOGS

Choline

The most important and widely used anti-Alzheimer’s drugs are acetylcholinesterase inhibitors, so called because they inhibit the action of acetylcholinesterase, an enzyme that breaks down acetylcholine molecules (this is a necessary function that can, however, get out of balance). By interfering with the action of this enzyme, the drugs effectively increase the amount of acetylcholine available to the brain’s neurons. In one particular study of reversing clinical signs of cognitive disorder , Choline has shown 82% success in clinical signs reduction over 21 dogs of various breed 10 years of age.

Ginkgo Biloba

Ginkgo Biloba is a plant extract containing several compounds that may have positive effects on cells within the brain and the body. Ginkgo biloba is thought to have both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, to protect cell membranes and to regulate neurotransmitter function. Ginkgo Biloba is widely considered as an “antiaging herb”. It has proved effective in treating Alzheimer’s disease in both people and canine. Ginkgo enhances both long-term and short-term memory in puppies and senior dogs alike.

However, Ginkgo Biloba has very mixed research.

* Rosemary

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis L.) is one of the most economically important species of the family Lamiaceae. Among the most important group of compounds isolated from the plant are the abietane-type phenolic diterpenes that account for most of the antioxidant and many pharmacological activities of the plant. Rosemary diterpenes have also been shown in recent years to inhibit neuronal cell death induced by a variety of agents both in vitro and in vivo.

If you are attempting to use Rosemary Essential Oil, you have to look for 1,8-cineole (Tunisia).

Bacopa

Bacopa is a creeping perennial herb that thrives in wetlands and on muddy shores. Its therapeutic use has its origins in traditional Ayurvedic medicine, where it has been used for its adaptogenic, tranquilizing, and antioxidant properties. Today, modern science is trying to confirm traditional wisdom about Bacopa. In studies conducted in Australia and the U.S., Bacopa improved study subjects’ ability to retain new information — and it also helped them increase their visual processing speed in as little as 3 weeks.

However, there is a side effect that might concern pet owners. Bacopa might slow down the heart beat. This could be a problem in people who already have a slow heart rate.

Gotu Kola

Gotu kola is an herb that is commonly used in Traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine.  According to modern studies, gotu kola does offer support for healthy memory function. A study conducted in 1992 by K. Nalini at Kasturba Medical College showed an impressive improvement in memory in rats which were treated with the extract (orally) daily for 14 days before the experiment. The retention of learned behavior in the rats treated with gotu kola was 3 to 60 times better than that in control animals.

However, animals who are known to have liver damage or cancer should not take this drug. Asiaticoside contained in gotu kola has been shown to encourage the growth of tumors in mice.

Asiaticoside contained in gotu kola has been shown to encourage the growth of tumors in mice – See more at: http://www.vitaminsestore.com/gotu-kola-benefits-reviews-side-effects-and-dosage/#sthash.bEGgaBcI.dpuf
Asiaticoside contained in gotu kola has been shown to encourage the growth of tumors in mice – See more at: http://www.vitaminsestore.com/gotu-kola-benefits-reviews-side-effects-and-dosage/#sthash.bEGgaBcI.dpuf

Resveratrol

Resveratrol is part of a group of compounds called polyphenols. They’re thought to act like antioxidants, protecting the body against damage that can put you at higher risk for things like cancer and heart disease.It’s in the skin of red grapes, but you can also find it in peanuts and berries. Manufacturers have tried to capitalize on its powers by selling resveratrol supplements. Most resveratrol capsules sold in the U.S. contain extracts from an Asian plant called Polygonum cuspidatum. Other resveratrol supplements are made from red wine or red grape extracts.

Bottomline, from most research, this supplement has very little use for dogs who have been diganosed with dementia.

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil has medium chain triglycerides [MCT], which are a good source of energy, in the form of ketone bodies … MCTs are converted in the liver into ketones, which can be used by the brain as fuel; they are a more immediate source of energy than other fats. There are however mixed reviews on whether it really helps in managing dementia in dogs. But given the health benefits of it, there is no risk in giving it.

