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/

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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

A parasitic worm that infects the eyes of dogs

The worm, Thelazia callipaeda is transmitted by a fruit fly and is capable of infecting mammals including dogs, cats and humans. Three dogs in the UK have been infected that were imported from Europe. The adult worms live in the mammal’s eyes and the tissues around the eye. The infection manifests itself as mild conjunctivitis to severe corneal ulceration which if left untreated can lead to blindness.

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The discovery was made by a research team led by John Graham-/Brown at the University of Liverpool.  In light of the fact that so many people travel abroad and import dogs and cats, it is a wise idea to keep this information in mind in the event that you or your pet develops eye problems. With the history of how illnesses are spread, there is no doubt in my mind that it is just a matter of time until this parasite reaches the U.S. and other countries.

www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/09/170918222244.htm

Dog aggression may be related to hormone levels

According to research conducted by Evan MacLean at the University of Arizona and published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology they found that the hormones oxytocin and vasopressin may be linked to aggression in dogs. Both hormones are also found in humans.

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Dogs that tested to be more aggressive had higher levels of vasopressin. What is interesting is that further research of dogs bred to be assistance dogs who are bred specifically to be non-aggressive, had higher levels of oxytocin and higher oxytocin-to-vasopressin ratios. What this means is that oxytocin may help inhibit aggression.

Researchers also found that experience can influence the level of vasopressin in a dog. Often aggression results from a traumatic experience which alters the hormone levels resulting in a form of PTSD. On the flip side, positive experiences such as socialization with people and other animals in a non-threatening manner can raise the oxytocin levels.

The good news is that in humans, they are already using hormone therapies to help people with autism, schizophrenia and other problems such as PTSD. Perhaps this will lead to therapies for dogs that are extremely aggressive.

www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/09/170927162032.htm

Moving with a pet By Cindy Aldridge guest blogger

Whether it’s across town or across the country, moving is one of the most difficult, most stressful processes of our lives. Finding a new place; selling the old place; purging, packing, unpacking; redecorating, setting up utilities, change-of- address forms. And those are just the logistics. Never mind the mental and emotional toll moving can have on a person… or a pet.

Us humans? We know exactly what is happening. While a move may be stressful, we’ve probably done it (multiple times) before. Plus, we can take comfort in the fact that it will all be over soon enough. With some guidance, even young children can understand that, in a few days or weeks, they will be settling into a new home surrounded by all the possessions and people they love.

Our pets, on the other hand, have no idea what’s going on or what to expect. Animals, much like people, are creatures of habit. For this reason, a big transition can cause them just as much stress as it does us. That’s why it is important to take extra care of your furry friends throughout the moving process.

Tip # 1 – Keep your pet healthy.

Even the healthiest pets need extra care in the midst of a move. If you’re traveling to your new home via car, transport your small pets in a secure, well-ventilated carrier. Large dogs that cannot be contained in a crate should be kept on a leash at all times. You should also pay close attention to temperature, and never leave your pet in the car for extended periods of time. If possible, let your pet eat, drink, and exercise according to his or her normal schedule, and stop frequently for potty breaks.

If you think your pet may suffer from motion sickness, there are medications that can make his or her trip more comfortable. Check with your veterinarian for an over-the- counter recommendation or prescription. He or she should also be able to provide guidance when it comes to dosage amounts and frequency. For pets that suffer from chronic illness or disease, keep medications on hand.

Tip # 2 – Keep your pet safe.

From pet hazards at the new home to the increased likelihood of losing a pet, moving presents a variety of safety concerns of which every pet owner should be aware. First and foremost, you should create a safe space at your new home for your pets. The space should be free of possible poisons, electrical or heat sources, choking hazards, falling objects, and escape routes. It should be full of items that bring your pet comfort, like favorite toys and familiar bedding or blankets.

In the event your pet were to escape or run away from your new home, a little advance preparation could go a long way when it comes to getting your furry friend back safe and sound.

Purchase and attach new tags to your pet’s collar prior to your move, and don’t forget to register your microchip with your new information. (Hint: Use a cell phone number and email address that won’t change, instead of a landline or physical address.)

Tip # 3 – Keep your pet happy.

Once you’re in your new home, it will take some time for your pet to adapt. You can help them adapt to their new normal simply by spending time showing them around their new home. Once all the boxes are unpacked and everything is in its place, take your pet on a guided tour of their new space. Show them where they’ll eat, sleep, and play. And don’t forget the outdoors. For the first few weeks, some pets may try to find their way back to their old home. Keeping them on a leash while they explore their new surroundings will ensure they stay close.

Finally, don’t forget to show your pets lots of love. Reward them with treats, playtime, and cuddles when they do well, and be consistent with their new routine. In a few weeks time, just like the rest of the family, your pets should acclimate to their new home and any stress or anxiety caused by the move should be relieved.

