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What’s the beef about raw food diets for pets?

can-dogs-eat-cucumber

Raw food diets for pets are a highly controversial topic in the veterinary community.  In a recent American Veterinarian article by Amanda Carrozza, she cited a recent Netherlands study that revealed the presence of zoonotic (i.e., potentially transmittable to humans) bacterial and parasitic pathogens in raw meat-based pet foods.  She quoted a study investigator, “The results of the study demonstrate the presence of  potential zoonotic pathogens in frozen raw meat-based diets that may be a possible source of bacterial infections in pet animals and, if transmitted, pose a risk for human beings.”  While this is a risk to anyone, this is especially a concern in pet-owning households with infants and young children, elderly adults, or anyone with a compromised immune system.

So what should you feed your pet?  According to the Pet Nutrition Alliance, pets need a diet that meets their nutritional needs, something that’s commonly referred to as “complete and balanced nutrition.”  Pet owners can find this by looking for the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) Nutritional Adequacy Statement on the pet food label.

Besides providing adequate nutrition for their pets, pet parents also need to be concerned about their pet’s weight.  “Achieving and maintaining healthy weight in pets have been proven to reduce the risk of illness and add to their longevity and general well-being,” said Doug Aspros, DVM, former president of the Pet Nutrition Alliance.  Says veterinarian Ernie Ward, founder of the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, “Obesity is the number one health threat pets face, and the most important pet health decision owners make each day is what and how much to feed.”

Your veterinarian is an excellent source of information about pet nutrition.  At West Kendall Animal Hospital, we recommend Hill’s Science Diet to all of our canine and feline pet owners.  Through our partnership with Hill’s, we’re able to offer free samples of Science Diet to new puppy and kitten owners at their pet’s first visit.  For pets with more challenging nutritional needs, we have access to veterinary nutrition specialists at both Hill’s Prescription Diet as well as Royal Canin .

 

 

 

 

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Have you ever tried to imagine a world without veterinarians?

We’re happy to share this from Henry Schein Animal Health:

It’s difficult to picture, isn’t it? While World Veterinary Day is celebrated annually on the last Saturday in April, every single day veterinary and animal care professionals make contributions to improve the quality of care and lives of animals. Here are 25 ways that veterinarians and veterinary professionals have improved the environment and health for both animals and humans.

  1. Developing vaccinations against common disease. Since Edward Jenner used cowpox to inoculate humans against smallpox in 1796, a close proximity between the development of human and veterinary vaccines has existed.
  2. Discovering ways to eliminate parasite infestations and reduce risk of vector- borne disease. The World Health Organization reports vector-borne diseases account for more than 17% of all infectious diseases, causing more than 700,000 human deaths annually.
  3. Combating zoonotic disease. According to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), of the nearly 1,500 diseases recognized in humans, approximately 60% are due to pathogens that can pass from one species to another.
  4. Continually researching the health effects animals and humans have on each other, and discovering that 75% of emerging human infections originates in animals.
  5. Working with public health officials to address emerging diseases and coordinating actions between human and animal health professionals.
  6. Making food safer for humans to eat by preventing the spread of zoonotic disease such as salmonella from animals to humans through tainted food products (meat, milk, eggs).
  7. Extending the lives and quality of lives of beloved companion animals.
  8. Developing better care, quality of life and nutrition for work animals around the world.
  9. Helping baby animals to live longer or being able to take over care of a baby animal when a mother rejects her young.
  10. Researching animal management to prolong lifespan or reduce risk for endangered species.
  11. Studying the role environment plays on animal and human health.
  12. Drastically reducing the impact of rabies worldwide, which still kills nearly 60,000 annually, mostly children, with over 95% caused by dog bites.
  13. Helping to shape public policy on food safety, inspection and environmental impact.
  14. Serving as a voice for animals by working as forensic veterinarians who treat animals while developing evidence for potential criminal charges of animal abuse, cruelty or neglect.
  15. Finding new ways to diagnose, treat and prevent animal and human health disorders by working as research veterinarians employed at universities, colleges and governmental agencies.
  16. Researching methods to combat foreign diseases brought into other countries by working as regulatory medicine veterinarians.
  17. Studying the effects of pesticides, pollutants and contaminants on animal and human health by working as public health veterinarians.
  18. Helping to rebuild and improve animal agriculture and care systems in underdeveloped and war-damaged countries.
  19. Serving in the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps to protect the United States against bio-terrorism.
  20. Serving in the U.S. Air Force Biomedical Science Corps to promote public health through surveillance of disease trends, food safety practices and facility sanitation.
  21. Promoting the important role companion animals play to human society and emotional health.
  22. Training service and assistance animals to support children and adults with emotional and physical needs.
  23. Controlling animal populations and their environmental impact with sound management strategies.
  24. Teaching others how to care for and extend the lives of animals.
  25. Realizing that every time a vet helps a pet, they also help a human who loves that pet.

