Daily Pack Log on the Blog – 7.11.14

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I was up for a good portion of the night, with one of our rescue dogs who is very fearful of thunderstorms. Petey is a Basset-coon hound mix (we think) who is very friendly, has a high-octane personality and is high-energy.

But if he hears rain on the roof or fireworks or thunder, he starts barking and jumping up and down off the furniture. Lightning also frightens him.

The one thing that does calm him down is soft music. So at times like last night, I turn on the cable music channel. I tried turning off the music when things go into a lull around 12:30 a.m., but Petey sensed more thunder nearby and I had to turn the music back on.

Finally, somewhere around 3 to 3:30 a.m., I was able to fall asleep. No telling what happened in Petey’s previous life on the streets. So I can’t get too upset about the sleep depravation.

If you dog shows signs of fearing storms or fireworks, try soft music. It might also help for dogs with separation issues, for times when they are left home along.
I know companies are also selling body wraps that are advertised to help calm a stressful dog.

PACK MENTALITY BLOG: Compassion - teamed with Science and Logic

March 16-22: National Poison Prevention Week

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I received the following release from Pet Poison Helpline, as it relates to National Poison Prevention Week.

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Stocking a Pet First Aid Kit and Poison Prevention Tips from Pet Poison Helpline

MINNEAPOLIS – March 11, 2014 – National Poison Prevention Week is March 16 – 22, 2014, and while much of the focus is on educating parents of small children, Pet Poison Helpline says to remember that pets can be just as vulnerable! Dogs and cats have insatiable curiosity and tend to get into trouble investigating new things by licking or tasting them. This is because some foods, medications and other household items that are safe for humans can be devastating to pets. The veterinary and toxicology experts at Pet Poison Helpline offer two important tips for keeping pets safe:

1)  Keep Dangerous Items out of Reach

Most homes have hidden dangers in medicine cabinets, purses, kitchens and garages. Pet owners should familiarize themselves with things poisonous to dogs and cats, and keep them stowed out of reach. The best resource for information, including a comprehensive list items dangerous to pets, is Pet Poison Helpline’s website and mobile app.

2)  Stock a Pet First Aid Kit

In the event of an unfortunate mishap, a properly stocked Pet First Aid Kit can contribute to a much happier ending. Here are recommended contents:

For Potentially Poisoned Pets:

Phone number for Pet Poison Helpline: 1-800-213-6680
Hydrogen peroxide 3 percent used to induce vomiting in dogs– make sure it’s not expired
Oral dosing syringe or turkey baster – for administering hydrogen peroxide
Teaspoon/tablespoon set – for measuring appropriate amount of hydrogen peroxide
Liquid hand dish washing detergent, such as Dawn or Palmolive
Rubber or latex gloves
Triple antibiotic ointment, like Neosporin™
Vitamin E (a small container of oil or several gel caps)
Diphenhydramine tablets 25mg – with NO other combination ingredients
Ophthalmic saline solution or artificial tears
Can of tuna packed in water or tasty canned pet food
Sweet electrolyte-containing beverage
Corn syrup (1/4 cup)
Vegetable oil (1/2 cup)
For Injured Pets:

Phone number for local emergency veterinary hospital
Gauze roll and pads
Medical tape
Ruler or other rigid material for splint
Scissors and tweezers
Thermometer and sterile lubricant, like KY™ jelly
Rubber or latex gloves
Towel or blanket
Muzzle (for dogs)
Cone collar (for cats)
Triple antibiotic ointment, like Neosporin™
Ophthalmic saline solution – make sure it does not contain any cleaners or soaps
Store the items in a plastic or other waterproof container, and in a location out of the reach of pets. Especially when poisoning is suspected, it’s imperative to call Pet Poison Helpline or your veterinarian prior to administering any therapies at home. They will first help you determine if the item ingested was poisonous to begin with, and will then advise what the treatment or antidote is and whether or not inducing vomiting is recommended.

