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Are You At Risk Of Contracting A Virus From Your Pet?

common pet viruses

November 14, 2017, by Ryan O’Quinn

When rescuing or adopting a pet, a typical concern for new pet owners when it comes to the ick-factor of pet ownership has more to do with “How am I going to remove that ‘spot’ on the carpet that doesn’t smell like chocolate,” or “Who’s going to be responsible for picking up ‘backyard bombs’ on a regular basis.”

Those concerns are bad enough left alone. But, have you ever stopped to consider the laundry list of harmful and potentially fatal viruses and diseases pets can pass on to their humans? It’s true, humans can get seriously ill from their four-legged friends. Whether you own dogs or cats, you can be at risk of contracting many different viruses from your pets. We’ll discuss the 10 most common ones, the symptoms to look for in pets and people, and how to treat as well as prevent them.

Ringworm

When it comes to diseases passed from pet to owner, ringworm tops this list at number one. Ringworm is about as contagious as it gets concerning pet and human transfer. Ringworm spores can survive for months without a host, where a pet could pick up this fungal infection.

Symptoms in pets: Skin lesions and patches of hair loss with a red mark in the center.

Symptoms in people: Redish or pinkish, circular patches on the skin.

How to treat it: Prescription topical ointment or oral medication for people and pets.

Prevent it by: Washing bedding in hot water twice a month and avoid sharing unwashed bedding, blankets or grooming tools with other pets and their owners.

Hookworms

Hookworms cling to and suck on the intestinal lining of dogs, causing potentially life-threatening blood loss. This is especially true in puppies. The eggs found in pet feces can transfer through the skin in pet owners if you happened to, say, step on a ‘doggie bomb’ with your bare feet. However, that’s just gross in and of itself.

Symptoms in pets: Diarrhea, weight loss.

Symptoms in humans: Often times none but could include an itchy rash, cough, wheezing, stomach pain, anemia and/or loss of appetite.

How to treat it: Prescription antiparasitic drugs for pets and people.

Prevent it by: General prevention for all types of worms includes picking up your dog’s feces in the yard regularly so parasite eggs don’t hatch. Hey, we can help with that!

Roundworm

The most common internal parasite in cats, roundworms resemble spaghetti strings up to 4 inches long. Kittens can be exposed via an infected mother’s milk, while older cats can catch worms by eating an infected rodent. For humans, about 10,000 children are infected with roundworms annually. In its worst-case scenario, the untreated parasitic infection could lead to blindness in humans.

Symptoms in pets: Diarrhea, visible worms in stool, bloody stool, constipation, vomiting and coughing.

Symptoms in humans: Shortness of breath, cough, abdominal pain and blood in the stool.

How to treat it: Prescription antiparasitic drugs for both pets and people.

Prevent it by: Outdoor cats are more prone to worms, so this is a great reason to keep an indoor cat. Always wash hands after handling cats or scooping the litter box. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, eating bitter and spicy foods like turmeric, cayenne peppers, figs, ginger, olives, and garlic could naturally deter a roundworm infection. Not to mention, those foods are also good for us. Score!

Tapeworms

Kids are more likely than adults to be infected with tapeworm because they tend to not wash their hands before coming into contact with their mouths, especially when eating or drinking. However unpleasant tapeworms may be, they are easily treatable.

Symptoms in pets: Small, rice-looking pieces in the pet’s stool or longer worms can be seen in their vomit.

Symptoms in humans: Rice-looking pieces in stool.

How to treat it: Anti-worm medication for people and pets.

Prevent it by: Keep your pets flea-free. People can actually catch tapeworm by accidentally ingesting a flea infected with the tapeworm larvae.

Toxoplasmosis

A common disease transferred from cats to people, felines are most often infected when they catch and eat raw prey like mice and other rodents. The disease is most dangerous if a woman becomes newly infected just before or while pregnant, as it could cause serious eye and developmental problems in the fetus.

Symptoms in pets: Most cats develop immunity, but kittens are more vulnerable and can experience diarrhea or more serious problems, like lung, liver, or nervous system damage.

Symptoms in humans: Humans can often show no symptoms, but sometimes toxoplasmosis causes flu-like symptoms and swollen lymph nodes. If the symptoms disappear, the disease could still be present in your system.

How to treat it: Blood tests can identify the disease. For humans, drugs such as pyrimethamine and sulfadiazine, plus folinic acid can be used. If you’re at high risk for complications such as women wanting to become pregnant or people with weakened immune systems, you can ask your doctor for a test.

Prevent it by: Don’t let your cat outside to hunt. Always wash your hands after scooping the litter box, and keep cats from going to the bathroom in sandboxes (where your kids play) and gardens (ya, you get the visual).

Giardia

This disease is more common in dogs than cats. This waterborne, single-cell organism lives in rivers, lakes and streams.

Symptoms in pets: Diarrhea.

Symptoms in humans: Diarrhea.

How to treat it: Antiparasitic medication for people. Consult your veterinarian for the best treatment method for pets.

Prevent it by: Taking fresh, clean drinking water for your dog when you go on hikes. Only visit dog parks where owners are responsible about cleaning up after their pets. And always wash your hands after handling your pet’s poop to avoid coming into contact with the disease.

Campylobacter

Campylobacter is one of the most common diarrhea-inducing diseases in the United States. (Clear your calendars folks!) Often humans unknowingly pick up this common bug through kittens, puppies, and even young horses, ferrets, rabbits, and birds.

Symptoms in pets: Diarrhea.

Symptoms in humans: Diarrhea (there seems to be a theme here).

How to treat it: For humans, stay hydrated; sometimes meds are administered, but usually people recover on their own. For pets, your veterinarian can tell you if your pet will require medication.

Prevent it by: Avoid excessive holding or kissing if a kitten or puppy is sick with diarrhea. Even after the pet has recovered, wash your hands after touching him; an animal infected with Campylobacter continues to shed germs for up to seven weeks if left untreated.

Salmonella

We see the warning on the raw cookie dough packages and know not to eat raw eggs because baby chicks can carry the germ. And, did you know that between 75 to 90% of reptiles harbor salmonella.

Symptoms in pets: Reptile pets and chicks often don’t show symptoms.

Symptoms in humans: Abdominal pain, fever, vomiting, headache, nausea.

How to treat it: Most people recover without treatment, but some need to be hospitalized in more serious cases.

Prevent it by: Making sure everyone always washes their hands after handling a pet reptile or chicken.  Never wash a tank in your kitchen sink. If you wash it in the bathtub, be sure to disinfect the tub immediately thereafter.

Bubonic Plague

When you hear of the Bubonic Plague, it probably conjures images of medieval times, right?  While you can’t get this directly from your pet, you could catch it from a hitchhiking flea. Luckily, it’s extremely rare—CDC reports an average of just seven human cases per year. However, one case is too many.

Symptoms in pets: Fever, inflammation, swollen and painful lymph nodes.

Symptoms in humans: Sudden fever, headache, chills, weakness, swollen and painful lymph nodes.

How to treat it: Treat promptly with antibiotics for people and pets.

Prevent it by: Keeping your pet free of fleas.

Rabies

Although rare in the United States, rabies is fatal once symptoms appear in both pets and other animals. So prevention is of the utmost concern.

Symptoms in pets: Symptoms vary but could include behavioral changes like aggression, fever, hypersensitivity to touch, light, sound, hiding in dark places, foaming of the mouth, staggering, seizures, loss of appetite and sudden death.

Symptoms in humans: Flu-like symptoms, headache, anxiety, confusion, agitation, hallucinations and general weakness.

How to treat it: If you believe you may have been exposed to a rabid animal, seek immediate medical attention. Doctors may start a series of post-exposure shots to protect you from the virus. Left untreated, rabies is almost always fatal. Call the vet immediately if you believe your pet was exposed.

Prevent it by: Keeping your pets vaccinated in accordance with local and state rabies laws. Always keep pets away from wild animals. Tell your doctor if you’re bitten or scratched by an unknown or unvaccinated dog, cat, or wild animal.

As usual, prevention is always preferred. As the saying goes, the best offense is a good defense. Keep yours and your pet’s living quarters and bedding clean, wash hands diligently and if anything looks or seems like odd or unusual behavior for your pet, call your vet immediately.

After taking all that in, picking up dog poop regularly doesn’t seem all that bad now, does it?

Do Pets Make Good Gifts?

are pets good gifts

November 5, 2017, by Ryan O’Quinn

Are pets good gifts? It’s what Hallmark movies are made of. That beautifully wrapped box with the big, flowy ribbons and bows — then out pops a cute, new puppy. The idea sounds good, but in theory, it may be a different story. If it was just that simple. Often, we get caught up in the warm and fuzzy thoughts that come along with pet ownership. The fun part of it, not the burdensome side.

Out of all the wonderful gift ideas there are during the holiday season, is a dog — or any pet for that matter — a good one? Well, that all depends. Is there a plan in place? Who is going to be responsible for feeding the dog? Paying vet bills? Walking the dog? Grooming the dog? And, of course, picking up the limitless amount of dog poop that’ll be in your yard, and probably inside your house from time to time. Think potty training.

The first thing that should happen is a family discussion or meeting. A meeting should be held so that all members can openly express their likes and dislikes regarding pets and the responsibilities that come with them. Discussing who will take on what chores ahead of time will smooth things out down the road.

Here’s a list of 5 things that should be well thought out before buying or rescuing a puppy, dog or any other type of pet.

Can you make the necessary commitment?

Will you have or make the time to walk your dog two to three times a day? If the answer is no, and you have no one who can perform those essential tasks, you should stop and maybe consider a lower maintenance pet. However, if you can afford it, there are plenty of dog walking companies as well as on-demand dog walking services such as Rover and Wag.

Does your choice of pet fit your lifestyle?

People tend to choose pets based on how popular, cute or cuddly they are. Not a good idea. Many times these pets are then dropped off at animal shelters when they prove to be too high energy, high maintenance or just because the novelty has worn off.

Research and really get to know the breed you are interested in and be open to changing your mind if it doesn’t fit your ability to provide for its temperament. Asking a lot of questions from existing breed owners is a great idea. With the power and reach of the internet, social media and online forums are an excellent place to start. Another good idea would be to find breed-specific Meetups.

Is your home pet-friendly?

Introducing a new pet into your home during the chaotic holiday season could be a recipe for disaster. Homes are adorned with fragile decorations, lit candles and not to mention plants like Mistletoe which can be poisonous to dogs and cats. Normal routines are often broken during this time due to an increase in the number of activities with friends and relatives.

Another important factor to consider is the type of home in which you live and the breed, temperament and energy level of the pet. Probably not a good idea to own a Labrador and live in a small apartment. Conversely, a Chihuahua would be a better fit for the living situation above, as they generally require less physical activity and maintenance.

Are you willing to make the time to train your pet?

No one likes an unruly, untrained dog. Ones that you can’t take anywhere. Not without any issues at least. It takes time and consistency to properly train a dog. Even if you hire a dog trainer, you will still need to make yourself available for training sessions with your dog and the trainer. Hiring an experienced trainer is always a smart idea if the pocketbook allows for it.

Will you be a responsible pet owner?

You should always spay or neuter your new dog or cat. If you rescue a pet from an animal shelter or control agency, it’s usually done upon adoption and is a law in most states. You won’t want to deal with the behaviors that accompany unsterilized dogs and cats as they’re not ideal.

Microchipping may be a good idea, however, is a bit controversial. It can be safer than other forms of identification. If your dog gets lost, he might lose his collar and tags. If your dog is stolen, the thief might remove them. The microchip won’t track your dog though. Your dog has to be taken somewhere to be scanned. Many communities are proposing making microchipping all dogs mandatory.

There’s really no cut and dry, right or wrong answer to the question of whether pets make good holiday gifts. It really depends on your own situation and more importantly having a solid plan in place.

 

Do You Know How Your Dog Feels In That Costume?

dog halloween costumes

by Ryan O’Quinn, October 30, 2017

Last year, we published a blog post called Your Dog’s HOWL-O-WEEN Survival Guide, which addressed issues concerning the health, safety and well-being of your dog on Halloween.

This year, we decided to discuss a more specific topic of whether your dog actually likes you dressing him/her up as Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. Be careful, dressing your dog up in either one of those costumes could come off quite insulting to your fur buddy. You’ve been warned! That said, we must deviate away from anything political…

Your dog may react to wearing a costume much like he does when he hears fireworks on the Fourth of July: run and hide. The most important thing to be aware of is your dog’s response. If your dog shows signs of irritation or discomfort, it’s best to remove the costume. You can try it again another time, but be mindful that he just might not be comfortable with dog Halloween outfits.

Signs to look for that tell you your dog’s just not into it: eyes roll back or he’s looking to the side, has folded ears, tail between his legs, scratches at the costume, or makes a mad dash to get as far away from you and that dreadful canine costume as possible. Those are pretty clear signs you should stop while he still loves you.

One of the biggest concerns when clothing or dressing up a dog is the weather and climate in which you live. Clothing a dog in cold weather is actually ok, especially if you notice your dog shivering. However, it does not necessarily mean he’ll like it.

Conversely, heat stroke is another problem you can encounter if you live in warmer climates. If your dog is a type of breed that comes equipped with an amount of fur that would keep an Eskimo warm in the Tundra, you may want to reconsider costuming your dog. There are certain materials like wool and nylon that hold heat longer than others like cotton and silk. The signs and symptoms below could mean your dog is over-heated and possibly lead to heat stroke.

According to PetMD, hyperthermia can be categorized as either fever or non-fever hyperthermias; heat stroke is a common form of the latter. Symptoms of both types include:

  1. Panting
  2. Dehydration
  3. Excessive drooling (ptyalism)
  4. Increased body temperature – above 103° F (39° C)
  5. Reddened gums and moist tissues of the body
  6. Production of only small amounts of urine or no urine
  7. Sudden (acute) kidney failure
  8. Rapid heart rate
  9. Irregular heartbeats
  10. Shock
  11. Stoppage of the heart and breathing (cardiopulmonary arrest)
  12. Fluid build-up in the lungs; sudden breathing distress (tachypnea)
  13. Blood-clotting disorder(s)
  14. Vomiting blood (hematemesis)
  15. Passage of blood in the bowel movement or stool
  16. Black, tarry stools
  17. Small, pinpoint areas of bleeding
  18. Generalized (systemic) inflammatory response syndrome
  19. Disease characterized by the breakdown of red-muscle tissue
  20. Death of liver cells
  21. Changes in mental status
  22. Seizures
  23. Muscle tremors
  24. Wobbly, uncoordinated or drunken gait or movement (ataxia)
  25. Unconsciousness in which the dog cannot be stimulated to be awakened

Unfortunately, canine costumes are not breed-specific. Although dogs that are calm and well-balanced seem to tolerate Halloween canine costumes slightly more than the more neurotic ones, using a costume to cover up their natural coat can cause them stress and anxiety. It’s all about the dog’s temperament. If you’re the kind of dog owner who played dress up when your dog was just a pup, you may have better luck. A dog that has never worn a costume before, but is highly motivated by praise, could do great in a costume if the owners praise the dog during the experience. Rewarding them with a treat couldn’t hurt either.

So, regardless of what we say or any recommendations we make here, we know if you have your mind set on costuming your dog this Halloween you’re gonna do it. Totally fine by us! We love to see the creativity that goes into each canine costume, especially when it matches the personality of the dog wearing it.

On that note, we’ll leave you with these great canine costumes for some ideas if dressing up your pooch this Halloween.

Dog Diarrhea Got You Down?

Image result for dog diarrhea carpet

by Ryan O’Quinn, October 20th, 2017

It’s probably happened to you. You kiss your pup goodnight then hit the sack for a nice, restful sleep. You awake at sunrise, refreshed. That is until you walk into the other room to find your perfect pup had a bit of a “blowout” in the middle of the night. Dog diarrhea everywhere! What’s more? It’s not on the tile or hardwood floors. Nope, it’s on the carpet.

After a brief moment of “WTF” just happened in here, reality sets in along with a realization that this mess isn’t gonna clean itself. It’s definitely not how any dog owner wants to start the day, but it must be done.

