Tuesday, October 30, 2012

First National Monument for War Dogs

It's about time....Dr. Sakas

1st national monument for war dogs honors four-legged pup soldiers of World War II and beyond

Burnam Monument Foundation, Inc./ Associated Press ) - This undated publicity photo provided by John Burnam Monument Foundation, Inc., shows the frontal view of the U.S. Military Working Dog Teams National Monument. It is the first national monument ever to pay tribute to dogs and honors every dog who has served in combat since World War II.

LOS ANGELES — The act of Congress is in the books, the bills are paid, the sculptures are being cast, and one of the biggest parades in the world will start a glory tour and countdown to dedication.

The first national monument to pay tribute to military dogs will be unveiled in California in just two months. The U.S. Working Dog Teams National Monument will honor every dog that has served in combat since World War II.

Some cities, cemeteries and military bases across the country already have such memorials. But none has been elevated to national monument level, where it will be in the company of the Statue of Liberty, Yosemite National Park and Mount Rushmore National Memorial.

In 2000, John Burnam, a 65-year-old veteran military dog handler, wrote a book called “Dog Tags of Courage.” A year later, he got an email from a reader wondering why there were no national monuments to the dogs of war.

In “Dog Tags” and a 2008 book, “A Soldier’s Best Friend,” Burnam wrote about his time with the Army’s 44th Scout Dog Platoon when he was in Vietnam in 1967 and 1968.

His first dog, Timber, was injured in an ambush a few months after they teamed up, so he spent most of his tour with a German shepherd named Clipper.

“He saved my life and saved the lives of others by alerting on ambushes, snipers and booby traps. I wanted to give something back to these animals that have done so much and asked for so little, except for food and water and the love of their handlers,” said Burnam, who received the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star and Purple Heart.

Back then, handlers were not able to adopt their dogs when they were retired.

“I always worried about them but I know they died over there and they died as heroes,” he said.

In 2004, Burnam and two other dog handler veterans pursued the idea in earnest, forming the John Burnam Monument Foundation Inc. But it took two more years, until he met Rep. Walter B. Jones, R-N.C., that the monument project started to take shape.

In 2007, Jones introduced legislation authorizing establishment of the monument. Passed unanimously by Congress, it was signed the next year by President George W. Bush, then amended and signed by President Barack Obama.

Burnam designed the monument, which depicts the modern military handler and four dogs — a Doberman, German shepherd, Labrador retriever and Belgian Malinois, all breeds used in wars.

The silicon bronze handler stands more than 9 feet tall and weighs 1,500 pounds. Each dog is about 5 feet tall and weighs 550 pounds. Burnam called them “hero-sized.”

The figures will stand on a pedestal, in front of a large granite wall. One side of the wall will have photos etched in black marble veneer showing dog teams in combat from the different wars. The other side will have an inscription written by Burnam.

The sculptor, Paula Slater, said it was the largest and most complex monument she had ever done. She worked for thousands of hours, saying that finishing a project of that size “is like giving birth to a baby — five of them.”

The money for the monument came slowly. Burnam made one of many fundraising pitches on the reality TV show “Who Let the Dogs Out,” featuring Tillman, the skateboarding, surfing and snowboarding bulldog. The president of Natural Balance Pet Foods Inc., the company that Tillman represents, attended the show taping and volunteered to pitch in more than $1 million.

“Don’t do a thing. Natural Balance and Petco (Animal Supplies Inc.) will take care of it,” Joey Herrick said. To raise funds for the monument and its maintenance, Natural Balance created a jerky bark treat sold by Petco. Maddie’s Fund, a family-funded pet rescue foundation, also signed on as a corporate sponsor.

The public will get a sneak peak of the monument at the Tournament of Roses parade in Pasadena on Jan. 1, when a floral replica will be used as Natural Balance’s float. Burnam, dogs and handlers from every military service branch will ride on it.

When the float goes on display afterward at Victory Park, the real bronze monument will make its public debut next to it, Herrick said. Then the bronze monument will go on tour as it heads to Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio. The location was chosen as the site for the monument because that’s where most of the nation’s military’s dogs are trained.

Meanwhile, Tillman, the dog that helped get Burnam the monument funding, is also getting personal recognition for his military service. For his work entertaining troops at bases and for going through a mini Marine boot camp, the athletic bulldog has been made an honorary private 1st class.

Disaster Preparedness for Your Pets

With the recent "Frankenstorm" event, it is a good time to consider what preparations you should make for your pets in the case of a disaster, natural and otherwise.

This is a posting from the AVMA Pet Health SmartBrief

Taking Care of Pets During a Disaster

Hurricane Sandy Taking Care of Pets During a Disaster
The FDA published some advice as how to take care of your pet during an emergency, like Hurricane Sandy:

” If you have to leave your home, take your pet with you if at all possible. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) pointed out in a brochure it issued about preparing for a disaster, if the situation is dangerous for people, it is dangerous for animals, too.

But, before you leave, know where you can take your pet. Find out which motels or hotels are “pet friendly,” or which ones will accept pets in an emergency. Or plan to go to the house of a friend or relative who will permit you to bring your pet.

Before you have to travel, get your pet used to a crate. Familiar surroundings might help ease a pet’s anxiety. And getting an animal into a crate for travel will be easier once the animal is used to it.

Take pet food, medicines, vaccination records, and information about pet insurance if your have a policy. Assemble all of this into a disaster kit that you can grab as you leave.

If you get trapped away from your home due to a disaster or other emergency, your pet will be better off if you have already made arrangements with your neighbor or nearby friend to take care of the animal.

The temporary caretaker should have phone numbers to reach you (a cell phone number may be the best), and all the instruction necessary to properly care for the animal. Those instructions should include a signed authorization for veterinary care, and financial limits to the veterinary care.

Emergencies can make pets display unexpected or uncharacteristic behaviors. Well-behaved animals may become aggressive and defensive after a major disruption in their lives. The animal may not return to more typical behavior for several weeks. Be careful releasing an animal after an emergency, especially in unfamiliar surroundings. Make sure it cannot escape. Do not release the animal outside until you know the area is safe, AVMA said.

Allow your pet plenty of time to rest and get used to new surroundings. Provide familiar toys, if possible.

The AVMA has a website (www.avma.org/disaster) which provides detailed disaster preparedness
information for owners of all types of animals including dogs, cats, horses, snakes, birds, amphibians, pocket pets, and livestock.  The AVMA’s brochure, “Saving the Whole Family”, contains several useful checklists and important emergency contact numbers."

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Dog Yawns - A Learned Behavior?

 From the AVMA Pet Health SmartBrief

 Puppies Learn to Catch Yawns As They Grow


This Hungarian Vizsla is either really sleepy or just spied its owner yawning.

Watching someone else yawn can be a one-way ticket to doing the same. Now, research finds that the same is true for dogs — but not puppies.

In fact, dogs become more susceptible to the contagion of yawning as they age, a pattern that holds true for human children, as well. Kids begin to yawn in response to seeing others yawn at around age 4, the same time they become adept at understanding another's emotions. A similar process might underlie contagious yawning in dogs, according to the new study, published online Oct. 18 in the journal Animal Cognition.

Dogs were first found to "catch" yawns in 2008, when a study on 29 pet dogs found that 72 percent yawned after watching their owners do so. Follow-up studies failed to replicate the results, but in 2012, another study found that dogs could catch yawns from sound alone. The same research suggested that dogs were more likely to catch their owner's yawn than a stranger's.

But questions remained, in part because dogs display both "sleepy yawns" — the type we tend to think of as contagious — and tension yawns, which broadcast anxiety. It wasn't clear whether the dogs were really unconsciously mimicking the yawns or merely reacting to the disembodied sound of their owner's yawns with stress.

Yawning and empathy
Contagious yawning is important because it may indicate empathy, a trait that is contested in non-human animals. Lund University researchers Elainie Alenkaer Madsen and Tomas Persson wanted to find out if empathy is at the bottom of canine yawning.

They tested 35 ordinary pet dogs, ages 4 months to 14 months. Puppies were chosen because in humans, empathetic abilities develop over time.

Each dog went through two experiments. In one, their owner played with them quietly for five minutes and then mimicked the gaping facial expression of a yawn without the inhalation, exhalation or noises. After another few moments of play, the owner faked a much more convincing yawn, complete with sounds. A day later, the same sequence was repeated, except this time the researcher, an unfamiliar face, interacted with the dog.

The quiet play sessions were designed to soothe the dogs, preventing any tension-type yawns. The researchers also watched for other signs of anxiety, such as lip-licking or whining, and discounted yawns made in conjunction with those behaviors. [Video: Watch dogs mimic researcher's yawns]

Doggie yawns
The final yawn tally revealed that 69 percent of the dogs yawned in response to human yawns, backing up the results of the original 2008 yawning study. But when the results were broken out by age, dogs under 7 months showed little evidence of contagious yawning. These puppies showed a delayed yawn response, with 39 percent yawning sometime in the five minutes after seeing the experimenter yawn, but not right away. Almost half of puppies also yawned in response to the unconvincing open-mouth fake yawn, while no adult dogs did.

The contagiousness of a yawn wasn't affected by whether it was produced by a familiar person (the owner) or an unfamiliar one (the researcher).

It's not yet clear what dogs feel when they're yawning, but the researchers noted that the contagious yawns may have come with a side of sleepiness: About half of dogs responded to yawning by becoming noticeably calmer.

Adult chimpanzees and other non-human primates also catch yawns from one another, multiple studies have found. This ability may reflect "affective empathy," or understanding of mood and emotion, but not necessarily "cognitive empathy," or an understanding of someone's thoughts and motivations, the researchers wrote. The former, simpler, type of empathy could develop over time in dogs as it does in humans, they concluded.

Follow Stephanie Pappas on Twitter @sipappas or LiveScience @livescience. We're also on Facebook & Google+.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Reports of my demise have been greatly exaggerated

To paraphrase the famous quote by Mark Twain, when he was erroneously reported as dead, "Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated." So too, I have to respond to rumors/innuendos of my own demise of sorts.

Let me explain. I was at the TASC (The Avicultural Society of Chicago) Expo this spring. Typically, I will do a question /answer session and sometimes a lecture at the show. As I was at the question /answer booth, several people came up to me, acting like they were surprised to see me and said that they heard I was no longer practicing. This came as a huge surprise to me. Since that time I have heard similar statements repeated by others. I had no idea where this was coming from. However, recently I did learn who was perpetuating this falsehood, and this veterinarian will remain unnamed. Sadly, these types of things tend to perpetuate themselves in the pet health community and such gossip can be far-reaching. Needless to say I am very disappointed in this person, as I had always been very collegial to them and was always available to help them out.

Let me set the record straight. First of all, there is no retirement for me in the near future at all. Both my kids want to go on to medical school and my fatherly duty is to support them as they try to achieve their career goals. I have no extravagances, no real bucket list, no mid-life crisis....I am happy to sit in the back yard and watch the grass grow. I fervently love my profession. I am not burned out. Those of you who come in to see me as clients (or see me lecture) know who much I love what I do. I enjoy helping all sorts of animals and, being a people person, truly enjoy working/interacting with our clients.

As for my work schedule. Over the past several months I have been working six to seven days a week. My work schedule has expanded, not been cut down. Although, we have hired an outstanding associate, Dr. Kalivoda, has been a great help and hopefully, I can return to my usual schedule that I have maintained for thirty years. If I have not been at work it is usually because I am off lecturing, going to a continuing education opportunity, or attending to a family obligation. Oh yeah, on some occasions I may leave a bit early to go to a concert as I have been doing rock reviews for an online magazine in my spare time (you can read them and see my concert photographs at rockchicago.net).