As a daily supplement, work up to about 1 tsp per 10 lbs of body weight per day. Start with ¼ of this amount to avoid loose stool from the extra oil going through your dog’s digestive system, then increase gradually until you get to the recommended dose.

SAMe

SAMe (S-Adenosyl-Methionine) is an amino acid derivative normally synthesized in the body that may become depleted with sickness or age. Supplementing with SAMe plus folate, trimethylglycine (TMG or betaine), vitamins B6 and B12 appears to be an effective way to overcome this deficiency.

Oral s-Adenosylmethionine, or SAMe, alleviates signs of age-related cognitive decline in dogs as well as humans. According to one double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, SAMe-treated dogs showed significant improvements in activity and awareness of their surroundings without serious adverse effects. How it accomplishes this remains unknown for now.

Omega-3

Omega-3 fatty acid, DHA, has been shown to improve cognitive dysfunction in affected dogs. Interestingly, DHA appears to slow the progression of human dementia and Alzheimer’s disease too.

A study was performed on 142 older dogs with a variety of behavioral abnormalities (disorientation, disrupted sleep patterns, altered interactions with family members, altered activity levels and loss of house training). During the 60-day period, dogs fed a DHA-supplemented food showed significant improvement in every one of these behavior categories. However, it is very important to take note that pet owners should supplement their pet with Vitamin E if they are feeding their dogs with Omega-3.

Wild Blueberry Extracts

The blueberry, already labeled a ‘super fruit’ for its power to potentially lower the risk of heart disease and cancer, also could be another weapon in the war against Alzheimer’s disease. New research being presented today further bolsters this idea, which is being tested by many teams. The fruit is loaded with healthful antioxidants, and these substances could help prevent the devastating effects of this increasingly common form of dementia, scientists report.

“Our new findings corroborate those of previous animal studies and preliminary human studies, adding further support to the notion that blueberries can have a real benefit in improving memory and cognitive function in some older adults,” says Robert Krikorian, Ph.D., leader of the research team. He adds that blueberries’ beneficial effects could be due to flavonoids called anthocyanins, which have been shown to improve animals’ cognition.

Melatonin

Melatonin is a hormone found naturally in the body. Melatonin used as medicine is usually made synthetically in a laboratory. It is most commonly available in pill form, but melatonin is also available in forms that can be placed in the cheek or under the tongue. This allows the melatonin to be absorbed directly into the body.

Melatonin is also used for the inability to fall asleep (insomnia); delayed sleep phase syndrome (DSPS); rapid eye movement sleep behavior disorder (RBD); insomnia associated with attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD); insomnia due to certain high blood pressure medications called beta-blockers; and sleep problems in children with developmental disorders including autism, cerebral palsy, and intellectual disabilities. It is also used as a sleep aid after discontinuing the use of benzodiazepine drugs. But pet owners, take note that Melatonin might increase blood sugar and increase blood pressure.

Turmeric

Turmeric has been used as a spice and a medicine for millennia. Turmeric has been called a super food and a super spice. The health and medical benefits attributed to it include pain reliver, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and cancer-preventative.  It can also lower cholesterol and protect the cardiovascular system.

The anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric is part of the reason it gained such a high standing in traditional Eastern systems of medicine. Since etanercept is an anti-inflammatory, it is not an entirely capricious leap of faith to suppose that anti-inflammatory substances in the spice turmeric should act in ways similar to the pharmaceutical etanercept. In fact, there is mounting clinical evidence that turmeric might protect the brain from the onset as well as the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

Acetyl-L-carnitine

Acetyl l-carnitine (ALCAR) is a modified form of carnitine, an amino acid derivative found in red meat, which is readily absorbed throughout the body, including the brain. It is involved in fatty acid metabolism and may improve several aspects of brain health, including mitochondrial function, activity of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, and possibly cognition.

So, how exactly does ALC work? Mind Boosters author Dr. Ray Sahelia believes that Alzheimer’s patients may benefit from ALC in three ways: It is able to travel through the blood-brain barrier, where it then helps form the brain chemical acetylcholine; it keeps mitochondria working efficiently by clearing them of toxic fatty-acid metabolites; and it helps regenerate neurons damaged by free radicals.

But the evidence of it is still weak at this moment of time.

Alpha Lipoic Acid

Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) is a synthetic version of lipoic acid, which helps cells make energy. It has antioxidant properties and may reduce inflammation. Oxidative stress and neuronal energy depletion are characteristic hallmarks of Dementia’s disease. It has been hypothesized that, because of this, pro-energetic and antioxidant drugs such as alpha-lipoic acid might delay the onset or slow down the progression of the disease.
Separate research also revealed that alpha lipoic acid, in combination with vitamin E and acetyl-l-carnitine, led to improvements in potential biomarkers for Alzheimer’s disease and showed promise for slowing the progression of the disease.

In one study of patients with Alzheimer’s disease, those given 600 mg of alpha lipoic daily for 12 months had a stabilization of cognitive function. A follow-up study, which increased the number of patients in the study and extended the observation period to 48 months, the progression of the disease was “dramatically lower” among those taking alpha lipoic acid, compared to those with no treatment or those taking choline-esterase inhibitor drugs.

Phosphatidylserine

Phosphatidylserine is a class of phospholipids found in cell membranes. Its levels and location within the brain can affect important signaling pathways for cell survival and communication. Phosphatidylserine includes two fatty acids that can vary from saturated or monounsaturated to polyunsaturated omega-6 and omega-3 versions like docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Some clinical trials of phosphatidylserine supplements have shown modestly improved cognitive function.

Our bodies need this phospholipid to build brain cell membranes that are fluid enough to release the neurotransmitters acetylcholine and dopamine, but luckily, our brains normally manufacture enough phosphatidylserine (PS) to keep us in top mental order. However, when we reach middle age, our levels of PS begin to decline — an effect that is worsened by deficiencies of other essential fatty acids, folic acid or vitamin B12. Because PS is necessary for effective neurotransmission, PS deficiency is linked to mental impairment, including Alzheimer’s and non-Alzheimer’s dementia, depression and Parkinson’s disease among middle-aged and elderly people.

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Record your pet’s life in a diary

Monday, February 17th, 2020

Pet Connection by Dr. Marty Becker, Kim Campbell Thornton and Mikkel Becker

A Life in Words

Pet Connection
By Kim Campbell Thornton

Andrews McMeel Syndication

When you find a diary, are you tempted to read it? Do you keep a diary yourself, under lock and key? Diaries feature in some of the world’s most famous literature, social history, fiction and children’s books: Anne Frank’s “The Diary of a Young Girl.” The diary of Samuel Pepys. “Bridget Jones’s Diary.” “Harriet the Spy.” “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.”

Diaries bring history to life, store secrets, record lives. They can make for fascinating reading. But they can also make for fascinating writing, especially if they focus on your best friend: your dog, cat, bird or other pet. It’s not just in Nancy Drew mysteries that a diary is filled with clues.

Susannah Charleson is a K-9 search and rescue handler and author of “Where the Lost Dogs Go: A Story of Love, Search, and the Power of Reunion.” She spoke last month at the K-9 Sport Scent Work Conference in Palm Springs, California. While her topic was the importance of logs for search and rescue handlers, she also touched on how keeping a log can make a difference in the health, confidence and success of any dog-human team — including the partnership between people and their companion dogs. And there’s no reason to leave out cats, birds, rabbits, horses or other pets. Anyone can benefit from tracing the story of their relationship with an animal.

“I think for pet owners it’s invaluable,” she says. “If you’re doing any kind of training, even just to be a good companion animal, it’s all coming fast — the dog is new, the training is new, how the dog views the world versus how we view the world is completely different.”

When you keep a diary and document the changes you see in your pet and yourself, you are capturing the journey of your developing friendship, as well as making observations that can help you solve behavior problems and identify health issues before they become serious.

Bringing a record to your veterinarian or behaviorist of when a behavior began and how frequently it occurs can be the first step in solving a problem.

