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Entries in Pets (34)

Saturday
Jan282012

Cat’s New Knee an Ortho-PET-ic Innovation

Comstock/Thinkstock(RALEIGH, N.C.) -- A photogenic 20-pound orange tabby was resting comfortably in an intensive care unit on Saturday following pioneering replacement of a cancer-weakened knee by veterinary surgeons at North Carolina State University whose work could advance the field of human prosthetics.

Veterinarians were monitoring the recuperation of Cyrano, a 10-year-old cat, “and if things continue to go well, he could go home in the next few days,” said university spokesperson Tracey Peake. The School of Veterinary Medicine has been providing periodic updates on a blog.

Cyrano got a new lease on life thanks to top-tier veterinary care. He underwent life-saving chemotherapy and radiation for bone cancer at Colorado State University in 2010. However, while the thousands of dollars of treatments put Cyrano in remission, the combined ravages of his disease and treatment side effects left him with bone deterioration in his back leg and knee, causing pain and restricting his movements.

On Thursday, a 10-member surgical team led by Dr. Denis Marcellin-Little, an orthopedic surgeon at NCSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine in Raleigh, N.C., spent hours giving Cyrano a customized implant designed and created during six months of collaborative work among U.S. and German veterinarians and engineers. They fashioned the implant, about the size of a tube of lip balm, from cobalt chromium and plastic.

Marcellin-Little has described the implant as being “as good as the implants used in human knee replacements.”

The high-tech operation allowed Cyrano to escape amputation, the goal sought by his owner, Sandy Lerner, a founder of Cisco Systems, and owner of a farm in northern Virginia. Marcellin-Little and his fellow implant developers hope Cyrano’s surgery will help make the procedure more available and affordable for other pets.

Marcellin and engineering professor Ola Harryson couldn’t put a figure on the total cost of Cyrano’s experimental surgery, because 14 people and several companies donated time and materials for the research. However, Lerner paid $20,000 of the total cost, Peake said.

The collaboration has implications for artificial limbs to help “people who have lost limbs to disease, accidents, or combat,” said Dave Green, the top spokesman for NCSU’s veterinary school.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jan262012

Seven Secrets to Keep Your Pet Trim

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Humans aren't the only ones waging a fight against fat.  Man's best four-legged friends are waging the obesity battle too.

According to the latest veterinary surveys, more than half our nation's dogs and cats are overweight.  That means 94 million pets are at risk today for developing crippling arthritis, debilitating diabetes, catastrophic kidney and heart disease, high blood pressure and many forms of cancer.

How can you slim down your supersize pets, keep them fit and reduce their risk of developing many serious diseases? Ernie Ward, veterinarian, author and the founder of the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, offers these seven tips to help your pet lose the paunch:

1. Calculate Calories - If you don't know how many calories your pet needs each day, you don't know how much to feed it. And don't think you can trust the bag; feeding guides are formulated for adult, unspayed or unneutered active dogs and cats. That means if you have an older, spayed or neutered indoor lap potato you'll probably be feeding 20 percent to 30 percent too much if you follow the food's instructions. Instead, ask your veterinarian to calculate the proper number of calories your pet needs each day.

Another good starting point is to use this formula: Divide your pet's weight by 2.2. Multiply this figure times 30. Add 70 and you've got a good idea of how many calories you should be feeding a typical inactive, indoor spayed or neutered pet. Of course, each pet's metabolism is different, so be sure to consult your veterinarian before starting a diet.

2. Measure Meals - A pet owner's single greatest tool in the fight against excess weight is a measuring cup. Too many pet owners simply fill the bowl or guesstimate how much they're feeding. The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention has done studies to show that giving as few as 10 extra kibbles of food per day can add up to a pound of weight gain per year for indoor cats and small dogs. After you calculate how many calories your pet needs, determine how much food you should provide for each meal - and measure it.

3. Tactical Treating - If you're going to give your pets extra goodies, make them count. Too many pet treats are calorie grenades laden with sugar and fat blowing up our pet's waistlines. Choose low-calorie, no-sugar goodies that provide a health benefit. Try single ingredient treats such as sweet potatoes or functional treats that provide a bonus, such as helping to keep teeth clean or promote mobility. Whatever treats you give, be sure to count those additional calories.  Many pet owners feed the proper amount of food but sabotage their efforts by adding one or two snacks throughout the day. As few as 30 extra calories per day means your pet gains more than 3 pounds in a year. Better yet, dogs don't do division. Break treats into small pieces and divvy them up whenever your pet earns it. Be cautious of guilt-treating - the practice of giving your pet a treat because you feel guilty leaving it home alone. Instead, use treats only as a reward for good behavior. Pets need to learn to earn extra goodies.

