National Canine Cancer Foundation to fund a new innovative Hemangiosarcoma (HSA) Research Project

June 19th, 2014

I have some new exciting news. As you all know we are always trying to find an new edge in the battle against canine cancer. And Hemangiosarcoma (HSA) is one of those cancers we would like to get a better handle on since it seems to end up being diagnosed too late to save the dog. In fact, we are so keen on finding out how to deal with HSA that we have actually initiated our own research project on HSA with G. Elizabeth Pluhar, D.V.M., Ph.D., and John Ohlfest, Ph.D. This is very exciting for the NCCF because this type of research on HSA has never been tried. Let me tell you how it all came about by first talking about a dog name Batman.

Batman was the first dog to undergo a breakthrough experimental treatment for brain cancer, led by doctors, G. Elizabeth Pluhar, D.V.M., Ph.D., and John Ohlfest, Ph.D. They developed a combination treatment plan for dogs with glioma, a very aggressive and relatively common form of brain cancer. First they removed the tumor surgically. Then, in some cases, they use local gene therapy to attract immune cells to destroy remaining tumor cells, and finally they created a personalized anti-cancer vaccine made from the dog’s own cancer cells to prevent tumor recurrence.

I personally love the thought of taking a cancer that was killing a dog and turning it into a personalized vaccine to kill the cancer!

Dr. Pluhar, a surgeon at the Veterinary Medical Center, and Dr. Ohlfest, head of the neurosurgery gene therapy program at the Masonic Cancer Center, gave Batman his initial treatment in August 2008. Batman led a normal life unaffected by his tumor until his death from cardiac failure in February 2010, there was no tumor recurrence. According to the Dean of the College, Trevor Ames, DVM, MS, “the far-reaching implications of this promising new treatment are almost difficult to fathom; not only could these treatments lead to a cure for brain and other systemic cancers in dogs, but because dogs and humans share many physiological traits, dogs could also be the missing link in the cure for brain cancer in humans.”

Then something interesting happened. Almost one year ago, Davis Hawn’s then 8-year-old yellow lab, Booster, was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma in his nasal sinus. Booster was given three weeks to live. Hawn did not want to accept the death sentence and began searching the country for a cure. His search led him to doctors in Florida who removed Booster’s tumor and gave him chemo. An online search then led him to Dr. Elizabeth Pluhar from the University of Minnesota’s canine brain tumor clinical program. Davis asked her to help his dog, but Dr. Pluhar had never made a vaccine for this type of cancer before. But Davis was not going to take no for an answer so she did agree to try. She shipped the vaccine off and ten months later Booster is cancer free.

Then after Davis contacted the NCCF to tell us about how well the vaccine works, we contacted Dr. Pluhar to ask if she would be willing to try the same research that was successful with brain cancer and skin cancer, and use the same protocol to try dealing with splenic HSA. The NCCF’s thinking is that with all these other cancers, the similarities were that the cancer had to be removed and a vaccine needed to be created from the cancer cells. With splenic HSA, one of the more common forms of HSA, the spleen is typically removed so we felt that Dr. Pluhar’s research could possibly work. With that in mind, we asked her if she could try and apply her protocol on splenic HSA. After doing some initial research she agreed to do the study based on reaching certain goals before going on to the next level.

First, she needs to insure that we can culture the cancer cells in the lab,

Second, she needs to insure that the tumor vaccines stimulate immune cells to attack tumor cells. If she can achieve these two steps she can go on to treat the HSA cancer. We could not be happier and are guardedly optimistic over this research project.

The cost for this project will be $55,500. I hope you are all as excited as we are about this research and will help fund the project. If you want to help with funding this new innovative NCCF’s initiated project please CLICK HERE or got to this link

Thank you

Gary D. Nice
President and Founder
National Canine Cancer Foundation

How to help your dog live a long and healthy life?

April 24th, 2015

1. Encourage a healthy diet

Dogs who eat less live longer. According to a 2011 study, dogs who were raised on a restricted-calorie diet-about 25% less than “normal” recommended amounts of food-lived an average of two years longer than dogs who were fed more.

Of course, you should not drastically reduce your dog’s caloric intake without consulting a vet, but this information supports the common-sense knowledge that a dog with a healthy weight is a dog with a longer life.

Obese dogs are more likely to develop heart disease and debilitating joint problems that can lead to early death, so help your dog stay fit and trim. The quality of the food you feed her matters, too.

Research the available options, and opt for a balanced diet free from unnecessary fillers to extend your dog’s health.

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2. Exercise enables a healthy body

Diet isn’t the only way to help your dog stay in shape. Exercise is a key component to prolonging your dog’s life, and as an added bonus, it’ll help you live longer, too!

Exercise is proven to lower stress, increase endorphins, and balance mood and emotions in people and dogs alike. In addition to helping your dog maintain a healthy weight and muscle mass, and keeping her cardiovascular system in shape, regular physical activity will help keep her happy.

If you want to prolong her life, consider prolonging those evening walks, and maybe even kick it up to a jog. Better yet, let your dog romp off-leash with a canine friend or two: socialization with other dogs is another way to reduce her stress and improve her overall quality of life.

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3. Keep her mind in shape, too

Like people, dogs thrive on mental stimulation to keep them happy. A bored dog can become depressed, anxious, and even ill. You can extend your dog’s life by keeping her busy. As she ages, keep her mind active with training, socialization, games, one-on-one attention, and other enrichment activities.

It’s never too late to teach an old dog new tricks: sign up for advanced obedience lessons, or try a dog sport like agility or lure coursing. Your dog will thrive with the added stimulation, and your bond will strengthen as you learn new skills together.

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4. Don’t forget to brush those teeth

Dental hygiene is an often-overlooked aspect of pet care. Many of us, myself included, simply forget to brush our dogs’ teeth on a regular basis. Unfortunately, poor oral hygiene can lead to plaque, gingivitis, and eventually periodontal disease, a bacterial infection of the mouth that has been linked to heart disease and organ damage in dogs.

The good news is, it’s not hard to keep your dog’s chompers in shape. Simply brush her teeth regularly, provide safe chew toys and dental treats, and have the vet check her teeth at annual visits. Learn more about dog dental health in our posts, How to Brush Your Dog’s Teeth (and Keep All Your Fingers) and Help! My Dog Has Bad Breath.

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5. Follow your doctor’s orders

Even if your dog is the picture of health, she should visit the vet at least once a year for a general check-up, and twice a year as she enters old age.

Wellness exams are meant to “maintain optimal health,” and they provide a concrete record of your dog’s health history as she ages. They also give your vet the chance to spot potential problems early on, and a problem detected in its early stages is more likely to be treated and resolved successfully. Sticking to a regular preventative care routine will give your dog the best shot at a long, healthy life.

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6. Remember to enjoy every moment

The sad fact of dog parenthood is that people outlive pets, and there are no miracle products that will extend your dog’s life far beyond the natural lifespan of her breed. But with conscientious care, enrichment, and regular veterinary attention, you may be able to give her a few extra years.

Your time together is precious, so maintain healthy habits, keep your dog active in body and mind, and savor every minute.

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Article reposted from:

Study reveals hormonal link between dogs and humans

April 22nd, 2015

Dogs are called “man’s best friend” – women’s, too – and scientists say the bond between people and their pooches may be deeper than you might think.

Researchers in Japan said on Thursday oxytocin, a hormone that among other things helps reinforce bonds between parents and their babies, increases in humans and their dogs when they interact, particularly when looking into one another’s eyes.

They described a series of experiments that suggest that people and their canine companions have mutually developed this instinctual bonding mechanism in the thousands of years since dogs were first domesticated.

Sometimes called the “love hormone,” oxytocin is made in a brain structure called the hypothalamus and secreted from the pituitary gland. It is involved in emotional bonding, maternal behavior, child birth, breast-feeding, sexual arousal and other functions.

“Oxytocin has many positive impacts on human physiology and psychology,” said Takefumi Kikusui, a veterinary medicine professor at Japan’s Azabu University, whose research was published in the journal Science.

In one experiment, dogs were put in a room with their owners. The researchers tracked their interaction and measured oxytocin levels through urine samples. People whose dogs had the most eye contact with them— a mutual gaze— registered the largest increases in oxytocin levels. The dogs also had an oxytocin spike correlating with that of their owner.

The researchers conducted a similar experiment with wolves, close relatives of dogs, and found that no such thing happened despite the fact that the wolves had been raised by the people.

In another experiment, the researchers sprayed oxytocin into dogs’ noses and put them in a room with their owners as well as people the dogs did not know. With the female dogs, and not the males, this increased the mutual gazing between dogs and their owners and also led to an oxytocin increase in the owners.

“I personally believe that there is a tight bond between the owner and dogs,” Kikusui said.

“I have three standard poodles. I strongly feel the tight bonding with these dogs. Actually, I participated in the experiment, and my oxytocin boosted up after the eye gaze, like 300 percent,” Kikusui added.

The study involved dogs of various breeds and ages including the miniature schnauzer, golden retriever, border collie, Labrador retriever, Shiba Inu, standard poodle, beagle and others.

Article reposted from:

Gene Signatures Predict Treatment Response in Canine Bone Cancer

April 21st, 2015

There are two chemotherapies commonly used to treat bone cancer in dogs: doxorubicin and carboplatin. Some dogs respond better to one drug than to the other. But until now, the choice has been left largely to chance. New work by University of Colorado Cancer Center members at Colorado State University Flint Animal Cancer Center presented today at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting 2015 demonstrates a gene expression model that predicts canine osteosarcoma response to doxorubicin, potentially allowing veterinary oncologists to better choose which drug to use with their patients. The approach is adopted from and further validates a model known as COXEN (CO-eXpression gEne aNalysis), developed at the CU Cancer Center by center director Dan Theodorescu, MD, PhD, which is currently in clinical trials to predict the response of human tumors to drugs.