Some owners track daily blood sugar curves and insulin doses for diabetic pets, delivery of medication, occurrence of seizures, and pets’ eating habits or weight.

People who participate in dog sports log trials and practice sessions to track their progress.

“Log entries allow you to start seeing a pattern and learning about your dog,” Charleson says. “They assist in self-evaluation. You’ve got all these beautiful signals that can tell you where your strengths and weaknesses are and find areas where you can improve, where your dog can improve and where you can improve together.”

Keeping track of a pet’s life can be done with a paper journal, on computer apps or social media, or on a calendar. I have a pile of calendars that I can’t bear to throw away because they record so many of the events of my dogs’ lives. Supplement diaries with photos and videos.

At the end of a pet’s life, a diary is a way to look back at the journey you and your pet have shared. The memories can help to heal grief and establish a foundation for the next partnership.

“When a career or life ends, logs trace the journey that you and a dog have shared,” Charleson says. “Logs tell a story. They trace the arc of our understanding and our ability as separate entities and together. They’re a history of the earliest days that we might forget. Write it all down. You’ll have a wealth of information to learn from, and at the end of a life, those words may save you.”

Q&A

Do kittens need

socialization?

Q: Do kittens have the same type of socialization period as puppies?

A: They do, but it starts even earlier and doesn’t last as long. My colleague Nicholas Dodman, a veterinary behaviorist and emeritus professor at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, says the social period in kittens is between weeks 2 and 7.

During those early weeks, kittens soak up knowledge of everything around them, that clever kitty brain making new neural connections daily to generate learning and behavior. Kittens who see, hear, smell and experience many different people, animals, sights and sounds during this sensitive period grow up to be sociable, smart and curious.

Young kittens need to have many different positive experiences with children, friendly dogs and cats, people of all ages and appearances, common household sounds such as vacuum cleaners and blenders, car rides, being transported comfortably and safely in a carrier, and visiting the veterinarian. In an ideal world, they haven’t had any bad experiences with those things, and they don’t have preconceived ideas about what to expect from such experiences.

Limiting fear during this impressionable time is also important to a kitten’s development. A normal amount of fear is valuable because it helps kittens to avoid things that might hurt them, but protecting them from aversive experiences can help them to have more fulfilling lives as adult cats because they are more calm in the face of new experiences.

When young kittens encounter these things in a positive way during the socialization period, their brains store the good memories and help the kittens develop resiliency if they later have negative experiences with, say, dogs or scary noises. The neural connections their brains make during this period is how they become well-rounded, adaptable cats.

You can learn more about feline development at FearFreeHappyHomes.com. — Dr. Marty Becker

Do you have a pet question? Send it to askpetconnection@gmail.com or visit Facebook.com/DrMartyBecker.

50 of the Most Popular Cat Breeds in the World (Infographic)

Saturday, February 15th, 2020

It’s easy to tell the difference between a Pug and a Poodle, but how much do you actually know about the most popular cat breeds out there? Did you know that there are at least 43 cat breeds—each with their own personality, traits, and history—in the US alone? And this doesn’t even count the domestic cats that don’t have a pedigree or your run-of-the-mill stray and feral cats.

For all we know about cats, they are still creatures of mystery. Maybe getting the basic info on the best species of cats in the world will bring us closer to learning what makes cats ticks and why they bother with us, humans.

Click on the image to see the Infographic

 

 

 

 

 

This South Bay veterinarian is leading the pack to provide hospice care for cats and dogs who are terminally ill

Friday, February 7th, 2020
From The Beach Reporter  By Melissa Heckscher   Feb 5, 2020

So when emergency vets recommended hospitalizing the 12-year-old dog to give her, maybe, a few extra weeks in her six-year battle against cancer, Russell knew what needed to be done:

“I just looked at them and said, ‘I’m taking her home,” she said. “We sat in the chair until about midnight, then I put her in the bed and laid there holding her until 4:30 in the morning.”

Cricket died the next day with the help of in-home euthanasia.

“She was tired,” Russell said. “She had gone through a lot.”

