en Not Your Usual Suspects, Part 1 - When Water is Toxic a2a_config = { menu_type:'mail' };
  a2a.init('page');   Save to mypetMDFor my next two blogs, I’d like to share some situations in large animal veterinary medicine when toxicities are found where you’d least expect — in the ordinarily life-sustaining compounds, water and oxygen. Let’s begin with water.
There is such a thing as water toxicity. When I first learned this in vet school, I was both horrified and fascinated. Turns out, this really is a case of something being too much of a good thing. When water toxicity occurs, which thankfully isn’t too often, it usually occurs in pigs. Here’s what happens.
Pigs raised indoors, as most pigs in the U.S. are raised, are dependent on the pig farmer for food and water. Many watering systems in large hog operations are mechanically operated with large piping systems that carry water from a central tank or well to pens containing multiple pigs. Occasionally, something goes awry with the watering system, like a power outage, broken pipe, or a situation where someone forgets to turn the system on after service, and the pigs are without water. This is when disaster can strike.
As the pigs become dehydrated, their electrolytes become unbalanced. Within 24 to 48 hours, the neurologic system begins to be affected. Pigs will act uncoordinated and appear blind, then demonstrate a behavior called head pressing. These clinical signs are not specific to dehydration. Meningitis, inner ear infections, and some exotic (and therefore reportable to the state veterinarian) swine diseases can also appear this way. However, with water toxicity, all hogs in a pen or barn will have the same signs.
This usually isn’t the case with an infectious disease, where different animals will show different signs depending on the stage or progression of the disease and the animal’s immune system. This is how a vet or farmer can start to differentiate between a mechanical problem in the barn versus a serious disease outbreak. Whenever hogs demonstrate neurological signs such as these, a good hog farmer will first check the watering system.
Dehydration such as this, medically known as salt toxicity, is as easily cured as one might think: Just give the pigs water! However — and this is a big however — the key is to introduce the water slowly. If severely dehydrated hogs are given ad libitum water all of a sudden, water toxicity develops. The brain swells quickly and neurologic symptoms will continue and are likely to kill the pig.
So what’s a farmer to do? It is often recommended to take a water hose and sprinkle the hogs with it so that small shallow puddles collect on the ground. The hogs can then lap up very small quantities of water over a period of a few hours, and then the process is repeated, ensuring a gradual return back to hydration.
If hogs are neurologically affected to the point of being unable to drink for themselves, then the farmer has his work cut out for himself. Syringe feeding water to a group of hogs may be necessary. The administration of intravenous fluids is not practical in hogs; the location of their jugular veins makes catheterization very difficult.
You may be thinking to yourself: Isn’t prevention worth more than the cure and shouldn’t the farmer simply ensure the water doesn’t get turned off?
In practice, on large hog farms, water is frequently turned on and off for numerous reasons. In some cases, medication for hogs is administered via drinking water and logistically determining which pens receive medicated water and which don’t involves frequent water shut-offs. Additionally, sometimes farms simply run a well dry — a scary issue during drought, for sure.
Next Wednesday, we’ll take a look at another toxic element, oxygen, and how veterinarians use it to help cure infection.

Dr. Anna O'Brien
Image: Dmitry Kalinovsky / Shutterstock
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Ebola's Connection to Veterinary Medicine Sep 01, 2014 Ebola's Connection to Veterinary Medicine by Dr. Jennifer Coates     Share    
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  a2a.init('page');   Save to mypetMDHave you been following the news out of West Africa? The spread of the Ebola virus there is truly heartbreaking. While residents of the U.S. have little to fear from Ebola (unless you’re planning to travel to that part of the world), researchers here are still working hard to come up with new, potential therapies. You might be surprised to hear, however, that some of the most ground-breaking work is being done at the University of Pennsylvania’s veterinary school.
Dr. Ronald Harty is an associate professor of microbiology at Penn Vet, and in conjunction with other scientists from Penn Vet, the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Disease, Thomas Jefferson University, and Fox Chase Chemical Diversity Center, he is developing potential drugs that could revolutionize the way that Ebola and other viruses affecting people and animals are treated.
I recently talked to Dr. Harty to learn more about his work. When asked why research into Ebola was being undertaken at a veterinary school, he replied:
"I’m not a veterinarian, but I’m here at the vet school doing basic research working primarily on Ebola and other hemorrhagic fevers. But, we also do a lot of work on vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) and rabies virus [both of which are significant animal pathogens]. VSV is actually a sort of distant cousin to Ebola. The makeup of the viruses — how they bud [exit the cell] and replicate, their genomes, the proteins they make — are very similar. VSV has served as a wonderful model system. It’s a virus we can fairly easily work with, using it as a surrogate to understand budding in the more pathogenic Ebola virus."
One of the big problems in developing anti-viral drugs, particularly those that are useful against RNA viruses like Ebola, VSV, rabies, influenza, West Nile virus, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), and feline leukemia virus (FELV), is that when these organisms replicate, they can mutate very rapidly and develop resistance to drugs. Dr. Harty explained that his team’s approach is innovative in that they are trying to develop drugs that are “host oriented.”
"We are trying to target a virus-host interaction with our compounds. What we and others have found is that viruses like Ebola, rabies, and VSV hijack or recruit host proteins that help the virus to bud. The virus actually steals the function of these host proteins and uses it for its own purpose. We hypothesize that if we can target that virus-host interaction, we can block or slow down budding. We predict that the virus would not be able to mutate as readily to get around an inhibitor that is targeting, at least in part, a host function in comparison to one that just targets a specific viral protein.
"The step that we are targeting is the very last step in budding, so the viruses are on the surface of the host cell. They can’t quite break free but are where the immune system can react to that pathogen.
"[Budding] is analogous to having a car thief trying to speed away from a robbery. The drug would act like spike strips put down in front of that car; it would slow the infection down. We hope that will allow the immune system more time to develop a response, like the spike strips allow the police officer to catch up to the thief and arrest him.
"The other really exciting part of the development of these compounds is they potentially have a very broad spectrum range of activity because many of these RNA viruses bud from cells using a similar mechanism. They all hijack the same host pathways. So what we and others have found is that if we can block budding of Ebola virus, for example, that same compound can block budding of other viruses like rabies, VSV, Marburg virus or even HIV. There is the potential to have a drug that could be effective against many different families of RNA viruses."
Dr. Harty’s work reveals the deep connections between animal and human health. Hopefully, the compounds he and his team are developing eventually will benefit us all.

Dr. Jennifer Coates
Image: PhotoSky / Shutterstock
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Feline Herpes Virus: Bad News for a Popular Treatment Aug 29, 2014 Feline Herpes Virus: Bad News for a Popular Treatment by Dr. Ken Tudor     Share    
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  a2a.init('page');   Save to mypetMDYour veterinarian prescribes L-Lysine to treat the periodic runny eyes and runny nose in your cat, but you don’t think it really is helping all that much. You are probably right. Although inconsistent studies in cats have raised doubts about this medication, it continues to be a mainstay for the treatment of herpes virus in cats. A recent study published in the American Journal of Veterinary Research raises further doubt about the role of L-Lysine in the treatment of feline herpes virus.
What is Herpes Virus in Cats?
Feline Herpesvirus 1, or FHV-1, is the most common upper respiratory virus in cats worldwide. It causes a condition called Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, or is sometimes called feline influenza. The virus is extremely common in shelters and catteries. Some studies have indicated positive blood titers for herpes virus as high as over 90 percent in feral and shelter cat populations.
Most kittens and cats exposed to herpes virus experience symptoms within two to four days. Coughing, sneezing, nasal discharge, and conjunctivitis (red swelling of the tissue that surrounds the eyeball) are the most common symptoms. Some animals may experience a high fever and decreased appetite. The condition generally runs its course in four to seven days. Some kittens may become extremely ill with secondary pneumonia or develop severe, sometimes permanent, scarring of the cornea of the eye.
The problem with the herpes virus family, as many humans with herpes know, is that it is the gift that keeps on giving. The immune system of humans and cats cannot clear the infection and rid the body of the virus. The virus lays dormant for periods of time and then starts reproducing causing flare-ups. Periodic “cold sores” on the lips of humans is a common herpes flare-up. In cats, seasonal sneezing and conjunctivitis coincide with seasonal changes in spring and fall or during stressful holiday periods like Christmas. Seasonal changes and stress result in an increase of corticosteroid hormone released into the blood, which suppresses immune function and promotes shedding of the latent herpes virus. It is during these periods of flare-ups that veterinarians recommend the use of L-Lysine to decrease viral reproduction and shedding.
What is L-Lysine?
L-Lysine is an amino acid. Its use in cats was predicated on human research that suggested that large amounts of the amino acid inhibit human herpes virus in cell cultures. Some studies with cat cells indicated the same findings. This led to the widespread use of oral L-lysine gels for the treatment of herpes symptoms in cats, especially those associated with the eyes and nose. But research in actual cats, not cat cells in a petri dish, has failed to show consistent success with the treatment.
The purpose of the recent study was to re-visit the early research done on cat cells. This research group corrected some of the technical flaws in the original research and then analyzed the effect of increased dosage levels of L-lysine on herpes virus reproduction. They found that increasing amounts of L-lysine in the cell cultures had little effect on suppressing herpes virus reproduction. These laboratory findings are consistent with the research performed in cats with herpes virus. Contrary to popular veterinary belief, these researchers found the results of their study, as well as the studies in cats, offer little scientific justification for the use of L-lysine in the treatment of feline herpesvirus 1 in cats.
If your cat is being treated for FHV-1, you might want to ask your vet about other treatment alternatives.

