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CONSTIPATION, SLEEP PARTNERS, AND SCOTTISH DEERHOUNDS....

Posted Feb 20 2011 12:00am
By now, Helpful Buckeye suspects that all of our pet-owning readers are aware of the numerous news reports about the "dangers" of allowing your pets to sleep in your bed with you.  The only reason we haven't included this discussion in Questions On Dogs and Cats is because Helpful Buckeye figured you all could draw your own conclusions about the reports.  Well, a few e-mails did show up asking, "Should I be concerned about my pet sleeping in my bed?" 

First of all, this is something that has probably been going on since early humans shared their animal fur sleeping robes with their camp dogs.  Common sense probably didn't play a big part in those early decisions but it surely must in today's world.  Perhaps Helpful Buckeye is giving pet owners too much credit...perhaps not.  No matter how much publicity this topic receives, Helpful Buckeye supposes that most of you will simply keep on doing what you've been doing...either allowing your pets to sleep in your bed or not.

The American Animal Hospital Association has weighed in on the matter and this is their offering:

AAHA advises wellness care for pets that share the bed

AAHA Executive Director Michael Cavanaugh, DVM, tells pet owners that regular wellness care is the key to sleeping safely with pets.

A video on the HealthyPet YouTube channel supports the University of California-Davis report that discusses the risk of zoonoses from sleeping with pets and puts it into context.  Go to: http://www.youtube.com/user/AAHAHealthyPet#p/a/u/2/pMvG48l-iTw

Cavanaugh says despite pet owners learning about the information in this study, AAHA knows they won’t kick the pets out of bed.

He admits that at least two of his pets (including two cats and a dog Zoe, who co-stars in the video)sleep on the bed every night (and will continue to do so!).

He encourages pet owners to take their pets for regular wellness checks, which will reduce the risk of problems described in the study.


Only 10% of responders said they get at least some of their pet medicine on line.  Hopefully, they haven't had any problems with those prescriptions.  75% said they have had a dog diagnosed with cataracts.  And, 25% of you have tried to grow catnip.  Just so you talked about it with your cat!  Be sure to answer this week's poll questions in the column to the left.

CURRENT NEWS OF INTEREST 

1) It has been confirmed that a cat in Wisconsin has tested positive for the H1N1 influenza virus, more commonly known as "Swine Flu."  It and another sick cat in the same household were euthanized since they weren't responding to treatment.  Here's a short review of this concern:  http://www.avma.org/public_health/influenza/new_virus/default.asp?utm_source=smartbrief&utm_medium=email
2) A Scottish Deerhound won the title of Best in Show this past week at the Westminster Dog Show.  Everyone who watched the proceedings seemed to fall in love with Hickory.  More at: http://www.pawnation.com/2011/02/15/the-2011-westminster-dog-show-winner-is/?icid=main%7Chtmlws-main-w%7Cdl3%7Csec1_lnk3%7C201602

DISEASES, AILMENTS, AND MEDICAL CONDITIONS

Constipation is one of the 8 most common aging dog considerations.  In most cases, constipation associated with aging is due to the changes in digestive patterns of the older dog as well as changes in the amount of physical activity the dog gets.  Of course, constipation in general can be a problem for dogs of any age and the resolution of it will involve controlling the things you have control over...regardless of the age of your dog.

A brief discussion at this point of the causes, treatment, and control of constipation will benefit all dog owners.  Constipation is a common clinical problem in dogs and cats. In most instances, the problem is easily rectified; however, in more debilitated animals, accompanying clinical signs can be severe. As feces remain in the colon longer, they become drier, harder, and more difficult to pass.

Causes

Chronic constipation is most common and is due to the inability to pass poorly digestible, often firm matter (eg., hair, bones, litter) mixed with fecal material. The lack of water intake or the reluctance to defecate on a regular basis due to environmental (stress) or behavioral (dirty litter box) situations predisposes to the formation of hard, dry feces. Some medications promote constipation via differing mechanisms.

Peristaltic waves are responsible for the normal movement of fecal material in the colon. Giant migrating waves that occur intermittently throughout the day move this matter farther and more rapidly. These waves are common after ingestion of a meal. A reduction or loss of this wave activity may contribute to constipation. Diet is the most important local factor affecting colonic function.

Signs

The classic clinical signs are straining to defecate and frequently the passage of firm, very dry feces. If the passage of feces is hindered by an enlarged prostate (usually in older, un-neutered male dogs), the feces may appear thin or “ribbon-like” in appearance. Passed feces are often quite putrid. Some constipated dogs will show signs of lethargy, depression, loss of appetite, vomiting, and abdominal discomfort.

Diagnosis

A history of dietary indiscretion and physical evidence of retained feces confirms the diagnosis. Abdominal palpation and rectal examination, including evaluation of the prostate, should be performed. Plain abdominal X-Rays may help establish the inciting factor(s) of fecal retention and give some indication of what the feces contain (eg., bones).

Treatment and Control

Affected animals should be adequately hydrated. Mild constipation can often be treated by dietary adjustment consisting of avoidance of dietary indiscretion, ready access to water and high-fiber diets, and the use of suppository laxatives. Continued or longterm use of laxatives should be discouraged unless absolutely necessary to deter constipation.

In more severe cases, retained feces must be evacuated using enemas or manual extraction while under general anesthesia. Complete removal of all feces may require 2-3 attempts over as many days. Concurrent fluid and electrolyte abnormalities should also be corrected.  To prevent recurrence, animals are encouraged to eat high-fiber diets, ready access to water should be maintained, and frequent opportunities to defecate allowed.

As your senior dog ages, you should initiate a consultation with your veterinarian if the dog starts to show
signs of straining to defecate.  With your veterinarian's help, you should be able to come up with a plan that will fit your dog's life style and resolve and/or prevent any constipation problems.

BREED OF THE WEEK

Of course, the breed in the spotlight this week is the Scottish Deerhound...courtesy of the Westminster Dog Show.  Resembling a larger, coated Greyhound, the Scottish Deerhound is a keen and alert sight hound, seen often in lure coursing events and the show ring. One of the oldest breeds, the Deerhound possesses a preeminent hunting ability. The hair on the body and neck is harsh and wiry, while the coat on the head, breast and belly is much softer. Coat colors include blue gray, gray, brindle and black, among others.

A Look Back

Known centuries ago as the Scotch Greyhound, Rough Greyhound and Highland Deerhound, the Scottish Deerhound became a clearly identified breed in the 16th and 17th centuries. He was the best breed to use for the pursuit and killing of deer, and at the time, could be owned by no one of rank lower than an earl. These exclusive ownership rules nearly led to the breed’s extinction until breeders revived the Deerhound in the early 1800s.

Right Breed for You?

While he possesses a quiet and dignified personality in the home, the Scottish Deerhound may try to chase any furry animals that run past him. For that reason, the breed should be exercised on leash or in a fenced area. Although he enjoys his family, his size may be intimidating to smaller children. The breed’s crisp, somewhat wiry coat, however, is exceptionally easy to care for, requiring only brushing and occasional bathing.
  • Hound Group; AKC recognized in 1886.
  • Ranging in size from 75 to 110 pounds. 
  • Deer hunter.
PRODUCTS OF THE WEEK

Pet owners often feel that the house's four-legged residents really run the place, and the humans are just guests. If you find yourself continually stepping on squeaky toys or wondering where the leash went, you're not alone. Unless your pet is that rare breed who understands more than 1,000 words and obeys commands to put away all her toys, you may feel that your pet's clutter is out of control. Our friends at Zootoo rounded up some of their favorite products to organize your pet gear and reclaim your home.  Check these out at: http://www.pawnation.com/2011/02/17/zootoo-review-4-solutions-for-controlling-pet-clutter/
GENERAL INTEREST
1) A dog was bitten by a rabid javelina near Prescott last week, about 100 miles SW of Flagstaff.  Just a reminder that rabies is still around and can be transmitted by an otherwise seemingly innocuous animal.  For the whole story, go to: http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/2011/02/18/20110218yavapai-rabid-javelina-dog-abrk.html

2) Dog owners end up walking more than 23,000 miles -- almost as far as walking around the world -- with their pet during its lifetime, a new study has found.  This study was done by an insurance company in England and they came up with some really interesting facts.  Enjoy reading: http://ibnlive.in.com/news/dog-owners-end-up-walking-almost-around-the-world/143047-19.html   ...then, go out and walk your dog!
3) Myth: Cats seek out people who hate cats.
Truth:  It can seem that way. A cat lover's admiring stares and "kitty, kitty, kitty" calls can be off-putting. So in a crowded room, a cat often seeks the only person ignoring her. Besides, cat lovers may already smell like strange cats, so she'll be more attracted to the cat-free-zone human.

4) Just a bit of humor for the week (contributed by my former partner)

SPORTS NEWS
College basketball has reached that stage at which even the top teams are finding ways to lose a game here and there.  Pitt lost yesterday on a buzzer-beater to St. Johns, a team that has beaten 5 teams that were in the top 13.  Texas, Kansas, and Ohio State, the teams ahead of Pitt, also lost this week.  This should make for a very interesting NCAA basketball tournament.
PERSONAL STUFF
After not getting any snowfall for 8 weeks, we got a decent snowstorm yesterday and today.  To this point, Helpful Buckeye has shoveled 22" of the white stuff from this storm.  It keeps things interesting this time of the year.  Perhaps conveniently so, Desperado and Helpful Buckeye are heading south into the desert portions of Arizona tomorrow morning to check out a part of the state we have not seen before...the middle portion of the Colorado River valley.  Then, we'll head over to Scottsdale to stay a couple of nights with good friends Judy and Dave.  With them, we'll be hiking some of the trails in the McDowell Sonoran Desert Preserve.
Desperado and Helpful Buckeye will be living the words of Margaret Lee Runbeck as we make our way this week: "Happiness is not a station you arrive at, but a manner of traveling.  Being happy while moving toward a goal is just as important as reaching the goal." 

Helpful Buckeye saw several more bald eagles this week...such majestic birds!


~~The goal of this blog is to provide general information and advice to help you be a better pet owner and to have a more rewarding relationship with your pet. This blog does not intend to replace the professional one-on-one care your pet receives from a practicing veterinarian. When in doubt about your pet's health, always visit a veterinarian.~~
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