Hypoallergenic pets and children

In the past, researchers have determined that children who have a pet dog or cat, or those who live in rural areas around livestock, have less of a chance to develop asthma and allergies to pets.

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A recent study conducted by Tove Fall, Senior Lecturer at the Department of Medical Sciences — Molecular Epidemiology at Uppsala University, who led the study with Professor Catarina Almqvist Malmros at Karolinska Institutet showed some interesting results.

They determined that the sex of the dog was a factor in reducing an allergic reaction in children. It seems that children who lived with female dogs and more than one dog in the home had less allergies.

They also found that children who lived with the breeds and mixes of dogs that are supposed to be ‘hypoallergenic’ actually had a higher percent of allergies. That the hypoallergenic dogs were not better for children.

A child will benefit the most from having a pet in the home if they are raised the first year of their life with the pet.

The fact that the hypoallergenic breeds are not really hypoallergenic is especially important information for those parents who may be considering a dog for their child who has allergies.

Many people are duped into paying high prices for supposed hypoallergenic designer mixes and breeds that are labeled as hypoallergenic. No matter what the mixed breed is supposedly mixed with, it is still a mixed breed with no proof that it is what the breeder claims to be. I have personally seen many cases where the supposed mix of Goldendoodle or Labradoodle grow up to have the characteristics of a completely different breed. In some cases DNA tests showed the dog was not what it was claimed to be.

Although more research needs to be done, it appears that getting a female dog of the breed that you want is the best course of action. If you plan to start a family, get the dog first. Have the dog trained by the time you start the family. It will make the situation much easier and benefit the children that join your family.

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Asthma – Children – Pets

A recent study by the Nationwide Children’s Hospital to determine if second-hand smoke and living with a pet had a role in controlling severe asthma in children, found interesting results.

In the past if a child had asthma and the family had a pet, the family was often encouraged to get rid of the pet. This is a heartbreaking situation. If the child is old enough to realize that it is because of them that the pet was re-homed, it could cause the child to feel as though they are the blame. This feeling of guilt on top of the grief of losing the pet can be very difficult for a child to deal with.

Scout & Tom

However, the most recent study has shown that if the child’s asthma is managed per NAEPP (EPR-3) guidelines that second-hand smoke and pets do not cause the asthma to get worse or prevent it from improving.

This is very good news for families where a child, or even a family member, suffers from asthma. It also means that a child who has asthma does not have to be denied the joy of owning a pet.

Dog ownership lessens risk of heart disease

In a unique Swedish study, researchers found that people who owned dogs had a lower mortality rate then those who did not. They also found that people who lived alone and owned a dog had less cardiovascular diseases then people who lived alone who did not own a dog.

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The researchers studied 3.4 million people between the ages of 40 and 80 making this a comprehensive comparison. What the study did not show was why there was a difference between dog ownership and non-dog ownership.

One possibility considered was that people who own dogs are more active because they walk their dogs. There was also no indication as to whether or not there were other factors such as the type of people who own dogs vs those who do not.

However, the bottom line is that dog ownership, again, has proven to benefit the health of their owners. It would be interesting to study how growing up with a dog or pet affects the health of children as adults if they continue to own a pet vs those who get a dog or pet later in life. We know that children who own pets are less prone to developing allergies. It would be interesting to know what other physical and mental benefits pet ownership has on children.

Canine aggression to family members and familiar dogs

A recent study by researchers at Nationwide Children’s Hospital showed that there are about 12 genes associated with canine aggression toward an owner or a familiar dog. They concluded that these genetic traits are distinct from the genetic predisposition toward aggression to unfamiliar people and dogs.

It has been found that the genetics involved are common to all breeds of dogs making it easier to study.

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Photo: Babs watching over baby William

Carlos Alvarez, PhD, who is the main researcher at the Center for Molecular and Human Genetics in The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, feels that the genes are consistent with the neural pathway known as the amygdala to the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis.

Researchers feel that this genetic element is related to anxiety disorders in humans and hope that further research will show what kinds of medications will help both dogs and people.

This is an on-going research project. The fact that this type of aggression is genetically based is a good reason for people who plan to purchase a dog to investigate thoroughly the ethics of the breeder and the lines of the dog. If a person adopts a dog who shows this type of behavior they should immediately consult with a certified canine behavior consultant. You can find one at www.iaac.org. If my readers would like my brochure about how to find a good breeder and a quality dog, please emails me at sbulanda@gmail.com. There is no charge for the brochure.

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.

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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.

Rat bite fever

Many people have rodents as pets and they can make wonderful pets for people who do not have room for a larger pet or cannot have a dog, cat or bird. However, although it is rare, rat bite fever can be transmitted by pet rodents, either through a bite or scratch. Rats, gerbils, mice, guinea pigs and ferrets are capable of transmitting rat bite fever. Rat bite fever is an old disease that has been recorded for over 2300 years.

Rat bite fever is caused by Streptobacillus moniliformis which is the most common cause. The symptoms include fever, pain in joints, nausea, rash and vomiting and can be fatal if not treated.

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Children, pet store workers, veterinary technicians, veterinarians and laboratory technicians are in the higher risk group since they handle rodents on a regular basis. People who frequently handle rodents can wear protective gloves to prevent being bitten.  Parents should monitor children who have rodents as pets and if they are bitten or scratched, notify your pediatrician.

Socializing a pet rodent is a precautionary measure that will reduce the chance of being bitten. Rodents can be trained using clicker training methods which will also help to reduce the chances of being bitten by teaching the rodent to come to you.

Always be careful not to frighten or startle a rodent. Avoid trying to handle a rodent that is sleeping. A tap on the cage or talking to the rodent before handling it can calm the rodent and allow the pet to be aware that it is going to be handled. Using common sense will help prevent being bitten and avoid rat bite fever. 

Keep in mind that rat bite fever can also be transmitted by wild rodents. If there are wild rodents in your area and they are trapped, use caution in removing them or handling predators that might have caught and killed a rodent.

 http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/12/151223141151.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciencedaily%2Fplants_animals%2Fanimals+%28Animals+News+–+ScienceDaily%29

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1797630/

Large carnivore attacks on humans

Studies have shown that at least half of the attacks on humans by brown bear, black bear, polar bear, puma, wolf and coyote are due to risks that humans take. Most are due to the fact that people do not understand how to act in areas where these animals live. This is not limited to North America, the studies have been conducted since 1955 in the United States, Canada, Sweden, Finland, Russia and Spain.

If you are going hiking, camping, hunting or visiting areas where these animals live do not go jogging at night, leave children unattended, approach a female with young, walk a dog unleashed.

Bears are attracted to food, so find out the safe ways to have food if you are camping. Local rangers can advise you what works in their area. Do not feed wild animals, this teaches them to approach humans.

Recently in certain parts of the United States and Canada, coyotes and wolves have interbred creating the coywolf.

These animals are typically bolder than wolves and no one is sure what the mix of wolf or coyote they are, if they are more of one or the other. If they are in the area where you live, you must take precautions if you have pets, especially outdoor cats, since they prey on small dogs and cats. If you live in a rural area where there is a large population of feral cats you can expect that coyotes and coywolves are in the area.

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This makes it important to understand how to protect yourself, pets and family from these animals. Often if an animal attacks a human, the animal must be destroyed, even if the attack was defensive and not aggressive. By being careful and avoiding confrontation, you are protecting yourself and saving the life of the animal.

www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/02/160204111357.htm

Dogs help children with a rare and severe form of epilepsy

Although Lafora disease only affects about 50 children worldwide, it is a deadly form of epilepsy that is common in Wirehaired Dachshunds.

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(photo is not a Wirehaired Dachshund but it is cute!)

Many Wirehaired Dachshunds suffer from Lafora, and because the disease is the same in children as it is in dogs, veterinarians and human neurologists have teamed up to study the disease.

Dr. Clare Rusbridge, Reader in Veterinary Neurology at the University of Surrey and Chief Neurologist at Fitzpatrick Referrals, have been working with specialists of Lafora in children at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto and have identified a canine gene mutation that causes Lafora in dogs.

They were able to study the progression of the disease in dogs so that they could identify its early stages in children. By understanding the progression of the disease, scientists will be better able to identify it sooner in children and eventually find a cure.

The plus side of these studies is that over the past five years, with the help of the Wirehaired Dachshund Club and Dachshund Breed Council, breeders have tested breeding stock and as a result, have reduced the number of litters that are at risk of having Lafora from 55% to under 5%. Hopefully the continued research will benefit humans as well.

A new study about co-sleeping with your pets

A recent study examined the practice of sharing a bedroom or bed with a dog. While the authors suggest that more research is needed, they compared sleeping with a dog to the practice of sharing a bed or bedroom with a child.

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The current concern about co-sleeping with a child focuses on the child suffering from poor health, impaired functioning, developing problematic behavior and sexual dysfunction. However, there is not enough evidence to determine if there are negative effects of co-sleeping with dogs or other pets.

According to the study, the benefit of co-sleeping with both pets and children are saving resources, keeping warm, and feeling safe. It is a practice that has been going on for many years.

When it comes to sharing a bedroom with a dog, as an animal behavior consultant, I recommend letting a puppy sleep in a crate in the bedroom to help the puppy bond with the family and feel safer in a new environment. After the dog is trained and under control, it can be allowed to sleep on the bed with a family member. However, if the dog is not trained it can become possessive of the bed or other furniture to the point of becoming aggressive if a family member wants to move the dog. Whether it is good or not depends on many factors, including the dog’s temperament and the owners ability to train and control the dog.

www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/06/170622104001.htm

 

 

 

Rat lungworm can cause meningitis in humans and animals

Rat lungworm, a parasitic nematode, has been found in five Florida counties so far. The lungworm depends on rat and snail hosts to complete its life-cycle. To become infected, both humans and animals must eat the snails or infected frogs or crustaceans.

Although the fatality rate in infected humans is low, the parasite can cause eosinophilic meningitis if it dies in a person’s brain which can lead to a coma and/or death.

Adults who become infected suffer from headaches, stiff neck, fever, vomiting, nausea, and paralysis. Children suffer from nausea, vomiting and fever.

Animals that are infected can get meningitis, weakness in their limbs or even paralysis, neck pain and central nervous system problems.

Prevention involves washing produce since snails can be very small. Children should be taught not to handle or eat snails. If they handle a snail they must wash their hands. To prevent infection in pets, check their living area including watering troughs or dishes, and watch to make sure that your animals do not eat snails.

www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/06/170628131625.htm