Posts Tagged ‘Veterinary Medicine’

Zoo animals’ twilight years pose new questions

June 23, 2008

We’ve highlighted people spending gobs on medical bills for their baby-boomer pets. Now the nation’s zoos are entering a “zone of unknowns” as animals live longer than anyone expected, the Associated Press reports.

While animals in captivity living longer than their wild brethren is nothing new, as that gap in life expectancy increases — partly due to better medical care — there have been some adjustments.

The Santa Ana Zoo, for instance, is home to Moka, a colobus monkey pushing 27 years old, making him the second-oldest in the United States:

For Moka, old age has meant only a few minor changes. His perch has been lowered so he doesn’t have to jump up to it. He gets regular X-rays to check for arthritis. And he tends to get access to warm areas during the winter.

But the aging population of America’s zoos is raising many other simple –- but potentially daunting –- questions.

Click here for the full article.

Pets are baby boomers too–with medical bills to match

June 8, 2008

Better preventative care, medicine, vitamins and food are making pets live longer, but leading to one costly side effect: higher medical bills, the Washington Post reports.

Think of them as baby boomers on four legs. They’re older and fatter–just like the country at large. About 44% of the country’s dogs are older than 6, compared with 32% in 1987, according to the Post. And 45% of U.S. pets are overweight or obese, according to the Assn. for Pet Obesity Prevention.

But also like humans, they are racking up larger medical bills. According to the American Veterinary Medical Assn., spending on veterinary medicine doubled to $24.5 million in the last decade, the Post reports.

So pet owners are now opting for expensive surgeries and preventative procedures–such as with the dog above, who was getting hip replacement surgery–when in the past a vet would resort to euthanasia.

Click here for the full article.

Humane Society forced to enthanize animals to combat disease

May 28, 2008

The Humane Society of Hall County was forced to euthanize most of the animals in its shelter Thursday in order to control an outbreak of respiratory disease.

Humane society president Rick Aiken said the illness was a contagious but typically non-fatal virus similar to kennel cough, or bordatella. Ironically, the society recently received a grant to vaccinate incoming animals against bordatella.

“Unfortunately, if an animal comes in and is already incubating the virus, the vaccine doesn’t do any good,” Aiken said. “And as a full-service shelter, we can’t turn animals away. We have to take everything that comes in.”

Even though the illness is not fatal, and the society provided free treatment for any adopted pet who became ill, Aiken said some owners were upset about adopting an animal that turned out to be sick.

“We had to make a decision,” he said. “Three or four days ago, we started isolating new animals that came in, and only one person could take care of them. Then, all the animals that had not been isolated would be euthanized.”

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Relocation Of Endangered Chinese Turtle May Save Species

May 21, 2008

There are only four specimens of the Yangtze giant softshell turtle left on Earth–one in the wild and three in captivity. In order to save this species from extinction, conservation partners from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA), working in conjunction with partners from two Chinese zoos and the China Zoo Society, recently paired two of them. A still reproductive, more than 80-year-old, female, living in China’s Changsha Zoo has been introduced to the only known male in China, a more than 100-year-old living more than 600 miles away at the Suzhou Zoo.

On Monday, May 5, turtle biologists, veterinarians, and zoo staff from partner organizations convened at the Changsha Zoo to collect and transport the female to the Suzhou Zoo where she joined her new mate to potentially save their entire species. The move was coordinated to coincide with the female’s reproductive cycle.

“This is a story of hope for a species truly on the brink,” said Colin Poole, Director of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Asia Programs. “We are extremely grateful to our conservation partners both in China and here in the U.S. who made this historic move possible. Now that the turtles are together, we are optimistic that they will successfully breed.”

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With animals living longer and advances in medicine, Fresno zoo handles special needs

May 21, 2008

It’s survival of the less-than-fittest at Fresno Chaffee Zoo.

Sheep and goats are on Celebrex. One sea lion is blind and another is half-paralyzed. A hedgehog-like critter is so old it must eat mushy food.

At nearly 20, “it’s like a 170-year-old person,” said zoo veterinarian Lewis Wright.

Advances in medicine mean animals are living longer in Fresno – and in zoos nationwide – even if they have maladies that could make them dinner in the wild.

“It’s a relatively new phenomenon, where zoos have gotten so good at what they do that we are surpassing median life expectancy,” said Andy Snider, the zoo’s director of animal care and conservation.

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Surgeon Operates To Rescue Chimp With Rare Deformity

May 20, 2008

An orthopaedic surgeon at the University of Liverpool has performed a groundbreaking operation on a chimp in Cameroon to correct a deformity more commonly seen in dogs.