“It’s really important to be wary of ‘home remedies’ found on the Internet when treating a potentially poisoned pet,” said Ahna Brutlag, DVM, MS, DABT, DABVT and associate director of veterinary services at Pet Poison Helpline. “We hear it all – pet owners who, after Googling their situation, hope to resolve it by giving the pet milk, burnt toast, raw eggs, peanut butter, or table salt. These remedies simply don’t work and can cause additional undue stress for the pet and owner.”

The Case of Penny

Pet poisonings usually happen when least expected, and are often caused by seemingly harmless events. For example, earlier this year, Penny, a three year-old, 13 pound, Jack Russell terrier consumed 10-12 children’s gummy multivitamins. Within hours, Penny started vomiting, became unsteady on her feet, and collapsed at home. She was then rushed to the veterinarian. After her initial examination, she was found to have very low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). While she improved a little after starting her on IV sugar source (dextrose), the veterinarian ended up calling Pet Poison Helpline for further treatment advice.  It was found that the vitamins Penny consumed contained an extraordinarily large amount of xylitol, a common sweetener ingredient that can be poisonous to dogs. Penny had ingested enough to cause fatality. The following day, Penny began to develop liver problems but, thankfully, after two days of intensive treatment, her liver began to recover and she was eventually released from the hospital in excellent condition. In this case, the pet owner could have given Penny 1/4 cup of corn syrup from a Pet First Aid Kit to help raise her blood sugar while being transported to the pet hospital.

Accidents can and do happen, but outcomes are much better when pet owners are prepared. When adverse situations arise, don’t hesitate to call a veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline at 1-800-213-6680.
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PACK MENTALITY BLOG: Compassion - teamed with Science and Logic

FDA proposes new regulations for pet food safety

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Under the category of “It’s About Time,” we have the news that the Food and Drug Administration is proposing new regulations for pet food and treat manufacturers.

NBC News reports the rules would fall under the FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act. A public-comment period will run for 120 days, and will be in place 60 days after the comment period closes. Domestic and imported foods will fall under the new guidelines.

It is about time. But recent reports of dog deaths from eating imported food or treats from China has finally led to this step.

But I really don’t get the following from the NBC News piece:

FDA has always had rules in place that prohibit adulterants in pet food. That’s why the agency has issued company-initiated recalls for salmonella-tainted bird food, for instance, or dog food contaminated with aflatoxin, a naturally occurring mold by-product.

But, until now, there’s been no requirement that companies analyze the potential food safety hazards of their products or that they follow current good manufacturing practices, or CGMPs, that specifically address animal food.

So the FDA had rules, but there were no requirements for companies to actually check on their products or even follow good practices? WHAT?

And then Daniel McChesney, the director of the office of surveillance and compliance at the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine suggest the companies might have problems meeting the deadlines for compliance. Policies for the safety of their products should already be in place.



PACK MENTALITY BLOG: Compassion - teamed with Science and Logic

Marijuana smoke harmful to pets

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I just received a press release from the Pet Poison Helpline, concerning the dangers of marijuana to pets.

For those who choose to smoke marijuana – fine. But those who expose others to the second-hand smoke, including the exposure to pets, are stepping over the line. It is clearly harmful to pets – and certainly kids should not be exposed to it.

And certainly this sort of thing should not promoted to kids in any way.

Thank you to the Pet Poison Helpline for distributing this information:

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MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. (Sept. 11, 2013) – On the heels of the legalization of marijuana for recreational use in Colorado and Washington, last week the Justice Department effectively announced it won’t challenge other states’ attempts to legalize the drug for medical or recreational use. While marijuana is still classified as illegal, eight new federal enforcement priorities were issued that essentially discourage federal prosecutors from pursuing non-violent marijuana users and focusing efforts on marijuana sales linked to criminal activity. Many believe these policy changes lay the groundwork for more states to legalize marijuana, especially for medicinal use in humans. Meanwhile, debates about whether or not medical marijuana is beneficial for ailing pets are becoming more frequent. While the jury remains out regarding the benefits of medical marijuana for pets, recent news coverage and an increase in the number of pets being treated for accidental marijuana poisonings are raising questions about the safety of marijuana, especially in dogs.

