Vol. 9, No. 7 – January 6 – January 19, 2016 – Professor Scamp

scamp scamp savana

“Who said dogs are smarter than cats? Savana

•  Q. My rabbit friend is putting on weight. Is this something she needs to worry about?

•  A. A rabbit that is overweight can have multiple problems. Being overweight increases the risk of having digestive problems, respiratory problems, and can increase the risk of arthritis as they get older.  It is important for your friend to get daily, regular exercise and to eat a healthy diet.  A rabbit’s diet should consist of free choice, good quality timothy or orchard hay, a small amount of good quality rabbit pellets (the amount of pellets depends on the breed of the rabbit) and a balanced selection of healthy greens daily.  Nuts and a lot of fruit should be avoided.
Elaine Fowell, D.V.M.
East Ventura Animal Hospital

•  By Victoria Usher

We are all constantly in awe of how much technology has continued to help us more and more in every aspect of our lives. Now here is something else that technology is helping do. Pet owners can now look for their lost dogs with the Finding Rover app. In order for the app to work properly dog owners must upload a picture of their lost animal to Finding Rover. Once they’ve done that then their dog’s picture will be compared with all other pictures of found dogs, and the facial recognition software will try to make a match. Finding Rover uses the same software that the FBI and other law enforcement agencies uses when they’re looking for missing people or criminals. The Finding Rover app has managed to reunite hundreds of owners with their lost dogs. “We’re encouraging everyone to register their dog on Finding Rover now,” Randy Friedman, marketing manager of Animal Service’s said.

It’s true that an app such as this is something that every pet owner should have on his or her mobile device. Company officials have said that that they will soon add cats to the app as well (cats usually manage to find their way home though).

•  Traveling with a pet can make things a lot more difficult. But having options is a huge help. Some people prefer to travel by ground instead of by air, but until recently, taking an Amtrak train was off limits to people with pets. Now, Amtrak is changing that policy thanks to a bill that requires Amtrak to accept dogs and cats as passengers on their trains.

The bill sets up a pilot program that requires Amtrak to allow pets in at least one train car as carry-on baggage. That means that your dog or cat has to be able to fit in a kennel or tote that you can carry with you, and it must meet Amtrak’s carry-on requirements. Any dog that is too large will not be allowed to ride. Does this mean that I will need to go on a diet to ride?

There are still plenty of regulations and requirements that you can find on Amtrak’s website, and the program is only available on certain lines. But it’s a step in the right direction that is especially helpful for certain dog breeds like French Bulldogs or Pugs who have short muzzles and find it more difficult to breathe on planes (I bet you didn’t know that?).

•  More than 13,000 children will be diagnosed with cancer each year. Many of these kids have to endure painful treatments that trigger stress, anxiety and depression. Researchers are studying a drug-free and inexpensive way to help the kids feel better. And it only costs dog treats.

Bryce Greenwell is no stranger to tests or hospitals. He has leukemia and will undergo treatments for the next three years or more.

A little pup named Swoosh is making Bryce’s hospital visits much more bearable. “It gives us something to talk about. He gets excited to come see Swoosh,” said Jenny his mother.

Bryce and Swoosh are participating in a study to determine if dogs can help pediatric cancer patients.

Mary Jo Gilmer, PhD, Director of Palliative Care Research at the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing understands the impact the disease has on lives and is excited to see how the dogs can help.

“We know that the disease takes a terrible emotional toll on families. “It’s very obvious to me, just anecdotally, that those dogs are making a difference; that interaction is making a difference.”

Studies in adult patients have shown interaction with man’s (and woman’s)best friend can lower blood pressure, reduce anxiety and improve lung function. This is the first pilot study to test animal therapy in kids with cancer.

The dogs spend about 15 minutes with patients before treatments. The kids have their pulse and blood pressure checked before and after, along with a questionnaire.

The dogs even have their saliva checked to determine if they experience stress, but Swoosh’s owner Michelle Thompson says she doesn’t think that’s the case.”He loves to work. He loves to get his vest on, and he’s excited to go.”

It’s therapy that any kid (and adult)would love!

Researchers at five sites across the country will enroll a total of 120 families for this study.

They are still collecting data and cannot report on results, but they have noticed children who interact with the dogs require less anti-anxiety medications than they did before the pet therapy.

For more information on this report, please contact:

Ashleigh Ruehrdanz, MPH
Research and Evaluation Specialist & IRB Administrator
Humane Research and Policy
American Humane Association
Phone: (303) 630-9480
ashleighr@americanhumane.org

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