4. Vital Veggies - As an alternative to highly processed store-bought treats, try offering baby carrots, green beans, celery, broccoli, cucumbers, sliced apples and bananas or ice cubes. These naturally nutritious tasty tidbits are a healthy option for many dogs. For cats, try a flake of salmon or tuna when you're feeling generous.

5. Hustle for Health - When it comes to living a long, pain and disease-free life, research proves our most powerful partner is daily exercise. Speaking of partners, anyone with a dog has a built-in, no-excuse exercise buddy. For dogs, as few as 20 to 30 minutes of brisk walking is all it takes to boost immune function, improve cardiovascular health and reduce many behavioral problems. For cats, try playing with a laser pointer, remote-controlled toy or ball of paper for 5 to 15 minutes each day. Do yourself and your dog a favor and commit to daily walks, rain or shine.

6. Smart Supplements - When it comes to keeping fit and trim, a couple of supplements may help.  Almost every dog, cat and person can benefit from taking a daily omega-3 fatty acid supplement. These powerful fish oils pack a potent anti-oxidant punch that has been proved to help prevent numerous diseases. In addition, they may help ease achy joints and perhaps encourage weight loss. L-carnitine has been shown to aid weight loss and promote lean muscle mass. Ask your veterinarian if either (or both) of these supplements make sense for your pet's condition.

7. Cut Down the Carbs - Most pet dogs and cats don't need a high-carbohydrate diet. Yet that's exactly what most of us feed our pets. Many diets contain 60 percent or more carbohydrates when you analyze the food label. Look for low or no-grain options with a protein source as the first ingredient.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jan252012

Stress Busters for Anxious Pets

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- We know that stress can affect the health of humans, but how about for our pets? Pet expert Dr. Marty Becker says pets can be stressed by car rides, visits to the vet or grooming.

Dr. Becker appeared on ABC’s Good Morning America on Wednesday to show his favorite products to help soothe your beloved family pet.

1.  Feliway Electric Diffuser and Adaptil:
Available for both dogs and cats, this scent mimics pheromones, the chemical naturally produced by animal moms to soothe their babies.  The diffuser is great when you leave your pet alone and the spritz is perfect to spray in a pet carrier for long trips. Dr. Becker puts this on his hands when he treats pets to give them a sense of calm during their visits.

2.  Through a Dog's Ear: If you think your dog doesn't care about your music playlist, think again.  Dr. Becker finds that animals are easily excited by rock music. This set of three CDs has been clinically proven to reduce anxiety in high-stress areas like the kennel or veterinarian's office.

3.  Calming Cap:
This calming cap, almost like a human sleep mask, reduces all visual noise for your pet.  The fabric is see-through and dims the room, making it calm and dark.  It's easy to put on and slips right under your dog's leash.

4. Thundershirt: This thundershirt was originally developed to help pets with thunderstorm phobias. It's proven to lessen the anxiety that leads to destructive doggy behavior.  Like a gentle embrace, the vest hugs the pet in all the right spots.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov022011

FDA to Test Pet Food for Salmonella

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Food and Drug Administration announced last week it would conduct a nationwide, year-long assessment of pet food to determine the prevalence of salmonella in the products, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The government agency wrote in a release: “FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine is concerned about animal feeds serving as vehicles for transmitting pathogenic and antibiotic-resistant bacteria to humans and other animals, and is particularly concerned about salmonella being transmitted to humans through pet foods, pet treats and supplements for pets that are intended to be fed to animals in homes, where they are likely to be directly handled or ingested by humans.”

But before jumping to the conclusion that Americans are eating their pets’ food, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that it’s also possible to become sick from touching contaminated food, then touching one’s mouth.

In its announcement, the FDA pointed to a CDC study that found 70 people became sick from pet food-related salmonella between January 2006 and December 2007.

Each year, about 40,000 cases of salmonella are reported in the U.S., but experts said the number of actual cases is much higher. Mild cases of salmonella poisoning are often underreported. Symptoms, which include diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramping, usually last five to seven days, but it can take months for bowels to get back to normal, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Salmonellosis is particularly dangerous to infants, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems.

The government agency will test dog and cat food, along with feed for rodents, reptiles, fish and birds. Testing samples will be collected from major retail and wholesale pet food companies, including, but not limited to, PetCo, PetSmart, Walmart and Target.

