PTSD in dogs

Recently canine behaviorists and veterinarians have seen what appears to be a canine version of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome in dogs (PTSD).

Some of the dogs are combat veterans and police dogs. However, it is possible that pet dogs who experience a traumatic event can also suffer from PTSD.

Scout SAR training window

Pet dogs who suffer from PTSD can include dogs that have been frightened by fireworks, are noise sensitive, or have been injured in some way. The symptoms usually vary from case to case. Some dogs will be over-responsive, showing extreme fear for example, while others change the way they interact with their owner/handler such as becoming aggressive or over clingy or timid.

Other symptoms can include attempting to escape certain environments or avoid those environments. In some cases, the dog in question who was a good working dog will suddenly fail to complete his tasks or shut down entirely.

Treatment for each case will vary. Sometimes a veterinarian will suggest an anti-anxiety medication to be used for the short term. This must be coupled with retraining, desensitizing to the environmental elements and situations that cause the problem and counter-conditioning to build the dog’s confidence. People who own or work with these dogs must understand that it takes time to work through the issues and that there is no magic pill to fix the problem.

Fortunately, there are certified canine behavior consultants who can help these dogs. There are also organizations dedicated to saving the dogs and finding suitable homes for them when necessary. One organization is Combat Canines: The DDoc Foundation.

It is important to keep in mind that rehabilitating these dogs takes time. No one knows for sure if they actually suffer from PTSD because the dogs cannot tell us. However, the symptoms strongly suggest that they do. Many of these dogs have served our country faithfully and deserve a second chance for a happy life.

Advertisements

Probiotics for humans and pets

Probiotics are a hot topic in both humans and pets. The gastrointestinal (GI) tract in both humans and animals is responsible for overall health.

DSCN0046

It is the largest immune organ in the body. It is also the home of trillions of microorganisms. The ratio of these microorganisms and their relationship to each other is what makes us healthy or unhealthy.

Probiotics are a supplement that both animals and humans can take to make sure that the balance as well as the presence of these microorganisms is correct. Although there is not enough conclusive research about the benefits for humans and animals, there are enough positive results to warrant taking them.

We do know more about how they work in humans than animals, but since animals often have the same results as humans, it is safe to assume that they help in the same ways. So let’s look at how they help in humans to understand the benefits of probiotics.

Mainly they help with diarrhea that is a result of taking antibiotics and they may help with traveler’s diarrhea.  People with ulcerative colitis sometimes benefit from the VSL#3 blend of probiotics. Interestingly there is also evidence that probiotics may help with depression and anxiety, and last but not least, they may reduce the risk of blood infections known as sepsis.

When purchasing probiotics is it important to consider the cost, since many are expensive. Also, certain groups of people such as the very young, elderly, those whose systems are immune-compromised because of health conditions (autoimmune disease, severe burns, on chemotherapy, or on immune suppressants) may experience gas and bloating if they take probiotics too quickly.

It is important to talk to your doctor, (or veterinarian for your pet), about the amount of probiotics needed to bring the results necessary. Research indicates that people may need from one to ten million daily.

 

 

Declawing a cat

Some people feel that they must declaw a cat in order to save their furniture, rugs and curtains. However, they fail to realize that declawing a cat is not the same a trimming their nails. It involves removing the end bone and claw on each of the cat’s toes. This is a painful procedure and the cat will need care and pain medications to recover. Many veterinarians will not declaw a cat.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Declawing a cat will also take away the cat’s main defense mechanism. While you may feel that your cat will be an indoor cat, during the cat’s lifetime, he may accidently get outside and will be almost defenseless.

Scratching is a normal behavior for a cat. They mark their territory and sharpen their nails by scratching. It seems that they also enjoy the activity.

Rather than declaw a cat, you can teach a cat to use a scratching post. Provide a scratching post in the places the cat likes to scratch. If the cat starts to scratch furniture, simply say no and move the cat to a scratching post. They are capable of learning where to scratch. Clicker training can help a cat learn to use a scratching post.

There are different types of scratching posts for cats. Experiment with them to see which one appeals to your cat. Some of the types of scratching posts are ones made from rug, natural wood and cardboard like substance.

