Happy Memorial Day from the Beverly Hills Small Animal Hospital !
Last year for Memorial Day we wrote a blog post about war and service dogs which you can read here, admiring War Dogs for their courage and sacrifice.
This year we wanted to share the story of a U.S. Marines Dog named Lucca, who received the highest military award possible for a service dog, the PDSA Dickin Medal, after she lost one of her legs while sniffing out bombs in Afghanistan.
Dogs like Lucca make huge sacrifices to help protect our human soldiers, and we are so so grateful to them for their amazing work.
Her owner,Gunnery Sergeant Christopher Willingham, said, “Lucca is very intelligent, loyal and had an amazing drive for work as a search dog. She is the only reason I made it home to my family and I am fortunate to have served with her.”
From the article:
Meet Lucca, a retired U.S. Marine Corps dog who lost one of her legs while hunting for homemade bombs in Afghanistan.
More than four years after she was reduced to three paws, Lucca was awarded a top military medal for the 400 missions she completed during her service.
The People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals — a British charity known as the PDSA — honored Lucca with its Dickin Medal during a ceremony at London’s Wellington Barracks on Tuesday.
The PDSA says the award is “the highest award any animal in the world can achieve while serving in military conflict” and has given it out just 66 times since 1943.
Read the entire NBC article here.
CANINE INFLUENZA IN THE NEWS
You may have heard news reports about the Canine Influenza Virus (CIV). While it is not currently a major problem in California or the U.S., we want to address news of the virus to inform and quell some of our clients’ concerns.
The first strain of CIV diagnosed in the world, H3N8, was identified in 2004 in racing Greyhounds at a track in Florida. A vaccine was developed for this strain in 2009.
Another CIV strain, H3N2, which affects dogs, and rarely cats, was diagnosed first in South Korea in 2007, and in the United States in the Chicago area in March 2015.
(H3N2 is NOT the same strain as H3N2v, the swine flu, which effects pigs and humans.)
It is not currently known whether the H3N8 vaccine works to prevent or lessen the symptoms of the H3N2 virus.
There have been no reports of dog flu spreading from dogs to any humans, so do not fear.
We currently have the H3N8 vaccine available at the hospital, but we do not recommend it to our clients, unless it is needed for your pets to travel (some states and countries require it). The dog flu currently does not pose a threat large enough in California to necessitate routine vaccination.
The DHPP vaccine, Bordetella vaccine, Rabies vaccine, and if you’re a hiker or desert resident, the Rattlesnake vaccine, are the inoculations currently recommended to keep your pup healthy and protected.
The doctors at the hospital are monitoring the situation with updates from the CDC and the American Veterinary Medical Association, and we will change our recommendations if the virus ever shows signs of becoming a larger threat.
SYMPTOMS of CIV
High fever, trouble breathing, loss of appetite, consistent dry or wet coughing, running nose, running eyes, lethargy.
Some dogs with CIV show no symptoms, but some can develop pneumonia and severe respiratory infections.
DOGS AT RISK
Dog who go to dog parks, stay in boarding facilities, or have daily visits in a dog-friendly office are more likely to contract CIV then dogs who are mostly indoors. This is especially true if you live in a state that has had a CIV outbreak, such as Illinois or Indiana.
Older dogs, sick dogs, brachycephalic dogs (Boxers, Pugs, Bulldogs, etc.), and dogs with a history of respiratory infections will be more susceptible to developing severe respiratory illness and/or bacterial infection as a result of contracting CIV.
The percentage rate of dogs who die as a result of contracting CIV is very low. Some estimates put it as low as 1%, some go as high as 10%.
HOW DOGS GET CIV
H3N8 and H3N2 are very contagious ! It spreads easily from surfaces, air, clothing, and shoe contamination, and dogs can spread the virus for up to 24 days, even if they do not show any symptoms. From the AVMA:
Canine influenza is spread via aerosolized respiratory secretions (via coughing, barking and sneezing) and contaminated objects (kennel surfaces, food and water bowls, collars and leashes) and people moving between infected and uninfected dogs. The virus can remain viable (alive and able to infect) on surfaces for up to 48 hours, on clothing for 24 hours, and on hands for 12 hours.
The incubation period is usually two to four days from exposure to onset of clinical signs. The highest amounts of viral shedding occur during this time; therefore, dogs are most contagious during this 2-4 day incubation period when they are not exhibiting signs of illness. Virus shedding decreases dramatically during the first 4 days of illness but may continue up to 7 days in most dogs and up to 10 days in some dogs with H3N8 canine influenza. Intermittent H3N2 shedding for up to 24 days can occur.
DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT
If your furry baby is showing signs and symptoms of CIV and you think your dog might have canine influenza, bring your dog to the hospital – before you bring your pet in, tell the staff if your dog has been coughing so we can determine if your dog needs to be brought in through another entrance and isolated.
There are two main types of tests, the PCR test, which involves simply swabbing your pets’ oral cavity (throat), as well as the serum test, which requires drawing blood. Currently, the PCR test is more reliable and is the hospital’s first choice when diagnosing CIV.
Treatment depends on the severity of your dog’s infection. Most dogs will not have severe symptoms, and keeping your dog hydrated with fluids and a long period of rest will be all your pup requires. Some dogs have more severe symptoms and develop secondary infections, in which case antibiotics and other medication may be used.
Currently, in California, you do not need to worry about CIV. We do not even recommend vaccinating for canine influenza at the current time. The best prevention is to stay informed, and be on top of your dog’s vaccinations and general health.
For more information please visit:
(photo at top by Scott Robinson/Wikimedia Commons)
As a follow up to our post from last year about the terribly cruel and environmentally devastating practice of shark finning for Shark Fin Soup, we’d like to share this great campaign that was spearheaded last year by former NBA super star Yao Ming.
After retiring from the Houston Rockets in 2011, Yao Ming returned to China and began a career of advocating for animal rights as a celebrity ambassador for WildAid; in particular, Yao has focused on the traditional Chinese practice of shark finning for Shark Fin Soup, which entails catching sharks, axing off their fins while they are still alive, and dumping them back into the water, where they ultimately die from starvation and suffocation, or are eaten by other animals.
Here is one of the videos Yao Ming made with WildAid to raise awareness about the cruelty of shark fin soup.
Sharks, vital creatures at the top of the marine food chain, are suffering tremendously under this practice, with over 55% of shark species now close to extinction due to excessive hunting by shark fishermen. Currently, approximately 73 million sharks are killed for shark fin soup each year. The enormous growth of shark hunting is partially due to the growth of China’s affluent middle class. As the affluent middle class in China has increased exponentially in the last few decades, the demand for shark fin soup, a dish that is traditionally a symbol of wealth and status, has increased as well.
Several U.S. states and territories have banned the sale and possession of shark fins, including California, Washington, Oregon, Hawaii, Illinois, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Mariana Islands – but there is still a dire need for legislation in the U.S., China, and around the world where the practice of shark finning continues to be prevalent.
Organizations such as WildAid,Stop Shark Finning, and Shark Truth are committed to saving our sharks from an inhumane death and preventing our marine ecosystems from suffering a devastating loss. Join them in their campaigns or just spread the awareness to your friends and family !
Four pounds of courage! Yorkie Doodle Dandy! Angel in a Foxhole!
These are all nicknames for the infamous WWII war dog, Smoky, a female Yorkshire Terrier found in 1944 in an abandoned foxhole in the New Guinea jungle.
After trading a G.I. two Australian pounds for the small pup, American Corporal Bill Wynne, who would became Smoky’s lifelong companion, trained Smoky to parachute from tall trees, run telegraph wire through small pipes (sparing the soldiers this life-threatening work), walk tightrope, and eventually to become one of the first therapy dogs on record by comforting injured soldiers.
Smoky served in 12 combat missions in the South Pacific and was awarded 8 battle stars. The brave little Yorkie lived to be 14 years old, passing away in 1957. Her human, Bill Wynne, wrote a book about his experiences with Smoky titled Yorkie Doodle Dandy: Or, the Other Woman Was a Real Dog, published in 1996. Several memorials were built to memorialize Smoky’s service, including the one pictured at top at the Cleveland Metroparks in Lakewood, OH, right next to the location of her final resting place.