Dr. Ken Tudor
Cave, NJ et al: Effects of physiological concentrations of L-Lysine on in vitro replication of feline herpesvirus 1. American Journal of Veterinary Research; June 2014:Vol. 75, No 6; 572-80
Image: Goodluz / Shutterstock
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TheOldBroad Lysine Treats 08/31/2014 08:42pm My Stan (RIP) would get conjunctivitis from time to time and the doctor eventually suggested L-Lysine treats, which he loved, as a way to keep the virus at bay. Unfortunately, Stan passed from unrelated problems before we found out if it did any good. Reply to this comment Report abuse 2 ]]> TheDailyVet Fri, 29 Aug 2014 11:00:00 +0000 31971 at
The Importance of the Veterinary Mobility Act, Summed Up in One Dog's Death Aug 28, 2014 The Importance of the Veterinary Mobility Act, Summed Up in One Dog's Death by Dr. Joanne Intile     Share    
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  a2a.init('page');   Save to mypetMDYour travels through social media may have brought you to a photojournalistic webpage of a dog named Duke’s final day of life (see: I Died Today. By Duke Roberts). If you not seen it before, I’ll issue a fair warning to be sure you have a handful of tissues nearby before opening the link. The images and words are guaranteed to cause the most stoic of souls to tear up, if even just a little.
I don’t remember how or when I first came across the story, but as I stared at the photographs and read and re-read the words on the site, I found myself thinking, “Even though I do not know this dog, I know this story.”
In my mind, Duke was previously diagnosed with a terminal cancer and his owner had recently made the most difficult of choices; that it was time to end his pain. The pictures clearly illustrate that though Duke’s disease was advanced enough to affect certain portions of his life, he still was able to face death with dignity and peace, enjoying his favorite things and people during his last day on Earth.
A factor particularly significant to me was that Duke’s euthanasia was performed not within the sterile and clinical confines of a veterinary hospital, but rather was done outdoors, in a tranquil and comfortable setting. Duke spent his final hours doing what he enjoyed most, surrounded by the people who cared for him the greatest, in a completely natural setting. The images tell us he passed serenely and calmly, outdoors on a beautiful summer day.
On a related note, you may have heard some of the buzz surrounding the “Veterinary Mobility Act.” This piece of legislation makes it legal for veterinarians to transport and use controlled substances beyond their primary places of registration and across state lines to treat patients. Much to the relief of veterinary professionals who have lobbied for this legislation since 2009, President Obama very recently signed the act into law.
Controlled substances include pain medications, anesthetics, and drugs used for euthanasia.  For veterinarians who provide house call services, travel to farms or backyard barns, or work with wildlife and in the field of research, these are indispensible treatment options. Prior to the passing of this law, it would be illegal for those doctors to carry and use medications necessary for even the most rudimentary of treatments.
The American Veterinary Medical Association’s press release regarding the law states: 
By passing and signing this legislation, the president and our legislators recognize the critical role veterinarians play in treating sick animals and relieving their pain and suffering. The health and welfare of our nation’s wildlife, food animals, and even our companion animals depend on veterinarians being allowed to do their jobs wherever the need arises.

The importance of the Veterinary Mobility Act is obvious when we consider veterinarians practicing in rural areas, or those who run mobile or ambulatory services. These doctors need to be able to transport and administer controlled substances in order to perform their jobs. They also need to be able to do so without fear of breaking a law or losing their license.
What may not be obvious is why a veterinary oncologist would care about whether or not it would be legal to transport pain medication or euthanasia solution from their base hospital to another location or state.
I’ve written before about the “specifics” of the euthanasia process, with the details centering on the actual event occurring within the veterinary hospital. Though we make every effort to ensure pets are comfortable during this time, for some animals the simple act of traveling to the vet can be stressful and anxiety provoking. For many owners, there can be a “trickle-down” effect of increased strain and worry.
Some pets with end-stage cancer can be in so much pain or so debilitated from their disease that they are unable or unwilling to walk out of their homes. Some owners may not be able to carry their pets or lift them into their cars. I’ve even had some owners tell me their pets bit them out of fear or pain during attempts to transport them. Therefore, in certain cases, it truly is in the pet’s best interests to not spend their last moments in a veterinary hospital.
Owners have asked me if I could perform an at-home euthanasia and I know I’ve disappointed them with my answer. I’ve had to tell them that legally, I cannot do it. It’s typically a somewhat awkward conversation, where I think both the owner and I feel unsatisfied.
This isn’t to say I possess a strong desire to euthanize pets at home, and certainly it would not be practical to make such practice a routine part of my daily schedule. I’ll leave that up to those veterinarians who make this part of their professional services. But being able to provide this option for owners in particular cases would be invaluable.
Many pets with cancer will die from their disease. Veterinary oncologists are integral to the successful treatment of such cases. We are able to provide animals with longer and happier lives and manage their diagnosis as a chronic disease. Unfortunately, cures are uncommon and in most cases owners must consider euthanasia at some point. It is a part of our job and a part of our responsibility to always put our patients' needs first.
Duke’s story is just one of many, but I think it brilliantly outlines why the Veterinary Mobility Act is so important and how it provides owners and pets with additional options not previously established. 
It’s wonderful to know that the president, an obvious animal lover, feels the same way.

Dr. Joanne Intile
Image: (Not Duke) Brent Davis / Shutterstock
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TheOldBroad RIP Duke 08/28/2014 07:03pm i read Duke's story some time ago and it was, as you said, a tear-jerker.

It was good that the humans weighed the decision heavily and did what was best for Duke.

I hope that the family has healed and that Duke is truly resting in peace. Reply to this comment Report abuse 5 staciejaye Missing my boy 08/29/2014 10:34am Our laws in Canada are likely much different. However, I still feel lucky to have found the kindest, sweetest, vet in my city. When my cat was dying of cancer and I had made that hardest of decisions, without me even asking him, he offered to come to my home to spare my sweet boy the anxiety and stress of travelling to the clinic.
My beautiful Brisket was able to spend his last day by my side, and when my vet arrived, although I was heartbroken, I knew that Brisket had left this world in peace, in his home and with the people and animals he knew and loved. Reply to this comment Report abuse 3 ]]> TheDailyVet Thu, 28 Aug 2014 11:00:00 +0000 31970 at
Study Proves Dogs Can Feel Jealousy Aug 27, 2014 Study Proves Dogs Can Feel Jealousy by Dr. Patrick Mahaney     Share    
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  a2a.init('page');   Save to mypetMDDoes your dog ever behave in what appears to be a jealous manner when you interact with a friend’s canine companion? How about his behaviors around toys or food? Does your dog suddenly become more interested in his playthings or meals in the presence of another pooch?
I have certainly seen my own dog, Cardiff, exhibit such above behaviors. When another dog comes over to our home, he becomes more interested in interacting with me in a manner that limits the guest pooch’s access to my attention. Cardiff also strives to prevent that dog’s access to his toys and may growl or posture in an intimidating manner toward our canine guest. I’ve actually welcomed the presence of other dogs to motivate Cardiff to eat during bouts of chemotherapy-induced inappetence. Thank you, Lucia and Olivia.
I’ve always taken the veterinary behavior perspective on the situation and characterized Cardiff’s actions as resource guarding (see Dr. Karen Overall’s DVM360 article Resource-guarding: Are veterinarians lost in interspecies translation?), as I didn’t feel comfortable assigning a human emotion like jealousy to his covetous tendencies.
But perhaps Cardiff was just being jealous, as a recent study proved that dogs can exhibit behaviors consistent with jealousy.
The CNN article Study: Dogs can feel jealous, too shares the findings of a University of California, San Diego study which evaluated the behaviors dogs display when their owners interacted with an animatronic canine-version that vocalized (barked and whined) and wagged its tail.
How Was the Dog Jealousy Study Performed?
Christine R. Harris and Caroline Prouvost performed the study, Jealousy in Dogs, which was published in the peer-reviewed online scientific journal PLOS One. Small dogs were chosen to be part of the study to permit the researchers to more easily control undesirable behaviors. Thirt-six dogs weighing less than 35 pounds or shorter than 15 inches were studied. The breeds included:
Belgian Malinois (1 dog)
Boston Terrier (1)
Chihuahua (2)
Dachshund (1)
Havanese (1)
Maltese (3)
Miniature Pinscher (2)
Pomeranian (2)
Pug (2)
Shetland Sheepdog (1)
Shih Tzu (2)
Welsh Corgi (1)
Yorkshire Terrier (3)
Mixed breeds (14)
All of the dogs were individually evaluated in the familiar settings of their own homes while their owners interacted with the animatronic dog, a children's book, and a plastic jack-o’-lantern, and ignored their pooches. 
How Did the Study Determine the Dogs Were Exhibiting Jealousy?
Reportedly, the real dogs showed behaviors consistent with jealousy by preventing the animatronic dog’s access to their owners and barking and biting at the robotic canine.
The owners’ pleasant praise and gentle petting of the robot dog invoked more of a jealous response by the canine subjects as compared to their responses to the owners’ comparable attentiveness to the book (which played music and featured pop-up pages) and jack-o’-lantern.
The study finds that social interaction is one of the key stimuli for canine jealousy, as the moving and vocalizing object caused the canine subjects to show jealous behaviors more so than the inanimate objects. I find it quite intriguing that 86 percent of the participating dogs approached the behind of the animatronic version to sniff around the anus, as they would do when interacting with real dogs (or cats).
The findings are comparable to human studies, where infants as young as six months showed jealous behaviors when their mothers attended to a realistic-appearing doll, but did not show jealousy when the attention was instead placed on a book.
What Does the Study Determine About the Biological Basis of Jealous Behavior?
Evidently, we humans aren’t the only species capable of jealousy. Yet, are human and canine responses learned or do they have some sort of inherent biological basis? Harris and Prouvost's study finds that ”these results lend support to the hypothesis that jealousy has some 'primordial' form that exists in human infants and in at least one other social species besides humans” (i.e., dogs).
I look forward to hearing about other studies showing how animal behaviors correlate with human emotions.
Has your dog or cat exhibited behaviors consistent with jealousy?  If so, feel free to share your perspective in the comments section below.

Dr. Patrick Mahaney
Related Articles
The Link Between Pets and Human Health
Feeding Your Dog During Chemotherapy Treatment
Image: dogboxstudio / Shutterstock
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TheOldBroad Genius! 08/27/2014 06:30pm "I’ve actually welcomed the presence of other dogs to motivate Cardiff to eat during bouts of chemotherapy-induced inappetence."

That's pure genius! Go Cardiff!

Is the Alpha Dog thing likened to jealousy? Reply to this comment Report abuse 9 ]]> TheDailyVet Wed, 27 Aug 2014 11:00:00 +0000 31969 at
Happy National Dog Day! Aug 26, 2014 Happy National Dog Day! by Dr. Lorie Huston     Share    
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  a2a.init('page');   Save to mypetMDToday, August 26, has been designated as National Dog Day. It is a day set aside to celebrate dogs of all types; purebreds, mixed breeds, pet dogs, therapy dogs, service dogs, and any other type of dog you can name.
In celebration of National Dog Day, I thought it might be a good time to bust some of the myths surrounding dogs.
Let’s start with those dogs commonly called pit bulls. While the title “pit bull” is sometimes used to refer to a specific breed (such as the American Pit Bull Terrier), more often the term is applied to a group of dogs that share similar physical features. Thus, individuals of many different breeds as well as countless mixed breed dogs are frequently referred to as pit bulls.
Pit bulls, as a group, have earned a reputation for viciousness, a totally undeserved reputation. Pit bulls are not, despite popular opinion to the contrary, inherently evil or dangerous dogs. In fact, many pit bulls make wonderful family pets and are quite safe around all people, including children. Like any dog breed, adequate socialization, proper training, and effective supervision are important. However, this is no truer with a pit bull than with a toy poodle, a German shepherd, a mastiff, or any other dog. Any dog can bite. Pit bulls are no more likely to do so than other breeds.
That brings me to the next point. Breed specific legislation (BSL), laws banning specific breeds or types of breeds from specific locations, are not effective. BSL has been enacted in many different locations. However, in none of those locations have the bans been effective in preventing dog bites. The American Veterinary Medical Association and the National Canine Research Council have issued a statement refuting BSL as an effective solution. As noted in this statement, the Center for Disease Control is quoted as saying:
“[The study] does not identify specific breeds that are most likely to bite or kill, and thus is not appropriate for policy-making decisions related to the topic…There is currently no accurate way to identify the number of dogs of a particular breed, and consequently no measure to determine which breeds are more likely to bite or kill.”