“This is a cool thing for us, showing that we can use human models in canine cancer, and hinting that the reverse might also be true: the lessons we learn from canine osteosarcoma may help us better understand the human disease,” says Daniel L. Gustafson, PhD, CU Cancer Center investigator and director for basic research at the Flint Animal Cancer Center.

The COXEN model depends on the idea that cancer can be defined as the sum of its genetic alterations. Rather than looking at a cancer by its site in the body – say lung cancer or prostate cancer or breast cancer – the COXEN model evaluates a panel of genes known to be important to the development of cancer and uses gene expression to label the cancer with a genetic signature. The model then compares the genetic signature of a cancer to the genetic signatures of cancers for which we have treatment and outcome data. If the genetic signature of one cancer matches the genetic signature of another, the same treatment may be appropriate.

Clinical trials are underway at the CU Cancer Center in which human tumor samples are evaluated with the COXEN model and then the model’s recommended treatment is compared with results of the actual treatment.

“This study shows that we can use the COXEN model to accurately predict our patients’ responses to doxorubicin,” Gustafson says. “But the key here is that in addition to it being a personalized medicine approach for dogs, we are using veterinary science to further validate this tool that could help human cancer patients.”

Article reposted from:
By Garth Sundem

Dealing with it when a 4 legged family member is ill

April 20th, 2015

It was Black Dog Day at the veterinary hospital.

There was Daphne, an ebony pup with a bobbed tail and a playful personality. Owner Trish said she was 4. Across the room was a handsome purebred Black Lab. He was also 4, his owner said, though I didn’t catch either of their names.

Then there was our Koli. Koli is part Black Lab, part shepherd and part border collie and, except for a small white “bib” on her chest, she’s all black, too.

But as we chatted in the waiting area, Trish and I and the Black Lab’s owner discovered our dogs had more in common than the color of their coats.

All three of them have lymphoma. Cancer.

And all of us were at New England Veterinary Oncology for the same reason: our dogs are getting chemotherapy in hopes we can keep these much-loved members of our families in our lives. For at least a little more time.

My husband Hank and I adopted Koli in July 2012 from a South Coast shelter.

We were just days past the wrenching loss of Kessy, our Yellow Lab (also a rescue). She’d suffered a massive seizure and 18 hours and $2,000 later at an emergency clinic, it was clear she wouldn’t recover. We had to let her go.

While we knew we’d get another dog, when we heard about Koli (whose name then was “Martha”) I wasn’t sure I was ready.

Still, Hank and I went to check her out. Because of his stroke disability, he couldn’t easily get inside so they brought Martha out to the car where he was waiting.

Wagging her tail, she immediately leapt in.

As Hank tells it, “She jumped into my car and jumped into my heart.”

Clearly, it was love at first sight for the two of them — and I wasn’t far behind.

Koli, as we soon renamed her, came home with us that day and almost immediately it felt like she’d always been there.

As I’ve done with every new addition, we paid a visit to our long time vets at Anchor Animal Hospital in Dartmouth. Except for a slight upper respiratory infection, Koli was in good health. The shelter folks said she was 2 or 3 and our Anchor vets said that sounded about right.

I looked forward to her being with us for a long time.

That said, one hard lesson I’d learned from Kessy’s death was that I should have gotten pet insurance. I didn’t want to make the same mistake with Koli so I moved quickly.

After some research, I chose one that covered The Big Stuff, though not routine checkups. While I was at it, I also decided to insure our two cats. All told, it came to about $90 a month for our three furry “kids.”

Over the next couple of years, things went along just fine. Koli had regular checkups and, aside from having her teeth cleaned a year or so ago, there was nothing out of the ordinary.

Then in mid-March, I noticed the sides of her snout looked puffy. I thought maybe she had a doggie sinus infection but since she was acting fine and eating well, I wasn’t that worried. However, I felt it best to get her checked out. I called Anchor and made an appointment.

I guess I maybe had a fleeting thought that Something Really Bad was wrong. But I attributed that to the fact close friends had learned a couple weeks earlier that their dog had a cancerous tumor. Hank and I were heartbroken for them.

Soon I would be heartbroken for us.

On Saturday, March 21, a couple of days after I’d noticed the swelling, we were at Anchor, seeing Dr. Jill Robertson. It was the first time we’d met but she was great with both Koli and me. I pointed out the lumps on Koli’s snout and Dr. Jill took her temp.

Normal. A good thing. At least I thought so at first.

Then Dr. Jill began a back to front, front to back exam, feeling the mirror sides of Koli’s body. I watched as she felt under Koli’s “arms,” her back legs and everything in between and I started to get a sick feeling.

I asked her what she thought was wrong. She said there were several possibilities, everything from infection to lymphoma. To confirm a diagnosis, she asked to do bloodwork, a chest x-ray and extract fluid from some lymph nodes.