Yes, one day I will have to slow down and consider retirement but I plan to work as long as I have the passion for the profession (which has not diminished in my 30 years as a veterinarian) and my body holds up. If you hear anything to the contrary, set the person spreading the erroneous information straight.

I am living my lifelong dream.....I never really want it to end. If I had to do it all over again, I would do it all over again!

I just pity the person who felt they had to spread false rumors about me.

Peter S. Sakas DVM, MS

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Top Ten Foreign Body Items Removed from Dogs

Found this interesting article on Squidoo.com

Most Common Surgically Removed Items from Dogs

Ten Reasons Why You Should Consider Insuring Your Dog

It's no secret that cats are curious, and dogs like to chew on things. Unfortunately, those traits can motivate pets to chew on, bite or swallow items they shouldn't. Some of these objects will pass naturally, but others have a tendency to become lodged in pets' gastrointestinal tracts, resulting in pain, vomiting or internal injury. In those cases, surgery may be a necessity.

The best thing pet owners can do to prevent costly foreign body removal surgery is keep a clean living space. This includes making sure that personal items are not left on the floor or within easy reach of pets and remaining aware of each pet's chewing tendencies. Certain objects may appeal more to some pets than others. Knowledge of a pet's tastes and tendencies can help pet owners exercise caution when letting a pet near objects that could be accidentally swallowed. Also remember that table scraps can contain excessive grease, bones or other objects not easily digested by pets.

Number 10: Sticks

Who ever thought that playing fetch with your dog might actually cause harm? I know I didn't! Playing fetch isn't going to harm your dog but what you use to play fetch with just might. If you play fetch with a stick, the stick may splinter when be retrieved by your dog. These splinters can come off and scrape your dog's esophagus, stomach, and intestines.

It is especially important to watch you dog when you are done playing fetch. This is the time he/she will most likely chew the stick up. A stick lodged into you dog's stomach is not something that can be easily passed through natural means. Surgery may be required.

Number 9: Hair Ties or Ribbons

Dogs like anything that is chewy. Chewing on things is a natural way for dogs to clean their teeth. So that means they will chew on anything. If you have young daughters in your house, please remind them to pick up after themselves especially their hair ties.

A dog will see something on the floor and possibly start chewing on it. Hair ties are an excellent choice. They are chewy, elastic, and fun to chew on.

Hair ties are not an object you have to worry to much about because of its size but their is a possibility it could cause some intestinal problems in your pooch.

Check Out What This Guy Ate! 

Number 8: Bones

What dog doesn't like to chew on a bone? Almost all do! Bones aren't bad for you dog unless they do not chew them up into small enough pieces.

A sharp piece of bone can scrape your dogs throat, and intestinal tract. Larger pieces of bone could get lodged in the esophagus or intestines. This causes an unnecessary obstruction which will lead to severe problems like choking or and obstructed bowel. Anything that is lodge is going to require surgery to remove.

Number 7: Corn Cobs

Never in a million years would I have thought about a dog swallowing a corn cob, but hey anything can happen. This isn't a concern for all dog owners, just the ones that live on a farm or in a rural area.

Just like sticks and bones, the major concern is choking and the object lodging in the intestine.

Did You Know!
The average cost of Intestinal Surgery for dogs is 3,000 dollars!

Number 6: Chew Toys

Just a word of caution, make sure that your dog's chew toys do not have any little attachments or adornments on them. Most of the time is something is swallowed that is chew toy related it is usually the little bells or ball parts of the toy.

In some cases, a whole chew toy has been swallowed.

If you want to protect you pup makes sure the chew toys are large enough they will not be able to be swallowed and that they do not have any tiny decorations that could be a hazard.

Number 5: Balls

If it is round, you better watch out! Pets, especially dogs, have a tendency to like to chew on and swallow anything round. So make sure those tennis balls, golf balls, or your child's red bouncy balls are always out of reach.

The biggest danger related to swallowing a ball is suffocation. Depending on the size of the ball it could get wedged, or stuck in your dog's esophagus blocking their airway. If your pet does manage to swallow a ball it might not want to come out. Luckily, these things are easy to spot on an x-ray.

What Dog Doesn't Like Belts and Bread Knives? 

Number 4: Rocks

I haven't seen many dogs that haven't ever chewed on rocks. What a great work out for those jaw muscles! On many occasions, dogs while accidentally swallow a rock, sometimes even more.

Your biggest concern is choking and obstruction the airway depending on the size of the rock. If the rock is too big it might require surgery to remove.

Number 3: Panty Hose

Just because something is fun to chew on, doesn't mean it is good for your dog. Panty hose have a unique texture that will appeal to your canine. Dog's just can't seem to pass these up.

The main concern with panty hose is they can be a serious choking hazard and cause intestinal damage because of the material they are made of, there length, and elastic ability.

Ladies make sure not leave your panty hose laying around where your dog canget a hold of them!

Number 2: Underwear

What does every household with dogs need? A reliable clothes hamper. Yes, a clothes hamper. Dogs are curious creatures and have an insatiable urge to chew especially when they are young.

Leaving clothes on the floor, especially underwear, can be a hazard for your dog. Why do they choose underwear? I would guess because of the texture and smell.

To save your dog a trip to the vet for a thousand dollar emergency intestinal surgery please but all you dirty clothes in a hamper, where Fido can't get to them!

Did Something Come Up Missing After A Bath? 

Number 1: Socks

Socks and dogs go hand in hand like milk and cookies. What is the easiest thing to make into a ball and play a game of fetch with inside the house? A SOCK!

Again it is texture and taste that will draw your dog to a pair of socks before anything else. The stinkier the better! The only problem your dog doesn't realize is they go down easier than they come up. Your dog's digestive system isn't meant to digest stinky cotton socks - so the only way to remove them is through surgery (did you budget that this year).

