SPECIAL ALERT … NEW TOXIN!!

PoisonThis new super poison has allegedly killed one of the Westminster competition dogs, a Samoyed. Please be aware that two possible events occurred: (1) The dog found it in a motel room or (2) someone poisoned the dog at the dog show. For those of you that travel with your pets and kids … this is a very serious implication.

New Rodenticide Without Antidote Alarms Pet Toxicology Experts

2008 EPA Regulations May Have Unintended But Dangerous Consequences.

Jan 29, 2013 ~~ Julie Scheidegger DVM NEWSMAGAZINE

Fluffy got into the rat poison in the garage? Get the Vitamin K! Not so fast, warns Ahna Brutlag, DVM, MS, a diplomate of the American Board of Toxicology and assistant director of veterinary services for Pet Poison Helpline. The ingested substance may be bromethalin, the new toxin of choice for rodenticide manufacturers. There is no test save necropsy to detect its presence–and no antidote. Why are manufacturers switching to bromethalin? Because in 2008 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a decision prohibiting the use of second-generation or long-acting anticoagulants in residential settings.

Manufacturers became compliant with these new regulations in 2011, with many using bromethalin instead of anticoagulants in their products. Brutlag says the EPA’s changes–designed to make rodenticide safer for children, pets and wildlife–may actually make diagnosing and treating rodenticide poisoning more difficult, thereby increasing the risk of harm. “We feel like it was well-intentioned but we’ve ended up with some really frightening consequences,” Brutlag says. “With anticoagulants at least we know there is a very effective test and there’s an antidote.” Bromethalin is a neurotoxin that affects mitochondria in the brain and liver.

According to the Pet Poison Helpline, it results in decreased ATP production, which affects sodium and potassium pumps; as a result, lipid peroxidation occurs, resulting in sodium accumulation within the cell. Edema of the central nervous system (CNS) may result. The rapid onset of bromethalin poisoning leaves veterinarians little time for error. “The symptoms come on faster and it’s harder to treat,” Brutlag says. With anticoagulant poisoning, veterinarians had three to five days before bleeding began–maybe a week before death. But with bromethalin, clinical signs associated CNS edema may be seen within two to 24 hours. Once the animal starts showing neurological signs–CNS stimulation or depression, abnormal behavior, ataxia, hyperesthesia, seizures, coma–successful treatment becomes more difficult and more expensive. An animal may have only a couple of days before succumbing.

Even in successful cases, Brutlag says treatment requires more emergency care and hospitalization. “Since there’s no antidote, decontamination is the most important intervention,” Brutlag says. But she worries that not enough veterinarians are familiar with how to decontaminate bromethalin exposure. According to the Pet Poison Helpline, the median lethal dose (LD50) of bromethalin for dogs is 2.38-3.65 mg/kg, with a minimum lethal dose of 2.5 mg/kg. Cats are more sensitive, with a significantly lower LD50 of 0.54 mg/kg. Severity is dose-dependent, but if the poisoning is discovered within 10 to 15 minutes of ingestion, it’s safe to induce emesis at home, Brutlag says. After that small window, induction of emesis should take place at a veterinary clinic where the animal can be monitored for acute onset of CNS signs and be given multiple doses of activated charcoal–four to six doses over 24 hours. “Should clinical signs arise, patients are treated with standard measures to reduce cerebral edema including IV fluids, mannitol, etc.,” Brutlag wrote in an impact statement for the EPA. Prognosis is poor for patients exhibiting persistent seizures or paralytic syndrome.

The negative impact on pets from bromethalin poisoning has Brutlag and others wishing for pre-regulation standards. In fact, manufacturers of the rodenticide brand d-Con have refused to comply with the new EPA standards, continuing to use an anticoagulant as its active ingredient. “Even though it’s a potent anticoagulant, at least it’s an anticoagulant,” Brutlag says. The Poison Pet Helpline and d-Con both cite the dangers of using a toxin with no known antidote as reason for the EPA to revisit the 2008 regulation standards. Brutlag concedes that it may be difficult to return to pre-regulation standards now that bromethalin products are on the market. For her, the best solution may be to simply educate pet owners and veterinarians. She travels the country giving lectures on the dangers of rodenticide poisonings–most recently at the North American Veterinary Conference in Orlando, Fla. She says most veterinarians don’t know about the EPA’s regulations and the change in active ingredients. “They’re shocked and concerned,” she says. “Being able to inform veterinarians that this change has occurred is crucial.”

Pet Safety on the Road …

Dog-in-CarAs a legal assistant specializing in personal injury law for the past 27+ years, I’m acutely aware of bad driving practices on the road.  Without fail, injuries are caused because someone wasn’t paying attention to traffic patterns, road conditions and/or traffic signals.  Short of a boulder falling off a mountain, there are no “accidents” when it comes to people, vehicles and inattentive driving.  It literally takes just the blink of an eye to change someone’s life and health forever.

While running errands yesterday, I saw several vehicles with dogs riding in the front seat next to their owner or pacing the full length of the back seat.  And — I have to admit — I’ve been known to toss a dog on the front seat and make the straight-shot, 5-minute drive to my vet/grooming facility.  However, after watching the slow motion videos from the Center for Pet Safety, that practice is hereby discontinued.  Permanently.  These videos are part of a study on pet restraint systems and how effective they are in an automobile collision.

Please take a moment to read the short article and view the videos in the link below …

Canine Automotive Restraint Crashworthiness Testing

Now imagine a dog with no restraint system in a collision.  Imagine a small dog on the front seat with airbags deployed (at 200 mph) in a collision.  Imagine a dog hanging over the door as in the above photo (convertible or not).  From here on out, my dogs will always ride crated in the back of the vehicle with the crate secured in some fashion … no matter how short the trip.

Hot, hot, hot!!!

Asphalt temps …

Colorado, like the majority of the country, has had miserably hot temps which arrived in early spring.  Given the weather patterns so far, I’m sure it will remain quite warm well into September.  This post is prompted by the number of people I see out walking their dogs in the afternoons here lately.  Rule of thumb, folks — if you can’t walk barefoot on the concrete or road surface due to the heat, neither should your dog!!  I did some checking and found this handy-dandy asphalt temps guide which notes that while the air temps might be tolerable, the pavement is much hotter than one would expect.

As children growing up in Colorado, my twin brother and I sustained burns on the bottom of our feet walking back from the swimming pool on an asphalt road.  We’d gone — barefoot — to the pool in the early morning and didn’t even think about the pavement being scorched on the way home.  We sustained burns severe enough that we had large, raised water blisters on the balls and heels of our feet despite the heavy callouses from running barefoot most of the summer.  Think a dog can’t sustain burns on the pads??  Think again …

If you simply must walk your dog, please do so in the early morning or late evening when the ground surfaces have had sufficient time to cool down.  And while you’re at it, don’t forget the mosquito repellent.  Living in Larimer County where we had a severe outbreak of West Nile several years ago, one must always be aware of the danger of contracting West Nile (I, personally, know four people who have had it to varying degrees).

Since we’re on the subject of hot summers, let’s not forget how quickly car temps can heat up with moderate temps … for dogs and little humans alike.

Keep it safe … keep it sane … and keep your dogs home out of the heat!

Darkness Has Settled …

… bringing with it the frigid temps of a Colorado winter.  Fourteen inches of new snow have fallen since Thursday evening, blanketing the previously brown winter landscape.  It is late Friday night and ice crystals still float in the air … whether wind-borne from the snow cornices drooping on the roof’s edge or falling from the low grey clouds, I cannot tell.  The deepening silence and chill is fitting for contemplation and composition of tonight’s post …

Jackson ...

Jackson came to rescue in 2009, a casualty of the down turn in the economy.  His owner now worked two jobs and no longer had the time or funding to take care of him.  Giving him up was very difficult as the owner had planned to begin training to make him a therapy dog.  

Fostered by Michelle in Wellington, Jackson’s stint in rescue was a relatively short one.  Linda first met Jackson at the Fort Collins Fire Hydrant 5 where we had a rescue/breed booth set up … and where she was immediately smitten with this little dog.  Shortly thereafter, in May of 2009, Linda and Troy added Jackson to their family.  As Jackson was such a nice little dog and didn’t know the word “stranger,” Linda took on the owner’s goal and they became certified as a therapy team.  Linda later fostered Jasper for us and we got to see her and Jackson on numerous occasions as time went by.  Jackson was one of those dogs whose face exuded joy.  No matter the circumstance or the activity, he was a happy dog, his eyes a sparkle.

Linda called me from the veterinary teaching hospital at CSU on January 19th, advising that Jackson had awoke that morning, unable to walk or use his back legs.  After evaluation and diagnostics by the vets, they were of the opinion Jackson had suffered a fibrocartilaginous embolism.  While not rare per se, it is more commonly found in large dogs.  Linda wrote later:

This was harder than I thought. Jackson was put to sleep on Thursday night. He had an autopsy at CSU and then cremated. He is still sitting on our counter and I’m not sure why? Anyway it was a FCE. An embolism. A piece of spinal cord broke off, traveled through a blood vessel and went back to the spine. By the time it lodged, much of the spinal cord had blown. Meaning, the paralysis would have eventually gone to the sternum and suffocated him. There was nothing to do. Pretty rare for a small dog, but the age group was right. He was filmed by CSU through all this is and will be immortalized by teaching vets about this. I’ve attached some photos of the boy. He was truly special and we are a little lost without him. We were honestly loved by Jackson.

As pet owners, we all know that life is transient with our beloved companions.  We watch as the years tick off, collecting vignettes in time from which to draw upon for comfort when we have to let them go.  However, I don’t think any of us can steel our hearts for the untimely loss of a healthy, young dog.  Linda mentioned to me in a phone call how fitting it was that this therapy dog in life would — in death — go on to teach the healers among us.

Jackson cruisin' on the ATV

Jackson’s cremains will be interred in the family plot at some point.  For now, and for as long as it takes until that happens … he’s home.  And I know, without a doubt, that this would have been Jackson’s last Will.

Godspeed, little one.  It was an honor to have been a part of your life.

It Never Fails …

Tootsie

As my former rescue partner can attest, it never fails that rescue emergencies arise when we’re out of town or getting ready to leave town … my recent trip to San Antonio was no exception.  In day four of the trip, I get an email about an Apso mix in the Canon City shelter who needs to be transported to a rescue NOW or face euthanasia.  A flurry of emails and phone calls ensues; she’s being transported on Thursday to Denver for pick-up at 12:30 p.m.  Great.  My first day back at work and there’s no freakin’ way I can meet the transport at that time.  Recalling Kirby’s family said, “If there’s anything we can do …”, I make a call with fingers crossed.  Kay, ever so gracious, interrupts me pleading my case by saying, “We can go get her!”  Not only did they go get her, but they also set about to get her cleaned up with a bath upon their return home.  And then offered to foster her when it became readily apparent she was a very sweet girl.  What a blessing for both “Tootsie” and rescue!

Tootsie actually arrived with the name of “Stubbie” … she’s missing her left front paw.  Given what I know of anatomy and as confirmed by Doc Sherry, the missing paw is genetic in nature.  In any event, she gets around quite easily and even navigates the doggy door in the foster home.  After much discussion between two vets and two groomers, we’ve come to the conclusion she’s an Apso-Yorkie mix.  From her transfer paperwork and the various emails with the shelter in Canon City, it appears she was a transfer in from a shelter in New Mexico.  Quite the traveled little dog!

She underwent a spay about ten days ago and is healing up quite nicely.  We opted for the laser treatment on the incision — something new at the clinic — which was touted as promoting faster healing.  By all accounts, it is doing just that.  Anything that can help them heal faster is definitely worth the extra $15.

The day after her spay, we got an email saying that one of the other dogs on the transport had come down with parvo.  Definitely not someplace we want to go!  Although Tootsie had a parvo vacc at the shelter in April (probably her first ever in her short life), we scrambled and got her in for a quick booster per Doc Sherry’s recommendation. 

Tootsie is a sweet little dog.  She is very much attached to her foster family and plays with the other dogs in the house.  A quick study, she’s picking up very quickly on the housetraining and sleeps the night through in her crate with nary a peep.  She would probably do best in a home with adults and one other dog.  If interested or would like more information on her, please contact me at:  ApsoRescue@aol.com.

Tootsie is about as loving and low-key as they come … just a great little dog.  In a phone conversation with Kay, she mentioned that while one initially feels sorry for Tootsie and her obvious disability with the missing paw, one quickly realizes that she has known nothing else so her life is “normal” … she gets along just fine, thank you, and does everything that a dog with four paws can.

Our thanks to Kay and Dave for stepping up to the plate to help rescue when Tootsie desperately needed a ride to a new life.  Angels come in many forms …

Canine Influenza …

American Lhasa Apso Club Rescue – Colorado Gets Grant to Vaccinate Dogs for Influenza

Petfinder.com Foundation furnishes funds to protect rescue dogs from canine flu.

TUCSON, April 2, 2011 – American Lhasa Apso Club Rescue – Colorado now has help in protecting dogs against canine influenza virus (CIV), a highly contagious disease that spreads easily from dog to dog, especially those in close proximity. The rescue received a grant for the vaccines as part of a Petfinder.com Foundation program to build community immunity against this respiratory infection. The foundation partnered with Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health, a global animal health company and makers of the NOBIVAC(r) Canine Flu H3N8 vaccine, to fund the grant.

Because CIV is relatively new, most dogs have not built up immunity to the disease. Dogs can get the disease by being exposed to those that have it, as well as playing with toys or drinking from bowls used by other dogs. People can also unwittingly spread the germ if they come in contact with infected dogs.

“Shelters and rescue organizations are often the first places that new diseases already in the community become evident. Dogs come in from the community and are released back into it, and often move to and from states with confirmed cases,” said Liz Neuschatz, director of the Petfinder.com Foundation. “Canine flu can be a real problem for shelters, where one sick dog can cause an outbreak through an entire facility. We are pleased to be part of this effort to help protect the community by providing canine flu vaccine to American Lhasa Apso Club Rescue – Colorado.”

Dog flu is a growing problem throughout the U.S. It has been confirmed in 35 states so far, but tracking the disease is hard because it is so difficult to diagnose. Dogs are contagious before they show any symptoms. By the time the dog starts coughing, it’s too late. Virtually all dogs exposed to the virus will become infected, and some will get more serious infections, such as pneumonia, which can be fatal.  Dogs that go to doggie daycare, boarding facilities, groomers and shows and are vaccinated for canine cough (Bordetella) are also at risk for canine flu.  Information about canine flu is available at www.doginfluenza.com.

The grant for Building Community Immunity seeks to protect all at-risk dogs in the community, including those in close proximity with other dogs, as is the case with shelters and rescue facilities. It also provides greater assurance to adopting families that their new pets will be healthier and much less likely to be sick or get more serious, and sometimes fatal, infections. The grant further links Petfinder.com member shelter and rescue grant recipients with local veterinarians to protect all adoptable dogs in their care. The program promotes veterinary visits for wellness exams and, when appropriate, the second dose administration of Nobivac Canine Flu vaccine.

About Petfinder.com Foundation:
The Petfinder.com Foundation was created in 2003 to respond to needs of its Petfinder member shelters and rescue groups and to assist them in ensuring that no pet is euthanized for lack of a home. The vaccine grant will help keep dogs healthy and adoptable. 

About Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health:
Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health, based in Boxmeer, the Netherlands, is focused on the research, development, manufacturing and marketing of animal health products. The company offers customers one of the broadest, most innovative animal health portfolios, spanning products to support performance and to prevent, treat and control disease in all major farm and companion animal species. Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health; subsidiaries of Merck & Co. Inc., Whitehouse Station NJ, USA. For more information, visit www.intervet.com.

____________

Our thanks to Petfinder and Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health for awarding us this grant!  We know that CIV has already arrived in Colorado.  Dogs contracting CIV become sick very quickly and require immediate medical attention.

How Do You Know …

… when it’s time to let a beloved companion go?  As pet owners, we must all face this difficult decision if we are to keep the promises made long years ago.  To keep them safe, to keep them warm, to keep their best interest at heart no matter how difficult.  Whether it’s the first time or the fifth time, it never gets any easier.

Today’s post is more for me than anything else.  We’re struggling with the question of euthanasia for our old girl, Ali.  She has severe OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) that’s bordering on self mutilation.  She’s always had some element of OCD but it has become markedly worse in the past year.  Nothing we’ve tried in the past or the present has helped to a great degree.   The current medication as prescribed by a behaviorist from CSU is losing its efficacy.  She’s miserable — we’re miserable.  As a self-admitted control freak, it is exceedingly difficult for me to concede that I can’t “fix” this.   No matter what happens, I do not want to look back on this time and say, “I waited too long”  as that means the dog has suffered.  Needlessly. 

My beloved Ali ...

The time has come to pony up and repay Ali for all the years of joy and unconditional love.  To take her pain and make it my own, freeing her from the ravages of time and a deteriorating mind and body.  I do not make this decision lightly … and I weep with the knowledge she will soon be gone, no longer my little red shadow.  Ali holds a special place in my heart as it was through her that my involvement with the breed became a journey of education into what truly makes an Apso “an Apso.”

Many years back I saved the following article and, from time to time, have pulled it out to share with friends struggling with the same issue.  Or to prepare myself for what was to come with a foster so badly damaged it was beyond my best efforts.  This day, it soothes the angst of impending personal loss … 

How Do You Know When It’s Time? 

I don’t subscribe to the idea that dogs “will let us know when it’s time,” at least not in any conscious sense on their part. For one thing, I’ve found in my years of counseling folks who have ill pets and often accompanying them through the euthanasia process, that this notion is often interpreted in a way that puts a lot of pressure on people when they’re already stressed and grief-stricken. “What if I miss the signs? He looked miserable yesterday but not today. What if I act too soon or not soon enough? How could he ever let on that he wants it to end? But maybe I’m deluding myself that he feels better than he does.”

Dogs are not people. We lovingly anthropomorphize our dogs during our time together and there’s no harm in that, even quite a bit of reward for both them and us. But the bottom line is that they are not people and they don’t think in the way people think. (Many of us would argue that that speaks to the superiority of dogs.) These amazing beings love us and trust us implicitly. It just isn’t part of their awareness that they should need to telegraph anything to us in order for their needs to be met or their well-being ensured. They are quite sure that we, as their pack leaders, operate only in their best interest at all times. Emotional selfishness is not a concept in dogdom and they don’t know how hard we sometimes have to fight against it ourselves.

Dogs also have no mindset for emotional surrender or giving up. They have no awareness of the inevitability of death as we do and they have no fear of it. It is fear that so often influences and aggravates our perceptions when we are sick or dying and it becomes impossible to separate the fear out from the actual illness after a while. But that’s not the case with dogs. Whatever we observe to be wrong with our sick dogs, it’s all illness. And we don’t even see the full impact of that until it’s at a very advanced point, because it’s a dog’s nature to endure and to sustain the norm at all costs. If that includes pain, then that’s the way it is. Unlike us, they have never learned that letting pain show, or reporting on it, may generate relief or aid. So they endure, assuming in their deepest doggy subconscious that whatever we abide for them is what is to be abided.

If there is a “look in the eye” or an indication of giving up that we think we see from our beloved dogs, it isn’t a conscious attitude on their part or a decision to communicate something to us. It’s just an indication of how tired and depleted they are. But they don’t know there’s any option other than struggling on, so that’s what they do. We must assume that the discomfort we see is much less than the discomfort they really feel. And we do know of other options and it is entirely our obligation to always offer them the best option for that moment … be it further intervention, or none, or the gift of rest.

From the moment we embrace these animals when they first grace our lives, every day is one day closer to the day they must abandon their very temporary and faulty bodies and return to the state of total perfection and rapture they have always deserved. We march along one day at a time, watching and weighing and continuing to embrace and respect each stage as it comes. Today is a good day. Perhaps tomorrow will be, too, and perhaps next week and the weeks or months after. But there will eventually be a winding down. And we must not let that part of the cycle become our enemy.

When I am faced with the ultimate decision about how I can best serve the animal I love so much, I try to set aside all the complications and rationales of what I may or may not understand medically and I try to clear my mind of any of the confusions and ups and downs that are so much a part of caring for a terminally ill pet. This is hard to do, because for months and often years we have been in this mode of weighing hard data, labs, food, how many ounces did he drink, should he have his rabies shot or not, etc. But at some point it’s time to put all of that in the academic folder and open the spiritual folder instead. At that point we are wise to ask ourselves the question: “Does he want to be here today, to experience this day in this way, as much as I want him to?”

Remember, dogs are not afraid, they are not carrying anxiety and fear of the unknown. So for them it’s only about whether this day holds enough companionship and ease and routine so that they would choose to have those things more than anything else and that they are able to focus on those things beyond any discomfort or pain or frustration they may feel. How great is his burden of illness this day, and does he want/need to live through this day with this burden of illness as much as I want/need him to? If I honestly believe that his condition is such, his pleasures sufficient, that he would choose to persevere, then that’s the answer and we press on.

If, on the other hand, I can look honestly and bravely at the situation and admit that he, with none of the fear or sadness that cripples me, would choose instead to rest, then my obligation is clear. Because he needs to know in his giant heart, beyond any doubt, that I will have the courage to make the hard decisions on his behalf, that I will always put his peace before my own, and that I am able to love him as unselfishly as he has loved me.

After many years, and so very many loved ones now living on joyously in their forever home in my heart, this is the view I take. As my veterinarian, who is a good and loving friend, injects my precious one with that freedom elixir, I always place my hand on top of his hand that holds the syringe. He has chosen a life of healing animals and I know how terribly hard it is for him to give up on one. So I want to shoulder that burden with him so he’s not alone. The law of my state says the veterinarian is the one licensed to administer the shot, not me. But a much higher law says this is my ultimate gift to my dog and the responsibility that I undertook on the day I welcomed that dog into my life forever.  ~ Hilary Brown     Reprinted by permission of the author