The three year-old chimp called Janet was rescued from the Cameroon pet trade last year and now lives in a chimpanzee reserve supported by the Cameroon Wildlife Aid Fund. Janet was unable to climb and had difficulty walking because a bone in her forearm – the ulna – had stopped growing.

It is thought that her condition, known as angular limb deformity, is a congenital problem, but could also have been caused or aggravated by being chained at the wrist by traders. This forced the arm’s radius to grow in a circular manner making her arm severely bent. Vets have seen the deformity in dogs before but never in chimpanzees and were called in to assess Janet’s condition.

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Screw Worm Outbreak In Yemen

May 8, 2008

An outbreak of the insidious ´screw worm´ fly in Yemen, is threatening livelihoods, in a country where rearing livestock is a traditional way of life. In recent weeks, a Ministerial delegation was at the IAEA in Vienna, Austria, to turn to the international community for emergency assistance to fight the deadly pest.

The menacing fly lays its eggs in a cut or open wound of a warm-blooded animal. The maggots then feast off the living flesh, and can kill the animal if it´s not treated in time.

The outbreak hit the country´s coast late last year. Veterinarian, Mansoor AlQadasi, General Director of the Central Veterinarian Laboratory, says it´s the first official outbreak of ´old world´ screw worm in Yemen.

“There are about 20,000 cases of livestock affected. Most of these are sheep and goats. We have also found some human cases — mainly in children and older people,” Mr. AlQadasi said.

Click here for the full article.

Why are Broken Bones Lethal to Horses?

May 8, 2008

After a four-race winning streak, Eight Belles galloped past the Kentucky Derby’s finish line to snag second place. The glory was shattered as the racehorse collapsed on the track. She had broken bones in both front ankles — a lethal injury for a horse.

Unlike us, couch-potato life is not an option for horses like Eight Belles. Immobility can cut off vital circulation within a horse’s body, leading to a cascade of health compromises.

“When [Eight Belles] switched leads to her right front, apparently she landed awkwardly under fatigue, and that was the initiating problem,” said equine veterinarian Celeste Kunz, a spokesperson for the American Association of Equine Practitioners.

Click here for the full article.

It’s a dog’s life, not the cat’s meow, study says

May 3, 2008

In the epic cold war between cats and dogs, a recent study suggests canines are getting a paw-up on the home front.

According to research published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, dogs not only get showered with more affection from their owners than cats, they’re also significantly more likely to receive medical services such as vaccinations, regular health exams and preventive dental care.

The multi-phase study, which was conducted with 2,000 dog and cat owners over three months, shows dog people are considerably more likely than cat people to spend whatever is necessary to keep their pet healthy (52 per cent versus 42 per cent), are more prone to seeing their animal as a child (43 per cent versus 36 per cent), more frequently buy gifts for the pet (48 per cent versus 34 per cent), and are more apt to miss their animal while away from home (58 per cent versus 47 per cent).

“The crisis is that cat health care is on the decline,” says Jane E. Brunt, an AVMA spokeswoman and doctor of veterinary medicine. She believes the trend is partially linked to diminished views of cats in popular culture.

“The stereotypes that surround cats are unfortunate – that whole ‘crazy cat lady’ thing, the feeling that cats are sneaky, cats are aloof.”

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National Pet Week is May 4-10!

May 3, 2008

National Pet Week, May 4-10, celebrates America’s more than 172 million companion animals, and the remarkable role they play in improving the quality of our lives. All across the nation, veterinarians, veterinary technicians and others will use this opportunity to educate the public on how pets improve human health, and how pet owners can return the favor.

Click here for the full article.

Pets, Vets and Debts: Owners Face Higher Bills, More Medical Options and Tough Decisions About How Much Is Too Much

April 27, 2008

In the bad-luck lottery for pet care, Jennifer Freeman hit the jackpot. Over seven bank-account-draining months two years ago, the D.C. resident’s four cats came down with several ailments: urethra blockages, gum disease, constipation (hey, it happens). Before she knew it, Freeman, 31, had forked over more than $11,000 for surgeries and veterinary fees, was buying bottled water and prescription pet food for her feline charges and was wondering just how much more she could take.

“On my end, the cash register was just spinning,” Freeman says. “Half of my take-home pay was going to pay vet bills.” Upon receiving yet another $1,000 bill for a series of tests and procedures, a sobbing Freeman told her veterinarian that the next time one of her cats got sick, he should put it to sleep, because she couldn’t afford it.

“The vet seemed a little stunned,” says Freeman, whose cats are alive and mostly well. “I think he didn’t think that money was a big consideration for me.”

Click here for the full article.