I said yes, but I also wanted to know what her gut was telling her. I’m basically an optimist but I’m also a realist. I wanted to know what we were facing.

Dr. Jill answered me honestly: her gut told her Koli had lymphoma. Then she had me feel the swollen lumps all over Koli’s body; the lymph nodes on her snout were just the most obvious.

The good news, she said, is that it’s the most common cancer in dogs and one that is often treatable, not in terms of a cure but in getting them into remission with quality of life.

The bad news: without treatment, Koli would probably die within a month or two.

Still, she stressed that until the tests came back, there was the possibility that it was an infection, not lymphoma. But with Koli not running a fever, I doubted that.

My gut, too, told me it was lymphoma and on Thursday, March 28, one week after I’d first noticed Koli’s facial swelling, the pathology reports made it official.

As Hank and I waited for the results, I said lots of prayers to St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals. We also talked about what we should do.

During most of those conversations, I ended up crying. That’s why I told hardly anyone what was going on. I couldn’t talk about it without tears and, besides, I was still trying to wrap my brain around it. It seemed almost surreal and definitely unfair. Here we were giving an abandoned dog a good life so why were we being punished?

In many ways, I felt like I did when Hank had his stroke 10 years ago: Why was this happening to us? What did we do to deserve this?

But, as Hank says, everyone gets something and whining doesn’t change things. So, I focused on what our next steps should be. While Koli was getting a little lethargic, she didn’t look to us like a dog ready to call it quits. We’ve been there and had to do that with other of our pets.

So we agreed we wanted to try and do something and after conferring with Dr. Robertson, chemo seemed like Koli’s best bet.

On Tuesday, March 31, Koli and I went to New England Veterinary Oncology Group in Waltham. In the last few days preceding that, I’d noticed a decline; Koli was acting more and more tired and her appetite had fallen off dramatically. But she was happy to hop into the car and head up to NEVOG.

Actually, I’d been there five years earlier with Snowey, one of our cats. Snowey had a terrible squamous cell skin cancer on the left side of his face, but even though it looked nasty, our vets assured us it wasn’t painful. Given that he was otherwise healthy, I couldn’t put him down, so I opted for radiation treatments.

Dr. Michelle Silver, Snowey’s NEVOG vet, was wonderful, kind and compassionate. So was the entire staff. The end result was another good year with Snowey.

I wouldn’t have missed it for anything.

And now, here I was back again, this time with Koli, sure this was where we should be.

Within 10 minutes of our arrival, we were greeted by Dr. Kim Cronin. She guided us into an exam room; since Anchor had forwarded our info, she knew why we were there. But she encouraged me to tell her what was going on. I did.

One of the first things she said was that I shouldn’t beat myself up for not having noticed sooner that something was wrong. (I didn’t say it but was thinking that.) She explained that lymphoma is insidious and can move incredibly quickly, making a healthy dog sick with frightening speed.

Dr. Cronin said that based on her initial examination, Koli was either Stage 3 or 4 lymphoma, Stage 5 being the worst. A subsequent x-ray, showing enlargement of the spleen and some fluid around her lungs put Koli at Stage 4.

The vet also pointed out that there are two types of lymphoma: B-cell and T-cell. “B is better, T is tougher.” While the test would cost about $180 and had to be sent to a special lab in the Southwest, I knew I wanted to know. (It was B and Dr. Cronin later happily called to tell me.)

Whatever form Koli had, Dr. Cronin said she was still a good candidate for chemo and a short-term course of steroids. That said, she was frank about the cost. Depending on how Koli responded, I could be looking at at least $3,000.

I told her that’s why I got the insurance (after a $500 deductible, it will pay up to 90 percent.)

One thing I want to make absolutely clear: there was no pressure, no guilt, no “You owe this to your pet.” as Dr. Cronin outlined the options. Quite the contrary, she, like Dr. Silver with Snowey, stressed there was no “right” road to take. Choosing one over another wouldn’t mean loving a dog or a cat any less.

Fortunately, I was in a position to make the choice I wanted.

That day, Koli started the first of what have been weekly treatments. She got a shot of a drug called L’asparaginase, plus a short-acting steroid to jump-start things and a month’s supply of prednisone, starting at 40 mg a day for Week 1, 30 mg for Week 2, etc. and gradually cutting back over the course of 30 days. She’s now at 20 mg.

Dr. Cronin couldn’t have been better but with Koli in line for multiple rounds of chemotherapy, I asked to schedule them at NEVOG’s satellite site at Cape Cod Veterinary in Buzzards Bay. It’s much closer to our Dartmouth home and a much less stressful drive than Route 128 to Waltham.

Dr. Cronin was instantly accommodating. Before I knew it, the staff had booked four weeks of appointments and Koli and I were in the car and on our way back to SouthCoast.

What amazed me is that almost immediately, I saw a difference in her. Koli even ate a dog cookie, something she’d turned her nose up at that very morning. And 90 minutes later, when we drove into our yard, she was close to ravenous.

Maybe we could get our dog back …

Two days later, on my April 2 birthday, Hank and I toasted the fact that Koli was still with us.

Just a few days earlier, I wasn’t sure she would be.

Yesterday marked four weeks since our unexpected journey into Canine Cancerland began.

Since our initial visit at NEVOG Waltham, Koli has had two follow-ups in Buzzards Bay with Dr. Andy Abbo and other very caring staff, who make the trip there on Tuesdays and Thursdays. It was during the first of our appointments there that I met the two other black dog owners and we compared notes about lymphoma.

When we went last Tuesday, I met a third — an Iraq/Afghanistan veteran who was there with Jack, his 11-year-old buddy and ex-cattle dog.

Like the rest of us, Jack’s dad is fighting a war he never expected.

All three of the other dogs are ahead of Koli in their treatments and all are doing well. So is Koli. About the worst side effect she’s had is excessive panting, due largely to the prednisone, but that’s diminished as the dosage has decreased. And, oh yeah, she’s had to pee. A lot.

But all in all, it’s pretty minor. Unlike humans, dogs have few side effects from the chemo. Nausea and diarrhea can occur but Koli hasn’t had those problems. Though I have to admit I held my breath this past Tuesday when I had to don plastic gloves to give her something called cytoxan. (Given its toxicity, a NEVOG tech stressed I shouldn’t touch the capsules.)

Koli was fine. Indeed, I don’t want to jinx anything but with each passing day, she is looking and acting more like her old self. Her coat is shiny, she’s perky, she’s eager for long walks — and every time I’m in the kitchen, she’s right there, looking at me with those big brown eyes, knowing I’ll give her a treat.

If she wasn’t spoiled pre-lymphoma (she was!) she certainly is now. Her Favorite New Food is $14-a-pound roast beef.

Of course, I wouldn’t be telling the whole story if I didn’t talk about The Elephant in the Room: How long will Koli live?

The answer is we don’t know. The vets tell us that some dogs live months while others are in remission for a year, 18 months or more. Like people with cancer, it’s hard to predict. Like people with cancer, some canines beat the odds.

We’ll likely know more over the next few weeks as Koli continues her treatments.

In the meantime, Hank and I are trying to focus on the here and now and enjoy the quality time we’re getting with a dog who grabbed hold of our hearts and never let go.

For however long we are together.

Story reposted from:
By Susan Pawlak-Seaman

When to take a dog to the vet ASAP?

April 16th, 2015

How do you know when your dog’s health problem is life threatening and requires immediate veterinarian attention?

Here is a list of the top 10 most common dog emergencies seen in the vet ER:

1. Dog trauma

If your dog has sustained some form of trauma such as a fall, gunshot wound, getting hit by a car or is involved in a dog fight then immediate veterinary attention is needed. Even if your dog appears fine initially a check-up with your veterinarian is still necessary because sometimes injuries sustained from a traumatic event such as a ruptured lung, diaphragmatic hernia or internal bleeding will not manifest symptoms immediately. Wounds such as lacerations and bite wounds may be deeper than they appear and complications such as infection can result from delaying veterinary attention. Sometimes the traumatic event is not witnessed by the owner, if you find your dog limping, seemingly in pain or is just not acting right then it would be best to have her checked out.

2. Dog has difficulty breathing

Dyspnea is also known as difficulty breathing and can manifest as wheezing, choking, weak and raspy breathing or respiratory arrest. This can be caused by a foreign body in the throat, allergic reaction, heart disease or pulmonary disease. If there is a foreign body present it is important not to try and extract it yourself – doing so may lodge the object even deeper, completely obstructing the airway. Breathing problems almost always indicate major dog health problems so do not wait to take immediate action.

3. Dog neurological conditions

Neurological problems can manifest in your dog as disorientation, incoordination, severe lethargy, unresponsiveness, and coma. A normal healthy dog is bright, alert and responsive; any pronounced change in your dog’s mental status requires immediate veterinary attention. Lethargy and weakness can be seen with any serious illness and should never be ignored. Sometimes neurological disorders do not affect mentation (for instance loss of use of the hind limbs can sometimes be cause by a ruptured intervertebral disc). Again these are serious disorders that need prompt veterinary attention to achieve the most favorable outcome.

4. Dog seizures

Seizures are also considered a neurological condition but are so common in dogs it deserves its own category. Any dog that has never experienced a seizure before needs to be seen immediately. Signs associated with a seizure include uncontrollable shaking and tremors, loss of consciousness, paddling with the legs and possible loss of bowel or urinary control. The most common cause of seizures in dogs is epilepsy. If your dog is diagnosed as epileptic not every seizure will constitute an emergency. If your dog has multiple seizures within a 24-hour period or if a seizure lasts longer than a couple minutes then your epileptic dog may need immediate veterinary attention. Talk to your veterinarian more about how to manage epilepsy and what to watch for. Other causes of seizures include hypoglycemia in puppies, insulinoma in older dogs and toxicities in dogs of all ages.

