The wonder, promise and growing popularity of diabetes-detecting dogs were highlighted in a Wall Street Journal story this week that featured Abbie (that’s her on the left) and Gracie (the purposeful looking retriever on the right).
Abbie, diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 4, is 8-years-old now, and Gracie serves to alert her family when Abbie’s blood sugar levels rise to dangerous levels.
Gracie wakes up Abbie’s mother, Shana Eppler, about twice a night, when the 3-year-old British Labrador retriever rings a bell — a sign that Abbie’s levels have gotten too high.
Hypoglycemic-alert dogs, experts say, can outperform medical devices, such as glucose meters and continuous glucose monitors. In cases of low blood sugar, their performance is even more impressive, and more mysterious. They react to a scent researchers haven’t yet identified.
“Whatever is being secreted in that drop in blood sugar…we just don’t know what it is,” Dana Hardin, a pediatric endocrinologist who works for Eli Lilly & Co. in Indianapolis, told the Journal. Hardin is working to identify what the dogs are smelling in hopes it will facilitate training more dogs, and possibly lead to a detection device that performs as impressively as they do.
Dr. Hardin, who presented the first scientific research on the dogs at this year’s annual American Diabetes Association conference in Philadelphia, said she considers the dogs lifesavers.
But they are expensive ones. A fully trained diabetic-alert dog can cost $20,000 or more. While nonprofit training centers offer dogs free or at a nominal fee, their waiting lists are long. Interest in diabetic-alert dogs is rising, said Ed Peebles, president of the Las Vegas-based National Institute for Diabetic Alert Dogs. He gets about 20 applications for a dog every day.
Those families who get one — even if skeptical at first — are amazed by the results.
“I wasn’t about to trust my son’s life to something that is voodoo,” said Andrea Calamoneri, whose 15-year-old son Dylan has Type 1 diabetes. But seeing her son’s dog, Celeste, in action convinced her. “It gives you chills when you see it happen,” she said.
Abbie’s dog Gracie is always on duty, said Ms. Eppler, of Colorado Springs.
When Abbie’s blood sugar levels get too high, Gracie waves a raised paw. When they get too low, Gracie waves and then bows. “Rarely will Gracie let Abbie get below 90,” Ms. Eppler said.
“We joke that they are angels with fur.”
(Photo: Abbie and Gracie; by KC Owens / Wall Street Journal)
Posted by jwoestendiek December 12th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abbie, alert, angels with fur, animals, assistance dogs, blood sugar, dangerous, detecting, diabetes, diabetic alert dogs, diabetics, dogs, gracie, hypoglycemic, labrador, levels, pets, retriever, rising, service dogs, sinking, type 1, type 2
The foundation would help people with diabetes buy trained dogs that can alert them when their blood-sugar levels rise too high.
She sees the Ron and Vick Santo Diabetes-Alert Dog Foundation as a way to continue Santo’s legacy, she said last week, on the second anniversary of his death.
Before Ron Santo’s death, Vicki Santo says she’d never heard of such dogs, but she says they saw evidence of that power in their own pet, Joker, near the end of the Hall of Famer’s life.
“I was in the basement, and Joker came and got me,” she told the Daily Herald. She followed him to the bedroom and found Ron unable to get off the bed because his blood sugar was so low.
While dogs can be trained to detect changes in blood sugar and alert their owner – often faster than a glucometer can — Joker had not been.
Still, Vicki Santo thinks he must have had some abilities.
Children with diabetes, especially, could benefit from alert dogs. Sometimes they are hesitant to participate in sports and other activities because they worry about how their blood-sugar levels might change, she said.
While Ron Santo was dedicated to helping researchers find a cure, Vicki Santo thinks that helping others cope with diabetes through the foundation’s work would make him happy.
“He loved dogs,” she said. “I think he would have been so proud to share the knowledge of what these dogs can do.”
Posted by jwoestendiek December 10th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: alert, alert dogs, animals, assistance, chicago cubs, diabetes, diabetic alert dogs, diabetics, dogs, foundation, health, pets, ron santo, service, vicki santo
Fourteen people in nine states have been sickened with Salmonella infections linked to a recalled dog food.
At least five have been hospitalized, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC reported Thursday that multiple brands of Diamond Pet Foods dry dog food are the suspected source of the human illnesses, a result of contact with the contaminated food or handling an animal that has eaten it.
The dog food was all produced at a manufacturing plant in Gaston, South Carolina – the same one that produced mold-contaminated food that killed dozens of dogs nationwide in 2005.
In some recall notices, Diamond Pet Foods has claimed that no dog illnesses have been reported in connection with its three recent voluntary recalls. Those alerts from the company did not reveal that human cases of infection were being investigated, according to Food Safety News.
According to the CDC, state officials in Michigan first detected Salmonella in an unopened bag of Diamond Pet Foods Naturals Lamb Meal & Rice dry dog food on April 2.
PulseNet, a national surveillance system for foodborne illnesses, then found several cases of human Salmonella Infantis infections with a genetic fingerprint identical to that found in the dog food, the CDC said.
Salmonella has also been detected in Diamond Brand Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover’s Soul Adult Light Formula dry dog food, found in the household of an ill person in Ohio.
And a sample of Diamond Puppy Formula dry dog food collected by the Food and Drug Administration during an inspection at the South Carolina production plant also yielded Salmonella, the CDC said.
Seven of ten outbreak victims interviewed said they had contact with a dog during the week before they became ill. Of five people who could remember the type of dog food they had handled, four said it was a Diamond Pet Foods brand.
The human illness has been reported in Missouri and North Carolina, each with three cases; Ohio, with two cases, and one each in Alabama, Connecticut, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
Diamond Pet Foods recalled batches of its Naturals Lamb Meal & Rice dry dog food on April 6 in what it said was a “precautionary measure… No illnesses have been reported and no other Diamond manufactured products are affected,” the company said.
According to Food Safety News, the announcement came four days after the Michigan test results, confirming the presence of Salmonella in one of Diamond’s brands.
A second recall was announced April 26 for certain batches of Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover’s Soul Adult Light formula dry dog food, also made by Diamond. After that, a company press release stated “no dog illnesses” had been reported.
On April 30, the company expanded the recall to include Diamond Puppy Formula dry dog food.
According to the CDC, dogs and cats infected with Salmonella usually have diarrhea and may seem lethargic, but yhey can carry the infection and not appear to be sick. Humans can become infected by touching the animals, their food, or their environments such as food bowls, especially if they have not thoroughly washed their hands afterwards.
The CDC said consumers should check their homes for recalled dog food products and discard them promptly. Consumers with questions about recalled dog food may contact Diamond Pet Foods at telephone number 800-442-0402 or visit www.diamondpetrecall.com.
Posted by jwoestendiek May 4th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adult light formula, alabama, alert, animals, cases, cdc, centers for disease control and prevention, chicken soup, chicken soup for the pet lovers soul, connecticut, consumer, consumers, contaminated, diamond, dog food, dog food recall, dogs, dry, hands, health, humans, infected, infection, inspections, kibble, michigan, missouri, natural lamb meal and rice, new jersey, ohio, pennsylvania, pets, puppy formula, recall, safety, salmonella, salmonella infantis, sick, sickened, south carolina, tainted, tests, urgent, virginia, warning, wash
How hard Hurricane Irene might hit North Carolina and the northeast is impossible to predict at this stage, but, given its whopping size, animal welfare organizations are recommending preparing yourself and your pet for the worst.
If you haven’t put together an emergency kit for your pet, now would be a good time.
Here’s what the Humane Society of the United States recommends you include in it:
- Food and water for at least five days for each pet, bowls and a manual can opener if you are packing canned pet food.
- Medications and medical records stored in a waterproof container and a first aid kit. A pet first aid book is also good to include.
- Cat litter box, litter, garbage bags to collect all pets’ waste, and litter scoop.
- Sturdy leashes, harnesses, and carriers to transport pets safely and to ensure that your pets can’t escape. Carriers should be large enough for the animal to stand comfortably, turn around and lie down. Your pet may have to stay in the carrier for hours at a time while you are away from home. Be sure to have a secure cage with no loose objects inside it to accommodate smaller pets. These may require blankets or towels for bedding and warmth, and other special items. Newspapers, paper towels, plastic trash bags are a good idea.
- Current photos and descriptions of your pets to help others identify them in case you and your pets become separated and to prove that they are yours.
- Pet beds and toys, if you can easily take them, to reduce stress.
- Information about your pets’ feeding schedules, medical conditions, behavior problems, and the name and number of your veterinarian in case you have to board your pets or place them in foster care.
You can find more information from the HSUS here.
PETA’s website also offers some valuable information on protecting your pet in a disaster. PETA’s home office in Norfolk, Va., is in one of the areas potentially in the hurricane’s path. Cats who live at the organizations headquarters have been evacuated, and all PETA vans have been moved to high ground and stocked with food and water to help animals in crisis during and after the deluge. Extra staff and volunteers are on call.
As for what steps you can take at home, PETA has a list of emergency precautions that can be found here.
Petfinder.com is reminding pet owners to make sure all cats and dogs are wearing securely fastened collars with up-to-date identification.
If you are forced to evacuate, check beforehand to see which community shelters accept pets, or make other arrangements.
A Hurricane Irene Animal Rescue Resources page — allowing people who need help with their pets to hook up with people willing to provide it — has also been posted on Facebook. It can be found here.
Posted by jwoestendiek August 26th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: alert, animals, disaster, dogs, emergency, emergency kit, facebook, hsus, hurricane, hurricane irene, irene, kit, pet emergency kit, peta, petfinder, pets, rescue, resources, tips
Way to go, city.
The Baltimore City Health Department, in addition to urging humans to take precautions, passed along the following tips from the office of Animal Control:
Provide shade. Ensure that your pet has protection from the heat and sun – a dog house does not provide relief from heat. Bring your pet inside during the hottest part for the day (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.).
Provide fresh water. Animals do not sweat like humans. They need fresh, clean water to keep their temperatures low. Replenish their water dish with cool water often throughout the day if the animal must be kept outside.
Limit exercise, especially during the hottest hours of the day. Exercise your pet in the early morning or in the evening. When possible, walk your dog on the grass. Asphalt gets very hot and can burn your pet’s paws.
Never leave your pet in a parked car. On an 85 degree day, the temperature inside a vehicle with the windows slightly open can reach 102 degrees Fahrenheit within 10 minutes. Overheating can result in irreversible organ damage or even death.
Know the signs of heat exhaustion in pets: drooling, excessive panting and lethargic behavior. Seek veterinary care immediately if your pets are exhibiting any of these symptoms.
“Our pets rely on us for their health and well-being. This includes protecting them from the heat, especially during Code Red Heat Alerts,” said Commissioner of Health Dr. Oxiris Barbot.
The health department urges residents to call 311 to report cases of neglect, or to call 911 if they see animals or small children alone in a parked car.
I’m not sure who’s behind the advisory, but it’s great to see animal control doing something that’s proactive (and doesn’t involve writing tickets for well-monitored off-leash dogs.)
More information on the city’s heat alert plan can be found here.
Posted by jwoestendiek July 20th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 311, 911, advisory, alert, animal control, asphalt, baltimore, cats, city, dogs, health department, heat, heat-related deaths, hydrate, oxiris barbot, parked car, pets, shade, summer, temperatures, tips, urgent, warning, water
Jones Natural Chews Co of Rockford, Illinois, is recalling 2,705 boxes of pig ears after random tests found some of the product contaminated with Salmonella, the Food and Drug Administration reports.
The recall was the result of a routine sampling program by Washington State Department of Agriculture which revealed that the finished products contained the bacteria.
No illnesses have been reported.
The pig ears in question — also sold under the Blain’s Farm and Fleet and Country Butcher brands — were distributed in Connecticut, Iowa, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maine, Missouri, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Washington and Wisconsin. They were shipped to distributors and retailers between September 15, 2010 and November 2, 2010
Consumers who have purchased any of these pig ears are urged to return them to the place of purchase for a full refund. Consumers with questions may contact the company at 1-877-481-2663
Salmonella can affect animals and there is risk to humans from handling contaminated pet products. People handling dry pet food and/or 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.
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. If your pet consumed the recalled product and has these symptoms, please contact your veterinarian.
To see a full list of the recalled lots, keep reading. Read more »
Posted by jwoestendiek March 9th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: alert, animals, blains farm, brands, chews, dog food, ears, fda, fleet and country butcher, food, food and drug administration, health, illinois, jones, jones natural chews, jones natural chews co, list, lots, pets, pig ears, recall, recalled, rockford, safety, salmonella, treats, warning
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration detected the presence of salmonella organisms in one or more 8-ounce bags of Hartz Naturals Real Beef Treats during random testing.
The company, based in Secaucus, New Jersey, has not received any reports of animals or people becoming ill as a result of contact with the treats, and is investigating the source of the contamination.
The affected treats are stamped with the lot code BZ0969101E, according to the FDA.
Dog owners who have purchased the recalled treats should immediately throw them away, and the FDA advises dog owners whose pets are exhibiting fever, diarrhea, abdominal pain and nausea to seek veterinary assistance.
Consumers with questions regarding the recall should contact Hartz at 1-800-275-1414. You can read the company’s press release about the recall here.
Posted by jwoestendiek September 7th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: alert, animals, consumer, dog, dog treats, dogs, fda, hartz, hartz naturals, health, lot code, naturals, news, pets, press release, random, recall, recalled, safety, salmonella, symptoms, testing, treats, u.s. food and drug administration, voluntary, warning
The treats come in 10-ounce packages and were shipped to distributors and retailers throughout the United States, according to Merrick.
While the expanded recall is based on salmonella concerns, no illnesses related to the product have been reported.
Merrick issued limited recalls of its Beef Filet Squares and Texas Hold’ems treats in July and August after samples turned up positive for salmonella.
Pets with salmonella infections may be lethargic and have diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever and vomiting. Some pets may have decreased appetite, fever and abdominal pain. Infected but otherwise healthy pets can be carriers and infect other animals or humans, according to the company.
Dog owners are urged to contact their veterinarian if their pet has consumed the recalled product and is exhibiting symptoms.
Consumers who have purchased 10-ounce packages of Beef Filet Squares for Dogs and 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 800-664-7387, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. CDT.
Posted by jwoestendiek August 17th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: alert, amarillo, animals, beef filet squares, consumer, dog, dog treats, dogs, expanded, health, lots, merrick, merrick pet care, news, packages, pets, recall, recalled, recalls, safety, salmonella, texas hold'em, treats, warning
Amid an increasing number of reports of deaths and seizures, the Environmental Protection Agency is requiring beefed up labeling for flea and tick products used on dogs and cats.
The EPA wants companies to make instructions on the products’ labels more clear so people don’t give their pets too much of the pesticides, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The announcement affects most flea and tick products that are applied directly to a pets’ skin.
The products include those made by Merck & Co., Bayer AG and Pfizer Inc. under the names Frontline Top Spot for Dogs, Promeris Canine Flea Control and Enforcer Flea Drops for Cats.
The EPA said the number of reports of pets suffering from these products continues to rise. In 2008, the EPA received 44,000 reports of adverse events from these products, a 53% increase from the year before.
Steve Owens, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances, said the labels are to blame, not consumers. “I don’t know how you would blame the victim in this case when the label isn’t clear,” he said.
Owens said in some instances, people don’t realize they need to regulate the dose based on their pet’s weight. He said the EPA will require more precise dosing on the product labels.
Companies that don’t voluntarily update the labels will be forced to, Owens said.
Posted by jwoestendiek March 19th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: alert, animals, bayer AG, cats, consumer, control, deaths, dogs, enforcer, environmental protection agency, epa, flea, fleast, frontline, labels, merck & co., merial, news, overdoses, pesticides, pets, pfizer Inc., products, promeris, seizures, tick, ticks, topical, treatment, warning
The Humane Society of the United States has announced the Valor Dog of the Year” – Kenai, a Bernese mountain dog mix from Erie, Colo.,who awakened her owner to alert him to a carbon monoxide leak in the vacation home where he, six other adults, two children, and three dogs were sleeping.
The awards celebrate the human-animal bond by honoring dogs who have exhibited an extraordinary sense of courage or resolve by heroically helping a person in need.
“Dogs are our friends, but they can also be our saviors,” said HSUS president and CEO Wayne Pacelle, “and the list of 100 nominees provides plenty of support for that proposition.”
The Valor Dog of the Year was chosen by a panel of celebrities including: film and television actor Kristin Bell, from the TV show “Heroes;” Sally Pressman, whose character on Lifetime’s “Army Wives” adopted a stray dog who saved a soldier’s life in Iraq; and Jay Kopelman, a retired Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel who brought a puppy back from Iraq and wrote “From Bagdad With Love” recalling the experience.
First runner up and winner of the “People’s Hero” award, chosen by online voting, went to Calamity Jane, a golden retriever mix from Aledo, Texas who scared away intruders by barking and growling outside a home where a family and their guests had been held at gunpoint for nearly an hour.
Benson, a golden retriever from Binghamton, N.Y. was named Second Runner Up for barking and alerting his owners to a fire across the street, giving them time to run to their neighbor’s and awaken the family before the house was consumed by flames.
The winners will receive prizes from Bella Tocca Tags, Custom Glass Etching, and The HSUS’ online store, Humane Domain.
To read the complete stories of this year’s Dogs of Valor, visit: humanesociety.org/dogsofvalor.
Posted by jwoestendiek March 16th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: alert, alerted, animals, awards, benson, bravery, calamity jane, carbon monoxide, courage, dog, dogs, hero, heroic, hsus, humane society of the united states, kenai, leak, news, pets, valor dog, wayne pacelle, winners