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Human Medical Treatment Brings New Hope to Critically Injured Pets

Story at-a-glance
  • Hyperbaric oxygen therapy has been used in human medicine for years to treat a range of conditions including the bends, wounds that won’t heal, gangrene, burns, and even anemia.
  • What happens with hyperbaric oxygen therapy is the lungs are able to gather up to three times more pure oxygen than is normally available, and blood flow delivers that oxygen throughout the body, stimulating the release of natural substances that promote healing.
  • At the University of Florida’s College of Veterinary Medicine, the staff is using a hyperbaric chamber to treat a variety of animals with injuries and wounds that involve swollen tissue.
  • A veterinarian in New York is using her chamber to speed healing in certain conditions including abscesses, post-radiation swelling and herniated discs.
  • At the Animal Emergency and Referral Center in Ft. Pierce, Florida, pets lie on a soft blanket and nap while inhaling pure oxygen that goes to work immediately on wounds, swelling, burns, and other injuries/illnesses.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

When your pet gets injured, whether it be from a near-drowning, being hit by a car or bitten by a snake, often what’s needed is a drastic treatment that can effectively reduce swelling and speed up the healing process. This comfortable, 1 to 2 hour treatment, now being offered in certain facilities, might be your pet’s best chance for recovery.

By Dr. Becker

Hyperbaric oxygen chambers are pressurized tubes, or in some cases rooms, where hyperbaric oxygen therapy is delivered. This technique has been used in human medicine for decades to treat a variety of conditions including air bubbles in blood vessels (arterial gas embolism), decompression sickness (“the bends”), carbon monoxide poisoning, wounds that won’t heal, crushing injuries, gangrene, a skin or bone infection that causes tissue death, radiation injuries, burns, skin grafts or skin flaps that can cause tissue death, and severe anemia.

In a hyperbaric oxygen chamber, the air pressure is up to three times greater than normal. This causes the lungs to collect up to three times more pure oxygen than is possible when breathing atmospheric oxygen. The pure oxygen is transported throughout the body via the blood stream, which encourages the release of growth factors and stem cells that promote healing.

Reduces Swelling and Speeds Healing in Animals

In Florida and a few other states, hyperbaric oxygen therapy is increasingly being used on pets.

The University of Florida’s College of Veterinary Medicine has recently treated dogs, cats, ferrets, rabbits and even a monkey with oxygen therapy. According to professor and DVM Justin Shmalberg, they have treated rattlesnake bites, infected wounds, and animals hit by cars. Essentially any kind of problem that causes swelling of tissue is a candidate for the hyperbaric chamber.

This summer, the school will begin clinical trials to determine if what they are seeing is “real” – that hyperbaric oxygen therapy helps reduce swelling and speed healing in animals. There isn’t much research on this type of treatment for pets, though ironically, most of the research for human oxygen therapy is the result of studies on rats and rabbits.

Dr. Diane Levitan, owner of a veterinary practice in New York, has a hyperbaric chamber in her facility and has seen improved rates of healing for certain conditions including abscesses, post-radiation swelling and herniated discs. Dr. Levitan is writing an article for a veterinary journal on her use of hyperbaric oxygen therapy and agrees with Dr. Shmalberg that it’s important to establish the science behind the success of the technique for certain conditions. “It’s not a panacea,” says Levitan. “There are specific reasons why this is helpful.”

Pets are Comfortable and Relaxed During Treatment

The Animal Emergency and Referral Center in Ft. Pierce, Florida also has a hyperbaric oxygen chamber. They describe the treatment this way:

“Inside the chamber, pets lie on a soft blanket and rest or sleep while the oxygen goes to work on wounds, swelling, burns and other injuries or illnesses. The pets are comfortable and relaxed during dog/cat hyperbaric therapy treatment. The total HBOT treatment time is from 1 to 2 hours, and is usually repeated twice a day. Treatments continue until the doctors see a marked improvement. When your pet is beginning to use the affected limb, or is gaining strength and function, the animal hyperbaric oxygen chamber treatments are discontinued.”

This facility uses oxygen therapy for patients with post operative swelling, snake bites, wounds and burns, head and spinal injuries, near-drowning or asphyxiation, and smoke inhalation.