CSI goes four-legged

April 2, 2008

I first encountered an animal cruelty case as a veterinary student eight years ago. The patient, a pet rabbit, had a 10 centimetre cut across her left thigh. The wound itself was clean, the edges neat. My boss explained that this was consistent with the use of a sharp instrument, probably a razor blade. It was the third occasion a rabbit from this household had come in with the same kind of wound.

I was dumbfounded when my boss agreed to stitch up the wound without grilling the owner, an unhappy-looking teenage boy accompanied by his distraught mother. Surely we had a duty of care not to return this rabbit to a high-risk household. We could seize the rabbit and notify the authorities, putting an end to this cycle of cruelty.

“It would never get to court,” my boss explained. “How would you prove it?”

She had a point. We’d be unlikely to find a witness willing to testify, given both boy and mother reported that the rabbit had simply “fallen over”. We didn’t have the resources to collect samples for forensic testing, and we had only written records to back up our claims that rabbits from the same household had come in with similar wounds.

Veterinarians have always worked on the front line of animal welfare, but when it comes to animal cruelty, many have felt they can do little more than patch up or put down abused animals.

But times are changing. This month the University of Florida Centre for Forensic Medicine and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) will host the first international conference on veterinary forensics.

Click here for the full article.

When Animals Die: A Grim Job Pays Off In Knowledge Gained

March 25, 2008

Working with dead animals isn’t as emotionally draining as trying to save them, Melissa Mitchell said one recent afternoon on her way to pick up the remains of a sick goat that had been euthanized at a northeastern Connecticut farm.

Mitchell pulled the state truck she was driving to the side of the road so she could call the goat’s owner, Kathleen Johnson, and say she was heading to Johnson’s farm in Thompson. Mitchell could tell from the quavery voice on the cellphone that Johnson was distraught.

Mitchell, 25, is a veterinary technician with the courier service begun last year by the Connecticut Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory. She picks up dead pets, livestock, poultry and wildlife throughout the state and takes the carcasses to the lab for a necropsy — an animal autopsy.

Pathologists at the lab, on the University of Connecticut campus in Storrs, look for a cause of death and check to see if there is an outbreak of some communicable disease.

Click here for the full article.

Washington State University creates School for Global Animal Health

March 22, 2008


The Washington State Board of Regents on Friday approved creation of a new school that will focus on research and treatment of diseases passed from animals to humans.

Just how the new School for Global Animal Health will be paid for is not known, but the university is expected to announce Monday a record $25 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for the school, The Spokesman-Review reported Friday.

WSU President Elson Floyd told the regents Friday at their meeting in Richland that the school will be administered by the College of Veterinary Medicine. WSU hopes to house the school in an $83.5 million building. Its request for money was not included in the state’s latest budget.

About 70 percent of the diseases that affect humans have their origins in animals, Floyd said. Those “zoonotic” diseases, such as rabies and tuberculosis, are caused by infectious agents that can be transmitted between, or shared by, animals and humans.

Floyd said the school will bring together scientists who are experts in human and animal disease. The school will coordinate the university’s efforts in infectious disease research and diagnostics, with a particular focus on the intersection of human and animal disease, he said.

Click here for the full article.

Rescue groups fight to save sick animals from being euthanized

March 8, 2008

Until recently, Valentine hadn’t seen a whole lot of love.

The emaciated fawn-colored pit bull weighed only 24 pounds on Valentine’s Day, when a Far Rockaway couple spotted the frightened dog crawling on her belly.

But thanks to the efforts of one local rescue group, the once downtrodden dog is on the mend.

“She had no muscle mass and couldn’t walk,” said veterinarian Jean Ferreri of NYC Veterinary Specialists in Manhattan, where the popular pooch has gained a few pounds – and even boasts her own fan club.

But caring for Valentine doesn’t come cheap. The ailing dog’s medical bills, which already exceed $10,000, will be covered by Stray from the Heart, the nonprofit rescue group that saved her and will find her a foster home.

Like most smaller rescue groups, Stray from the Heart relies on public donations, gifts from private foundations, corporate grants, special events and adoption fees to help fund its rescue efforts.

The group, which is part of the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals, rescues about 150 dogs each year, half of which are pulled off the NYC Animal Care and Control shelters’ euthanasia list. The group is among a handful that take animals from the heartbreaking list circulated daily to rescuers.

The group’s Executive Director Toni Bodon, a lawyer by day, says most of the dogs on the euthanasia list are senior animals; harder-to-place canines, such as pit bulls and Rottweillers, and those deemed sick, often because they suffer from upper respiratory infections contracted at the shelter.

“Most are being put down simply because they have a cold, and all they need is medication and a clean and nurturing environment where they can recuperate,” she said.

Click here for the full article.

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