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Debunking pet myths: From canine flu to grain-free food

Debunking pet myths: From canine flu to grain-free food

Keeping your dogs safe is the number one priority, but how do we ensure they are getting the best nutrition and avoiding dangerous diseases?

Debunking pet myths: From canine flu to grain-free food

Thomas F. Dock, Director of Organizational Development and Practice Manager at Noah’s Animal Hospitals, shares important facts about three common pet myths: 

Canine Flu 
 1) Outbreaks of the new strain of dog flu, H3N2, continue to happen across the country. Detroit Michigan and areas in Connecticut and Boston are the most recent examples of places where cases of this newer dog flu have occurred.
2) While these cases are certainly concerning, and pet owners should be aware of the potential seriousness of dog flu, Central Indiana has not seen confirmed cases of this strain of canine influenza.  To be fair, this is NOT a disease that veterinarians are required to report (like rabies), and most cases of upper respiratory disease in dogs are not tested to find the actual pathogen.  In short, cases may exist, but local veterinarians are not aware of them!
3) Pets who have been exposed to the flu may exhibit nasal discharge, sneezing, fever or general lethargy about 2-5 days after exposure. Unfortunately, dogs can shed the virus before clinical signs are present and possibly infect other dogs. The virus can be spread over about 20 feet – just from normal breathing, barking or sneezing.
4) The best course of action is to talk with your veterinarian about your dog’s risk factors for the canine flu. Pets who are frequently groomed, spend time in boarding facilities or doggie day care, and pups that enjoy time with friends at the dog park are at higher risk.
 5) Vaccinations are available from your veterinarian. If your pet has never been vaccinated for the flu, he or she will need 2 vaccines spaced about 3-4 weeks apart.
( from Your Dog Can Kill You!
1) In recent weeks, two scary headlines have made the rounds on social media and TV.  One woman died and another man lost his legs after suffering a bacterial infection caused by a germ that is common in our dog’s mouths.
2) The bacteria is called Capnocytophaga canimorsus.  It is a normal resident in the mouth of our pups.
3) Unfortunately, in very rare cases, exposure to this germ across broken skin or mucous membranes can result in a serious infection.  People who are immuno-compromised, who have had their spleen removed or who have abused alcohol, are at higher risk for more serious issues. This situation can have a mortality rate of about 30%.
4) The good news is that this problem is exceedingly rare; when you compare the tens of millions of pet owners with dogs and their daily interactions, this infection is almost unheard of.
5) Best advice…if you exhibit flu like symptoms after a dog bite or lick, seek medical attention!

Grain-Free Diet and Heart Disease Issue 
1) The FDA is investigating a concern about a link between grain-free diets and heart disease (Dilated cardiomyopathy) in dogs who aren’t normally associated with this issue.
2) Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) is a weakness of heart muscles, especially in the ventricles. This leads to a lessening of cardiac output and affects other organs, especially the kidneys.
3) In the FDA investigation, several dogs and a few cats have shown signs of DCM despite not being a breed normally at risk. Testing has shown these pets have lowered levels of taurine (an amino acid). In addition, all pets were on “grain-free” diets prior to presenting to their veterinarian for lethargy and weakness.
4) Dogs who were removed from grain-free diets, supplemented with taurine and started on more conventional diets, have improved.  
5) Although a direct connection has not been proven, experts are encouraging pet owners currently feeding grain-free diets to not panic, but keep their veterinarian informed about any activity level changes or concerns they might have about their pet.

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