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Canine Influenza – Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention

 

dog flu

January 20, 2018, by Ryan O’Quinn

Canine Influenza Worries Dog Owners

 

While Bay Area residents either deal with or worry about coming down with this year’s nasty and potentially deadly flu, there’s something else for dog owners to consider:

Canine influenza — more commonly called dog flu.

Dr. Kyle Frandle of the Los Gatos Dog & Cat Hospital indicated that the dog flu going around the Bay Area this winter is pretty serious.

“In the last few days there have been confirmed cases of Canine Influenza H3N2, known as dog flu, in our area. Canine Influenza is a highly contagious virus. There are two strains of the virus – H3N8 and N3N2 — and are host specific and can be found all over the world,” stated Dr. Frandle.

So, what are the symptoms of dog flu and what should dog owners be looking for?

 

Symptoms and Types of Canine Influenza

 

General symptoms of these illnesses include coughing, fever, malaise, sneezing, and anorexia. Red and/or runny eyes and runny nose may be seen in some dogs. In a majority of cases, there is a history of contact with other dogs that carried the virus.

Dogs that are infected with the canine influenza virus may develop two different syndromes:

Mild – These dogs will have a cough that is typically moist and can have nasal discharge. It can be more of a dry cough. Symptoms typically last 10 to 30 days and usually go away on its own.

Severe – For the most part, these dogs have a high fever (above 104 degrees Fahrenheit). It’s possible for pneumonia to develop. The most common type being hemorrhagic and sometimes bacterial pneumonia may onset, too. The influenza virus affects the capillaries in the lungs, forcing a dog to cough up blood and have trouble breathing if there is bleeding into the alveoli (air sacs).

 

Treating Dog Flu

 

The mild form is usually treated with cough suppressants. Antibiotics may be used if there is a bacterial infection. Rest is important as well as isolation from other dogs.

The severe form needs to be treated aggressively using different types of antibiotics, fluids and other supportive treatments. Hospitalization and isolation are necessary until the dog is well.

 

Preventing Dog Flu

 

There is a vaccine available for canine influenza. However, it should only be considered after a conversation with your veterinarian.

Any dog that is suspected to have canine influenza should be isolated from other dogs. Those dogs with the mild form of the infection usually recover on their own.

The virus is contagious and is spread by direct contact between dogs as well as by contaminated stool, surfaces, bowls, collars, leashes, equipment, and the hands and clothing of people.

The virus can be spread via direct contact with respiratory secretions from infected dogs,  such as barking, sneezing or coughing and by contact with contaminated objects. Clothing, shoes, surfaces, and hands should be cleaned and disinfected after exposure to dogs showing signs of respiratory disease to prevent infection.

This is another great reason why we make sure to disinfect our tools daily as well as in-between client visits. Our tools are disinfected using vet-grade sanitizers and disinfectants. Sanitation and cleanliness are key in our industry. At a time with dog flu so prevalent, it’s that much more important for us to be aware of what we may be introducing into our clients’ yards.

If you’re concerned your yard may be contaminated with the canine influenza virus, we offer a yard sanitizer spray which acts as a disinfectant. It kills canine influenza, parvo, E-coli and other types of dog-related viruses.  It works best on hard surface areas and artificial turf but can be used on grassy areas as well.

Can it Spread to People or Other Animals?

 

Canine influenza is not a contagion issue for humans or other species. However, cats can sometimes catch the virus from infected dogs, and, currently, there is no flu vaccine for cats.

Flu fear, however, is no reason to miss out on much-needed playtime for your pooch. The virus has been a part of the dog world for years, and it’s rarely deadly.

If you’re still worried about your pup catching the virus, the best things to do are to avoid dog parks and other public places where large groups of dogs gather.

Still, most veterinarians encourage pet owners to vaccinate their dogs with the canine version of a flu shot. And, if you’re worried your pup might be infected, help is just one vet visit away.

 

 

 

Is A Raw Food Diet The Right Choice For Your Dog (And You)?

raw dog food diet

January 9th, 2018, by Ryan O’Quinn

The pet industry is booming. With growth in 2017 almost $3 billion higher than in the previous year alone, it’s an industry that continues to grow year over year. Just look at the statistics!

Inside industries with such steady growth, trends are bound to emerge — specifically the trend of raw feeding. But, is it a trend or something more likely here to stay? I’ll discuss some of the pros and cons and let you decide what’s best for you and your dog.

An idea proposed by Australian veterinarian Ian Billinghurst in 1993, the raw diet is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: whole, natural, uncooked foods. A common acronym is BARF, which can stand for either Biologically Appropriate Raw Food or Bones and Raw Food, ironically.

A raw dog food diet typically consists of:

– Muscle meat, often still on the bone

– Bones, either whole or ground

– Organ meats such as livers and kidneys

– Raw eggs

– Vegetables like broccoli, spinach, and celery

– Apples or other fruit

– Some dairy, such as yogurt

Statistics for Raw Feeding for Dogs

This new trend is growing in popularity but still remains controversial. One thing’s for sure: raw food diets are big business in America with sales of raw and raw alternative dog food more than doubling in just four years: from $117 million to $393 million in 2016.

Billinghurst suggested that adult dogs would thrive on an evolutionary diet based on what canines ate before they became domesticated: raw, meaty bones and vegetables. Grain-based commercial pet foods, he contended, were harmful to a dog’s health.

Conversely, many mainstream veterinarians disagree, as does the FDA. The risks of raw diets have been documented in several studies published in veterinary journals.

Right now, reports of health benefits and/or detriments are mainly anecdotal, and large-scale statistics are still probably several years away.

 

The Pros and Cons

Here we’ll list some the benefits and risks associated with a raw dog food diet.

Pros of a raw food diet include:

-Safety: You know exactly what ingredients your dog’s eating, so there’s no need to worry about commercial-food recalls.

-All-Natural: If you’re concerned about preservatives in commercial food, then a raw diet might be a good alternative.

-Your Dog Has Unique Dietary Needs: If your dog is allergic to or has adverse physical reactions as a result of eating certain ingredients in commercial foods, a raw food diet may be the solution.

Other benefits touted by raw feeding advocates may include things such as shinier coats, healthier skin, cleaner teeth, higher energy levels and smaller stools (you may notice the poop can sometimes be white in color and can become powder-like or crumble easily upon touch or contact).

 

Cons of a raw food diet include:

-Possible Contaminants: Raw diets can put dogs at risk for Salmonella, Campylobacter, E-coli, and other harmful diseases. Humans are also at risk of acquiring these diseases if proper washing and handling instructions are not met sufficiently.

-Safety Risks: Dogs can choke, chip their teeth, or suffer intestinal blockage or organ perforations from chewing on and eating bones. Additionally, dogs have a hard time digesting raw vegetables, so veggies should be blanched and ground, which requires more work

-Convenience: Or lack thereof — a raw food diet for dogs can be expensive and it’s definitely time-consuming putting together multiple meals per day. Feeding then gets more difficult or complicated if you’re traveling with your dog or left him behind with a sitter. (However, some grocery chains are implementing raw dog food sections in their stores to make shopping for certain items more convenient, as well as to cash in on the trend.)

 

What should you do?

Before changing or altering your dog’s diet, especially if you’re considering making an abrupt move from kibble to raw, it’s always smart to consult with your veterinarian beforehand. Your dog may have certain health conditions that make a drastic change in diet prohibitive. Be sure to also do extensive research on the internet before talking with your vet, so you can make an informed decision about what goes in your fur babie’s bowl.

What Your Dog’s Poop Is Telling You

what your dog's poop is telling you

November 30, 2017, by Ryan O’Quinn

How many times have you thought to yourself, or said to your dog, “I wonder what’s going on in that brain of yours? If only you could talk.” I think it’s safe to assume it crosses every dog owner’s mind at least once, but probably more often. Since your dog won’t be talking to you anytime soon, there’s something your dog leaves behind daily that says a lot — at least about his health anyway. Can you guess what it is? Yep, that’s right, it’s your dog’s poop — and your dog’s poop says quite a bit!

Hopefully, you’re in the yard cleaning up your dog’s poop on a regular basis. While engaged in this chore, it’s the perfect time to monitor the healthiness of your dog’s stool. We actually do this at each visit to our clients’ homes. If we find something out of the ordinary, we will notify you of our findings. And, no, you don’t need to get up close and personal with a magnifying lens and a petri dish. But you should be keeping an eye out for anything unusual looking. This is where the four C’s of poop come into play; color, consistency, content, and coating.

1. Color: Normally, a dog’s stool is a chocolate brown color. During digestion in a healthy dog, the gallbladder releases bile to aid in the breakdown of food. Bilirubin is a pigment in bile that affects stool color. The stool may have some small differences in color mainly due to diet and hydration. Some abnormal color patterns are:

-Black or very dark stool: most likely due to bleeding high up in the digestive tract.

-Redish streaks: typically indicates bleeding in the lower digestive tract.

-Greyish or yellowish stools: may indicate issues with the liver, pancreas or gallbladder.

Keep an eye on your dog doing his business for a solid day. Pun intended! If he poops more than 2-3 times with any abnormal colors, contact your vet right away.

2. Consistency: Veterinarians typically use a numerical scale from 1-7 to measure the consistency of your dog’s stool. This scale places a value on the stool, where 1 represents very hard pellets and 7 is a basically liquid with nothing solid. Ironically the ideal stool on the scale is a #2; a firm, sausage-shaped poop that feels slightly squishy like Play-Doh when pressed.

Formless stool means the large intestine is not properly re-absorbing water; hard stool can be painful to pass and may indicate your dog’s dehydrated.

3. Content: The only way to check stool’s content is to break it right open and dissect it. Definitely does not sound fun by any means. The inside of a stool shouldn’t look any different from the outside. Here are some abnormal things you may find:

Worms: long and skinny roundworms, or little rice-shaped tapeworms. it’s important to always examine a fresh sample, as other creatures will seek out the stool and may cause a bad sample.

Foreign objects: as you know, it’s not at all uncommon for dogs to eat random non-food items — which typically pass whole and can be seen in the stool.

Fur: clumps of fur in the stool may indicate overgrooming, which can be related to anxiety, stress, allergies, and skin diseases.

4. Coating: Poop should not have any kind of a coating or film over it. Have you ever noticed when you’re picking up your dog’s poop and there’s a sort of trail left behind? That could be a coating of mucus and may indicate bowel inflammation. Diarrhea is usually accompanied as well.

Lucky for your pup (and you) the majority of poop-related issues tend to resolve themselves within 24 hours. If your dog stops eating, seems anxious or depressed, or continues to have digestive symptoms after a full day, it’s time to call your vet.

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.