Several pet owners have recently inquired about reports of an outbreak of canine influenza virus in the Midwest. This new strain of canine influenza A, H3N2, has been isolated from infected dogs in Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Ohio. H3N2 was originally found in dogs from southern China and South Korea and is thought to have made its way into the United States by the import of dogs into the Midwest. A dog infected with the virus may be asymptomatic or show signs of fever, anorexia, lethargy, nasal discharge, and coughing that may persist up to three weeks. More severe cases may progress to pneumonia and, in some cases, death. At this time, no cases have been identified in New York State.
Transmission occurs from dog to dog, and, as with other strains of influenza, poses a higher risk in areas where dogs congregate, such as kennels, shelters, doggie day care, and dog runs. The onset of clinical signs occur within 2-3 days after infection, with a peak in viral shedding in 3-4 days post-exposure. The virus in not transmissible to humans but cats, ferrets and possibly guinea pigs, may become infected.
The H3N2 virus is distinct from the H3N8 canine influenza virus originally identified in 2004, for which there is an available vaccine. At this time, it is not known whether the vaccine developed for H3N8 virus confers protection to dogs exposed to the H3N2 strain. Dogs at higher risk, such as dogs that routinely go to dog parks or boarding, may benefit from being vaccinated.
Please contact your veterinarian if your dog has a cough, is at a higher risk of exposure, or if you plan to travel with your dog to the Midwest. Contact us today with any questions you may have.
Pets aren’t always easy to take care of, and they often require a substantial time commitment (something you’re all too aware of at, say, 3 a.m., when Bing Clawsby is finally ready to go outside and do his business). But pets provide an amazing return on that time investment, especially when it comes to your health. Case in point: According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pet owners tend to have lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels than non-pet owners. But that’s not all. Pets also model many surprisingly healthy behaviors that humans would do well to emulate. Here are just a few, according to veterinarians, dog trainers, and other pet experts.
1. They focus on what matters most. You may get grumpy after a bad day at the office, but your pooch never does. “Companion animals mostly care about food, love, and shelter (not always in that order). As long as they have those things, they don’t need much else,” Mary Gardner, DVM, a veterinarian and cofounder of Lap of Love Veterinary Hospice tells Yahoo Health. “Pets also don’t complain much at all. People believe they hide their pain; I simply think they manage it differently.” If humans could model these behaviors, Gardner adds, we’d be healthier, happier, “and more people would want to be around us.”
2. They practice portion control (even if not by choice). Snowball might not want to limit her kibble intake any more than you want to limit your tortilla-chip intake. Nonetheless, she typically eats reasonably sized helpings of nutritionally balanced food — and never gets to eat straight out of the bag. Follow her lead. “Both animals and people need structure and regulation when it comes to portion size,” says Jme Thomas, executive director of Motley Zoo Animal Rescue based in Redmond, Washington.
3. They know how to de-stress. Your pooch doesn’t pour a glass of cabernet when the going gets rough (though, yes, it would make a very popular YouTube video if she did). She may, however, start begging for a walk or to play a game. Smart dog! “Actively seeking healthy activities — that function as de-stressors when stress levels are high — helps to reset people as well as dogs, and bring us back to a productive and functional status, from which many things feel a lot more ‘do-able,’” Marisa Scully, a certified dog behavior specialist in Philadelphia, tells Yahoo Health.
4. They hit the hay. People don’t get enough sleep: According to a 2014 survey by the National Sleep Foundation, 45 percent of Americans said that a lack of sleep had impaired their activities at least once in the previous week. Learn from your cat or dog, who knows just how important it is to get enough shut-eye, says Jeff Werber, VVM, president and chief veterinarian of Century Veterinary Group in Los Angeles. “Whether it’s a lazy dog day afternoon, or a quick cat nap, you won’t find them burning the candles at both ends.”
5. They stretch! There’s a reason one of the most common yoga moves is named downward dog. Dogs (and cats) stretch constantly — and we should do the same, notes certified dog behavior consultant Russell Hartstein. Why? Stretching can improve flexibility and reduce your risk of injury.
6. They’re open to new things. Animals are naturally curious. “Open a box or empty a bag and before you know it, your cat will have climbed in to investigate. Walk your dog past a gardener planting flowers and chances are she will check it out before moving on,” Werber says. “And they’re always up for some fun. A game of catch, a walk, a visit — bring it on.” Since research has found that seeking out new experiences can keep people feeling young and healthy, we’d do well to follow suit.
7. They’re comfortable getting zen. Numerous studies have found a correlation between mindful meditation and reduced stress, decreased heart disease, and a stronger immune response — and that’s something your cat already knows how to do instinctively. “Each morning I sit on the sofa with my cat, Turtle, while I drink my first cup of coffee,” says Kristen Levine, a pet living expert. “We spend about 10 minutes together, her getting neck and head rubs, me enjoying her purring and having a few meditative moments at the start of the day.It sounds simple, and it can be, but depending on the activity, it can have a powerfully relaxing or invigorating effect for both human and critter.”