‘About the Size of a Loveseat’

As you might expect, some (probably many) human insurance companies don’t cover oxygen therapy because it’s “unproven,” however, people who have had success with treatments will seek it out anyway. And the same is true for pet owners. They research the treatment and then seek it out for an ailing pet.

The equipment used at the University of Florida is “about the size of a loveseat.” The DVM who initially arranged for the equipment at UF estimates he’s used the chamber 750-800 times in the last 18 months and feels it is very effective for any kind of trauma.

Since most vet practices can’t afford to buy a chamber (equipment for humans runs between $50,000 and $150,000 each), the manufacturer actually gives the chambers to clinics and receives a percentage of each treatment done. Treatments run about $125 per session at the UF clinic.

The equipment can be dangerous to use because 100 percent oxygen is involved. Animals are patted down with water before they go into the chamber so their coat doesn’t attract static electricity and start a fire. Tragically, last year a hyperbaric oxygen chamber in a Florida equine veterinary center exploded, killing a staff member and the horse inside the chamber, and collapsing part of the building. Apparently, the horse hit the side of the enclosure with a foot, which caused a spark that set off the explosion.

Although this type of accident is incredibly rare, some veterinarians view hyperbaric therapy as a treatment of last resort. I don’t agree. With proper training, the hyperbaric oxygen chamber is as safe as any other veterinary treatment equipment, but without side effects. Inhaling pure oxygen in this manner triggers the body’s own ability to heal, which is always the goal.

Video: University of Florida Treats First Animal in a New Hyperbaric Chamber

April 27, 2013 Posted by | Animal or Pet Related Stories, animals, Dogs, Dogs, Just One More Pet, Pet Health, Pets | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Tricksters in Argentina are passing off ‘roided-up ferrets as dogs

Roided Ferret

2 days ago

And now for a twist on the classic Chihuahua/rat urban legend … Vendors at the largest flea market in La Salada, Argentina, are apparently subjecting ferrets to steroids (and strange grooming regimens) to make them resemble pedigree toy poodles, then selling them to unsuspecting tourists. Multiple sources have confirmed being taken by this scam, which is simply mind-boggling — take one look at the malicious rodent glimmer in that thing’s eyes and tell us you’d mistake it for a poodle. The two people who have come forward have not filed complaints, because sadly, most black markets are sorely lacking in customer service desks. [Source]

April 10, 2013 Posted by | Animal or Pet Related Stories, Dogs, Dogs, Pet Abuse, Pets, Stop Animal Cruelty, Unusual Stories | , , | 1 Comment

Santa Photos With Fido or other Furry and Feathered Friends

Many places these days offer photos for pets with Santa.  Some do better jobs than others!!  Even within the a chain like PetsMart, the quality of the photos varies with the group doing the photos in individual stores.  And remember, most are Poloroid, so if they come out well have them copied or scan them in.

It really, really depends on your Petsmart location and who is doing the photos.  Most of the Petsmart “pictures with Santa” are sponsored/ run by local rescues inside the store, so the quality really varies. At our local Petsmart, you basically get a Polaroid of your dog sitting on Santa’s lap. Others may have a higher quality set up and better photographers.  Some allow and even encourage you to be part of the photo.

Some local malls have pets days and even some smaller pet store chains do Santa photos. They have a special “pictures with Santa” day during which dogs were allowed inside the mall in the evening for the photos. They are usually  sponsored by a rescue so the proceeds going to a good cause. The pictures are usually okay, but not great. Nothing to write home about but when you have x amount of dogs waiting in line and lots of stuff going on, even the best photographer may not manage making your dog look good in the picture.  And t is fun to have a photo with Santa.  Some of the photos of ourselves or our kids with Santa aren’t the greatest either, but as the years go by they seem to get better and better!

Some places will allow you to bring your own camera and take a shot as long as you buy their package.

Santa pet photos are usually with dogs, but I’ve seen people come in with cats, bunnies, ferrets pot belly pigs and even birds, but I would suggest coming in at a slow time to do that, or the cats and birds will be spooked and even try to run or fly away.  I did see a Santa come for the day to an exotic bird shop where people came with their large parrots and cockatoos.

Even with dogs, remember there will often be lots of dogs in line and Santa can be a scary figure to some!

