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News: JoAnna Lou
Sharing Microbes
Study looks at the microbial connection we have with our pets

New research from the University of Colorado Boulder shows that we are more connected to our dogs than we think!

The study published earlier this month looked at microbes and the ways they're transferred between family members, both human and canine. Previous research suggests that microbe sharing is linked to living together, but studies have only looked at humans. Professor Rob Knight, the lead on the University of Colorado study, wanted to include dogs in his research. "Since so many people consider their pets truly a part of the family, it seemed appropriate to include them in a study involving family structure."

Professor Knight and his team sampled 159 people and 36 dogs in 60 families from their tongue, forehead, palms/paws, and fecal sample with the ultimate goal of working towards disease prevention and better treatments.

Interestingly (and not surprising to animal lovers) the team detected a strong link between people and their pets. The microbial connection appeared to be stronger between parents and family dogs than between parents and children. Also, people shared more skin bacteria with their spouse if they had a dog.

We have about 100 trillion microbes in and on our body, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. For example, some scientists believe that children who grow up with a lack of exposure to bacteria and microorganisms may be more prone to getting sick. Many microbes have co-evolved with people to be beneficial.

Curious what microbes you and your dog are carrying? Professor Knight is also involved in the related American Gut project, a crowdfunded effort that allows people to learn more about their own microbes, as well as their dog's. The results from a kit will allow you to compare the microbes in your gut to thousands of other people.  Not only will you learn more about yourself and your family, the data will also be shared with scientists for research.

The microbes living in our body can be affected by diet and other lifestyle decisions, having a significant impact on overall health. Scientists hope to one day develop biomarkers that would predict gut health based on a spit sample, hand swab, or even by a plaque sample from your teeth.

I loved what Professor Knight said about including pets in any research related to family structure. Hopefully more scientists will take note!

News: Editors
Tax Deductions for Pets

I know that this tip is a little late for tax day this year, but this is something definitely to consider for next year. A friend passed along this article about how a landmark 2011 U.S. tax court decision allows deductions for fostering dogs and cats.

“In Jan Van Dusen v. Commissioner, an Oakland-based cat lady successfully argued that the expense of caring for dozens of stray felines for a local rescue group should be deductible as a charitable contribution.

Any unreimbursed expenses, such as food or medical bills, have to be directly related to animal care, said Richard Panick, a spokesman for the IRS.”

Keeping your receipts is key, and if you claim more than $250 you will need a verification letter from the 501(c)3 organization.

Also good to note for those who raise puppies for service dog organizations, they also qualify for itemized deductions.

And while adoption fees aren’t deductible, if you offer a larger donation than just the adoption fee, that “extra tip” is deductible.

See other pet-related deductibles in this article.

News: Editors
Muttville: Senior Dog Rescue at its Finest

We got the following story from the good folks at Muttville, a remarkable senior dog rescue organization in San Francisco. They publish wonderful stories from their adopters about their new senior pups and this one, by Tricia about her dear Winston was especially inspirational. Hopefully this will motivate you to consider opening up your heart to a homeless senior dog.

Oh, Winston. You are: hungry, happy, waggy, ridiculous, hungry, sweet, grumpy, hilarious, hungry, adorable, cute, impatient, hungry, endearing, charming, resilient, hungry, spunky, excitable, friendly, hungry and, without a doubt, unique.

When I first saw Winston on Muttville’s website in June of 2011, I was immediately smitten. I had never seen a dog quite like him before. Or since.

I still get a little sad when I think about his kennel card from the shelter he was at before coming to Muttville. STRAY HOLD ONLY – NOT RECOMMENDED FOR ADOPTION. Yeah, he’s old. Yeah, he’s got two teeth. Yeah, he’s got some health issues. Yeah, he seems pretty pathetic at first glance. I’m just so grateful that Muttville saw past all of that. It’s now two years later and he’s more excitable and spunky than either of my other two Chihuahuas, both of whom are considerably younger.

Winston is so unique in both appearance and personality. He’s been compared to a lemur, a sugar glider, a sloth, a badger. He does not, however, resemble an American Water Spaniel, which is what came up in his DNA test. I’m pretty sure Winston would sink like a stone if submerged in water.

I met my boyfriend after Winston entered my life. He has never been a big animal person and definitely not a Chihuahua aficionado. Winston has changed all that. He recently mentioned that he can’t believe that Winston was in foster care for four whole months prior to me adopting him. “I can’t believe that people weren’t lining up to adopt a dog like him.” I can’t believe it either. I was the lucky one.

I know that it is not uncommon for people to be quite incredulous at the idea of adopting a senior dog, especially one like Winston. They are put off at the idea of becoming attached to something that, most likely, won’t be around for a terribly long time. I’m of the opinion that it’s a very selfish way to look at it. Is the prospect of being upset at the passing of a pet more important than giving that pet a good life? Your feelings are more important than saving an animal’s life? Really!? I don’t think so. I’ve been through it before and I know what it’s like. I know that when it’s Winston’s time to go, the pain will be nearly unbearable. But it will be bearable. Just bearable enough to offer a home to another senior dog that got dealt a bad hand in life.

And yes, Winston is always hungry.

See Winston's Facebook page

News: Shea Cox
Hops Can Be Lethal to Dogs

Home-brewing is a trend that is becoming more and more popular, and unfortunately, so is the occurrence of hops toxicity in dogs. Hops is the plant used in the process of brewing beer, and both the 'raw' or spent hops are toxic. True flowers or dried hops plugs tend to be more toxic than hops pellets (pellets have less residue), while wild hops have been found to be non-toxic. The diagnosis is generally made based on history of having home-brewing supplies as well as seeing hops in vomit.

The mechanism of toxicity is unknown, but may be related to essential oils, resins, phenolic compounds, or nitrogenous constituents within the plant. Many of the substances in hops are degraded or aerosolized during the brewing process, so the exact relationship between substance and toxicity remains unknown.

Clinical signs of toxicity can include agitation, panting, excitement, flatulence, rapid heart rate followed by life-threatening elevations in body temperature. Death has been reported in as little as 6 hours without appropriate treatment. I have seen rectal temperatures greater than 108 F, and these temperatures can be very difficult to control. The high end of normal of a dog’s temperature is 102.5 F, and any temperature above 106 F can lead to an “unwinding” of the body’s proteins as well as permanent brain injury, depending upon the length of time that the elevation in body temperature persists.   

Treatment consists of aggressive decontamination measures including induction of vomiting, gastric lavage (“washing out” the stomach under anesthesia), administration of charcoal, and enemas. Active cooling by any means available is extremely important. There are also specific medications that can be given in the hospital to help control the clinical signs.

Prognosis for survival is generally guarded to poor, and unfortunately, many deaths have been reported. We have had 2 cases of hops toxicity this past year in the ER, and thankfully, both survived with aggressive treatment.

Any breed of dog may be affected, but breeds that are predisposed to malignant hyperthermia (extreme elevation of body temperature for an unknown reason) tend to be more susceptible.  These breeds include Greyhounds, Labrador Retrievers, Saint Bernards, Pointers, Dobermans, Border Collies, English Springer Spaniels, and northern breeds.   

If you suspect your dog has been exposed to hops, seek veterinary care immediately! This is not something that can be managed at home. Quickly take a rectal temperature, and if it is found to be greater than 105 F, begin active cooling measures—such as dousing your pets body with cool water and wrapping icepacks in towels and placing them over its body—in addition to running the air conditioning in car while on your way to your veterinarian or local emergency clinic. This measure could help save your pets life and give him or her the best chance for survival.

 

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Recall: Natura Expands Recall, Again.

This following was posted on the Natura Pet food site on 4/19/2013.

Contact: Natura Pet Consumer Relations – 800-224-6123

Natura Pet Expands Voluntary Recall of Dry Pet Foods

Due to Possible Health Risk

FREMONT, NEBRASKA, April 19, 2013

–Natura Pet Products is voluntarily expanding its March 29, 2013 recall of dry pet foods because they have the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella. The expanded recall now includes all dry pet food products and treats with expiration dates prior to and including March 24, 2014. Please see the table below for details of affected products.

Salmonella can affect animals eating the products and there is risk to humans from handling contaminated pet products, especially if they have not thoroughly washed their hands after having contact with the products or any surfaces exposed to these products.

Healthy people infected with Salmonella should monitor themselves for some or all of the following symptoms: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramping and fever. Rarely, Salmonella

can result in more serious ailments, including arterial infections, endocarditis, arthritis, muscle pain, eye irritation, and urinary tract symptoms.

Consumers exhibiting these signs after having contact with this product should contact their healthcare providers.

Pets with Salmonella infections may be lethargic and have diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever, and vomiting. Some pets will have only decreased appetite, fever and abdominal pain. Infected but otherwise healthy pets can be carriers and infect other animals or humans. If your pet has consumed the recalled product and has these symptoms, please contact your veterinarian.

Sampling conducted by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and the Georgia Department of Agriculture confirmed the presence of Salmonella in additional dry pet food and a cat pet treat. In an abundance of caution, Natura is also recalling product made in the surrounding timeframe. This action affects dry pet foods and treats only; no canned wet food or biscuits are affected by this announcement.

The affected products are sold through veterinary clinics and select pet specialty retailers nationwide and in Canada, Hong Kong, Korea, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, and Costa Rica, as well as online.

 

Consumers who have purchased these pet foods should discard them. For additional information, consumers may visit www.naturapet.com. For a product replacement or refund call Natura toll-free at 800-224-6123. (Monday – Friday, 8:00 AM to 5:30 PM CST).

 

 

Brand

Size

Description

UPC

Lot Codes

Expiration Date

 

California Natural

All Sizes

All dry dog and dry cat food and treat varieties

All UPCs

All Lot Codes

All expiration dates prior to and including March 24, 2014

 

Evo

All Sizes

All dry dog and dry cat food and treat varieties

All UPCs

All Lot Codes

All expiration dates prior to and including March 24, 2014

 

Healthwise

All Sizes

All dry dog and dry cat food and treat varieties

All UPCs

All Lot Codes

All expiration dates prior to and including March 24, 2014

 

Innova

All Sizes

All dry dog and dry cat food and treat varieties

All UPCs

All Lot Codes

All expiration dates prior to and including March 24, 2014

 

Karma

All Sizes

All dry dog and dry cat food and treat varieties

All UPCs

All Lot Codes

All expiration dates prior to and including March 24, 2014

No canned wet food or biscuits are affected by this announcement.

About Natura Pet Products
Natura Pet Products is recognized as a trusted name behind natural and holistic pet foods and treats. Founded more than 20 years ago by John and Ann Rademakers and Peter Atkins, Natura is dedicated to providing the best natural nutrition.  Natura is committed to making premium pet foods and treats based on nutritional science and high-quality ingredients, combined with trusted manufacturing processes, for complete pet health. Lines include: Innova®, California Natural®, EVO®, HealthWise®, Mother Nature® and Karma®. To learn more about Natura Pet Products visit www.NaturaPet.com

Media Contact: Jason Taylor 513-622-3205

 

News: JoAnna Lou
Housebreaking Human Babies
Parents take a page from potty training dogs

Housebreaking is by far the most popular dog training question I get asked. Many consider it the most important skill for a puppy to learn since so many dogs are abandoned over problems in this area. While housebreaking requires patience and a lot of consistency, it's really quite simple to teach. And most dog lovers will say that walking their pup is much better than having to clean a litter box or deal with dirty diapers!

Now some parents are adopting a new potty training method called "elimination communication" or EC that will sound very familiar to dog people. EC teaches parents to respond to behavior that indicates when a baby has to go to the bathroom instead of relying on a diaper. When a parent sees that their infant has to go, they'll position them over an open-cloth diaper, toilet, sink, or even a secluded area outside.

Parents will also start making a noise, often a "ssss" or grunt sound, when the baby is relieving themselves, eventually forming an association that allows the parent to use the sound as a cue.  

Some people were first attracted to EC because of a diaper rash problem, while others like becoming more attuned to their baby's behavior and needs. Instead of actively encouraging infants to ignore elimination, EC attempts to teach the correct behavior from the beginning (sound familiar dog people?!). One of the challenges, like in housebreaking dogs, is learning to accurately read the child’s behavior indicating that they have to go.

Recently at an EC gathering in New York City, Pardis Partow, shared a funny observation that when her son, Parker, has an accident on the way to the bathroom, her dog will shoot her a look as if to say, "This isn't fair. Why can he do that?"

Perhaps human and canine parents can learn some potty training lessons from each other!

 

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Recall: Breeder’s Choice Active Care Biscuits

Breeder’s Choice, a Central Garden & Pet Company, has issued a voluntary recall for a single batch of Active Care Biscuits-Healthy Dog Treats due to mold discovered in one of the lots of dog biscuits.

The following product is included in the recall:

Product Code/SKU/ Material #: BCP-080

UPC Code:  0130104895

Size: 24 oz.

Product Name: Active Care Biscuits-Healthy Dog Treats

Best Before Code: 19/Dec/2013

Product and product lots that do not appear above have not been affected.

According to a release from the manufacturer, the mold seems to have occurred due to varying dryer temperature settings for drying biscuits. This exposed the recalled product to excess moisture and has since been remedied.

Pet owners who fed their pets the recalled biscuits should watch for symptoms that may develop. Common symptoms associated with mold exposure include gastrointestinal issues such as loose stool. At the time of this release, there have been no reports of human or pet illnesses associated with this recall.

For more information, call the Central Customer Care line at (866) 500-6286 or visit goactivedog.com.

 

News: JoAnna Lou
Wheelchair for a Tiny Pup
Bollman Tech students help a Chihuahua to run

Last July a Chihuahua named BeeBee was born without any shoulder blades, making it difficult to walk. This caused BeeBee to get picked on by other dogs at home, so Denise Steininger brought the puppy with her to work at a local nursing home. BeeBee may have been there for her own good, but the Chihuahua was soon bringing joy and inspiration to all the residents at the Life at Alpine Living Center in Thornton, Colorado.