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PACK MENTALITY BLOG: Compassion - teamed with Science and Logic

NCVMA offers five summer safety tips for pets

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The North Carolina Veterinary Medical Association is offering Five Pet Summer Safety Tips – which apply to anywhere where summer has reached the blistering level. So it pretty much cover the entire nation.

The Full Release:

RALEIGH, N.C. – The North Carolina Veterinary Medical Association (NCVMA) (http://www.ncvma.org) has compiled a list for pet owners outlining the top five ways to keep pets safe during the summer. July and August are the hottest months of the year in North Carolina, and humans act accordingly by applying sunscreen and drinking plenty of water. But did you know that the summer sun and heat can be just as harmful, if not more, to our pets? Heat-related illness causes hundreds of unnecessary deaths each year. As temperatures rise, pet owners should be aware of possible dangers and take these precautions to help pets avoid heatstroke or other injury.

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PACK MENTALITY BLOG: Compassion - teamed with Science and Logic

Study: Living with dogs is good for you

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A recent study suggests living with dogs is good for you. Exposure to the bacteria that dogs bring into your home could be good for your body’s overall defenses.

I believe it. In fact, I think being out in the woods from a young age or just being exposed to more stuff like this can help your body learn to fight it off.

The LiveScience article posted on Huffington Post has all of the details and links.


PACK MENTALITY BLOG: Compassion - teamed with Science and Logic

October is National Pet Wellness Month

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The Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association, an affiliate of the Humane Society of the United States, is promoting October as National Pet Wellness Month:

The Press Release:

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October is National Pet Wellness Month and the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association and The Humane Society of the United States are reminding pet owners that preventative care is the easiest way to help pets live longer and healthier lives. National Pet Wellness Month is a nationwide educational campaign sponsored by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and Fort Dodge Animal Health.

“Yearly visits to your veterinarian are an essential part of keeping your pet healthy,” says Dr. Barry Kellogg, VMD, senior veterinary advisor for HSVMA. “Preventative care allows for early detection of problems and often saves money on overall veterinary costs by treating problems before they become serious.”

Dr. Kellogg offers pet owners the following tips to properly care for their furry family members throughout the year:

Annual Exams: Pets should visit the veterinarian at least once a year. Annual exams are a great opportunity to check on the overall health and well-being of your pet and allow you to make any necessary changes in your pet’s daily routine and care. A review of the vaccination status and program most appropriate for your pet should also be completed at this time.

Spay/Neuter: It is incredibly important to have your pet spayed or neutered. Not only do the procedures prevent individual medical problems such as mammary and testicular tumors and uterine infections, spaying or neutering also helps curb pet overpopulation and reduces the number of unwanted pets who are euthanized every day. Spay and neuter surgeries can be safely performed as early as 8-12 weeks of age.

Weight Management: Obesity is a real and newly recognized problem for pets. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 53 percent of adult dogs and 55 percent of cats were classified as overweight or obese by their veterinarians. Prevention is much easier to accomplish than treatment, so consult your veterinarian about the right diet and exercise regimen for your pet.

A Balanced Diet: Commercial dog and cat foods make it easy to provide a nutritionally balanced and complete diet. Dog and cat foods contain all of the different nutrients your animal needs in the appropriate quantities. Remember it can be very difficult to create a balanced and complete diet from “people” foods.

Dental Care: Teeth and oral health are extremely important when caring for your pet and should be evaluated annually. If you are fortunate to have an animal who will tolerate frequent brushing, you are already one step ahead. Unchecked, dental disease can lead to kidney problems or nutritional issues if your pet cannot adequately chew and digest their food.

Senior Pets: As animals age, their dietary requirements and their ability to digest certain foods changes. When pets grow older, they lose some ability to concentrate urine so they need to produce more, and therefore need more water intake. You can help by feeding your pets better quality proteins and avoiding red meats like beef and beef by-products. Doing this will decrease the work load on the kidneys and help prevent diseases and health issues from developing.

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Protesting chicken jerky treats made in China

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An effort is underway to ban chicken jerky treats made in China, as these treats are being blamed for numerous canine deaths and illnesses in the US.

NBC News reports no recalls have been conducted on these products and the US Food and Drug Administration has taken no action, citing some recent product testing.

A Change.org petition launched September 5 is calling for the products to be pulled from stores. The petition has amassed over 60,000 signatures.

My wife and I long ago made the decision to stay away from jerky treats or any treats with similar texture. I think for some dogs, these products mess with dog’s digestive system. I just don’t like them.

Genetic disorders in purebred dogs

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A column written by Dr. Patty Khuly was published June 20 on the Huffington Post website. In her editorial piece, Khuly explains how people frequently bring purebred dogs to her veterinary office with medical problems.

She says – “I’m willing to go on record and say that I generally observe at least one genetic disease in nine out of 10 purebred patients during their first examination with me.” She goes on to note that the mixed-breed dogs she sees frequently have problems as well, but these conditions are typically a “result of their discernible purebred parentage.”

The culprits are “line breeding, the failure to adequately test parents for genetic diseases and the trend among show breeders toward increasingly exaggerated features.”

From what I’ve been told, greyhound racing engages in line breeding. We see what happens with greyhounds, who, for example, have the highest incidence of osteosarcoma of ANY breed of dog.

All of these statements are important enough to highlight from the editorial here as direct quotes. Dr. Khuly is stepping to the forefront to shine a light on a problem that too often goes unreported. I can’t count how many people I’ve seen in veterinary offices talking about the knee surgeries their purebred dogs have undergone.

It isn’t being put together and reported for what it is. It’s a real problem, from cancers to physical abnormalities such a deformed hips and ligament problems in knees to more. There are good, quality breeders in this country, who track this sort of thing and adjust their practices accordingly. But too many are sending out puppies like so many microwave ovens off an assembly line, with too little concern for health.

More people in the medical profession and breeding profession need to step forward to bring this issue to the forefront. I applaud Dr. Khuly. She calls it “morally correct” to adopt homeless pets and urges her clients to adopt mixed-breed dogs.


Pets have health benefits for the elderly

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Sorry folks. I’ve been slammed of late with other writing projects, so I have been woefully off line when it comes to the blog.

To get back into gear and back on my daily blogging pace, we have the results on a study about the health benefits pets offer to the elderly. File this one under the heading – “We Knew That, But it’s Great to see the Science Backing it Up.”

Pets Benefit Aging Adults’ Health, MU Researcher Says from MU News Bureau on Vimeo.

I received a press release this morning from the News Bureau of the University of Missouri, which states, “Having a pet can lower the stress hormone, cortisol, while increasing oxytocin, prolactin and norepinephrine, hormones related to joy, nurturing and relaxation.”

And the following is really important – “Rebecca Johnson, an associate professor in the University of Missouri Sinclair School of Nursing and in the College of Veterinary Medicine, says long-term care facilities should follow the lead of others in their industry such as TigerPlace, an independent living community in Mid-Missouri, that enable residents to have pets.”

I hope this study will enlighten more facility managers and families as to the great connection people in general have with pets and certainly how much this connection means to older people.

Johnson is also director of MU’s Research Center for Human-Animal Interaction (ReCHAI).
“Research suggests older adults live longer, healthier, happier lives when they interact with pets on a regular basis,” Johnson said through the release. “Pets provide companionship and unconditional love that improves the overall health of aging individuals.
“Caring for animals gives older adults responsibility and more reasons to get up in the mornings.”