Friday, April 25, 2014
Meet 5 Incredible 'Bionic' Pets With Prosthetic Limbs
April 22, 2014
By LIZ NEPORENT
If the Six Million Dollar Man had a pet sidekick, it would probably be one of these incredible animals. While not exactly bionic, all of them were fitted with an artificial limb after an amputation.
These resilient creatures prove that people aren’t the only ones who can benefit from amazing advances in prosthetic technology. Experts say more and more of our animal friends are being fitted with replacement parts that help them get back on their paws, feet or fins in no time.
“When we started building prosthetics for animals back in 2002, we would do maybe one or two a month,” said Martin Kaufmann, co-founder of OrthoPets, a Colorado-based animal prosthetic maker. “Now we make eight to ten a week.”
The main reason animals are receiving prosthetic limbs more often than in the past, Kaufmann believes, is because we humans have come to look upon ourselves as the guardians of our four-legged friends rather than the owners of disposable possessions.
“Once you see yourself as a guardian, you can look at animals through a different lens,” he said. “Your mindset is not to euthanize or chop off a leg, but to help them get back to normal function.”
The most common site of prosthetic limb replacement on an animal is the paw or foot, Kaufmann said. When a four-legged animal has an amputation of the front leg, it’s usually high up near the shoulder. In a back leg amputation, only the lower portion of the leg typically gets removed.
Socket prostheses are the most common type of replacement limb used in animals. They slip over the limb stump and then strap or buckle into place. Newer, integrated prostheses involve implanting one part of the device into the bone and then anchoring another removable part into it with a screw. Either kind provides long-lasting limb support and more natural movement, Kaufmann said.
A typical dog prosthetis paw costs between $1,200 and $1,500 dollars, Kaufmann said. Cat replacement limbs are smaller and less expensive. Prosthetic limbs made for larger beasts like llamas, cows or horses are more expensive.
Most animals are first fitted with a temporary teaching prosthetic. Then once they get the hang of it – typically in about two weeks – they’re switched over to permanent hardware, Kaufmann said, adding that all animals have that eureka moment when they figure out how to use their new limb.
“It’s the most exciting thing in the world to watch,” he said.
Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Americans are having dogs instead of babies
The fewer babies Americans give birth to, the more small dogs they seem to buy.
Birth rates in the US have fallen from nearly 70 per 1,000 women in 2007, to under 63 last year—a 10% tumble. American women birthed almost 400,000 fewer little humans in 2013 than they did six years before. The drop-off has come exclusively among 15- to 29-year-olds. This chart, taken from a recent report by the US Department of Health (pdf), does a pretty decent job of showing how much of the growing disinterest in having babies is due to younger women:
Meanwhile, the ownership of small dogs—that is, pets weighing no more than 20 pounds (9 kilograms)—is doing just the opposite. Americans have been buying more and more small dogs each year since 1999. The population of little canines more than doubled in the US over that period, and is only projected to continue upwards, according to data from market research firm Euromonitor.
“You do not have to go to many pet shows to realize that the numbers of small and tiny dogs are on the increase,” a report by Pets International opened in 2010 (pdf).
And rightly so. The number of small dogs has grown so fast that they are now the most popular kind nationwide.
It could just be a coincidence that Americans are birthing fewer babies at the same time as they’re buying a lot more little dogs. But there’s pretty good reason to believe it isn’t, Damian Shore, an analyst at market-research firm Euromonitor, told Quartz. “There’s definitely some replacement happening there,” he said.
One telling sign that the two are not entirely unrelated is that the same age groups that are forgoing motherhood are leading the small dog charge. “Women are not only having fewer children, but are also getting married later. There are more single and unmarried women in their late 20s and early 30s, which also happens to be the demographic that buys the most small dogs,” Shore said.
There’s also evidence people are treating their dogs a bit more like little humans these days. Premium dog food, the most expensive kind, has grown by 170% over the past 15 years, and now accounts for 57% of of the overall dog food market.
There are now tools to monitor your dog’s fitness, ice cream trucks exclusively for canines, and vacations designed exclusively for dog-having people. “The animals in our homes are family. They’re like children,” David Grimm, the author of the book Citizen Canine, told Wired this week.
Of course, small dog ownership isn’t rising just because people want kid substitutes. Fashion trends aside, small dogs are also emblematic of a national migration to cities, where big dogs are harder to keep. Nearly 80% of Americans live in urban areas. “Smaller homes and apartments are also helping drive the growing popularity of smaller dogs,” Shore said.
EPA: Some flea and tick collars pose danger to children
An Environmental Protection Agency report warns that propoxur, a flea-killing chemical in flea collars marketed by Sergeant's Pet Care Products and Wellmark International, is unsafe for children. However, the products can be distributed until two years from now, and retailers can continue to sell them after that until their stock is gone. Veterinary dermatologist Daniel Morris says there are safer products available and urges owners to consult with their veterinarian to determine the best approach.
Friday, April 11, 2014
Electronic Cigarettes are Toxic to Pets
Authored by: Sharon Gwaltney-Brant, DVM, PhD, DABVT, DABT
Electronic cigarettes, often called e-cigs, are marketed as an alternative to cigarette smoking. They are also referred to as personal vaporizers or electronic nicotine delivery systems. These devices are a cylindrical body that holds a cartridge containing a liquid solution; some resemble a tobacco cigarette. The solution, termed “e-liquid” or “e-juice,” contains a base material, flavoring compounds, and nicotine. The base material is generally propylene glycol and either vegetable glycerin or polyethylene glycol.
Glycerin and propylene glycol are of low toxicity when eaten, but the amount in the refill bottles (usually 10-30% of what's in the bottle) is low enough to not be much of a concern; nicotine is the bigger issue. Whether any of the compounds used are toxic if inhaled long term is not known.
Some e-cigarettes can be reused (left), and some are disposable (center). E-juice is bottled (right). Photos by VIN.The nicotine levels in these e-liquids can vary in concentration from being completely nicotine-free up to 36 milligrams per milliliter (mg/mL) of nicotine. For marketing purposes, the “/mL” part is frequently dropped, and the e-liquids are advertised as having X mg of nicotine rather than X mg/mL. In some e-cigs, the user controls the amount of nicotine delivered by adjusting the flow of e-liquid from the cartridge.
An e-cig with a full cartridge can contain up to 36 mg of nicotine, which doesn’t sound like a lot until you factor in how toxic nicotine is. Clinical signs of nicotine poisoning can be seen in dogs and cats exposed to a mere 0.5 mg per pound of body weight. For cats and small dogs, ingesting 20 mg of nicotine can be lethal.
Even more dangerous are the bottles of e-liquid that are used to recharge the e-cig cartridge: the nicotine in these bottles can range from 10 mL to 60 mL or more. So a 30-mL bottle of 36 mg/mL e-liquid will contain 1080 mg of nicotine, more than enough to prove fatal for even a very large dog if the contents are ingested.
Nicotine is readily absorbed by ingestion as well as through the skin. Pets may be exposed when they chew up the e-cigs or the bottles containing e-juice, or even when they walk through puddles of spilled e-juice and get it on their paws. The signs of nicotine poisoning may begin within 15 to 30 minutes of exposure to the e-liquid; in contrast, signs of nicotine poisoning following eating tobacco products may take a few hours as the nicotine must be released from the tobacco.
The first signs normally seen with toxic exposure to nicotine include:
- Excessive drooling (hypersalivation)
- Vomiting with or without diarrhea
- Agitation or restlessness
- Increased respiratory rate or panting.
- Convulsions or seizures
- Increased heart rate
- Increased blood pressure.
Prompt and aggressive veterinary care is required to successfully manage poisoning from e-juice exposure. Because the e-juice is rapidly absorbed across the mucous membranes of the mouth, standard decontamination measures such as inducing vomiting are usually not helpful. Treatment includes managing convulsions and seizures, treating heart and blood pressure abnormalities, ensuring adequate respiration, and providing intravenous fluids to enhance nicotine elimination.
The prognosis for patients exposed to large amounts of nicotine can be quite grave depending on how quickly veterinary care is obtained, and even with aggressive veterinary care some patients will not survive.
Wednesday, April 2, 2014
A client handout about "Leptospirosis" written by Dr. Staunton.
Niles Animal Hospital and Bird Medical Center
7278 N. Milwaukee Ave. Niles, IL 60714
(847)-647-9325 Fax (847)-647-8498
Over the last 10 years, cases of canine leptospirosis have been increasingly reported across the United States. It is particularly a problem in suburban areas where dogs of all sizes and ages are becoming in ever-closer contact with wildlife. Even more disturbing is the fact that human cases of leptospirosis contracted from dogs and other species including raccoons, skunks, squirrels, opossums, deer, coyotes, mice and rats, are on the rise. Leptospirosis is considered to be one of the most common zoonotic diseases (diseases people can contract from animals) worldwide.
The bacteria that cause leptospirosis are spread through the urine of infected animals, which can get into water or soil and can survive there for weeks to months. Dogs and people can get infected through contact with this contaminated urine (or other body fluids, except saliva), water, or soil. The bacteria can enter the body through skin or mucus membranes (eyes, nose, or mouth), especially if the skin is broken from a cut or scratch. Drinking, swimming, or walking through contaminated water increases the risk of becoming infected with the bacteria. Wherever dogs and wildlife cross paths, from the dog park to your own backyard, exposure to leptospirosis is an ever-increasing risk.
Common non-specific clinical signs include fever, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, refusal to eat, weakness and depression, stiffness, excessive drinking, jaundice, and excessive bleeding. Kidney failure affects 90% of dogs with leptospirosis, with 10-20% also suffering from liver failure.
To help prevent leptospirosis infection, minimize exposure to wildlife and their environment wherever possible.
Get your pet vaccinated against leptospirosis. The vaccine does not provide 100% protection against all strains of the bacteria but does provide immunity to the more common ones.