Posts Tagged ‘sick dogs’

Canine Influenza – Seminar by Maddie’s Fund was informative

May 10, 2015 9 comments

Shelter dogsOn Thursday, I had the opportunity to attend an online seminar put on by Maddie’s Fund. I was already interested in the topic, but expected to learn little new as I had already been reading up on the topic on my own. As it turns out, I learned a heck of a lot more information in the seminar than in the newspapers. Go figure.

The topic? What Animal Shelters Need to Know About the Canine Influenza Outbreak. The seminar was presented by Dr. Sandra Newbury from the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine and UC Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program. Dr. Newbury has been working closely with shelters since the outbreak and was able to share some details that the media has missed in their rush to join the hype.

Sad Looking Chocolate LabShe shared some of what shelter workers who have been dealing with after the spread of this virus, not only in the  shelters in Chicago, but also in the surrounding areas and states. Wow. I cannot imagine the stress. They deserve our support. What they are dealing with is incredibly overwhelming. I imagine they are exhausted after managing through this for the past two months. They are not only caring for hundreds of sick cats and dogs, but also worrying about exposing their own pets to this virus. Imagine how scary it must be for them.

You can get a copy of the presentation handout here, but I thought I would share a few of the things I learned.

  • The virus currently making dogs sick in Chicago (H3N2) originated in Korea, China and Thailand. It is suspected it came from the Avian influenza and transferred to cats and dogs. In Korea, China and Thailand, the virus also infected cats, who experienced a significant mortality rate when infected (something we have not seen here).
  • Despite what we may think, there is no proof that the virus came in with a dog imported from these countries to the United States. They may never know how it made it to this country.
  • The virus did not originate in a shelter, but started with one dog living in a home. Contraction of the virus most likely started in a training class, vet clinic, or doggy daycare.
  • When it did hit animal shelters in Chicago, it hit them like a tidal wave. Example: One or two dogs started showing symptoms on  Monday. By Tuesday, ten dogs were sick and by Friday, shelters were seeing 50-100 dogs sick. In CACC, they saw 200 dogs sick with the virus.
  • Most of the dogs have had mild to moderate respiratory disease. Very few that have died, but some have developed pneumonia and needed additional treatment.
  • Symptoms usually start with a cough and nasal discharge. Dogs sickened with this virus seem to feel worse than the dogs infected with the known virus, H3N8.
  • This virus differs from the one we have previously seen in the United States (H3N8) in that it has a longer “shedding” period (the virus can still be shed by the formerly sick dog long after they seem well, thus making them still contagious after 19 days). 
  • This has had a huge impact on shelters and shelter workers. Because of the longer shedding period, shelters have had to stop or slow down the release of dogs to  rescues and they have had to turn some dogs away in order to avoid infecting more dogs, sometimes diverting incoming dogs to other uninfected shelters. They are trying to be very, very careful to not spread the virus.
  • Because this virus is new to the United States, many shelters were placing dogs up for adoption after seven days, when they appeared well, but they soon discovered that other dogs were getting infected when exposed to these dogs even though they (the formerly sick dogs) were well.
  • Dr. Newbury said they are now recommending that dogs be isolated for at least 21 days after they were first diagnosed to prevent spread of the disease, but she cautioned that they are not yet positive that 21 days will be long enough, because they thought it would be fine after 14 days and discovered it was not.
  • If a rescue or animal shelter chooses to adopt out a dog who was sick and no longer has symptoms, they should be apply two rtPCR tests and get a negative result from both before allowing the dog to be adopted, and even then, they should gain agreement from the adopter that they will keep them isolated for the full 21 days (no dog parks, no training classes, etc.).
  • Shelters in Chicago are developing plans to release some dogs from their shelters to avoid an increase in euthanasia, but they are giving rescue groups very, very specific instructions on holding the dogs in isolation and away from other dogs. They do not want to move dog to an area that does not have influenza already.
  • Sick dogs are not turning over to recovering dogs as quickly, but they are starting to see more recovered dogs than sick now. That is very good news.

