Saturday, July 25, 2015

Parvo (Parvovirus)

Canine Parvovirus is a viral disease that attacks rapidly dividing cells in a dog's body. It affects the intestinal tract of canines as well as the white blood cells. Young animals can also suffer severe damage to the heart muscle. This disease is HIGHLY contagious and resistant. It can live in an environment for months and sometimes for over a year on organic material (grass).

The most susceptible to contracting this disease are puppies, adolescent dogs and unvaccinated canines. It affects all members of the dog family including wild members: wolves, coyotes, foxes, ect. Because of it being highly resistant in an environment and affecting wild animals as well as domesticated, unvaccinated dogs could contract this disease from the streets or wilderness.

Treatment for this disease is very intensive and expensive. Without veterinary care, it has a high mortality rate. Parvo is transmitted through contact with a dog's feces and is highly resistant to most disinfectants. This means, a human could potentially transmit Parvo to another canine through touch, on shoes, ect... BUT, a human will not get sick from Parvo. It is strictly a canine disease (though there is a feline version: distemper). If your dog happens to get Parvovirus, it is best to disinfect all the dog's belongings with a solution of 1 part bleach to 32 parts water by soaking each item for 10 minutes. Things that cannot be disinfected, will need to be thrown out. Again, vaccination is the only way to prevent your dog from getting this disease and is why Bark City requires all dog's to be vaccinated. It is also why you should always ask what a daycare's vaccination policy is when shopping for the daycare that is perfect for your four-legged family member.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Taurine Deficency in Dogs

Taurine is an amino acid that is vitally important to a mammal's body function. It helps regulate heart beat, maintains stability of cell membranes, transports calcium in and out of cells, regulates the activity of brain cells, facilitates the absorption of fats/ fat-soluble vitamins and is an antioxidant. Most humans and canines can manufacture taurine through the body unless there is a medical or genetic condition. Cats cannot and some dogs, particularly large breeds, have trouble producing taurine making them susceptible to deficiency.

Before WWII, pet food was 90% canned and made of mostly meat. Once war hit, the metal used for canning was needed by the military. Dry kibble became the #1 pet food. Gradually, over time, the pet food industry started to cut corners and introduced more and more grain to their product. A diet rich in taurine comes from eggs, dairy, fish and red meat. Cereal grains contain no taurine. Deficiency of this amino acid is a slow progression and could take months or years to become noticeable, and by the 1970's veterinarians were finding that an increasing amount of cats were dying of heart failure from dilated cardiomyopathy. Many felines were also becoming blind. After ten years of research, they finally traced these deaths to a deficiency in taurine. Soon after, pet food manufacturers started adding this amino acid back into cat food. But, not necessarily dog food.

Since some dogs can produce taurine and some cannot, research on the importance of taurine for dogs is not as complete as it is for felines. Modern day research is agreeing that owners need to become aware of this deficiency and the repercussions of a diet low in Taurine. As stated above, deficiency is a slow progression and could take months or years to become noticeable. When buying your dog food, please check the proportion of meat vs. grain and opt for a high protein food. Cat food is supplemented with taurine, dog food is not as reliable. Always check the label to see if this supplement is added. If not, consult your veterinarian about supplementing it back into the food.

Lastly, as Fido's parent, you should become aware of symptoms of dilated cardiomyopathy:

If your dog is displaying these symptoms, please take them to the vet! This blog entry is not intended to scare the pants off of you. It is merely to educate on the importance of what you feed your four-legged friend.

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