Exercising Your Puppy

One of the best things you can do with your new puppy is provide them with the proper amount of exercise. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) (www.petobesityprevention.org) , approximately 54% of U.S. dogs are considered overweight or obese. Besides feeding the proper amount of a good quality diet, the next best thing to maintain proper weight is exercise.

EASE INTO IT

The requirements for exercise will vary based on your pet’s breed and age. Some breeds tend to be more laid back while others have a higher activity level. Younger puppies tend to go through multiple cycles of sleeping, playing, eating and eliminating throughout the day with bursts of exercise and activity lasting for a little as five minutes.

As they age the amount of time they stay awake will increase, and so will their exercise and activity requirements. There is no set amount of exercise each dog requires. The best approach is to ease into exercise and increase it as they mature into adulthood.

DAILY WALKING

Walking is often the go-to exercise for dogs. It provides a great opportunity for bonding with your pet, provides them a chance to eliminate and gives them a change of scenery.

Persistence is key when first introducing walking to your puppy as they adjust to wearing a collar and leash. Short walks with a positive ending (think belly rubs and treats) for tolerating these new accessories will help to get your new puppy accustomed to this routine.

Until your puppy is fully vaccinated it is best to keep walking restricted to your yard to prevent exposure to other animals and disease. It is also wise to avoid walks in extreme heat and cold.

PLAY COUNTS

Some puppies get most of their exercise during play. A good game of fetch, tug or chase will get the heart pumping. Having multiple different play sessions and games to play with your puppy will keep them from getting bored.

MENTAL ACTIVITY IS ESSENTIAL

Destructive behaviour such as chewing furniture, excessive licking and inappropriate elimination can be the result of anxiety created by a lack of exercise and activity. Ensuring your pet maintains an active lifestyle both mentally and physically will help decrease the chances that these troublesome behaviours arise.

Spending time teaching your dog tricks or offering them puzzle toys that contain hidden treats will help to keep them mentally stimulated and healthy.

When they are old enough, obedience training is also a fantastic way to increase your pet’s daily steps, engage them mentally and teach them the basics of being a well-behaved dog.

Starting an exercise routine with your new puppy and sticking with it throughout their life encourages a healthy lifestyle and will help decrease the risk of weight-associated diseases. Your veterinary healthcare team is a great resource to discover what exercise you can include in your individual pet’s daily routine.

Kristina Cooper is a Registered Veterinary Technician (RVT) and proud member of the Ontario Association of Veterinary Technicians (OAVT). She has previously worked in both small animal practice and a municipal animal shelter. With a special interest in the relationship between animal and human health she is currently the Provincial Manager of the OAVT Public Health Rabies Response Program and an active One Health Initiative advocate. She can be reached by email at krizzteena@hotmail.com

Backyard Hazards Series: Preventing Disease Transmission Between Kids And Dogs

Pets make great companions and are most often an integral part of our family. As pet companionship has evolved, pets now more than ever spend time in close proximity to their human family members. These days it is common for children to grow up side by side with their cherished pets, often sharing a snack together or exchanging kisses. Although your pet may appear outwardly healthy, it is possible that they can carry bacteria, viruses and parasites that can be transmitted to people during these simple daily interactions.

“ THE EASIEST AND LIKELY MOST EFFECTIVE MEASURE WE CAN TAKE IS TO ENSURE OUR CHILDREN GET INTO THE ROUTINE OF WASHING THEIR HANDS AFTER HANDLING AND INTERACTING WITH THEIR DOG.

The World Organisation for Animal Health (OiE) recognizes that, “Most of the recent emerging diseases have an animal origin, and almost all of them have zoonotic [Ed.: the ability to pass from animals to humans] potential.” So what can we do as pet parents to keep our families healthy when living so closely with our pets?

 

WASH YOUR HANDS

The easiest and likely most-effective measure we can take is to ensure our children get into the routine of washing their hands after handling and interacting with their dog. Dogs are self-groomers and it is possible for bacterial from their mouths to be deposited onto their fur when grooming. All we have to do is pet them and then rub our eyes, nose or mouth to allow that same bacteria to enter our bodies through our mucous membranes. Handwashing for 20 seconds with soap in warm or cold water after touching a dog, their food or collecting their waste is a great way to get rid of any unwanted germs.

HANDLE DOG FOOD AND TREATS WITH CARE

It is important to recognize that, similar to our own food, from time to time pet food may also be contaminated with organisms such as salmonella and listeria monocytogenes. The prevalence of these organisms is higher in raw food diets. If you are feeding raw food diets to your dog, it is important to thoroughly wash all counters, dishes and utensils that have been used to prepare the food and keep them separate from your family’s dishes and utensils. If raw food is being fed in your household, the task of feeding pets should be left to the adults in the house. Handwashing afterward is highly recommended.

MAKE SURE YOUR DOG HAS REGULAR VETERINARY VISITS

Making sure your dog regularly visits your veterinarian is a great way to prevent potential disease spread to your family members. Because most dogs spend time both inside and outside, they can often be the go between for disease spread. Preventive vaccinations, such as the vaccine for rabies virus, can ensure that not only your dog is protected from acquiring rabies through interactions with wildlife, but your family stays safe and free of rabies, too. Preventive treatments for parasites, such as ticks, fleas and intestinal worms, can also aid in keeping your pet healthy and preventing disease transmission between your dog and family members.

Next time you visit your veterinary healthcare team inquire about what you can do to prevent the spread of infection between your pets and family members.


Kristina Cooper is a Registered Veterinary Technician (RVT) and proud member of the Ontario Association of Veterinary Technicians (OAVT). She has previously worked in both small animal practice and a municipal animal shelter. With a special interest in the relationship between animal and human health, she is currently the provincial manager of the OAVT Public Health Rabies Response Program and an active One Health Initiative advocate. She can be reached by email at krizzteena@hotmail.com.

Coping With Canine Kennel Cough

Thinking of travelling somewhere without your pooch this winter? If so, canine kennel cough is something you should be aware of if you are planning on sending Fido on a vacation of his own.

Canine kennel cough, also known as canine infectious tracheobronchitis, causes irritation and inflammation of the upper airway, including the trachea and bronchi. It can be passed along from dog to dog in environments where multiple dogs have contact, including boarding kennels, doggy daycares, grooming salons, training facilities, animal shelters and off-leash dog parks.

WHAT CAUSES KENNEL COUGH?

Like the common cold in people, kennel cough is most commonly caused by viruses, and in some cases bacteria such as:

  • Canine adenovirus,
  • Canine parainfluenza virus, and
  • Bordetella bronchiseptica (a bacterium).

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF KENNEL COUGH?

Kennel cough is most easily distinguished by the loud, hoarse and hacking cough that resembles a certain goose-like honking sound.

Although no symptoms other than the cough may be present, some dogs will also develop the following:

  • Runny nose,
  • Runny eyes,
  • Sneezing,
  • Loss of appetite,
  • Fever,
  • Lethargy, and
  • Difficulty breathing.

 

HOW IS KENNEL COUGH TREATED?

If the cause is viral, no treatment may be needed at all and the virus will run its course in about three weeks. If the cause is bacterial, antibiotic treatment may be prescribed. Keeping your pet’s environment warm and humidified and allowing them lots of rest can also be helpful.

In some cases, animals that are immune compromised (e.g., puppies who have not fully developed their immune systems, senior dogs who have weakened immune systems and those suffering other diseases) may develop more of the symptoms of canine cough and require supportive care. In these cases, it may take up to six weeks for the cough to clear. In rare cases, canine kennel cough can lead to pneumonia.

If your pet is experiencing signs of canine kennel cough, it is a wise idea to make an appointment with your veterinary healthcare team to determine what course of treatment may be required.

 

HOW CAN KENNEL COUGH SPREAD?

Canine kennel cough is very contagious and transmitted similarly to how humans catch colds. When droplets containing the virus or bacteria responsible for kennel cough are expelled into the air by an infected dog’s cough, they are transmitted to other dogs via inhaled air. These viruses and bacteria then have an entry way into the body through the mucous membranes of the upper airway. Once inside the body the virus replicates and the dog becomes symptomatic.

If your dog has canine kennel cough it is best to keep them isolated from other dogs until their symptoms have passed to prevent further spread.

HOW CAN KENNEL COUGH BE PREVENTED?

The great news is that there are vaccines to prevent the most common causes of canine kennel cough. Vaccinations may be given by injection, or as drops into the nose or by mouth. Vaccine boosters will be required to ensure your dog’s immunity remains protective. If you are planning a vacation and know that your dog will require a stay at a boarding facility, it most helpful to get these vaccines a couple of weeks prior to boarding.


Kristina Cooper is a Registered Veterinary Technician (RVT) and proud member of the Ontario Association of Veterinary Technicians (OAVT). She has previously worked in both small animal practice and a municipal animal shelter. With a special interest in the relationship between animal and human health, she is currently the provincial manager of the OAVT Public Health Rabies Response Program and an active One Health Initiative advocate. She can be reached by email at krizzteena@hotmail.com.

Senior Pet Checkup

With the development of modern veterinary medicine and nutrition approaches, families are benefiting by having their pets live longer and healthier lives. As pets age, it is important to stay on top of their medical exams and preventive treatments (vaccines, heartworm, flea and tick prevention and deworming, etc.) to ensure they live the best life possible.

Senior pets benefit from semi-animal veterinary examinations to ensure they are healthy and to catch potential age-related diseases early. Bloodwork, X-rays and ultrasound may also be considered to gain a better understanding of how organs, such as the liver and kidneys, are functioning. Early disease detection and supportive treatments can help to extend your pet’s comfort level and life expectancy.

The following are some common areas of concern for senior pets that you may wish to discuss at your next veterinary visit:

Cognitive Function

As pets age, it is likely that they will experience some cognitive dysfunction, also known as Doggie Alzheimer’s, such as confused sleep/wake cycles, bathroom accidents in the house, changes in behaviour, mental confusion and altered activity levels.

Eyes And Ears

Eyesight and hearing loss can develop as pets age. Ensuring your pet is supervised when outside and has clear pathways within the home to navigate will help them adjust to these decreasing senses that occur with age. Consider limiting access to stairways to prevent falls and injury

Dental Health

Over time, plaque and tartar can build up on teeth, which can lead to bad breath, trouble eating, gum disease and tooth decay. In some cases, dental work may be needed to treat a painful mouth and to prevent bacterial infection from entering the bloodstream, where it can affect other organs such as the heart, kidneys and liver.

Heart And Lungs

As animals age, organs may work less optimally than they once did. This can include the heart and lungs. Signs of heart and lung dysfunction may include coughing, difficulty breathing, reduced exercise tolerance (pet not wanting to use the stairs, go on walks like they once did or tiring easily) and restlessness.

Digestion And Weight

As pets age, their metabolism may slow down and their dietary needs may change. The foods they used to eat easily may no longer agree with them, or may not seem as palatable. This can contribute to fluctuations in their weight from what was once normal for them. Certain disease processes may also contribute to a change in metabolism, dietary needs, digestion and weight.

Joints And Mobility

Over time the joints of pets, like their human counterparts, may develop degenerative joint diseases such as arthritis or osteoarthritis. The wear and tear of joints over time leads to a thinning of joint cartilage, which can become brittle and cause pain. Signs may include favouring a particular limb, limping or having trouble sitting or rising.

Skin And Coat

Lumps and bumps may not always lead to a diagnosis of cancer, as many are benign, but they could indicate a problem. It is always a good idea to have any new growths checked out by your veterinarian. It is also a good idea to have your pet examined if you notice a change in skin colour and any loss or thinning of hair as these may indicate underlying disease.

The great news is that, for many of the age-related illness that are seen today in senior pets, fantastic treatment options are available that can help give you as much time as possible with your furry family member. If you notice any of the above potential agerelated issues, make an appointment for an examination. Your veterinary healthcare team is always your best resource for your senior pet’s health.

Kristina Cooper is a Registered Veterinary Technician (RVT) and proud member of the Ontario Association of Veterinary Technicians (OAVT). She has previously worked in both small animal practice and a municipal animal shelter. With a special interest in the relationship between animal and human health she is currently the Provincial Manager of the OAVT Public Health Rabies Response Program and an active One Health Initiative advocate. She can be reached by email at krizzteena@hotmail.com

 

Backyard Hazard Series: Seoul Virus

The Backyard Hazards series of articles focuses on the diseases that you or your pet may be at risk of contracting, right in your own backyard.
WHAT IS SEOUL VIRUS?
Seoul virus (SEOV) is a type of zoonotic virus (meaning it can be spread between humans and animals) known as a hantavirus that is seen throughout the world in both wild and domestic rats. It is most commonly sees in the Black Rat (Rattus rattus) and the Norway Rat (Rattus norvegicus).
Commonly, pet rats are from the same species of rats as the Norway Rat but appear in different varieties (Fancy, Hairless, Dumbo, Rex, etc.).
In December 2016, Ontario saw its first few positive cases of SEOV surface. Since then, both humans and rats have tested positive in an outbreak that has encompassed both Canadian and American rat-breeding facilities.
Since this outbreak was detected, Public Health Ontario, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, Local Public Health Units, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Public Health Agency of Canada and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control have been working together to monitor this outbreak and provide direction to rat owners.
HOW CAN RATS GET SEOUL VIRUS?
Rats who have contracted the Seoul virus will shed the virus through urine, feces and saliva. The virus is then passed to other rats when they come into contact with these, or when they are bitten by an infected rat.
HOW CAN PEOPLE GET SEOUL VIRUS? 
Just like when rats pass the virus to other rats, humans can become infected when they come into contact with an infected rat’s urine, feces and saliva. This may occur when handling feeder rats (fresh or frozen food for reptiles) or pet rats, receiving a bite from an infected rat or while cleaning out their bedding in their cage. Sweeping and vacuuming rat habitats while cleaning should be avoided as the virus can be aerosolized and inhaled. People do not pass the Seoul virus to other people.
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF SEOUL VIRUS?
In rats Rats that have Seoul virus do not show signs or symptoms. Once a rat has Seoul virus it will shed the virus for life and may pass the virus along to other rats and people.
In people
Some humans may not show signs of SEOV infection either. Although, others may present with flu-like symptoms one to two weeks after exposure to the virus that include:
  • Headache
  • Backache
  • Abdominal pain
  • Fever and chills
  • Nausea
  • Blurred vision
  • Redness/inflammation of the eyes
  • Flushed face • Rash
The CDC states: “While Seoul virus infection in humans is generally considered less severe than some other types of hantavirus infections, it can still cause a severe illness in some cases. Some people may develop a severe form of infection known as hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS), and an estimated 1% to 2% of people may die after being infected with Seoul virus.”
In these more severe cases the following may be seen:
  • Kidney failure
  • Low blood pressure
  • Signs of bleeding
  • Shock
  • Death
Those who are pregnant, children, elderly and immunocompromised may be more at risk of developing disease.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I AM CONCERNED MY RAT HAS SEOUL VIRUS?
There is no specific treatment available for rats with SEOV. In some cases, blood testing can be performed on live rats to test for Seoul virus. If you are concerned that your pet rat may be carrying the Seoul virus you should reach out to your local public health unit to inquire what your next steps should be.
People who have developed symptoms of Seoul virus may be treated with supportive care until the virus runs its course.
WHAT STEPS CAN I TAKE TO KEEP MYSELF SAFE WHEN CLEANING MY RAT’S HABITAT?
First, clean the habitat in an area that is well ventilated. Cleaning outside is best if possible. If cleaning must occur indoors, make sure to open windows 30 minutes prior to cleaning and avoid areas where food is prepared. The CDC recommends the following steps when cleaning rat habitats:
FIRST, CLEAN UP ANY URINE AND DROPPINGS 
When you begin cleaning, it is important that you do not stir up dust by sweeping or vacuuming up droppings, urine or nesting materials. Wear rubber, latex or vinyl gloves when cleaning urine and droppings. Spray the urine and droppings with a disinfectant or a mixture of bleach and water and let soak five minutes. The recommended concentration of bleach solution is one part bleach to 10 parts water. When using a commercial disinfectant, follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the label for dilution and disinfection time.
Use a paper towel to pick up the urine and droppings, and dispose of the waste in the garbage. After the rodent droppings and urine have been removed, disinfect items that might have been contaminated by rodents or their urine and droppings.
NEXT, CLEAN AND DISINFECT THE WHOLE AREA
Mop floors and clean countertops with disinfectant or bleach solution. Steam clean or shampoo upholstered furniture and carpets with evidence of rodent exposure.
Wash any bedding and clothing with laundry detergent in hot water if exposed to rodent urine or droppings. Lastly, remove gloves, and thoroughly wash hands with soap and water (or use a waterless alcohol-based hand rub when soap is not available and hands are not visibly soiled).
Rats make great family pets and it is important to note that not all rats carry Seoul virus. If you are considering a rat as a pet for your family, it is important to look into the breeder you are considering purchasing your rat from and inquiring about their rattery’s Seoul virus status. A reputable rat breeder will not breed and sell infected rats and should be able to provide proof to you that their rattery is free from the virus. More information about the virus can be found on Public Health Ontario’s website www.publichealthontario.ca by searching “Seoul virus.”
Kristina Cooper is a Registered Veterinary Technician (RVT) and proud member of the Ontario Association of Veterinary Technicians (OAVT). She has previously worked in both small animal practice and a municipal animal shelter. With a special interest in the relationship between animal and human health she is currently the Provincial Manager of the OAVT Public Health Rabies Response Program and an active One Health Initiative advocate. She can be reached by email at krizzteena@hotmail.com