#PreventDogBites

dog bite prevention week

April 8-14, 2018 is National Dog Bite Prevention Week® sponsored by the National Dog Bite Prevention Coalition. Although any dog can bite, this post is based on recent research into the causes of dog bite injury and is devoted to helping readers recognize situations where a bite injury is imminent. If this blog prevents even one bite injury, it will have achieved its goal.

Telltale Signs
Animal behaviorists talk about a canine body language ladder of aggression. The higher the behavior on the ladder, the level of aggressive behavior increases. Low-risk behaviors include blinking and lip licking. At the top of the ladder is biting. The rungs in between include crouching, hair standing on end, ears pinned back, yawning, tucking the tail between the legs, and spinning. Recognition of canine body language cues is critical to protection against bite injuries. A recent study of an adult’s ability to recognize these canine body language cues found adults observing child-dog interactions do not always recognize anxious or fearful dogs. Important point: be sure you monitor your dog’s interactions with children and remove her if she exhibits anxious or fearful behaviors.

Snarling = Bite Danger
In the past, bite injuries have been linked to dogs tied up on the family’s property. Veterinary researchers at Ohio State University studied the bite history of dogs confined to their family’s property by fences, tethers and electronic fences. Four percent of dogs had bitten a person in the past, and twice that number had bitten another dog. The type of confinement system was not related to a past history of biting, but dogs greeting other dogs or humans by snapping, snarling or growling were more likely to bite than dogs greeting others by sniffing or licking. Important point: protect yourself by steering clear of snapping, snarling or growling dogs.

Children at Risk
The National Trauma Data Bank contains a large amount of information on traumatic injuries. In a paper published just last month, nearly 8,000 dog bite injuries in children under 17 years of age were studied over a seven year period. One-third of the injuries were to children less than two years of age and another third were girls six to twelve years of age. Eighty percent of the bites occurred at home and by a dog known to the family rather than a stray dog. Important point: always supervise dog-child interactions as children may be too young to recognize warning signs of an impending dog bite.

Friendly Dogs Can Bite
A dog that is normally very friendly may bite if put in the right situation. Resource guarding and pain are two common reasons a friendly dog may bite. A tragic story from a local television channel reported bites to the face of a toddler who tried to take a bone away from a friendly dog. Important point: never take food away from a dog. Teach your dog the “drop it” command for the times when he picks up some undesirable treat from the sidewalk. If a friendly dog is sick, injured or painful, he may bite. Important point: if you find an injured dog, alert the authorities and let professionals transport the injured dog to a veterinary hospital.

Download a cute, informative and FREE poster on dog body language.

A Look Back at Lists of New Year’s Resolutions

Pet resolutionsOnce again it is time for our annual list of New Year’s resolutions. I looked back at my previous posts written at the end of the year and noted a number of lists of New Year’s resolutions. Thematically, the lists varied. To help you easily pick your favorite resolutions from each list, I have collated them below.

The Standard List
The 2011 list of New Year’s resolutions for pets mirrored the common resolutions found on lists for people: eat healthy, lose weight, spend time with family and friends and stop putting off that overdue vet visit.

Since weight loss is such a popular resolution, I gave five tips for successful weight loss a couple of years later.

The Altruistic List
Most New Year’s resolutions are focused on one’s self. My 2012 list of resolutions focused on helping others rather than self-improvement. Using eco-friendly pet products, participating in animal-assisted therapy and giving of your time and money to support your favorite animal cause topped the list.

The Hybrid List
The 2010 list is notable for its amalgamation of self-improvement suggestions and philanthropic ideas. The most notable resolution was for you to quit smoking to improve your pet’s health.

My Favorite List
The 2013 list is my personal favorite. The list is a riff on the American Veterinary Medical Association’s guidelines for responsible pet ownership. What I like about this concise, bulleted list is that if every pet owner followed these guidelines, pets would be healthier, safer and every dog and cat would have a loving home. Profound and clearly a worthy set of resolutions.

You Hate New Year’s Resolutions
There are, I suspect, many who do not ascribe to the tradition of making New Year’s resolutions. If you are one of those people, then you might prefer to look back at curated animal news from 2013 or 2014.

Everyone at the AMC wishes you and your pets a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!

The Year in Veterinary Medicine

As 2013 comes to a close, we have put together a review of some of the interesting veterinary and animal-related highlights of the past year. We hope some of these tidbits will bring a smile to your face, a tear to your eye or spark some conversation at a holiday party.

January
Several articles reported the veterinary profession turned 150 years old in 2013. A misnomer in reporting, it was the American Veterinary Medical Association which turned 150 years old, celebrating with a traveling Smithsonian exhibition and a commemorative book. (Cavalry horses during Roman times were cared for by practitioners known as veterinarii, suggesting the profession has existed for much longer than 150 years!)

February
The Animal Medical Center created AMC TO THE RESCUE, a new fund to support specialist level treatment of pets that are currently under the care of rescue groups. The goal of the fund is to use AMC specialists to treat correctable medical conditions, making pets, like Frankie, more adoptable into a forever home.

March
In a year without much bipartisan cooperation, two veterinarians, Kurt Schrader, a Democrat, and Ted Yoho, a Republican, joined forces to increase awareness of the role veterinary medicine plays in research, public health, animal health and welfare, food safety, and the economy.

April
Starting in April, therapy dogs were almost continuously in the news. They arrived in Boston to comfort survivors of the Boston Marathon bombing. Later in the month, therapy dogs were called to Texas in the aftermath of a fertilizer plant explosion. Finally, therapy dogs took up residence at LAX to de-stress airline passengers.

May
If April was for dogs, then May was for cats. The Cannes Film Festival is always newsworthy, but this year not because of a Hollywood starlet, but because of a small ginger tom cat who starred in the Coen brothers’ film, Inside Llewyn Davis. Tama, a Japanese calico cat, was credited with saving a cat-themed train station from closure.

June
Therapy dogs made the news again in Michigan for supporting anxious victims of violent crimes during courtroom testimony.

July
Veterinarian Dr. Ernie Ward sits in a hot car with the window cracked for 30 minutes while the temperature climbs to 116 degrees Fahrenheit to demonstrate how dangerous leaving your dog in a parked car can be.

August
Cat DNA, sent to the Veterinary Genetics Laboratory at the University of California, Davis, became key evidence used in a 2012 British murder case. Scientists in the lab identified the hairs on fabric wrapping the body as coming from the murderer’s cat.

September
News of a new and potentially lethal dog virus spread like a contagion on the Internet. But by late fall, veterinary researchers determined circovirus was not a significant threat to canine health.

October
One of the most visible victims of the government shutdown was the National Zoo’s Panda Cam. Sixteen days later when the camera again rolled, one tweet rejoiced that “our long national nightmare is over.”

The Urban Resource Institute (URI) and Purina teamed up to support victims of domestic violence through URIPALS, New York City’s first initiative to allow victims of domestic violence to enter shelters with their pets. Purina donated much-needed welcome kits and educational materials for families entering URI’s largest domestic violence shelter.

November
The Animal Medical Center hosted the Third Annual Zoobiquity Conference, along with UCLA and the Wildlife Conservation Society. The Conference explored the diagnosis and treatment of disease from the perspective of both physicians and veterinarians.

December
Rosie and Clarence, the first two official police comfort dogs, were honored at The AMC’s annual Top Dog Gala. These canine officers received the Top Dog Award for their support of first responders at critical incidents and traumatic events, including the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy and the Boston Marathon bombing.

…and, we “Pawse to Remember”
No end of the year retrospective would be complete without acknowledging the passing of those who led notable lives:

  • Tuxedo Stan, former Halifax, Nova Scotia mayoral candidate.
  • Kaiser, a World Trade Center search and rescue dog and 2011 AMC Top Dog Gala honoree.
  • George, who held the Guinness Book of World Record’s title of tallest dog.
  • Barney Bush, the AP reporter-biting former FDOTUS.
  • Brian Griffin, canine family member on Family Guy.

Wishing you and your families the very best this holiday season and a healthy and prosperous New Year!

Neutering: Not Just Doggie Birth Control

Dexter, a new dachshund patient of mine, was in last week for another round of puppy shots. He will soon be six months old and it was time for me to discuss the next step in his preventive health care plan: neutering.

