Wellness: Health Care
The dos, the don’ts, and the mumbo jumbo myths
We all love to bask in the California sun and rattlesnakes are no exception. Snakebite envenomation is something that is frequently seen in the ER, in fact, we treated three pets for this just this past weekend alone! Sadie, an 11-week old Cocker Spaniel, was one of those patients. She was gardening with her Mom when a rattlesnake bit her.
Poisonous snakes of the United States belong to two groups: pit vipers and elapids. Pit vipers are the largest group and include at least 26 subspecies of rattlesnakes (Crotalus spp.), with the Western Rattlesnake being the most common in our region. Click this link for an excellent resource guide that includes pictures of the many species of California rattlesnakes.
How does the venom work?
What makes a bad bite worse?
What are the general signs of a snakebite wound?
What to do if a snake bites your pet:
What NOT to do (and the mumbo jumbo myths)
Tips for prevention:
What is the treatment?
Since the onset of clinical signs can be delayed for several hours, all pets that have been bitten by a snake should be hospitalized for at least 12 hours and ideally 24 hours. Although most pets generally need to be supported and monitored, the vast majority (95%) do survive with early and proper treatment.
Antivenom is the only proven treatment against pit viper envenomation, and the earlier it is administered, the more effective its action. The biggest downside to antivenom is cost, and it can range anywhere from $450-$700 per vial. Usually a single vial will control the envenomation but several vials may be necessary, especially in small dogs or cats. Many animals may do “fine” without it, but it does decrease the severity of clinical signs, as well as speed overall recovery with a reduction in complications. Blood work is also recommended to monitor your pet’s platelet count as well as clotting times of the blood. IV fluid support, intensive pain management, antibiotics and wound monitoring are required for best clinical outcomes. Blood and plasma transfusions are sometimes needed in severe envenomation.
What about the vaccine?
Thankfully, most snakes will try to avoid you and your pets and typically only bite as a last resort. But if your pet does happen to get bitten by a snake that you think might be venomous, it is best to err on the side of caution and get medical attention immediately. As always, feel free to ask questions or leave comments!
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Study finds that babies in dog homes get sick less often
I have friends on both sides of the parenting spectrum. Some won't let me in the door without slathering my hands in antibacterial gel, while others are okay with their kids teething on my dogs' Kongs.
There isn't one right way to raise children (human or canine!), but it turns out that a little bit of dirt and fur may be a good thing.
A recent study at Kuopio University Hospital in Finland found that babies who live with a dog are healthier and less likely to need antibiotics than infants in pet-free homes. Kids from homes without animals were healthy for 65 percent of their first year, compared with 72 to 76 percent for babies in dog homes.
The kids in pet families were also 44 percent less likely to get inner ear infections and 29 percent less likely to need antibiotics. The study found a similar correlation between infants and families with cats, but to a lesser extent.
The researchers believe that dirt and allergens introduced by animals may cause a child's immune system to mature faster.
Our pets hold a special place in our family and now we know they may also play an important role in developing our kids' immune systems.
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Does your dog spread cheer?
A friend of mine was telling me that her parents had recently lost their old dog and were really suffering with the grief and the quiet house. To help her parents, my friend and her husband loaned them their dog for a week of “dog therapy”, which really helped them out during part of the time between when their dog passed away and they adopted a new dog.
Now, I must assure you that my friends' dog is very comfortable at the parents’ house, which is a two-hour drive away from them. They take care of the dog when my friends travel for work, and the dog also spends a lot of time there during weekend visits and holidays, too
My friends said they really missed their dog, but that it felt good, too, to help out because they felt like her parents needed to have a dog present more they did at that point. Obviously, if this visit would have been stressful to the dog, I would have been opposed, but since the dog loves to be there, I think it was a lovely gesture. “Loaning out love” is such a kind and giving act.
Has your dog every gone visiting just to cheer people up?
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Twitter reunites an Irish woman and her lost pup
Social media has revolutionized the way we find homes for pets and raise money for animal related charities. Last month, Facebook aided rescuers in locating a stray dog in distress and, most recently, Twitter helped an adventurous pup find his way back to his family.
Deirdre Anglin's dog, Patch, went missing last Tuesday in Kilcock, Ireland. She posted photos of the Jack Russell Terrier on Facebook, but didn't have much luck.
Patch wasn't discovered until he boarded an Irish Rail train to Dublin the next morning. At first rail workers thought he might be a passenger's dog, but when he remained unclaimed at the final stop, it was clear that the pup was lost.
Irish Rail took to Twitter with a “Lost dog!” photo, which was retweeted more than 500 times in a half an hour. Deirdre Anglin soon saw the message and tweeted back, “That's my dog!”
Patch and Deride were reunited and the terrier became an overnight celebrity. When Deirdre took Patch home on the train, fellow passengers kept asking if he was “the dog from Twitter.”
Twitter was able to reunite Deirdre and Patch quickly, but I have to say, I'm equally amazed how pet friendly the Irish Rail is. My local commuter train, Metro North, welcomes pets on leash, though I rarely see animals on board. However, if you need to travel longer distances, Amtrak does not allow pets.
On Irish Rail, small dogs are able to ride the train on a person's lap. Apparently canine passengers are so common that the rail workers didn't think it was that strange for Patch to be wandering about.
If only all trains were so pet friendly!
Growing up, I never missed an episode of The Andy Griffith Show. The program was pure hokum, but a tonic that was hugely popular during the unsettling times of 1960s America. Each week Andy dispensed wisdom and homilies to his young son Opie (played by a young Ron Howard) and a cast of characters named Aunt Bee, Barney Fife and Gomer Pyle. Griffith seemed born to play the part of the small town law officer, a role he developed from his popular monologues and a successful stage career. Griffith was so comfortable in the role, he never seemed to be acting. It wasn’t until much later that I gained a fuller appreciation of Griffith’s talent, watching his film debut in “A Face in the Crowd” directed by Elia Kazan. It’s a memorable performance, as complex and dark a character as his sheriff Andy was simple and sunny. In the fictional town of Mayberry, we saw how life could be, with good trumping bad, neighbor helping neighbor, and when Opie finds a stray dog—a lesson in humanity. See the full 1963 episode titled “Dogs, Dogs, Dogs.”
News: Guest Posts
A lesson in how not to catch a dog
Holiday traffic was tied up for an hour when a small mixed breed dog darted along the busy Stevenson Expressway in Chicago. State police troopers, road construction workers and passersby all attempted to catch the dog to no avail. It wasn't until he wore himself out and laid down on the grassy shoulder that nearby resident Jose Terriquez could grab him. In watching the video, I couldn't help but notice how the would-be rescuers were chasing him down, hoping to catch him. But anyone with a dog knows that most of them can easily outrun a clumsy, two-legged person, especially if the dog is scared. In an emergency, the best way to catch a dog is to run away from him. The motion grabs his attention in an instinctive way, an urge to chase prey. Unfortunately, our instinct is to give chase, which puts pressure on the dog and moves him away from us. To learn more about how to teach your dog to come every time, animal behaviorist Ian Dunbar, Ph.D., shares his emergency recall tips.
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Bill seeks better treatment for war dogs
As we celebrate Independence Day, it's important to remember our veterans—both human and canine. The military has been slow in providing the care and respect that these working canines deserve. Retired war dogs were euthanized for decades before “Robby's Law” allowed these brave pups to be adopted. However, the military still has a long way to go in giving dogs proper treatment.
I was shocked to learn that the military classifies working canines as equipment. Because of this distinction, dogs that are retired overseas are considered excess equipment and are not transported home. They can be adopted, but the government doesn't provide any financial support.
U.S. Army Specialist Robert Mather Jr. couldn't afford to adopt the Belgian Malinois he worked with in Iraq and Germany. Fortunately Mather's community raised the money to bring Nouska back to N.J., but it's a disgrace that the military didn't pay for her safe return. Nouska served for 10 years and 4 tours of duty!
Representative Walter Jones and Senator Richard Blumenthal teamed up earlier this year to sponsor a bill that would make sure dogs like Nouska are safe. The Canine Members of the Armed Forces Act would allow the military to honor courageous canines, make sure that all dogs are flown back home, and set up a private fund for lifetime health care. The House of Representatives already passed the bill and the legislation is now in the Senate.
Seems like a no brainer for the furry pups who serve our country and protect our troops!
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
I’m not sure why I care
I am dogsitting again for Schultzie, an incredibly lovely dog about whom I have expressed my great love. There are so many wonderful qualities in this dog, but being photogenic is not among them. She is incredibly adorable in person, but her charm simply does not come across in pictures. This bums me out, but it’s hard to explain why it matters to me at all.
As a behaviorist, I know very well the value of a dog whose behavior makes her a joy to be around. What a dog looks like is not what’s most important to me. In fact, I’m a huge champion of choosing a dog whose behavior you like and then learning to love what that dog looks like. (This would probably not be a bad idea in our relationships with people either, but that’s a whole different can of worms.)
With Schultzie’s appearance not translating well to pictures, I’ve given a lot of thought to why I care. I think that the fact that Schultzie is not photogenic bothers me because I adore this dog and I want others to see her in the best possible light, and pictures that don’t do her justice fail in that attempt.
Do you have a dog who is not photogenic, and if so, how do you feel about that?
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
One of the busiest times of the year for our emergency service is the Fourth of July holiday. While many people celebrate Independence Day with fireworks and BBQ’s, many others spend it waiting in the ER while their pet is treated for an array of holiday-induced emergencies, including serious laceration injuries from pets jumping through glass windows or doors, high rise fall injuries due to jumping from balconies, hit by car trauma as pets attempt to flee from noises, dietary indiscretions from our pets stealing post-picnic scraps, and cases of severe anxiety due to overwhelming stimulation. In addition to the trauma that we see, we also receive many phone calls from distressed owners trying to locate their lost pet, following it running away from home in a panicked state.
Follow these tips to help prevent injury and loss during this holiday:
It is hoped that these tips will help ensure a happy holiday celebration for your entire 2 and 4-legged family… one without any trips to the animal ER!
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Healthcare organizations partner with PAWS to bring in pets
I've never had to stay in the hospital for an extended period of time, but if I did I know that I'd miss my dogs. I can't imagine getting over an illness or injury without them there to cheer me up and make me laugh.
As studies document the healing power of pets, more healthcare organizations have started allowing animals into their facilities. My Sheltie, Nemo, and I visited patients at our local hospital through a therapy program. I could see people's faces light up when we entered the room. As the patients stroked Nemo's fur, they would open up and tell me about their own pets back at home.
Petting a dog can brighten up a dreary day in the hospital, but nothing can replace the joy of your own pets. An organization called PAWS (Pets Are Wonderful Support) realized that it was important to get people's animals into the hospital as part of the healing process. They've since convinced several hospitals across the country to adopt personal pet visitation policies.
After the program is in place, if a hospital worker hears that a patient has a pet at home, they can ask a doctor to approve a visit. Then PAWS checks that the animal is up to date on vaccinations and performs a “behavior check” to ensure the their temperament is suitable for a hospital environment. A volunteer will then accompany the pet to the patient's room.
I imagine that it's no easy feat to get health care facilities to create personal pet visitation policies. However, I'm glad that more hospitals are exploring alternative therapies. Any dog lover knows that our pets can be a powerful "medicine!"
Copyright © 1997-2016 The Bark, Inc. Dog Is My Co-Pilot® is a registered trademark of The Bark, Inc