Science is proving what pet owners have long believed: Dogs understand what we’re feeling. Specifically, dogs can recognize the difference between a happy and an angry human face, a study published Thursday in Current Biology suggests.
It’s the first research to show definitively that dogs are sensitive to our facial expressions, says coauthor Ludwig Huber, head of comparative cognition at Messerli Research Institute at the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna.
In the Austrian study, 20 pet dogs of various breeds and sizes were taught to play a computer game through a series of exercises. In the first, the dogs were shown two touch screens, one with a circle and one with a square. Through trial and error, they learned that a treat would appear if they chose the right geometrical figure.
Eleven of the 20 dogs were able to catch on to rules of the game and make it to the next phase, where they were shown photos of faces. Half the dogs were rewarded for picking a happy expression and half for choosing an angry expression. The interesting catch: the dogs were shown only the upper half or the lower half of a face.
It was easier to teach the dogs to choose a happy expression than an angry one, suggesting the dogs do indeed understand the meaning behind the expression, Huber says.
As a test, the dogs were then were presented with:
the same half of the faces they saw during the training, but from different people
the other half of the faces used in training
the other half of new faces
the left half of the faces used in training
In the vast majority of cases the dogs chose the right answer 70 to 100 percent of the time.
Dogs who had been trained to recognize an expression of anger or happiness on the upper part of a face could identify the same expression when shown only the lower part, and vice versa, Huber says, adding “the only possible explanation is that they recall from memory of everyday life how a whole human face looks when happy or angry.”
Dog owners know their pets not only recognize emotions but also feel empathy.
Delilah, a 3-year-old Chihuahua, always seems to know when her owner Eva Shure is having a bad day.
Delilah knows when her owner is having a bad day.
Making eye contact and cocking her head to the right, the little dog will stare at Shure’s face as if trying to assess her feelings. “It’s weird, I can see her thinking and processing,” says Shure, a 35-year-old New York City business owner. “I’ll say, yeah, it’s not a great day and she’ll come up and sit next to me.”
Beverly Levreault, 57, says her 6-year-old Australian Cattle Dog mix is always tuned in to her moods. “If I’m not feeling well, like when I have the flu, Lacey is definitely lower key and will not leave my side, ” says Levreault, a graphic designer from Williamstown, New York. “If I take her for a walk, she’s not as rambunctious as she usually is.”
Lynette Whiteman says she’s not sure that her 5-year-old Yorkie-Maltese cross is using facial expressions to gauge how she feels. “But she definitely reads my emotions,” says the 58-year-old from Toms River, New Jersey. “I run a therapy dog program and the dogs are just amazing. They go into a room and immediately pick out the person who needs help.”
Behavioral experts say the new findings, while important, wouldn’t surprise anyone with an intimate knowledge of dogs.
Coco and Lynettte
“This new work continues to build the case for just how sensitive dogs are to our subtle behaviors,” says Dr. Brian Hare, chief scientific officer at Dognition and an associate professor of evolutionary anthropology at Duke University. “This is the strongest evidence yet that dogs are even reading our facial expressions.”
That sensitivity may be the result of generations of selective breeding for a true partner, says Dr. Carlo Siracusa, director of the behavior service at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. “We have selected animals that are able to perceive our emotions and communicate with us at a level that no other animal can,” Siracusa says.
Dogs may not talk, but they are very good communicators, says Dr. Nicholas Dodman, a professor in the department of clinical sciences at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University and director of the animal behavior clinic at Cummings.
“Just as we are masters of the spoken word, dogs are experts at reading body language,” Dodman says.
“It’s almost impossible to hide your feelings from a dog.”
Turns out, reading facial expressions isn’t the only thing dogs have in common with us.
They can be bitten by the computer gaming bug. “They can really become freaks for it,” Huber says with a chuckle. “They don’t want to stop playing. It’s incredible. They’ll play till they are exhausted and fall asleep.”
What is diabetes? In the normal animal, the pancreas releases insulin that is instrumental in transporting glucose into the cells so that it can be used by the body. In a diabetic animal, the pancreas is either not releasing insulin or the body is no longer responding to it. This leads to high blood glucose that the body is unable to use. Essentially, the body believes it is starving and then starts using the body’s protein and fat for energy instead of glucose.
What animals are at risk?
Some breeds of dogs are genetically more predisposed, i.e., Keeshond, Poodle, Samoyed, Dachshund, Alaskan malamute, Miniature schnauzer, Chow chow and Beagle.
