30 October 2018
TUESDAY, Oct. 30, 2018 (HealthDay News) — If you insist on dressing your pet in a costume for Halloween, Fido will thank you for doing so in a safe and comfortable way, veterinarians suggest. “Make sure costumes are the appropriate size and fit for the pet. A costume that is too tight will be constricting and uncomfortable, and a costume that is too loose may rub and cause skin irritation; in either case, the pet may have difficulty moving around and will not enjoy their experience,” said Leni Kaplan. She is a clinician at Cornell University’s Hospital for Animals. “Costumes with accessories that are easy to grab or pull off are not recommended; a pet might eat the accessory predisposing them to a gastrointestinal foreign body obstruction, which will require veterinary medical attention and possible surgery,” Kaplan warned in a Cornell news release. Katherine Houpt is professor emeritus of behavior medicine at Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine. She suggested if you’re planning to dress up your pet, “make the costume a signal that good things are about to happen, like a walk. Another method is to pair a tiny, but delicious snack with the placement of the costume.” Costumes aren’t the only thing you need be careful with: Halloween candy may be a treat for you, but could be dangerous for animals. Kaplan explained that, for pets, “candy and human snacks can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration and, in some circumstances, pancreatitis — a serious illness which may require hospitalization. Restrict access to chocolate, coffee, caffeine, macadamia nuts, grapes, raisins and any food containing xylitol or psychoactive cannabinoids, such as marijuana.” It’s also probably a bad idea to take your dog trick-or-treating. “It is not advised to take your dog trick-or-treating — due to crowds, children, unfamiliar people dressed in unfamiliar outerwear (costumes, masks, and carrying props). Dogs who are normally fine in crowds may be scared or spooked, and may act aggressively or out of character,” Kaplan said. “If you do take your pet trick-or-treating, make sure to dress your pet in brightly colored and reflective clothing so they are easy to see at night, and keep them on a leash at all times,” Kaplan added. Halloween decorations can also pose risks to your pet, the vets added. “Pumpkin is safe for pets to eat as long as it is not moldy. If your pet eats moldy pumpkin, contact a veterinarian immediately,” Kaplan said. “Avoid using real candles, as pets are often drawn to the flickering light and warmth. They could burn themselves or start a fire if the candle or Jack-o’-Lantern is tipped over,” she noted. “Instead of candles, use battery-powered LED candles or glow sticks. Make sure your pet cannot access and eat the LED candles or glow sticks.” If Halloween hijinks are too much for your dog, take steps to keep your pet calm. For example, Houpt suggested, “During parties or trick-or-treater visits, dogs can be confined in a room with a long-lasting treat or a food-dispensing toy. Play loud music or white noise so the dog is unaware of the people.” More information The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has more on Halloween safety for pets.
22 October 2018
MONDAY, Oct. 22, 2018 (HealthDay News) — In some bad news for chocolate Labrador Retriever lovers everywhere, new research shows that they have shorter life spans than their black and yellow cousins. Not only that, but they also have higher rates of skin disease and ear infections. For the study, researchers analyzed data from more than 33,000 Labradors in the United Kingdom. The findings showed that while the average life span of black and yellow Labrador Retrievers is 12 years, the median life span of chocolate Labs was at least 10 percent shorter than that. Compared with their counterparts, chocolate Labs were also two times more likely to have ear inflammation and four times more likely to have a skin condition called hot spot. The findings came as a surprise, said lead study author Paul McGreevy, a professor at the University of Sydney, in Australia. “The relationships between coat color and disease may reflect an inadvertent consequence of breeding certain pigmentations,” McGreevy said in a university news release. “Because chocolate color is recessive in dogs, the gene for this color must be present in both parents for their puppies to be chocolate. Breeders targeting this color may therefore be more likely to breed only Labradors carrying the chocolate coat gene,” he explained. “It may be that the resulting reduced gene pool includes a higher proportion of genes conducive to ear and skin conditions,” McGreevy added. Among all Labs in the study, the most common health problems were obesity, ear infections and joint conditions. Nearly 9 percent of the Labradors in the study were overweight or obese, one of the highest percentages among dog breeds. Rates of overweight and obesity were highest among male Labs that had been neutered. The report was published online Oct. 21 in the journal Canine Genetics and Epidemiology. More information The American Kennel Club has more on Labrador Retrievers.
15 June 2018
FRIDAY, June 15, 2018 (HealthDay News) — The scorching heat of summer poses dangers to people, but dogs also need protection from soaring temperatures, one veterinarian warns. Benjamin Brainard, director of clinical research at the University of Georgia’s College of Veterinary Medicine, offered the following tips to help pet owners keep their dogs cool when it heats up outside: Never leave dogs in the car. Never leave a dog unattended in a parked car on a hot day — even if the windows are down. “There is never a safe way to leave your animal in a car in the summer,” Brainard said in a university news release. “Even with the windows down, it still gets much hotter inside a vehicle than outside.” Always provide water and shelter. Dogs can get heat stroke just like people. Never leave a dog outside without access to fresh water or shelter. During very hot or humid weather, dogs should be brought indoors if possible. “Dogs don’t sweat. The only way for them to get rid of heat is evaporation through their tongue,” Brainard said. “The more humidity, the less effective that evaporation will be.” Avoid strenuous activity during peak sunlight hours. Dogs may not be able to run as far or as fast in hot, humid weather — even if they run consistently during the winter. “There are some dogs that will continue to push themselves no matter what they feel. If you throw a ball, they’ll continue to fetch it,” Brainard said. He noted that pet owners may have to set activity limits during the hottest part of the day to keep their dogs safe. Some dogs need more help than others. Hot weather can be more taxing for certain dog breeds, including pugs, bulldogs and other “flat-faced” dogs. Older and obese dogs may also be less tolerant of the heat and need to take breaks and drink water more often. Not all dogs can swim. “If you take your dog out on a boat or to the lake, be sure you know they can swim ahead of time,” Brainard said. Dogs heading out into deep water should wear a doggy lifejacket. Protect dogs against summer pests. Pets should be protected from fleas and ticks with the appropriate preventive treatments. Pet owners should keep in mind that the treatments made for dogs are harmful to cats until they are dry. It’s also important to be aware of snakes, which may be more active in the summer. Don’t forget the sunscreen. Certain dog breeds have sensitive skin that can be irritated by the sun’s UV rays. These pets may benefit from sunscreen that is safe for animals. Sunscreens formulated for people, including products that contain zinc, may be toxic to dogs. Consult a veterinarian. Pet owners who have concerns about their dog’s sun and heat exposure, ticks or fleas should talk to their animal’s vet. The ASPCA website also has a 24-hour poison control hotline and emergency medical guidelines. More information The ASPCA provides more safety tips to help pets stay cool in hot weather.
03 May 2018
THURSDAY, May 3, 2018 (HealthDay News) — French Bulldogs can melt your heart with their wrinkled faces and big ears, but they come with a special set of health problems, a new report warns. The breed is becoming the most popular in the United Kingdom, so researchers at the Royal Veterinary College analyzed data from more than 2,200 French Bulldogs that received care at more than 300 veterinary clinics in 2013. The most common issues during that year were ear infections, diarrhea and conjunctivitis (inflammation of the eye surface). Other troubles included breathing problems (nearly 13 percent of the dogs) and skin conditions, which may be due to their short muzzles and skin folds, respectively. The study was published May 2 in the journal Canine Genetics and Epidemiology. “French Bulldogs are a relatively new arrival to the list of common U.K. breeds, so there is very little current research on them in the U.K.,” said study author Dr. Dan O’Neill, a senior lecturer at the college. “Our study … provides owners with information on the issues that they could expect and should look out for in French Bulldogs,” he added in a journal news release. “It may also help potential new owners to decide if a French Bulldog really is for them,” O’Neill suggested. “There is a worry that increased demand for the French Bulldog is damaging to these dogs’ welfare because of the health risks associated with their extreme physical features,” he explained. O’Neill added that one of the “interesting findings from our research is that male French Bulldogs appear to be less healthy than females. Males were more likely to get eight of the 26 most common health problems, while there were no issues that females were more likely to get than males.” More information The American Kennel Club has more on the French Bulldog.
06 February 2018
TUESDAY, Feb. 6, 2018 (HealthDay News) — Most dogs are excited to hear the words “Want to go for a walk?” But one-third of pug dogs have an abnormal gait, and this may be a more serious health problem for this breed than previously thought, researchers say. The finding was based on survey responses from 550 owners of pugs registered with the Swedish Kennel Club. All dogs were 1, 5 or 8 years old. Through owners’ reports and videos of the dogs walking on a leash, the researchers found that 31 percent of the pugs had a gait abnormality or indications of one. The study authors described this as a high percentage. Abnormalities included lameness, poor coordination and weakness. Indirect signs of gait abnormality included a dog’s inability to jump and unusual wearing of the nails and the skin on their paws. Gait abnormalities were strongly associated with older age, and were also linked with breathing problems and excessive scratching around the neck, ears and head. Pugs with abnormal gait also were more likely to have incontinence, the findings showed. The researchers found no connection between weight and gait abnormalities in the pugs. The report was done by Cecilia Rohdin, of the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences in Uppsala, and Anicura Albano Animal Hospital in Danderyd, Sweden, and colleagues. It was published online Feb. 5 in the journal Vet Record. Noting that an abnormal gait was the most frequent reason cited for having to put a pug to sleep, the study authors said this “suggests gait abnormalities to be a more significant health problem than what previous published scientific literature has suggested.” The researchers noted that abnormal gait can be caused by orthopedic and neurological conditions, but did not try to determine the cause of each dog’s gait issues in the study. However, Rohdin and colleagues said in a journal news release that “the high prevalence of wearing of nails reported in the questionnaires, and the fact that lameness was not a common finding in the submitted videos, suggest that the majority of gait abnormalities in the pugs were indeed related to neurological rather than orthopedic disorders.” More information The American Kennel Club has more on pugs.