Veterinary professionals change the world for the better. They make the world a healthier place both for animals and humans. Veterinary professionals are human. They suffer when animals suffer. If you work in the profession, we thank you for all you do for our pets. And if you are someone who benefits from the work of a veterinary professional, thank your vet today.

When Your Dog Pees in the House, the Problem Might be Medical, Not Behavioral

[Thank you Henry Schein Animal Health for allowing us to share your blog post with our readers.]

Urinary incontinence is a condition found to affect dogs of all ages, breeds, or gender. Most commonly observed in spayed females that are middle-aged and older, incontinence can cause health problems that require veterinary attention.

Symptoms

The first signs of urinary incontinence may include:

  • Dribbling or leaking urine
  • Licking of the vulva or penis area
  • Wet spots on the dog’s bedding
  • Ammonia-like smell on the dog’s bedding.

The initial signs of incontinence are sometimes overlooked. Pet owners may not grasp what has happened, or may incorrectly assume the pet had not been let out in time. However, incontinence won’t just go away. As the condition progresses, pet owners who may not have been aware of the issue in the beginning will soon recognize that their pet does indeed have a problem. It is important to know that the symptoms indicate a need to bring your pet in for an examination.

Causes of Urinary Incontinence

  • Age
    • When incontinence symptoms are observed only occasionally, such as when the animal has been sleeping, the cause may be related to the animal’s age and attributed to:
    • Weakened muscle tone of the urethral sphincter
    • Lowered estrogen levels or hormonal imbalance
    • Illness
      • Certain diseases cause excessive water consumption which increases the animal’s production of urine as well as their need to urinate, and include:
    • Diabetes
    • Kidney disease
    • Cushing’s disease
    • Underlying conditions
      • Examples:
    • Bladder or urinary tract infections
    • Urinary stones
    • Spinal injury
    • Spine degeneration
    • Prostate disorders
    • Protruding intervertebral disc
    • Congenital abnormalities
    • Stress
      • When a dog shows signs of a loss of bladder control when in scary or tense situations, it may be stress incontinence. Found to occur more often in younger animals, most pets will outgrow the condition.

Examination

Without knowing the exact cause, incontinence may be difficult to treat. You should be prepared to provide your veterinarian with the answers to such questions as the following:

  • When did the symptoms first appear?
  • Do the symptoms occur all the time or just on occasion?
  • Does the animal dribble as it walks? Or on where it sits and sleeps?
  • Does it seem to occur only when relaxed or when excited?
  • Is there anything unusual about the urine? Strange color or odor?
  • Does the animal seem to have difficulty urinating? Does it posture as usual?
  • Has the dog been drinking more water than usual?
  • Has the dog always signaled its need to go outside?
  • Has the animal’s need to go outside changed in frequency or in urgency?
  • Does the animal want to go outside?
  • Are there any other unfamiliar signs?

Client Tips for Living with Incontinent Dogs

Living with an incontinent dog will require extra effort by the owner. The following tips may be helpful.

Tip #1. Monitor your pet’s condition closely, watch for any changes that may signal the start of a disease, such as:

  • Increased thirst
  • Increased frequency in urinating needs

Tip #2. Provide proper hygiene. When keeping your dog clean, watch for developing signs of:

  • Urine scalding
  • Skin infections

Tip #3. Living area cleanliness is absolutely necessary for the health and comfort of the pet.

  • Place waterproof pads under the dog’s bedding to absorb urine
  • Layer clean blankets, towels or sheets on the animal’s sleeping spot, changing frequently
  • To protect furniture and carpets, use doggie diapers

Tip #4. Increase the number of walks per day, make sure to the get your dog outside quickly as soon as it wakes from sleeping.

Tip #5. Under no circumstances should the pet’s access to its water bowl be removed or limited.

Tip #6. If  your dog experiences stress incontinence, apply behavioral modification techniques such as the following:

  • Avoid bending over the animal
  • Do not make direct eye contact
  • Keep stressful interactions brief and to a minimum
  • If possible, work with a canine behaviorist

Incontinence can be a symptom of an easily treatable condition or of a serious illness. It’s important that pet owners not only know the signs to watch for, but also realize the importance of consulting with their veterinarian to confirm the diagnosis and determine the cause.

 

Sources:

http://pets.webmd.com/dogs/urinary-incontinence-dogs

http://dogtime.com/puppies/1173-urinary-incontinence-vin

What’s a “Pyo” and Why Should I Be Concerned

lethargic-dog

“Pyo” is how some veterinary staff refer to a pyometra, an infection of the female’s uterus.  Today, I tentatively diagnosed two of these infections – both older female dogs that had not been spayed.  The diagnosis is said to be tentative because prior to surgery, you can only observe the preponderance of symptoms (with test results that are consistent with but not diagnostic of infection) and conclude that it’s most likely a pyometra.

What are the symptoms?  Not every pet will display the same symptoms, and the symptoms are general enough that they could be signs of other illnesses and diseases as well.  Many dogs will be brought in because the owners see a vaginal discharge, but there does not have to be a discharge present in every dog that has an infected uterus.  Most dogs will be lethargic with decreased appetites, some will have vomiting and diarrhea, and others will also have excess urination and/or thirst.  (Note that the discussion is focusing more on dogs, since we rarely see female cats with a diagnosis of pyometra.)

What do we do when we suspect pyometra as one of the possible diagnoses?  At West Kendall Animal Hospital, we’ll perform a basic work-up: a CBC (complete blood count), blood chemistries and Xray, and sometimes a urinalysis.  While a normal CBC does not rule-out a pyometra, many times we’ll see an abnormal white blood count.  Blood chemistries usually show elevated kidney and possibly elevated liver enzymes.  On Xray, we’ll possibly see an enlarged uterus.

So how do we treat a pyometra?  While only rarely can there be a medical (i.e., non-surgical) solution for pets that are “reproductively valuable,” surgery is almost always the preferred treatment.  For most dogs the surgical procedure is a spay (ovariohysterectomy, or removal of the female reproductive organs).

How can I prevent my dog from having this problem?  Spaying your dog at a young age (I recommend between 6 and 12 months) is the best way to avoid an infected uterus in the future.  Spaying at this age will also help protect your dog from breast cancer later in life.  There are very few good reasons to not spay your dog.  Your dog does not need the experience of having a litter of puppies to be a happy, loving family member.  Some people worry that their dog will become fat and lazy after being spayed, but that does not have to happen with a healthy life style that includes an appropriate diet as well as exercise. Are you concerned about your pet undergoing anesthesia?  Yes, spaying your dog is a surgical procedure that, like all surgical procedures, has an element of risk.  At West Kendall Animal Hospital we manage the risk by careful monitoring during surgery as well as in recovery.  Is cost a concern, too?  There are free spay (and neuter) clinics that are offered by Miami Dade Animal Services for healthy pets.

It’s nearing the end of our day.  One of the two dogs is scheduled for surgery tomorrow; the other owner is not pursuing either additional diagnostics or treatment at this time.  I’m very optimistic about the outcome for the dog that’s scheduled for surgery, and I’m very concerned about the other one.  But tomorrow is another day, and maybe we’ll be able to persuade the more-reluctant pet owner to provide some follow-up.  That’s all we can do…

 

 

 

 

 

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