Dog Flu? Is your Pooch at Risk?

It’s known as canine influenza virus and it’s causing quite a stir among dog owners. The dog flu, known as H3N8, does not affect humans. It is however quickly spread from dog to dog. Originally this virus affected only horses, or so it was thought, until a pack of greyhounds turned up with it in 2004.

The outbreak on the East Coast and Colorado has caused alarm among pooch pet parents. And that is understandable, after all , who wants to see their beloved Fido go through the misery of the flu? The good news is there is a vaccine that was approved in May. It doesn’t prevent your furry canine from getting the flu but it does reduce the severity of the symptoms. This vaccine is administered in shots given two weeks apart.

But is it really necessary to vaccinate your dog or to be concerned? Apparently not if you live in Texas. The doggy flu has not hit Texas—yet.

Dogs who are at high risk for this flu are dogs who are enrolled in doggy day care or who are boarded at the kennel. Dogs who travel extensively are also at risk.

The good news is that if your dog is the typical household dog who goes for walks around the neighborhood and who rarely has social contact with strange dogs the risk of contracting dog flu is very low.

The canine doggy flu has hit the East Coast and Colorado but so far Texas has not had a single case.

What are the symptoms of doggy flu? The same as any human flu: runny nasal discharge, sneezing, coughing, and fever. Your veterinarian can do a test to see if your dog has the H3N8 virus.

Hundreds of Dogs Hit in Poison Scare

Hundreds of Dogs Hit in Pet Food Poison Scare

This just in from Australia!

The Australian Veterinary Association is warning Australians that the source of a recent upsurge in kidney damage in small dogs is tied to contaminated pet food meat. Furthermore the meat’s origin source is suspected as China.

The AVA is encouraging all veterinarians to report cases of serious kidney damage to them immediately. Mark Lawrie the AVA national president stated yesterday that, “We have only become aware of this in the last three or four weeks, and we need to make people aware there are some clear indications there is a problem out there.”

According to Lawrie the kidney failure cases have been traced to a well-known Australian pet-food supplier. This manufacturer is using tainted meat that is imported from China. Lawrie is withholding the name of the company, citing legal reasons. Earlier this month the University of Sydney issued a national alert about this kidney-destroying pet food. But the university was ordered under legal threat, from the pet food manufacturer, to desist from any further comments. One university researcher (who refused to be named) stated that there is enough evidence against this company to recall the entire product line.

It appears that Australia’s legal system provides corporations a strangle-hold power, prohibiting the mention of a specific product in connection with anything scandalous — even if this means perpetrating the death of innocent pets. This leaves the Australian pet owner stabbing in the dark when it comes to selecting a safe pet food for their dog.

Despite being hampered by threats from the company the AVA has done its best to alert veterinarians about the problem. While at the same time, the AVA admonishes the vets to not make any comments to the media about the case. Due to all the legal haranguing the AVA has only been made aware of a few dozen cases. Yet, they suspect that the true numbers are more likely into the hundreds.

The AVA holds to the position that all pet owners need to be concerned, particularly if they have a small breed dog. Both vets and dog owners alike are advised of these warning signs:

  • INCREASED thirst and urination.
  • REDUCED appetite and lethargy.
  • VOMITING and weakness.

Please be aware that American pet food companies also use Chinese imports to manufacture pet food. Despite China’s poor track record this practice persists, particularly when it comes to gluten and grain products (this includes rice). In 2007 contaminated ingredients from China resulted in the deaths of hundreds of pets due to kidney failure. Although imported ingredients are still used to manufacture dog and cat food consumers can not determine from the label the ingredient’s country of origin. And there is no method of knowing if imported ingredients include meat. This is a huge concern to the pet owner because pet food labels are not required to list the ingredient’s country of origin. Therefore ANY ingredient on the label can come from foreign sources, including China. After all, it is not illegal to import products from oversees sources.

So what is a pet parent to do? For one thing, avoid pet food that lists gluten as an ingredient. Gluten, besides being bad for your pet’s health, can ultimately be a source of contamination. Avoid feeding your pet manufactured food loaded with grains, since grain can also be source of contamination. Next, find manufacturers that assure the consumer that their products are not only manufactured in the U.S.A. but are produced with American ingredients.

Small dogs such as Stella are particularly vunerable to pet food contamination.

Small dogs such as Stella are particularly vulnerable to pet food contamination.

Pet Owners: Sago Palm Poisoning Alert!

ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center Reports a Rise of 200% in Sago Palm Poisonings since 2003!

On August 1, 2008 I received my usual newsletter from the ASPCA. This one included a warning about the rise in poisonings from the Sago Palm. The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center states that since 2003 there has been an increase of 200 percent in cases of pet poisonings from this plant. This is alarming to say the least and since we are located in Texas it is even more relevant to us.

Texans know and love this plant for its ability to resist drought. It is used in outdoor as well as indoor settings and sold commercially along the roadsides, in nurseries, and even at the local Sam’s Club. The plant is hardy, able to resist extreme swings in temperature and for that reason its popularity has increased. However, that appears to have come at a price. The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center reports that 50 to 75 percent of the poisoning cases resulted in fatalities.

I had two of these palms in my outdoor garden areas and to date none of my pets have touched them. But recently a dog came over for a visit and he was a very curious fellow. Instead of ignoring the plant, he decided to do a “test” chew on the tough outer leaves. It’s a good thing I caught him in time. I knew about the plant’s toxic nature. This prompted me to remove the plants immediately. It only takes one time for something to go wrong!

Here is what the ASPCA site states:

A native of Southern Japan, Sago palm has been a common addition to outdoor landscaping in sunny climes, but in recent years, has also emerged as a trendy houseplant in northern states. Though attractive with its dark green leaves and hairy trunk, the plant is highly toxic to cats and dogs. Common signs of Sago palm poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, depression, seizures and liver failure.

“Many pet parents may not be familiar with the toxic effects of Cycad palms, and assume the only poisonous portions are the seeds or nuts,” says Dr. Sharon Gwaltney-Brant, veterinary toxicologist and APCC Vice President. “But all parts of the plant are toxic if ingested.”

If you have a puppy or a dog who has a tendency to chew or if your dog spends a lot of time outdoors unattended in your yard, I would suggest removing the outdoor plant immediately. If the plant is indoors, definitely remove it from your home. It’s not worth the risk to your pet’s health and there are safer indoor and outdoor plant alternatives.

According to the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center there has been an increase of more than 200% in Sago palm poisonings since 2003 and over half of the case have been fatal.

According to the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center there has been an increase of more than 200% in Sago palm poisonings since 2003 and over half of the cases have been fatal.

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