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Image via Pexels

Pet treats, food and health insurance

In my post about finding the right dog food I listed a very informative link to a site that evaluates dog food. I have since learned that these evaluators have links to cat food, cat treats, dog treats and pet insurance. It is just as important to feed your dog or cat quality treats as it is to feed them quality food, especially if you give them a lot of treats.

Keep in mind that snacking a lot can make a pet put on weight. So, if you are using a lot of treats, especially when training your pet, you may want to decrease their food to compensate. Also, keep in mind that as your pet gets older, they will tend to put on weight (the same as many people do). If your pet tends to put on weight, look for a treat that has few calories. Some treats have only 3 or so calories.

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Health insurance is another very confusing issue for many pet owners. There are so many options and prices. However, considering how expensive veterinarian bills can be, especially for catastrophic illnesses, it is a good idea to have insurance. What options you pick will depend on what you can afford to pay for without insurance. When choosing the right policy for you, take into consideration what your income will be at the end of your pet’s life. This is the time when your pet may need the most veterinarian care. Cost consideration is especially important if you will be retired or near retirement as your pet ages. Taking the time to research treats, food, and insurance will benefit you and your pet in the long run.

Cat food: https://www.reviews.com/cat-food/​
Cat treats: https://www.reviews.com/cat-treats/​
Dog treats: https://www.reviews.com/dog-treats/
Pet insurance: https://www.reviews.com/pet-insurance/

 

Finding the right dog food

In my many years working as a dog trainer and then a certified canine and feline behavior consultant, I have seen how many people do not understand the value of quality food for their pets. Many people believe the ads that they see on TV, most of those brands are not considered good. The food that you can buy at a discount store or supermarket are not the best either. But how to sort through the many foods available.

To begin with, you have to understand the labels. While it is true that the first ingredient has to be the largest percent in the food, what is not clear is that it is usually the smallest percent of the food. For example, the first ingredient is listed as chicken at 10%, then next ingredient and all subsequent ingredients are each less than 10%, but put together they equal 90% of the food. This makes the rest of the ingredients more important than the main ingredient.

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Labels can be misleading, for example, unspecified meat can be anything including diseased animals or road kill. Another issue with food is the source of the fat. Some food companies use the leftover fat from restaurants that has been stored in 55 gallon drums and has turned rancid. The pet food companies are allowed to use this fat if they process it in a certain way. Companies that produce food for human consumption also may use the leftovers from the human food production, such as cereal fines. Another consideration are the fillers in the food. Many times, they are indigestible roughage that does not have any nutritional value. You can see the results of these foods by the amount of stool that the pet produces. High quality food usually reduces the amount of stool by half. By having a large amount of indigestible roughage, the pet has to eat more food to get the nutritional value that their body needs, and guess what, you have to buy twice as much food.

Often people will tell me that they cannot afford the higher priced quality food. But in reality since the pet will have to eat much less of the better food, the cost per serving is usually less than the cheap food. Also, the savings in veterinarian bills makes the better food a real value.

In terms of good health, young dogs and cats can look healthy on poor quality food, but in the long term they will not be as healthy and from middle to old age they may have more health issues from living on a poor diet. In some cases, they may not live as long as they could have on better food. The effects of poor food are evident at a younger age in working dogs, such as police, detection and search dogs.

Last but not least, a pet’s behavior can reflect a poor diet. When I was mentoring a future dog trainer, on the first night of group training, I would point out the dogs that were being fed poor quality food and was correct 99% of the time. I was able to tell by the dog’s behavior alone. When I told the class to switch to a better brand, the ones that did would always come back the next week amazed at the difference in their dog’s behavior. When I work with dogs or cats that have behavior issues, their diet is always one of the first things I evaluate.

The good news is that there is now a site that evaluates dog food and does a good job. If the dog food brands listed also sell cat food, it is safe to say that the cat food will be a high quality as well. Go to the site below and read the criteria that they used to select quality foods. Please spread the word about this post so that as many pet owners as possible can feed their pets the right food.

 http://www.reviews.com/dog-food/#Top_Picks

New hope for dogs that suffer from previously untreatable cancers

As dogs live longer, more of them suffer from cancer. Some of the cancers are untreatable with conventional therapies. One such cancer is oral malignant melanoma (OMM) and undifferentiated sarcoma which is a soft tissue cancer. Professor Satoru Konnai of Hokkaido University and his team in Japan have developed an antibody that causes immune responses in dogs that reduces the malignant tumors. They studied dogs with both types of cancer and had success in treating them. Since the untreatable cancers in dogs are similar to those in humans, there is hope that with further studies, this new treatment will help people with untreatable cancers.

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www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/08/170825090640.htm

http://www.cancercenter.com/soft-tissue-sarcoma/learning/

A new job for dogs

Dogs are increasingly being trained to detect unusual things. The latest job is detecting the very difficult to find, Hermit beetle and its larva which live for up to three years hidden in places such as hollow trees in wooded areas.

The use of dogs was the brainchild of Dr. Fabio Mosconi of the Italian Agricultural Research Council and Spienza University of Rome. They have successfully trained Teseo, a Golden Retriever, to detect the endangered beetle.

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Beetle detection is another job to add to the growing list of things dogs have and are being used to detect. Besides finding the commonly known things, such as drugs, bombs, humans, and agricultural items at airports, dogs have been used to find such items as Wolf scat, Bird nests, toxic mold, old money, lost pets, and gold ore just to name a few. Dogs are also able to alert people to oncoming seizures, low blood sugar and cancer.

Although scientists are still trying to develop a machine that can equal the scenting capabilities of dogs, they have yet to succeed. Dogs are truly man’s best friend performing so many jobs other than detection work.

www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/08/170828123340.htm

Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, (HGE) in dogs

Recently I had to rush my Parsons Russell Terrier to the Veterinarian ER. He had vomited the night before and seemed out of sorts a little bit, but not unusual for a 10+ year old dog. The only thing different that night was that he did not play his “Ha Ha I can catch you but you cannot catch me” game with Babs our Border Collie. This is a nightly ritual around the living room furniture.

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Riley

When my husband got up the next morning, Riley had had diarrhea and was listless. This was 5:30 a.m. Larry immediately woke me up and when I looked at Riley I knew he was very sick. We immediately took him to the Veterinary ER.

We spent the morning at the ER and then took him to my regular veterinarian when they opened. The diagnosis was Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, (HGE). Because I had caught the disease before it had progressed and got Riley to the veterinarian right away, he was able to come home that afternoon. By the next day he seemed like his old self but still had a few days of medications and a bland diet left to go.

HGE is a disease that causes sudden vomiting and bloody diarrhea. The symptoms are severe and can be fatal if the dog is not treated right away. The progression of the disease is so fast that a dog can die within 24 hours.

Although it is common in young adult dogs (Riley had it when he was one to two years old) it can show up in older dogs as I found out. It is most common in small breeds but it can affect any dog of any size.

What is important to know is that the disorder occurs very suddenly and without warning. The main symptoms are vomiting and bloody diarrhea which is often bright red, like fresh blood. Some dogs have painful abdomens, they will not eat, can have a high fever and are listless. In Riley’s case his temperature dropped to 98°F.

The exact cause of HGE is unknown but some suspected causes are:

  1. Eating non-food items
  2. Eating different foods that the dog is not used to
  3. Immune-mediated disease
  4. Various toxins
  5. Pancreatitis
  6. Stress (note that stress can be good stress such as excitement about playing, as well as bad)
  7. Anxiety
  8. Hyperactivity
  9. Allergic reaction to food or airborne substances
  10. Intestinal parasites and bacteria

Riley had a battery of tests and X-rays to rule out other causes of his symptoms. Some of the tests that a veterinarian may use could include a CBC, analysis of the blood, urinalysis, X-rays, clotting tests, fecal test, ultrasound or gastrointestinal tract exam.

Treatment must include IV fluids, antibiotics, and in some cases gastrointestinal protectants, anti-vomiting medications and perhaps plasma or colloids. The most critical treatment are IV fluids which must be given right away. If not, the dog will most likely die.

Since there is not clear trigger for HGE, it is hard to prevent it. What I learned is that while a younger dog can tolerate some of the causes, an older dog may not. That means that an owner with an older dog must be more careful. One of the things that my veterinarian stressed is to only feed a high-quality dog food, which I do. Dog foods that are available in the supermarket or discount stores are not high quality. I personally like Annamaet and Wysong foods. Even if you feed your dog a high-quality food, you must also be careful with the treats you give your dog. Poor quality treats may trigger HGE as well. Another important preventative measure is to be sure to give your dog regular heartworm medication as well as tick and flea prevention.

Always keep the phone number and address of your emergency veterinarian clinic handy as well as your regular veterinarian. Some emergency clinics are only open at night and weekends instead of 24 hours. A dog who is being treated for HGE must stay at a clinic under supervision until they are well enough to come home. The total treatment can be costly, Riley’s bill came to over $1000 for both clinics combined. If your dog is young, it might be a good idea to get pet health insurance, many plans are reasonably priced. This is a very good idea if you have a working dog who is more likely to be injured or get sick.

Some people may see the early signs of HGE and feel that the dog will get better in a day or so. What I hope my readers learn from this article is that you cannot wait. It is much better to be safe then have your dog die. The longer the dog suffers from HGE the less likely they will survive due to complications that HGE causes.

https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/hemorrhagic-gastroenteritis-in-dogs