Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Ebola and our Pets


Written by:  Janice Row

Can dogs get or transmit the Ebola virus?

One can scarcely turn on the news today without hearing the latest frightening statistics about the 2014 African Ebola epidemic. WHO (World Health Organization) predicts that before it is contained, 20,000 people will have been infected and it will cost 600 million dollars to fight this outbreak. To date there is no cure, but there are promising new treatments and vaccines being developed to battle the disease that was first identified in 1976.

What Is Ebola?

According to comprehensive Center for Disease Control (CDC) studies, Ebola is a virus or group of viruses that originated in central Africa, possibly in birds. The main reservoir for the virus now is thought to be African fruit bats. 

In people the virus causes headaches, muscle and joint pain, fever, sore throat, diarrhea, vomiting and then progresses to kidney failure and the hemorrhagic stage when the victim begins bleeding internally and externally. 

Among primates, including humans, the disease is 50 to 90% fatal. 

What Creatures Are at Risk For Ebola Infection?

Ebola is a zoonotic disease, which means it can be passed between species. The most adversely affected group is primates, including gorillas, chimpanzees, monkeys and humans. Other animals known to have been naturally infected are the African fruit bats, antelope, porcupines, rodents, pigs and dogs. There have been no documented infections in felines at this time.

How Is Ebola Spread?

Ebola is spread in several ways. An important study done by CDC infectious disease experts and veterinarians following the 2001-2002 Ebola outbreak concluded that consumption of infected meat was one avenue. Gorillas and other primates kill and eat infected animals, African hunters trade in "bush meat" and people who consume that can become infected. 

An important way Ebola is spread amongst humans is by direct contact with body fluids such as urine, saliva, vomit, feces, semen and blood from infected individuals. 

Objects such as needles may also be contaminated with infected fluids.

How Do Dogs Get Ebola?

Dogs and other animals pick up Ebola from consuming infected meat, direct contact with infectious fluids such as urine, feces. 

Dogs are kept as pets and for hunting in Africa but are not typically fed, therefore they scavenge and ingest infected meat or residue from infected people. The very detailed CDC study found evidence of infection in dogs by testing hundreds of blood samples for antibodies. 

What are Symptoms of Ebola in Dogs? 

The CDC concluded that infected dogs are asymptomatic (do not develop symptoms) from Ebola. During the initial time of their infection, however, they can spread the disease to humans and other animals through licking, biting, grooming, saliva, tears, urine, and feces. However, once the virus is cleared from the dog it is no longer contagious. Dogs do not die from Ebola infections. 

Can MY Dog Get Ebola?

In the United States and areas of the world not contiguous to the affected countries in central Africa, the chances of contracting Ebola are extremely low. 

The virus is spread mainly in the current prevalent areas where the lifestyle is far different from ours. There is no known source of infection outside of affected areas in Africa. In our country, and most countries with more stringent rules concerning food production and sanitation, our pets should be protected as well as we are from this type of catastrophic disease.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Transporting your cat safely and stress free!

All cat owners are faced with the question, ‘what is the best way for me to take my cat to a vet appointment’?

Unlike dogs, traveling by car is not natural for a cat and we tend to feel anxious (unless you are lucky enough to have a cat who enjoys the outing!) when we prepare for the trip. Here are a few suggestions to make the experience a little less stressful…for you and your feline!

Use a carrier!  

This will ensure a safe transfer (who needs a cat under your feet when driving!) and it will provide a safe place for them during the ride.  Be sure to put a favorite toy and soft blanket inside so they are comfortable.

It’s a good idea to keep the carrier out in the open when you aren't transporting so your cat won’t be threatened by it.  Try putting some treats in there periodically so they get used to going in and out of it.

Be prepared!  Give yourself plenty of time to get your cat in to the carrier so you aren't rushed.  If your cat is new to transporting, consider a trial run before you go to the vet so you both know what to expect!  And remember, a cat can find a new place to hide when under pressure!  Arriving on time and will keep the stress level lower.

Some cat owners have a more successful trip if they spray Feliway® into to carrier 20 – 30 minutes prior as it will help calm and anxious cat!

Keep you cat in the carrier when you get to the vet’s and remember to keep talking softly and in a calm voice to your pet.

The time we spend with our vets is precious.  Make a list in advance of any questions or concerns you have about your cat and the experience will be more beneficial for all!

Praise your cat on the ride home and give them something special when you get home…and leave the carrier out! 

If your cat simply will not get into the carrier, or cannot be confined, you may want to consider some alternatives that are on the market! 

More information and suggestions:

Friday, September 5, 2014

What is a "Senior Cat"?

Gracie just turned that 'old' for a cat?

There is no one specific age that classifies a cat as senior. 

Like people, some cats age faster than others. Generally speaking, however, older cats can be placed into one of three groups:
Mature or middle-aged: 7–10 years (44–56 years for humans)
Senior: 11–14 years (60-72 years for humans)
Geriatric: 15+ years (76+ years for humans)

With good home and veterinary care, many cats can live into their late teens and early twenties. It’s important to understand that your cat is likely to undergo certain physical changes with age. Some changes, such as reduced kidney function, may be associated with diseases that affect how long — and how well — your pet will live. Others, such 
as decreased ability to see, hear and taste, may require certain changes in how you interact with and care for your cat. 

Some of the common changes associated with aging include:

  •  Altered sleep-wake cycle
  •  Changes in vision 
  •  Appearance of brown spots in the iris
  •  Decreased sense of smell
  •  Brittle nails
  •  Decreased lung reserve
  •  Heart or circulatory problems
  •  Decreased digestion and ability to absorb nutrients
  •  Loose, less-elastic skin
  •  Reduced ability to handle stress
  •  Changes in behavior 

 Understanding aging changes, as well as what constitutes “normal” developments and what signals signs of treatable conditions, can be challenging. Some owners might think 
that, unlike dogs, cats do not need to visit the veterinarian on an ongoing basis, outside of scheduled vaccinations. 

This couldn't be further from the truth. In fact, by regularly taking your cat to a veterinarian, illness can be diagnosed early and age-related health conditions are delayed or managed. 

Source:  American Association of Feline Practitioners 
Sponsored by: Purina Veterinary Diets