Likewise, the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) has also issued a position statement taking a stand against BSL.
Hopefully, you’re convinced that pit bulls, as a group, are not dangerous and should not be targeted by unfair laws. But let’s move on.
I totally support rescue. I believe that adopting a pet (dog or cat) from a shelter is never a bad decision, as long as you are able and willing to take responsibility for the care of that pet for the entirety of the pet’s life. Still, I’m not opposed to breeding either. There are many wonderful dog (and cat) breeds that will disappear forever without responsible breeders. The word “responsible” is the key word here though. As a potential pet owner, it falls on you to do the research, should you decide to purchase a purebred dog, to ensure that the breeder is reputable and the puppy is the result of a well-planned and carefully chosen breeding program. Supporting less than reputable breeders, or worse yet puppy mills, is not an acceptable option.
Finally, there is, at least in the minds of some people, the belief that dogs and cats do not get along and cannot live together. This is far from true. Each situation is different, of course. But in most cases, dogs and cats, if introduced properly and given proper time to acclimate to one another, can live together in harmony. In fact, many times, dogs and cats sharing a household will actually become friends and companions.
What dog myths would you like to see busted? Share your "pet" peeve in the comments.

Dr. Lorie Huston
Image: Annette Shaff / Shutterstock
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TheOldBroad National Celebrations 08/26/2014 06:35pm Since I had never heard of National Dog Day, I Googled and found there is also a National Cat Day on October 29th.

Who knew? Reply to this comment Report abuse 4 ]]> TheDailyVet Tue, 26 Aug 2014 11:00:00 +0000 31967 at
More on the Effects of Spaying and Neutering Dogs Aug 25, 2014 More on the Effects of Spaying and Neutering Dogs by Dr. Jennifer Coates     Share    
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  a2a.init('page');   Save to mypetMDIn 2013, we talked about a study looking at the effects that neutering (a term that includes both spaying of females and castration of males) had on the incidence of hip dysplasia (HD), cranial cruciate ligament tear (CCL), lymphosarcoma (LSA), hemangiosarcoma (HSA), and mast cell tumor (MCT) in Golden Retrievers. The dogs were classified as being intact or neutered early (<12 mo) or late (≥12 mo). The researchers found increases in the incidence of some of these diseases in specific sub-classes of neutered dogs (e.g., HSA in late neutered females).
I found that study interesting but thought it oversimplified the situation. For instance, if you are the owner of a male Golden Retriever and are only interested in avoiding lymphosarcoma, then you should not neuter your dog before the age of 12 months. Most owners aren’t looking for that sort of information, however. We simply want to know what we should do to keep our dogs as healthy as possible for as long as possible.
Recently, some of the same scientists responsible for the 2013 study published the results of a similar investigation comparing the health effects of neutering in Labrador and Golden Retrievers. While this isn’t a huge increase in the breadth of the research, it did bring to light some important differences relating to breed.
The dogs were divided into narrower age ranges at time of neutering this time around, specifically:

before 6 months of age
6-11 months of age
age 1
ages 2-8

The scientists also looked at a greater number of conditions — hip dysplasia, cranial cruciate ligament tear, elbow dysplasia, lymphosarcoma, hemangiosarcoma, mast cell tumor, and mammary cancer. They found that the results for the Golden Retriever were “similar to the previous study, but there were notable differences between breeds.” For example:
In Labrador Retrievers, where about 5 percent of [unneutered] males and females had one or more joint disorders, neutering at <6 mo. doubled the incidence of one or more joint disorders in both sexes. In male and female Golden Retrievers, with the same 5 percent rate of joint disorders in intact dogs, neutering at <6 mo. increased the incidence of a joint disorder to 4–5 times that of intact dogs. The incidence of one or more cancers in female Labrador Retrievers increased slightly above the 3 percent level of intact females with neutering. In contrast, in female Golden Retrievers, with the same 3 percent rate of one or more cancers in intact females, neutering at all periods through 8 years of age increased the rate of at least one of the cancers by 3–4 times. In male Golden and Labrador Retrievers neutering had relatively minor effects in increasing the occurrence of cancers.

These findings are striking. If I owned a female Golden Retriever and was told that by choosing to neuter her, I was making it three to four times more likely she would develop one of these cancers, I’d certainly give that decision a second look. On the other hand, if I was told the same decision would only result in a “slight” increase for my female Lab, I’d probably move ahead.
Overall, I do think research is starting to point to an overall positive effect on longevity in dogs who are not neutered (or at least not neutered early), but only when the downsides of not neutering are controlled for. It’s all well and good to say you are going to protect your dog’s joints by keeping him intact, until he leaps the fence to get to a female in heat and is hit by a truck. I still believe that neutering is right for all but those dogs with the most detail-oriented of owners.

Dr. Jennifer Coates
Neutering dogs: effects on joint disorders and cancers in golden retrievers. Torres de la Riva G, Hart BL, Farver TB, Oberbauer AM, Messam LL, Willits N, Hart LA. PLoS One. 2013;8(2):e55937. 
Long-term health effects of neutering dogs: comparison of labrador retrievers with golden retrievers. Hart BL, Hart LA, Thigpen AP, Willits NH. PLoS One. 2014 Jul 14;9(7):e102241. 
Image: Eastimages / Shutterstock
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TheOldBroad Comments 08/25/2014 06:16pm Comment with no opinion so subsequent comments will be emailed to me. Reply to this comment Report abuse 2 ]]> TheDailyVet Mon, 25 Aug 2014 11:00:00 +0000 31966 at
Life with Horses: When the Flesh Gets 'Too Proud' Aug 22, 2014 Life with Horses: When the Flesh Gets 'Too Proud' by Dr. Anna O'Brien     Share    
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  a2a.init('page');   Save to mypetMDEveryone knows that when you’re injured your body creates scar tissue. And while scar tissue is far from perfect — it is never as strong as the original tissue except in the case of bone, and it is generally far less elastic and can restrict mobility, as some examples — scar tissue is usually a good thing. It fills in the holes where our normal tissue is missing. With animals, this is no different.
Wounds on a dog, cat, horse, cow, and even snake heal in the same manner as human wound healing. But, as with many things in veterinary medicine, there are important species differences.
Let’s talk about a common problem in horse wound healing called "proud flesh," also known as exuberant granulation tissue.
Occasionally, when a horse gets a leg wound, the healing tissue produces excessive scar (granulation) tissue, which can actually inhibit further healing. This is called proud flesh, an odd name but totally fitting for the circumstances — it’s like the tissue is too proud to back down.
Proud flesh is easy to spot — a large mass of pink tissue pouring out of where the wound once was. Sometimes it can almost look like a growth on the leg. Proud flesh is pretty much a problem exclusive to the lower limbs of horses and is likely due to a combination of factors, such as excessive movement at the wound site, bacterial contamination of the wound, and the minimal blood supply that is characteristic of a horse’s lower limbs, which are made up of bone, ligament, and tendon, not blood vessel-rich muscle.
The primary problem with proud flesh is that new skin cannot grow over it — the final step in wound healing called epithelialization. Therefore, it remains a large mass of unprotected fresh tissue susceptible to infection and further trauma. Because of this, proud flesh needs to be removed.
On wounds with a small amount of proud flesh just protruding over the edges, applying a steroid ointment under a bandage wrap can prevent further granulation tissue from growing and encourage skin to cover the wound. Anything larger, however, needs to be surgically removed. Luckily, proud flesh has no nerve fibers. Unluckily, it has lots of blood vessels. So, if you surgically remove it, the horse won’t feel it, but will bleed a lot.
Therefore, depending on how much needs to be removed, you can either do this at the barn with the horse standing or at a clinic with the horse sedated. One thing I’ve learned when dealing with proud flesh: always warn the owners that it will bleed! After removal, a bandage will need to be applied to the leg to stop bleeding and prevent further development of proud flesh.
Preventing proud flesh is obviously easier that dealing with it once it’s present. If a horse has a lower leg wound that is too big to be stitched closed, it is imperative to properly bandage the wound as it heals. Bandaging goes a long way in preventing proud flesh, but it’s not fool proof. Sometimes even the best bandaged wounds will grow too much scar tissue. If this happens, all is not lost. Prompt attention before the scar tissue becomes too proud is the best way to go.

Dr. Anna O'Brien
Image: Chelle129 / Shutterstock
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TheOldBroad Granuloma 08/22/2014 05:34pm Is a granuloma at a wound site specific to large animals? When one of my cats adopted me, he had a small granuloma on a toe and the doctor thought it was probably from a healed fight wound.

I've also had a cat with a granuloma that didn't seem to be associated with any kind of wound. It appeared to be just overgrown tissue.