5. Suspected or known toxic exposure

You found a chewed up rat bait while running some laundry down to the basement or you notice the bag of fertilizer in the garden shed has been ripped open. If you suspect your dog has gotten into something potentially toxic call the ASPCA animal poison control at (888) 426-4435 for immediate advice on what to do. A veterinary toxicologist may advise you to induce vomiting, seek immediate veterinary attention or simply monitor at home if the substance ingested turns out to be innocuous. Keep a bottle of hydrogen peroxide in the house at all times in case you are ever asked to induce vomiting.

6. Dog vomiting and dog diarrhea

Vomiting and diarrhea are common problems in dogs and while they can be signs of a serious dog health issues the majority of cases are simple gastric upset that typically resolves within 24 hours. If your dog is otherwise acting fine then rest the stomach by withholding food for 4 to 6 hours and make sure your dog has access to plenty of water so they can stay hydrated. If she develops additional clinical signs such as lethargy, weakness or seems to be in pain then immediate veterinary attention is indicated. Also if vomiting or diarrhea persists more than 24 hours OR you notice blood in the vomitus or the diarrheas then go see your veterinarian immediately. If your dog has a chronic medical problem such as diabetes and starts vomiting then it is not recommended to wait 24 hours and to seek veterinary attention as soon as possible.

7. Dog distended abdomen or abdominal pain

If you notice your dog’s abdomen is distended and she seems to be in pain and/or uncomfortable then a serious medical problem necessitating immediate veterinary care is likely. Abdominal distension may be accompanied by dry heaves, retching, weakness, collapse and difficulty breathing. Abdominal distension can be caused by air trapped in the stomach which can cause the stomach to twist over on itself. This condition is known as gastric dilatation-volvulus—or commonly “bloat” – and usually occurs in large breed dogs. This is life threatening if not treated and the sooner you go to the veterinarian the better your dog’s odds for a positive outcome will be. Other reasons for abdominal distension can be fluid distension (ascites) from heart disease and hemoabdomen from internal bleeding such as a ruptured spleen.

8. Dog ocular problems

Eye problems in dogs have a nasty tendency to deteriorate faster than problems in other areas. These problems can quickly escalate into loss of the eye and blindness if not treated especially glaucoma. Signs of ocular disease include redness of the eye, discharge, excessive tearing swelling, squinting and constant pawing at the eye. Even if it is just a foreign body in the eye or a superficial scratch on the cornea prompt veterinary treatment can prevent a minor problem from becoming a serious one.

9. Dog urinary problems

If you notice your dog is not producing any urine then go see your veterinarian as soon as possible. While much more common dog health problem in cats than dogs, urinary blockages do occur and are life-threatening. If you notice difficulty urinating or blood in the urine then see your veterinarian as soon as possible because it may indicate a urinary infection or urinary stones that can escalate to blockage if not treated.

10. Dog whelping emergencies

If your dog goes into labor and you notice that more than four hours pass without any puppies, strains for more than 30 minutes without results or more than two hours elapse between puppies then she may be experiencing dystocia. Call your veterinarian immediately for advice.

This list is by no means all inclusive of definite emergencies but is a compilation of the more common dog health emergencies seen. If there is something going on with your dog and you are not sure if it is an emergency or not, be aware that help is just a phone call away. Always have the number of your regular veterinarian, the ASPCA poison control and the number of your local 24-hour emergency clinic available. As a dog owner you know your dog best – if you suspect something is wrong do not hesitate to call. This one act can sometimes mean the difference between life and death. Never feel embarrassed about calling or being a worrywart because it is better to be safe than sorry.

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6 Pet Health Myths You May Have Fallen For

April 14th, 2015

Like that old game of telephone, misinformation has a way of getting around – and around again. Pet care isn’t immune to the game. To help clear things up, here’s a list of some of the most popular misconceptions about pet health and the truth behind them.

Have you heard that the only way to reward a dog is with food? Unfortunately, this is a very common misconception among pet owners. Image credit: Thinkstock

Myth 1: Parasite Prevention Isn’t Necessary Year-round

In truth, many vets want pet owners to think of parasite prevention as preventive medicine. Some parasites, like roundworms, can infect pets at any time of the year, so only continuous prevention is effective against them. To help keep pets safe from fleas, ticks, heartworms and intestinal parasites, you’ll need to administer broad-spectrum parasite prevention medication; many of these products are administered or applied once every month. Your veterinarian will help you choose the products that will be most helpful to your pets.

Myth 2: Neutering Makes Dogs Soft

Neutering male dogs can quiet certain unpleasant tendencies (such as mounting behavior and urine marking) when done at a young age. At the same time, it won’t diminish skills that are characteristic of a breed – like hunting. What’s more, neutering also can help protect against testicular cancer and an enlarged prostate.

Myth 3: Urine Marking Is Just a Cat’s Way of Staking His Territory

Though cats sometimes use urine to mark their claim, frequent urination outside the litterbox can signal a serious health problem, like a urinary tract infection, bladder stones or even diabetes or renal failure. Sometimes inappropriate urination can signal that your cat is suffering from anxiety. If your cat goes outside his litterbox once or twice, it’s worth a call to the vet to see if you should be concerned. But if he’s having frequent “accidents,” making numerous trips to the litterbox, howling or meowing while urinating, seems unable to urinate or has any blood in the urine, take him to your veterinarian right away.

Myth 4: It’s OK to Skip Brushing Pets’ Teeth

Failure to brush regularly can lead to serious gum disease and significantly decrease your pet’s overall quality of life. When started at a young age, many pets enjoy teeth brushing! Even many older cats and dogs can learn to love it when you introduce it slowly and make it fun. Visit your veterinarian for toothbrushing pointers and advice — such as avoiding using toothpaste for people, because the fluoride can cause health problems in dogs and cats.

Myth 5: Itchy Ears Must Mean Ear Mites

When your canine’s ears start to itch, don’t immediately assume it’s ear mites and don’t attempt to treat the itch without seeking out your veterinarian’s advice. The itching could be due to a yeast or bacterial infection that requires appropriate medication to treat. Those infections typically occur as a result of food or inhalant allergy or another underlying medical issue. Plus, if your dog’s ear issues are allergy related, a one-time treatment might not do the trick. Your veterinarian will explain how to soothe your dog’s itchy ears.

Myth 6: The Only Way to Show Pets Love Is Through Food

Pets’ longing looks at your food or their empty food bowls do tug at the heartstrings. But feeding pets too much isn’t affectionate; it’s a health risk. Obesity can lead to other medical problems including skin issues, orthopedic complications, arthritis and heart and liver troubles. Don’t get hung up on the portion recommendations on a bag of pet food — those recommendations are general and might not illustrate the amount your pet needs to eat. Speak to your veterinarian about the portion size that’s best for your pet. And remember that when you want to show your pets a little love, active playtime is one of the best ways to do it!

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Canine Cancer patients shedding light on Human Cancer

April 13th, 2015

If you have cancer and your dog has cancer, it turns out you may be treated with the exact same drugs.

An innovative initiative at the University of Missouri combines traditional cancer research and care with veterinary medicine. This benefits our canine friends and, ultimately, human cancer patients.

Dr. Jeff Bryan walks with Susie at the University of Missouri veterinary school. (Photo by Bridgit Bowden/ Flatland)

Dr. Carolyn Henry, a veterinary oncologist at the University of Missouri veterinary school, said — unlike lab mice — dogs get cancer naturally just like humans. Their cancers are more likely to behave like human cancer when treated.

Dr. Carolyn Henry is a professor of oncology at the University of Missouri Veterinary School.

“It’s the same disease. It really doesn’t matter what the species is,” Henry said. “It’s the same disease if it occurs naturally. And so, answers in one species should translate to answers in other species, in many cases.”

At the University of Missouri animal hospital in March, veterinary oncologist Dr. Jeff Bryan treated a 13-year-old dog named Susie for a possible tumor in her bladder.

He said our pets face the same environmental risk factors for cancer that humans do.

Dr. Jeff Bryan is an associate professor of oncology at the University of Missouri Veterinary School.

“They have all the same exposures that we have in our lives,” Bryan said. “They breathe our air, they may breathe our cigarette smoke. They live in our houses, they drink our drinking water.”

Thanks to an initiative called One Health/One Medicine, university researchers and doctors are working together to develop new treatments for cancer. Some of the drugs, like one called Quadramet, were developed at the university’s nuclear research reactor.

David Robertson, the reactor’s associate director of research and education, said timing is crucial while working with radioactive isotopes that break down over time.

“If I make Samarium 153 in the reactor on Monday, by Wednesday, half of it is gone,” Robertson said. “By Friday, I only have a quarter of it left. If I’m going to use this radioactive material in new drug development for something that has a half-life that short, it’s very convenient to have the vet school, the med school, the chemistry and isotope production all located on the same campus.”

Susie, a patient at the University of Missouri veterinary school, is being treated for a possible bladder tumor.

Quadramet was tested first in dogs at the university’s veterinary school. Because dogs age much faster than humans, their cancers also advance much more quickly. That means if you’re a clinical researcher, you’ll see results sooner.

“What you would see as a five-year survival success rate in people would probably correlate to a one-year survival rate in a dog, so we definitely get our answers more quickly,” Henry said.

Bryan said pet owners who have been touched by cancer themselves are often the ones to seek more experimental treatment for their pets.

“They have a really personal motivation to try and help their animal,” Bryan said. “And those are often the patients we see in clinical trials because they want the cancer their animal has to be meaningful in the whole large scheme of fighting cancer.”

Here, Bryan is echoing something oncologists frequently say: that clinical trials are key to innovation in cancer research — both for humans and for our dogs.

Article reposted from:
By Bridgit Bowden

The Benefits Of Coconut Oil For Dogs

April 10th, 2015

Coconut oil is a fantastic addition to a dog’s diet. More and more people are discovering the amazing health benefits of virgin, unrefined coconut oil. We are now learning that this healthy oil is also extremely beneficial for our dogs as well! Coconut oil consists of approximately 90% saturated fats, yet most of those fats are Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs). The main component of the MCTs in coconut oil is lauric acid; which is antiviral, anti-fungal, antibacterial and helps to balance the immune system. MCTs are an excellent source of energy and are extremely easy to digest, as they do not require lipase or gall bladder bile to digest – making it easily processed in the body.

Coconut oil is very beneficial to the skin and coat:

The addition of this oil to the diet can result in the alleviation of skin conditions such as itchy skin, eczema and allergies. Coconut oil can reduce allergic reactions and improve the overall health of the skin and coat while making fur soft and shiny. Coconut oil can be used to deodorize as well, which makes it a phenomenal toothpaste substitute for dogs with stinky breath. Coconut oil can also be used to treat both fungal and yeast infections, including candida overgrowth.

Due to the antibacterial properties of coconut oil you can apply it topically to disinfect wounds and skin abrasions and promote quick healing. I have used coconut oil topically on Hunter with nice results, I find that it speeds the recovery significantly while keeping the wound clean. Apply coconut oil to hot spots, insect bites and stings, scrapes and scratches for protection and healing.

This fantastic oil is also used to treat or improve digestive issues and it is also known for improving digestion and nutrient absorption. Coconut oil is also known to assist in normal regulation of the thyroid, which can also help overweight dogs shed the pounds.

In summary, coconut oil is an extremely healthy oil that consists of mostly saturated fats – but don’t let that put you off! Coconut oil is extremely rich in Medium Chain Triglycerides and contains lauric acid which is very easily digested and converted to energy. Coconut oil improves skin and coat conditions, allergic reactions, improves digestion and nutrient absorption, support a healthy immune system and disinfects wound and promotes fast healing.

The dosage for coconut oil is one tablespoon for every 30lbs of body weight. Try this healthy oil for your pet, you won’t be disappointed!

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By Angel – K9 Instinct

Sheriff's K-9 handler recounts final days with beloved partner

April 8th, 2015

It’s going to be a very hard and lonely drive to work now for Rowan Sheriff’s Lt. Neal Goodman, after he lost his beloved K-9 partner to an aggressive bone cancer late last week.

The dog, Skylar, had to be put down Sunday, following a trip to the veterinarian.

“It’s the first time in almost 25 years I’ve been without a riding partner,” Goodman said.

Goodman has been the dog’s handler for nearly nine years and noticed the dog developed a limp a few weeks ago. According to the vet, Skylar had osteosarcoma, a fatal bone cancer. She would have only lived about seven more days.

Goodman made the difficult decision to put his longtime partner to sleep in order to end her suffering.

He said it was during some training some weeks ago that he noticed the slight limp. Although he was concerned, Goodman admits he just chalked it up to a twisted ankle. He figured he’d give it a little time to see if would go away.

“It got worse,” he said.

Goodman took Skylar to the vet on March 26 and after an extensive exam and tests, he learned the sad news.

“She had weeks if not days,” Goodman said.

“It was a no-win situation. Keeping her around would’ve been cruel,” he said.

Goodman started full time with the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office on August 1, 1995, a job he says he was lucky to start as a K-9 handler.

Being a K-9 handler is what prompted Goodman’s desire to get into law enforcement, he said.

He wanted to work with dogs and be a handler.

Skylar was his third and he believes his last K-9. He first worked with Fuhrer, a Rottweiler, for nearly 10 years, and then Vito, another Rottweiler, for over 10 years. Both Fuhrer and Vito retired and lived out their final days at Goodman’s home. Both dogs lived until the age of 14, he said.

It’s harder, he said, because the other two work dogs eventually became furry kids to him and his wife. The couple don’t have children and joke that their kids all have four legs and fur. Skylar’s death was so abrupt.

The Goodmans don’t currently have any dogs, but bred Rottweilers in the 1980s. He got Skylar from the Atlantic Rottweiler Rescue Foundation in Mooresville.

Two of Skylar’s most memorable captures included a search for suspects — one an armed robbery on U.S. 601 near Cauble Road and the other a search for a suspect charged with assault with a deadly weapon.

Skylar tracked the robbery suspect to a wooded area with the cash box from the incident and the other was found slumped down in a car at a home about a half a mile away from the incident.

Goodman has been head of the K-9 handler program for the last 20 years and has been very successful with several dogs, a statement from the Sheriff’s Office said.

“All the dogs were partners and protectors and they were my kids,” Goodman said, getting choked up.

Story reposted from:
By Shavonne Walker