Libby & Santa 2009 santababy

Councilman Ed Reisinger plays Santa at Locust Point Dog Park

Kitties with Big Brother and Santa at PetSmart

Merry Christmas… the Season has begun!

Ask Marion – Just One More Pet

December 1, 2009 Posted by | Animal and Pet Photos, Just One More Pet, Pet Events, Pet Friendship and Love, pet fun, Pets | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pets may be susceptible to swine flu virus

Thousands of Americans have been infected with the H1N1 flu virus, but that’s just counting people. This week it was announced a domestic cat in Iowa also was stricken with the virus — most likely transmitted by sick owners — as well as two ferrets in Nebraska and Oregon.

This sudden infection may have pet owners wanting to put their furry friends in line for an H1N1 flu shot, but state veterinarian experts say not to worry. (H1N1 or any type flu vaccines are a bad idea!!  We are over vaccinating our pets, just like we are over vaccinating ourselves and our children.)

“Theoretically, you could pass it on to pets, but the chances are extremely low,” said Dr. Bob Ehlenfeldt, a state veterinarian in the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture.

The reversal of pets transmitting the virus to humans is even less likely, he said.

The chances are so low, according to Ehlenfeldt, because the H1N1 novel 2009 flu virus is a human disease being transmitted and maintained in humans. It’s unusual for species other than humans to become infected because viruses tend to adapt to certain species, he said.

For example, the bird flu from a few years ago was highly adaptable to infecting birds, whereas this strain of the H1N1 flu is adept at people-to-people transmission, he said.

Besides the cat and the ferrets, the only other non-human species known to have been infected with the virus are about a dozen swine herds worldwide, and recently some turkeys in Chile, according to Ehlenfeldt and Dr. Jim Kazmierczak, a state veterinarian in the Wisconsin Division of Public Health.

The infection of the ferrets, however, didn’t surprise Kazmierczak because the lanky rodents are thought to be susceptible since they are used as laboratory animals and are sensitive to human strains of influenza, he said.

Also, since turkeys were infected, Kazmierczak said it could be possible for other types of birds to get the virus. So far, however, no incidents have been reported.

“The safe thing to do is to assume that while we know cats and ferrets are susceptible, we should assume dogs and pet birds are also susceptible,” Kazmierczak said.

Thus, owners infected with the H1N1 flu should still be careful around their pets and maintain distance from them as you would with other family members.  It really is a matter of common sense!!!

For example, Kazmierczak said to relocate a bird cage if it is positioned in the room in which an infected person may be recuperating.
Also, wash your hands before handling or feeding the pet, he advised

By Hilary Dickinson – Published: Saturday, November 7, 2009 12:57 AM CST
hdickinson@beloitdailynews.com

Posted:  Just One More Pet – Cross Posted:  True Health Is True Wealth

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Katie Couric  Reports on Serious Vaccine Safety Issues – Finally

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November 9, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Can Cats and Dogs Catch Swine Flu?

White

Pet parents of dogs and cats can relax for now, say ASPCA veterinarians. While the 2009 H1N1 virus—a faster moving and possibly more debilitating strain of influenza than the typical seasonal flu—has become an international concern, the virus, referred to as swine flu when first identified, appears to present little risk of infecting dogs and cats. However, viruses can mutate quickly and taking important preventative measures remains essential.

“Many species can become infected with influenza viruses, but the current 2009 H1N1 virus, which is a mixture of genetic material from different species, has not been identified in animal populations in the United States to date,” says Dr. Miranda Spindel, Director of ASPCA Veterinary Outreach. “These viruses are notoriously unpredictable, though, and it is important that we remain vigilant.”

In terms of other animals who are susceptible, Dr. Spindel warns that influenza or flu viruses are occasionally transmitted from people to pigs, and the 2009 H1N1 virus has also been identified in turkeys. Pet parents of Vietnamese Potbellies, African Pygmies and other pet pigs should monitor their animals’ health closely, notify their veterinarian of any signs of illness and speak to their veterinarian about influenza type A vaccines. And ferrets are susceptible to most human flu viruses, so pet parents should take extra care to prevent exposure of pet ferrets to people or other ferrets with flu symptoms.