Am I remembering incorrectly? Reply to this comment Report abuse 3 ]]> TheDailyVet Fri, 22 Aug 2014 11:00:00 +0000 31947 at
Antibiotic Resistance: No Longer an Apocalyptic Fantasy Aug 21, 2014 Antibiotic Resistance: No Longer an Apocalyptic Fantasy by Dr. Ken Tudor     Share    
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  a2a.init('page');   Save to mypetMDWell, we have finally done it. Our overuse of antibiotics is selecting for “super bugs” of bacteria that are resistant to antibiotic therapy that threatens world health. As patients, pet owners, and doctors, we are all too quick to treat symptoms with antibiotics rather spend the time and money to work-up cases to find if bacterial infection is really the problem. As consumers and food producers we have been too eager to ensure a cheap supply of animal protein by the use of antibiotics. It appears we are now paying the price for our choices.
Dr. Keiji Fukuda, MD of the World Health Organization (WHO), warns that “common infections and minor injuries can kill” due to antibiotic resistance.
Dr. Fukuda’s Report on Antibiotic Resistance
In 2014 Dr. Fukuda issued a report to the World Health Organization titled “Antimicrobial resistance: global report on surveillance 2014.” This report shared data on the present state of antimicrobial drug resistance and called for more shared data to identify the extent of the problem. His own data surveyed information from 114 countries. The results are alarming. Fifty percent of isolated bacteria in many countries are resistant to antibiotics commonly used to treat these infections. Life threatening bacteria like E. coli, Staphylococcus and Klebsiella are now resistant to the last drug of resort to combat these bacterial infections. One-in-five countries report bacterial resistance to the most common treatment for E. coli bacteria.
The report cites two major causes for this problem: the accelerated use of antibiotic use in humans and animals, and the lack of new antibiotics to replace ineffective ones. The report emphasizes that the use of the same drugs for human disease as animal disease, particularly animals raised for food, contributes to the cross species drug resistance problem. Because we may share the same bacteria with food producing species, genetic resistance to antibiotics in food animals can be transferred to us and our pets. But the problem is not isolated to antibiotic use in livestock. The report states:
“In many countries, the total amount of antibiotics use in animals (both food-producing and companion animals), measured as gross weight, exceeds the quantity used in the treatment of disease in humans.”

Dr. Fukuda calls for “global recognition of the need to avoid inappropriate antimicrobial uses and to reduce the administration of those drugs in animal husbandry and aquaculture as well as reducing their use in humans.
What is Being Done About Antibiotic Resistance?
The FDA has asked pharmaceutical companies to withdraw drug approval for the administration of antibiotic drugs in livestock that promote growth or increased feed efficiency in livestock. They have threatened regulatory action against non-compliance. More than 24 drug companies have agreed to comply.
What Can You and Your Veterinarian Do?
When your veterinarian recommends an antibiotic for a disease symptom ask for a rationale. He/she should be able to tell you the probability of bacterial infection as the cause and the justification for antibiotic use. If the rationale is equivocal and requires further diagnostics, inquire into the cost and relevance of potential findings and the importance of antibiotics for those treatments.
Antibiotics have revolutionized human health worldwide. We have a responsibility to not abuse them. Let the body do what it does best: heal.

Dr. Ken Tudor
Image: Chelle129 / Shutterstock
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TheOldBroad Resistance! 08/21/2014 06:14pm It's such a shame that super-bugs are descending upon us, especially for those of us who have not used antibiotics for things such as a cold or flu.

I blame not only livestock producers for putting antibiotics in feed, but also doctors that "give in" and write a script for antibiotics when a patient asks - even when it's not warranted.

I understand secondary infections after a bout with a virus, but it just isn't necessary as a prophylactic "just in case" drug. Reply to this comment Report abuse 4 ]]> TheDailyVet Thu, 21 Aug 2014 11:00:00 +0000 31946 at
Cat's Age Matters When Spaying to Reduce Cancer Risk Aug 20, 2014 Cat's Age Matters When Spaying to Reduce Cancer Risk by Dr. Joanne Intile     Share    
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  a2a.init('page');   Save to mypetMDMammary cancer is a particularly frightening diagnosis for cat owners. Over 90 percent of feline mammary tumors are malignant, meaning they grow in an invasive fashion and spread to distant sites in the body. This is in contrast to dogs, where only about 50 percent of mammary tumors are malignant.
Tumors tend to affect older, unspayed female cats, but all cats, including males, are at risk.
The age at which a female cat is neutered plays a role in protecting against tumor development, with the greatest benefit seen for kittens spayed before 6 months of age, who have a 91 percent reduction in risk compared to non-spayed cats. Spaying between six months and one-year results in an 86 percent reduction in risk, spaying between 1-2 years leads to an 11 percent reduction in risk, and spaying after age two does not reduce the risk of mammary cancer development at all.
Sometimes owners will detect a mammary mass incidentally while petting their cat. Other times the cat will draw attention to a tumor by showing signs of increased licking or chewing at the affected area. Masses can also be discovered “accidentally” during routine physical exams.
The size of the tumor at the time of diagnosis makes a difference in patient outcome:

Cats with tumors less than 2cm in diameter at the time of removal have a median survival time of 4.5 years.

Cats with tumors greater than 3cm in diameter at the time of removal have a median survival time of 6 months.

Because tumors can go undetected for a long time and the size of the tumor is prognostic, routine physical exams are of absolute necessity for pets. (see Regular Exams Can Save More Than Your Pet's Life) This is especially true for cats known to be neutered later in life, or for those cats adopted as adults with an unknown medical history.
Surgery is the mainstay of treatment for cats with mammary tumors. The current recommended “surgical dose” for cats with no evidence of spread of disease is a procedure called a staged, bilateral radical mastectomy. This entails surgical removal of all of the mammary tissue on one side of the body, followed by removal of the tissue along the opposing side following about a 2-week healing period.
Many owners are anxious when they hear the details of this type of surgery. Though it is an aggressive procedure, what I try to remind them of is that the surgery is less invasive than one that opens up a body cavity, and we are very pro-active about our pain management measures. 
It’s always difficult to make this type of a decision for our companions — one where we know we are making a choice because that has the best chance for prolonging their life but also knowing there will be an impact, albeit temporary, on their quality of life.
A few important considerations for submitting feline mammary tumors for biopsy:

It is essential that all of the removed tissue be submitted for histopathology. Most feline mammary tumors are carcinomas or adenocarcinomas, but other histological subtypes do occur.

Submitting all of the tissue also allows us to know if there were additional tumors located in other mammary glands. Often I see a report indicating pre-cancerous tissue was removed in glands adjacent to the one with the tumor.

The biopsy report will also let us know if there are adequate surgical margins on the tissue, or if the chance of regrowth is more significant because cancerous tissue was left behind.

The biopsy should also provide information as to the grade of the tumor. The pathologist should examine specific histological features under the microscope to assign a grade to the tumor (grade 1, 2, or 3).

Each of the factors listed above help veterinary oncologists decide on risk assessment and for need of further therapy beyond surgery.
Based on the information above, I often discuss using chemotherapy after surgery to treat what is known as “microscopic residual disease.” These are tumor cells that may have spread to distant sites in the body prior to removal. The most commonly prescribed chemotherapeutics for feline mammary tumors are doxorubicin, carboplatin, and cyclophosphamide, though many other options exist.
We lack studies that adequately “prove” that treating with chemotherapy after surgery is truly beneficial for cats with mammary tumors. Although one study showed survival in cats receiving chemotherapy after surgery was not improved when compared to cats undergoing surgery alone, the disease-free interval was increased, meaning the patients receiving chemotherapy felt well for a longer time period.
Chemotherapy can also be used to treat cats with tumors that cannot be removed surgically, or for cats with spread of disease. Roughly half of those cats would show some form of response to treatment, and about 1 in 5 will achieve a remission (i.e., a period of time where no tumor would be detectable). Cats that showed a response to therapy have median survival times of about six months compared to less than three months if they do not respond to treatment.
Owners of cats with mammary tumors often ask me what will happen “in the end.” In my experience, there are usually one of two outcomes:

Cats develop large, non-resectable tumors that grow rapidly and become ulcerated and infected and ultimately make them feel sick and have a poor quality of life, or
Cats develop spread of the tumor to their lungs, and show signs of difficulty breathing due to the physical presence of the tumors or due to fluid building up around the lungs secondary to the tumors. 

A diagnosis of mammary cancer can be a scary and overwhelming. However, it’s important to arm yourself with all of the facts. Often, the best way to do this is to seek consultation with a veterinary oncologist or a veterinary surgeon prior to any major treatment decisions. The information you gain will be well worth the price of the referral, and could just mean the difference between life and death for your cat.

Dr. Joanne Intile
Image: MaxyM / Shutterstock
Mammary Gland Tumor in Cats

How to Prevent Breast Cancer in Your Cat

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TheOldBroad Specialists 08/20/2014 07:25pm " seek consultation with a veterinary oncologist"

I'm guessing that mammary tumors are usually aggressive so one should RUN, not walk, to the specialist. It would be important to make decisions armed with all the facts possible, but to do it quickly.

Reply to this comment Report abuse 4 ]]> TheDailyVet Wed, 20 Aug 2014 11:00:00 +0000 31945 at
Heroin Reversal Drug Used to Save Life of Abused Cat Aug 19, 2014 Heroin Reversal Drug Used to Save Life of Abused Cat by Dr. Patrick Mahaney     Share    
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  a2a.init('page');   Save to mypetMDNo owner wants to sicken their pets with their own good or bad habits. Yet, when it comes to the health risks our pets face as a result of consuming human drugs (prescription or recreational or over-the-counter) or nutraceuticals (supplements), the potential for serious consequences is quite high (both figuratively and literally).
On more occasions than I can reasonably assign a number, I’ve treated dogs and cats for intoxications with various chemical and natural substances. The majority of these cases occurred while working as an emergency practitioner in West Hollywood and involved dogs consuming their owner’s medical-grade marijuana baked goods or inadvertently placed cannabis buds.
But there were plenty of other occasions where prescription, over-the-counter (OTC), and recreational drugs were ingested by a curious canine or feline who just happened to be given the right opportunity, including:

Ecstasy — MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxy-N-methylamphetamine)
Methamphetamine — crystal meth
Amphetamine — Adderall, etc.
Opiates — Oxycontin, Vicodin, etc.
Benzodiazapines — Diazepam (Valium, Xanax, Ambien, etc.)
Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) — Ibuprofen (Advil, etc.)
Antihistamines — Diphenhydramine Hydrochloride (Bendaryl Allergy) or Doxylamine Succinate (Unisom, etc.)
Caffeine (No-Doz, chocolate, etc.)
Ginko Biloboa

Yes, I feel like I’ve seen it all. If I’ve not seen it all, I’ve at least treated a vast variety of pets suffering mild to severe toxicity at the unintentional hands of their owners.
There are toxicity cases I’ve not yet treated, and heroin is one of them. The unpleasant topic recently came to my attention. The Huffington Post’s Cat Who Ingested Heroin Saved By Overdose Drug brings to light the use of Naloxone, an antidote to opoids, in pets.
Naloxone (N-allylnoroxymorphone) is a synthetic chemical that interferes with the binding of opiate drugs to specific nervous-system receptors (an opoid antagonist). It thereby reverses the effects of opiates.
Naloxone isn’t just used to reverse the effects of inadvertently-consumed opoids. It also counteracts the effects of properly-used opoids that are used to relieve pain (morphine, hydromorphone, buprenorphine, butorphanol, etc.), or to induce vomiting (apomorphine).
Sometimes pets don’t show the responses we veterinarians would like to pain-relieving drugs (including decreased respiratory rate and blood pressure, sedation, etc.) and their best interests are served by reversing the opiate with Naloxone.
Reportedly, the cat in the above mentioned story was found by police with a rope around its neck under the owner’s apparently abandoned car in suburban Philadelphia. The cat had been physically abused as evidenced by several teeth being knocked out, and bundles of heroin and syringes were found in the car. The attending veterinarian treated the cat with Narcan to reverse the effects of heroin.
The owner is being charged with animal abuse and drug possession. When a pet is exposed to heroin or other illegal drugs, it makes for an ethical quandary for the overseeing veterinary practitioner in dealing with the legalities of the case.
I was involved with an incident in West Hollywood where an owner’s Chihuahua was brought in for the third episode of methamphetamine toxicity (my involvement was limited to this third episode). Especially since the client was a repeat offender, animal control was contacted to undertake the process of appropriately citing the dog owner for animal abuse and likely relinquishing the ownership of the dog. The situation got quite confrontational in the reception area when the owner found out his dog (having been successfully treated) would not be released back to him and he instead would be further dealing with Animal Control to potentially get his pooch back.
I felt badly for the owner, as he was striving to help his pooch by seeking treatment for the dog’s inadvertent consumption of methamphetamine. Yet, with the incident happening for a third time something needed to be done to serve the dog’s best interest from a health and well-being standpoint.
Hopefully, the cat involved in the heroin toxicity made a full recovery and is now in a safe forever home.
If you suspect or know that your pet has been exposed to or consumed a toxin, immediately contact your veterinarian or emergency veterinary hospital. Additional resources include the ASPCA’s Poison Control Center (888-426-4435) or Pet Poison Helpline (855-213-6680).

Dr. Patrick Mahaney
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TheOldBroad Reversal 08/19/2014 05:53pm "and their best interests are served by reversing the opiate with Naloxone."

I'm so glad you added this part because I was wondering why a veterinarian would have Naloxone on hand.

I hadn't heard about the HuffPo cat and hope, too, that it's now in a safe and Forever Home. Reply to this comment Report abuse 4 jaymetal Felt badly? OMG 08/22/2014 09:21am Why would you 'feel badly' for an irresponsible pet owner to begin with??! That would hardly enter my mind as the safety and care of the animal is at stake here! Who cares about the owner at this point after a third incident? Irresponsible people get what irresponsible people deserve!! A wake up call! Reply to this comment Report abuse 4 LoveALLAnimals247 08/22/2014 11:04am I totally agree!! Maybe, just maybe the 1st time would be a very stupid mistake. However, your 3RD time?!?! That's ridiculous!! I hope and pray that the precious Chihuahua and cat will be adopted into a loving and caring home!! God bless all rescuers, vets and people who love and stand up for the precious and VOICELESS!! Reply to this comment Report abuse 2 ]]> TheDailyVet Tue, 19 Aug 2014 11:00:00 +0000 31943 at
Infectious Virus Hits Horses in Colorado Aug 18, 2014 Infectious Virus Hits Horses in Colorado by Dr. Jennifer Coates     Share    
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  a2a.init('page');   Save to mypetMDMy family and I went to the Larimer County Fair last weekend. The carnival rides were a big hit (as usual), but I always make a point of dragging the kids through the livestock pavilions. This is one of the few instances I can easily introduce them to the world of cattle, sheep, pigs, chickens, and the like.
Seeing all the horses at the fair was anxiety-inducing rather than fun for me, however. This area is in the middle of a bad outbreak of vesicular stomatitis (VS), and I worried that bringing all those gorgeous creatures together for a long weekend of fun might be putting their health at risk. Even though I was at the fair simply as a spectator, the vet in me couldn’t stop checking to see if any of the horses seemed to be drooling excessively, which is one of the early signs of the disease.
Vesicular stomatitis is caused by a viral infection. Cattle, horses, and pigs are the most common victims, but sheep, goats, llamas, and alpacas can also be affected. This year’s Colorado outbreak has been affecting horses almost exclusively. At last count 201 horses and 3 cows have tested positive for VS.
Animals can become infected with VS through direct contact with individuals shedding the virus, through contaminated equipment, or via flying insects that carry the virus from one animal to another. The disease causes blister-like lesions to develop in and around the mouth, nose, and hooves, and oftentimes on the teats of lactating females (e.g., dairy cows). The blisters rupture, leaving behind raw sores that are so painful affected animals are reluctant to eat, drink, and move around. People who come in contact with VS infected animals can develop flu-like symptoms, but human cases are quite rare.
Vesicular stomatitis is rarely fatal. Most animals recover in about two weeks unless secondary infections set in, but it is still very important for two main reasons:
1. VS can lead to significant economic losses due to weight loss, drops in production (e.g., milk in dairy cows), performance declines, and the quarantines necessary to control the disease.
2. In cloven-hooved animals (e.g., cattle, pigs, sheep, goats), VS lesions look a lot like those associated with foot and mouth disease, a more severe viral infection that has been eradicated from the United States. Therefore, all infections that cause vesicular (blister-like) lesions in livestock must be reported to appropriate governmental agencies.
Colorado State Veterinarian Dr. Keith Roehr says “Over the past two weeks, our office has been receiving approximately ten reports daily of animals demonstrating clinical signs that are consistent with VS. Livestock, including horse and cattle owners, should be aware that insect control is an important tool in the prevention of VS. Most of the cases we have investigated involve horses that have had no history of movement; therefore, controlling black flies and midges are very important in the prevention of the spread of disease.”
So far I haven’t heard of any cases associated with horses travelling to the Larimer County Fair. Fingers crossed it stays that way.

Dr. Jennifer Coates
Image: Rita Kochmarjova / Shutterstock
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TheOldBroad Flying Creatures 08/18/2014 05:18pm Are there safety measures in place at the fair to keep the flying insects away from the animals that might catch VS? Reply to this comment Report abuse 4 Dr. Jennifer Coates 08/18/2014 09:21pm I didn't see anything other than the routine use of fly sprays, etc. Reply to this comment Report abuse 5 ]]> TheDailyVet Mon, 18 Aug 2014 11:00:00 +0000 31942 at
Ebola Virus and Cats Aug 15, 2014 Ebola Virus and Cats by Dr. Lorie Huston     Share    
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  a2a.init('page');   Save to mypetMDI was recently asked to write about Ebola, the virus that causes it, and whether or not the virus is a risk to our cats. To be quite honest, when I received this request, I found it necessary to do a bit of research to answer these questions. Ebola is, thankfully, a disease that I have never had cause to deal with in my practice.
During the course of my research, I turned to a trusted source: the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the information they have to offer on Ebola.
Let’s discuss first exactly what Ebola is. Here’s what the CDC says:
Ebola virus is the cause of a viral hemorrhagic fever disease. Symptoms include: fever, headache, joint and muscle aches, weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, lack of appetite, and abnormal bleeding. Symptoms may appear anywhere from 2 to 21 days after exposure to ebolavirus though 8-10 days is most common.

Here’s what the CDC has to say about the transmission of the disease:
Ebola is transmitted through direct contact with the blood or bodily fluids of an infected symptomatic person or through exposure to objects (such as needles) that have been contaminated with infected secretions.

The CDC goes on to state that Ebola is not a food-borne or water-borne illness and cannot be transmitted through the air. They also make note that individuals who are not symptomatic of disease are not capable of transmitting the disease. In other words, to actually get Ebola from another infected person, that person has to be sick with the disease.
The CDC does not, however, mention pets such as cats in relation to Ebola. They do make note of the fact that non-human primates, bats, and rodents are suspected to be capable of carrying the disease, and contact with blood or secretions from these animals, or the ingestion of infected meat, may lead to transmission of the disease to a person. Bats are the most likely source, according to the CDC, at least in the case of the most recent disease outbreak being experienced in West Africa. However, the actual natural reservoir for the disease does remain unknown at this time.
In the interest of keeping panic about Ebola to a minimum, it’s worth noting that, as of August 10, 2014, the CDC has received no evidence of any infections that have occurred within the U.S. They also state that “Ebola does not pose a significant risk to the U.S. public.”
Not finding any information specifically relating to pet cat populations or the feline species in general on the CDC site, my next step was a search of the literature, looking for evidence that cats can or cannot be infected with the disease.
The good news is that I found no evidence (through clinical studies or any reputable source) that cats can be infected and/or can be a source of transmission. The bad news is that I also found no evidence to the contrary.
Based on what we know about the disease, the virus, and how Ebola is spread, it seems unlikely that our pet cats are at risk. Of course, when dealing with living breathing beings, nobody can ever truly “never say never.” Still, I see little cause for worry, particularly for pet cats that are housed indoors and do not eat raw meat.

Dr. Lorie Huston
Image: Shvaygert Ekaterina / Shutterstock
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Westcoastsyrinx Transmission? 08/15/2014 03:50pm Hi Lori; I didn't see any information on bats being vectors here? Did I miss it? Here is the site I have often used to clarify whether our pets are succeptible or carriers:

It is unfortunate that this disease is similar to the AIDS virus. This means there are a number of clades, each different to a degree, so it is difficult to find a good vaccine for Ebola, just as there would be difficulty finding an effective vaccine for FIV.

I have been responding on private email groups about this and am so glad to see it tackled on an open website that anyone can view. (-;
Reply to this comment Report abuse 5 TheOldBroad Ebola 08/15/2014 05:01pm As one who routinely cleans up piles of cat barf as well as scooping boxes twice a day, I'd be curious to know if cats can host the virus without being sick. Can a human be infected through minimal contact? If one washes one's hands after cleaning anything containing bodily fluids, can they contract the disease through small cuts?

Since my fluffies are indoor-only, I'm not at all worried, though. Reply to this comment Report abuse 6 Westcoastsyrinx 08/16/2014 11:10pm Hi TheOldBroad. The answer would be the first URL I posted, which I will repost here:

I think on this website you have to cut and paste to your browser for it to work. In the meantime, if I remember correctly, the answer is a very definite "no."
Reply to this comment Report abuse 5 ]]> TheDailyVet Fri, 15 Aug 2014 11:00:00 +0000 31940 at
A Vet Remembers Her First Horse Birth Aug 14, 2014 A Vet Remembers Her First Horse Birth by Dr. Anna O'Brien     Share    
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  a2a.init('page');   Save to mypetMDI can’t believe I haven’t yet shared with you folks my very first foaling. It’s not as you might expect. Let me explain.
One lovely spring day during my freshman year of undergrad, prior to vet school, I was out on a bike ride in the countryside. Toward the end of the ride, I passed a small horse farm. With a modest wooden stable in the background, a single dark horse stood in the field in front. As I rode past the field, I slowed to watch this horse lay down and roll. Coming to a stop and squeezing between the hedges that divided the field from the road, I continued to watch and soon realized this horse wasn’t just rolling for a dirt bath — she was having a baby!
Abandoning my bike on the sidewalk, I pushed through the hedges and against the fence. The mare was quiet on her side for a minute or two and then the intense contractions began. I could see them from where I was standing, about two hundred feet away. Luckily for me, the mare was laying such that I could actually see the foal as first its front feet emerged, then its nose and head.
Incredulous, I watched as the mare took a rest from the pushing after the foal’s shoulders were out. The vast majority of foalings occur in the dead of night (one study showed 65 percent of mares foaled between 8 p.m. and 1 a.m.) and here I was, in the middle of the afternoon, witness to one in the middle of a field!
Soon, the mare began her contractions again. As I watched the foal’s hips emerge, another bike rider, who saw my bike on the sidewalk, poked his head through the hedges, asking if everything was okay. I nodded and pointed to the mare in the field in front of us. This other rider watched with me as the mare finished delivery, stood, and turned around to examine her newborn foal, which was soon shaking its head and wobbling back and forth as it attempted to sit up.
Although the other bike rider left soon after, I stood a while longer, watching in fascination as the mare cleaned the afterbirth off the foal. Soon, the foal’s long legs started to unfold in shaky attempts to rise. Again and again it tried to stand, but either the front half or the back half wouldn’t quite cooperate. As a general rule, foals should be standing within an hour of birth. I decided to stay and watch until the foal was able to stand on its own. After a few more attempts it was finally able to stand, albeit briefly, on all fours with, I swear, a look of triumph on its face.
Satisfied, I pulled myself back through the hedges, collected my bike, and finished my ride, which was the most enlightening bike ride I’ve ever had.

Dr. Anna O'Brien
Image: Nigel Dowsett / Shutterstock
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TheOldBroad Rolling 08/14/2014 06:25pm Is it common for a mare to roll about when in labor? Is it common for the mare to lay down during the birthing process? I always assumed they stood when giving birth.

Do cattle give birth the same way? Reply to this comment Report abuse 5 ]]> TheDailyVet Thu, 14 Aug 2014 11:00:00 +0000 31939 at
4 Reasons Why Socialization is Important for Your Dog's Health Aug 13, 2014 4 Reasons Why Socialization is Important for Your Dog's Health by Dr. Ken Tudor     Share    
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  a2a.init('page');   Save to mypetMDWhat things are necessary to provide a healthy life for your dog? Most owners would answer nutrition, regular vaccinations, parasite control, and regular veterinary exams. Few, if any, would answer socialization. But socialization is a key to the overall wellness and health of dogs.
Improperly socialized dogs risk their own health, pose an injury risk to others, and often jeopardize the ability to provide ideal medical care when it is needed. Here are four reasons why socialization should be a part of a dog wellness program.
Fear and Its Unhealthy Hormones
Poorly socialized dogs are fearful of unusual or new circumstances. This sets off neurological signals that result in hormone secretion by various glands in the body. Adrenalin hormones increase heart and respiration rates and blood pressure in anticipation of “fight or flight.” Corticosteroid hormones also contribute to heart rate and blood pressure. They also increase awareness and responses. But corticosteroids also decrease blood flow to the kidneys and intestines, promote muscle breakdown, and suppress immune system function.
It is these consequences that lead to stress related conditions in poorly socialized dogs that are frequently engaged in stressful situations. The addition of children to the household, frequent show and event competition, frequent grooming, and daycare and boarding can all cause chronic stress hormone release for poorly socialized dogs and affect their health.
Difficult Veterinary Exams
Next to a thorough history provided by a dog owner, veterinarians rely on a complete physical examination to evaluate a dog’s health or determine the extent of an illness. Poorly socialized dogs that respond to fear with aggression make a complete physical exam impossible. Even the simple solution of a muzzle to prevent biting prevents a veterinarian from using gum tissue to assess dental health, red blood cell production, blood oxygen content, and an estimation of hydration.
Struggling animals also make it difficult to objectively evaluate the heart and lungs. Palpation of joints, muscles, and abdominal organs are very difficult in these dogs. And even worse, fear sensitizes the heart to potential life threating heart arrhythmias if sedation or anesthesia is needed for a more complete physical examination. This risk cannot be determined in these animals prior to drug administration.
I can tell you from professional experience that the outcome is sometimes fatal. And what if these dogs need hospitalization? How on earth is the staff going to accurately monitor and maintain IV catheter care and administer appropriate medical therapy? It is virtually impossible to provide these animals with proper medical care. Many owners of poorly socialized dogs forgo veterinary care for their dogs due to embarrassment of their dog’s behavior and/or fear of injury to others.
Limited Exercise
Owners of poorly socialized dogs are often reluctant to provide their dogs with exercise. This is especially true for large dogs that are strong and could get away from their owners to engage another dog. Such “altercations” could actually end up costing owners of poorly socialized dogs large veterinary bills from the owners of “victim” dogs. By limiting walks, runs, fetching, or other forms of rigorous exercise, poorly socialized dogs are at increased risk of health conditions associated with being overweight or obese.
Inadequate Grooming
Many breeds of dogs require frequent and detailed grooming to maintain proper skin and fur health. This requires the dog to maintain an even composure for a period of time so the groomer can provide the proper “cut.” Poorly socialized dogs make such a procedure impossible. Either drastic restraint that might injure the dog is necessary, or the groomer is faced with performing an inadequate cut and the threat of their own bodily harm. Neither is an outcome acceptable to most dog owners.
The use of veterinary prescribed tranquilizer in these cases is not an option. The selection of drugs that can be prescribed for these situations has the potential for a “paradoxical effect.” This means the drug can actually make the dogs more aggressive and dangerous. This poses a legal responsibility for the prescribing veterinarian. For this reason, I will not dispense tranquilizers for grooming to owners of poorly socialized dogs.
Good health includes early socialization. The age window for socialization is 3-12 weeks of age. Puppies need to be exposed to people, other puppies and dogs, social situations, and car rides early and often. A prudent recommendation suggests 7 new social situations each week until 12-16 weeks of age. Puppy obedience or play classes should be started immediately.
The veterinary notion of waiting until the puppy has had all of its vaccinations before socialization is completely outdated. Vaccines are not complete until 16 weeks of age and this is too late for proper socialization. Studies have shown that puppies with one set of vaccines are at no greater risk for parvovirus than fully vaccinated puppies in socialization classes. Proper socialization is a key element to your dog’s health.

Dr. Ken Tudor
Image: Jaimie Duplass / Shutterstock
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TheOldBroad Exams 08/13/2014 06:01pm I don't know anything about dogs, but I can attest that not being able to properly give/get a full veterinary exam can, in fact, be fatal.

My Stan was a happy guy and loved everyone - unless he went to the clinic. There he turned into The Cat From The Underworld. We were never able to get a baseline blood pressure and his heart rate and respirations clearly showed a great deal of stress.

We didn't know he had HCM and when he became diabetic/ketoacidotic (about a month after a full checkup), he went into congestive heart failure. His little lungs filled up with nasty stuff.

I'll always wonder if he had been a happy guy at the clinic like he was at home, if his HCM would have been diagnosed and he'd still be with me. Reply to this comment Report abuse 8 TheOldBroad 08/13/2014 06:03pm By the way, when Stan went to the clinic, we learned that cats can indeed turn inside their skin. He had to be anesthetized just to do a checkup. Reply to this comment Report abuse 7 dogaware What about Clonidine? 08/15/2014 12:50pm I realize that alprazolam (Xanax) can cause paradoxical excitement and sometimes increased aggression in fear-aggressive dogs, but what about using Clonidine instead? Dr. Nicholas Dodman now prefers it over alprazolam for short-term anxiety such as storm phobia. It should help for fear at the groomer's as well, according to this study: Reply to this comment Report abuse 8 ]]> TheDailyVet Wed, 13 Aug 2014 11:00:00 +0000 31938 at
Toxoplasma Parasite a Cure for Cancer? Aug 12, 2014 Toxoplasma Parasite a Cure for Cancer? by Dr. Joanne Intile     Share    
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  a2a.init('page');   Save to mypetMD“Could cat feces help cure cancer?” My eyes widened as they scanned over the title of the website I’d stumbled across.
After pausing for a few moments to recover my composure and swallow a mild wave of nausea, I rolled my eyes sarcastically and thought, “Yet another misinterpretation of sound medical research written in the name of Internet propaganda for the sake of promoting Dr. Google.”
Yet, as I continued to read further, I found myself intrigued by the concept behind the scientists’ work. The experiments were (thankfully) not designed to establish cat poop as a cure-all for cancer, but rather on using a common intestinal parasite (sometimes found in cat poop) called Toxoplasma gondii to battle tumor cells.
Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii) is a relatively simple organism found in the digestive tracts of many mammals. T. gondii can cause toxoplasmosis, a disease that is usually not a life-threatening condition, but which can result in flu-like symptoms and malaise. In immunocompromised people or animals, toxoplasmosis can be a much more serious problem, and in very rare cases, can even be fatal.
Infection with T. gondii occurs via four main mechanisms:

