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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.

News: JoAnna Lou
Socializing Puppies
Study looks at parvo risk for young dogs in socialization classes

When I get a new puppy, my main focus is on introducing them to as many dogs, people, and environments as I can. Puppies that are not socialized during the first three months of life are more likely to be fearful and possibly aggressive later in life.

Socialization is clearly important, but I always meet people who think they have to wait until their puppies receive their final vaccines at four months to take them outside of the house. While the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior recommends that healthy puppies can start classes as early as seven to eight weeks of age, not all veterinarians agree.

The University of California Davis decided to look at this issue, more specifically at the parvo risk puppies bear by attending socialization classes before their full vaccination schedule is complete.

Of the 1,000 puppies included in the study, none of the dogs that attended socialization classes were diagnosed with parvovirus infection. All of the fourteen puppies in the study that were diagnosed with parvo did not attend classes.

Not only does socialization influence behavior, but retention rates are higher in homes with dogs that participated in classes. However, people continue to get mixed messages on when it's safe to socialize their puppies.

UC Davis' study found that the majority of dogs, 86.6 percent, did not attend socialization classes. This underscores the importance of doing more research in this area and getting a uniform socialization recommendation for veterinarians to advise their clients.

What age did you start socializing your pup?

News: JoAnna Lou
Rocky to the Rescue
Lab mix saves a girl from icy waters

Adam Shaw and his Labrador Retriever-Husky mix, Rocky, were walking by the North Saskatchewan River in Edmonton, Canada last weekend when they heard two screaming girls. The young sisters, Krymzen and Samara, were playing on a sled and ended up on thin ice. When they tried to get back on land, the ice broke and the girls ended up in the freezing cold water.

A father himself, Adam raced down to the shore with Rocky and pulled Krymzen out of the water, but the current quickly carried Samara downstream and out of reach. Samara was having difficulty moving her arms and legs because of the cold temperatures and started bobbing in and out of the water.

Adam tried throwing Rocky's leash to her, but it didn't reach. As he got closer the ice gave way, sending Adam and Rocky into the water. Rocky was able to get back onto the ice and Adam used the leash to pull himself back up. Seeing that Rocky was more nimble in the water, Adam asked Rocky to go back. The brave pup immediately jumped in and swam right to Samara. Once the girl got both hands on Rocky's leash, Adam called the dog back, and all were pulled back to shore.

Doctors say that another two minutes in the cold water could have cost Samara her life. Thanks to Adam and Rocky, both sisters are now safe at home.

This week the local fire station honored the heroic duo, giving Adam a fireman's hat and Rocky a giant rawhide bone that the pup grabbed from Fire Chief Ken Block before they could take off the plastic wrapper.

All in a day's work!

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Recall: Bravo! Extends Recall
Bravo! Issues a Voluntary Recall for Three Raw Frozen Food Diet for Dogs and Cats Because Of Possible Salmonella Health Risk
 

Manchester, CT– Bravo! is voluntarily recalling three of its raw diet frozen foods for dogs and cats:  5 lb tubes of Bravo! Chicken Balance product item code 21-405 with “best used by” dates of 3_6_15 and 3_12_15; 2 lb Bravo! Chicken Blend product item code 21-102 with the “best used by” date of 3_21_15 and 5 lb. bags of Bravo! Beef Blend Burgers product item code 51-508 with the “best used by” dates of 3_21_15 and 3_22_15, because they have the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella.

This recall is being issued out of an abundance of caution, as while these products tested negative for pathogens by an independent third party prior to distribution, they were run on the same day or an adjacent day to a product that tested positive for pathogens.   The product that tested positive has been 100 percent contained and is not subject to this recall.

The recall involves only:

•    5 lb. Bravo! Chicken Balance frozen raw diet chubs (tubes) with “best used by” dates of 3_6_15 and 3_12_15 imprinted on the side of the plastic casing. Only 26 cases with the 3_6_15 date were distributed nationally and 36 cases with 3_12_15 date were distributed nationally.
•    2 lb. Bravo! Chicken Blend frozen raw diet chubs (tubes) with the “best used by” date of 3_21_15 imprinted on the side of the plastic casing. Only 67 cases with 3_21_15 date were distributed nationally.
•    5 lb. Bravo! Beef Blend Burgers bags with the “best used by” dates of 3_21_15 and 3_22_15 imprinted on the back panel of the plastic bag. Only 47 cases with the 3_21_15 date were distributed nationally and 55 cases with the 3_22_15 date were distributed nationally.

No other products or sizes are affected.

The recalled product should not be sold or fed to pets.  The company has received no reports of illness in either people or animals associated with this product.

While these products tested negative, Bravo! is allowing concerned pet owners to return unopened frozen tubes of food and patties to the store where purchased for a full refund.  Pet owners should dispose of unopened product in a safe manner (example, a securely covered trash receptacle).  Consumers who believe they have opened these products at home should just dispose of the product in a safe manner and contact the retailer where they purchased their product for a full refund.

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.

In an effort to prevent the transmission of Salmonella from pets to family members and care givers, the FDA recommends that everyone follow appropriate pet food handling guidelines when feeding their pets.  A list of safe pet food handling tips can be found at: http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm048182.htm.

For more information on the Bravo recall, please visit www.bravorawdiet.com, or call toll free (866) 922-9222 Monday through Friday 9:00 am to 5:00 pm (EST).

News: Shea Cox
Moist Dermatitis in Dogs—Hot Spots
Home Treatments

A recent request by a Bark reader was, “how can I treat a hot spot at home without seeing a vet?” Hopefully I can begin to answer this, but first, one must be able to “spot” a hot spot.

A hot spot is a superficial skin infection that happens when normal skin bacteria overrun the skin’s defenses as a result of damage to its surface. This damage is most often started by the dog chewing, scratching, licking and gnawing at itself. In the first stages of the formation, the skin becomes moist, red, itchy, and infected. Pus begins to ooze from the traumatized skin as infection sets in. Then, the dried pus and damaged skin surface will work to form a tightly-adhered crust, and you will likely notice hair loss over the infection site. This can be a very painful process, and frequently, dogs will show pain when the area is touched.

Dogs are their own worst enemy when it comes to hot spots, and they are generally created by their own over-zealous self-licking and chewing. They can arise surprisingly quickly: a few minutes of “work” can create an impressive area of self-inflicted trauma. The good news is that they almost always look worse than they actually are, and infection is usually superficial—often resolving with topical treatment alone.

So, what causes our dogs to begin self-chewing and licking in the first place? Good question, with a common denominator being anything that creates irritation to the skin, causing the dog to chew or scratch at the site, can cause a hot spot. Think insect bites (fleas, flies), skin allergies, excess skin-surface moisture, dogs with heavy or dense hair coats, matted hair, saliva accumulation under the fur (think of the pet that is always licking its feet), skin scrapes, or excessive humidity in the environment can all be sources for a hot spot to develop. Another interesting cause: good old-fashioned boredom.

The location of the hot spots may help your veterinarian determine the underlying cause of the problem. For example, a hot spot over the hip area could indicate flea infestation, hip arthritis, or an anal gland infection. Similarly, a hot spot near an ear could indicate an ear problem, an allergy, or a dental/nerve irritation. 

What you can do at home:

If the hot spot is small, non-painful, recognized early, and is uncomplicated, it may be possible to begin treatment at home with over-the-counter products made for this use. There are an array of topical sprays, medicated shampoos, and herbal therapies available—too expansive a list to discuss here. The important thing is to ensure that it is a pet-approved/pet-safe product and it is always a good idea to call your veterinarian and ask if your choice seems reasonable. You need to be very careful not to use human topical products as these may be toxic to pets when licked and ingested.  For example, zinc oxide can be toxic when ingested and it is a common carrier in many human skin ointments.

The basics of home hot spot treatment are:

  • If the area is small and non painful, carefully and gently clip the fur that is covering the area—this allows air and medication to reach to wound (word of caution: use approved grooming clippers, not scissors! I see many “accidental lacerations” in the ER because of this.)
  • Keep your pet from licking the area—you guessed it, get out that cone of shame.
  • Apply a warm, moist compress to the area 3 times daily for 5-10 minutes to keep the area clean, to calm the tissues, and to encourage good circulation; allow the area to fully dry before applying anything topically.
  • Use only pet safe, veterinary approved, over-the-counter treatments; as always, it is best to consult with your veterinarian prior to starting any home treatment.
  • Do not place any bandages or wraps to cover the area—you want the area to “breathe.”
  • Alleviate the itching or irritation that started the whole thing in the first place—get to the bottom of the source, otherwise you will be faced with a loosing battle.

Tips on prevention:

  • One of the things that can’t be stressed enough is appropriate flea control! Good flea control is important for any itchy pet and is the foundation of “itch prevention.”
  • In hot, humid weather, always thoroughly dry your heavy-coated dog after bathing or swimming.
  • Make sure your dog is groomed on a regular basis.
  • Keep boredom and stress at bay—provoide adequate exercise and opportunities for mental stimulation and play.
  • Introduce essential fatty acids into your pets diet to help keep a healthy coat.

When you can’t do it alone:

The bad news is that about 30% of the pets who develop hot spots actually have some other kind of skin disease such as a deeper skin infection, a bite wound or other trauma, or even immune-mediated disease. If you have any concerns whatsoever, it is best to have your veterinarian assess them.

Another time that veterinary intervention is needed is when the hot spot becomes so big and painful that it requires sedation to properly clip and clean it (can you imagine what it would feel like to have running clipper blades go over raw flesh? Ouch!). 

An additional potential concern is if a hot spot is accompanied by deeper skin infection, which would require more extensive therapy such as oral pain medications, oral anti-inflammatory medications and oral antibiotics in addition to topical treatments. The treatment your veterinarian chooses will depend on how bad the problem is, how much pain your dog is in, how long the problem has been going on, and if the problem is a recurring one. Some dogs may get one or two hot spots and then never get another one again (luck dogs!), while some may have frequent recurrences. 

Hopefully this helps take off some of the heat of hot spots, and thank you for the suggestion, Mona J!

News: Editors
Shelter Me

The good people at the Search Dog Foundation sent us this notice about a PBS show that is not to be missed.

Starting April 1st, PBS affiliates nationwide will feature SDF Search Teams as part of a series that celebrates shelter animals and the people whose lives they touch. For the first time, a video crew has captured the story of our teams -- from recruitment, to training, to pairing with a first-responder. The show is hosted by Jane Lynch, Emmy and Golden Globe-winning actress, singer, and comedian.

 

 

 Click here to see the Dates/times in your area

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Recall: Natura Expands Their Recall

Natura Pet Products issued their original recall on 3/18/13, a first in the history of that brand. Earlier this week on I spoke with a spokesperson from P&G, the company that now owns Natura, about that first recall and asked if they were continuing to produce these products at their plant in Kansas that had produced the recalled product. I was told that yes they were because the affected product happened to isolated runs at the end of 2012 and they were continuing to investigate the cause of the problem, although they were confident it had been isolated to that time frame. That surprised me then, and now this expanded recall has happened even more so. Perhaps in the future they will be more careful and conservative in allowing production to continue until the time that a pathogen problem has been isolated and fixed.

The following is the letter that appeared on their site:

Natura Pet is expanding the recall of specific California Natural, Innova, EVO, Karma and Healthwise formulas as a precautionary measure due to potential Salmonella contamination. Mother Nature and wet products are not included in this recall. No other P&G Pet Care brands are impacted by this recall.

We were alerted to a single case of Salmonella in a 2.2lb package of EVO Turkey & Chicken Cat Food on March 15th and took the precautionary measure of recalling all products produced on the same line within the same time frame. In the course of further examination, Salmonella was also discovered in other packages of EVO Turkey & Chicken Cat Food and Innova Cat Treats.  We are taking the immediate and precautionary action of expanding the current recall to include additional Natura products that were produced between December 14th 2012 and March 24th, 2013 on the same production line. We are also recalling a single lot of Innova Cat treats.  True to our heritage, we will be transparent as we work through this issue.

Plans are in place to increase production and expedite release of product, but some supply disruptions should be expected.

Salmonella and other contaminants pose a great challenge to the food industry.  No company is immune. We assure you that we are extensively investigating, inspecting and taking all actions necessary to ensure that our products meet both your customer’s expectations and ours.

If additional risks are identified, we will take immediate action to protect the health of our pets and integrity of our products. We are committed to doing what is necessary to make the healthiest pet foods in the world.

The attached document lists impacted SKUs with specific lot codes and expiration dates for both the previously announced voluntary recall and this expansion.

What to do if you have this product in your store or warehouse:
Managers or designee should immediately secure all affected SKUs to an isolated location.  Product should be secured/segregated from saleable product.

Distributor partners, please notify your retail outlets and ensure they take the appropriate action to remove the impacted products from the shelf.

Your Natura Sales Representative and/or distributor will be in contact with further instructions.

If you need additional information please call 800.224.6123.  We apologize for any inconvenience this situation may cause, and want to assure you that Natura Pet is taking all the necessary steps to ensure our product quality meets your expectations.

Global Pet Care CBD Leader
Bruce Eyre

Click Here to view Natura letter to retailers and list of all products involved in the expanded recall.

News: Editors
Papers needed for sniffing around

Along with the Supreme Court hearing marriage equality cases this week, it also took time to issue a ruling on Tuesday on the legality of using warrantless searches using drug-sniffing dogs. On that score, the majority ruled that the Fourth Amendment right to keep the government out of your home extends to canine noses, so a warrant is needed.

 “The police cannot, without a warrant based on probable cause, hang around on the lawn or in the side garden, trawling for evidence and perhaps peering into the windows of the home,” Justice Antonin Scalia said for the majority. “And the officers here had all four of their feet and all four of their companion’s planted firmly on that curtilage—the front porch is the classic example of an area intimately associated with the life of the home.”

Scalia was joined by Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Clarence Thomas—certainly an unlikely mix of justices.

In his dissent, Justice Alito said that the court’s ruling stretches expectations of privacy too far. “A reasonable person understands that odors emanating from a house may be detected from locations that are open to the public, and a reasonable person will not count on the strength of those odors remaining within the range that, while detectable by a dog, cannot be smelled by a human.”

As one editorial noted, “They used the sniff test to establish probable cause to get a search warrant. But the sniffing itself was an illegal search, the court said. Imagine if this man were just sitting on his couch, smoking a joint. Would we be okay with police entering his house, based only on a tip from a lovable dog?”

This case involved a Miami-Dade narcotics detection canine, Franky, and his super-sensitive nose. Question being presented to the Supreme Count was, does a police K-9’s sniff outside a house give officers the right to get a search warrant for illegal drugs, or is the sniff itself an unconstitutional search? To Franky’s credit, his nose lead to the detection of 179 pot plants growing inside a Miami house.

Although the high court has approved drug-sniffing dogs in other major cases, including routine traffic stops, airport luggage or a drug-laden package in transit, the difference in this case is that Franky’s services were used at a private home. In the future, Franky and his co-workers will simply need to get a warrant first.

 

 

News: Guest Posts
Delicate End-of-Life Decisions for Our Dogs

A much-commented New York Times article explores the singular pain and responsibility that comes with end-of-life decisions for our pets. How much effort, and how much money do you spend to extend their lives? All of the diagnostic tools and treatment options available today make these questions inevitable and also much more difficult to answer. Cancer can be treated with chemo and radiation, even amputation. Nearly every medical specialty for humans has its counterpart in veterinary medicine—cardiology; neurology; oncology; surgery—including hospice care for the end of life. We don’t like to talk about the expense involved with the treatment options we’re offered, but financial resources for our entire family (including our other pets) are impacted by the choices we make.

The same questions we must answer for ourselves—health care directives regarding heroic measures, do-not-resuscitate orders, what a quality life looks and feels like—should be answered with regard to our pets, at least in a general way before we’re sitting in the vet’s exam room and are asked “What do you want to do?” There are no easy answers, no one-size-fits-all. Ultimately, we as pet guardians must decide what’s best for them, what they would want, and what maximizes their quality of life.

Reading the article and the comments it generated are a good way to start your own discussion.

 

 

News: JoAnna Lou
Finding Maddox
CA woman embarks on a mission to find her lost dog

Fortunately I've never had a missing pet, but just the thought of not knowing where my dogs are makes me feel a little bit panicked.

Jackie Vestal's Minature Pincher, Maddox, has been missing since Christmas Eve and she's been on a desperate search for the 7-year old pup ever since.

The Los Angeles woman rarely left home without Maddox, but she had to leave him with a friend in Oklahoma City while spending time in Texas during the holidays. Maddox was only there for a day when he bolted from the house, perhaps looking for Jackie. That night Jackie and her husband made the three-hour drive back to Oklahoma City to begin the search.

Jackie did the usual driving around the neighborhood and posting hundreds of fliers around the neighborhood. She also issued a pet amber alert that sent pre-recorded messages to vet offices, neighbors, and shelters, and made hundred of fliers to post around the neighborhood. Calls came trickling in, but none of them were the right dog.

Jackie knew that she had to get creative if she wanted to find Maddox.  She alerted the media, rented billboard space, and appeared on three different local television stations and a local dog talk show.

In addition, she hired a pet detective who flew in from Nebraska with scent dogs to try to track Maddox's scent. They're also using a method called Attract and Capture, a process that takes time but won't scare Maddox off. Jackie set up 13 feeding stations and a couple of deer cameras. For the stations without cameras, there is sand to track footprints. As soon as they see Maddox on camera and know he keeps coming back to the same feeding station, they'll set up a trap.

It's been almost 100 days since Maddox went missing and Jackie has taken a leave of absence from her job in Los Angeles to focus on finding him in Oklahoma City.

In the process of looking for Maddox, Jackie has also helped a lot of other dogs. There have been a lot of false leads and in following them, she's found a lot of dogs that aren't Maddox. Jackie has helped get 13 dogs off the street and into foster homes or back at home with their families.

Not everyone has Jackie's means to take time off from work or buy a billboard, but I think all pet lovers can relate to wanting to do everything possible to locate a lost loved one. Have you had any unconventional methods work to bring a lost dog home?

If you'd like to help out in the search for Maddox, visit Jackie's Facebook page, Twitter feed, or web site.

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