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Dog Bite Statistics and Their Cost

Some statistics about dog bites and their cost. (From Veterinary Practice News July 2012)

Dogs vs. People
State Farm Insurance, reported its top ten states for dog bite claims in 2011.

Rank                         State                 Number of Claims                               Claims Paid
(# of Claims)                                                                                                    (Estimated)

1                                California                   527                                                $20.3 million
2                                Illinois                        309                                                $10.0 million
3                                Texas                         219                                                $5.1 million
4                                Ohio                          215                                                $5.4 million
5                                Pennsylvania              197                                                $4.9 million
6                                Michigan                   181                                                 $7.0 million
7                                Florida                      157                                                 $5.1 million
8                                Indiana                      139                                                 $3.5 million
9                                New York                 133                                                 $6.1 million
10                              Minnesota                 117                                                  $3.5 million

Dog Bites Add Up
The Insurance Information Institute estimated the number and cost of dog bite claims since 2003.

Year                 Value of Claims             Number                        Average Cost Per Claim
                                  (in millions)                                                                                                          
2003                                $324.2                      16,919                                      $19,162
2004                                $319.0                      15,630                                      $20,406
2005                                $321.1                      14,295                                      $22,464
2006                                $322.3                      14,661                                      $21,987
2007                                $356.2                      14,531                                      $24,511
2008                                $387.2                      15,823                                      $24,461
2009                                $412.0                      16,586                                      $24,840
2010                                $412.6                      15,770                                      $26,166
2011                                $478.9                      16,292                                      $29,396

Halloween Hazards for Your Pets

An article I had written which is very topical this Halloween holiday season. Feel free to share this information with family and friends.

Halloween Hazards for Your Pets
Peter S. Sakas DVM
Niles Animal Hospital and Bird Medical Center
7278 N. Milwaukee Ave. Niles, IL 60714
Ph. 847-647-9325 FAX 847-647-8498


Halloween is a holiday that is great fun. Through the years more and more people have really become involved with extensive decorations in and around the house. In addition, there is the candy and trick or treating. Candy is around the house in bowls for the trick or treaters as well as the candy collected by your own kids as they canvas the neighborhood with their own trick or treating. If you have Halloween parties for kids or adults there will be food and drink around as well. With all this food, decorations and activities it can be a time of great danger for your pet. They will be attracted by the tempting smells and may eat what they should not. They may be intrigued by the shimmering, attractive decorations and begin to chew on objects that could cause severe medical problems. In addition, it can also be a stressful time for your pets due to the commotion involved with the holiday. During the holiday you must take steps to be certain that your pets will be safe from potential harm.

Trick or Treaters
It is always fun when trick or treaters come to the door; you admire them in their costumes, and hand out candy. However, your pets do not understand the significance of the holiday and recognize these people dressed in strange costumes as intruders so they want to protect their home against them. The constant ringing of the doorbell and groups of trick or treaters at the door can be quite stressful for your pets. Strangers in strange costumes can lead to a normal friendly pet becoming fearful or overly aggressive. Crating a pet can sometimes lead to them developing diarrhea or injuring themselves when they are confined in this fashion. It may not be a bad idea to keep your pets in a separate, quiet room, away from the door when trick or treaters arrive.

Halloween Treats/Candy
It is important for all family members to recognize that these treats are for people only and are not to be shared with pets. Candy wrappers and lollipop sticks can be hazardous if swallowed. Lollipop sticks and other plastic parts are especially dangerous if ingested by a pet as they can cause intestinal blockage and possibly rupture the intestines, which is life-threatening.

Almost everyone knows that chocolate is toxic for pets. Theobromine, a chemical found in chocolate is the cause of the poisoning, which can be deadly in dogs, especially, and other pets. They actually have an allergic reaction to the theobromine which can be quite severe. Some dogs may not have as severe of a response but it is not worth taking a chance with your pets. Chocolate should be avoided, do not think a little bit is not going to hurt! If your pet is sensitive to the theobromine it does not take much to cause a toxic reaction.

Depending on the amount ingested, chocolate (bakers, semi sweet, milk and dark) can be potentially poisonous to many animals. Theobromine levels are especially high in dark chocolates. In general, the less sweet the chocolate, the more toxic it could be. In fact, unsweetened baking chocolate contains almost seven times more theobromine than milk chocolate. Vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, hyperactivity and increased thirst, urination and heart rate can be seen with the ingestion of as little as 1/4 ounce of baking chocolate by a 10-pound dog. Halloween treats with chocolate are not appropriate for pets.

Artificial Sweeteners
Other chemicals found in certain candies can also be toxic to your pets. Xylitol, a sweetener found in some candies, mints, baked goods, chocolate, and gum can be toxic to pets if taken in large amounts. Ingestion of significant quantities can produce a fairly sudden drop in blood sugar, resulting in depression, incoordination and seizures. Foods containing Xylitol should be kept well out of reach of your pets. Do not take any chances with you pets. As stated before, do not think that a little bit is not going to hurt. You should have plenty of treats around the house that are appropriate for your pets and use them instead of candies.

Holiday Food
Avoid the temptation to feed your pets leftovers from your holiday meals. Your pet should be kept on its normal diet. Any change of diet, even for one meal, may give your dog or cat severe indigestion and diarrhea. This is particularly true for older animals that have more delicate digestive systems and nutritional requirements. Many of these foods are rich; especially those that are high in fat, and can often cause severe gastrointestinal disturbances in pets which could prove fatal. Inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis) is a very common disease of dogs and is frequently caused by the eating of table scraps. The pancreas plays a role in digestion of food but when an animal eats a rich or fatty meal, the pancreas is 'overstimulated' and the organ oversecretes enzymes leading to inflammation of the pancreas and surrounding tissues. Signs of pancreatitis include vomiting and abdominal pain, sometimes quite severe. The condition is very uncomfortable for the pet and sometimes can be fatal. If you notice these type of symptoms seek veterinary care.

Although some people may think it is humorous, never offer or allow your pets access to alcoholic beverages. Due to Halloween parties there may be alcoholic drinks carelessly left in areas where pets may be able to reach them. Place these unattended drinks in a safe location where pets cannot reach them. If enough alcohol is ingested, the animal could become very ill and weak. In severe cases they may go into a coma, possibly resulting in death due to respiratory failure.

Halloween Decorations
Animals are attracted to unusual or shiny objects which may be found around the house during Halloween used for decorations or wrapping. Dogs and cats cannot see in color so it is the shiny, shimmering or unusual appearance that attracts them. Birds can see in color, so color may definitely be a source of attraction to them. Keep aluminum foil and cellophane candy wrappers away from pets. Pets may swallow such material, leading to gastrointestinal irritation, causing vomiting or may even pass into the intestinal tract producing an intestinal blockage. Cats are quite often attracted to ribbons, bows, strings and other decorations which they may chew, swallow and develop intestinal blockage. In addition, twinkling lights or other interesting electrical decorations may prove attractive to your pets. They may chew on the cords which may lead to severe electrical shocks.

Keep the decorations out of the reach of your pets to avoid potential danger. If you notice that your pet is very interested in the decorations and may be chewing on them, be certain to relocate the objects in a safe place where you pet cannot get to them.

Exercise caution with lit candles around pets, which could easily become a fire hazard if knocked over by a wagging tail, a curious or frightened cat. This includes the candle placed inside the carved pumpkin, as the pumpkin could be toppled and the candle inside become a fire risk.

During Halloween decorative plants, such as pumpkins or decorative foods, such as corn and gourds are placed around the home to provide a festive holiday setting. These plants and foods though considered to be relatively non-toxic, can potentially cause gastrointestinal upset and may even result in intestinal blockage if large pieces are ingested.

Potpourri/Scented Candles
Liquid potpourri, commonly used to add pleasant scent to the home during certain holidays, can be hazardous to pets. Potentially severe damage to the mouth, skin and eyes could result from exposure to both heated and cool liquid products. Birds are especially sensitive to fumes or airborne toxins and caution must be exercised whenever you are using materials that produce fumes or odors. Use them in areas with good ventilation and keep your birds away from them. If you notice your bird is in respiratory distress, move the bird into an area away from the fumes, get good clean air flow in the area and seek veterinary assistance. Airborne toxins can be fatal to birds.

If you suspect your pet may have become exposed to a potentially toxic product or substance, contact your local veterinarian, a veterinary emergency clinic (if it is after hours for your regular veterinarian) or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center immediately for assistance.

Pet Costumes
It has been quite the trend to dress pets up in costumes for Halloween. Although it can be quite entertaining to see pets in costumes, potential dangers do exist so precautions should be taken. Make sure that when the pet is dressed in a costume there is no interference with breathing, and the ability to see, hear, or move. In addition, if you plan to take your pet out trick or treating with you/your family, especially when it is becoming dark, it would be a good idea to have reflective collars or other reflective materials to ease visibility. (This goes for you and the kids as well)

Referenced from an informational flyer provided by the Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine, Urbana, IL and the CVMA.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Recall of Nature's Recipe Dog Treats

From the AVMA Pet Health SmartBrief......another recall.

Pet food company recalls dog treats that could be contaminated with salmonella

TRENTON, N.J. — A pet food company is voluntarily recalling dog treats that could be contaminated with salmonella.

Nature’s Recipe announced Saturday the recall of a limited supply of its “Nature’s Recipe Oven Baked Biscuits with Real Chicken,” which were manufactured at its plant in Topeka, Kan., and distributed nationally — primarily through pet specialty retailers.

The company says the product has the potential to be contaminated with salmonella, which can affect animals eating the products and pose a risk to humans from handling contaminated pet products.

Nature’s Recipe officials say no pet or human illnesses have been reported, but suggest that pet owners monitor themselves and their dogs for signs of salmonella and seek medical care if symptoms worsen.

The company says the recall is precautionary, and advises consumers who bought the recalled treats to discard them immediately.

The recalled treats were sold in 19-ounce stand-up resealable pouches. The products included in the recall are marked with the Lot Codes 2199TP or 2200TP and a UPC Code of 30521 51549. The pouches also have a “Best If Used By Date” stamp of “10 11 13” and “10 12 13.”

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Dog Bite Prevention

From the AVMA-

Dog Bite Prevention

Dog bite prevention

Dog Bite Emergencies

If you are bitten by a dog, here is a checklist of things you should do:
  • If the dog's owner is present, request proof of rabies vaccination, and get the owner's name and contact information.
  • Clean bite wound with soap and water as soon as possible.
  • Consult your doctor immediately or go to the emergency room if it's after office hours.
  • Contact the dog's veterinarian to check vaccination records.

Did you know that ...

  • 4.7 million people in this country are bitten by dogs every year
  • children are by far the most common victims
  • 800,000 Americans receive medical attention for dog bites each year
  • children are far more likely to be severely injured; approximately 400,000 receive medical attention every year
  • most dog bites affecting young children occur during everyday activities and while interacting with familiar dogs
  • senior citizens are the second most common dog bite victims
There are a number of things that you can do to avoid dog bites, ranging from properly training and socializing your pet to educating your children on how, or if, they should approach a dog. Information is one of the best cures for this public health crisis.

What's a dog owner to do?

  • Carefully select your pet. Puppies should not be obtained on impulse.
  • Make sure your pet is socialized as a young puppy so it feels at ease around people and other animals.
  • Don't put your dog in a position where it feels threatened or teased.
  • Train your dog. The basic commands "sit," "stay," "no," and "come" help dogs understand what is expected of them and can be incorporated into fun activities that build a bond of trust between pets and people.
  • Walk and execrcise your dog regularly to keep it healthy and provide mental stimulation.
  • Avoid highly excitable games like wrestling or tug-of-war.
  • Use a leash in public to ensure you are able to control your dog.
  • Keep your dog healthy. Have your dog vaccinated against rabies and preventable infectious diseases. Parasite control and other health care are important because how your dog feels affects how it behaves.
  • Neuter your pet.
  • If you have a fenced yard, make sure the gates are secure.

How can you protect your family?

  • Be cautious around strange dogs, and treat your own pet with respect. Because children are the most common victims of dog bites, parents and caregivers should:
  • NEVER leave a baby or small child alone with a dog.
  • Be alert for potentially dangerous situations.
  • Teach their children – including toddlers – to be careful around pets. Children must learn not to approach strange dogs or try to pet dogs through fences. Teach children to ask permission from the dog's owner before petting the dog.

Useful Links

The following AVMA resources can help you learn more:
What you should know about dog bite prevention brochure
This informative brochure offers tips on how to avoid being bitten, as well as what to do if you are bitten by a dog. It also addresses what you need to do if your dog bites someone.
Backgrounder: The role of breed in dog bite risk and prevention
This backgrounder reviews and provides scientific context on dog breeds and their purported tendencies to bite.
A community approach to dog bite prevention(PDF)
The American Veterinary Medical Association Task Force on Canine Aggression and Human-Canine Interactions has produced this report intended to help state and local leaders develop effective dog bite prevention programs in their communities.
The Blue Dog Parent Guide and CD
This innovative dog bite prevention program is designed to help parents and children safely interact with dogs both inside and outside their home. The program is geared toward children from 3 to 6 years old. It's the only dog bite educational tool scientifically proven to help young children learn behaviors that can keep them safe.
Bilingual Dog Bite Prevention activity/coloring bookBilingual Dog Bite Prevention activity/coloring book
Teach children about different ways to avoid dog bites, by educating them on how, or if, they should approach a dog. A creative tool for use all year, including during Dog Bite Prevention week in May.
What you should know about rabies
Rabies is a deadly disease that is transmitted to people through a bite. It is transmitted through the rabid animal's saliva. Rabies vaccinations for dogs are an excellent defense against this disease, as many times families are exposed to rabies after an unvaccinated pet dog is bitten by a rabid wild animal. This brochure educates on how to prevent rabies.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

You Could Be Giving Your Pets the Flu!

From the AAHA (American Animal Hospital Association) NEWStat:

Vets can help researchers learn about human-to-pet flu transmission 

Humans can transmit the flu to their pets - that much is known.

But how often does it happen, and what are the potential big-picture consequences for pets and humans? Those are the tough questions that Christiane Loehr, Dr. med. Vet., PhD, is seeking to answer.

Loehr, an assistant professor and pathologist for Oregon State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, says “reverse zoonosis” probably happens more often than people might think.

Infections may be underreported because pets exhibiting flu symptoms are often diagnosed with more common respiratory diseases such as bordetella, calicivirus, herpesvirus, chlamydia, and kennel cough. It is also difficult to diagnose the flu in pets when the infection occurs outside of the typical flu season because it isn’t something a lot of veterinarians are watching for, Loehr said.

Loehr’s diagnostic laboratory at OSU, in conjunction with the diagnostic lab at Iowa State University, is hard at work researching the “distribution of the virus throughout the entire body in order to predict routes of transmission.”

She shared information about how veterinarians can assist researchers in learning more about reverse zoonosis, as well as tips for veterinarians to better help their clients avoid infecting pets with the flu.

What’s the worst that can happen?
Loehr said cuddling with pets is a natural reaction for sick people, but its true consequences can extend beyond threatening the pet’s health.

“Recombination and emergence of new flu strains is from a public health standpoint the primary issue, and whenever the virus can cross barriers it dramatically increases concerns about development of unpredicted events,” she said.

Diseases such as the swine flu, bird flu, and H1N1 have all been able to pass between species, which leads Loehr to speculate that a formidable virus could develop in dogs, cats, and even ferrets.

This potentially dangerous situation is why her diagnostic laboratory would like to gain a solid understanding of the dynamics of flu reverse zoonosis sooner rather than later, she said.

“It is not urgent in the sense that I anticipate a large number of cases - but then it is the flu and circulating viruses change so rapidly and sometimes dramatically that it is impossible to predict what will happen,” she said.

Loehr also recommended that veterinarians inquire about other pets in the client’s household during their assessment. She discussed one case where four out of five cats in the household eventually became ill or seroconverted, which makes it important to find out about other pets in the home.

How to help clients mitigate flu risk
To protect the health of pets and the public, veterinarians should communicate potential risks to clients and provide information on preventive measures, she said.

She recommended that veterinarians give advice to clients that is similar to advice physicians would offer to flu patients, such as:
  • Limit contact of sick people in the household with pets and have flu sufferers wear a mask.
  • Limit contact of sick pets with other pets.
  • Take pets to the veterinarian when they look ill for early diagnosis and treatment to prevent further spread, especially if there has been a sick human in the house.
Loehr also said veterinarians can place flyers in the office that encourage people to get their flu shots in order to avoid getting sick and transmitting infections to their pets.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Update on the Zupreem Bird Pellet Recall

A letter I received from Zupreem discussing the circumstances of the pellet recall. I felt it was important to share. If you have fed your birds this food and there have been problems, obviously contact your veterinarian. There is also a contact number at the bottom of the letter if you would like to speak to Zupreem if you have any issues/concerns.

Dr. Sakas

Dear Colleague: 
For over 40 years ZuPreem® has been committed to producing the highest quality foods to meet the nutritional requirements of companion exotic pets and zoo animals.  Our partnership with the veterinary community is central to the education of companion pet owners of the need for proper nutrition for their pets.