Ingestion of  T. gondii tissue cysts in undercooked meat

Ingestion of material contaminated with T. gondii oocysts

Via a blood transfusion or organ transplant

Transplacental transmission from a pregnant female to her offspring

T. gondii can infect any mammal, but as in real estate for people and single-celled parasites, it’s all about location, location, location. T. gondii thrives in the intestines of cats, and it's our feline friends who are considered the primary hosts for this creature.
Oocysts, which are the “offspring” of adult T. gondii, are shed in the feces of infected animals, including cats. This is the reason why doctors tell pregnant women to avoid scooping their cats’ litter boxes. If they were to become infected by accidentally ingesting oocysts shed in the waste, they could experience a miscarriage.
So what does this all have to do with cancer?
Regardless of the the cell of origin, cancer exists to some extent because the host’s immune system fails to recognize tumor cells as being “different” from healthy cells. Cancer cells work very hard to evade immune reactions and do this by two main mechanisms — they either work to suppress immune reactions or they work to keep themselves appearing as “normal” as possible.
Conventional anti-cancer treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy work by causing damage to cells in a non-specific manner. These modalities attack both healthy and tumor cells with nearly equal fervor. This leads to issues with toxicity and also greatly limits the doses that can be administered safely.
These latter factors have led to a great interest in developing targeted therapies for treating cancer, including options immunotherapy (for example: Immunotherapy anti-cancer treatments attempt to use the host’s own immune system to fight off cancer cells in a specific and controlled manner.
The theory behind using T. gondii as an anti-cancer treatment stems from its ability to elicit a strong immune response within the host; a response designed to fight off the infection. By infecting people or animals who have cancer with the parasite, the hope is that the patient’s immune system will be more effectively primed to battle tumor cells previously hidden from attack.
Research with T. gondii has shown anti-tumor activity in mice with ovarian carcinoma and melanoma. Tumors were confirmed to reduce in size, and mice treated with T. gondii developed potent immune reactions. Perhaps the most exciting data showed that the mice with melanoma whose tumors reduced in size following treatment with T. gondii maintained their ability to withstand new tumor development when re-challenged with melanoma cells later on.
The long-term goal for the researchers is to develop an anti-cancer vaccine containing the weakened T. gondii organism. Unlike conventional vaccines, T. gondii will be used as a treatment for cancer, rather than a preventative measure.
I do question the efficacy of the vaccine in people and/or animals that have been previously exposed to T. gondii. Up to one-third of humans and many household pets test positive for prior contact with the parasite. I would be concerned that those individuals would already have immune systems that are geared towards fighting off T. gondii, and may actually eradicate it before enough time has passed to stimulate the immune response necessary to kill tumor cells.
Fortunately, treatment with T. gondii does not involve feces, feline or otherwise. Also reassuring is the strain of T. gondii used in the research is a purified and attenuated (meaning weakened) version of the organism that cannot replicate within the host and should not lead to the development of toxoplasmosis.
As for cat-poop being the cure all, I’ve leave you with my parting advice: Make sure to keep gloves on and maintain pristine hygiene when you scoop the litter box. And keep on hugging your feline friends with fervor. You never know when you might need one of them to save your life!

Dr. Joanne Intile
Could cat feces help cure cancer?; Medical News Today
Image: Olesya Kuznetsova / Shutterstock
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TheOldBroad Treatment 08/12/2014 06:17pm It sounds promising for treatment as well as prophylactic treatment to rid the body of remaining/free floating cancer cells after surgery.

Do you think this is viable for pets as well as humans? Reply to this comment Report abuse 5 Dr. Joanne Intile 08/13/2014 07:51am I think there is potential - but as I said, I wonder (especially for cats) if those pets previously exposed to T. gondii will have already developed some degree of immunity to the bug and if treated with a weakened version, their adaptive immune system will destroy it before there's time for the innate response that's needed to fight off the cancer cells, has time to develop.

Joanne Reply to this comment Report abuse 3 ]]> TheDailyVet Tue, 12 Aug 2014 11:00:00 +0000 31937 at
FIV May Not Be As Bad As We Think It Is Aug 11, 2014 FIV May Not Be As Bad As We Think It Is by Dr. Jennifer Coates     Share    
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  a2a.init('page');   Save to mypetMDOne title leapt off the page as I was looking over the listing of sessions available at the recent American Veterinary Medical Association Convention — Feline Immunodeficiency Virus: Does it Really Cause Disease?
I have long counseled owners that Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) is not an immediate death sentence, but short of the cat succumbing to an unrelated illness or injury, I’ve always thought that the disease would eventually be fatal. Has something changed in our understanding of FIV? Intrigued, I marked that session as a “must see.”
The talk was given by Dr. Sue VandeWoude, Professor and Associate Dean for Research in the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at Colorado State University. Her laboratory studies FIV “in the context of an animal model for HIV/AIDS and as an agent useful for investigation of Ecology of Infectious Disease in charismatic large felid species such as pumas and bobcats.”
I provided some basic FIV information in a post I wrote last year. What follows are some of the more interesting tidbits I picked up from Dr. VandeWoude, paraphrased from the convention notes she provided:
Between 1 and 25% of domestic cat populations are infected with one of 5 viral clades [variants of FIV].
FIV infection may be relatively asymptomatic in cats for many years, and some studies suggest it does not result in significant morbidity [illness] for infected animals. Nondomestic felid species, including puma (P. concolor) and lions (P. leo), are infected with distinct FIV strains that are not typically associated with overt disease.
FIV infects activated T cells [a type of cell important for immune function] and after acute symptoms (lymphadenopathy [swollen lymph nodes], fever, transient weight loss) typically enters a subclinical phase that lasts for months to years. Many cats live for years in the subacute phase with minimal noticeable disease, particularly when they live in indoor situations with limited exposure to other animals [although opportunistic infections and conditions such as gingivitis, lymphoma, and neurologic symptoms may arise].
FIV-positive animals in multi-cat households may transmit infection to uninfected cohorts, but the disease is not highly contagious.
After months to years of asymptomatic infection, for reasons that are not well understood, host immunologic control of FIV replication fails, resulting in increases in plasma viremia [virus in the blood stream], decreases in CD4 T cells, and increased susceptibility to infections and opportunistic diseases.
Highly virulent strains of FIV have been described, but are rare. These isolates can result in rapid immunological decline, high rate of cancer occurrence, and death within weeks to months following infection.

Dr. VandeWoude also talked about the FIV vaccine, mentioning that it not only provides immunity to the variants of FIV included in the vaccine but also offers “reasonable” cross-protection against the types that are not. However, many veterinarians have been reluctant to recommend the vaccine because it makes immunized individuals appear to have the disease on the most commonly used types of FIV tests.
Now that it looks like FIV infection is not the threat we once thought it was, use of this vaccine seems to make even less sense except in the most extreme of circumstances.

Dr. Jennifer Coates
Image: sematadesign / Shutterstock
You might also be interested in reading:

The Dread FIV Infections in Cats

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Westcoastsyrinx Accurate assessment! 08/11/2014 01:31pm Dr Coates, I agree with you wholeheartedly about the waste of time and money involved in the vaccine. We had a salesperson trying to push it onto our veterinarian and when I asked him about the issues I had read about, I got the worst case of bafflegab you could imagine, although you probably had it too. In our case, we took in an aggressive FIV+ cat and would have loved to have been able to protect the other cats, but couldn't trust the information being spread by the company. For starters, the vaccine didn't cover the clade in known to be in our area, and when one added the fact that the efficacy was about 80% at its best, we decided that a permanent separation between him and our other residents was a much more prudent choice.

After talking to a lot of FIV+ cat owners, and reading everything there is about the clades, (or was back then), I have come to the conclusion that depending upon the clade you might find different vulnerabilities in the cats. Our boy would have been able to be with the others if he only had problems with his teeth, but other than the one he clearly lost while fighting other strays, his teeth were very strong, causing us a number of emergency visits ourselves. DH and I can both assure people that humans don't catch FIV from cats, in fact, in spite of all the stitches I earned, a HIV blood test I had a couple of months ago in a general health check came out negative, years later. Same for DH. Legolas's teeth were perfect, unfortunately for him. If he was vulnerable to stomatitis, he would have stood a chance of being assimilated with his friends.

Legolas did end up dying of a heart attack after refusing to eat when the dog he loved so much died. Up to that point, we think he underststood he had handed us a problem, and gave us plenty of laughter and good experiences in all the years we housed him.

I once asked a lab vet if there was a chance of gathering the type of information on clades that could be helpful, and while she was very interested in Legolas's lab results every year, she wasn't forthcoming with any possibilities on clade characteristics. For some reason there is a very strong reluctance to test for clades, and that part I never did manage to figure out while we were going through our own experience.

We did love him so much that I have never managed to put a final post on his blog describing his demise as it was so very very sad for us all. Reply to this comment Report abuse 9 TheOldBroad FIV+ 08/11/2014 06:09pm I have an FIV+ kitty and luckily he's a lover, not a fighter. Yes, he moved into my back yard and eventually my home, so there's no telling where he got it.

When I took him to be neutered, the vet called to tell me had had tested positive for FIV and sounded so relieved when I basically said, "So?"

I do not fear the other kitties will contract FIV and have never regretted taking him into my family 7 years ago. We keep a close eye on him (he has a little stomatisis on one tonsil) to be sure he's in good health and he gets a full checkup at least once every 4 months. Reply to this comment Report abuse 9 ]]> TheDailyVet Mon, 11 Aug 2014 11:00:00 +0000 31936 at
Swarm of Africanized Bees Kills New Mexico Dog Aug 08, 2014 Swarm of Africanized Bees Kills New Mexico Dog by Dr. Patrick Mahaney     Share    
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  a2a.init('page');   Save to mypetMDA recent KRQE 13 news item caught my attention due to the horrible nature of the article’s title: Africanized Bees Kill Pet Dog
Treating dogs and cats that have been stung by bees and other insects isn’t anything new to my practice. Yet, I’ve never had a patient die from a sting nor see one that was assaulted by a swarm of what are commonly known as killer bees, as happened recently to a dog in New Mexico.
What are Africanized Bees?
For those of you who aren’t aware of the issues with these potentially lethal arthropods, an informative video can be found via National Geographic’s Africanized Bees.
Killer bees are actually African honeybees that escaped from a laboratory in Brazil in the 1950s. After reproducing extensively in the Amazon rain forest in South America, they moved into Texas through Mexico in 1990. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) features a chart detailing the Spread of Africanized honey bees by year, by county through 2011. I have to speculate that more areas in Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas have been affected since then.
Africanized bees are known for being readily agitated and quick to attack both animals and people. They even “form voracious swarms” and “chase victims for one quarter of a mile.”
Populations of Africanized bees are damaging the habitats of other bees, animals, and people. Entomologist David Roubik states that “these bees have done something no other bee ever did. They have sucked up most of the resources that are out there for bees and other animals too.”
What Happened to the Dog that Was Attacked?
Sam McCallum of Bruce’s Pest Control has specialized in bee control for over ten years. McCallum was called to a ranch in New Mexico after the rancher reported a “massive swarm of bees was attacking his dogs.” The “bees were so aggressive, they stung one of the dogs over 40 times,” added the rancher, which ultimately led to the dog’s death.
Bee venom causes a hypersensitivity reaction which may be mild or severe. There are four classes of hypersensitivity reactions and bee stings are considered to be Type I (Immediate) Hypersensitivity. It’s a process where previous exposure to an antigen (bee sting venom) causes an interaction between IgE antibodies (immune system protein) and Mast cells (white blood cells), which leads to the sudden release of chemicals that cause tissue swelling, leakage of fluid from blood vessels, and even delayed blood clotting.
It’s unclear as to why the dogs were attacked by the bees, but McCallum says that the “swarm was the worst he’s seen” and speculates that “all of the rain may be the reason the bees are so active right now and there’s a good chance it will happen again.”
The on-site beekeeper evidently also incurred the wrath of the killer bees, as he was stung nine times despite wearing a protective suit meant to keep bees out. McCallum and his team killed the bees that attacked the dogs (by what means the bees were killed hasn’t been disclosed).
What are the Clinical Signs of Bee Sting-Related Hypersensitivity Reaction?
In susceptible animals, the clinical signs are usually sudden onset and include (but are not exclusive to):
Hives (medical term = urticaria)
Swelling (angioedema)
Redness (erythema)
Pain to the touch
Licking at or pawing the affected site
Stumbling (ataxia)
Vomit (emesis)
Pale pink or white gums
Low body temperature (hypothermia)
Low blood pressure (hypotension)
Bee Sting Treatment for Pets
It's often not known if a bee sting is going to cause a severe reaction, or any reaction at all. Therefore, it’s important that owners take their canine or feline companions to a veterinarian for evaluation when facing a suspected or confirmed insect sting or bite.
Treatment may be simple, such as removing the stinger, observing for reaction, and managing associated discomfort with pain medications. Alternatively, a severe hypersensitivity reaction may require injectable fluids and medications (steroids, antihistamines, etc.), hospitalization, and other treatments.
Untreated hypersensitivity reactions could result in more significant illnesses and even death.
How Can I Protect My Pet from Being Stung by Bees?
When it comes to bee stings, prevention is always the best medicine.
My top tips include:
Always walk your dog on a short, non-extendable lead to prevent access to areas where bees could be plentiful, such as lawns coated with fallen flowers and blossoming bushes.
Never let your pet outside while unobserved by a responsible adult.
Avoid areas known to harbor above ground and underground bee hives. Even if beehives aren’t visible, a swarm could readily appear and rapidly overtake you and your pet.
Contact an experienced professional to rid your yard, trees, and other other surrounding environments of nests harboring stinging insects.
When faced with the threat of a swarm, I’d heed the perspective of an expert like McCallum, who suggests taking immediate cover, as “unless you can get into a vehicle or a house, you’re vulnerable. They’re going to get you.”

