And the Oscar goes to…

On 22 February 2015, Hollywood celebrities will gather for the 87th annual Academy Awards.   Only a few talented individuals will walk away with the top prize.

But, like last year, those who do not win  in the top 5 Oscar categories (Best Director, Best Actress, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress and Best Supporting Actor) will still be given a gift – a donation of 10,000 meals to the animal rescue of their choice.  The donation is made possible by Ellen DeGeneres and her dog food company, Halo, Purely for Pets in partnership with Freekibble.com.

Oscars meal donation

The donations are part of a PR campaign called Everyone Wins at the Oscars® which is organized by a Los Angeles marketing firm specializing in product placement.  (The Academy Awards has no affiliation with these gifts – called ‘swag bags.’).

The bag contains many high-end gifts, a value of US$125,000!

Source:  News.com.au

 

 

Behind the scenes in canine blood donation

Animals, including dogs, may need blood donations at critical points in their lives.

The University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna has operated a blood bank for dogs for more than a decade. 

Reasons for a blood transfusion among dogs (and cats) are usually serious accidents, large operations, certain types of cancer, cases of intoxication with rodent poison, serious infectious diseases such as the tick-borne babesiosis, and blood illnesses including haemolytic or inherited bleeding disorders such as haemophilia.

At the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna dog owners can bring their animals to donate blood regularly or as needed. Blood donations two to four times a year per dog is the maximum. About 15 minutes are required for a donation. Dogs must have a minimum weight of 25 kilograms and usually donate about 450 millilitres of blood at each session.

Photo by Felizitas Steindl / Vetmeduni Vienna

Photo by Felizitas Steindl / Vetmeduni Vienna

Animal blood, as well as human blood, is divided into various groups based on different surface proteins found on the red blood cells. More than twelve different blood type systems have been described for dogs, although in practice dogs are only tested for DEA 1.1 positive or DEA 1.1 negative.

Dogs can be registered as blood donors at the Clinical Unit of Internal Medicine Small Animals of the Vetmeduni Vienna. The donors receive a donor card and undergo a thorough examination before each donation. This mandatory health check includes a complete blood count, a test for blood parasites, and a check-up for viral infections.

“Donating blood does not harm the animals. The donated amount can be quickly regenerated by the animal’s organism,” says  specialist for small animal internal medicine and blood bank coordinator Nicole Luckschander-Zeller. “We pay special attention to making sure that donor animals feel good during donation. That’s why, after every donation, we give the animals a little snack.”

Dog blood is not only used as a whole. Individual blood components, such as plasma or erythrocyte concentrates, are stored and used when needed.

Source:  Vetmeduni Vienna media release

 

Helping each other – a Valentine’s lesson

On this Valentine’s Day, I hope you will consider your dog your furry Valentine.  Make time for each dog in your life.

And as a little Valentine’s Day lesson, here’s a video of a Labrador helping out his brother so they can get to the dog park:

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

Animals in Emergencies – book review

AnimalsinEmergenciesCover

I have just finished reading Animals in Emergencies:  Learning from the Christchurch earthquakes by Annie Potts and Donelle Gadenne.  This was a must-read book for me.  Why?  I’m in it!

Published in late 2014, this book is largely a compilation of stories about people and animals caught up in the earthquakes of 2010 and 2011.  However, since it is also a text produced by university academics, it aims to serve a purpose as “an introduction to the specialised area of animal welfare management during emergencies.”

I found the first 90% of the book the most enjoyable.  Filled with stories of rescue, sheltering and individual owner’s tales of the earthquakes, the book serves to document – largely in the first person – the historical accounts of the days, weeks and months following the quakes.  And I like the fact that the book doesn’t just focus on companion animal dogs and cats, but also includes stories about horses, fish, hedgehogs and other species.

But the last 10% of the book is rather disappointing (and it hurts me to have to say this).  Since New Zealand is a production-based economy, this book had to focus on the fate of production animals.  But this is also where the book loses its tone and momentum.  Either the authors asked for interviews with farmers and researchers and were rejected, or they simply didn’t ask – we’ll never know.

Perhaps because of the lack of firsthand accounts, the book becomes too formal in its approach to describing the impact on farm animals and animals used in research.  The text uses citations from newspaper articles at this point and becomes ‘preachy’ in terms of animal welfare.  As someone with a personal interest in animal welfare management, the issues raised in the book are not new but the distinct ‘lessons learned from Christchurch’ is very much lost on the reader.

I’m pleased this book has been produced and I’m very honored to have my story told although I know that I’m a very small contributor to the overall efforts to assist animals following the quakes.

Animals in Emergencies has been distributed to booksellers worldwide and a paperback version is available on Amazon.com.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

Izzy learns something new

I ‘commissioned’ a new toy for Izzy this Christmas – it was not a new or innovative design and there are many videos circulating with dogs using similar ones.  It’s made of wood and re-used drink bottles.

And until a couple of days ago, Izzy didn’t understand it was for her.  All she managed to do was to chew on the wooden frame and screws that held it together a few times.

But then, Izzy had a play date with her friend, Helga,  who is a Bernese Mountain Dog.  And Helga showed some interest in the toy with the addition of a little peanut butter at the top of one of the bottles.

Izzy and Helga take a break from playing together

Izzy and Helga take a break from playing together

Helga went home and, within minutes of her leaving, Izzy started to engage with her new toy.  Best of all, I caught it on video:

Clever girl, she just needed a little doggy leadership to show her the way!

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

Can people make their pets happy?

Researchers from Nestlé Purina Petcare are conducting some of the first studies of their kind into how external stimuli can generate joyful emotions in dogs.

While scientific evidence demonstrates that owning a pet can help lower people’s blood pressure, and reduce anxiety and depression, less is known about whether human contact has a similarly beneficial effect on animals’ emotional wellbeing.
A technique being used in this research is thermal imaging:  as blood flow changes to a part of the body, the temperature will also change.

Photo courtesy of Nestle Purina

Photo courtesy of Nestle Purina

Researchers use a thermal camera to measure these temperature fluctuations in pets’ eyes, ears and paw pads.

“Scientists have known for years how to evaluate negative states such as stress and anxiety in animals,” said Ragen T.S. McGowan, Nestlé Purina Petcare behaviour scientist. “Less is known about how to measure positive states such as happiness or excitement.”

“Thermal imaging has been widely used in animal welfare studies, to assess inflammation in racehorses, for example, or to see how certain conditions affect livestock’s stress levels,” she continued.

“This is one of the first times it being used to measure positive responses in pets.”

Source:  Nestlé Purina media release

An update on Kai

Kai, the dog who was abandoned at Ayr Railway Station in Scotland last month, has found a new home.  I wrote about Kai in the post  A new twist on abandonment.

Because of the worldwide coverage of Kai’s story (which reminded a lot of people of the story of Paddington Bear), there were lots of people who applied to adopt him.  Ian Russell, a self-employed hydraulic engineer, is Kai’s new owner.  Kai will get to travel all over Scotland with Russell, just as Russell’s previous dog did for almost 15 years!

Read more about Kai’s new home here:

Dog abandoned at railway station with suitcase of his belongings finds a new owner – Telegraph

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

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