Archive for the ‘Healthy Pets’ Category

Household Substances That Can Harm Your Pet

Friday, April 2nd, 2021

From foods, medications, household cleaners and plants.  This article covers it all from Dr. Karen Becker

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Money’s Top Picks for Best Pet Insurance of 2021

Tuesday, March 16th, 2021

Pet insurance helps pay for your pet’s medical care, with many policies covering up to 90 percent of your vet bill — assuming your pet’s procedure wasn’t excluded from coverage or didn’t surpass your annual expense cap.

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Heartworm Preventative – Year Round or Not?

Friday, February 26th, 2021

Paraphrased from Dr. Judy Morgan:

Mosquitoes are the main way that heartworms are transmitted.  There are 3 stages.  The first 2 (L1 and L2 larvae) require temperatures above 80 F (27 C) for a minimum of two weeks to reach L3. That is the infection stage. So. while most veterinarians recommend year-round administration of heartworm preventative, it may only be required seasonally in some areas.

Since there are a lot of variables, Dr. Morgan wrote a blog to “…try and help you decide what kind of heartworm preventative may be recommended for your pet”.

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ACIP shortens recommendation for rabies PrEP to two-dose schedule

Thursday, February 25th, 2021

The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted Wednesday to shorten the recommendation for rabies PrEP to a two-dose vaccine schedule, aligning with international guidance.

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Making sense of genetic disease in dogs and cats

Thursday, October 15th, 2020

From Journal of the American Veternary Medical Association (JAVMA)

Making sense of genetic disease in dogs and cats

Published on October 14, 2020

Understanding genetic disease in mixed-breed and purebred dogs and cats can bring about more effective treatments and better client service, says clinical geneticist and general practitioner Dr. Jerold Bell.

French bulldog

“If we understand the genetic background of our patients, we’re better positioned to prevent, to mitigate, or to alter the expression of genetic disease, allowing our patients to be healthier in their lifetimes as well as to breed healthier dogs and cats,” Dr. Bell said.

An adjunct professor at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, Dr. Bell spoke about genetic diseases during the AVMA Virtual Convention 2020 this August. In addition to his teaching duties, Dr. Bell works as a solo practitioner, and he sees “dogs and cats all day long and sees genetic disease in our patients all day long.”

He explained that common genetic disorders are caused by ancient disease liability genes that preceded breed formation. Since these mutations occurred long before the separation of breeds, these diseases are seen across all breeds and in mixed breeds.

The most common hereditary diseases in dogs are allergies, followed by hip and elbow dysplasia; inherited cancers such as lymphoma, hemangiosarcoma, mast cell tumor, and osteosarcoma; patella luxation; nonstruvite bladder stones; hypothyroidism; mitral valve disease; inflammatory bowel disease; diabetes mellitus; retained testicles; and umbilical hernias.

In cats, the most prevalent genetic diseases are inflammatory cystitis, then feline urological syndrome, diabetes mellitus, lymphoplasmocytic gingivostomatitis, nonstruvite bladder stones, allergies, eosinophilic skin disease, and inflammatory bowel disease.

Disease is not a function of homozygosity, which happens when identical DNA sequences for a particular gene are inherited from both biological parents, nor is it a consequence of inbreeding. Rather, Dr. Bell explained, hereditary diseases are a result of the accumulation and propagation of specific disease liability genes. Breed-related deleterious genes accumulate in various ways, including direct selection for disease-associated phenotypes, linkage to selected traits, carriage by popular sires, genetic drift, and—most importantly—the absence of selection against deleterious phenotypes.

“If we don’t select for healthy parents to produce offspring, then we have no expectation of health in those offspring,” Dr. Bell said. “Not selecting for health is selecting for disease, and we need to understand that and pass that on to our breeder clients.”

On the topic of disease and extreme phenotypes, Dr. Bell said brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome is frequently diagnosed at veterinary clinics on account of the popularity of certain brachycephalic dog breeds, namely Pugs, French Bulldogs, and Bulldogs. Most breed standards do not call for the expression of extreme phenotypes, he said, nor do they select for the most extreme size or the most extreme brachycephalic trait.