But she wasn’t alone. For the past six years, Cricket has had the help of veterinary oncologist Alice Villalobos, a Torrance-based veterinarian who specializes in palliative and end-of-life hospice care for dogs and cats.

For Cricket, palliative care meant treating the cancer—the dog underwent four surgeries and four chemotherapy sessions for her recurrent tumors—and getting a slew of supplements and medications to keep the champion agility dog active and comfortable.

Hospice care meant preparing Russell for the days when nature would take its inevitable course—and guiding her about how to recognize her dog was “ready to cross the rainbow bridge.”

“In human medicine, physicians don’t generally refer to hospice until patients are about three days before death,” said Villalobos, who in January received the Shomer Ethics Award from the Society of Veterinary Medical Ethics for her contributions to both cancer and palliative care for pets.

“When we use the word ‘hospice,’ we want to make sure people know that we are going to support the pet and provide comfort care whenever they get the diagnosis of a life-limiting disease,” said the Hermosa Beach resident.

While palliative care is a growing niche in the world of pet care, it isn’t all that different for dogs and cats than it is for humans. The goal is to make patients comfortable so they can live out their days in peace, even in spite of incurable conditions. The only difference for pets is the added option of euthanasia when suffering becomes intolerable.

“Many times people say, ‘Let nature take its course,’” said Villalobos, who has been called the”Mother of Veterinary Hospice” by the SVME.  “And then I’m contacted to help with that end-of-life decision. People want to know, ‘When is the right time to put my pet down?’”

To aid in this decision-making, Villalobos developed a Quality of Life Scale to help people determine if their pet has “acceptable life quality to continue with pet hospice.” Her guidelines have been shared and used by veterinarians and pet-owners worldwide.

“In the old days some doctors would just recommend euthanasia right away,” Villalobos said. “People would take a limping dog into the vet and they would come home without a dog. [Doctors] would choose to do euthanasia upon diagnosis.”

Veterinarians, she said, would often give patients two options when presented with a seriously sick pet: Euthanize the pet or opt for surgery, the latter of which is expensive and may not necessarily extend the animal’s life significantly.

“I’m trying to give people a third option—and that is hospice,” Villalobos said. “Hospice embraces the whole beginning right up to the end. It allows people time to grieve and gives me time to counsel the family members.”

For Ari Dane of Playa del Rey, Villalobos helped his 17-year-old chihuahua, Roxy, stay comfortable despite a trio of grim diagnoses including a chest tumor, heart problems and kidney disease.

“(Roxy) keeps bouncing back and she’s still here,” said Dane, who sees Villalobos about every six weeks. “She will perk up around mealtime, but most of the time she sleeps. It’s fading time.”

Under Villalobos’ direction, Dane adds more than 15 different medicines and supplements to Roxy’s food every day, all of which are meant to treat the tiny dog’s myriad health issues. It’s a tedious, expensive process, but one that Dane wouldn’t give up.

“It’s a sad thing to watch her decline, but that’s the price of admission,” he said. “Roxy has been a part of the family for 17 and a half years. I wouldn’t want her to be treated any differently.”

Pets As family

In a society where people consider pets part of the family—and where half of all dogs that reach the age of 10 will be diagnosed with cancer, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association—it only makes sense that palliative care would become a part of the deal.

As of 2020, there were more than 800 members in the International Association for Animal Hospice & Palliative Care (IAAHPC), an organization dedicated to developing guidelines for comfort-oriented care to pets as they approach the end of life. The organization was founded in 2009.

“Veterinarians have been offering some measure of comfort care for animals as long as they have been caring for them, but the shift has come with families embracing pets as members of the family,” said IAAHPC President Tyler Carmack, a Virginia-based veterinarian. “They now wish their pets to have the same level of compassionate care at end of life as our human family members.”

Carmack said many providers and pet-owners shy away from discussing hospice and palliative care until their pets are already very sick. She hopes this will change as people become more aware of their options.

“As we open the communication about caring for pets as they enter their end-of-life stage, we allow more and more families to make the best possible decision for their pet and their family,” Carmack said.

Costs of care

Of course, caring for sick and dying pets isn’t cheap.

According to the Veterinary Cancer Society, cancer care costs for dogs ranges between $150 and $600 per dose of chemotherapy and between $1,000 and $6,000 for radiation. Pet insurance can help pay some of these costs, but many companies have a cap on annual or per-illness expenses.

On top of that, in-home euthanasia, the option most palliative care specialists prefer, costs about $250.

For many pet-owners, it’s a price that must be paid.

“You get them as a pup and you know that you’re probably going to outlive them,” Russell said. “It’s part of the package.”

For more information about Dr. Alice Villalobos and to get information on palliative care for pets, visit www.pawspice.com. Villalobos operates out of Harbor Animal Hospital. She plans to move her services to Redwood Animal Hospital in Redondo Beach in the coming months.

Contact Lisa Jacobs lisa.jacobs@TBRnews.com or follow her on Twitter @lisaannjacobs.

Cats Do Bond Securely to Their Humans – Maybe Even More So Than Dogs

Tuesday, January 28th, 2020

FROM WWW.SCIENCEALERT.COM   BY   MICHELLE STARR  –  25 JAN 2020

Many think of dogs as loyal, love-filled companions, and cats as cute beasts that tolerate us – but we might have to rethink that a little. According to 2019 research, cats can get just as bonded to their human friends as dogs do.

“Like dogs, cats display social flexibility in regard to their attachments with humans,” said animal scientist Kristyn Vitale of Oregon State University in September 2019.

“The majority of cats are securely attached to their owner and use them as a source of security in a novel environment.”

In their behavioural experiment, the research team observed how cats respond to their owners in a strange environment. Previous research on rhesus monkeys (the controversial wire mother experiments reported in 1958) and dogs (a much more ethically sound experiment reported last year) had shown that both species form secure and insecure attachments.

In a secure attachment, a dog in a strange environment will, upon being reunited with their humans, relax and continue to explore. An insecure attachment, on the other hand, will see the dog continue exhibiting stress behaviour, either clinging excessively to the human, or avoiding them as much as possible.

First, the kitten or cat and their human caregiver were placed together in a room, with the human sitting in a marked circle. If the cat entered the circle, the human could interact with it. After two minutes, the human left, leaving the cat alone. After another two minutes, the human returned to the room, to sit in the circle again.

The entire test was filmed, and the scientists analysed the video to classify the cats’ attachment type.

The adult cats only participated in the test once, but the kittens were tested twice – once initially, and once again two months later, after 39 of the kittens had been through a six-week training and socialisation course. The other 31 acted as a control group.

Of the kittens, 9 ended up being unclassifiable, but of the remaining group, 64.3 percent were categorised as securely attached and 35.7 percent as insecurely attached – with the training having no bearing on attachment style. Once an attachment style has been established, it seems, that’s probably how it is going to stay.

Interestingly, those rates – 64.3 percent and 65.8 percent – are pretty close to the 65 percent secure attachment rate seen in human infants. And cats showed a secure attachment rate slightly higher than found in a test of 59 companion dogs published in 2018; the canines were 61 percent secure and 39 percent insecure.

Previously, Vitale’s work has shown that cats aren’t as aloof as their public image would make them appear; in fact, those fuzzy little felines can be downright sociable and affectionate, so long as you aren’t a jerk to them. And they often prefer to interact with humans over food or toys.

This new study suggests that cats have the ability and the necessary traits to form deep social bonds with humans. It’s just that they may express themselves in their own special way.

“In my opinion, it’s very important to go out and try to interact with your cat and see what happens,” Vitale said last year.

“I think there’s this idea that dogs are this way, and cats are that way. But there’s a lot of variability in both populations.”

The research has been published in Current Biology.

A version of this article was first published in September 2019.

Pet Loss Bereavement Specialist Certification Course Available

Tuesday, January 21st, 2020
Pet Loss Partners has some exciting news.
They are offering an online Pet Loss Bereavement Specialist Certification Course in response to the many inquiries from people interested in the area of pet loss.
Their goal is to design a course that would give not only information about grief and pet loss but also specific and useable tools for helping grieving pet parents.