Pets with pancreatitis… inflammation of the pancreas can destroy the cells that make insulin.
Symptoms you may notice:
Excessive eating but losing weight
Excessive drinking and urination
Cataracts (can be secondary to diabetes in dogs)
Your pet is diagnosed with Diabetes, now what?
Early diagnosis is key! In dogs and cats it is imperative to treat other underlying diseases as well as starting insulin therapy. Your veterinarian will select an appropriate insulin and dose and will demonstrate how to give the twice daily injections. Blood glucose monitoring is important to make sure your pet is on the correct dose. This is usually done in the hospital but some owners feel comfortable using a blood glucose monitor at home (this can be a lot more accurate). The goal of treatment is for the clinical signs to abate (excessive drinking and urinating, weight loss). Regulating animals perfectly can be difficult but our goal is to make sure these clinical signs disappear. Working closely with your veterinarian to get your pet on the appropriate dose of insulin is very important to controlling this chronic disease.
Cats who are diagnosed with diabetes can sometimes go into remission after appropriate treatment with insulin and a change of diet. The most up-to-date diet choice for cats is a low carbohydrate/ high protein diet. These diets promote weight loss in obese diabetics and are available in both canned and dry formulations. For dogs, high fiber diets are still favored as fiber seems to help sensitize the pet to insulin.
One of the scariest things about treating diabetes is making sure that your pet does not go into hypoglycemic shock. Although having a very high blood glucose is damaging to the body, it is not immediately fatal. If blood glucose falls too low, it can be fatal. Signs of hypoglycemia include seizures, wobbliness, a drunken appearance, and acting inappropriately. This can sometimes happen if too much insulin is given. In this dangerous situation, Karo syrup (or a sugar/water formula) should be applied on the gums immediately to elevate the blood glucose. You should then contact your veterinarian ASAP.
It is important for diabetic pets to have their teeth cleaned annually. Dental tartar seeds the body with bacteria and when blood sugar levels run high, important organs are prone to infection. Urinary tract infections are also common in diabetics due to glucose in the urine. Both of these conditions can make our patients difficult to regulate.
Diabetes is a very serious disease, but with the right communication between pet owners and their veterinarian, it can be managed to allow our pets to live healthy and happy lives.
Psittacosis, also called ornithosis and previously known as Parrot Fever, is a bacterial disease that can strike birds. They can succumb to it directly or merely carry it and shed the bacteria into the environment posing a risk to other birds and even humans. Cockatiels and budgies (parakeets) are most commonly infected; however, all parrots and many other birds, such as pigeons and doves, can also become infected or act as carriers. Infected birds with a good immune system can be asymptomatic, however they may actively shed the bacteria in their feces and their respiratory secretions. During times of stress, such as molting, owners traveling, visitors staying in the home, changing the position of a bird’s cage, etc, an asymptomatic carrier may become sick with the disease . Stress and a poor immune system are underlying reasons that people contract Psittacosis. Diseases that spread from animals or birds to humans are called ZOONOTIC diseases.
Symptoms of Psittacosis in birds can vary. Birds can present with respiratory symptoms such as discharge from their eyes or nares, coughing, sneezing or wheezing. Very commonly Psittacosis affects other organs in the body such as the liver, spleen and the GI tract. The urates (or white portion of the stool) commonly turn a yellow or a lime green color. Birds can lose their appetite, become fluffed and have diarrhea. If this disease is caught in a timely fashion, your vet can treat your bird successfully via weekly antibiotic injections for 6 weeks.
At St. Marks Veterinary Hospital we recommend testing all birds for Psittacosis. Any new avian additions should be kept in a separate area from other birds for 30-60 days if possible. After the quarantine period and after testing, the birds may be introduced to each other…. although there are never any guarantees since birds may test negative and they can still harbor the bacteria.
Humans most commonly acquire Psittacosis through aerosolized infected bird droppings, although respiratory secretions can also spread the disease. In people with a good immune system, Psittacosis may mimic the symptoms of a cold that is self-limiting. However, if an individual is stressed or is immune compromised, they may become extremely ill. A very high fever (hence the previous name Parrot Fever), malaise, muscle aches and atypical pneumonia are common sequelae of the disease. It is VERY important as a bird owner to be sure that your physician knows you own a bird, especially if you are sick. Again, it is a very treatable disease as long as it is treated immediately.
Please be sure your bird visits your veterinarian for annual exams. Our goal is to keep you and your birds healthy so that you may enjoy a long, happy and healthy life together!
As a small animal veterinarian, a regular part of my day is having conversations with owners about what they feed their animals, and the best way to monitor and control the body condition of their pets, especially identifying underweight or overweight pets. Imagine my horror when I recently recognized what should have been obvious to me: my own dogs were starting to look, well, chubby! How had it come to this?