One resident said, "if [BeeBee] can get through what she’s going through, I know I can."

BeeBee had a bubbly personality, but was still having trouble walking around the nursing home. A co-worker suggested that Denise speak with the Bollman Technical Education Center, where her son was an engineering student, about a possible solution. It turns out the instructors thought BeeBee’s dilemma would be a great project for their students.

Hunter Freed, Justin Erickson, and Kyle Cary immediately volunteered to take on the challenge as a community service project. The three students filmed BeeBee to study how she walked and then worked together to design a wheelchair for the tiny pup.

It only took a half hour for BeeBee to learn to move in their creation. With the wheelchair, BeeBee can now run around with remarkable speed.

Denise plans to get BeeBee certified as a therapy dog so she can officially “work” at the nursing home.

It’s amazing how much mobility BeeBee has with her wheelchair. All thanks to three students who now have an impressive project under their belt!  

News: JoAnna Lou
Swept Away at the Beach
Experts say not to jump in after dogs in the ocean

Although none of us are big on swimming, my dogs and I love running around on the beach. There's something about the cool breeze and sand that makes it a great natural playground.  

Back in November, I read about a couple and their son who drowned trying to save their dog at Big Lagoon beach in Northern California. The dog was chasing a thrown stick and was sucked into the ocean by a massive wave. The boy instinctively went in after the pup, followed by his father and mother. Tragically all three of them didn't make it out, while the dog eventually emerged from the water.

It seemed like a tragic freak accident--one that terrifies me because my pups and I are not good swimmers--but it turns out that five people have died in attempted dog rescues since November in Northern California alone.

Because of this, Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Pamela Boehland has teamed up with the National Park Service and the East Bay SPCA on a campaign to keep people from going after their pets in the water.

To any dog lover it seems absolutely crazy not to attempt a rescue, but Dr. Lynn Miller, DVM says there are many reasons to stay on solid ground.  First, the average dog is a better swimmer than the average human.  Second, the canine body is better designed to float—their heads are above water, they have a low center of gravity, they have four legs for propulsion, their lungs have a higher capacity than human's, and their fur keeps them warm in cold water. Some breeds even have waterproof undercoats or webbed feet.

Additionally, animals are single-minded, focused on finding safety. While dogs will go with the flow of the water until they're rescued, humans often panic and exhaust themselves before help arrives. And finally, even if you do reach your pup, it can be difficult to carry them back safely in the water.  

Pamela's campaign recommends leaving ocean rescues to the professionals. And, as in the Big Lagoon case, many times the dogs are able to make it out of the water on their own.

If your dog does end up in the ocean, East Bay SPCA Director Allison Lindquist recommends following your pup along the shoreline while calling their name. This can help orient them to land while help is on the way. If you end up in the water, swim parallel to the waves and remain calm.

Dr. Miller also says that it's essential for some breeds to wear life vests at the beach. These include breeds with breathing issues, such as Pugs and Bulldogs, breeds with short legs, such as Dachshunds and Corgis, and toy dogs, like Chihuahuas.

I still don't know what I would do if one of my dogs were swept into the ocean. It would be hard to fight the instinct to jump in.  However, these are good points to remember as the weather gets warmer and the beaches become more enticing!

News: JoAnna Lou
Gym for People and Pups
Chicago club holds exercise classes for dog lovers

I've made many exercise pacts with friends over the years and all of them eventually succumbed to busy schedules and sheer laziness. But I have two exercise partners who are always up for a run or hike—my dogs Scuttle and Nemo.

After I was coming off of an injury that left me sidelined for months, Nemo was the one who started running with me again, a little at a time. It didn't matter if I had to run after work in the dark or on my day off in the pouring rain, Nemo would happily join me every time. We eventually went on to complete the Iams Doggy Dash at the New York City Triathlon. I couldn't ask for a better exercise partner!

20 years ago, Tricia Montgomery and her Basset Hound, Louie, were both diagnosed with obesity. It gave her the wake up call she needed to start exercising regularly with Louie. Tricia eventually lost 135 pounds and Louie lived a long, healthy life. The experience inspired Tricia to create the K9 Fit Club in Chicago last year.

The Club's classes feature workouts designed to be completed alongside your dog—walking squats with the pups on leash and situps with small dogs laying on people's stomachs.

While most come for the weight loss benefits, many have found other reasons to stay. K9 Fit Club member Cindy Rodkin lost 57 pounds, but she reports that her pup, Khaki, has become healthier and better behaved since starting class.

Erin Harvey, a member who has Down syndrome, gained newfound independence in and outside of the gym thanks to the bond she developed with her dog, Goldie, at K9 Fit Club.

Obesity is a serious problem for humans and canines The K9 Fit Club classes are a great way to get people to exercise with their pets while developing a lasting relationship apart from burning calories.

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