It is easier to train a young cat than an older cat, but the main thing is to not give up. With the right scratching post and encouragement, your cat will learn.

If you do consider declawing, consult with your veterinarian first to see what is involved in the procedure as well as the care that the cat will need after. It is always easier to declaw a young cat. Declawing an older cat or one that has medical issues can be riskier and cause health problems.

Understanding your cat can be easier than you think

Cats communicate in many ways. They use vocalizations, body language and spatial position to communicate.

For example, a cat will gently paw you to get your attention. While batting things around is a form of play, a hard swat without their claws out can be a warning. A swat with the claws out is a much more aggressive act, either in defense or as an attack. Of course there is the kneading action with their paws that cats do when they are happy.

cat on cage

(my cat who was taught not to bother the bird, note the bird is not afraid of the cat)

When a cat vocalizes a short meow is like a greeting, or a friendly “how are you doing?” A meow that is a bit louder and perhaps longer typically is a request for something, such as dinner or to get to a place that is inaccessible. A longer meow is a more demanding request, typically if you ignored the cat’s earlier request. A high pitch meow is a protest, such as if the cat does not like to be groomed or have its nails clipped. Then there is a long, almost sad meow that sounds as if the cat is confused.

If an old cat does this and seems to be lost or confused, it is time for an examination by your veterinarian. The cat may be suffering from or starting to get dementia. A hiss is usually a warning to move away from the cat. Purring is usually a sign of contentment but a cat that is in pain or stress will purr.

Facial expressions are important, including the ear set, eyes as well as the mouth. Flattened ears show that the cat is angry or frightened. Large dark eyes also can mean anger or fear. An opened mouth with a hiss is anger or fear and it can be difficult for a cat owner to tell the difference between anger and fear.

A cat’s tail is just as expressive as vocalizations. A happy cat will have its tail up and often with a small hook at the end. A swishing tail is a sign of annoyance and sometimes anger. Of course there are many positions in between the upright tail and the swishing tail. Some cats will appear to be contented but the tips of their tail flicks up and down or back and forth, it can mean that the cat is irritated. When some cats are very happy their tail will stand upright and shake with the hair at the base of the tail puffed out.

As most people know, when a cat is angry or frightened they will arch their back and raise the hair on their back and tail. The tail will usually be erect or curved down and sometimes tucked between their legs.

To help our cats understand us, we need to be consistent in our body language and tone of voice. You can train a cat if you are careful not to give the cat mixed signals. A treat with a happy face and voice will show a cat that you are pleased with their behavior. A firm no and a serious face will let them know that you do not approve of their actions.

Cats sometimes do not recognize our space. Therefore, if a cat gets on you, near you or goes where you do not want them to go, such as on the table at dinner time, you can give the cat a stern “no” and point to the floor while you gently push them away. It may take a few times but the cat will learn.

For behavior that you want, you can smile, tell the cat that it is good and give the cat a treat. The cat will learn that this is acceptable behavior. Of course, you can clicker train a cat. https://clickertraining.com/cat-training

With a little thought, planning, and careful observation, it is not as difficult to communicate with a cat or understand what they are trying to tell us as a person may think. Your cat will love you more for the effort and you will understand your cat better.

New research shows how birds learn new songs

Richard Hahnloser a researcher from the Institute of Neuroinformatics run by ETH Zurich and the University of Zurich has made an interesting discovery. He found that Zebra finches divide the complex task of learning a new song into manageable parts. When the song was changed, the birds adapted the syllables or notes of the song that they knew to the new song. After a short period of time they were able to master the new song.

DSCN1090

The researchers found that the method that the birds used is similar to the method that computer linguists use to compare documents. It is also the same method that children use to learn a primary and secondary language.

The real implication of the study is not only the technique that the birds use, but the intelligence and thought process that they  have to use this technique. It requires awareness and the ability to analyze. The more we learn about animals, the more we realize they are much more intelligent than previously thought. How exciting it is to think of what discoveries await us.

www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/11/171101092010.htm

Hypertension in dogs

Most people are familiar with hypertension in people also known as “high blood pressure” but how many of us know that about 10% of dogs have it too? The problem is that our dogs cannot tell us if they are not feeling well. Therefore, it is our responsibility to look for symptoms that could be a result of high blood pressure.

dscn1701

There are two types of high blood pressure in dogs, primary and secondary. Humans are more likely to have primary high blood pressure, which is when there is no underlying cause.