By now, everyone knows that obesity, in both people and animals, occurs when energy intake exceeds energy expenditure. You or me, or you dog or cat, eat more calories than are burned and excess weight results. But because dogs and cats do not feed themselves, we as their caretakers need to accept responsibility for the body condition of our beloved friends. I, who should know better, allowed my dogs to get fat!
What is the Extent of Dog Obesity Worldwide?
An estimated 20-40% of dogs and cats worldwide are overweight or obese. Certain breeds may be predisposed, such as the West Highland Terrier, Beagle, Dachshund, and Labrador retriever, among others. Obesity is more common in female dogs and neutered dogs of both sexes. The incidence of obesity rises as dogs grow older, and, interestingly, as the age of the human owner increases. From my own experience, I suspect a large number of animals become obese from the confused cultural notion that “love equals food.”
My two mixed-breed dogs, one a Pug Beagle mix (Puggle) and the other a Chihuahua mix with suspiciously short legs, are not only disadvantaged by their breeds, neuter status, and advancing ages, but also by the fact that their Mom (me) is a softy who all too often dotes on them in the form of dog cookies!
The Dangers of Pet Obesity
As a vet, I know that obesity is the most common nutrition-related disease in companion animals and that increases the risk of orthopedic diseases, respiratory disorders, heart disease, and hypertension in dogs. In addition to orthopedic diseases, obese cats are at greater risk for developing diabetes, liver disease, and skin issues.
I know that in one study, dogs that were placed on a calorie-restricted diet to maintain an ideal or a just-below-ideal body weight, were shown to live, on average, two years longer than overweight dogs allowed to consume unlimited calories. Certainly, I wish to enjoy the company of my own dogs for as long as possible, and I know what I have to do!
Helping Your Pet Maintain a Healthy Weight
Helping our animal friends to lose weight requires both dietary and lifestyle modifications. One of the most important components to guarantee weight loss in your animal is ensuring that every member of the family is involved in the process. Your veterinarian can help you determine the daily calorie requirement for your animal, based on his or her current weight and activity level. Depending on how much weight your animal needs to lose, your vet may recommend decreasing the amount of the regular diet as well as restricting treats, or may recommend a prescription diet that is less energy-dense but fortified with higher levels of proteins and enriched with vitamins and minerals to ensure that your pet’s nutritional requirements are met. With greater weight loss, trying to restrict calories with a regular commercial diet may result in nutritional deficiencies. Once the calorie requirement is determined, the food should be carefully measured or weighed out. On average, the number of treats fed in a day should not be greater than 10% of daily calories. Everybody involved in feeding the animals should know exactly how much to feed and who is responsible for feeding the animals at given times.
Increasing energy expenditure is another important aspect of weight loss and often benefits the owner just as well. As with humans starting an exercise program, exercise for our pets should be gradually and slowly increased in duration and intensity over time. Exercise, in the form of walks, fetching, chasing laser pointers, and hunting feather toys, not only has calorie-burning cardiovascular benefits, it also enhances and enriches an animal’s mental well-being, as well as strengthens our emotional bond with them.
Final Words on Pet Obesity Concerns
It is important to realize that weight loss is a long-term project and requires frequent monitoring and readjustment of goals. Working closely with your veterinarian as weight loss proceeds, calorie requirements may need to be fine-tuned to help continue weight loss or to maintain ideal body weight. If you are unsure whether your animal is overweight, your veterinarian should be able to help you assess the body condition of your animal and talk to you about diet and strategies to establish and maintain an ideal body weight for your own beloved pets. As for me, I will replace cookies with kisses, and work with my family to make sure our dogs stay healthy and with us for as long as possible.
If your pet is overweight and management counseling is needed, please contact our team. We will be happy to provide our advice!
Does your dog throw up in the car when you go for rides? He may be experiencing typical motion sickness, just like some people do. Motion sickness usually begins very shortly after starting the car ride. The dog will begin to drool and then vomit. It’s not serious, but certainly not something that we like to clean up! To solve the problem, first try acclimating the dog to car rides. Do this by simply putting him in the car for a few minutes each day without going anywhere. Then try just going down the driveway and back, and the next day going around the block. Gradually build up the distance and time the dog rides in the car.
Sometimes this will help to decrease the dog’s anxiety over riding in the car and may help to decrease vomiting. If that doesn’t work, there are some over-the-counter medications you can try. The medication will need to be given about an hour before the car ride. Ask your veterinarian for a recommendation as to what drug to try and the dosage for your pet.
(Never give any medications to your pet without your veterinarian’s advice!) These drugs are safe, with drowsiness usually the only major side effect. But since your dog isn’t driving the car, that shouldn’t be a problem! If over-the-counter drugs don’t work, your veterinarian may be able to suggest another method for curing the car sickness.