Meanwhile, flu season is upon us and pet parents should take common-sense preventative measures to keep their dogs and cats healthy:

  • If your dog is exhibiting flu-like symptoms, including coughing, nasal discharge or fever (normal dog and cat temperature is 101 to 102.5 degrees), play it safe and avoid taking him to places like dog parks, where he can pass on germs or come into contact with unvaccinated or sick dogs.
  • Avoid letting your cat roam freely outside.
  • If your dog comes into frequent contact with other dogs or is kept in a kennel, the ASPCA recommends that you discuss with your veterinarian whether vaccination against canine influenza may be appropriate. Note: canine influenza and H1N1 are not the same virus.
  • Talk to your vet about what flu vaccines are currently available, and be sure all your pets get vaccinated!
  • Don’t let your pet share water bowls, food dishes or toys with other animals.
  • Make sure your pet is eating, drinking and playing as he normally does each day. If you notice your pet behaving unusually, or if he has flu-like symptoms, check in with your veterinarian immediately.

Read the ASPCA’s official statement on swine flu.

Do you Twitter? Use this hashtag to tweet on this article: @aspca and #PetsandSwineFlu

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Posted:  Just One More Pet

October 4, 2009 Posted by | animals, Just One More Pet, Pet Health, Pets, responsible pet ownership | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Soldier’s Pets Find a Home Away from Home

Reunited after 18 months in Iraq. Photo: Courtesy of Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet

In the past, soldiers without family or friends to care for their cats and dogs were often forced to surrender their pets to a shelter. Luckily, thanks to a nonprofit organization called Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet (GASP), that’s changed.

Since 2005, GASP has placed 100 soldiers’ pets in loving foster homes across the country. GASP founder and CEO Linda Spurlin-Dominik tells Paw Nation that the organization currently keeps tabs on 67 military pets in foster care. When soldiers return, they are reunited with their furry family members.

Most fostered pets are cats and dogs, but ferrets and rabbits have also been cared for by GASP volunteers. The organization screens potential foster homes to ensure that soldiers’ pets end up in safe, loving environments until they can be returned to their owners. Usually, foster homes are within a two-hour drive of the owner’s home, Spurlin-Dominik says. But in cases where local foster families aren’t available, pet transport volunteers have ferried pets across state lines to make sure they find a caring household. “The objective is to place the pet in a home similar to what they’re used to,” she says.

Soldiers provide funds to cover feeding and vet expenses while they’re away and they set up a billing account to cover any emergency medical treatment in case their pet falls ill. In some cases, GASP also provides financial assistance with vet bills and housing. Most soldiers have a chance to meet their pets’ foster families before they depart, and foster families keep soldiers’ spirits up by sending photos and update letters about their furry friends.

When a military member’s orders change on short notice, or pet-care plans fall through at the last minute, GASP will pay to board the pets until a suitable foster home is located, Spurlin-Dominik explains.

Before heading to war, military members prepare a will instructing what should happen to their pets if they don’t make it home safely. In some cases, they allow willing foster families to keep the pet. Fortunately, though, that hasn’t happened yet, according to Spurlin-Dominik. So far, 33 former foster pets have been reunited with their owners after they’ve returned from battle.

She recalls a soldier who was reunited with his two dogs after having served 18 months overseas. “The dog was all stretched out on the couch when the owner came in. He perked up his ears. When the owner called his name, the dog went ballistic. I can attest that they do not forget their owners,” she tells Paw Nation. “As one soldier told me, having his two dogs back was a tremendous help for him to transition back into a non-war environment. He just had comfort having his dogs with him.”

Interested in assisting Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet or applying to be a foster family? Visit their website to learn more about volunteer and donation options.

by Kirsten Taylor – Aug 27th 2009 5:00PM – PawNation.com

Posted: Just One More Pet – Cross Posted:  Marion’s Place

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September 20, 2009 Posted by | Animal or Pet Related Stories, animals, Fostering and Rescue, Just One More Pet, Success Stories | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

‘G-Force’ movie likely to put guinea pigs atop pet list

The Disney movie “G-Force” shows a squad of specially trained, computer-generated guinea pig spies coming to the world’s rescue. But animal activists say it may end up being real-life guinea pigs who need rescuing.

