Vol. 15, No. 26 – Sept 21 – Oct 4, 2022 – The Pet Page

∙ What appeared to be a mysterious illness that killed more than 20 dogs recently in northern Michigan was later identified as canine parvovirus. No outbreaks have been reported in Oklahoma, but the disease is still a threat.

Although parvovirus is a severe and highly contagious disease, it is highly preventable with proper and complete vaccines, said Dr. Barry Whitworth, Oklahoma State University Extension veterinarian and food animal quality and health specialist.
“Parvovirus can be a threat to all dogs, but unvaccinated dogs and puppies younger than 4 months old are at the greatest risk,” Whitworth said. “And despite their vaccination status, puppies in that age range do have a window in which they are susceptible to the virus.”

Parvovirus is spread by direct dog-to-dog contact and contact with contaminated feces. The virus can also contaminate water and food bowls, collars, leashes and the hands and clothing of humans who have handled an infected animal.

Signs of parvovirus include:

Lethargy, Loss of appetite, Abdominal pain and bloating, Fever or low body temperature and Vomiting.

It’s important for pet owners to be aware of persistent vomiting and diarrhea as this can lead to rapid dehydration, and damage to the intestines and immune system can cause septic shock. Most canine deaths from parvovirus occur within 48 to 72 hours following the onset of symptoms. Whitworth said it’s critical to get a symptomatic dog to the veterinarian immediately.

Dr. Rosslyn Biggs, OSU Extension veterinarian and director of continuing education for the university’s College of Veterinary Medicine, said proper and complete vaccination and good hygiene play pivotal roles in preventing the disease.

“Many pet owners enjoy taking their dogs to the local dog park or other places, such as doggy day care, obedience classes and groomers. Multiple opportunities for your dog to come into contact with other dogs should be a big motivator to ensure your pet is vaccinated,” Biggs said. “Talk with your veterinarian about the proper vaccination schedule for your pet.”

It is recommended puppies start parvovirus vaccines between 6 and 8 weeks old and receive a booster every three to four weeks until they are 16 weeks when antibodies from their mother’s milk have faded. Once the initial series of vaccines have been given, a booster vaccine should be administered one year later, then repeated every three years thereafter or as directed by your veterinarian.

∙ “Intelligence is the result of diverse cognitive traits that allow individuals to flexibly solve different types of problems,” Fugazza explained. “Giftedness refers to an extremely good capacity in the case of a specific skill.” So, maybe gifted dogs are like people who score high on the verbal part of the SATs.

If your pup doesn’t learn words easily, it doesn’t mean it’s a dumb dog. Adam Boyko, an expert in canine genomics, reassures owners that canine intelligence is more than that.

“Both dogs and wolves are playful when they are puppies, but dogs really evolved to living in the human environment and to responding to social cues,” said Boyko, a specialist in the genetics of behavior and an associate professor at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. “It’s not surprising that the more playful ones exhibit better learning in the domain of learning human words. And it’s not surprising that Border collies, who are bred to respond to human cues, show the propensity to learn words more than other breeds. ““APRIL 29, 202202:35

“Other breeds of dogs might show intelligence in other ways,” Boyko said. “For example, wolves are very intelligent although they don’t typically pick up on human cues.”

“But they can figure out how to escape,” said Boyko. “Where dogs would look for a person to help, wolves would see how humans did a latch and lock and then the wolves would do it themselves to get out.”

One thing that can’t be determined from the study is whether the playfulness trait spurred owners to interact more with their dogs and thus teach them more words, said Dr. Nicholas Dodman, a professor emeritus at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, CEO and president of the Center for Canine Behavior Studies and the author of “Pets on the Couch: Neurotic Dogs, Compulsive Cats, Anxious Birds and the New Science of Animal Psychiatry.”

The new findings might help people who want to buy or adopt a puppy. It suggests that playfulness might be a good attribute to consider.

“The playful ones might be more likely to interact with a person, assimilate words more easily and be more intelligent,” said Dodman.

∙ A Columbia couple is hoping to raise awareness about poisonous mushrooms after their beloved dog died from eating them in their yard. Mike and Cindy Casto found their dog Ruffles, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, had gotten into some mushrooms. They brought her to their primary veterinary clinic and an emergency veterinary hospital but lost her a little more than 24 hours later.

When the Castos brought Ruffles to Shandon-Wood Animal Clinic, staff there said she was comatose.

Dr. Courtney Cauthen, Associate Veterinarian at Shandon-Wood, treated Ruffles.“Liver values were so high on the machine that it couldn’t read them,” she said.

Ruffles was then taken to the South Carolina Veterinary Specialists & Emergency Care hospital, where she had clotting issues.

The Castos said that she was given plasma transfusions to reverse the damage, but they were unsuccessful.

According to Cauthen, the Amanita and Galerina mushrooms are the most dangerous for pets and can cause liver failure.

Since the mushrooms can vary in color and size, she said it is best to assume all mushrooms growing in yards could be harmful to pets.

“Try to scan your yard the best that you can before you let them out, pick up as many as you can that you see and toss them away,” Cauthen said. “Generally, when I let my dogs in the backyard, I’m scanning, I’m picking them up and putting them in food bags and throwing them away.”
“They unfortunately don’t know things that are dangerous for them to eat so we have to do our best to prevent it the best we can,” she said.

“We’ve told our neighbors and they have dogs, and we just want them to go out and check your yard and see if you have any mushrooms, get rid of them or keep your pet inside,” Mike said.

There is no known cure, but Cauthen said if you see your dog eating a mushroom, you should rush them to a clinic so that they can induce vomiting and try to get it out of their system.

∙A Polish scientific institute has classified domestic cats as an “invasive alien species,” citing the damage they cause to birds and other wildlife.

Some cat lovers have reacted emotionally to this month’s decision and put the key scientist behind it on the defensive.

Wojciech Solarz, a biologist at the state-run Polish Academy of Sciences, wasn’t prepared for the disapproving public response when he entered “Felis catus,” the scientific name for the common house cat, into a national database run by the academy’s Institute of Nature Conservation.

The database already had 1,786 other species listed with no objections, Solarz told The Associated Press on Tuesday. Invasive alien species No. 1,787, however, is a creature so beloved that it often is honored in Poland’s cemeteries reserved for cats and dogs.

Solarz described the growing scientific consensus that domestic cats have a harmful impact on biodiversity given the number of birds and mammals they hunt and kill.

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