Neutering meets the guidelines
The American Veterinary Medical Association has developed guidelines for responsible pet ownership. One of the guidelines obligates pet owners to control their pet’s reproduction through spaying and neutering; subsequently helping to control pet overpopulation in their community. Neutering is the common term for castration of a male dog or cat and spaying refers to removal of the ovaries and uterus, or in some cases just the uterus or ovaries, of a female pet.

Lifesaving responsibility
Pet overpopulation is a serious issue in the United States today. According to the Humane Society of the United States, over four million unwanted pets are destroyed annually. For every puppy or kitten prevented by neutering an adult pet, there is one less homeless and unwanted puppy or kitten euthanized in an animal shelter.

The traditional surgery
Surgical removal of the testicles is the current standard of care for neutering in both dogs and cats. This surgery renders a male dog or cat unable to reproduce and also removes the major source of the male hormone, testosterone. Removing the source of testosterone eliminates mating behavior in males and also plays a role in eliminating other unwanted behaviors. In both the dog and cat, neutering involves a small skin incision through which the testicles are removed. Cats typically go home the same day, but dogs may stay overnight to recover from anesthesia and for incisional monitoring.

A new method
The New York Times Well Blog recently reported on a new method of non-surgical, chemical castration, called Zeuterin. Zeuterin neutering uses zinc gluconate and arginine injected into a dog’s testicles as a less invasive method of castration. Dogs still produce a small amount of testosterone, but are unable to sire a litter of puppies. Veterinarians must be trained to use the Zeuterin method of neutering, but especially for shelters and rescue groups, the method has great appeal.

My recommendation
Dexter’s owners were concerned about the surgery. They asked if he could just have a vasectomy instead of the traditional neutering surgery. Because my job is to make the best medical recommendations for the specific health concerns of each of one my patients, I recommended the traditional surgery for Dexter. It provides him with the greatest number of health benefits. The surgery prevents unwanted litters of puppies and also prevents prostatic disease, testosterone-induced tumors and behaviors linked to testosterone production. Because a vasectomy or Zeuterin neutering are methods of birth control only, they do not offer the added advantage of decreased levels of testosterone on behavior and disease.

Neutering: Not Just Doggie Birth Control

Dexter, a new dachshund patient of mine, was in last week for another round of puppy shots. He will soon be six months old and it was time for me to discuss the next step in his preventive health care plan: neutering.

Neutering meets the guidelines

The American Veterinary Medical Association has developed guidelines for responsible pet ownership. One of the guidelines obligates pet owners to control their pet’s reproduction through spaying and neutering; subsequently helping to control pet overpopulation in their community. Neutering is the common term for castration of a male dog or cat and spaying refers to removal of the ovaries and uterus, or in some cases just the uterus, of a female pet.

Lifesaving responsibility

Pet overpopulation is a serious issue in the United States today. According to the Humane Society of the United States, over 4 million unwanted pets are destroyed annually. For every puppy or kitten prevented by neutering an adult pet, there is one less homeless and unwanted puppy or kitten euthanized in an animal shelter.

The traditional surgery

Surgical removal of the testicles is the current standard of care in both dogs and cats. This surgery renders a male dog or cat unable to reproduce and also removes the major source of the male hormone, testosterone. Removing the source of testosterone eliminates mating behavior in males and also plays a role in eliminating other unwanted dog behaviors. In both the dog and cat, neutering involves a small skin incision through which the testicles are removed. Cats typically go home the same day, but dogs may stay overnight to recover from anesthesia and for incisional monitoring.

My recommendation

Dexter’s owners were concerned about the surgery. They asked if he could just have a vasectomy instead of the traditional neutering surgery. Because my job is to make the best medical recommendations for the specific health concerns of each of my patients, I recommended the traditional surgery for Dexter. It provides him with the greatest number of health benefits. The surgery prevents unwanted litters of puppies and also prevents prostatic disease, testosterone-induced tumors and behaviors linked to testosterone production.

Healthy Pets Make Happy Homes: National Pet Week 2012

May 6-12, 2012 is National Pet Week and the theme chosen by the Auxiliary to the American Veterinary Medical Association is “Healthy Pets Make Happy Homes.”

Each year the Auxiliary sponsors a poster contest around the year’s theme. This year’s winner, Stephanie Jensen, depicts a whimsical home filled with children and happy family pets. While the painting is charming and deserving of accolades, the scene made me think hard about pets and families.