While I still think this is a very serious outbreak, I feel better knowing more of the details. The speed at which this virus spreads and the fact that the shedding period is so long should be a concern for rescues as they import dogs from these sates. They may want to avoid the ones where cases already been confirmed for now.

Kudos to all the shelter workers dealing with this and trying to make sure it is contained. You have a tough job on normal days. This is above and beyond what is “normal.”



10 Interesting Dog Myths

March 6, 2013 40 comments

Chihuahua Wearing Eyeglasses

Recently, I came across a news piece debunking common animal myths. I thought I was pretty knowledgeable about most animal myths (I’m kind of a nerd when it comes to animals), but it turns out I had more to learn.

For instance, did you know that touching a baby bird does not mean the mother won’t take it back? Or that porcupines don’t shoot their quills at a predator? You can read more about these common myths at Animal Facts & Myths Debunked By Wildlife Experts.

Reading some of the myths we have about wild animals made me wonder what kinds of dog myths I may have fallen for that turned out not to be true. So, off I went a-Googling to see what I could find. It turns out there are quite a lot of dog myths out there. Who knew? (Just kidding. Given how many myths there are in the dog training world, I had to figure there were a lot more myths about dogs.)

Here are some of the more interesting ones I found:

  1. Dogs are sick when their noses are warm – It turns out this is a myth (one I actually believed). “The temperature of a dogs nose does not indicate health or illness or if they have a fever. The only accurate method to access a dog’s temperature is to take it with a thermometer. Normal dog temperature is 100.5 to 102.5 degrees F.”

  2. Dogs like to be petted on their heads – Past experience has taught me that this is definitely a myth. While some dogs may not mind it, most dogs DO NOT like to be pet on the head. In fact, a hand coming at them over their head can be quite an intimidating thing to a dog and can be seen as a threat.

  3. Happy dogs wag their tails – Another one that so many people think is true. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but a wagging tail does not always mean a dog is happy.  “A wagging tail can mean agitation or excitement. A dog that wags his tail slowly and moves his all rear end or crouches down in the classic “play bow” position is usually a friendly wag. Tails that are wagged when held higher, twitches or wagging while held over the back may be associated with aggression.”

  4. Dogs eat grass when they are sick – Haven’t you always wondered why your dog eats grass? I know have. I actually believed this one was true. but according to Dr. Debra Primovic, “Dogs descended from wild wolves and foxes that ate all parts of their “kill.” This included the stomach contents of many animals that ate berries and grass. Many scientists believe grass was once part of their normal diet and eating small amounts is normal.”

  5. Dogs destroy furniture and other items in the house because they are angry – This is actually one of my favorite myths. So many people believe that their dog takes out their anger on them when they are gone. How do they know this? Why their dog looks guilty of course! Afraid not. More and more studies are showing that the guilty look your dog gives you is in response to you (your tone of voice, body posture, etc.) NOT because they actually felt guilty for doing something they knew was wrong. You can read more about a study done in 2009 here.

  6. You should never comfort a scared dog – This is one of those old myths I heard growing up as a kid. My dog Indy was fearful of thunderstorms and we were told to ignore the behavior or it would reinforce it. We did. It didn’t. Her fear just got worse with time. Poor Indy. Now I know better and I comfort Daisy when there is a thunderstorm or fireworks are going off in the neighborhood. Why? Because I finally met someone who understands and works with fearful dogs, Debbie Jacobs. According to Debbie, “One of the first things someone working with a fearful dog needs to understand is that it’s ok to comfort a dog that is afraid. It’s ok to give them a piece of cheese or take them away from what is scaring them.” Daisy is the lucky recipient of this wisdom and I am so grateful. So is Daisy.

  7. Dog growling is always a bad thing – I used to believe this one until I got my dog Indy. Have you ever had a dog who was vocal? Well, Indy was and she loved nothing more than to growl when playing tug or wrestling with another dog. As shared by Eric Goebelbecker of Dog Spelled Forward, “Dogs have a very limited vocal range, and like reading body language, making a judgement based on a single indicator like a growl is a bad idea. Growling during play, such as a game of tug, is perfectly fine.”

  8. Using head collars will cause neck/spinal injury – I recently came across this one when someone I know on Facebook admonished a foster mom for using a Gentle Leader on her foster dog. According to the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT), a well-recognized and respected dog-training association,  “This is an oft-repeated claim that can be found all over the Internet. In fact there are no documented cases of dogs getting neck and/or spinal injuries from head collars. Proper use of these types of collars should have no ill physical effects on your dog.”

  9. Dogs are descendents of wolves and therefore training should be based on how wolf packs interact with each other – Ah yes. The whole “pack theory” approach to dog training. You can read my friend Pamela’s post Why is the Dominance Theory of Dog Training Still So Darn Popular? but you may also want to read what APDT has to say on this… “Dogs are not wolves and there are many significant differences between dog and wolf behavior such that wolf behavior is completely irrelevant to how we live and interact with our dogs. Moreover, when wolf behavior is mentioned as a model for dog training, the understanding of wolf behavior used is often incorrect and based on studies that have long since been disproven by research scientists who study wolves extensively.”

  10. Pitbulls have jaws that lock, thus making them more dangerous than other dog breeds – False. False. False. I wish I knew where these myths got started. Somewhere I imagine a dog fighter bragging to his dog fighter scumbag buddy that his pitbull has a jaw that locks. Can’t you just see it? According to the Pitbull Rescue Center’s (PBRC) Media Center page “there is NO SUCH THING AS “JAW LOCKING” IN ANY BREED.” And this, from several veterinarians who were consulted on this matter. The whole “pitbulls have a 1600 PSI bite pressure”myth is also false. PBRC shared some very interesting information on animals and bite pressure:

Pretty interesting isn’t it?

I look back at when I first became a dog owner and shake my head. What I knew then and what I know now are ages and ages apart. How many of these myths did I believe when I was younger? Probably all of them. It’s amazing what you learn as you grow as a person.

So what myths did you have as a kid that you have since learned were untrue? Did any of the myths listed above surprise you? I would love to hear your thoughts.

Do you and your pet have a psychic connection?

October 16, 2011 34 comments

Have you ever had a psychic connection with a pet?

When I was 15 years old, I had a Sheltie named Alicia. We did everything together – walking, training, playing, sleeping and just hanging out. We were inseparable. We were also very connected. Our bond was so deep and strong that when I left for college, it broke both our hearts when I had to leave her behind. She had been my constant companion for four years. Not having her with me at college was really, really hard. I know from my mom that she missed me too.

One night, in my sophomore year, I had a dream about Alicia. In my dream, Alicia was really, really sick and the veterinarian kept saying that if she didn’t have surgery, she would die. I woke up with such a strong feeling of dread that I almost started to cry. I tried to shake it off and tell myself that it was just a dream. But, I still couldn’t shake the feeling that something was seriously wrong.

By afternoon, the feeling of dread was so strong that I gave in and called home. My bother answered the phone. I asked him if Alicia was okay and he said that she was fine. I told him about my dream and my concern that something was wrong with her. He reassured me that she was there with him and seemed to be just fine. I reluctantly hung up the phone and headed off to class with that same sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. The feeling that something was seriously wrong just would not leave me.

Two evenings later, my mom called me. She told me that she had taken Alicia into the vet because she had been bleeding. It turns out that Alicia (who had never been spayed) had an infection in her uterus. The vet told my mother that if she did not have surgery, she would die. Thankfully, my mother paid for the surgery. She waited until after the surgery was over to call me knowing that I would have freaked out and wanted to come home immediately.

I remember crying like crazy when she told me. I just KNEW something had been wrong. Even after all these years, I still remember that experience. It was as strong a feeling as I have ever had about anything, including a pet. And although I have never had that kind of psychic experience with a pet ever again, I wonder if anyone else has had similar experience with their pet? I’d love to hear about it.

By the way, Alicia went on to fully recover and lived until the ripe old age of 15 years. We remained bonded until the very end and I was with her when it was time to say goodbye.

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