Archive for the ‘Veterinary/Medical’ Category

Forensic Veterinarian Analyzes Evidence Collection For Animal Cruelty Cases

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2007

pitbull.jpgWhen investigators in the dog fighting case against NFL player Michael Vick needed a forensic expert on animals, they called Atlanta-based Dr. Melinda C. Merck.

Merck, a forensic veterinarian with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, spent the day at the Kent County SPCA rescue-adoption center in Camden, Delaware last week, sharing the latest animal cruelty crime scene investigation tools and techniques with scores of police, animal enforcement officers, vets and pet advocates.

“Every cruelty case is tough,” Dr. Merck told attendees. “But it’s always gratifying when you get a plea or conviction.”

Getting evidence needed for conviction is more demanding than ever, she said, partly because of what is called “the CSI effect.” Because of “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” and other TV shows such as the nonfiction “Forensic Files,” jurors expect DNA tests, all details used to estimate time of death and proof of evidence custody, Merck said. If prosecutors lack such science, “they want to know why,” she said.

In animal cases, she said, standard DNA testing may cost about $300, compared with several thousand dollars for human tests. Still, the cost factor mentioned by Merck made Delaware SPCA’s Executive Director John E. Caldwell balk. The nonprofit agency, with shelters in Stanton and Georgetown, successfully investigates and prosecutes hundreds of cases of animal cruelty each year without such expensive techniques, he said.


Virus Killing Cats In Gans, Pennsylvania

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2007

VictorMore than a dozen possible cases of feline panleukopenia, a highly contagious and potentially fatal viral disease, has cat owners upset over the death of their cats and led an animal shelter to quarantine dozens of cats and kittens.

Three Gans residents said they unknowingly took home cats and kittens infected with the disease from the shelter. They said some of those kittens have died and spread the disease to their cats, which also died.

Panleukopenia, also known as feline distemper, is caused by feline parvovirus and attacks body cells, making cats susceptible to bacterial infections and other complications. Infection occurs when cats come in contact with blood, urine, fecal material, nasal secretions or fleas from infected cats. Infected kittens younger than 16-weeks-old have a 25 percent survival rate, while older cats may show no symptoms and have a greater chance of survival with treatment. It is not transmittable to people.


Pet Miniature Horse Goes Through Groundbreaking Leg Surgery

Friday, September 28th, 2007


Belle, a pet miniature horse from Canada, is recovering from her major prosthetic surgery.

She now has a titanium post in her left hind leg to replace the missing hoof and 20 percent of her leg that had to be amputated after a small animal attacked and ripped her hind legs down to the tendons. Belle seemed to recover, but eventually the circulation was cut off to her left hoof, and it had to be amputated.

Belle is the only horse in the world to have this type of prosthetic post implanted in a leg, and only the sixth animal in North America. After her leg heals, she will be fitted with a hoof at the end of the post, so Belle can go back to running and jumping as she did before.

Belle’s veterinarian, Nick Shaw, contacted BioMedtrix, a company that manufactures veterinary orthopedic products and is pioneering a new process of dealing with prosthetics.


Rochester on Aging: Confessions of a Senior Cat

Tuesday, September 18th, 2007


I am not vain, so I can hold my grizzled head high when I tell you that I am 20-years-old. My tail is a little harder to send aloft these days and usually flies at about half-mast.

Mind you, being a senior pet is really nothing to brag about. More than 17 million dogs and 19 million cats can be considered “geriatric”… an unflattering description, I must say. According to the literature, a cat can be considered “senior” at around age ten. I believe that a 20-year-old cat is best described as “venerable”.

My personal assistant tried out a few of those online cat-human age calculators. Most of them put me somewhere in my early to middle 90s, but one put me at age 82. I approve of that one. You can try it for yourself at this link. If my personal assistant were a cat, she’d be slightly more than 9 years old… a mere child by my standards.

You might be wondering how I managed to remain healthy and active all these years. If I were a different sort of cat, I might spout some palaver about purity of body, mind and spirit. The reality is that I can’t honestly claim clean living as a contributor to my longevity. I’ve dodged the odd bullet in my time, both figuratively and literally. I have an adventurous palate and consumed things that I probably shouldn’t have, including an intriguingly tasty carpet remnant that landed me in emergency surgery. I have an inordinate fondness for chourico (a Portuguese sausage), corn chips, spaghetti sauce and - incredible as this might seem to those who believe that cats can’t taste sweets - jelly doughnuts. Leave any of these delectable foods unattended for more than a nanosecond, and I will devour them with no regard for my own safety and without a trace of guilt. So there.


Dog With Hole In Mouth Will Go Through Innovative Surgery

Saturday, September 15th, 2007

PezPez, a beagle, looks and acts like any other dog. He loves to play, swim, run around and flash off his big smile.

Except he has one problem. He has a large hole in the roof of his mouth.

This can be challenging because food often gets caught in the hole or ends up in his nose. When this happens, Pez snorts and sneezes incessantly.

An animal rescue staff member, Peyton Gaudiosi, took this stray dog home from the shelter to give Pez some extra attention and to see if anything can help with the large hole in his mouth.

Veterinarians at North Carolina State’s Veterinary Hospital are looking into a breakthrough surgery to help Pez. The doctors all agreed that his problem is extremely rare and they hadn’t seen something like this very often.

The team of veterinarians are working on a high-tech operation. They will use three-dimensional computer models to design a custom plate for this beagle.


Stem Cell Therapy For Dogs And Horses

Friday, September 14th, 2007


Humans are still waiting for stem cell treatments to be available for them, while stem cell therapy has been used in horses for several years and now, this treatment is available for dogs also.

California based Vet-Stem, a company that touts itself to be a global leader in veterinary regenerative medicine, has been using stem cell therapy in horses for three years and is now offering it to dogs. Animals are treated with their own stem cells to repair tendons and ligaments.

Vet-Stem is the first and only company so far to use fat-derived stem cell treatments for commercial use. They have trained 65 small animal surgeons to treat osteoarthritis.

The company has used the licensed stem cell therapy to treat more than 2,500 horses and over 200 dogs with arthritis and tendon and ligament injuries.

The CEO of Vet-Stem, Robert Harman, said: “The animals return to their prior level of performance about 75 percent of the time. There’s no question that this is working.”

He added the only side effects reported have been swelling at the injection site in a few cases.


Microchip Implants Linked To Animal Tumors In Research Animals

Sunday, September 9th, 2007

MicrochipVarious veterinary and toxicology studies done since the mid-1990s found that microchip implants were linked to malignant tumors in some lab mice and rats.

“The transponders were the cause of the tumors,” said Keith Johnson, a retired toxicologic pathologist, said in regards to a 1996 study he led at Dow Chemical.

The Associated Press is reporting the results of these studies were not made public by microchip companies or federal regulatory agencies. When the FDA was asked which studies they were aware of, they declined to answer. Microchip companies and even the American Medical Association said they were unaware of these studies.

The studies found that lab mice and rats injected with microchips sometimes developed subcutaneous “sarcomas” — malignant tumors, most of them encasing the implants.

In 1998, a Connecticut study including 177 mice reported cancer incidence to be slightly higher than 10 percent of research animals implanted with microchips.

A 2006 study done in France showed tumors in 4.1 percent of 1,260 microchipped mice.

In 1997, a study in Germany reported cancers in 1 percent of 4,279 mice. The researchers wrote that the tumors “are clearly due to the implanted microchips.”


CDC Says US Free Of Canine Rabies

Saturday, September 8th, 2007

DogWorld Rabies Day is today, September 8, 2007. This is an international event that launches global efforts to eliminate rabies.

The US Centers for Disease Control announced on Friday that the canine rabies virus has been eliminated from the United States.

“The elimination of canine rabies in the United States represents one of the major public health success stories in the last 50 years,” said Charles Rupprecht, chief of the CDC Rabies Program.

Dogs may still become infected with rabies from raccoons, skunks, bats or other wildlife, but they will not be infected with canine rabies from another dog. Because of the risk of getting a different rabies virus from other animals, health officials still recommend that pet owners continue to have their pets vaccinated against rabies.

Officials said the elimination of the canine rabies virus in the US was achieved through mandatory dog vaccination and licensing, better public health education about rabies, and stray dog control. The strain most specific to dogs has not been seen in the United States since 2004.


Senior Cats and Hearing Loss

Friday, September 7th, 2007

marzipan.jpgRochester here. So many nice people wrote in to compliment me on my first-ever Itchmo post that I was inspired to write another article. This time, I will share an intimate secret about myself, in the hope that other senior cats might find my experience helpful.

The secret I want to share is this: I am quite deaf. It happened gradually over a period of years, and now, at age 20, I can’t hear much of anything at all.