Secondary high blood pressure is typically caused by a disease. Secondary high blood pressure is the most common one that affects dogs.

Unfortunately, the signs for high blood pressure can also be signs of other medical problems in your dog. For example, high blood pressure can affect the eyes, central nervous system, heart and kidneys.

Often dogs do not show early signs of high blood pressure, and sometimes the signs that we see are considered part of normal aging and could be overlooked.

Like humans, being obese is a cause of high blood pressure and is one thing we can control. Regular exercise and keeping your dog’s weight at a normal level can help prevent high blood pressure.

Because the symptoms can be related to other medical issues, if you notice any change in your dog’s behavior regardless of what age your dog is, a trip to the veterinarian is in order. In older dogs do not assume that behavior changes are due to old age.

Some of the changes to look for are excessive drinking. Sometimes a dog owner will not know if their dog is drinking more water so good way to tell is to see if the dog has to urinate more often and/or larger amounts.

Changes in the dog’s movement, how he walks, if he seems dizzy, or falls is another sign. The dog’s mental state, such as does he seem forgetful? Stand in a corner or seem to get lost?

Has the dog’s appetite changed? Is he less active? Does your dog pant excessively? Does he cough or seem short of breath? These are all symptoms that warrant an immediate visit to your veterinarian.

Sometimes changes happen gradually. It is a good idea if the dog is a senior to have your dog checked twice a year. Keep in mind that being a senior depends on the breed of dog. Some breeds can live to be 18 and some do not live past ten. Check with your veterinarian to determine what age your dog needs a twice a year checkup. The good news is that high blood pressure in dogs is treatable with medications.

Cats can catch canine influenza from dogs

A group of cats in a shelter in Northwest Indiana have tested positive for the canine influenza H3N2 virus. This was confirmed by Sandra Newbury the clinical assistant professor and also the director of the Shelter Medicine Program at the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine in collaboration with Kathy Toohey-Kurth, virology section head at the Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.

scan0023

Although cases have been reported in South Korea, only a single case showed up in the United States in 2015. The cats that are infected shared a shelter with dogs that were also infected.

Tests have shown that the virus can reproduce in cats and spread from cat to cat, as well as from dog to cat. This means that dogs and cats must be housed separate from each other in shelters.

Cats exhibit upper respiratory symptoms such as runny nose, congestion and general malaise, as well as lip smacking and excessive salivation. Fortunately, the symptoms do not last long and so far, have not caused death in cats.

Dogs that have the virus often develop a persistent cough, runny nose and fever, although some dogs show no symptoms and some can get very sick. Canine flu has caused death in dogs but most recover if taken to a veterinarian and given the proper care.

Although there is a flu shot for dogs, there is no shot for cats. So far the canine virus has not infected a large number of cats. However, if a potential cat owner goes to a shelter and adopts a cat or visits a shelter and already owns a cat, they should be cautious when handling cats by using hand sanitizer before and after handling each individual cat or dog.
If your dog or cat shows flu symptoms, a trip to the veterinarian is in order. However, be sure to tell the receptionist when making an appointment that you suspect that your dog or cat has the canine influenza virus so that they make take proper precautions.

Proper treatment, care and handling of pets who may have the canine influenza virus, will go a long way to preventing it from spreading. Be sure not to make contact with other pets until your veterinarian says the virus is no longer contagious.

Tick diseases in humans and pets

Tick season is here again in many parts of the country. Ticks can cause diseases in both dogs and humans as well as other pets. Most people do not realize that there are a number of diseases that are transmitted by ticks with some infections taking place in as little as three hours after being bitten.

tick

Many diseases transmitted by ticks can infect a variety of species of animals as well as humans. Although many pet owners use tick and flea prevention drugs, it is important to realize that while the tick may not bite the pet, the tick can travel from the pet to a human.

