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Talkin' Pets News

September 19, 2020

Host - Jon Patch

Co-Host - Dr. Adriana O

Producer - Devin Leech

Network Producer - Darian Sims

Social Media Consultant - Bob Page

Special Guests - Delcianna Winders, Assistant Clinical Professor & Director, Animal Law Litigation Clinic will join Jon & Talkin' Pets discuss your questions about animal laws for pets, farm animals and wildlife

Anthony Ferraro | Chief Customer Officer Ecoclean Solutions inc. will join Jon & Talkin' Pets 9/19/20 at 621pm ET to discuss and give away Green Gobbler 20% Vinegar Weed Killer

 

Tiny-home trend is taking hold at a Texas animal shelter.

Austin Pets Alive! is building cottages that “will double as comfortable and quiet housing for the most in-need dogs and workspaces for staff and volunteers,” according to a post on its Facebook page.

“The cottages will each have their own yard and be outfitted with dog-friendly seating and work spaces, as well as heat and a/c,” according to the post.

Austin Pets Alive! (APA!) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping to “Keep Austin No Kill.” On its Facebook page, the group states that its programs save more than 10,000 animals from euthanasia each year.

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A new study suggests that cat owners fall into five categories in terms of their attitudes to their pets’ roaming and hunting. Researchers at the University of Exeter in England surveyed UK cat owners and found they ranged from “conscientious caretakers,” who are concerned about cats’ impact on wildlife and feel some responsibility, to “freedom defenders,” who opposed restrictions on cat behavior altogether.

“Concerned protectors” focused on cat safety, “tolerant guardians” disliked their cats hunting but tended to accept it, and “laissez-faire landlords” were largely unaware of any issues around cats roaming and hunting. Most pet cats kill very few wild animals, if any, but with a population of around 10 million cats, the numbers of birds, small mammals and reptiles taken can accumulate.

The Exeter team’s ongoing research project “Cats, Cat Owners and Wildlife” aims to find a conservation win-win by identifying ways of owners managing their cats that benefit the cats as well as reducing wildlife killing. This research is a step toward understanding how cat owners view their cats and how best to manage them.

“Although we found a range of views, most UK cat owners valued outdoor access for their cats and opposed the idea of keeping them inside to prevent hunting,” said lead author Dr. Sarah Crowley, of the University of Exeter’s Environment and Sustainability Institute in Cornwall.

Suggested measures to reduce hunting success include fitting cats with brightly colored “BirdsBeSafe” collar covers. Many owners also fit their cats with bells. “If nature is to ‘win’ and endangered species thrive, a pragmatic approach is needed whereby cat owners’ views are considered as part of wider conservation strategies said Tom Streeter, chairman of SongBird Survival

“The study highlights the urgent need for cat owners and conservationists to work together to find tailored solutions that are cheap, easy to implement, and have a positive effect on wildlife and bird populations across the UK.”

iCatCare’s head of cat advocacy, Dr, Sarah Ellis, said: “The finding that many UK cat owners actually care a great deal about wildlife conservation and their cats’ impact on it suggests that some owners are receptive to employing cat-friendly ways of reducing hunting.

“The right interventions could improve wildlife conservation efforts, maintain good cat mental-wellbeing, and at the same time improve the cat-human relationship.

The study included 56 cat owners, some from rural parts of the UK (mostly in south-west England) and some from urban areas (Bristol and Manchester).

The paper, published in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, is entitled: “Diverse perspectives of cat owners indicate barriers to and opportunities for managing cat predation of wildlife.” Alongside the detailed research survey, the researchers have created a simple quiz so cat owners can find out which category bests describes them.

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The detection of a possible sign of life in Venus' clouds is just the beginning. On Monday (Sept. 14), researchers announced that they'd spotted the fingerprint of phosphine in Venus' atmosphere, at an altitude where temperatures and pressures are similar to those here on Earth at sea level. On our planet, phosphine is produced only by microbes and by human industrial activity, as far as we can tell. So, finding the gas on another world, in an environment that astrobiologists had already flagged as potentially habitable, is exciting news indeed. 

But it's unclear at the moment what the new results actually mean, discovery team members stressed. Venusian microbes may be emitting the phosphine, but it's also possible that the stuff is being generated by exotic chemical reactions that we don't understand, and that have nothing to do with life. "We have what could be a biosignature, and a plausible story about how it got there," Pete Worden, executive director of the nonprofit Breakthrough Initiatives, said in a statement. "The next step is to do the basic science needed to thoroughly investigate the evidence and consider how best to confirm and expand on the possibility of life."