“Moderation away from extremes that cause disease should be the guiding principle in breeding,” Dr. Bell noted, and in judging dog shows.

Common genetic diseases seen in mixed-breed dogs and cats occur randomly because of dispersed ancient liability genes, according to Dr. Bell. Uncommon and breed-specific recessive or complexly inherited disease is far less likely to occur in mixed-breed individuals.

Dr. Bell said designer-bred dogs and cats often have inherited diseases common in random-bred populations. They can also inherit disease liability genes shared by the parent breeds or parent species. “So if you’re breeding short-statured breeds together, it wouldn’t be surprising to see patellar luxation, or in smaller toy size breeds, to see mitral valve disease,” he said.

Hereditary disease manifests as a result of anatomical mismatch between parent breeds. “We see a lot of this in dental disease, where we see crowding of teeth and malocclusions and misplaced teeth,” Dr. Bell continued. “Even in the musculoskeletal, if you breed two breeds with different body types together, we may see degenerative joint disease and poor joints. All of these things, all need to be monitored.”

How to Disinfect Your Home Without Harming Your Pet

Tuesday, July 7th, 2020

By Dr. Karen Becker for Mercola

STORY AT-A-GLANCE

  • Since the COVID-19 pandemic, some people are more concerned than ever about keeping their spaces clean, but some may forget to read and heed warning labels on cleaners
  • The Pet Poison Helpline reported a 100% increase in phone traffic from panicked pet owners due to pets inhaling, ingesting or having skin contact with common but poisonous household cleaners
  • Bleach and ammonia are common cleaners that are potentially lethal to pets, but mixing them with other substances can make them even worse
  • Experts say highly reactive chemicals may be effective in killing bacteria and viruses, but that’s also what makes them respond to others, creating new toxic chemicals
  • While large dogs may also be affected, small dogs and cats are much closer to the source of toxins on the floor after cleaning, disinfecting or deodorizing, and may be increasingly harmed over time

Since the first warnings of the dangers of COVID-19 emerged, the U.S. has been inundated with advice from doctors, scientists and government officials regarding how people should behave to avoid contamination.

Besides the handwashing, social distancing and mask wearing that humans have been advised to practice, it only makes sense for pet owners to think about how to protect their pets’ sensitive skin, organs and nasal passages if you’re using harsh cleaners in your home.

But some have forgotten to read and heed the warning labels on cleaning and sanitizing agents, and pets as well as humans have been harmed because of it. Remember, a dog’s sense of smell is thousands of times greater than a human’s, and their chemical sensitivity potentially much greater (they don’t shower regularly to remove the accumulated chemicals).

In fact, since the first reports of what’s been termed a pandemic, Pet Poison Helpline has reported a 100% increase in phone traffic from panicked pet owners due to exposure to common household products that ended up injuring a vulnerable pet, from cats and dogs to birds, reptiles and numerous other exotic species.

Sadly, that can happen more easily than some people may think, especially when it comes to bleach, hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes, observed Bluefield Daily Telegraph, based in West Virginia. According to Ahna Brutlag, DVM, a senior veterinary toxicologist:

“People are very concerned about their families during this COVID-19 crisis. That includes their pets. When we started receiving calls from panicked pet parents regarding possible poisonings related to COVID-19 cleaning fears, we felt we needed to educate the pet loving community on the safest way to do it.”1

Everybody wants their home to be clean, but harsh and even toxic chemicals are being used on a more frequent basis in more households, and accidents do happen. For example, someone with an open jug of bleach on the floor next to their washing machine might not realize how easy it would be to knock over.

Brutlag says if a dog or cat walks through the spilled substance, it could cause skin irritation since it can be absorbed so easily into their paw pads. But if the animal licked its paws while self grooming, the chemical’s contact with their delicate internal organs could lead to stomach irritation, diarrhea, vomiting and worse.

Some Cleaners Are Harsh, but Mixing Them Can Be Deadly

Bleach is potentially toxic on its own, but mixing it with many other cleaners can create noxious fumes. Potentially deadly combinations include bleach with ammonia, which creates chlorine gas; bleach with vinegar, which creates a chlorine gas so toxic it was used in World War I; and bleach with rubbing alcohol, says Vy Dong, professor at the University of California Irvine and head of the Dong Research Group.2

Alexander Lu from Dong Research Group notes that bleach is comprised of “highly reactive chemicals that make it effective at killing bacteria and viruses, but its high reactivity is also what makes it respond to other chemicals, which can result in new toxic chemicals.”3

While both toilet bowl cleaner and bleach are commonly used in the bathroom, they can be a lethal combination due to the fumes created. Use one or the other, and again, make sure you have good ventilation and that your pet isn’t in the room. Dong had this to say about various chemical combinations:

“Molecules are like people with their own personalities and how they behave depends on who they are around … unless you understand the personalities of all the molecules in your bottle, don’t try this at home.”4

They may seem tame in comparison, but even a combination of hydrogen peroxide and vinegar forms a chemical called peracetic acid, which is corrosive enough to break down surfaces, as well as being toxic.

Hand sanitizer can become a hazard because of its high alcohol content, Brutlag says. If an animal should swallow enough of it, symptoms could arise in as little as a half hour, necessitating a call to either the animal’s veterinarian or the Pet Poison Helpline.

Rubbing alcohol, especially concentrated alcohol levels from 70% to 99%, may be good for cleaning, but mixed with bleach it turns into chloroform, which can cause unconsciousness, and chloroacetone, another tear gas. Both are described as “toxic and dangerous.”5


Many Cleaners Are Potentially Dangerous

Steps you can take to avoid problems include placing your dog in his crate (and your cat in a closed room) while using chemical-based cleaning products on your floors, bathrooms or laundry. But some might use such cleaners on the cages themselves. The ASPCA notes that it’s the dilution of bleach in water that’s important:

“Pet parents are often curious about the risks associated with cleaning their pets’ cages and toys with bleach. The bottom line is this: cleaning your pet’s cage or toy with a properly diluted bleach solution, followed by a thorough rinsing and airing out, is not expected to cause harm. If the odor of bleach seems overwhelming, open windows and use fans to air the room.”6

One reason pets are so susceptible to chemical odors is because their systems are more sensitive, so the level of exposure for them is much higher than it is for humans. Even if you have a large dog — and especially if you have a cat or small dog — they’re much closer to the source of the toxins that are on the floor. Breathing them constantly would be not only unpleasant, but increasingly harmful over time.

Other substances many homeowners with pets wouldn’t think twice about using include carpet deodorizers that are shaken or sprayed on and left to sit for a period of time before vacuuming. Pets can easily walk through the room and inhale it or get it on their paws, and ingest it secondarily to grooming.

One way to protect both you and your pets is to make sure you thoroughly wipe down any surface with pure water after using conventional disinfectants. I use a medical-grade colloidal silver product around my house (proven to address aggressive viruses and bacteria) to safely address bacteria and viruses without risk to me or my furry family members.

If you opt for conventional chemical cleaning agents with poison control warnings on the label, make sure you (and your pets) have plenty of ventilation. Further:

“While we’re stuck at home trying to sanitize everything in sight, it might be tempting to get creative with mixing household chemicals to try to get your home as clean as possible. However, mixing household cleaners can be dangerous due to the chemical makeup of the unique cleaners … It’s highly recommended to stick to using one household cleaner at a time per surface to avoid mixing chemicals.”7

Better yet, opt for only natural cleaning products in your home, here’s a link to a Facebook Live I did about effective and non-toxic household cleaning products you can feel good about using around animals.

If you are still using conventional chemical cleaning products and notice changes in your pets, don’t hesitate to call the Pet Poison Helpline8 at 800-213-6680, seven days a week, 24 hours a day, for information regarding potential poisoning of all animal species.

A Pet Owner’s Guide to Flowers and Plants

Thursday, April 23rd, 2020

BROUGHT TO YOU BY KREMP.COM

We love our pets! The family cat or dog is vital part of our family, and we do everything we can to help ensure that they have what they need. Pet owners need to be certain that they provide the correct food and preventative medical care. While pet safety needs to be a big concern around the house, one of the most common dangers for pets are with the plants and flowers that can be redily found in the home.

Most homes have various types of plants and flowers inside the home. These plants and flowers help brighten up a home and provide a decorative flourish. While the addition of plants and flowers in a home are helpful in making the house attractive, it can also be a danger to pets. Knowing which plants are non-toxic and which plants are toxic to your dog or cat is important for the continued good health of your pet.

There are a number of plants that are commonly found around the home that are toxic to animals. Some of the plants that should be kept away from the family pet include Lilies, Tulips and Azaleas. All of these plants could have an impact on the health of pets if ingested. Therefore, it is important that prevention of potential danger is very important.

If you have a home with pets, and you have flowers and plants, it is imperative to keep an eye out for the possibility of the animal being poisoned. Some of the symptoms that you should look out for include diarrhea, vomiting, weakness and not behaving as normal. If you suspect that your pet may have been accidentally poisoned, it is important to contact your vet as soon as possible. The early the treatment for the poison the better chance of getting them back to health.

To learn more about which plants and flowers are toxic and what to do in the event of a poisoning, please review the following information.

  • Poisonous Plants – Informative web page from Cornell University which provides information on which plants are poisonous to animals.
  • Animal Toxins – Listing of items that are considered poisonous to all animals.
  • Plants Toxic to Animals – Helpful database of plants that are toxic to domesticated animals.
  • Toxic Plants for Pets – In this page you will learn about the plants that animals should avoid.
  • List of Poisonous Plants – Useful article which contains a listing of plants that are toxic to cats and dogs.
  • Pet Safe Gardening – Information from the Animal Health Foundation which offers ideas on having a pet safe garden.
  • Pets and Toxic Plants – This article from UC Davis discusses pets and plants that could be toxic to them.
  • ASPCA Information – Information on plants and flowers that are toxic and non-toxic to pets.
  • Keeping Pets Safe – Article from HGTV which offers ideas on how to keep pets safe from plants and flowers around the home.
  • Safe Indoor House Flowers and Plants – Helpful article from Better Homes and Gardens which provides information on plants and flowers that are safe for pets.
  • Signs of Poisoning – Useful information on how to tell if your dog has been poisoned.
  • Top Dog Poisons – This article informs dog owners about the top potentially harmful items that are poisonous to dogs.
  • Antifreeze Poisoning in Cats – Article which provides general information on how to determine if you cat was poisoned.
  • Poisoned Dog – In this helpful article you will find information and steps to treat a poisoned dog.
  • Treating a Poisoned Cat – Article which lists steps that can be taken to treat a cat suspected of being poisoned.
  • Poison Prevention Tips (PDF) – Publication which lists the top tips on how to keep your pet from being poisoned.
  • Pet Poison Prevention Tips – Information for pet owners on ways to prevent pet poisoning from occurring.
  • Poison Prevention Tips for Pets – Informative information on how to avoid pets being poisoned around the home.
  • Poison Prevention Publication (PDF) – Helpful brochure which provides pet owners with preventative measures to keep poisons away from pets.
  • Poison Control and Prevention – Information on how to keep pets safe from potential poisons.
  • Pets and Poisons – In this article from the American Humane Association you will find information on pet poisoning.
  • Pet First Aid – Red Cross information and class material on learning the basics of pet first aid.
  • Basic Pet First Aid – Useful information for pet owners which provides a basic understanding of first aid.
  • Pesticide Poisoning in Pets – Article which offers information on what to do if your pet is poisoned by pesticides.
  • Poison Information and Resources – Resourceful page with information about pet poisoning.
  • Pets and Poison – Web page which informs pet owners about the dangers around the home for pets.
  • Poison Safety for Pet Owners (PDF) – General information about poison safety from the University of Virginia.
  • Preventing Pet Poisoning – Information about pet poisoning prevention with outdoor pesticides.
  • Pet Poisoning Information – Helpful information about the basics of pet poisoning.
  • Plants and Household Products – Informative fact sheets with information about normal plants and products around the house that can be poisonous to pets.

The Benefits of Coconut Oil for Your Pet

Friday, February 28th, 2020

Pancreatitis in Dogs

Tuesday, February 18th, 2020
Date Published: 01/02/2006
Date Reviewed/Revised: 05/07/2019

The Normal Pancreas and What it Does

We eat food, chew it up into a slurry, and swallow it. It travels down the esophagus to the stomach where it is ground up further and enzymes are added to begin the break-down of dietary nutrients (digestion). When the food particles are small enough, they are propelled into the small intestine for further digestive treatment and ultimately nutrient absorption. The upper part of the small intestine (the duodenum) is for further digestion/break down of nutrients while the lower parts of the small intestine are for absorption of the digested nutrients.

Normal Pancreas

Graphic by MarVistaVet

The pancreas is a pale pink glandular organ that nestles cozily just under the stomach and along the duodenum. As a glandular organ, the pancreas is all about secretion and it has two main jobs: the first job is to secrete digestive enzymes to help us break down the nutrients we eat, the second job is to secrete insulin and glucagon (to regulate how we use the nutrients we eat). It’s the first job (the digestive enzyme part) that concerns us in pancreatitis.

Canine Pancreas

Graphic by VIN

Pancreatitis is Inflammation of the Pancreas

In pancreatitis, inflammation disrupts the normal integrity of the pancreas. Digestive enzymes are normally stored safely as inactive forms within pancreatic granules so that they are harmless. In pancreatitis they are prematurely activated and released internally, digesting the body itself. The result can be a metabolic catastrophe. The living tissue becomes further inflamed and the tissue damage quickly involves the adjacent liver. Toxins released from this rampage of tissue destruction are liberated into the circulation and can cause a body-wide inflammatory response.  If the pancreas is affected so as to disrupt its ability to produce insulin, diabetes mellitus can result; this can be either temporary or permanent.

Specific Pancreatitis Disasters

  • A syndrome called Weber-Christian syndrome results, in which fats throughout the body are destroyed with painful and disastrous results.
  • Pancreatitis is one of the chief risk factors for the development of what is called disseminated intravascular coagulation or DIC, which is basically a massive uncoupling of normal blood clotting and clot dissolving mechanisms. This leads to abnormal simultaneous bleeding and clotting of blood throughout the body.
  • Pancreatic encephalopathy (brain damage) can occur if the fats protecting the central nervous system become digested.
    Inflammed Pancreas

    A swollen, inflamed pancreas with areas of hemorrhage. Graphic by MarVistaVet

The good news is that most commonly the inflammation is confined to the area of the liver and pancreas, but even with this limitation pancreatitis can be painful and life-threatening.

Pancreatitis can be acute or chronic, mild or severe.

What Causes Pancreatitis

In most cases we never find out what causes it, but we do know some events that can cause pancreatitis.

  • Backwash (reflux) of duodenal contents into the pancreatic duct. The pancreas has numerous safety mechanisms to prevent self-digestion. One mechanism is storing the enzymes it creates in an inactive form. They are harmless until they are mixed with activating enzymes. The strongest activating enzymes are made by duodenal cells which means that the digestive enzymes do not actually activate until they are out of the pancreas and mixing with food in the duodenum. If duodenal fluids backwash up the pancreatic duct and into the pancreas, enzymes are prematurely activated and pancreatitis resuls. This is apparently the most common pancreatitis mechanism in humans, though it is not very common in veterinary patients.
  • Concurrent hormonal imbalance predisposes a dog to pancreatitis. Such conditions include: Diabetes mellitus, hypothyroidism, and hypercalcemia. The first two conditions are associated with altered fat metabolism, which predisposes to pancreatitis, and the latter condition involves elevated blood calcium that activates stored digestive enzymes.
  • Use of certain drugs can predispose to pancreatitis (sulfa-containing antibiotics such as trimethoprim sulfa, chemotherapy agents such as azathioprine or L-asparaginase, and the anti-seizure medication potassium bromide). Exposure to organophosphate insecticides has also been implicated as a cause of pancreatitis. Exposure to steroid hormones have traditionally been thought to be involved as a potential cause of pancreatitis but this appears not to be true.
  • Trauma to the pancreas that occurs from a car accident or even surgical manipulation can cause inflammation and thus pancreatitis.
  • A tumor in the pancreas can lead to inflammation in the adjacent pancreatic tissue.
  • A sudden high fat meal is the classic cause of canine pancreatitis. The sudden stimulation to release enzymes to digest fat seems to be involved.
  • Obesity has been found to be a risk factor because of the altered fat metabolism that goes along with it.
  • Miniature Schnauzers are predisposed to pancreatitis as they commonly have altered fat metabolism.

Signs of Pancreatitis

The classical signs in dogs are appetite loss, vomiting, diarrhea, painful abdomen, and fever or any combination thereof.

Making the Diagnosis

Lipase and Amylase Levels (no longer considered reliable)

A reliable blood test has been lacking for this disease until recently. Traditionally, blood levels of amylase and lipase (two pancreatic digestive enzymes) have been used. When their levels are especially high, it’s reasonable sign that these enzymes have leaked out of the pancreas, and the patient has pancreatitis, but these tests are not as sensitive or specific as we would prefer. Amylase and lipase can elevate dramatically with corticosteroid use, with intestinal perforation, kidney disease, or even dehydration. Some experts advocate measuring lipase and amylase on fluid from the belly rather than on blood but this has not been fully investigated and is somewhat invasive.

Pancreatic Lipase Immunoreactivity

A newer test called the PLI, or pancreatic lipase immunoreactivity, test has come to be important. As mentioned, lipase is one of the pancreatic digestive enzymes and only small traces are normally in the circulation. These levels jump dramatically in pancreatitis, which allows for the diagnosis to be confirmed with a non-invasive and relatively inexpensive test. The PLI test is different from the regular lipase level because the PLI test measures only lipase of pancreatic origin and thus is more specific. The problem is that technology needed to run this test is unique and the test can only been run in certain facilities on certain days. Results are not necessarily available rapidly enough to help a sick patient.

The PLI, or pancreatic lipase immunoreactivity, test has come to be important. Photo courtesy of National Institutes of Mental Health, Department of Health and Human Services

Spec CPL and DGGR Lipase Assay

More recently a new test called the SPEC cPL (specific canine pancreatic lipase) test has become available. This test is a newer generation immunological test for canine pancreatic lipase and can be run overnight by a reference lab. This test is able to detect 83 percent of pancreatitis cases (the test is 83 percent sensitive) and excludes other possible diseases in 98 percent of cases (i.e. the test is 98 percent specific for pancreatitis). The CPL test has been adapted into an in-house test kit and can be run in approximately 30 minutes. Some kits provide a numeric value while others are simply positive or negative depending on whether the CPL level surpasses the normal level. These kits have made diagnosis of pancreatitis much more rapid and convenient.

A similar lipase assay called the DGGR Lipase Assay (Precision PSL® test). This test can be run at a reference laboratory with results obtained usually overnight; there is no in-hospital test kit.

The diagnosis of pancreatitis is not made solely on the basis of a lab test. These tests are not used to screen patients that are not sick; the entire clinical picture of a given patient is considered in making this or any other diagnosis.

Imaging

Dr. Jon Perlis of DVMSound performs an ultrasound exam on a dog. Photo by MarVistaVet

Radiographs can show a widening of the angle of the duodenum against the stomach, which indicates a swelling of the pancreas. Most veterinary hospitals have the ability to take radiographs but this type of imaging is not very sensitive in detecting pancreatitis and only is able to find 24 percent of cases.

Ultrasound, on the other hand, detects 68 percent of cases and provides the opportunity to image other organs and even easily collect fluid from the belly. Since pancreatitis can be accompanied by a tumor near the pancreas, ultrasound provides the opportunity to catch such complicating factors.

In some cases, surgical exploration is the only way to make the correct diagnosis.

Treatment

The most important feature of treatment is aggressively rehydrating the patient with intravenous fluids as this restores the circulation to the pancreas and supports the natural healing mechanisms of the body.  This means that the best route to recovery involves hospitalization. Fluids are continued until the patient is able to reliably drink and hold down adequate fluid intake, a process that commonly takes the better part of a week. Pain and nausea medication are needed to keep the patient comfortable, restore interest in food, and prevent further dehydration.

Plasma transfusion is somewhat controversial in treating pancreatitis. On one hand, plasma replenishes some of the natural blood proteins that are consumed by circulating digestive enzymes and would seem to make sense. In humans with pancreatitis, however, no benefit has been shown with plasma transfusion. Whether or not the protection afforded by plasma is real or theoretical is still being worked out. Higher mortality has been associated with patients receiving plasma but this may be because they were sicker than patients who did not receive plasma to begin with.

Drawing by Dr. Wendy Brooks

In the past, nutritional support was delayed in pancreatitis patients as it was felt that stimulating the pancreas to secrete enzymes would encourage the on-going inflammation, but this theory has been re-thought. Currently, earlier return to feeding has been found to be beneficial to the GI tract’s ability to resume function. If nausea control through medication does not give the patient a reasonable appetite, assisted-feeding is started using a fat-restricted diet. Return of food interest and resolution of vomiting/diarrhea generally means the patient is ready for return to the home setting. Low-fat diets are crucial to managing pancreatitis and their use should be continued for several weeks before attempting return to regular dog food. Some dogs can never return to regular dog food and require prescription low fat foods indefinitely.

How Much Fat is Okay?

There are several ultra-low fat diets made for pancreatitis patients and your veterinarian will likely be sending your dog home with one of them. Remember that pancreatitis is a diet-sensitive disease so it is important not to feed unsanctioned foods or you risk a recurrence. If your dog will not eat one of the commercial therapeutic diets, you will either need to home cook or find another diet that is appropriately low in fat (less than 7 percent fat on a dry matter basis). In order to determine the fat content of a pet food, some calculation is needed to take into consideration how much moisture is in the food.

The Guaranteed Analysis on the bag or can of food will have two values that we are interested in: the % moisture and the % crude fat. To determine the % fat in the food, you must first determine the % dry matter of the food. This is done by subtracting the moisture content from 100. For example, if the moisture content is 15%, the dry matter is 85%. If the moisture content is 75%, the dry matter is 25% and so on.

Next, take the % crude fat from the label and divide the % crude fat by the % dry matter. For example, if the moisture content is 76%, this means the dry matter is 24%. If the crude fat content is 4%, the true fat content is 4 divided by 24 which =0.16 (16%). Such a food would be way too high in fat for a dog with pancreatitis. You want the number to be 0.07 (7%) or less. Simply reading the fat content off the label does not take into account the moisture content of the food and will not tell you what you need to know. If this is too much math, the staff at your vet’s hospital can help you out.

When in doubt, canned chicken, fat-free cottage cheese and/or boiled white rice will work in a pinch.

Beware of Diabetes Mellitus

When the inflammation subsides in the pancreas, some scarring is inevitable. When 80% of the pancreas is damaged to an extent that insulin cannot be produced, diabetes mellitus results. This may or may not be permanent depending on the capacity for the pancreas’ tissue to recover.

Record your pet’s life in a diary

Monday, February 17th, 2020

Pet Connection by Dr. Marty Becker, Kim Campbell Thornton and Mikkel Becker

A Life in Words

Pet Connection
By Kim Campbell Thornton

Andrews McMeel Syndication

When you find a diary, are you tempted to read it? Do you keep a diary yourself, under lock and key? Diaries feature in some of the world’s most famous literature, social history, fiction and children’s books: Anne Frank’s “The Diary of a Young Girl.” The diary of Samuel Pepys. “Bridget Jones’s Diary.” “Harriet the Spy.” “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.”

Diaries bring history to life, store secrets, record lives. They can make for fascinating reading. But they can also make for fascinating writing, especially if they focus on your best friend: your dog, cat, bird or other pet. It’s not just in Nancy Drew mysteries that a diary is filled with clues.

Susannah Charleson is a K-9 search and rescue handler and author of “Where the Lost Dogs Go: A Story of Love, Search, and the Power of Reunion.” She spoke last month at the K-9 Sport Scent Work Conference in Palm Springs, California. While her topic was the importance of logs for search and rescue handlers, she also touched on how keeping a log can make a difference in the health, confidence and success of any dog-human team — including the partnership between people and their companion dogs. And there’s no reason to leave out cats, birds, rabbits, horses or other pets. Anyone can benefit from tracing the story of their relationship with an animal.

“I think for pet owners it’s invaluable,” she says. “If you’re doing any kind of training, even just to be a good companion animal, it’s all coming fast — the dog is new, the training is new, how the dog views the world versus how we view the world is completely different.”

When you keep a diary and document the changes you see in your pet and yourself, you are capturing the journey of your developing friendship, as well as making observations that can help you solve behavior problems and identify health issues before they become serious.

Bringing a record to your veterinarian or behaviorist of when a behavior began and how frequently it occurs can be the first step in solving a problem.

Some owners track daily blood sugar curves and insulin doses for diabetic pets, delivery of medication, occurrence of seizures, and pets’ eating habits or weight.

People who participate in dog sports log trials and practice sessions to track their progress.

“Log entries allow you to start seeing a pattern and learning about your dog,” Charleson says. “They assist in self-evaluation. You’ve got all these beautiful signals that can tell you where your strengths and weaknesses are and find areas where you can improve, where your dog can improve and where you can improve together.”

Keeping track of a pet’s life can be done with a paper journal, on computer apps or social media, or on a calendar. I have a pile of calendars that I can’t bear to throw away because they record so many of the events of my dogs’ lives. Supplement diaries with photos and videos.

At the end of a pet’s life, a diary is a way to look back at the journey you and your pet have shared. The memories can help to heal grief and establish a foundation for the next partnership.

“When a career or life ends, logs trace the journey that you and a dog have shared,” Charleson says. “Logs tell a story. They trace the arc of our understanding and our ability as separate entities and together. They’re a history of the earliest days that we might forget. Write it all down. You’ll have a wealth of information to learn from, and at the end of a life, those words may save you.”

Q&A

Do kittens need

socialization?

Q: Do kittens have the same type of socialization period as puppies?

A: They do, but it starts even earlier and doesn’t last as long. My colleague Nicholas Dodman, a veterinary behaviorist and emeritus professor at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, says the social period in kittens is between weeks 2 and 7.

During those early weeks, kittens soak up knowledge of everything around them, that clever kitty brain making new neural connections daily to generate learning and behavior. Kittens who see, hear, smell and experience many different people, animals, sights and sounds during this sensitive period grow up to be sociable, smart and curious.

Young kittens need to have many different positive experiences with children, friendly dogs and cats, people of all ages and appearances, common household sounds such as vacuum cleaners and blenders, car rides, being transported comfortably and safely in a carrier, and visiting the veterinarian. In an ideal world, they haven’t had any bad experiences with those things, and they don’t have preconceived ideas about what to expect from such experiences.

Limiting fear during this impressionable time is also important to a kitten’s development. A normal amount of fear is valuable because it helps kittens to avoid things that might hurt them, but protecting them from aversive experiences can help them to have more fulfilling lives as adult cats because they are more calm in the face of new experiences.

When young kittens encounter these things in a positive way during the socialization period, their brains store the good memories and help the kittens develop resiliency if they later have negative experiences with, say, dogs or scary noises. The neural connections their brains make during this period is how they become well-rounded, adaptable cats.

You can learn more about feline development at FearFreeHappyHomes.com. — Dr. Marty Becker

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