The CDC noted that washing hands after handling pet food is the best way to prevent salmonella transmission and poisoning. If possible, pet owners should feed their pets outside the kitchen area and wash pet food bowls and dishes with hot water and soap regularly.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Sep102011

Empty Nest Syndrome Affects Pets, Too

Janie Airey/Lifesize/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- As kids across the country head back to school and away to college this week, most Americans are sensitive to the fact that some parents may experience a form of “empty nest syndrome”: a range of symptoms and behaviorisms associated with separation anxiety. So, that explains the scratches on the back door and the shredded throw pillows in the living room, right?

Well, not exactly.

That damage is a product of someone in your household experiencing empty nest syndrome, but it’s definitely not your mom.

What people may not initially realize is that household pets are also extremely susceptible to separation anxiety.

“Your dog probably knows the difference between the shoes you wear to work and the shoes you wear to take him for a walk,” says Dr. Debra Horwitz, a board certified veterinary behaviorist. “They’re very observant and they use those kinds of cues to determine what’s going to happen in their day. So, when everyone is home all summer and then, boom, they’re not anymore, that change in routine can be anxiety provoking for certain individuals and trigger a distress response, when the dog is home alone and separated from the ones that he or she is most attached to.”

In fact, animals may even be more shaken by a child’s sudden departure than parents because they have no way of being explicitly notified.

“Just because you know there’s going to be a change and you’re ready for it, doesn’t mean your pet does,” explains Dr. Horwitz. “The end of summer vacation often means that we can no longer sleep in or take leisurely morning walks with our pets. We have to get up, get ready and go straight to work instead. We don’t like those changes either, but we know they’re coming and we’re prepared for them.”

Pets, for their part, will exhibit this anxiety through a range of behavioral signs, including panting, pacing, whining, barking and destruction. In severe cases, Horwitz says, pets may experience a loss of appetite, even when their people are home.

However, the severity of the distress response really depends on the flexibility of the individual pet.

Depending on the flexibility of the pet, veterinary behaviorists recommend several behavioral and pharmaceutical interventions that can help him or her cope with the situation.

It is best to take preventative measures, before the actual change occurs. So, if you can, professionals recommend starting to wake up a bit earlier, packing a back pack or scheduling brief departures of about an hour, in the closing weeks of summer. These changes can help ease your pet into the upcoming transition.

Otherwise, it often helps to wake up a little early and either conduct a play session or take your dog for a morning walk, before you leave for work. This way, the dog is mentally stimulated and will spend more time resting when you are gone. Additionally, it is important to make departures low-key and matter of fact, rather than prolonging the act of actually walking out the door.

“Sometimes it also helps to leave a food-enhanced toy,” suggests Horwitz.

For dogs, this can take the form of a toy with a bit of peanut butter smeared on it. For cats, it is often helpful to hide treats throughout the house with varying degrees of discovery difficulty.

And for severe cases, there are two approved medications—Reconcile and Clomicalm—proven to be effective for the treatment of animals with separation anxiety, when combined with other behavioral modifications.

“These animals are not being spiteful or mad,” explains Horwitz. “They are anxious and they are really worried. And all the destructive things they might do are based on this stress and anxiety. It is our job to address that as quickly and humanely as we can.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Aug182011

Plastic Surgery for Pets On the Rise

Comstock/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) -- Munson, a burly seven-year-old English bulldog, has a secret: His testicles are fake.

Neutered as a puppy, Munson (named after Larry Munson of Georgia Bulldog fame) got a pair of synthetic stand-ins to preserve his manly pride. Not his idea, of course, but his owner's.

"A lot of dogs have a lot of hair back there so you can't tell they're neutered. But with bulldogs, it's just right out there for everyone to see," said Jaime Davenport of Atlanta, whose husband, Jim, stood up for Munson's mojo.

Over dinner with a veterinarian friend, the Davenports learned about Neuticals -- bean-shaped silicone implants swapped in through a tiny scrotal slit during the neutering procedure. The vet even had a catalog detailing faux sets from "petite" to "XXL."

"We were just hysterical," said Davenport. But her husband was sold. And for $99, Munson got a shiny new pair of testicles.

While cosmetic procedures such as ear cropping and tail docking have petered out, plastic surgery for dogs continues to boom -- most of it, Munson's testicles aside, for medical reasons.

With the famously high-maintenance bulldog breaking into the nation's top 10 registered breeds, those medical reasons are mounting. The breed's deep skin folds are prone to infection, and their flattened noses and pillowy soft palates can complicate breathing (not to mention cause loud snoring).

But a tummy tuck or a nose job can have dogs and their owners resting easy. Idaho-based veterinarian Marty Becker has even used Botox to relax tight puppy wrinkles, he said.

If puppy Botox sounds bizarre, picture a dog with braces. Crooked teeth can cause painful sores, Becker said, describing one dog that had to sleep with a toy in his mouth before he got the "Rin Tin Grin," or braces for dogs.

Munson's predecessors, both purebred descendents of the original University of Georgia bulldog mascot, had tail and eye problems that required surgery. Munson's fake testicles, however, are purely cosmetic.

"It's typically men who want them for their dogs," said Becker, adding that male owners often ask about upsizing. "And you can always tell when a dog has them, because when he sits on the exam room table they clank!"

Because Munson looks unneutered, the Davenports have had to do their fair share of explaining. A kennel charged more to take Munson on group walks because he "still has his cherries," Davenport said.

Some vets and pet owners oppose the testicular implants.

"This type of procedure is really only for one thing: To promote the ego of the owners," said Craig Swinson, whose adopted rescue dog Percy came with Neuticles, which was discovered when the dog was in surgery to be neutered. "Dogs don't know and they don't care."

Swinson, whose wife is a vet in Richmond, Mass., said he wishes money spent on fake testicles for dogs was donated to animal shelters instead. But some vets remain neutral on Neuticles.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Aug122011

Dogs Have a New Trick: Helping Kids Read

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(BOSTON) -- Bailey Benson turned 10 today, but she's already reading like a high school student thanks to her terrier tutor, Guthrie.

It's been a year and a half since Benson and her parents visited an animal shelter in Phoenix and came home with Guthrie, a mixed-breed dog that looks like Dorothy's Toto. In that time, Benson's reading skills and confidence have soared.

"She reads to him constantly," said Benson's mom, Maria. "At any given time, you can go into her room and she's reading to him out loud."

Guthrie's nonjudgmental presence and silent appreciation for the written word might be driving Benson's success. Based on the results of a pilot study, researchers from Tufts University in Boston say reading out loud to dogs can boost kids' ability and desire to read.

"Dogs are such good listeners," said Lisa Freeman, a veterinarian at the Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. "They really make reading a fun and pleasant experience for a child in what might otherwise be a challenging environment."

Small studies and personal anecdotes have touted the benefits of reading to dogs for more than a decade. As a result, programs that match young readers with furry friends at local libraries, group homes and community centers are in high demand.

"We want to be able to expand these programs -- get more funding and get them into more communities," Freeman said. Larger scientific studies, she hopes, will yield the hard evidence needed to convince naysayers and boost resources.

The psychological benefits of pet ownership are profound. Dogs can comfort college students panicking over midterms and calm hospital patients waiting for intimidating tests. They can even ease debilitating anxiety for veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

"We've always known that pets made us feel good, but we're increasingly realizing that pets are in fact good for us," said Marty Becker, an Idaho-based veterinarian and author of "The Healing Power of Pets." "Not everything has to be state of the art; we need things that are state of the heart."

Humans aren't the only ones who benefit from the relationship. Freeman said dogs in Tufts' Paws for People program are thrilled to do their jobs.

"We want to make sure both ends of the leash are benefiting from this," she said.

Guthrie seems content enough, having patiently listened to about 25 books. Benson tries to pick "things he likes," like poetry, "Harry Potter," and anything about dogs. She avoids "Lemony Snicket" -- the spooky series makes Guthrie anxious, she said.

Guthrie has also bolstered Benson's love for animals. About to enter the fifth grade, she's now torn between a career as a vet or as a gynecologist.

"Maybe I could be a veterinary gynecologist," she recently told her mom.

Benson celebrated her ninth birthday at her local Humane Society, to which she donated any money she was given so the dogs could find "forever homes." This year she asked for an e-reader.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Aug122011

Dogs Have a New Trick: Helping Kids Read

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(BOSTON) -- Could reading out loud to dogs help boost a child's ability and desire to read?

That's what researchers from Tufts University in Boston say, based on the results of a pilot study.

"Dogs are such good listeners," said Lisa Freeman, a veterinarian at the Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine.  "They really make reading a fun and pleasant experience for a child in what might otherwise be a challenging environment."

Small studies and personal anecdotes have touted the benefits of reading to dogs for more than a decade.  As a result, programs that match young readers with furry friends at local libraries, group homes and community centers are in high demand.

"We want to be able to expand these programs -- get more funding and get them into more communities," Freeman said.  Larger scientific studies, she hopes, will yield the hard evidence needed to convince naysayers and boost resources.

The psychological benefits of pet ownership are profound.  Dogs can comfort college students panicking over midterms and calm hospital patients waiting for intimidating tests.  They can even ease debilitating anxiety for veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

"We've always known that pets made us feel good, but we're increasingly realizing that pets are in fact good for us," said Marty Becker, an Idaho-based veterinarian and author of The Healing Power of Pets.  "Not everything has to be state of the art; we need things that are state of the heart."

Humans aren't the only ones who benefit from the relationship.  Freeman said dogs in Tufts' Paws for People program are thrilled to do their jobs.

"We want to make sure both ends of the leash are benefiting from this," she said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jul052011

Tips for Keeping Your Dog Safe in the Car and on the Road

George Doyle/Stockbyte(NEW YORK) -- Danger on the roads is not just a concern for humans anymore.

As the summer driving season heats up, more and more pet owners are pulling their pooches back inside their vehicles, strapping them in and loading them up to make sure nothing bad happens to those furry creatures known as "man's best friend."

Heightened concerns about distracted driving, such as texting and talking on your smartphone, have led to a surge in the sales of doggie seat belts, harnesses and other similar devices.

Wall Street Journal columnist and ABC News Good Morning America contributor Wendy Bounds wrote about the new trend in her latest column, and now she's offering even more tips.

Here are Bounds' recommendations for the top products to use to protect your pooch while on-the-go.

  1. Pet Ramp - Cost/where to buy: Solvit Products; $25-50.
  2. Booster Seat - Cost/where to buy: Solvit Products; $100-150.
  3. Back Seat Barrier - Cost/where to buy: Kurgo Products; $40.
  4. Tru-Fit Smart Harness - Cost/where to buy: Kurgo Products; $23.
  5. Wander Hammock Car Seat Protector - Cost/where to buy: Frontgate ; $65.
  6. Pet Crate With Wheels - Cost/where to buy: Pet Gear Inc. and various online retailers; $50-$200.


Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jun172011

Ferret Attacks Infant: Are Exotic Animals Safe Pets?

Patricia Doyle/Getty Images(GRAIN VALLEY, Mo.) -- A couple in Grain Valley, Mo., has been charged with endangering the welfare of their infant son after their pet ferret ate seven of the child's fingers.

Ryan and Carrie Waldo both pleaded not guilty to the charges in Jackson County Court Wednesday.

This incident is the most recent in a series of exotic pet attacks that have occurred in the past year. Others include a fatal bear attack in Ohio, a chimpanzee assault in Connecticut, and the death of a 2-year old girl in Florida after her family's pet python squeezed her to death.

A 2008 report from the American Academy of Pediatrics found that exotic pets may be more prone than cats and dogs to do harm -- including biting, scratching or clawing -- to children under the age of 5.

"Any wild animal not normally considered a domestic pet is a risk," said Dr. Lara Zibners, a pediatrician at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New York, who has treated children's pet wounds in the past.

Zibners said such pets pose two types of danger: infectious and traumatic. Animals that carry infectious diseases, such as ferrets, can pose a risk to children even if they do not come in direct contact with them.

Reptiles, such as pet snakes or iguanas, are known carriers of the bacterial disease salmonella. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 70,000 people in the U.S. get salmonella infection from contact with reptiles each year.

Other medical practitioners believe that pets of any kind can pose a substantial threat to children.

"What is more of an issue with pets is not the unusual ones," said Dr. Ari Brown, who said that some dogs can do harm to children just as much as exotic pets. According to the CDC, dogs bite more than 4.7 million people each year. Of the 800,000 Americans who seek medical attention for dog bites annually, half of them are children.

Pit bulls lead the pack as the most dangerous dog breed. A 2005 CDC report found that they were responsible for about a third of fatal dog bites in the U.S. over a 20 year period. Rottweilers ranked a close second.

Zibners advised families who own any type of animal to employ strict hand-washing rules, regular vaccinations for the pet and frequent disinfection of toys used around the animal. She also emphasized the importance of adult supervision.

Subpoenaed cellphone records indicate that contrary to their claims, Ryan and Carrie Waldo were away from their home when the ferret chewed the child's seven fingers. When he saw what his pet ferret had done to his child, Ryan Waldo hurled the animal against the dishwasher, killing it. The Waldos later called 911, and their 4-month-old was rushed to Children's Mercy Hospital, where his injured fingers were amputated.

According to court documents, the couple had received the exotic pet as a Christmas gift and allowed the ferret to roam freely in their house. Their landlord, John Bandriff, told authorities that the Waldos had previously considered getting rid of the ferret when it had "nipped" the baby. But the family had yet to do so.

Judge Jeffrey Bushur ordered that the couple's infant son and his sibling be removed from their parents' custody pending the outcome of the case. Bond for the couple was set at $5,000 each. Ryan and Carrie Waldo were released after posting $500 apiece. A preliminary hearing is set for July 13.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio