Halloween is a spooky time of year, but for more reasons than you think. Tonight ghosts and goblins will take over the Roaring Fork valley from Aspen to Glenwood Springs for a night of scary fun. Part of that fun will include accumulating as much chocolate as possible by sporting costumes and visiting friends and neighbors. Chocolate, a yummy treat for kids and adults alike, is potentially toxic and even fatal to dogs and cats. Chocolate can be a powerful stimulant to the central nervous system of many animal species. If sufficient quantities are ingested signs of agitation, nervousness and even seizures can result. In severe cases of chocolate ingestion pets can succumb to heart problems resulting in death.
Now is a great time to talk to the kids about not feeding chocolate to your pets as well as making sure that all the Halloween candy is kept out of reach of curious or hungry pets. Cocoa powder is the most toxic form of chocolate for pets followed by dark chocolate and milk chocolate. In case of accidental ingestion contact your veterinarian for instructions regarding induction of vomiting either at home or at the veterinary hospital. If your pet begins to exhibit signs of agitation and you are unsure of possible exposure to chocolate contact your veterinarian!
FDA has been actively investigating consumer complaints about jerky pet treats causing illness in dogs and in some cats. As of
Sept. 24, 2013, over 3,600 dogs and 10 cats have reportedly become ill from eating jerky pet treats.
The treats are sold as jerky tenders or strips and are made with chicken, duck, sweet potato, dried fruit, and in combinations of these ingredients.
Product samples have been tested for contaminants known to cause the symptoms and illnesses reported in pets including Salmonella, metals, pesticides, and antibiotics, and were screened for other chemicals and poisonous compounds. Nutritional composition analyses have been conducted including fatty acids, crude fiber, glycerol, protein, ash and moisture, and other excess nutrients. The purpose of nutritional composition testing is to verify the presence of ingredients listed on the label. To date, none of the tests have revealed the cause of the illnesses
What to Look Out For
Watch your pet closely. Signs that may occur within hours to days of feeding the products are decreased appetite, decreased activity, vomiting, diarrhea (sometimes with blood or mucus), increased water consumption and/or increased urination. Severe cases are diagnosed with pancreatitis, gastrointestinal bleeding, and kidney failure or the resemblance of a rare kidney related illness called Fanconi syndrome. Although FDA has reports of more than 580 deaths, many pets have recovered.
You can help FDA’s investigation by reporting your complaints through the Safety Reporting Portal (www.safetyreporting.hhs.gov) or your local FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinator (www.fda.gov/Safety/ReportaProblem/ConsumerComplaintCoordinators/default.htm).
You can also contact the pet food/treats company (see packaging for contact information) and alert them about your pet’s illness.
If you require the use of a Relay Service, please call the Federal Relay Services toll-free from a TTY device (1-800-877-8339).
Clinical signs associated with a new virus are similar to those
exhibited in dogs that died in Cincinnati and others sickened in the
Akron-Canton area over the past several weeks.
The Ohio Department of Agriculture said it has received calls from
veterinarians and anxious dog owners throughout the state who are
concerned their animals might have contracted the same illness, which
can kill in as little as 48 hours from the onset of signs, said Erica
Pitchford Hawkins, communications director for the department.
“We have had numerous calls from all across the state. We haven’t been
tracking them on a map, but they have been from more areas than the
2,” she said, referring to Cincinnati and Akron-Canton.
The Veterinarian Information Network (VIN), a private membership
website for veterinarians, announced Thursday [5 Sep 2013] that the
state hopes to issue a national news release about the ailment Monday
[9 Sep 2013].
Pathologists are looking at a virus diagnosed in several dogs that
died in California in the spring that showed signs similar to the
animals from Cincinnati, Hawkins said Thursday [5 Sep 2013].
“The theory they are working on is the ‘circovirus’ that they are
trying to test for. We haven’t gotten anything positive back yet,” she
“Until we get that, we still don’t know for sure,” she said, and
cautioned pet owners to wait until test results are final.
Circovirus is a novel virus (meaning one not seen before) from “a
family of viruses that has not been known to cause disease in dogs
prior to this year ,” said Melanie Butera, a Canal Fulton
veterinarian and owner of Elm Ridge Animal Hospital.
Butera was the 1st area veterinarian to report to the state that she
saw possibly as many as 4 canine patients with the ailment 2 weeks
Circovirus was so recently discovered, “there is not much at all
information about how it is getting around,” Hawkins said.
The Beacon Journal has heard from dozens of people who suspect their
pets might have contracted the illness, or recovered or died from it,
before or since an article appeared Saturday [31 Aug 2013].
Calls and emails have come in from worried pet owners living in a
dozen states from the East Coast to the Great Plains who say their
animals are displaying similar symptoms to the Ohio dogs.
A total of 3 dogs in the Cincinnati area died and a dozen more were
sickened last month [August 2013] with the illness. Clinical signs
include bloody diarrhea and vomiting, extreme lethargy, neurological
problems, a lack of appetite and other maladies.
“There are countless causes of vomiting and diarrhea in dogs, even
bloody diarrhea,” Butera said.
But the illness she has seen in the past few weeks is markedly
different, she said.
“What made these cases unique is what the pathologist terms ‘acute
necrotizing vasculitis.’ This is when the blood vessels become
suddenly damaged and fluid begins leaking out of the vessels,” Butera
said. “Because of this, the cases I know of did not just have vomiting
and bloody diarrhea, they also developed fluid around their lungs and
in the abdomen.”
As the damage to the vessels continued, she saw hemorrhages,
physiological shock and blood clots being thrown into tissues, once
with fatal results, she said.
Butera’s patients shared some or all of the signs as the Cincinnati
dogs; 3 of her canine patients survived after treatment, and one died,
The Ohio Department of Agriculture connected the cases when Butera
contacted state officials after seeing 2 dogs with the same signs come
into her clinic at the same time 2 weeks ago.
The department requested she send blood samples along with necropsy
samples from the dog that died.
Butera said the necropsy samples were sent to the University of
California for comparison to samples of animals diagnosed with
“They isolated this unusual virus from this dog’s tissues. The signs
the Ohio Department of Agriculture says they are seeing are consistent
with the unique signs and post-mortem findings this dog had,” Butera
said of the California cases.
It will be several weeks before scientists can determine if the Canal
Fulton, Cincinnati and California dogs all died from the same illness,
Scientists have ruled out a common pathogenic bacterial cause, such as
salmonella, _E. coli_ or distemper, based on blood samples, Hawkins
Ticks have also been suggested as the cause and method of transmission
of the disease.
“I have not had any of my vets talk about ticks with me. Ticks can
carry a lot of different kinds of disease, but I’ve not had my vets
say that there is a suspicion that this particular illness is related
to ticks,” Hawkins said.
Butera is cautioning her patients to wait until a definitive cause has
been established before they panic.
“Until the investigation by the pathologists is complete, we will not
know whether or not what we saw is from a virus, bacteria, or toxin,
etc., or even if these cases are related to each other,” she said.
“The only advice I can give people right now is just common sense: If
your dog is showing signs of illness, no matter what the cause, do not
hesitate to seek veterinary care.”
With obesity rates among American dogs soaring new research highlights the importance of weight management, particularly following spaying or neutering. Current estimates put obesity rates among American canines at between 34% – 53%. Previously it was thought that dogs undergoing early spaying or neutering (<6 months) were at increased risk of becoming subsequently obese. The current study published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA) suggests that while obesity rates are higher in spayed/neutered pets, the age at which the pet is spayed or neutered does not play a role in the onset of obesity.
Limiting energy intake, as in humans, is considered the most effective tool in preventing or reversing obesity in dogs. Also, be sure to have your dog’s body condition assessed annually by a veterinarian in order to catch weight gains early. Your veterinarian can assist you in assessing and correcting weight problems in your dog. For more information regarding obesity and it’s risks in your dog contact Willits Veterinary Hospital: 970-510-5436.
This time of year in the Roaring Fork Valley all that fresh spring green grass has started to go to seed and dry to a nice crispy brown. Often times these prickly little seeds find their way into dogs ear canals and result in significant discomfort, pain and even ruptured ear drums. Because of their tenacious structure, the seeds can’t be shaken out by the patient. I get suspicious of grass seeds or other foreign debris in the ears of dogs when only one ear is a problem. Yeast infections due to swimming or allergies most commonly affect both ears. So, if your pup develops an infection or pain in only one year there may be more to the story than the run of the mill ear infection. The affected ear canal should be visualized in its entirety so the source of the irritation can be located. Removal of foreign debris, particularly near the ear drum, usually requires brief sedation so that an instrument can safely be introduced into the ear canal. Be aware of the presence of dried grass on your hikes and walks. If your dog starts to scratch and whine when his or her ear is massaged, it may be time to take a look!
Dog owners in the Roaring Fork Valley from Aspen to Glenwood Springs are enjoying outdoor fun with their dogs; hiking, biking, running, fishing, swimming. Summer is a great time to be a dog in the Rockies but it’s getting hot and there is one chronic disease that all owners of older large breed dogs should be aware of. Laryngeal paralysis most commonly affects large breed dogs, particularly Labrador retrievers over the age of 9 and it could put your dog at risk of heat stress, and in rare cases death due to heat prostration. Because dogs don’t sweat, they radiate heat from their active bodies by panting. With laryngeal paralysis the larynx (voice box) does not open properly which results in a collapse of the airway. Dogs afflicted with laryngeal paralysis cannot ventilate body heat as effectively as healthy dogs and become overheated.
The first sign noticed by owners of dogs with early laryngeal paralysis is noisy breathing, voice changes and sometimes a mild cough as the dog attempts to clear secretions from the larynx. As the disease progresses the breathing becomes louder and the patient will become increasingly heat and exercise intolerant. If your dog is exhibiting noisier than normal breathing and fits the typical profile of a dog with laryngeal paralysis (older than 9, large breed, males > females), see your veterinarian for a consultation. Other possibilities exist for noisy breathing of course, and a sedated examination of the larynx is needed to confirm the diagnosis. In rare cases laryngeal paralysis progresses rapidly requiring emergency treatment.
Laryngeal paralysis is a condition which can be treated surgically in most cases. Surgery is reserved for individuals whom are showing significant debility as a result of their disease. Two surgical options are available; partial arytenoidectomy/vocal cordectomy and laryngeal tie-back. The choice of which surgical treatment is the best option for you and your dog should be made between you and your veterinarian. If you feel your dog is exhibiting signs of laryngeal paralysis the staff at Willits Veterinary Hospital happy to guide you through the diagnostic and treatment process.
A new study conducted at the Department of Clinical Sciences and Comparative Pain and Orthopedic Research Laboratories at North Carolina State University has found that longer daily exercise duration was associated with lower lameness scores in dogs with hip dysplasia. Researchers found “a significantly lower mean lameness score was found for dogs with > 60 minutes of daily exercise , compared with that for dogs with < 20 minutes of daily exercise.
This study helps confirm that the “use it or lose it” approach to aging in humans may also apply to dogs. The researchers also felt that even high impact activity was as beneficial as low impact activity. My recommendation for clients with pets with hip dysplasia and other age related arthritic conditions is “keep’em lean and get out there and have fun.”. Be sensitive to your dogs arthritis pain but and don’t push them beyond their own desire to be active. For more advice on pain management in older patients feel free to call or email any time. firstname.lastname@example.org
In the most recent issue of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, researchers published the first randomized clinical trial comparing the outcomes between strictly surgical treatment, surgery with post operative rehabilitation, and rehabilitation alone as treatments for complete cranial cruciate ligament rupture in dogs. The study finds that dogs receiving surgical repair, in this case TPLO, as well as post-operative rehabilitation had the best outcomes. It also indicates that in the event surgery is not performed, 64% of dogs will have positive outcomes with rehabilitation alone. There is now scientific support for not only surgical intervention in cases of cranial cruciate disease, but also support for aggressive aftercare to improve outcomes. While not ideal, rehabilitation without surgery can be used to improve the long-term prognosis of dogs with cruciate disease.