You have a couple options. Deal with it now or wait until after you get home from work. There are benefits to both. Deal with it now and you come home later to a (hopefully) clean place. Deal with it after work and you will give the diarrhea time to dry. The benefit with the latter is it’ll be easier—drier, flakier—to remove from the carpet. If you try to remove it immediately, you run the risk further embedding it into the carpet as it’s  in its wetter form.

You decide to tackle the problem head-on, right now. Great! Here’s what you’re going to need to get the job done:

-Pair of latex gloves

-Plastic trash bags (13 gallon)

-Warm water

-White vinegar

-Large plastic/Tupperware bowl (x as many stains)

-Paper towels

-Fork

-Baking soda

-Vacuum Cleaner or shop vac

1. Take one of the large bowls and place it over the stain. You want the diarrhea to dry so you are not smudging it around the carpet making it worse. Placing the bowl over the stain will also confine the odor so the room does not stink any more than it has to.

2. Wearing the latex gloves with an open a plastic garbage bag by your side, begin to remove any excess dog poop you can by scooping with the paper towel. Be careful not to push the stain deeper into the carpet or drop any poop particles around you. Repeat as needed. You will likely go through quite a bit of paper towel during this step.

3. In another bowl, combine 1 cup warm water with 1 cup white vinegar. Or, for larger mixes, just make sure to use equal parts of water and vinegar. Mix gently and then let it sit until step 5.

4. Use the fork to scrape up any of the dried feces. The motion should be kinda like raking leaves. (Just remember to throw the fork away afterward. You won’t want to eat from it again, regardless if it’s been washed.) Remove as much of the dried feces as possible. Be careful. If you notice the carpet fibers pulling up or becoming damaged, stop right away.

5. Run the vacuum cleaner or shop vac over the area/stain removing any chunks, chips, or flakes that have come loose when using the fork.

6. Pour the water/vinegar solution over the remains of the stain. Blot the solution from the carpet with paper towels until you absorb the excess liquid.

7. Add more of the vinegar solution to the area if you still notice the stain. Continue to blot the area until you remove the stain.

8. Sprinkle an overly-generous amount of baking soda over the area to remove any lingering odors. Let the baking soda sit for a couple hours.

9. Vacuum the area to remove the baking soda and remaining fecal matter.

10. Lastly, spritz the area with some disinfecting spray such as Lysol to kill any remaining bacteria.

Another option to try are essential oils such as lavender and lemon oil. These oils help remove the odor from the carpet, naturally. (This would best be done in place of, or, after step 9 above.)

All that said above, it can be quite a bit of work. Dirty work at that. It really depends on what kind of a job your pup did on the room(s) in question. If you’re the kind of person who cringes at the thought, sight or smell of doggie diarrhea, you can always leave the mess to the pros. (That would be us!) We offer a 24-Hour Emergency Response service for exactly these types of situations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dog Poop Pickup, Automated?

No matter how you scoop it, scrape it or rake it, dog poop pickup is a messy, smelly business. Or, a necessary household chore for those who choose to do it themselves. Regardless of how you decide to handle your pet waste removal needs, one thing’s for sure: have dog will poop. And, poop they do. Often. Most dogs poop at least 2-3 times per day on average. If pickup isn’t done properly and consistently, you’ll soon be looking at a backyard full of trouble (not to mention insects, rodents and disease). All fun stuff.

Over the years, there have been several attempts by businesses and inventors alike to put forth a product to the huge (and loyal) dog-owner market that solves the pain of picking up where your dog leaves off. There’s just one thing. These products, most of them at least, didn’t or don’t make cleaning up after our dogs much if any easier. The products, while still manually operated, cleaned and maintained like the PooTrap – Magic Poop Collector or the Super Scooper don’t make the lives of dog owners much easier, nor do they save time. In fact, it seems to be quite the opposite with many of these types of products.

From the YouTube product videos above, notice how much setup for both products is required. Also notice that once the poop is collected, you still must manually remove, tie off and discard the dog waste bag. Why pay for a product that demands more time than just simply picking up the poop with a standard disposable dog waste bag yourself? Gimmicky? Yes. Did they sell? Probably. However, if you go to the PooTrap website URL, you’ll notice it’s no more. You can buy the Super Scooper on Amazon.

These days, we’re all about automation. If you’re living in Silicon Valley (where we’re located) you see it all day long. Another venture-backed startup pops up claiming to disrupt or change (usually automate) the current status quo. That’s innovation, right? Sometimes they knock it out of the park. Most times they don’t—and fail.

And, while we’re all for automating and simplifying, usually on the business side of things, there have been some “tech startups” set out to automate the cleanup side of things. A couple “startups” have received a significant amount of publicity due to the claims they were making to solve the problem of dog waste pickup we’re discussing. Continue reading and you’ll soon learn why tech startups are in quotes above.

Last summer, in July of 2016, an on-demand pooper scooper app was getting a lot of publicity among many of the popular tech/media sites like the Washington PostThe Next Web and others. The app, appropriately called, Pooper, was positioned as the Uber for dog poop pickup. So, you have the “Pooper”, the one who’s out for a walk with his/her dog. And there’s the “Scooper”, the one who arrives at the scene to bag the poop and take it away. How does it work you ask? Simple. The Pooper’s dog does his business, the Pooper then opens the app, snaps a pic of the poop and submits it. A Scooper is then notified via the app and arrives to scoop the poop. Genius idea, right? Well, news of the new app went viral and gained attention from investors, as well as people who were interested in making some extra money driving to your location and picking up a pile of your dog’s poop.

It turned out that this “app” was actually a huge pile of crap. Pun intended. The creators of Pooper are two web designers living in Los Angeles, CA. They never had any intentions of actually building or launching the app. Their intentions were to make fun of the ever-growing demand economy, and how there’s an app for just about anything these days from on-demand rides, food delivery, and shopping services.

“Pooper is, in fact, a piece of art that is satirizing our app-obsessed world. Specifically, the increasing reliance on the gig-based economy to do stuff for us that we could easily do for ourselves,” says Becker, a Pooper “co-founder”.

The next and most recent company to automate dog poop pickup is a Dutch “startup” called Dogdrones. What does Dogdrones do you ask? Two Dogdrones – Watchdog 1 (WD1) and Patroldog 1 (PD1) combine drone technology in the air and on the ground to work together to combat the huge problem of undisposed dog poop plaguing the Netherlands.

With a camera and thermal imaging, WD1 is scanning its environment. The drone is able to detect dog poop while it still has the same body temperature of the dog. WD1 produces a heat map which shows the location of the dog poop. The drone translates the position into GPS coordinates and sends them directly to the ground drone PD1. By receiving GPS coordinates, PD1 gets the command to immediately dispose of the dog poop.

The idea behind the Dogdrones was not necessarily to market to residences or homeowners themselves, but to the municipalities. One of the co-founders states dog poop is not only annoying but also a serious problem. “In the Netherlands, every year 100 million kilos of dog poo are not disposed of.”

What a great idea. Now we can all walk our dogs, let them do their business in public and the Dogdrones will swoop in to pick it up and save the day. Sounds great in theory. But, as I do, I’m sure you see a plethora of problems and legalities this will run into.

Even if you’re in love with the idea, don’t get your hopes up too soon. It turns out this “startup” was an April Fool’s prank. However, the concept was intended to shed light on a huge problem and relay a message to dog owners and non-dog owners alike. The problem being the excessive amount of poop not being properly disposed of and the adverse consequences and health risks associated.

It’s interesting the amount of attention things involving dogs and poop garner—together or on their own. And while both of these “products” may induce humor, they both set out to make a point and send a message.

At Bombs Away, it’s exciting to think that we do have future plans to add a layer of technology to a low-tech service—be it streamlining communication, introducing new products and services, or enhancing the customer experience. The great thing about being located in Silicon Valley is you’re close to innovation and the people pushing it. We look forward to opportunities to work with others to further each other’s chances of success.

While we do know of (and welcome) some companies building widgets and other technology to solve the dog poop pickup conundrum, it looks like good old-fashioned human ability, manual labor and a good sense of social consciousness win for now.

So, folks, until we have robots like Rosie from the Jetsons (which is not far off) please remember to either pick up after your pets, always. Or, hire a company or someone to do it for you!