Dr. Patrick Mahaney
Image: Thinkstock
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fiddleronthehoof Removing the singer (sic) 08/08/2014 09:47am Removing the singer? So the Africanized Bees don't like music. Hmmmmmmmm Reply to this comment Report abuse 16 Dr. Patrick Mahaney 08/22/2014 11:03am Removing the singer! Hahahaha!
Thank you for pointing out this grammatical error with humor.
I'll have my editor make the correction.
Dr. PM Reply to this comment Report abuse 4 TheOldBroad One More Thing 08/08/2014 04:49pm One more thing to cause vigilance - and not let pets run free.

You never know who might be allergic to bee stings (including yourself!) and being stung multiple times could, at the very least, be painful and, at the worst, could cause death. Reply to this comment Report abuse 13 Dr. Patrick Mahaney 08/22/2014 11:07am I completely agree with you that we should not let our pets run free, as such increases the likelihood they will encounter potentially noxious stimuli like a bee sting.
Great point!
Dr. PM
Reply to this comment Report abuse 4 AnimalWhisperer Killer bees 08/14/2014 12:51pm Good warning article; once facts are known they can be dealt with. Thank you. Reply to this comment Report abuse 7 ]]> TheDailyVet Fri, 08 Aug 2014 11:00:00 +0000 31932 at
Cat Parasite Could Hold Key to Curing Cancer for Humans Aug 07, 2014 Cat Parasite Could Hold Key to Curing Cancer for Humans by Dr. Lorie Huston     Share    
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  a2a.init('page');   Save to mypetMDCats are often maligned for many different reasons. Not the least of these reasons is the threat of toxoplasmosis, a disease caused by an organism known as Toxoplasma gondii. Though Toxoplasma can infect many different types of animals, the cat is its natural host. T. gondii makes its home in the intestinal tract of the domestic cat.
Toxoplasmosis is a very real disease and I don’t want to make light of it. It can be especially dangerous for pregnant women and the fetuses they carry. It can also be dangerous for individuals that are immunocompromised.
In addition to these known dangers, T. gondii has also been implicated in causing a variety of other problems, ranging from suicidal tendencies to an increase in the risk of brain cancer. Though these allegations are tenuous at best, they are nevertheless often reported in the popular press. T. gondii has also been implicated as a cause of deaths in sea lions, seals, sea otters, whales, and dolphins, a link that worries many biologists, ecologists, and others.
All of these factors have, in some instances, led to a backlash directed at cats, particularly at the many feral (or community) cat populations. Recently, however, T. gondii is being cast in a different light.
In research currently being performed by David J. Bzik, PhD, a professor of microbiology and immunology and Barbara Fox, a senior research associate of microbiology and immunology at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, T. gondii is being investigated as a potential treatment for cancer patients.
Says Dr. Bzik in a quote on the Geisel News Center webpage, “biologically this parasite has figured out how to stimulate the exact immune responses you want to fight cancer.”
Most cancer patients, as a result of their disease, suffer some degree of immunosuppression, making them less than ideal candidates for infection with the unaltered toxoplasmosis organism. To overcome this stumbling block, Bzik and Fox have created a mutated form of the parasite, effectively removing a gene and making it impossible for the mutated organism to reproduce in people or in animals.  
Known as “cps,” the mutated form is safe, even for immunosuppressed individuals, because it cannot reproduce but it can still be used to “reprogram the natural power of the immune system to clear tumor cells and cancer.”
Though the research results obtained thus far are promising, both Bzik and Fox caution that further research is still needed. They foresee the potential, though, for developing a product that could be individualized tailored for each patient and the specific form of cancer being treated for that patient.
Should this research prove successful, a significant break-through in our ability to treat various forms of cancer would be the result. Ultimately, this research could benefit both people and pets, resulting in a treatment for some types of cancer that are currently not very easily or successfully handled.

Dr. Lorie Huston
Image: Annmarie Young / Shutterstock
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TheOldBroad Toxoplasmosis 08/07/2014 06:30pm I think cats get a bad rap when it comes to the paranoia about toxoplasmosis. It's my understanding that toxoplasmosis can be found in dirt. It's also my understanding that pregnant women and immunosuppressed individuals more often get toxoplasmosis from gardening than from the household cat. (Plus, if Fluffy doesn't go outside, what are the chances Fluffy can get it?) Reply to this comment Report abuse 8 ]]> TheDailyVet Thu, 07 Aug 2014 11:00:00 +0000 31931 at
Why You Don't Spay When the Animal Eats Hay Aug 06, 2014 Why You Don't Spay When the Animal Eats Hay by Dr. Anna O'Brien     Share    
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  a2a.init('page');   Save to mypetMDFor most people familiar with cats and dogs, the concept of spaying and neutering your pets has been ingrained. For population control, health reasons, and behavioral issues, the reasons behind spaying and neutering our small animal friends are plentiful and obvious. But what about large animals? Spaying of female horses, called mares, is very rarely done. Let’s look at why this is.
To neuter a horse is to geld it and the result is a horse called a gelding. This is the most common surgical procedure done on the farm and most male horses are gelded before they reach the age of three. A relatively simple procedure, gelding can be performed with the horse either heavily sedated and still standing or under general anesthesia lying down.
Most geldings take about thirty minutes from start to finish and the horse can be quietly walked back to his stall to rest. Full recovery in two weeks is common.
The benefits to gelding a male horse far outweigh the risks of infection or anesthesia from the surgery. Non-gelded male horses are called stallions. Stallions can become aggressive and difficult to work with when they reach sexual maturity and recreational horse owners are not experienced enough nor want to deal with the responsibility that comes with owning a stallion.
Spaying a mare is a more complicated medical procedure than gelding, involving entering the abdominal cavity. Although there is more than one way to spay a mare, each resulting in the removal of the ovaries, the procedure tends to be painful and there can be scary complications, such as bleeding from the ovarian artery, which can be difficult to control.
More recently, many veterinarians elect to spay mares using laproscopic methods, which means using small incisions and inserting small cameras on the ends of lasers to view the ovaries and remove them.
Aside from the difficulties of the procedure, many mare owners don’t feel the need to spay their mares because female horses don’t become as aggressive or difficult to work with as many stallions do (I say many, not all, because I’ve known some very pleasant stallions). 
True, some mares are renowned for being somewhat moody, or “mareish,” but some riders actually prefer mares to geldings. My personal opinion is that it all boils down to the individual horse. Yes, some mares are temperamental, but many geldings aren’t perfect either!
Then comes the question of population control, since I feel this is the strongest argument to spay and neuter dogs and cats. Although there is the problem of unwanted horses in the United States, you simply don’t have the hoards of stray horses roaming the streets as you do cats and dogs. Rare is the kid who comes in saying, “Mommy, look what followed me home. Can we keep this horse?”
Additionally, with the majority of male horses gelded, most mares can be kept intact without worries of unwanted pregnancies. Yes, there are stories of a neighbor’s stallion jumping the fence for an amorous visit, but I feel these are somewhat rare.
The primary reason a mare is spayed is due to medical reasons. Occasionally, a mare will develop ovarian cysts or cancerous growths that affect her hormone levels and can make her behave in unpredictable, aggressive, stallion-like ways. If systemic hormone therapies don’t help, removal of the ovaries does the trick.
I think this final observation speaks the loudest as to the rarity of spaying a mare: We were not taught the procedure in vet school. It’s best left to the large animal surgical specialists in veterinary hospitals and referral clinics.

Dr. Anna O'Brien
Image: Horse Crazy / Shutterstock
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TheOldBroad Vet School 08/06/2014 05:19pm Vet students aren't taught to spay a mare? Surely you jest!

What equine surgeries are the most common and what is taught in school - especially to those students that plan to practice large animal medicine? Reply to this comment Report abuse 7 Dr. Anna O'Brien 08/07/2014 06:50pm No jesting! Vet students are not taught how to spay a mare. We learned about the procedure, but did not get the chance to see it or try it. If a mare happened to come into the school clinic needing a spay while a student was on that rotation, then they'd be witness to the procedure, but that is purely by luck. Again, this speaks to how uncommon a procedure this really is.

As far as common large animal surgeries, by far the most common is castration. In cattle, students got to do and see a lot of C-sections, as this is also very common (but not in horses -- maybe that should be another blog topic?) Reply to this comment Report abuse 8 ]]> TheDailyVet Wed, 06 Aug 2014 11:00:00 +0000 31930 at