Therefore, I want you to be aware that recently ZuPreem initiated a voluntary recall of two lots of ZuPreem FruitBlend™ With Natural Fruit Flavors bird food because they may contain elevated levels of calcium.  We are taking this action because elevated levels of calcium may cause illness in birds, and in some cases could be fatal.

ZuPreem has advised customers whose birds exhibit the clinical signs of decreased activity level, decreased appetite, increased water consumption and watery droppings to immediately contact their avian veterinarian. Your awareness of the recall could help you more rapidly make a diagnosis in a patient presenting with these clinical signs that may have consumed one of the specific lot codes of FruitBlend bird food.

The recall is limited to ZuPreem Medium/Large and Large FruitBlend™ With Natural Fruit Flavors maintenance formula bird foods with the 11/30/13 or 11/13 expiration date codes, and lot numbers of 598405052 or 598405072. No other ZuPreem products or sizes or lots of FruitBlend are affected.   We have been working diligently with our distributors and retail partners to ensure that the affected lot codes are removed from further distribution, and we believe that in most cases we have been successful in doing so.

In addition we are asking veterinarians to remove these affected expiration dates and lot codes from their clinic.  Please advise bird owners to discard the product and return the packaging to the location where it was purchased for replacement or refund. Also, please share any information relevant to the recall with your veterinary colleagues and your clients. 

This event was caused by an unexpected quality control problem with an ingredient supplier.   Additional quality measures have already been put in place to prevent this from occurring in the future.

We regret this situation and we are doing everything we can to remedy it. We are reaching out to you as a veterinary professional to accomplish this goal. We also apologize for the concern it presents you or your clients.   Nothing is more important than the safety of our products and the health of our customers’ birds. We are taking this matter very seriously and working with our industry partners to resolve the issue as quickly as possible. 

If you wish to contact me, please email at LynH@zupreem.com if you have any questions about this recall.  If necessary we can set a time to discuss this further.  If you believe that a client’s bird has been negatively impacted by eating the specific recalled date code of ZuPreem FruitBlend, it is very important that they contact ZuPreem Customer Care at 1-800-345-4767.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Man Dies from Bat Bite - A Cautionary Tale

Rabid animals are found throughout the country, mostly wildlife, and the main carrier of the rabies virus varies geographically. For example, rabies cases in animals nationwide (2011) were 1,981 raccoons (32.8 % of the total), 1,627 skunks (27%), 1,380 bats (22.9%), 427 foxes (7.1%), 303 cats (5.0%), 65 cattle (1.1%), and 70 dogs (1.2%). In Illinois, bats were number one and have been for years. But no matter what part of the country you are in, consider all wildlife to potentially have rabies, especially if acting strangely (mad dogs and friendly foxes, is the old saying). Be careful handling wildlife and do not put yourself at risk. If you are bitten, seek medical assistance, do not take any chances. Here is a cautionary tale about a man who was bit by a bat, ignored it, and paid the ultimate price for his lack of action.

Man dies of rabies from bat bite in Contra Costa County

A 34-year-old man died in Switzerland over the summer from rabies contracted from a bat in Contra Costa County (California)– the first death rabies death traced to the county in nearly 20 years, officials announced Friday.

The man, whose name has not been released, became ill before leaving the United States to work overseas. He died in a hospital in July, according to Contra Costa Health Services.

Tests later confirmed rabies as the cause of death. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was notified of the death in late August and launched an investigation. It concluded the man had probably been infected in March after touching a bat in southern Contra Costa County, said Erika Jenssen, head of Contra Costa Public Health’s communicable disease program.

“Tragically, this man died from rabies,” Jenssen said in the statement. “It’s critical that people who have been bitten by bats or wild animals seek medical attention immediately.”

Three bats tested positive for rabies in the county this year. Last year in California, 211 of 223 animals that tested positive for rabies were bats, said Curtis Fritz, state public health veterinarian with the California Department of Public Health, in a statement.

In its last fatal rabies case, a man who had been bitten by a rabid dog in Mexico traveled to Contra Costa County, where he became sick and died, in 1993.

That Cranky Old Cat May Have Alzheimer's

From the AVMA Pet Health SmartBrief

That Cranky Old Cat May Have Alzheimer’s

ht tsushima leopard cat ll 121005 wblog That Cranky Old Cat May Have Alzheimers
Tsushima Wildlife Conservation Center

That incessant meowing and aimless walk in the old cat may be a lot more than a sign of  feline aging.
Japanese scientists have discovered in the brain of wild cats protein deposits found in human Alzheimer’s patients,  according to a study published in the science journal Plos One, providing new clues into the feline aging process.

In the study, researchers examined the carcasses of 14 Tsushima Leopard cats, endangered species living on the western Japanese island of Tsushima. Brain tissue from five of them contained Neurofibrillary tangles or NFT, a protein commonly found in human Alzheimer’s patients but rarely found in animals, according to researchers.

The study also detected traces of the peptide AB42, also known to cause mental deterioration.

“If we closely compare changes in the brain among many different animals, we may be able to contribute to a study into the mechanism of the disease,” James Chambers, an assistant professor of veterinary pathology at the University of Tokyo, told Kyodo News.

Japanese researchers say there’s no way to determine whether the Tsushima cats displayed any dementia-like symptoms because the animals were not monitored while alive. They hope to conduct a similar study on house cats, which have been known to become cranky, forget their food, walk sideways and display other geriatric behaviors.

Scientists have long suspected animals suffer from a similar form of dementia as humans.

A study by the University of California Davis revealed nearly a third of dogs aged 11 to 12 years old and 68 percent of those aged 15 to 16 develop some sign of cognitive impairment. In cats, 28 percent between 11 and 14 years similarly showed signs of dementia.

Much like humans, veterinarians say a good diet, stimulation and companionship is key to reversing mental decline.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Recall of Some ZuPreem Bird Pelleted Diets

New recall....ZuPreem Bird Pelleted Diet

Update on Voluntary Product Recall of two lots of FruitBlend™ With Natural Fruit Flavors

Revised: October 2, 2012
Contact: ZuPreem 1-800-345-4767

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – October 2, 2012 – ZuPreem®, under parent company Premium Nutritional Products, Inc. is voluntarily recalling the 11/30/13 and the 11/13 expiration date codes of ZuPreem Medium/Large and Large FruitBlend™ With Natural Fruit Flavors maintenance formula bird foods. This voluntary recall is being initiated because two lots may contain calcium levels higher than the recommended level.

The voluntary recall is limited only to 11/30/13 and 11/13 expiration dates.

Consumers are advised to review the backside of packaging for the "Use By" or "Best By" (expiration date) to determine if the product has been affected by this voluntary recall. All ZuPreem channels, including distributors and retailers, have been notified of the voluntary recall. Each partner has been asked to immediately remove these products from store shelves.

The two voluntarily recalled lots are 598405052 and 598405072. The lot and expiration dates by sku, are listed below:
SKU Net Weight Description UPC Use By Lot Code
83020 2 lbs. ZuPreem FruitBlend with Natural Fruit Flavors Premium Daily Bird Food for medium/large birds 762177830209 Use By 11/30/13 598405052
83030 3.5 lbs. ZuPreem FruitBlend with Natural Fruit Flavors Premium Daily Bird Food for medium/large birds 762177830308 Use By 11/30/13 598405052
83120 12 lbs. ZuPreem FruitBlend with Natural Fruit Flavors Premium Daily Bird Food for medium/large birds 762177831206 Use By 11/30/13 598405052
83170 17.5 lbs. ZuPreem FruitBlend with Natural Fruit Flavors Premium Daily Bird Food for medium/large birds 762177831701 Best By 11/13 598405052
83350 35 lbs. ZuPreem FruitBlend with Natural Fruit Flavors Premium Daily Bird Food for medium/large birds 762177833507 Best By 11/13 598405052
84020 2 lbs. ZuPreem FruitBlend with Natural Fruit Flavors Premium Daily Bird Food for large birds 762177840208 Use By 11/30/13 598405072
84030 3.5 lbs. ZuPreem FruitBlend with Natural Fruit Flavors Premium Daily Bird Food for large birds 762177840307 Use By 11/30/13 598405072
84120 12 lbs. ZuPreem FruitBlend with Natural Fruit Flavors Premium Daily Bird Food for large birds 762177841205 Use By 11/30/13 598405072
84170 17.5 lbs. ZuPreem FruitBlend with Natural Fruit Flavors Premium Daily Bird Food for large birds 762117841700 Best By 11/13 598405072
84350 35 lbs. ZuPreem FruitBlend with Natural Fruit Flavors Premium Daily Bird Food for large birds 762177843506 Best By 11/13 598405072

Products and product lots that do not appear on the list are not subject to this voluntary recall.

Reference images below to help identify lot numbers and expiration dates.

This voluntary recall has been activated due to elevated calcium levels. The calcium was inadvertently introduced into these lot codes during the manufacturing process. Excessive calcium intake can make birds sick and, in some cases, may be fatal.

Symptoms include decreased activity level, decreased appetite, increased water consumption and loose or watery droppings. If owners notice any of these symptoms, they should immediately contact their veterinarian.

Bird owners should monitor the health of their birds and notify their veterinarian if they notice any unusual symptoms. They should also discard any unused product and return the packaging to the place of purchase for a replacement or full refund.

To register your product with the voluntary recall, please fill out the form below the FAQs section.

Additionally, consumers may contact the ZuPreem Customer Service line at 1-800-345-4767 where company representatives are responding to inquiries regarding any issues relevant to this voluntary recall.


What is being announced?

Premium Nutritional Products has issued a voluntary recall of its ZuPreem® Medium/Large and ZuPreem® Large FruitBlend™ With Natural Fruit Flavors maintenance formula bird foods. The affected lots carry the expiration date codes of "Use by 11/30/13" and "Best by 11/13."

Why are these products being recalled?

This voluntary recall is being initiated because one lot of ZuPreem® Medium/Large (598405052) and one lot of ZuPreem® Large (598405072) FruitBlend™ With Natural Fruit Flavors maintenance formula bird foods may contain elevated calcium levels.

What product expiration date codes are affected?

The only lots affected by this recall are the ZuPreem® Medium/Large and the ZuPreem® Large FruitBlend™ With Natural Fruit Flavors maintenance formula bird foods with "Use By 11/30/13" and "Best by 11/13" expiration date codes.

Are other ZuPreem® products affected?

No other ZuPreem® products or lots of FruitBlend™ With Natural Fruit Flavors maintenance formula bird food are affected or part of this recall.

How will bird owners or breeders know if they have the recalled product?

The "Use by" and "Best by" expiration date and lot numbers can be found on the back of the package.

What should people do if they have the product?

Consumers who have purchased these products with the lot codes and expiration dates should discontinue using this product, discard the food and return the packaging to the place of purchase for replacement or a full refund.

What if owners fed the product?

They should monitor the health of their birds and notify their veterinarian if they notice any unusual symptoms. They should also discard any unused product and return the packaging to the place of purchase for a replacement or full refund.

What symptoms should they look for?

Symptoms include decreased activity level, decreased appetite, increased water consumption and loose or watery droppings.

What should owners do if they see symptoms?

If owners notice any of these symptoms, they should immediately contact their veterinarian.

What is the risk to birds of excessive calcium intake?

Excessive calcium intake can make birds sick and, in some cases, may be fatal.

Where were the affected products distributed?

The products in question were sold through pet stores, veterinary clinics, mail order and online in North America and other regions of the world.