Therefore, if the pet owner lives in an area where there are ticks or their pet goes to a tick infested area, the pet should be checked thoroughly for ticks. One way to do this is to use a flea comb and comb the pet’s fur right to the skin but not digging into the skin.

Sometimes a pet owner can run their hands over the pet and feel a tick. This is very important if the pet sleeps on the owners bed, furniture of sits on the owner’s lap. Keep in mind that ticks are found in bushes, trees, grass, weeds, and in the soil. Check with your veterinarian to see what tick preventative medicine is best for your pet

Pets and humans (especially children) should be checked for ticks every time they go into a potentially tick infested area. Ticks are often most active in the spring and fall, but in certain areas of the country can be active year round.

Humans can use insect repellent when entering tick infested areas. Wearing long sleeves and putting pant legs inside socks can help prevent ticks from crawling up pant legs and arms. Hats can help to protect the head from ticks dropping from overhead vegetation. .

If the tick embeds it should be removed as quickly as possible. A product called a tick key is very useful in removing ticks from pets and humans.

If you do not have a tick key, remove a tick by using tweezers to grab the tick as close to the skin as possible, then pull up with a stead, even pressure. Do not twist or jerk the tick since the head of the tick may break off. If it does try to remove the head with the tweezers. Do not touch the tick with your hands if possible. Dispose of it by dropping it in rubbing alcohol or wrap the tick on sticky tape and throw it away. Be sure to wash your hands after handling a tick.

It is a good idea to take a shower after working or playing in tick infested areas and washing your clothes. Ticks can hide in clothing and then crawl into the home. With a little diligence and care, you can protect yourself and your pets from tick diseases.

Ticks exist in all 50 states, with some having greater infestations than others. Here is a list of some of the tick diseases:

Anaplasmosis human, – is also known as human granulocytic ehrlichiosis. Ticks get the organism when feeding on deer, elk or wild rodents. The symptoms are: fever, headache, muscle pain,malaise, chills, nausea and/or abdominal pain, cough, confusion and although rare, a rash. Dogs can get anaplasmosis as well as other animals. The symptoms in dogs are: joint pain, high fever, lethargy, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures and neck pain.

Bartonellosis – Although it is thought to be carried by ticks, this disease at present, does not seem to be transmitted to humans through ticks. However, it is transmitted by cats through fleas. It causes what is commonly known as “cat scratch disease” and is most likely carried by feral cats. There is some evidence that it can be transmitted to humans by being bitten with an infected flea.

Hepatozoonosis – is often fatal in dogs. Dogs get it by eating an infected tick. The symptoms include: fever, weakness, muscle atrophy, generalized pain, reluctance to move, ocular discharge; and gradual deterioration of the body.

Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) is a serious, potentially fatal disease that is transmitted to humans by a tick. It is carried by the American dog tick, Rocky mountain wood tick, and the brown dog tick. Symptoms include fever, headache, abdominal pain, vomiting and muscle pain. A human can get a rash from the tick bite. It must be treated in the first few days or the disease can be fatal.

Dogs and other animals can get RMSF. The symptoms in dogs include: depression, lethargy, anorexia, blood in the urine, irregular heartbeat, discolored skin that often looks like a bruise, loss of coordination, swelling in the limbs, bleeding through the nose and stools, difficulty with blood clotting, swollen lymph nodes, pain in the eyes, inflammation or conjunctivitis.

Ehrlichiosis Affects both dogs, humans, and wild canids and is found worldwide and throughout the United States. It is transmitted by ticks including the brown dog tick and the Lone Star tick. What is important to realize is that this disease can live in a tick for up to five months, which means that a tick that has it in the fall can pass it along to a dog or human in the spring.

There are three phases of this disease. The acute phase develops in 1 – 3 weeks. The liver, lymph nodes and spleen are often enlarged. Humans get fever, depression, lethargy, loss of appetite, shortness of breath, joint pain and stiffness and bruises. Dogs can sometimes fight the infection and go into the subclinical phase. In this phase the dog may show slight anemia. This phase can last for years when the dog will eliminate the disease from its body or go into the chronic phase which can be mild or severe. The signs are weight loss, anemia, neurological signs, bleeding, the eyes can become inflamed, fluid builds up in the hind legs, and fever develops. Sometimes the disease will only show up when the dog becomes stressed. In some cases arthritis or kidney disease may develop.

Lymes Disease in humans is transmitted by deer ticks or the blacklegged ticks. Symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue and sometimes a rash. This disease can spread to joints, the nervous system and the heart.

Lymes disease in dogs Symptoms include: a stiff walk with an arched back, sensitivity to touch, difficulty breathing, fever, lack of appetite and depression, lymph nodes may be swollen, and although rare, heart abnormalities and neurologic issues.

Is there a difference between dog and cat owners/ lovers?

Is there a difference between cat and dog owners? Some studies say that there is, and when you think of each pet, it makes sense. Dogs are more active and social and cats quieter and less playful than a dog. Its reasonable that different human personalities would be attracted to the different personalities between dogs and cats.

IMG_0231

An article by Lorenzo Jensen III says that there are 17 differences between dog and cat owners. Another article by Cosette Jarrett says that there are 10 differences. Stanely Coren also tackled this question in his own study.

dscn1417

Here is a comparison of what they found.

1) Dog lovers listen – they follow the rules more closely (Cosette Jarrett) CJ
Dog people are more obedient ( Lorenzo Jensen III) LJ

2) Cat lovers are smart – generally cat people scored higher in IQ tests (CJ)
Cat people are smarter – (LJ)

3) Dog lovers are more lively – friendlier and more energetic (CJ)

4) Cat lovers keep an open mind – (CJ)
Cat lovers are more open minded – (LJ)

5) Dog lovers love people – (CJ)
Dog lovers are more outgoing (LJ)

6) Cat lovers seek affection (CJ)
Cat people seen affection (LJ)

7) Dog lovers look for companionship (CJ)
Dog Lovers seek companionship (LJ)

8) Cat lovers are sensitive (CJ)
Cat lovers are more sensitive (LJ)

9) There are more dog lovers than cat lovers (CJ)
More dog people than cat people (LJ)

10) Cat lovers would rather be alone, single and in an apartment (CJ)
Cat lovers tend to live alone (LJ)

11) Dog lovers are dominant – (CJ)

12) Cat people tend to be more prone to anxiety and have neurotic disorders (LJ)

13) Dog people tend to live in rural areas (LJ)

14) Dog people are more conservative (LJ)

15) Dog Lovers are more masculine (LJ)

16) Dog people tolerate cats (LJ)

17) Cat people hate dogs (LJ)

18) Dog people love a different Beatle – Dog people love Paul McCartney; Cat people love George Harrison (LJ)

19) Dog and cat people have a different sense of humor (LJ)

20) Cat people are more independent

What about people who love both dogs and cats? According to Stanley Coren, people who owned both tended to fall into the dog people category. Perhaps there needs to be further studies on the differences between dog and cat lovers/owners. But always keep in mind that these studies do not apply to everyone. There are always exceptions to the rule, however it is fun to read these studies.

A new cure for lameness in horses

Dr. Catrin Rutland, Assistant Professor of Anatomy and Developmental Genetics at Nottingham’s School of Veterinary Medicine and Science, led a study with the Kazan Federal University and the Moscow State Academy of Veterinary Medicine and Biotechnology that discovered the use of DNA injections to cure injury related lameness in horses.

horse

Within two months the horses were 100% restored to their pre-injury state. The gene therapy uses a combination of the Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor gene VEGF164, to enhance the growth of blood vessels and bone morphogenetic protein 2 (BMP2), which plays an important role in the development of bone and cartilage.

The genes were taken from horses and cloned into a DNA, which was not rejected by the horses that were treated since it was horse DNA. The current therapies for lameness at best has only a 40 to 80% success rate and can take up to 6 months for the horse to recover.

The DNA treatment resulted in the tissues in the horse’s limbs to be fully recovered. As a follow-up the horses were examined a year later and found to be 100% fit, active and pain free.

Not only is this good for horses, but the researchers hope that with further research, the method can be used on all animals, including people who suffer from similar injuries.

www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/10/171018091156.htm