The Breakthrough Initiatives will help scientists take that next step, by funding a team to study the phosphine find and its potential implications in detail. The researchers will be led by MIT planetary scientist Sara Seager, an expert on exoplanet atmospheres and potential biosignatures who's also a member of the phosphine discovery team.

"The group will investigate the scientific case for life and analyze the technical challenges of an exploratory mission in the event that such evidence proves compelling," Breakthrough Initiatives representatives said in the statement, which did not reveal how much money will be disbursed or how long the study will last. "We are thrilled to push the envelope to try to understand what kind of life could exist in the very harsh Venus atmosphere and what further evidence for life a mission to Venus could search for," Seager said in the same statement.

To give you an idea of how harsh that atmosphere is: Venusian clouds are composed primarily of sulfuric acid, which would likely kill Earth-like microbes quickly unless they were surrounded by some sort of protective shell, Seager said during a press conference yesterday.  But Venus life, if it exists, does not have to be Earth-like. Microbes may have arisen independently on the second rock from the sun, in which case they'd be very different than the water-dependent organisms on our planet. (And if Venus microbes do indeed represent a "second genesis," we could be pretty sure that life is common throughout the universe.)

The new project is a natural fit for the Breakthrough Initiatives, a five-year-old series of science programs founded and funded by tech billionaire Yuri Milner that aims to help answer some of humanity's biggest questions. 

Other projects funded by the Initiatives include Breakthrough Listen, a $100 million effort to scan the cosmos for signs of extraterrestrial intelligence, and the $100 million Breakthrough Starshot, which is developing technology to explore nearby exoplanets up close with tiny robotic probes. "Finding life anywhere beyond Earth would be truly momentous," Milner said in the same statement. "And if there’s a non-negligible chance that it’s right next door on Venus, exploring that possibility is an urgent priority for our civilization."

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The coronavirus has “accelerated … a 20-year surge in demand for pets,” and dogs in particular, says one expert.

Although shelters are still full in some parts of the U.S., in other areas, including New York, dogs are hard to come by, says Mark Cushing, CEO of the Animal Policy Group. He shared his thoughts in an interview with Yahoo Finance’s “On the Move.”

Pet adoption has spiked sharply amid the COVID-19 crisis, with some shelters seeing empty kennels for the first time, as PETS+ has reported.

When the pandemic ends and people aren’t home with their pets as much, there will likely be an increase in business for dog walkers and other pet professionals, said Cushing, author of Pet Nation: The Love Affair That Changed America.

And some people might look for additional animals to keep their current pets company, driving demand even higher.

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In the midst of a COVID-19 pandemic, another infectious but rare disease has reared its ugly head—bubonic plague. A squirrel in Jefferson County, Colorado (just west of Denver) tested positive for the disease on Saturday, the first case of plague in the county since 2017, according to a statement released by Jefferson County Public Health (JCPH). The squirrel was tested after a citizen reported seeing more than a dozen dead squirrels in the area, according to the statement.

Caused by the bacteria Yersinia pestis, bubonic plague (the most common form of the disease) can be contracted by humans and household animals if proper precautions are not taken. The disease is infamous for killing about 25 million people in Europe during the Middle Ages. Worldwide, most cases occur in Asia and Africa. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an average of seven cases of plague occur in humans each year. No statistics are available for the prevalence of plague in pets.

Cats are more susceptible to plague, and can die if not treated promptly with antibiotics, says JCPH. Cats can contract the illness from flea bites, a rodent scratch/bite, or rodent ingestion. Dogs are not as susceptible as cats but can contract the disease from plague-infected rodent fleas. Humans can be infected through flea bites, the cough of an infected animal, or by coming in direct contact with blood or tissue from an infected animal.

Dogs appear to be more resistant than cats to plague. Signs in cats may include fever, lethargy, inflammation of the lymph nodes below the lower jaw, a pus-like lesion along the jaw, lesions in the mouth, and cough. Symptoms in people are similar to those in cats and include sudden onset of high fever, chills, headache, nausea and extreme pain and swelling of lymph nodes, occurring within two to seven days after exposure. Pet owners should contact their physician or veterinarian immediately if they or their pets display any signs of illness.

JCPH reassures the public that the risk of contracting the bubonic plague is extremely low, but appropriate precautions should be taken:

  • Eliminate all sources of food, shelter and access for wild animals around the home.
  • Do not feed wild animals.
  • Maintain a litter-free yard to reduce wild animal habitats.
  • Avoid contact with sick or dead wild animals and rodents.
  • Use precaution when handling sick pets and have sick pets examined by a veterinarian.
  • Consult with your veterinarian about flea and tick control for your pets, especially if you live near wild animal populations, such as prairie dog colonies or other known wildlife habitats.
  • Keep pets from roaming freely outside the home where they may prey on wild animals and potentially bring the disease home.

According to the CDC, antibiotics are effective in treating plague. Without prompt treatment, however, the disease can cause serious illness or death.

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Preventing future generations of dogs from suffering illness due to inherited disease is the primary objective of a new resource from the American Kennel Club (AKC) Canine Health Foundation (CHF).

The nonprofit organization has published a review of the current state of genetic testing in dogs. The resource, which was funded by AKC CHF and the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA), is designed to help veterinarians, breeders, and pet owners make sound decisions when interpreting and understanding the implications of canine genetic test results.

“While scientific advances in the area of canine DNA testing are exciting, they have also led to a desperate need for continued education,” says Eddie Dziuk, chief operating officer of OFA and member of the AKC Delegates Canine Health Committee.

“Dog breeders, owners, and even veterinary professionals often struggle with questions such as test purpose, accuracy, breed specificity/appropriateness, and interpretation of results. The genetics white paper is a long awaited and needed resource to address today’s most pressing questions, and make better use of these powerful tools to breed healthier dogs.”

Offered as a tool to help improve the health of current and future generations of dogs, the white paper provides a review of practical applications and limitations of existing canine genetic tests, AKC CHF says.

“The AKC Canine Health Foundation and its donors hope dog breeders and caregivers use this resource to make informed and thoughtful decisions regarding their breeding plans, and disease prevention and treatment strategies for individual dogs,” says the foundation’s executive director, Calvin Carpenter, DVM, MBA, DACLAM. “Genetic testing is most impactful when properly used as one of many tools available to dog owners.”

Initiated by 2019 AKC board chair, Bill Feeney, the resource was completed by Liza Gershony, DVM, PhD, a 2019 CHF clinician scientist fellow; and CHF-funded researcher, Anita Oberbauer, PhD.

For more information visit www.veterinarypracticenews.com

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While the majority of pups may not be the pickiest of eaters, there’s no harm in ensuring their dining experience is as enjoyable as possible.

A study published in the American Chemical Society’s (ACS’) Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry has identified aroma compounds in dog food that seem to be the most appealing to canines.

“For dogs, palatability depends on a food’s appearance, odor, taste, and texture—just as it does for people,” according to a news release from ACS. “Previous studies have suggested odor is especially important for dogs.”

Researchers began the experiment by feeding six adult beagles one of six foods for one hour each and determining how much the dogs ate.

The three most popular dishes—one containing (E)-2-hexenal (which humans associate with an unpleasant, fatty odor), 2-furfurylthiol (sulfury, roasted, smoky odor), and 4-methyl-5-thiazoleethanol (meaty odor)—saw intake two to four times higher than that of the other three foods.

“Using mass spectrometry,” ACS stated, “researchers found that 12 volatile aroma molecules were correlated, either positively or negatively, with the beagles’ intake of the six foods.”

The aroma compounds of the “fatty,” “smoky,” and “meaty” dishes were then sprayed on odorless foods, and the beagles were offered a choice between food containing one of the compounds and the odorless food.

The canines were, indeed, found to prefer the aromatic dishes.

While further testing involving other breeds is needed, these results could help dog food manufacturers formulate more palatable chow, ACS said.

This research was conducted at Jiangnan University in Wuxi, China, by Maoshen Chen, PhD, and colleagues. To access “Characterization of the Key Aroma Compounds in Dog Foods by Gas Chromatography–Mass Spectrometry, Acceptance Test, and Preference Test”, go to www.pubs.acs.org

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The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) and the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) have announced the release of the 2020 AAHA/AAFP Feline Vaccination Guidelines. The guidelines, which represent an update to the 2013 AAFP Feline Vaccination Advisory Panel Report, were published simultaneously in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery and the Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association; they are also available online.

Authored by an expert task force and based on evidence-based recommendations and peer-reviewed literature, the guidelines divide feline vaccines into core (recommended for all cats) and noncore (recommended based on an individualized risk-benefit assessment) categories. Practitioners are encouraged to develop individualized vaccination protocols based on the patient’s exposure and susceptibility risk as defined by life stage, lifestyle, geography, and environmental and epidemiological factors.

"We no longer can simply ask a client if the cat is ‘indoors’ or ‘outdoors,’” says 2020 AAFP President Kelly St. Denis, MSc, DVM, DABVP (Feline Practice), in a press release announcing the new guidelines. “A client may not correctly interpret what they might consider brief or low-risk outdoor access, which may contain information that contributes to your risk assessment. We need to ask if the cat has free access to outdoors; do they ever sit on a patio or in a catio; do they have access to a balcony or open window; do they go anywhere outside of the home such as a friend's house or boarding facility; are they ever walked on a leash? A risk assessment of the other cats living in the home is also critical as these risks extend to all other cats in the house. By asking these questions you can better review the cat's risk for safety, nutrition, behavior, and zoonotic disease.”

The new guidelines enable veterinary teams to educate clients about why vaccination is vital for feline health and address any questions or concerns about the vaccines recommended for their pet. The guidelines offer these resources:

  • A lifestyle-based feline vaccine calculator
  • FAQs and tips for client and staff education
  • Core and noncore vaccines recommendations for pet and shelter-housed cats

A webinar summarizing the most important sections of the guidelines will be available in October. Learn more at https://www.aaha.org/aaha-guidelines/2020-aahaaafp-feline-vaccination-guidelines/feline-vaccination-home/ and at https://catvets.com/guidelines/practice-guidelines/aafp-aaha-feline-vaccination.

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National veterinary hospital network PetWell Partners recently announced the additions of Debbie James and Michael Cavanaugh, DVM, to its Board of Directors. Both have extensive backgrounds in multi-site healthcare operations.

James, CEO of multi-site health care company Cranial Technologies, brings more than 25 years of experience working for a wide range of private equity–backed and Fortune 500 companies, according to this press release.

“With deep experience as an operator in health care in various roles, Debbie will bring expertise and guidance to Petwell Partners,” says company co-founder David Strauss. “She adds strength to our operational capabilities and will help us as we continue to scale our company.”

Cavanaugh’s extensive experience ranges from executive association leadership—he was CEO of the American Animal Hospital Association for 10 years—to private practice ownership to academia.

“He assumed the lead role at AAHA and led many successful programs during his 10-plus years there,” says Strauss. “We are thrilled that he will be sharing his wealth of knowledge and experience by serving our Board.”

Specialized horse-breeding programs encourage genetic progress by mating elite animals with certain desirable characteristics.* Adding genetic value to a specific population of horses is labor- and time-intensive and usually pricey. The success of resulting offspring doesn’t bank entirely on genetics, though.

“Genetics accounts for only 30% of phenotypic performance, meaning how a foal looks, behaves, and performs,” said Kathleen Crandell, Ph.D., of Kentucky Equine Research. Other factors can directly affect offspring quality, including the nutritional management of breeding horses.

“Mare and stallion nutrition also plays a huge role in breeding programs,” Crandell said. “Some everyday problems are sometimes overlooked because the horses appear glowing and healthy on the outside. For instance, obesity is one of the most widespread nutrition-related problems among breeding animals.”

Many mares do not require additional calories other than what they get from forage until the third trimester of their pregnancy and during lactation. To balance all the required nutrients in a mare’s diet without adding calories, choose a scientifically formulated vitamin and mineral supplement.

“A high-quality, well-formulated product will provide the essential vitamins and minerals that benefit the genetic potential of the fetus when mares are maintained on forage-only diets. When their caloric needs increase with advancing pregnancy, additional nutrient requirements can be met by feeding a concentrate specifically formulated for the broodmare,” Crandell recommended.

Other nutritional supplements that might be useful for stallions and broodmares include the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA, and a natural-source vitamin E.

*Palmer, E., and P. Chavatte-Palmer. 2020. Contribution of reproduction management and technologies to genetic progress in horse breeding. Journal of Equine Veterinary Science 89:103016.

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An illicit eight-year, million-dollar equine drug operation that endangered the lives of countless horses has ended in an arrest in the Empire State.

Federal courts have apprehended and arraigned Gregory Settino, the production supervisor of manufacturing for New York’s Luitpold Pharmaceuticals (now American Regent) on charges of theft of medical products and making a false statement to a federal agent.

Between 2012 and January 2020, it is alleged Settino stole thousands of bottles, valued at more than a million dollars, of Adequan, a proprietary injectable drug manufactured by Luitpold/American Regent, which he then sold to horse trainers and veterinarians at New York racetracks for more than $600,000.

The medication, which is administered to horses with degenerative joint disease, was not maintained, stored, or transported in accordance with proper procedures for ensuring its safety, effectiveness, and efficacy, the indictment alleges. Further, it is alleged the drugs were handled in violation of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulated supply chain, with Settino accused of occasionally transporting them in shoeboxes stored in his car.

“The safety and effectiveness of veterinary drugs play a key role in maintaining the health of animals,” says Jeffrey Ebersole, a special agent-in-charge with the FDA Office of Criminal Investigations (FDA-OCI) New York field office. “When these drugs leave the legitimate supply chain, they can lose their effectiveness or become unsafe.” Additionally, Settino is accused of making a false statement to a federal agent due to an interview on Jan. 23 when he allegedly stated he had stolen fewer than 100 bottles of the drug.

“As alleged, Settino abused his supervisory position at a pharmaceuticals company to steal large quantities of equine drugs in order to enrich himself and without regard for how his sale of the medical products could potentially endanger the health of horses,” says Seth D. DuCharme, the acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York. “The defendant then allegedly compounded his criminal conduct by lying to an FDA special agent to minimize the scope of his thefts.”

“We are aware the FDA and U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) are conducting a criminal investigation of a former employee who worked out of our Shirley, N.Y., manufacturing facility, and that employee has been indicted,” American Regent said in a statement to Veterinary Practice News. “It is our understanding this former employee is accused of criminal activity in connection with the diversion of our Adequan product. American Regent is not a target of the investigation.

“American Regent is taking this matter very seriously, and we are cooperating fully with the investigation and will continue to do so as the case continues. The trust of our customers is of utmost importance to us, and American Regent will do all that is needed to thoroughly address any concerns.” The accused has been released on a $250,000 bond. If convicted, he faces up to 25 years in prison.

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The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) virtually delivered the message that pets are good for our health and wellbeing through Pet Week on Capitol Hill. Pet Week featured conversations with pet care leaders and members of Congress about the importance of pet ownership in America and the scientific evidence that shows how pets and people are good for each other.

“HABRI is proud to host Pet Night on Capitol Hill, but since we couldn’t be together in person, we decided to build a virtual Pet Week on Capitol Hill,” said Steven Feldman, HABRI’s executive director. “The entire pet care community came together to share the power of pets with Congress, and we ended up with even greater participation, which shows how the human-animal bond has grown even stronger during the pandemic.”

Pet Week highlighted timely issues including the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on pet adoption in America and the importance of passing lifesaving pet-related legislation aimed at improving the lives of veterans with PTSD and survivors of domestic violence. Congressman Kurt Schrader (OR-5) discussed the importance of One Health Act legislation aimed at helping protect people and pets from zoonotic diseases, and the key role of veterinary medicine in preventing future pandemics.

Thousands of participants experienced the human-animal bond from afar, with virtual visits from Pet Partners therapy animals and adoptable pets from the Humane Rescue Alliance. Pet Week also featured a special guest appearance from baseball Hall-of-Famer Tony La Russa, who spoke on the lifesaving impact of service dogs for veterans with post-traumatic stress.

For Pet Week’s closing celebration, the Animal Health Institute crowned the winners of the Cutest Pets on Capitol Hill contest, recognizing the most adorable congressional companions from both sides of the aisle.

  • Dog: Sergeant Pepper
    Owner: Syd Terry
    Office of Rep. Jan Schakowsky (IL-9)
  • Cat: Jackson
    Owner: Liz Leibowitz
    Office of Senator Cardin (MD)
  • Exotic: Arty
    Owner: Matthew Brownlee
    Office of Rep. Markwayne Mullin (OK-2)

“As one of the three veterinarians in the United States Congress, it’s always a lot of fun to collaborate with the Animal Health Institute for the Cutest Pets on Capitol Hill contest,” said Representative Schrader. “Pets are always important to us, and never more so than during the global pandemic when so many of us seek companionship and outlets that help us have fun and release tension. Pets remind us of what’s good and right in the world.”

All recorded discussions from Pet Week on Capitol Hill are now available to view on-demand at www.PetNight.com, where people can also sign up to be invited to Pet Night 2021. -----------

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