Some guinea pig rescue groups already have posted pleas to those who might rush out to buy the furry little rodents. “I can tell you, every single rescue in the United States and abroad took a look at that movie trailer and said, ‘Oh, God, here we go,’ ” said Whitney Potsus, vice president of the Critter Connection in Durham, Conn.

The Orange County Cavy (aka guinea pig) Haven in Costa Mesa already has posted urgent Internet pleas to parents asking them to say no when their children beg for guinea pigs, because the animals are too fragile for young children.

It’s happened before. Some call it “101 Dalmatians syndrome,” after the live-action Disney movie that sent thousands rushing to buy the black-and-white spotted pups. When the dogs failed to act like those in the movie, families gave them up, breeders said.

The popularity of Chihuahuas soared after the movies “Legally Blonde” and “Beverly Hills Chihuahua” and when Taco Bell featured a talking one in an ad campaign. Ferrets were the animal of choice after “Along Came Polly,” and guinea pigs were in demand after “Bedtime Stories.”

In “G-Force,” Agents Juarez, Darwin and Blaster drive cars, parachute, use blowtorches, swim, talk, walk on two legs, live in tanks with mice and rats and use G- Force Guinea Pigs hamster balls, Lyn Zantow, a volunteer for the Orange County group, warns on her Web site.

In real life, guinea pigs are noisy, eat and poop all the time, require big and clean cages, don’t swim and can be expensive to care for if they get sick, she said, adding that they should be kept out of the hands of young children.

“We can only hope … parents will all do their research before bringing any critters home. Otherwise, when the novelty wears off, rescues everywhere are going to have their hands full with surrenders,” Potsus said.

A guinea pig can scare or startle easily, and if a child doesn’t have a good hold, it will run off. “Guinea pigs can’t jump,” said Fenella Fpeece, president of Wee Companions Small Animal Adoption in San Diego. A fall, even from a sofa, will paralyze them, break their backs and then “they are probably as good as dead.”

She is worried about the big plastic balls used in the movie and sold in pet stores. They are made for hamsters and mice, she said. “Guinea pigs don’t have flexible backs and they don’t go in wheels.”

They also have delicate digestive systems. “Kids get distracted. If you forget to feed it, it’s done. Its little life is over,” Fpeece said.

She already has been asked if she has a guinea pig that looks like one of the agents. And ads on Craigslist are offering ” ‘G-Force’ type guinea pigs. I am really worried,” she said.

Activists say there are several waves of worry ahead: during the movie’s run in theaters, when it comes out on DVD and when the novelty wears off.

About 795,000 homes have guinea pigs as pets, according to the American Pet Products Association, based in Greenwich, Conn. Volunteers from most guinea pig rescue groups have beefed up public education programs in an effort to prevent impulse buys, said Susan Lee, director and CEO of the Costa Mesa group.

Jan Davidson, founder of Deerbrook Guinea Pig and Rabbit Haven in Oakhurst, said other rescue workers have been asking her what to do. One said she was afraid to post new adoption notices because “it is hard enough to find good homes for them as it is.”

Disney is aware of the power of the movies and works to promote a strong pet responsibility message, a studio spokeswoman said. For “Beverly Hills Chihuahua,” Disney made sure most of the animals in the movie came from shelters and each was adopted when the movie was over.

For “G-Force,” a statement is posted on the movie’s Web site and on other promotional materials, advising viewers to be responsible and research any pet “to make sure that it is suitable for your particular situation” and consider adopting from a shelter.

Potsus, who has four guinea pigs, hopes parents will fudge a little to protect the animals.

“We hope parents will use money or time as an excuse,” she said. “We like to think the bad economy would cut down on some impulsive decisions.”

Instead of delicate animals who can’t talk, shoot or travel through space, Davidson suggested an alternative for children who want to re-enact stunts with the movie’s stars: guinea pigs of the stuffed or plastic variety.

By Sue Manning – Associated Press

Posted: 07/31/2009 12:00:00 AM PDT

Updated: 07/31/2009 02:36:45 PM PDT

Posted:  Just One More Pet

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August 1, 2009 Posted by | Animal or Pet Related Stories, animals, Just One More Pet, Pet Adoption, Pet Friendship and Love, Pets, responsible pet ownership, Stop Animal Cruelty | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment