Tag Archives: American Veterinary Medical Association

Saving the whole family

As the Northern Hemisphere enters its hurricane season, it’s a useful time to review your plans for disaster preparedness regardless of your location in the world.

In New Zealand, as our seismic activity continues to make the news, it’s important to be ready regardless of season.  Things like refreshing your stored water supply, for example.  And if you don’t have a bottled water supply, get one!  This includes storing enough water for 3 days for you and your animals.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) distributed this video last year.  It outlines the things you need as a pet parent and not just things for dogs.  I have clients on lifestyle blocks with horses, for example.  Although I don’t know much about horse care, I can certainly understand the need to have harnesses and a trailer ready for evacuation.

The video mentions how to make a temporary dog tag out of a luggage tag. This may work for larger dogs, but is impractical for small breed dogs.

What I prefer is to have an old dog registration tag in my emergency kit.    It’s been covered with a blank label and I have a pen in the kit.

If we had to evacuate to a temporary location, I will write our contact details on this temporary tag.

I’m also a supporter of micro chipping, which is compulsory for dogs in New Zealand.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

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Medical marijuana for dogs?

A bill in the legislature of the State of Nevada was introduced this week that would legalize the use of marijuana in the treatment of animals.

The bill is sponsored by Democrat Tick Segerblom.  It would let owners obtain the drug for their animals if a veterinarian confirmed it “may mitigate the symptoms or effects” of a chronic or debilitating medical condition.

The same bill has provisions for the use of medical marijuana by people.

Companion Cannabis, a product as seen in a medical marijuana dispensary in Los Angeles (Photo by Damian Dovarganes, Associated Press)

Companion Cannabis, a product as seen in a medical marijuana dispensary in Los Angeles (Photo by Damian Dovarganes, Associated Press)

There isn’t a lot of research about the use of marijuana in animals, although there are stories of owners using it to alleviate illness symptoms in their pets – usually as a last resort when traditional therapies haven’t helped.

Physiologically speaking, dogs have a high concentration of THC receptors in their brains (THC is an active ingredient in marijuana).  As a consequence, dogs are more susceptible to marijuana and this can lead to a toxic dose.  There is evidence that in states such as Colorado, which has already legalized marijuana use, more dogs are being admitted for treatment because of marijuana toxicity after they’ve eaten their owner’s supply.

The American Veterinary Medical Association, not surprisingly, does not have an official stance on the use of medical marijuana.  Since research into the topic isn’t ‘evidence based,’ the Association merely suggests that vets make treatment decisions based on sound clinical judgment that stay in compliance with the law.

The Association says that even in states where medical marijuana is legal, it is still a Class I narcotic under federal law which means vets are not legally allowed to prescribe it; meaning that in essence the Association is saying that vets shouldn’t prescribe marijuana unless federal law is changed and they are satisfied that there is a clinical reason for doing so.

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

Behavioural problems in pet store dogs

Dogs purchased from pet stores are more likely to have a range of behavior problems than those purchased from small, non-commercial breeders, says a study by researchers at the Best Friends Animal Society and the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine.

The study was published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association.

The study involved 413 dogs purchased from pet stores.  Psychological and behavioral characteristics of these dogs were compared to the same characteristics in 5,657 dogs obtained from small-scale, private breeders.  (Most puppies sold in pet stores in the USA are sourced from large-scale, puppy mill type commercial breeders).

Results show that dogs obtained as puppies from pet stores showed significantly more aggression toward human family members, unfamiliar people and other dogs. Dogs purchased from pet stores were almost twice as likely to exhibit aggression directed toward unfamiliar dogs than dogs purchased from small non-commercial breeders.

The pet store dogs also a displayed greater fear of other dogs and typical events in pet dogs’ lives, had more behavior problems when left alone at home, and experienced more problems with house-soiling.  These behaviors in young adult dogs are reasons typically cited by people who surrender their pets to animal shelters.

“The results were so one-sided that in the wide range of behavior problems we included in our analysis, pet store dogs failed in every single case to even obtain one more favorable score than the comparison group of dogs” says Dr Frank McMillan of Best Friends Animal Society.

The research team acknowledges that the exact causes of the behavioral problems observed are not known; until these causes are understood, they recommend avoiding purchasing puppies from pet stores.

Source:  BusinessWire media release

See my related post about the ASPCA’s No Pet Store Puppies initiative

 

 

 

Would a raised dog feeder help my dog?

A massage client asked me this question earlier this week.   The dog in question is a Boxer (beautiful boy) who happens to be suffering from degeneration in his spine.

Although he is doing well with regular swimming, acupuncture and massage therapy, his owner knows that he is comparatively young (8) and she wants him to have a good quality of life for a long time.  So that’s when we started talking about changes she could make to his physical environment to make things less stressful for him (ramps, steps, etc.)

Would a raised feeder help my dog?

Raised feeders can be a real advantage for a dog with orthopaedic problems or arthritis.  Eating from a raised feeder helps to relieve strain on the neck and back, allowing the dog to eat without dramatically altering their posture and helping them to retain balance.

But – some studies have shown that dogs who are susceptible to bloat have an increased risk from eating from a raised feeder.  The most notable reference for this link is an article by Dr Larry Glickman in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, Vol. 17, No. 10.

Gastric dilation-volvulus (GDV) is known by the common term ‘bloat’  and other terms such as ‘stomach torsion’ or ‘twisted stomach.’  Regardless of what name you use, the condition is life-threatening.  Dogs can die of bloat within several hours.   Even with treatment, as many as 25-33% of dogs who develop bloat will die.

In bloat, the stomach fills up with air and puts pressure on the other organs and the diaphragm. The pressure on the diaphragm makes it difficult for the dog to breathe. The air-filled stomach also compresses large veins in the abdomen, preventing blood from returning to the heart.

Filled with air, the stomach can easily rotate on itself, pinching off its blood supply. This rotation is known as volvulus.  The stomach begins to die and the entire blood supply is disrupted.  A dog with this condition can deteriorate very rapidly – meaning a trip to the vet as an emergency.

Purdue University ranks Boxers as the 16th breed most susceptible to bloat (Great Danes are the highest).  So, in this case, the owner decided not to opt for a raised feeder.  Not only is her Boxer on the higher risk list, but he also is a gobbler – making quick work of his food!

This is just one example where it pays to do a little research.  An idea that seems like a good one may not be so.

Betty – A Special Seeing Eye Dog

This week, actress Betty White celebrated her 90th birthday.  It’s quite a milestone.   She’s received a lot of attention over the years and not just for her acting.  Ms White has a long history of animal advocacy work and many charities have benefited from her support.

The Seeing Eye, Inc., an organisation founded in 1929, has named a puppy after Betty.  Based in Morristown, New Jersey, the Seeing Eye is the oldest existing guide dog school in the world and it has trademarked the term “seeing eye” so that only dogs from its school can be called seeing eye dogs.  That’s why guide dog puppies here in New Zealand are called guide dogs whereas folks from the United States often call them seeing eye dogs.

Betty, the Seeing Eye dog named after actress Betty White

Ms White first recorded a radio public service announcement for The Seeing Eye in the 1980s in which she helped remind everyone about the requirement to allow guide dogs access to public transport.  You can listen to that announcement here.

In 1987, the American Veterinary Medical Association gave Betty its Humane Award for charity work for animals.  Ms White has a bronze plaque at the Los Angeles Zoo (near the gorilla exhibit) which also honours her work for animals.  In 2010, she was even granted the title of honorary forest ranger by the US Forest Service!

Happy birthday Betty!  And may Betty the Seeing Eye Dog have a long career!

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand