The last couple of weeks have provided all of us with lessons on virus infections, virus epidemiology, virus treatments, and virus vaccinations. The swine flu outbreak in Mexico and its subsequent spread to many countries around the world has shown us just how globally-connected disease processes can be. Some people have questioned the necessity of all the news coverage of this disease, saying the hype was not justified. The big problem with that point of view is that any influenza outbreak can have the potential of becoming a really bad pandemic. The influenza virus is constantly going through genetic changes and mutations...that's why the flu vaccination you get each year contains different versions of the virus, depending on what's expected for that flu season. Most of these variations are still just the "regular" type of flu, no worse than what we experience each year. However, when the genetic changes involve components from different species, the results can be devastating. My feeling is that publicity helps people stay informed, and informed people should be able to make better decisions concerning this type of outbreak. The above photo of the swine flu virus makes the virus appear to be a simple particle, but if the right combination of swine, avian, and human genetic information had been incorporated this time, the outbreak could have been much worse.
There are now some virus medications available, for both prevention and treatment of influenza. An additional use of technology for this outbreak was the installation of thermal-imaging devices in international airports. These scanners were used to detect anyone with a higher than normal body temperature going through the airport.
Questions about swine flu and your pets will be addressed later in this issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats.
Wow, it's hard to believe that it has been a whole year since the beginning of this blog! That's right...May 16, 2008 marked the introduction of Helpful Buckeye and Questions On Dogs and Cats, when we said, "Play Ball!"
Vincent Van Gogh, the Dutch painter, said: "Great things are done by a series of small things brought together." The jury is still out on whether this blog has become a "great thing," but it definitely has been the result of small things coming together. This first year has been an evolutionary process, trying new ideas, different formats, and responding to our readers' preferences. It has been a rewarding and fulfilling experience for Helpful Buckeye, and sidekick Desperado, and we hope it has been the same for all of you! Thanks for your interest and support. Onward to the second year!
The polling question last week on pet characteristics you treasure the most prompted a lot of responses. All of the listed characteristics were mentioned, but "Everyday Companionship" was chosen by every respondent. Makes sense to me! Be sure to answer this week's polling question in the column to the left.
CURRENT NEWS OF INTEREST
1) The Cat Fanciers' Association has released their annual list of the most popular cat breeds, based on kittens registered each year. Persians, the breed that took the top spot in 2008, have been the most registered breed for decades. The Exotic, which many describe as "the lazy man's Persian," overtook the Maine Coon to move into the #2 spot. Rounding out the top ten breeds are Maine Coon, Siamese, Abyssinian, Ragdoll, Sphynx, American Shorthair, Birman, and Oriental. More information on these and other breeds is available at their web site: http://www.cfa.org/ Exotics resemble the Persian without the long hair issues. A Persian and an Exotic are shown below.
2) The American Veterinary Medical Association has revised their stance on the question of mandatory spay/neuter laws that are showing up all over the country. Their research has shown that some pet owners will avoid having proper veterinary care for their dogs and cats in an effort to hide the fact that they haven't been spayed/neutered. For the whole opinion, go to: http://www.avma.org/onlnews/javma/may09/090515j.asp If this is truly the case, then more publicity of the benefits of spaying/neutering might be necessary.
3) Stories about lost pets being reunited with their owners have become fairly regular in the news, most likely as a direct result of pet owners making greater use of micro-chip technology. The best story this week comes from Texas and is about a dog that was missing for 8 years:
AUSTIN, Texas - A Texas family said they have been reunited with their long-lost pet dog, but they do not know where the animal has been for the past eight years. Alison Murphy of Austin said she and her family offered a $500 reward for the return of their dog, Dancer, after the dog went missing eight years ago, but they received no word of the beloved pet until the Humane Society in New Braunfels, Texas, called last week, KVUE-TV, Austin, reported. The Humane Society told Murphy that a musician found the dog wandering the streets of New Braunfels, Texas, last week and brought it to the group's office, where workers used the dog's microchip to track down its owners. Murphy said the dog, which now answers to the name Fern, does not appear to have lived on the streets for very long. "Her teeth are in great shape," she said. "She just doesn't look like she's been on the streets for 11 years. Somebody's been taking care of her." "It's just wonderful to have her back," Murphy said. "She's older now and she's a little more mellow than she was, of course, as a younger dog but she still likes to go for walks first thing in the morning. And she likes to cuddle at night. She's still the same old girl."
One of Helpful Buckeye's columns on Micro-Chips in Pets has been published this week on the All About Dogs and Cats web site at: http://www.allaboutdogsandcats.com/MicrochippingYourPet.html If you missed this column the first time around, check it out.
DISEASES, AILMENTS, AND MEDICAL CONDITIONS
The AVMA has put together a nice set of questions and answers about the Swine flu outbreak and it ramifications for pets. Take a few minutes to go over this list and, if you still have questions, send them in an e-mail to: email@example.com or post them as a comment at the end of this issue.
Frequently Asked Questions About 2009 H1N1 Flu Virus
Now that we are getting back into the time of year when thunderstorms and other violent weather patterns make their appearance, it would be a good time to review some of our pets' phobias related to the weather. The AVMA has produced this very interesting podcast on Storm Phobias: http://www.avmamedia.org/display.asp?sid=123&tid=207&NAME=Storm_Phobias_in_Pets
After listening to this podcast, you might also want to go back and review 2 of Helpful Buckeye's columns on thunderstorms at: http://questionsondogsandcats.blogspot.com/search/label/Thunderstorms There are actually 2 separate issues of Questions On Dogs and Cats referenced at this site...simply cursor down to find each reference.
PRODUCT OF THE WEEK
You came home and saw gouges on your front door the size of claw marks. Then you saw the puddle, again. Wasn't your fault traffic was at a standstill and you were twenty minutes late getting home. Or, you are dead tired and just want to veg out on the couch, but it seems every fifteen minutes or so, Fido or Fluffy wants out…again! You need to install a pet door!!
So goes the advertisement for The Pet Door Site, at: http://www.thepetdoorsite.com/ After reading over the information available at this site, a pet owner will almost feel a little guilty about not having one of these installed for their dog or cat. Click into each of the categories and you will find a model for just about every situation.
PHRASE OF THE WEEK
OK, tell Helpful Buckeye, in plain English, what this phrase means: "It is fruitless to attempt to indoctrinate a super-annuated canine with innovative maneuvers."Send your answer to: firstname.lastname@example.org or submit a comment at the end of this issue.
1) Archaeologists at the University of Pennsylvania have used a CT scan to determine that the small mummified bundle found with a mummified human in an Egyptian tomb is that of a puppy. This discovery was considered to be a bit unusual because Egyptians of 2300 years ago usually only buried birds or cats with their owners. The whole story is at: http://news.aol.com/article/mummified-puppy/459593?icid=mainmaindl1link7http://n
6) This past week, a dog in southern California helped save his owners from an attack by a mountain lion on a trail. The dog, named Hoagie, surely lived up to its name and became a "Hero"....(which is also another name for a hoagie). This canine hero had to have several hours of surgery to take care of its wounds, but is expected to survive: http://www.pawnation.com/2009/05/06/hero-dog-saves-owners-from-mountain-lion/?ic
SPORTS NEWSIn addition to learning a lot about viruses this past week, we also had the opportunity to learn a lot more about human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), courtesy of Manny Ramirez. Unfortunately, Manny didn't learn enough about HCG and it cost him a 50-game suspension. It will be interesting to find out how well the Los Angeles Dodgers will be able to adjust to life without Manny.
From time to time, Helpful Buckeye has used quotes about optimism and/or pessimism, mainly because those two concepts have so much to do with how we get through our day. Rene Descartes, French philosopher and mathematician, had this contribution: "An optimist may see a light where there is none, but why must the pessimist always run to blow it out?"...while President Harry Truman said this: "A pessimist is one who makes difficulties of his opportunities and an optimist is one who makes opportunities of his difficulties."
In part, as an observation of our first anniversary of Questions On Dogs and Cats, Helpful Buckeye and Desperado, joined by the two Cowpokes, will be making an attempt to conquer the West Fork of Oak Creek this Thursday. This is considered to be one of the best hikes in the state of Arizona and the weather looks like it will be perfect! Two of us are true-blue optimists (I wonder if it could be the Pisces effect?) and two of us are confirmed pessimists. Whatever goes, it seems to make for an interesting combination when we're together!
I just went over 1800 miles on my bike this week, from the 1st of January....
~~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.~~