Call it an “aha” moment for the AHA: The American Heart Association has finally, officially, recognized that dogs are good for the ticker.
Last week, the organization issued a statement saying enough evidence now exists to make that assertion, and it didn’t even recommend dogs be taken in moderation, or consulting your doctor first.
Heartening as the news release was, the statement was overdue, or at least a few beats behind the thinking of those of us who already knew, and didn’t need studies to tell us, that our dogs are good for the heart, by which I mean the organ and more.
Dog owners are more likely to get exercise. Stroking a dog lowers blood pressure. Stress is handled better by dog owners — even when their dog isn’t with them. Studies have proven all those things.
But the mysteries of what dogs do for the heart, and the soul, have only begun to be unraveled. And on top of all the benefits to humans that can be scientifically confirmed and quantified, there’s much more dogs do for us — much of it undetectable by microscopes and double-blind studies, and part of me hopes it always will be.
Being humans, we can sometimes get so wrapped in measuring something that it interferes with treasuring that something. We can get so intent on delving into something’s complexities that we fail to savor its simplicity.
Dogs, could they speak, would tell us that, and they’d likely advise to look for the simple answer first.
How important, heart-wise, is the simple fact that a dog can give us reason to live, and love? While I am not a medical professional, or even a medical amateur, I think a heart that’s engaged and occupied is more likely to keep running smoothly than one sitting empty in the garage, getting dusty.
“Perhaps when one owns a pet one tends to be happier,” said Dr. Glenn Levine of Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, who led the committee that wrote the statement. “Pet owners might be more likely to take their medications and eat healthier meals.”
Pharmaceuticals and spinach, important as they may be, don’t make you happy to be alive, though, and want to continue in that state.
The AHA isn’t saying everyone should go out and adopt a dog to lower their risk of heart disease. The statement emphasizes there’s much more involved in keeping your heart healthy, according to an NBC Today report.
“We did not want people to see this article and just go out and adopt or rescue or buy a dog …while they continue to just sit on the couch and smoke cigarettes,” said Levine, himself a dog owner.
In one study cited by the committee, researchers signed up 30 people with borderline high blood pressure who were about to adopt dogs from a shelter.
Then they persuaded half of them to wait — in the best interest of the study, if not the dogs.
Those allowed to adopt dogs right away had lower blood pressure two and five months later than those who had not adopted.
And once all the study participants had adopted dogs, systolic blood pressure was found to be lowered in the deferred-adoption group as well.
The study didn’t say whether those that adopted had lower blood pressure than those who bought dogs. Nevertheless, and even though I’m not a doctor, that’s what I’d prescribe.
Posted by jwoestendiek May 13th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: aha, aha moment, american heart association, animals, benefits, blood pressure, doctors, dogs, exercise, health, heart, medicine, official, pets, research, science, statement, stress, studies
And that’s even more the case after surgery yesterday to remove 2-1/2 pounds of loose skin from the dog who once tipped the scales at 77 pounds.
Obie was recovering at the Emergency Veterinary Clinic of Tualatin, in Oregon, after surgery to remove the excess skin that remained after he lost 40 pounds in 8 months.
Obie’s caretaker, Nora Vanatta, says the surgery went well and that she hopes to bring him home today, according to KGW in Portland.
Obie weighed 77 pounds when he was given up by his former owners in Puyallup, Washington, last year and assigned to a foster home by a rescue organization.
Oregon Dachshund Rescue placed Obie — that’s him to the left in his beefier days — in Vanatta’s care. But after his girth garnered national attention the organization asked for the dog back, claiming Vanatta — by publicizing his crash diet and seeking contributions to his care — was exploiting him.
When Vanatta refused to turn him over, they filed a lawsuit, accusing her of using the “sensationalistic promotional value of his unusual obesity” and “earning money off of his public exhibition on national and regional television shows,” while not taking care of his condition.
A settlement in the case was reached in January, allowing Vanatta to keep the dog.
Before the Tuesday surgery, Obie was down to 37 pounds and four ounces.
“We haven’t weighed him since the surgery, but he lost 2 1/2 pounds of skin” Vanatta said. “So he should be around 35 pounds now. I figure his healthy weight is between 28 and 30 pounds.”
For now, he’s resting comfortably at the veterinary clinic (left), from which he’s expected to be released today — a few pounds lighter and his skin much tigher.
Vets will evaluate Obie to determine if more surgery is needed after he loses the last five pounds, a goal Vanatta hopes will be achieved late this summer.
Obie’s fight with obesity can be followed on the Facebook page Vanatta created on his behalf.
Posted by jwoestendiek May 1st, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 35 pounds, 77 pounds, animals, biggest loser, custody, dachshund, dispute, dogs, doxie, emergency veterinary clinic, excess, facebook, fat, foster, health, loss, nora vanatta, obese, obesity, obie, oregon, oregon dachshund rescue, overweight, pets, removed, rescue, skin, surgery, tualatin, veterinary, washington, weight
Sierra, a West Highland terrier in Colorado, had 26 cents in her stomach.
But it was the single penny that killed her.
Owner Maryann Goldstein said Sierra was always attracted to change. As a puppy, the Westie swallowed 32 cents and had to have it surgically removed. In March, Sierra got sick again, and X-rays at the vet’s office showed a quarter and penny in her stomach.
The smaller coin was the bigger concern.
Pennies minted after 1982 contain zinc, and that’s toxic to dogs and cats, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.
Dr. Rebecca Jackson, a staff veterinarian at Petplan pet insurance, told CBSNews.com that newer pennies are toxic because gastric acid from the pet’s stomach reaches the zinc center, causing it to be absorbed in the body rapidly.
She said zinc interferes with red blood cell production, and the longer the exposure, the greater likelihood red blood cells will be destroyed. Symptoms of zinc toxicity include vomiting, diarrhea, lack of appetite, lethargy, red-colored urine or looking jaundiced.
“Be sure to bank your spare change before curious pets can get their paws on it,” warned Jackson. “and if they do, get them to the emergency vet immediately.”
Goldstein, who now wears Sierra’s ashes in a heart-shaped container on a necklace, shared her dog’s story with CBS in Denver as a warning to others.
Posted by jwoestendiek April 25th, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: 1982, after, animals, caution, colorado, contain, death, dogs, health, lethal, minted, pennies, penny, pets, safety, sierra, toxic, veterinary, warning, west highland terrier, westie, zinc
The recall includes all dry pet food products with expiration dates prior to and including March 24, 2013. The brands include California Natural, EVO, Healthwise, Innova, and Karma.
Based in Fremont, Neb., Natura Pet is a maker of “natural” and “holistic” pet foods, according to a company statement.
The recall is an expansion of one that had been announced by the company last month, according to a Food and Drug Administration press release.
The affected products were sold through veterinary clinics and select pet specialty retailers throughout the United States and in Canada, Hong Kong, Korea, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia and Costa Rica. The products were also sold online.
No canned wet foods or biscuits are included in the recall.
Pets infected with salmonella can appear tired, and have diarrhea and vomiting. Some pets may not show obvious symptoms, but experience decreased appetite, fever and abdominal pain. Pets can spread the bacteria to other animals, including humans.
Natura Pet said people who have purchased the products should discard them. If their pets have consumed the recalled product and are showing symptoms, they should contact their veterinarian.
Posted by jwoestendiek April 25th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: advisory, and Karma, animals, bacteria, brands, California Natural, cat, cat food, cats, dog, dog food, dogs, dry, EVO, fda, food and drug administration, health, Healthwise, Innova, natura, natura pet products, pets, recall, safety, salmonella, voluntary, warning
A hearing on the request to move the dogs out of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Animal Control’s shelter is scheduled for Friday.
Prosecutors want to place the dogs in a private kennel, which they say would be better equipped to provide long term care until the court case is resolved.
The dogs were seized two months ago in what local authorities described at the time as one of the largest dog-fighting operations they’d ever encountered.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg police say they found 27 pit bulls, tethers and a fighting arena in east Mecklenburg County, and they arrrested two men.
Lefonze Williams, 42, was indicted on 36 counts of dog fighting, and Melvin Smith, 46, was indicted on one count of conspiracy to commit dog fighting, according to the Charlotte Observer. Both were identified in court documents as the dogs’ owners.
Police said the property, near J.H. Gunn Elementary School, was used for training and fighting dogs.
Assistant District Attorney Glenn Cole says the city’s shelter “is not meant for long-term placement of animals, and seized canines may suffer behavioral and physical harm if maintained in this space.”
A court hearing on what to do with the pit bulls is set for Friday.
Prosecutors are also asking the judge to order Williams and Smith to pay for the cost of shelter, food and care, according to court documents.
If Williams and Smith decline to assume responsibility for the animals, prosecutors have asked that the dogs be forfeited. In that event, it would be up to the animal shelter to determine whether the dogs are suitable for adoption or will be euthanized.
(Photo: John D. Simmons / Charlotte Observer)
Posted by jwoestendiek April 10th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal control, care, charlotte, dog fighting, dogfighting, euthanasia, expense, forfeit, health, investigation, judge, kennel, mecklenburg county, moving, operation, ownership, permission, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, pitbulls, private, raid, responsibility, seized, shelter, well being
A Jack Russell terrier is worth $1.11 less, but feeling much better, after 111 pennies he gulped down were removed from his stomach.
The 13-year-old dog, named Jack, underwent a two-hour operation at BluePearl Veterinary Partners.
The coins were fished out five at a time, said Jack’s owner, Tim Kelleher, who reported that Jack was back to normal after the operation:
“He’s driving me crazy again,” he said.
Kelleher who lives in Manhattan and works on Wall Street, said Jack climbed onto a desk to reach a bag that had a bagel in it, and knocked the change over the floor. He said Jack must have swallowed the pennies while licking the bagel crumbs off the floor.
When Jack became ill and started vomiting last Friday, Kelleher took him to the vet, where an X-ray showed the pennies clustered in his belly.
Surgery was advised because the zinc in the coins posed a lethal threat to the dog’s kidneys and liver.
“If Jack would not have had the pennies removed the consequences would have been fatal,” said Dr. Amy Zalcman, who helped treat the dog.
The New York Daily News reports that the dog’s owner let the vet keep the change.
Posted by jwoestendiek March 13th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 111, animals, bluepearl, copper, dog, dogs, eats, health, jack, jack russell, kidneys, lethal, manhattan, new york, pennies, pets, safety, surgery, swallows, terrier, veterinary, zinc
Bruce Martin, prone to insomnia, had a heart attack while watching movies in the middle of the night with his dog Clyde.
It was Clyde who went to the bedroom and woke up Martin’s wife, Mitch, leading her to her unconscious husband, Scripps-Howard News Service reports.
“Clyde’s my insomnia buddy,” Bruce Martin explained. “He’d stay up with me while I was watching movies at 3 in the morning. … That particular night I got up to cross the room and had the heart attack. I was unconscious, and when he couldn’t get me to respond, he went to get Mitch.”
Reportedly, Clyde nudged the unconscious Martin — though it’s unclear how anyone could know that — then trotted into the bedroom to awaken his wife.
“…He led me to the living room,” Mitch Martin said. “That’s where I found Bruce slumped over the back of the couch.”
When Martin awoke in the hospital after his surgery, Clyde was among his first visitors.
The Martins say Clyde – a 5-year-old pit bull-golden retriever mix — has always been close to Bruce, especially since the recent death of the family’s boxer and their cat, both from heart failure.
Martin, 60, who’s still recovering from the February heart attack, is now receiving physical, speech and occuaptional therapy, and throwing a tennis ball to Clyde to help strengthen his arms.
“Right now I’m up to walking up and down the driveway eight times, which is kind of a big thing,” he said. “But what I’m really looking forward to is taking Clyde for a walk around the block.”
(Photo: Bruce and Mitch Martin, with Clyde; Scripps-Howard)
Posted by jwoestendiek March 11th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: alerts, animals, bruce martin, bypass surgery, clyde, dog, dogs, golden retriever, health, heart attack, mitch martin, mix, owner, pets, pit bull, recovery, rescue, saves, wife
The X-ray above shows some of the 109 stones a Lab named Barney consumed during a walk on the beach a few months ago.
His owner, Kim Woollard, who’s used to Barney putting just about everything in his mouth, didn’t realize at the time he was swallowing them, but she noticed the next day that he seemed under the weather.
After taking him to the vet, Mrs. Woollard, who lives in Surrey in the UK, said she was “gobsmacked” by what she saw.
Barney, a chocolate Labrador, had eaten 109 pebbles during his walk on the beach, the Daily Mail reports.
The vets found 79 pebbles in stomach cavity – and Mrs. Woollard, after getting back home, found 30 more in his bed.
Mrs. Woollard, a 52-year-old jeweler, went for the walk with Barney and her husband, Andrew, back in September, on a beach in Kent.
“Barney was always full of energy and he loved going for walks on the beach. It was a pebbly beach and I let him off the lead there as there wasn’t anyone on the beach apart from us. Andrew and I were chatting and watching Barney, but we didn’t see him do anything out of the ordinary. He was racing along enjoying himself.”
Back at home, the Woollards noticed a few stones in Barney’s basket, but didn’t think anything of it. The next day, there were more, and when her husband ran his hand along Barney’s belly “we could actually hear them rattling,” she said.
Barney had an operation to remove the 70 stones remaining inside him and made a full recovery.
(Photos: WorldWideFeatures.com, via Daily Mail)
Posted by jwoestendiek February 27th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 109, animals, barney, beach, chocolate lab, dog, dogs, health, lab, labrador, passed, pebbles, pets, retriever, safety, stomach, stones, surgery, surrey, swallowed, uk, veterinary, walk, x-ray, xray
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced today that Kasel Associates Industries Inc. is recalling all pet treats manufactured at its Denver plant from April 20 through Sept. 19, 2012 due to potential contamination with Salmonella.
Products manufactured by the company are sold under various brand names by retailers that include Target, Petco, Sam’s Club and Costco.
The company had issued three previous recall notices for specific products manufactured during this time period. Now the list of recalled products has expanded to more than 50.
In September, Kasel recalled Boots & Barkley beef bully sticks. Weeks later it recalled Nature’s Deli Chicken Jerky Dog Treat. Two weeks after that it recalled Boots & Barkley Roasted American Pig Ears and Boots & Barkley American Variety Pack Dog Treats
The recalls began after the Colorado Department of Agriculture tested a retail sample of a Kasel pet treat product and found it to be positive for Salmonella. Follow-up inspections by the FDA found that at all of the finished pet treat product samples and 48 out of 87 environmental samples collected tested positive for Salmonella.
More than ten different species of Salmonella were found in the firm’s products and manufacturing facility, indicating multiple sources of contamination, according to an FDA press release.
The FDA says it has received a small number of complaints of illness in dogs who were exposed to the treats.
Because of the multiple positive tests for Salmonella, and the production practices and conditions observed at the facility during the inspection, the FDA believes that there is a reasonable probability that all pet treat products manufactured in the facility from April 20, 2012 through September 19, 2012 are contaminated with Salmonella.
Both people and animals can contract Salmonellosis from handling or eating contaminated products. People handling dry pet treats should thoroughly wash their hands after having contact with the treats as well as any surfaces exposed to these products.
Salmonella is a public health risk and is one of the most common causes of foodborne illness. Its symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramping and fever.
Pets with Salmonella infections may become lethargic and have diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever and vomiting. Some pets may experience only a 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 any of the affected product or is experiencing any of these symptoms, contact your veterinarian immediately.
You can find the full list of recalled Kasel products here.
Posted by jwoestendiek February 25th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, bixbi, boots and barkley, colorado, colorado naturals, contamination, costco, denver, dog food, dog treats, dogs, fda, food and drug adminstration, health, kasel, kasel associates industries, pet treats, petco, pets, recall, safety, salmonella, sams club, target, treats, urgent, voluntary
As that annual parade of the pedigreed known as the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show unfolded at Madison Square Garden, there has been a debate over purebred dogs going on in the pages of the New York Times, at least its digital ones.
It’s worth checking out, especially, in my view, two of the opinion pieces from two of my favorite dog experts.
Alexandra Horowitz, professor of psychology at Barnard College and author of “Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know,” hits on several important points in a piece focused mainly on the link between breed standards and inherited disorders.
She cites research showing that, among the most popular breeds, almost every one has developed some type of inherited disorder stemming from breed standards that prescribe how a dog should look.
Bulldogs and pugs have broad and shortened heads that lead to obstructions in breathing. Many large breeds have debilitating hip and elbow dysplasias. Shar-Peis, because of their wrinkly skin, are prone to eye ulcerations. The Cavalier King Charles spaniel may have a brain that grows too large for its skull, an extremely painful condition called syringomyelia.
By changing the breed standards — making them more health-contingent than looks-contingent, the health of dozens of breeds could be improved, she notes.
Horowitz also addresses the matter of personality. Although AKC breed standards make it sound like a dog’s personality is genetically determined, that’s not the case, she says.
” … A dog is not merchandise whose behavior (outside of a few hard-wired ones, like pointing) can be predicted ahead of time.
“While many owners may see breed-typical personalities in their dogs (we humans do tend to spot just the evidence which supports our theories), there is simply no guarantee that a dog will behave just so. Witness the cases of cloned — genetically identical — pets who have, to their owners’ great surprise, quite different personalities.”
Making it sound like the personality of all dogs can be predicted by what breed they are is problematic, she notes.
“When a dog does not behave in accordance with her ‘billing,’ owners call this a ‘behavior problem’ — the single greatest reason for relinquishment of a dog to a shelter. Thus, inadvertently, breed standards lead potential adopters to treat them more like products with reliable features.
“Dogs are individuals, and should be treated thusly.”
In another piece presented in the Times “Room for Debate” feature, James Serpell, the Marie Moore professor of animal welfare at the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and the director of the Center for the Interaction of Animals and Society, looks at what kennel clubs, dog shows and the breed standards they espouse, has led to.
For one, inbreeding, as a way to produce dogs that most closely fit the written standards, or in some cases the interpretation thereof.
“Not only were the original gene pools of many breeds very small to begin with, but breeders have also accentuated the problem by selectively breeding from relatively small numbers of “champion sires” and/or by mating together closely related individuals.
“Nowadays, many breeds are highly inbred and express an extraordinary variety of genetic defects as a consequence: defects ranging from anatomical problems, like hip dysplasia, that cause chronic suffering, to impaired immune function and loss of resistance to fatal diseases like cancer. The only sensible way out of this genetic dead-end is through selective out-crossing with dogs from other breeds, but this is considered anathema by most breeders since it would inevitably affect the genetic “purity” of their breeds…”
“When standards do more harm than good, they should either be revised or abandoned altogether. We owe it to the dogs.”
A compelling argument is also made by Mark Derr, an author who was among the first to bring attention to the problems that have been created in the quest for purity and predictability: “It is long past time to make changes to standards that improve dogs’ lives or discontinue their breeding,” he concludes.
Less in line with my thinking — but I”ll point you to it, anyway – was a piece submitted by Lilian Barber, who breeds, judges and writes about Italian greyhounds.
Barber, president of the Kennel Club of Palm Springs, Calif., argues that breed standards are about more than appearance.
“Breeding dogs that fit a written standard isn’t just about appearance. Different breeds have different traits. It’s like choosing a vehicle. In many cases a two-door sedan will suffice, but sometimes a truck is needed.”
She continues, fortunately shifting out of the motor vehicle analogy:
”Most breeders of purebreds support research regarding the genetic health of their breeds and plan their matings carefully to insure that the offspring will be healthy. It would make little sense to put time, effort, money and passion into breeding unhealthy dogs … Those dogs are a huge and vital part of our lives.”
You can find links to all the opinion pieces here.
Posted by jwoestendiek February 14th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: alexandra horowitz, animals, breed standards, breeds, cloning, debate, dog, dog shows, dogs, experts, genetic, genetics, health, inbreeding, inherited, james serpell, kennel club, mark derr, new york times, opinions, personality, pets, problems, purebreds, room for debate, standards, traits, westminster