Just the right number of pets makes a happy home

Ms. Jensen’s painting shows a home containing every imaginable pet, but when adding pets to your family, each addition requires careful consideration. For those of us who love pets, it is difficult to resist adding another foundling to our brood. But if we continually increase our home’s pet population, at some point, the number of pets we have will exceed the resources we have to care for them. By resources I am not talking just about financial resources, but space, time, and energy as well. My current feline foster family of seven makes me very happy every morning when I peek in and see all those little cats snoozing in their fur bed. Since the family will be adopted once the kittens are self-sufficient, I can handle caring for seven cats for several weeks, but I could not do this on a forever basis and still work full time!

Children and pets, happy together

In addition to showing many different pets, Ms. Jensen’s painting shows children and their pets. The benefits of pets for children were recently the topic of a New York Times blog by pediatrician Perri Klass.

As a pediatrician, she reports commonly asked questions about children and pets, because of the widely held belief that pets are good for children’s social and emotional health. She also says that, until now, there has been little good scientific research on the benefits of pets for children. Some recent studies suggest a variety of positive outcomes associated with children and pets:

Pets can also pose health risks to young children, and parents should take steps to protect their children from pet-related illness, especially bites.

Keep your pet healthy and keep your home happy

The pets depicted in Ms. Jensen’s painting look very healthy. To keep your pet healthy and your home happy, provide your cat and dog with a good preventive healthcare program and visit their veterinarian annually.

How do you keep your family and pets happy and healthy? Share your stories in the comments section below.

Hitting the Road with Fluffy and Fido: Traveling with Pets

A recently published survey of pet owners throughout the world, found most 61% of pet owners take their pets on holiday more than once a year and travel more than 50 miles from their homes. Because so many pet owners who come to The Animal Medical Center ask a variety of questions about traveling with their pets, The AMC has two previous blog posts about travel to help address the common questions that arise. One post is devoted exclusively to international travel.

In addition, to help you prepare for any upcoming trips, I searched the Internet to compile a list of useful websites for the traveling pet and his owner. It is important to remember that the regulations for international travel are not standardized between countries and change frequently. So remember, your only source for pet travel information should be the country’s website and their consulate. The US Department of State has links to various countries’ consulates.

If you are bringing an animal into the USA from another country, importation is regulated by the Centers for Disease Control. This applies to American pets who are returning home as well as to foreign born pets entering for the first time.

General Travel Information

Pet Travel Clubs

These websites provide travel information for their members:

  • “Take Your Pet” offers a free pet travel newsletter to those who register. To access lists of pet friendly hotels, lists of pet related services and message boards, the fee is $1.95.
  • “Pets On The Go” is another membership travel website. To access their newsletter and concierge service for pet travel questions, the fee is $15/year.

Pet Shipping

Vacation is not always the reason for travel. When families relocate for business, moving the family pet can be challenging. To find a pet shipping service check the website of the Independent Pet and Animal Transportation Association International (IPATA). For a pet shipper to be a member, they must be legally registered to conduct business and provide animal shipping services. In the United States, shippers must be USDA certified to handle animals.

Pet Travel Products

  • Check out the Pet Travel Store for all your pet’s travel needs: collapsible bowl, disposable litter trays and a nifty hotel door hanger to remind the housekeeping staff you have a pet inside.
  • Life jackets for the boating dog and collapsible cat playpens may be just the vacation items your pets needs. They can be found online at J-B Wholesale Pet Supplies.

Be prepared. Do all that you can to ensure a safe and comfortable trip for everyone.

Have you taken your pet on vacation or traveled more than 50 miles with him? Share your experiences below in the "comments" section.

This blog may also be found in the “Tales from the Pet Clinic” blog from WebMD.
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For nearly a century, The Animal Medical Center has been a national leader in animal health care, known for its expertise, innovation and success in providing routine, specialty and emergency medical care for companion animals. Thanks in part to the enduring generosity of donors, The AMC is also known for its outstanding teaching, research and compassionate community funds. Please help us to continue these efforts. Send your contribution to: The Animal Medical Center, 510 East 62nd Street, New York, NY 10065. For more information, visit www.amcny.org. To make an appointment, please call 212.838.7053.