Hearing loss is quite common in aging cats, and in other aging animals too, including humans. It’s called “presbycusis”, which is a great word to toss into a conversation… as in, “Rochester’s doing very well, thanks, except for his presbycusis, which doesn’t seem to bother him very much.”

And in fact, it doesn’t bother me very much, although I do miss eavesdropping on the staff. My ambition has always been to lead a quiet life… maybe not this quiet, but perhaps this presbycusis thing comes under the heading of “be careful what you wish for.”

The staff didn’t really notice when my hearing began to deteriorate. I’m partially to blame because I’m not in the habit of acknowledging their every utterance. I mean really, can you imagine having to respond every time a human took it into its head to say something? The idea is insupportable.

Eventually they did notice, though. Their first clue was that in order to hear myself, I had to crank up my own volume quite a bit. Before this presbycusis thing, I wasn’t much of a shouter, so the staff was concerned about that. The second clue was that I didn’t always notice when someone was behind me, and they startled me a few times. I don’t much care for surprises unless they involve additional food, so that made me rather cross.


Mold May Pose Health Threat To Pets

Friday, September 7th, 2007

The deaths of two cats from what is believed to be the first documented case of toxic black mold poisoning in pets point to a new health concern for pet owners, according to a veterinarian who co-authors a report in the Sept. 1, 2007, issue of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Douglas Mader, a veterinary specialist in Marathon, Fla., was performing routine dental procedures on two cats when he noticed frothy blood within endotracheal tubes used to supply anesthesia to the animals. The veterinarian immediately stopped the procedures, but both animals died — one the following day, the other about two weeks later.

“The circumstances of these cases are just not heard of,” Mader said. “Anesthesia doesn’t cause pulmonary hemorrhage [bleeding from the lungs.]” These were healthy, indoor cats. Examinations conducted prior to the dental cleanings showed no indications of illness.

Blood collected prior to the cats’ death was tested and demonstrated the presence of the toxin produced by Stachybotrys chartarum, also known as “toxic black mold.” Exposure to the mold can cause respiratory-related health problems, pulmonary hemorrhage and death in people. It had not previously been associated with disease in pets, Mader said.


Secondhand Smoke Found To Be Harmful To House Pets

Wednesday, September 5th, 2007

CigaretteThe Center for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that secondhand smoke is attributed with killing thousands of adult nonsmokers annually.

If smoking is that harmful to human beings, it would make sense that secondhand smoke would have an adverse effect on pets that live in the homes of smokers, said Dr. Carolynn MacAllister, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension Service veterinarian.

“There have been a number of scientific papers recently that have reported the significant health threat secondhand smoke poses to pets,” MacAllister said. “Secondhand smoke has been associated with oral cancer and lymphoma in cats, lung and nasal cancer in dogs, as well as lung cancer in birds.”

She said a study conducted recently at Tufts College of Veterinary Medicine found a strong correlation between secondhand smoke and certain forms of cancer in cats. The number of cats with mouth cancer, also known as squamous cell carcinoma, was higher for those animals living in smoking environments versus those felines living in a smoke-free home. In addition, cats that lived with smokers for five or more years had an even higher incidence of this type of oral cancer.

“One reason cats are so susceptible to secondhand smoke is because of their grooming habits. Cats constantly lick themselves while grooming, therefore they lick up the cancer-causing carcinogens that accumulate on their fur,” MacAllister said. “This grooming behavior exposes the mucous membrane of their mouth to the cancer-causing carcinogens.”


Keep Your Dog Hydrated in Hot Weather

Friday, August 31st, 2007

Haven cooling off

Labor Day weekend marks the end of summer for many folks but the warm temperatures of these “dog days” of summer persist well into fall. Until it begins to snow, your dog runs a risk of overheating during any outdoor activity. My dogs Haven and Beacon have over 400 miles of running and hiking on their paws this year, so I’ll share some of the lessons we’ve learned trying to keep cool and hydrated in the heat.

Whether human or canine, exercise generates heat in the muscles. We can sweat to evaporate some of that heat, but dogs aren’t able to sweat over much of their body. On top of that they’re wearing a coat of fur - whether it’s the spring jacket of a Greyhound or the winter parka of a Malamute, it keeps them warmer than the bare skin we’re sporting. Even if the temperature feels comfortable to you, it feels warmer to your dog. Personally I’m happiest at 60 degrees Fahrenheit while Haven and Beacon with their Labrador coats prefer 40 degrees. Many longer-coated dogs are friskiest in sub-freezing air! Another consideration is how acclimated you and your dog are to the heat. If you’ve been active all summer outdoors but your dog not as often, he won’t be as conditioned for the high temperatures so keep the activity duration shorter if this is the case.


