Month: September 2017

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

Ghosts of Iwo Jima by Joe Jennings

Ghosts of Iwo Jima by Joe Jennings, self-published, ISBN: 9781522042914,  $10.50, 341 pgs. Is a unique blend of genuine search and rescue work by SAR dogs, factual history and a few ghosts added for extra drama. Although this is a self-published book, I have to rate it very high in writing quality. It flows well and is well organized. The physical aspects of the book are good as well.

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Ghosts of Iwo Jima is a story about a team of men and woman, and two special dogs, who go to Iwo Jima to find the remains of five Marines that died on the island during WWII. The book takes us to the historically factual battle and gives the reader a genuine feel for a war situation. Most of the search takes place in an area the Marines named the Amphitheater where the five Marines went missing.

The realism of the story is due to the fact that the author served in the Marines during Vietnam and made the Marines his career serving from 1964 to 1988, including being a part of the Combined Action Program, served in the infantry and reconnaissance units. He is also a SAR dog handler with the Great Basin K9 SAR unit.

The dogs are a Cadaver dog and a Military explosives detection dog. The cadaver dog must find the bodies and the explosive detection dog must clear the area of unexploded ordnance before the team can search.

What I especially liked was the conflict between the characters, one specialist did not understand and believe the capabilities of the dogs, and the Japanese commander who was in charge of the island and was misinformed as to the intent of the team’s search. The two ghosts that were involved in the mission were enemies and did their best to influence the outcome of the mission. The bad ghost tried to kill the dogs and sabotage the mission, while the other ghost communicated to the team to guide them. The way all of the elements of the story blended together is excellent.

The dialog in the book has a real-life sound to it, making the reader feel as if they are a part of the team. The pressure that the team felt is evident to the reader, since the team was allotted only ten days by the Japanese to find the missing remains.

All of the technical aspects of the book are true to life, the searching, the forensic work and the obstacles that the team faced. The ending is excellent, with an unexpected surprise. Of the many books that I have reviewed, I have to admit that I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and wished there were more missions to come, in another book, for the team. For his first book, Joe Jennings did an outstanding job.

You can’t teach an old dog new tricks, or can you?

Lisa Wallis and Friederike Range of the Messerli Research Institute at Vetmeduni Vienna have designed tests to study the effect of aging on cognitive processes such as learning, memory and logical reasoning in dogs. Something that has not be explored previously.

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The researchers tested 95 Border Collies that ranged in age from 5 months to 13 years. They picked this breed because of their reputation as fast learners and because as a popular pet, there were enough dogs available for testing.

The dogs were divided into five age groups and tested for learning, logical reasoning and memory. The test involved a touchscreen with images on it. What the researchers found was that older dogs learned more slowly with less flexibility in their thinking. However, logical reasoning increased with age. Also, long-term memory was not affected by age, all of the dogs were retested six months later and all had no problem recalling the positive images.

So, you can teach an old dog new tricks, although it may take longer. As a certified animal behavior consultant, I find that older dogs are more likely to have formed habits that are harder for them to break. If the new trick, or task requires them to change a habit, it may be hard for them to accomplish that, the same as it is for people.

www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/02/160202121818.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/