A big thank you to Smoky and all war dogs on this Veteran’s Day ! We appreciate you !
You can learn more about Smoky by visiting www.smokywardog.com.
All photos and photo captions courtesy of Bill Wynne.
There are hundreds of myths about pets that we have heard throughout our lives, some of which are true and some false. We have collected some popularly asked “myths” and we are finally going to give you the real answer. Bust, or true?!
- “Chocolate kills your dog.”
- Yes. Chocolate can be fatal to your dog. Chocolate has toxic components to it that are lethal to a dog. Theobromine and caffeine in chocolate are not metabolized like humans do and in large enough quantities (also depending on what kind of chocolate) can have harmful effects. Even if your dog has not eaten a large amount, you should still watch for any symptoms of toxicity or call BHSAH for questions.
- “If a dog’s nose is dry, it means they are sick.”
- Not necessarily. Yes, your pup’s nose is typically moist and cold… But if it becomes dry, it does not automatically mean your dog is ill. It is possible for a sick dog to have a dry nose, but a healthy pet’s nose can dry up as well. Better signs of illness are loss of appetite, water consumption, energy level and more. A dog’s temperature is most accurately measured through a thermometer. A healthy dog’s nose can become warm and dry after sleep and some dogs develop a dry and chapped nose with age.
- “Catnip gets your cat high.”
- Catnip (Nepeta CATaria) is a herb and member of the mint family. There is a chemical compound by the name of nepetalactone, which is found in the leaves and stems of the plant, that give off the “high.” Nepetalactone is a stimulant when sniffed by a cat, producing a “high” similar to either marijuana or LSD. When consumed, it can actually act as a sedative. Oddly enough, it only seems to affect about 50 percent of cats and YES, catnip is safe for cats. If they eat an excessive amount, your cat may vomit and have diarrhea.
- “Dog’s eat grass because their stomach hurts.”
- As a general rule dogs choose to eat grass because they simply like it. This is due to evolution and domestication. Our dogs are no longer like their ancestors, which would eat their entire prey including the stomach contents of plant-eating animals. Now, dogs seek plants as an alternative in food source.
- “My dog is humping me because it’s horny.”
- When an unneutered/unspayed dog is humping (at a young age), it is usually in a sexual nature. Older dogs can use humping as a sign of dominance or even a reaction to something that has excited it. Usually when this happens, the dog hasn’t been socialized correctly and doesn’t know appropriate canine behavior. Some dogs even hump as a play gesture just as any other dog would bark, jump etc. So the answer is, yes, your dog may be humping sexually, yet again may not.
- “My dog is panting because it is hot.”
- A dog can pant from either heat, excitement or anxiety. Heavy panting is different and may be a sign your dog is dangerously overheated or needs medical attention.
- “Cats always land safely on their feet.”
- Most of the time, a cat will land on his feet when it falls. Cats have a body reflex that allows for its body to correct itself so that before hitting the ground, his feet are in position to hit first. Although the for the most part can correct themselves, the height of the fall determines how well or poorly, his legs can absorb the shock of landing.
- “A dog wagging it’s tail means it’s happy.”
- Incorrect… The original purpose of the dog’s tail was for balance. While some wags are showing happiness, others can mean fear, insecurity, a social challenge or even a warning the dog may bite you.
If you have any myths that you have of question, feel free to shoot us an email with the question attached to:
Subject: Pet Myths
You made have heard about the unusual amounts of starving and exhausted sea lion pups that have been washing up on California’s beaches. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) declared the situation an “Unusual Mortality Event.”
If you see a sea lion pup on the beach, please do not attempt to touch, move, or approach the baby ! They are in distress and their care should be left to professional marine mammal rescue workers.
Please call one of these rescue numbers and report the sea lion pup with them:
California Wildlife Center: 310-458-WILD (310-458-9453)
Marine Care Center: 800-39-WHALE (800-399-4253)
Marine Mammal Care Center: 310-548-5677
In only the first three months of this year, 2,250 sea lion pups and yearlings ended up sick and dying on the beach, compared to 35 in a regular year. The count continues to grow.
The situation is the worst here in Southern California, where sea lions breed in the Channel Islands, off the coast of Santa Barbara.
Even though some people have been callously disturbing these animals, poking and prodding them, throwing things at them, and taking selfies with the dying pups, even more good people have been trying to help.
The veterinary staff and environmental researchers at the eight marine mammal rehabilitation facilities across California have been busy trying to save the sea lion pups, as well as trying to figure out what is causing this extraordinary situation.
The basic situation is this: Mother sea lions typically nurse their pups for 1-2 days, and then leave their pups to look for food for a few days. This year, food has been scarce, so mother sea lions have been away from their pups for longer periods of time. When the sea lion pups become hungry and can no longer wait for their mothers, they try to look for food themselves – but they are too young and inexperienced to provide for themselves, and they quickly become exhausted and starve, and end up washing ashore.
Why is there less food available for sea lions?
Researchers think the problem lies with a few different factors. First of all, the Pacific Ocean is currently in an El Nino climate event, which raises the temperature of ocean water considerably. When there is a change of temperature in ocean water, the populations of high-quality desirable fish like sardines and anchovies, as well as other prey that the sea lions prefer, are greatly reduced. Desirable prey move up north to escape the warm waters or die off due to inhospitable temperatures.
Another contributing factor to the lack of nutritious food may be due to the fact that the sea lion population overall is very high. According to NOAA spokesman Jim Milbury, there are currently about 300,000 California sea lions living along the Pacific, which is 10 times what the population was before the Marine Mammal Protection Act was passed in 1972.
Either one of these factors, or both factors combined, can be causing this considerable deficit in available food sources for nursing sea lion mothers. Researchers are still trying to decode the exact science of this sea lion pup emergency.
The non-profit Marine Mammal Care Center (MMCC) in San Pedro has been operating in full swing, taking care of all these sea lion pups.
They are having a free “Seal Day” event on June 28th to raise awareness about the sea lion pups and to help raise funds for their care.
Admission is free, and there will be live music, movie screenings, crafts and games, and food to enjoy.
One of our vet techs, Alyssa Tamayo, has been volunteering at MMCC for years, and she shared some words with us about what it’s been like during this unusual event:
BHSAH: What has is been like to work with the sea lion pups? How does the rehabilitation usually take place?
AT: As an experienced animal care volunteer, I am involved from the very beginning of the rehabilitation process. For the new animals that arrive at the center, I perform physical exams, tube feed, and give subcutaneous fluids. I also assist the husbandry manager and veterinarian if the animal needs further treatment upon arrival. During an animal’s stay, the goal is to get the pup eating whole fish competitively with other pups in the same pool. The rehabilitation process for a patient can take weeks, and sometimes even months. The most rewarding part of volunteering is when I help release our successfully rehabilitated patients back into the ocean.
BHSAH: What you would tell the average person to do if they saw a pup?
AT: If people see an emaciated sea lion pup that isn’t going back into the ocean, they should call an animal rescue company. California Wildlife Center and Marine Animal Rescue are two animal rescue companies that will pick up injured/sick marine mammal from any Los Angeles County beach and bring them to the Marine Mammal Care Center for rehabilitation. Only animal rescue personnel, who have been trained to handle wildlife, should touch these pups. Sea lion pups are very cute and furry, but the public should not pet or carry them to provide aid. Even sick sea lions pups will bite if they feel threatened.
BHSAH: What have people at the MMCC been saying about the sea lion pup situation?
AT: The influx of sea lion pups during the Winter and Spring months have been overwhelming. More than 800 pounds of fish are thawed a day to help feed these animals. The Marine Mammal Care Center has received over 500 marine mammal intakes this year, and the majority of them are malnourished sea lion pups. Most of the volunteers are saddened by this unusual mortality event (UME) occurring for sea lion pups. Staff, volunteers, and interns have been working hard rehabilitating the sea lions that they can save.
( All photos by the Marine Mammal Care Center unless otherwise noted.)
In observance of Memorial Day this year, we’d like to give recognition to the War Dogs of the United States. Military working dogs (MWDs) serve in extreme conditions, endure intense training, and work through combat situations of all kinds. These dogs save countless lives by sniffing out bombs and IEDS, finding wounded soldiers and civilians, and acting as sentries at military encampments. War dogs are given medals of valor just like human solidiers. Some dogs even suffer from the same post-traumatic-stress that human soldiers experience. We want to express how much we love and appreciate these amazing animals.
No matter whether you are pro-war or pro-War Dog or not, it is undeniable that these dogs are deserving of praise, recognition, care, and love. They didn’t sign up for their tour of duty, but they completely dedicate themselves to their tasks and to their human companions. These pups are unsung heroes.
ADOPT A VET !
Thanks to Robby’s Law, passed in 2000 by President Clinton, the U.S. government is required to place all retired and discharged adoptable MWDs in caring homes. Before this law was passed, retired MWDs were often euthanized, as they were considered unfit for adoption and simply “obsolete equipment” by the government. Not anymore! Robby’s Law changed all that. These pups deserve a wonderful life after all the service they give to the country, and they will get it from now on. If you are interested in adopting an MWD, visit this site: saveavet.org. There you can find info on adopting retired MWDs, as well as other ways to help.
We love you, you strong, incredible doggies ! Thank you for everything you do.
Check out these cool links on War Dogs:
Video of an adopted retired MWD who discovers a kitten for the first time – the cuteness is almost unbearable:
(WWII photos from the private collection of Dr. Suehiro
Dog in Afghanistan photo from Spc. Cheryl Ransford/Wikipedia
Solider and Dog visiting UT Memorial from imgfave.com/Falconwing
War Dog parachute jump photo: U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Vince Vander Maarel)
Considering the current epidemic of Ebola in a few western countries of Africa (Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, and somewhat in Nigeria), and the fact that an Ebola patient’s dog was euthanized in Spain amidst growing fear associated with the disease, we at the Beverly Hills Small Animal Hospital thought we should address the growing fear of Ebola, and Ebola as it relates to our beloved pets.
You have nothing to fear about dogs and cats contracting and spreading Ebola in the United States.
Even in the western African nations that currently are dealing with a massive Ebola epidemic, there have been no reports of dogs or cats catching or spreading Ebola.
According to the Center for Disease Control, the Ebola virus is only known to spread through direct contact with the bodily fluids of a person or other animal who is actively sick with Ebola (showing symptoms). These fluids include urine, blood, feces, vomit, semen, sweat, and breast milk.
Currently, only a few species of mammals have been proven to have the ability to contract and spread Ebola (including humans, monkeys, apes). Some scientists believe Forest antelope and fruit bats are also carriers, as well as some species of rodents and some pigs and goats – but these animals have not been proven to transmit the disease.
There has been one well-known study conducted about dogs and Ebola, published in 2005. After a 2001-2002 outbreak of Ebola in the western African nation of Gabon, researchers tested several hundred domestically-kept dogs that hunted and ate local animals that could have been infected with Ebola in their surrounding area. The study indicated that about 25% of the dogs had antibodies to Ebola but none were found to have Ebola virus and none of them died of Ebola.
The risk of someone in the U.S. becoming ill with Ebola is very low, and even lower in Los Angeles County. The risk of someone who is infected with Ebola giving Ebola to their dog or cat is even lower. The risk of a dog or cat who has become infected with Ebola spreading it to humans is even lower than that.
If you are a nurse or doctor or family member or friend of someone who has Ebola, or someone who has had contact with someone who has Ebola, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health recommends minimizing contact with your pet until you have been proven to be free and clear of the disease.
Here are the two cases about Ebola and dogs that have been in the news:
- Romero’s partner Javier Romero with their dog Excalibur. (Family photo)
Teresa Romero, the Spanish nurse who was diagnosed with Ebola while treating a missionary worker who contracted Ebola in Sierra Leone, is now clear of the disease – but during her quarantine, the Spanish government decided to euthanize her dog Excalibur because, they decided, he could have spread the disease. The authorities in Spain did this without testing the dog, amidst much protest from Romero’s family and the Spanish public. Some protestors are now asking for Spain’s health minister Ana Mato to resign because of her decision to put Excalibur down. Excalibur was never shown to have signs of Ebola and was never tested.
