Daily Paws

Pet news, tips, entertainment and opinions from VetLocator.com

Archive for August, 2010

Affording pet care: Some ideas to keep pets healthy

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

kitten lifting weightsThis week I received three different emails asking for help from three different pet owners with the exact same topic:  “Help!  We can’t take our pet to the vet because we don’t have the money. ”

I couldn’t help them.  I wish I could but I can’t.

It tore my heart out.

It’s no secret that pet health care can be expensive.  It can and often is. Veterinarians live in the same world we do and, like many of us, their costs for doing business, buying new equipment, specialized education and investing in keeping our pets alive longer has gotten more expensive.

Things that affect us in the economy affect them too.

Today even I think twice before I take my pets in for something because I never seem to get away from my veterinarians office for less than $100.  It’s like Costco.  I can never go in without spending at least $100. It’s weird.  So I try and plan our trips, both to the veterinarian and to Costco.

And is the price worth it when I do go?  Usually yes – (although I sometimes get ticked off that all fees where I go come from a computer generated program.  The computer spits out the price for ‘____treatment’ whether it was a 5 minute treatment or a 30 minute.  Those fees sometimes seem a LITTLE high)…and over-all I usually am fine with paying my bill.  I just don’t go out of my way to take my pets there except for routine wellness or real emergencies.

While I don’t want to spend money unnecessarily at the vets, I want to make sure he’s there when I need him.  I count on him being there.  I want to have a place to take my pets that can handle whatever health crisis arises.  I want state-of-the-art, life saving stuff there WHEN my pet needs it.

Don’t you feel the same?  I pay my bill thankful that this wonderful man is there to help keep my pets well and healthy.

So lets talk a little about today. About affording pet health care today, in today’s economy with today’s things happening.

What can you do?

Do what you can to keep your pets healthy which goes a long way to keeping pet care affordable.

  • The first thing is educate yourself as a pet parent about your pet and pet health.  The internet gives you instant answers to common questions and you can find answers in many other places including your library and pet store, other pet owners.  Your veterinarian will be happy to help you with questions you might have too.
  • Healthy basics are the same for both you and your pets.  These basics include good nutrition (educate yourself on what this is for your pet), ample exercise and emotional health (enough love and spending enough time with you and enough play). Keep the basics IN for best results.
  • Look at both traditional and complimentary pet health methods.  There is wisdom in both and more and more today you’ll find formerly alternative methods being used in traditional veterinary clinics.  For example, it’s becoming common to find acupuncture being offered as a treatment in many clinics and hospitals.
  • Make sure you take your pets in for their annual check-ups, including blood tests, as these can allow early diagnosis and early treatment (usually less expensive) for health issues.
  • If you can afford it, buy pet insurance.  Pet insurance comes in all shapes and sizes.  It’s  least expensive when your pet is young.  When shopping for insurance, make sure you compare policies, comparing ‘apples to apples’,  paying particular attention to what is covered and what the companies definition of  preexisting conditions is.  Having pet insurance in the event of a serious occurrence can be the difference between choosing to let your pet live or die because of affordability.
  • I also use the internet to shop wisely for those brands that I feel are the healthiest for my animals.  I’ve gotten coupons and free samples from companies who want to introduce me to their products and I use these when I shop.

I’ve been doing these same things for several years and, overall, the results have been good, our pets are healthy and our pet health care costs aren’t out of hand.  It’s a little extra work to stay healthy but the benefits far outweigh the effort.

So to you and your pets I say

Stay healthy affordably!

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The incredible patience of dogs

Sunday, August 22nd, 2010

The incredible patience of a dog
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We’ve all seen those cute and funny pictures of dogs dressed up or posed by their owners.

It makes me think of two words: Love and patience.

Here are some wonderful examples of the patience dogs show because of their love for us

Enjoy

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What exactly is Salmonella and what should you know about it?

Thursday, August 19th, 2010
Color-enhanced scanning electron micrograph sh...
Image via Wikipedia

Linda

Products being recalled because of possible salmonella contamination, like the 380 million egg recall, are dominating recent news headlines.  Pet food products in particular (Iams cat food, Eukanuba dog food, Merrick pet care treats and many more since the beginning of the year) have been the subject of recalls for the same reasons, possible salmonella contamination.

Why?

Why so many recalls for salmonella in such short amounts of time?

Here is some information on what salmonella is, why outbreaks may be on the rise, and some things you can do to prevent ingesting the virus:

What is salmonella?

from http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-salmonella.htm

Salmonella refers to a genus of rod shaped bacterium, named after their discoverer Daniel Salmon in 1906. Some of these salmonella bacterium are responsible for many illnesses in humans and other animals. Most commonly, salmonella is the cause of food poisoning and typhoid fever. Salmonella lives in the intestines of mammals, birds and reptiles and is usually harmless.

The type of salmonella that is a health hazard is usually contracted by touching raw meat, raw eggs, raw shellfish or unpasteurized animal products such as milk and cheese. Salmonella bacterium can also be acquired by touching living turtles, birds and humans that have the bacteria on their hands. Salmonella is not a threat until it is ingested, which is one reason why hand washing is important.

Salmonella food poisoning is the result of touching or eating contaminated foods. Its symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal cramps and fever. Many foods that people prepare in their home, especially meats and poultry, have warning labels about safe handling on the packaging for this reason. Meat that is not properly cooked or food that is not temperature controlled is often the result of salmonella poisoning when eating out.

Salmonella poisoning usually goes away on its own without treatment in 5-7 days. However, if vomiting and diarrhea are severe and prolonged, a person can become dangerously dehydrated and must seek medical help. In addition, infected infants, the elderly and people that have weak immune systems often need medical care because salmonella sometimes spreads to the blood stream and can possibly become fatal.

Salmonella infections are zoonotic (from Wikipedia)

Zoonotic means the infection can be passed from human to animal and vice versa.  Recently there was an announcement of the first case of human salmonella traced to pet food (August 9, http://www.medpagetoday.com/PublicHealthPolicy/PublicHealth/21576).  An excerpt from this article:

Most of the salmonellosis cases among young children were significantly associated with feeding pets in the kitchen, possibly leading to cross-contamination — highlighting the importance of proper handling of pet food, Behravesh and co-authors wrote in article published online in Pediatrics.
No statistical association was found between illness and children placing pet food in their mouths, the authors added.

The discovery of the pet food link to human salmonellosis led to large recalls of several brands of pet foods and the eventual closing of the plant where the products were produced.

“This investigation resulted in identification of the first documented outbreak of human salmonellosis linked to the use of dry dog and cat food,” Behravesh and co-authors wrote. “Dry pet food may be contaminated with Salmonella and could be an under-recognized source of human infections, especially in young children,” they concluded.”

Why?

Here is an article from 2008, written after a large-scale salmonella outbreak killed several people and affected most areas of the United States.  There is some good information on a probable reason we’re seeing such an increase in outbreaks.  You may or may not agree with the authors of this article, but their conclusions make sense to me.

Salmonella is one of the most common causes of food poisoning in the United States, with about 40,000 cases confirmed each year; because many milder infections are never diagnosed, however, the CDC and USDA estimate the real number of cases may be more than a million. About 15,000 of those people are hospitalized each year, and roughly 400 die. But despite its prevalence and stealth — salmonella doesn’t affect food’s taste or smell — the precautions to avoid salmonellosis are simple. The main ones are second nature to many: Wash your hands after using the bathroom and after handling raw meat. (Click here for more prevention tips.)

Still, consumers have limited control over sanitation of food; a lot of hands touch it before ours do. We can Purell our palms dry and blacken the taste out of our steaks, but we often have little choice but to trust all the farmers, factory workers, butchers and busboys not to be lazy or careless. Global and domestic food industries feed millions of Americans every day without overtly betraying that trust, but there are always a few bad apples. And lately the bunch has been especially rotten.

Food-borne again
Major outbreaks of food-borne illnesses such as salmonella and E. coli have repeatedly gripped the United States in recent decades, part of a trend toward more widespread, if not necessarily more frequent or deadly, bacterial pestilence. Over the last four years especially, several high-profile eruptions of food poisoning have catapulted these bacteria into the national spotlight, and the most recent one has Washington buzzing about overhauling the FDA. But why are these outbreaks bigger than they used to be?

For one, the rise of big agriculture has practically set the table for them. Disease-causing bacteria and viruses thrive when one species of host congregates in high densities, and concentrated animal feeding operations offer a dream home for salmonella and E. coli. Huge farms and food-processing plants also supply a wider swath of people than pre-industrial growers did, meaning a single outbreak has a better chance of exploding into a far-reaching epidemic.

Bacteria are also becoming more resistant to antibiotics, a problem that by the mid-’90s had grown so dire the CDC, FDA and USDA collaborated to establish the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System, which tests salmonella and other microbes for their reactions to our pharmaceutical onslaught. This immunity is a result of overexposure: The more often bacteria come into contact with antibiotics, the more likely they are to develop resistance. That’s because the drugs kill the most susceptible bacteria but often leave a few stronger survivors to reproduce and fill their place, creating a new generation of hardier bugs.

Large-scale agriculture may have a hand in this, too, since farmers routinely give their animals antibiotics to stop bacteria from seizing on the unnaturally high concentrations. A 2005 study blamed the emergence of a multidrug-resistant type of Salmonella Typhimurium — a common strain that caused the recent U.S. outbreak — on “modern intensified farming and food production methods and global trade with live breeder animals.”

And while there’s no evidence they have yet, these outbreaks could get deadlier. Because bacteria that survive antibiotics proved tougher than their fallen comrades, they may also be stronger in other ways, such as virulence. Bacteria can evolve notoriously quickly; when astronauts took salmonella into space during a 12-day research mission in 2007, it responded to the low-gravity environment by becoming three times more lethal.

What you can do to prevent infection:

from the Health Canada article Salmonella prevention

There is no vaccine to prevent salmonellosis, but you can minimize your chances of contracting it by following these steps.

  • Contaminated foods may look and smell normal. Thoroughly cook foods to destroy the bacteria.
  • Do not eat raw or undercooked eggs, poultry or meat. Remember raw eggs are contained in foods such as homemade hollandaise sauce, caesar and other salad dressings, tiramisu, homemade ice cream, homemade mayonnaise, cookie dough and frostings.
  • Poultry and meat, including hamburgers, should be well-cooked, not pink in the middle. If you are served undercooked food in a restaurant, send it back.
  • Avoid raw or unpasteurized milk and other dairy products. Mother’s milk is the safest food for infants. Breast feeding prevents salmonellosis and many other health problems.
  • Thoroughly wash fruits and vegetables before eating them.
  • When buying and storing groceries, keep meats separate from fruits, vegetables, cooked foods and ready-to-eat foods.
  • Because bacteria grow quickly at room temperature, go directly home from grocery shopping and refrigerate or freeze food immediately.
  • Always defrost food in the refrigerator, in cold water or in the microwave, never at room temperature. Set your refrigerator to 4 degrees C (40 degrees F) and your freezer to -18 degrees C (0 F).
  • Wash your hands before handling any food. Be sure to wash your hands, cutting boards, counters, knives and other utensils after preparing uncooked foods.
  • If you have been diagnosed with salmonellosis, do not prepare food or pour water for anyone else until you are clear of the bacteria.
  • Wash your hands after contact with animal feces, for example, after changing the kitty litter or scooping up after your dog.
  • Since reptiles can have Salmonella, always wash your hands after handling them. Reptiles, including turtles, are not appropriate pets for children and should not be in the same house as an infant.
  • If you are diagnosed with salmonellosis, be sure that you or your doctor informs the local Public Health Department. If many cases occur at the same time, it may mean that a restaurant or a particular food item has a problem that needs to be corrected.

Be careful and take the steps necessary to protect your health and the health of your pets.

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Jet Blue voted the best for pets to fly

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

According to a survey by Petfinder.com, Jet Blue is the best airline for your pets to travel on.  Jet Blue offers 300 frequent flier miles each way, a pet travel guide and a tag for your pet carrier.  And today Jet Blue announced a limited ‘all you can eat’ airline ticket, $699 for to fly anywhere Jet Blue flies between Sept and October (although chances are these tickets will sell out FAST).

If you are flying with your pets on a budget, try Air Tran – $69 for small dogs, cats and birds to fly each way in the cabin.

 

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FDA Recall for Filet Square & Texas Hold’ems 10oz bag because of possible Salmonella contamination

Monday, August 16th, 2010

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – August 16, 2010 – Merrick Pet Care, Inc. of Amarillo, Texas is recalling all lots of its 10 oz “Beef Filet Squares” for Dogs and “Texas Hold’ems” pet treats because they have the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella. Salmonella can affect animals and there is risk to humans from handling contaminated pet products. People handling the treats can become infected with Salmonella, especially if they have not thoroughly washed their hands after having contact with the chews or any surfaces exposed to these products. Consumers should dispose of these products in a safe manner by securing them in a covered trash receptacle.

Healthy people infected with Salmonella should monitor themselves for some or all of the following symptoms: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramping and fever. Rarely, Salmonella can result in more serious ailments, including arterial infections, endocarditis, arthritis, muscle pain, eye irritation, and urinary tract symptoms. Consumers exhibiting these signs after having contact with this product should contact their healthcare providers immediately. 

Pets with Salmonella infections may be lethargic and have diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever, and vomiting. Some pets will have only decreased appetite, fever and abdominal pain. Infected but otherwise healthy pets can be carriers and infect other animals or humans. If your pet has consumed the recalled product and has these symptoms, please contact your veterinarian immediately. 

The “Beef Filet Squares” & “Texas Hold’ems” were shipped to distributors and retailers throughout the US. These individuals have been notified and have activated their recall procedures. 

No illnesses have been reported to date.  

Consumers who have purchased 10 ounce packages of “Beef Filet Squares for Dogs” & “Texas Hold’ems” are urged to return the unused portion to the place of purchase for a full refund. Consumers with questions may contact the company at 1-800-664-7387 M-F 8:00 – 5:00 CDT. 

 

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Fire safety for your pets. What you should know to create an effective plan

Sunday, August 15th, 2010
Fire extinguisher
Image by Mr Wabu via Flickr

Recently I ran across a somewhat startling statistic about pets and fires.  According to a recent ZooToo article, pets are responsible for starting more than 1,000 accidental fires every year.

I don’t know if you’d ever given that any thought but that got me thinking about our house and any fire dangers that were there for our pets.

Although I don’t have any little one’s living at home I recall a time when I did and how I’d walk through the house with ‘different eyes’ looking at what was there from the viewpoint of a child.  There were many dangers that I’d never considered.

Now I was doing this same thing again, only this time it was for pet safety and fire prevention.  I’m happy to say that I had very little to correct to keep things safe for my family and pets.

Here are some guidelines from the American Kennel Club and ADT that you might want to review for your pet’s fire safety and a link to information for a free window decal to let firefighters know you have pets inside at the end of the list:

AKC® and ADT offer the following tips to educate pet owners on how to prevent your beloved pet from starting a fire, as well as how to keep your pets safe:

Prevent Your Pet From Starting Fires

Extinguish open flames — Pets are generally curious and will investigate cooking appliances, candles, or even a fire in your fireplace. Ensure your pet is not left unattended around an open flame and make sure to thoroughly extinguish any open flame before leaving your home.

Remove stove knobs — Be sure to remove stove knobs or protect them with covers before leaving the house. According to the National Fire Protection Association, a stove or cook top is the number one piece of equipment involved in your pet starting a fire.

Invest in flameless candles — These candles contain a light bulb rather than an open flame, and take the danger out of your pet knocking over a candle. Cats are notorious for starting fires when their tails turn over lit candles.

Beware of water bowls on wooden decks — Do not leave a glass water bowl for your pet outside on a wooden deck. The sun’s rays when filtered through the glass and water can actually heat up and ignite the wooden deck beneath it. Choose stainless steel or ceramic bowls instead.

Keep Your Pets Safe

Keep pets near entrances when away from home — Keep collars on pets and leashes at the ready in case firefighters need to rescue your pet. When leaving pets home alone, keep them in areas or rooms near entrances where firefighters can easily find them.

Secure young pets — Especially with young puppies, keep them confined away from potential fire-starting hazards when you are away from home such as in crates or behind baby gates in secure areas.

Since pets left alone can’t escape a burning home — Consider using monitored smoke detectors which are connected to a monitoring center so emergency responders can be contacted when you’re not home. These systems provide an added layer of protection beyond battery-operated smoke alarms.

Affix a pet alert window cling — Write down the number of pets inside your house and attach the static cling to a front window. This critical information saves rescuers time when locating your pets. Make sure to update the number of pets listed.

Pet owners can obtain a free Pet Fire Safety Window Cling online at www.adt.com and clings will be available this September at your local AKC Responsible Dog Ownership Day. This year’s flagship event will be held in Raleigh, North Carolina on September 25th, 2010. Visit www.akc.org for more information on an event near you.

Be safe!

www.vetlocator.com

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Mice Direct recalling frozen mice.

Sunday, August 15th, 2010

Mice Direct Logo

Frozen mice and other reptile feed

Frozen reptile feed (mice, rats and chicks) is being recalled because it could potentially be contaminated with salmonella, the FDA announced.

Georgia company Mice Direct is recalling the critters, which were distributed in all states except Hawaii through pet stores and by mail order and direct delivery.

Human illnesses that may be related to the frozen reptile feed have been reported in 17 states. The recalled product should not be fed to animals, even after heating in a microwave, because the heating may not be adequate to kill salmonella, the FDA said.

Consumers who purchased reptile feed from Mice Direct are urged to contact the company by telephone at (888) 747-0736 or by e-mail at sales@micedirect.com for instructions concerning the recall and for credits toward replacement of unused product.

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