Your Dog’s Ear Infections May Be Linked To Food

Thursday, August 23rd, 2007

Harvey and his boy

Is bad doggy gas associated with uncommonly dirty ears? At one time, I wouldn’t have thought so. But my experience with our Labrador Retriever taught me otherwise. And the culprit turned out to be an allergy to a fairly common dog food ingredient.

Before I proceed to the technical stuff, let me tell you a little about Harvey (he’s the handsome labbie pictured here). Harvey had gas. I don’t mean a somewhat subtle and occasional toot: I mean, Harvey’s gas was evil. It was so bad that even Harvey would leave the room.

Harvey’s rescuer, Labrador Retriever Rescue of Cincinnati, called it “Labra-Gas.” We called it bioterrorism. Harvey’s gas was accompanied by bouts of intestinal distress and the bane of pooper scoopers everywhere: loose stools.

Harvey also suffered from persistent ear infections. His ears got filthy very quickly, and always seemed to have a vinegar-like smell to them. Poor Harv would shake his head and itch and scratch at his ears. The flies tormented him when he was outdoors. It was bad.

Now, the wonderful thing about Harvey is that no matter how uncomfortable he is physically, he still loves the world and everything in it. It’s easy to want to do the right thing by a dog like Harv, and frustrating when you don’t know what to do next. We knew we could live with the gas (open the windows, provide guests with face masks, stock up on the Renuzit). But his ears were a problem that needed a solution.


Texas Cat And Dog Owners Want Discretion for Rabies Vaccinations

Friday, August 17th, 2007


A grassroots effort by pet owners in Texas seeks modification of existing law to allow senior and sick pets to forego state-mandated rabies vaccinations.

A petition recently presented to the Texas Department of Health Services, Zoonosis Control Department asks the Department to give attending veterinarians discretion in assessing the risk of rabies exposure versus the risk of an adverse or potentially fatal reaction to a rabies vaccine.

Supporters of the proposed change in policy hope that companion animals will qualify for an exemption if they previously submitted to at least two rabies shots and suffered adverse reactions, or if they are prone to reactions, or are in the care of a licensed veterinarian for a chronic or acute illness. The exemption would not excuse pet owners from licensing their pets according to local ordinances, but it would allow them to protect the animal’s health and remain in compliance with state law.

The Texas Department of Public Health adopted a 3-year interval between rabies vaccinations for dogs and one year for cats in 2003, bringing state law into accord with recommendations to curb unnecessary vaccinations made by many veterinary medical schools and professional associations. However, the final decision about the interval for rabies booster shots has been left to each individual community.

Many Texas counties and cities still require annual rabies vaccinations, regardless of the condition of the animal. No provision has been made for companion animals with acute or chronic health issues being treated by a licensed veterinarian.

All rabies vaccines licensed by the USDA specify on their label, “For administration to healthy dogs and cats.”


Cases Of Leptospirosis Increasing Among Pet Dogs

Friday, August 17th, 2007

Leptospirosis is commonly known as a “disease of rats”. This name is ironic because rodents are remarkably immune to this bacterial infection that affects both humans and animals.

Leptospirosis is transmitted by the urine of an infected animal, and is contagious as long as it is still moist. Rats and mice are primary hosts, but a wide variety of other mammals including dogs, deer, rabbits, hedgehogs, cows, sheep, raccoons, possums, skunks, and even certain marine mammals are also able to carry and transmit the disease.

Dogs may lick the urine of an infected animal off the grass or soil, or drink from contaminated water. Dogs can also be affected when they come into contact with the skin of an infected animal. There have even been reports of pet dogs contracting the infection by licking urine from infected mice that entered a house.

In an infected dog, the liver and kidney are most commonly affected by leptospirosis. The disease begins with flu-like symptoms. Other signs of this infection include: vomiting, fever, lack of appetite, reduced urine output, unusually dark or brown urine, and lethargic behavior. Vaccines are available for leptospirosis.

Pet cats are an interesting case in regards to this disease. Even though cats come into frequent contact with rodents, they rarely contract the infection. Scientists believe this is an evolutionary development.

See the video for more information about leptospirosis.

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