Here is an article about the protests that arose when Excalibur was put down:
- Nina Pham taking a selfie with her loving buddy Bentley (Facebook photo)
Texas nurse Nina Pham, who was diagnosed with Ebola after treating an Ebola patient in Dallas who eventually died, is now Ebola-free – but she had to wait 21 days for her Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Bentley, to come out of a government-mandated quarantine. Bentley is fine, tested negative for Ebola several times, and was released to Pham when his quarantine ended on November 1st. The animal workers taking care of Bentley took his high-profile quarantine as an opportunity to raise public awareness about Dallas Animal Services, and posted several updates and photos about Bentley’s well-being on their Twitter feed @DallasShelter. You can even purchase a “Bentley-Approved” T-shirt on their website, the proceeds of which will go towards the Dallas Animal Services shelters.
Here is an article about their reunion from CNN.com:
In neither of these cases did the family pets actually become sick with Ebola, their respective governments were just being hyper-vigilant because of widespread fear and panic associated with the Ebola virus.
If you still have questions about the health and safety of your pet, contact your veterinarian. Or, for more information about Ebola and Ebola as it relates to our pets, here are some resources:
American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)
Los Angeles County Department of Public Health
California Department of Public Health
Center for Disease Control and Prevention
As an animal hospital, we value the lives and safety of all living creatures including those in the wild. Although humans view them as cold blooded killers, these “sea dogs” are animals too.
Sharks are the ultimate predator in the ocean and the apex of the food chain. They play a vital role in keeping a healthy functioning ecosystem. Scientists even measure shark population as an accurate way of evaluating the health of parts of the ocean. They have the ability to keep the oceanic population steady by regulating the behaviour of other prey species, preventing “over-grazing.”
See… these animals are not as scary as you thought they were. I mean come on, they can be kind of cute too.
Here’s the thing, these innocent beings are dying by the millions… 100 million annually at that. Why? Because of humans. For what? Their fins.
In Asia, shark fins are used in food, primarily shark fin soup, a luxury delicacy. Sharks are being fished, de-finned, and then thrown back into the ocean. Some sharks starve to death, others slowly get eaten by other fish, and some drown since sharks need to keep moving to force water through their gills for oxygen.
There is such a high demand for shark fins because traders are able to make decent money off of them. These traders are solely interested in the fin as the shark meat is not high in economical value and takes too much space in holding. The body meat contains urea, which is a precursor to ammonia and is also high in mercury. These properties are both very toxic to the human body making the shark meat worthless. Shark fin itself is tasteless, but provides a gelatinous bulk for the soup which is flavoured with chicken or other stock.
Heres the funny thing… It’s not even worth it. A study has found that sharks are actually worth more alive, than dead. In Palau, more than half of visiting tourists are drawn by diving excursions. In these excursions, each reef shark brings in about $179,000 in tourism revenue annually, or about $1.9 million during its lifetime. A single shark’s fin, in shark fin soup, brings in only about $108. Let’s also put somethings into perspective. Did you know that each year 6 humans are killed by sharks versus 73 MILLION sharks being killed for their fins?
In Asia, another beautiful underwater creature has been put in danger as well, the manta ray. Similar to the shark finning, these manta rays are being hunted, but for their gill rakers. The gill rakers of a manta ray are made of thin filaments that they use to filter food from the water. The global manta ray population has already declined by about one-third in recent years and their slow reproductive rate worsens these threats.
What do they use their gill rakers for? Soup? No, gill rakers (known as “Peng Yu Sai” in China) are believed to contain a property that can treat health issues ranging from chicken pox to cancer. They are thought to boost the immune system and help purify the body by reducing toxins and enhancing blood circulation. Others believe that they can also help cure throat and skin ailments, male kidney issues, and even fertility problems. There is NO scientific research that proves that any of these purposes are valid.
Similar to the way sharks are treated, fisherman pull the mantas out of the water, take out their rakers and either throw them back in or grind up the remains for fish meal. This is done in the least humane way leaving these poor creatures to suffer or die. A trade in their gills is roughly worth just $5-10m a year and supports a tourist trade worth well over $100m a year.
If you too are against shark finning and this killing of manta rays, join support: