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You have probably been hearing a lot about canine circovirus. So have I. You may have heard some conflicting things about this virus. So have I. Because I love you all and I want you to know what I know, I’ve spent the day trying to make sense of the information that’s out there. Here’s what I know so far and why I’m not recommending mass panic at this time.
Part 1: It’s the food
Here’s how the story evolved, as far as I can piece together.
1. In mid-August, P&G pet foods issues a voluntary recall of certain lots of dry food manufactured at an East Coast plant over a 10 day period because of the possibility of Salmonella.
2. Last week, The Pet Spot, a pet kennel in Ohio, learns that several dogs who had been at the facility in the last few weeks had become sickened with a severe hemorrhagic gastroenteritis/ vasculitis type disease. Three of those dogs died.
3. The kennel owner, trying to figure out what was going on, noted that his kennel’s stock food is Iams. He makes a “hey, we may want to look into this” sort of statement which gets digested, churned up in the bowels of social media and local media, and becomes
OMG EUKANUBA IS KILLING DOGS AGAIN (CHAOS/PITCHFORKS)
The only problem is, it wasn’t. By this time, P&G- which coincidentally is headquartered in Ohio- hears this story and of course they would like to know what happened to those dogs. I spoke with Jason Taylor over at P&G, who among many duties has the awesomely fun job of managing pet food recalls when and if they occur, to ask what happened next.
According to Taylor, despite the fact that the kennel owner did not have the lot codes of the food he was using, P&G was able to ascertain the lot numbers based on order history and shipping details, determining that the food being fed at the kennel was not part of the recall, and in fact was not even manufactured at the same factory.
But since they were there anyway with a group of microbiologists and toxicity experts and a small business owner who was under a lot of pressure to figure out what was going on, they figured they would add their resources to the investigation, crawling around with cotton swabs and all that science-y stuff and send it off to see if there was any identifiable pathogen in the environment. There was none. The facility was cleared to re-open.
Still with me?
Part 2: It’s circovirus
4. By now, the state veterinarian, the local veterinary community, and the Ohio State veterinary hospital are involved. People put their heads together. Someone says, “hey, I remember reading about a dog in California that died this April with similar symptoms; he had circovirus, which is weird and unusual because it’s normally a pig disease. We should test for that too.” The news, already paying attention after losing the whole pet food angle, is still interested. Under the tender editorial guidance of a click-happy news site, “we are investigating this possibility” becomes:
OMG A SCARY NEW VIRUS WILL KILL YOUR DOG
because if there’s one thing the spell check challenged online journalism teams at local newspapers like to do, it’s to drive traffic with leads like “It’s a scary new disease, that can kill your dog” then follow up with some man-on-the street interviews with statements such as “It can like, kill your dog, and that’s like bad for them.”
As anyone who has read any sort of newspaper or watched any news channel in the last decade will attest to, journalism has become less about accurate reporting and more about fast reporting. It’s the nature of the beast these days, but it’s why everything needs to be taken with a grain or bushel of salt because guess what?
According to a UC Davis professor who tested samples from three of the affected dogs, only one tested positive for circovirus. You may not have heard that yet because Ohio can’t test for circovirus; samples got sent to California and despite what CSI tells us, results are not instantaneous. It took this long for the official results to come in, which is about 4 days too slow for a news cycle that is moving on to the next disaster at midnight.
Part 3: It’s…a case in progress
So what do we know about circovirus and dogs, exactly? Not much. What caused these illnesses? Not sure.
- Correlation does not imply causation. In the above referenced piece, Dr. Pesavento points to an academic article published in April that talks about the dog in California, then went looking for the presence of circovirus in other dogs. To sum up, it was found in some dogs with diarrhea. It was also found in some healthy dogs. Most of the sick dogs were co-infected with some other pathogen as well. Clear as mud.
So again, what do we know about circovirus in dogs? That it exists. It may or may not cause disease. That is all the scientists are willing to say at the moment. Wordier summary is in the Ohio Department of Agriculture press release.
That is soooo anticlimactic and unsexy and un-newsworthy, and as a person who likes exciting news as much as the next person I wish I had something more earth-shattering to report. But at the end of the day I am also a person that likes TL:DR summaries, so to put it all in one handy image:
Part 4: So now we torch the dog park, right?
I in no way want to minimize what happened to those affected dogs, who suffered from a rapid onset, devastating illness. It is entirely possible that circovirus will be identified as the cause, and in that case we can revisit this issue and talk more. I as much as anyone else hope the patient scientists who make this their life’s work will be rewarded for their diligence with a definitive cause. As of now, there is none. We live such stressful lives as it is, I like to wait until I’m forced to panic so I don’t spend my entire life wedged in the corner covered in Saran Wrap. While we wait to determine if this is necessary, here’s what you can do:
1. Remember the number of reported cases stands at ‘miniscule’. If you’re worrying about circovirus while your dog is running around a year late on his parvo booster, I would recommend re-focusing your attention, at least for the time being. That being said:
2. Call the vet immediately if your dog shows any signs of this disease. If your dog has bloody diarrhea, you should be at the vet ASAP anyway; this advice has not changed since before this virus emerged. The affected pets became rapidly, severely ill: rapid treatment was essential to positive outcome.
3. Avoid high risk environments. Consider the fact that all of the reported cases happened in dogs that had recently been to kennels or doggie daycares. High concentration of dogs in one place means higher likelihood of disease spread. I actually don’t recommend carte blanche avoiding these environments, but if you are really concerned or if your dog has a less than hardy immune system, dogs survive just fine without those facilities.
Marlin’s been working out of town a lot since the flooding a few months back so I’ve been left home alone to work and look after the pups… and to shop online. :)
Not too long ago I became obsessed with dog activity tracking devices. I blame Pack and the newsletter I write for them. The newsletter makes me browse the internet to find cool stuff for dogs and it seems to result in me buying stuff. :)
Anyway, a few weeks back I mentioned activity tracking devices in the newsletter. There are quite a few out there and they all look pretty cool. Some have GPS so if your dog accidentally gets out of the yard, you can track them and find them again (this only works in the states at the moment – something to do with cell phone carriers). These also tend to have monthly fees that I didn’t like. Then there are ones that only track their activities but not their location – like FitBark and Whistle.
I figured a device like this would be great at tracking my dogs’ activities as they age. I think some times changes are so gradual you don’t really see them but these devices would help you see things in black and white. I also thought they would be good at tracking how much is too much, and how much is too little, when Coulee’s feet aren’t doing so well.
And well… I like gadgets. Gadgets are fun. So I decided to back FitBark on Kickstarter. It was my first Kickstarter “investment”. To be honest, if I had discovered Whistle before I had done the Kickstarter, I probably would have gotten that one – I like stuff to arrive NOW, not later, although I’m trying to be patient.
As I browsed the internet looking at reviews of these different gadgets it was impossible not to stumble across similar gadgets for people and I managed to talk myself into one of those as well. (Too much time home alone is never a good thing!). I’ve signed up for an exercise program starting in September and I decided it would be cool to see what my activity levels were like before, during and after the program.
Earlier this week I received my FitBit Flex. At first I was just going to track my activities but then I decided I wanted to see how easy it was to track what I was eating too. So far, I’ve done a good job of not eating more calories than I’ve burned but I’m eating too much to reach my “weight loss goal” that it helped me set. It has definitely helped me decide to pass up desert or an evening drink that I don’t need though. It is also making it extra clear (I already knew this) that if I could stop drinking Chai Tea Lattes, I’d have lots of extra calories to “spend” somewhere else.
The activity information above is from yesterday. It is a pretty typical work day, minus a dog walk. (Coulee’s limping at the moment but we are going to see a rehab vet today to hopefully get that all straightened out). I worked a split shift and was off between 10 and 1… which is obvious by the lack of movement during those times. :)
It also tracks my sleep but it pretty much told me what I already knew – I wake up a few times each night. It’s funny to see the consistency. Something happens at 1 a.m. each night to wake me up. I don’t remember Coulee barking at the train this past week, but maybe she has been.
I will try not to become an exercised obsessed, food tracking fiend – at least online. I’m excited and scared for the exercise program to start in September. Because of my work shift (and the lack of showers at the facility) I had to sign up for the 5 a.m. class. UGH. There were so many class options but that was the only one that worked for me other than the 7 p.m. one. By the end of the day, the last thing I want to do is exercise so a morning class was better. I just wish it didn’t have to be quite so early!
Crazy Coulee and Little Lacey
A few nice Flea images I found:
Flea market in Ljubljana
Image by Nickster 2000
The last of the flea market shots I promise.
I take no credit for this shot, it was a deal done between the 50mm F1.8 and the brick a brack (who kindly arranged itself in the order you see here for me).
Image by isaacgriberg
A lunar bug found at a flea market in Versoix, Switzerland.
Watching a variety of different dogs play is one of the biggest benefits of my part-time job. Dogs really know how to party, and the joy they get from play can be contagious:
Mini-breaks and Time-outs
In this video you several breaks in the action, even in just under a minute of elapsed time. This is a good thing. I highlighted the big one in the video, and there was another right after I stop filming (naturally) where Caffeine was gagging (it happens during allergy season and no, it’s not the collar) and Buddha politely stopped and waited for her to reach up and mouth him to resume play. I really wish I hadn’t stopped filming!
This kind of cooperation is what we want to see. It doesn’t always look exactly like this of course, because all dogs are different and play differently. It’s possible to draw broad generalizations about breeds – retrievers tend to like to mouth wrestle and end up with their heads literally soaked, bully breeds tend to slam dance, some herding breeds like to play tag — however the "tagging" better be gentle — but as I’ve said before, these are broad generalizations and are not always true. Know your dog, and know your dog’s friends.
Symmetry and Handicapping
Patricia McConnell talks about self-handicapping frequently on her blog and in her talks. It’s an important part of play. In the video I highlight a point where Buddha offers to let Caffeine pounce on him for a bit. She rarely takes him up on this offer. She likes to play on the floor and even did that when we had a much larger dog that played much more roughly with her.
In the puppy playgroups at Kellar’s Canine Academy we have a "regular" named Lucy, a 8 month old or so Pit Bull mix, who is an absolute master at self-handicapping. She can switch from letting a tiny puppy half her size jump on her and nibble her face to slam-dancing with her best friend, a 70 pound Rottweiler puppy, in seconds.
Some dogs can adjust play styles. I’m fortunate that Buddha and Caffeine (with the few dogs she will play with) can and will do this. It’s not necessarily common and don’t expect your dog or the dogs you come across to do so. Some dogs take offense, even in the middle of a play session, to a bitten ear or a jumped-upon face. The question is, how do they react? A warning and/or disengaging from play is just fine. Retaliation is usually not.
In a safe environment dogs always have the option to end play by stopping and, if nexessary, leaving the area. This means (at least) two things must be true: the area is big enough for a dog to be able to leave the area of play and the participants are in control to take the hint when a dog wants a break.
So What’s Actually Acceptable?
This is an excellent video, worth watching a few times, about play and body language:
One of the more interesting parts of my apprenticeship was watching how different trainers handled playgroups in both puppy classes and with adult dogs. Some were very hands on and quick to enforce a break in the action. Other tending to go with the flow and tried to engineer things more by strategically picking playgroups.
I came away a bit of a laissez faire attitude, and the fact that I have had to deal with small groups and then ideal facilities (until very recently) have forced me to improvise. I want to see regular breaks in the action. I don’t like to see too many high-speed chases, dogs up on their hind legs, and dogs that seem overwhelmed or afraid need to be helped by pairing them up with appropriate playmates. But attempts to support one dog or another or to enforce specific rules of play are not my thing.
What has your experience with playgroups been?
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John McCauley III & Ian O’Neil of Deer Tick came by the KXT studio to chat about their love of The Little Mermaid soundtrack and to showcase new tracks from …
Video Rating: 5 / 5
オフィシャルHP http://www.tick.jp/index.html 2/25発売、待望の1stシングル！ カップリングの「All I Want」には、 UVERworldのTAKUYA∞が参加してます！！ UVERworldファン、TAKUYA∞ファンは必聴！！！ テレビ東京「スキバラ」3月度エンディン…
A grape. So benign. Frozen, so delicious. Dehydrated, so raisin-y. And in large quantities in dogs, the unassuming grape goes Breaking Bad and becomes a killer. Da da duuuuum…. so let’s talk toxic foods for a minute.
When my friend Lili Chin over at Doggie Drawings asked if I would look over a poster she was designing of toxic foods for canines, I was so excited, because her drawings rock and I couldn’t wait to see how she interpreted “bulb of garlic.” The idea was to create a simple, cute piece about toxic foods for dogs, and she wanted my thoughts.
As soon as I looked at the list, I realized this would be a challenge, because toxicity is not always linear. Sometimes a dog eats a bag of grapes and is fine and other times a dog eats one bite of pork fried rice and dies of pancreatitis. Sometimes only portions of a fruit are toxic and other parts are fine. Sometimes there are at least three variables that must be calculated before you know if a food was ingested at a toxic amount (chocolate, for example.)
There is a reason this poster does not have in-depth detail about toxicity doses, etc. Determining toxic likelihood on a case-by-case basis is exactly what veterinarians are for, so if you swear up and down onions have made your dog’s life better don’t email me complaining, talk to your vet and go forward in peace. Consider this a lighthearted PSA that you can do with what you will.
At the end of the day, the world will always be improved by more of Lili’s drawings. Macadamias packing heat will NEVER go out of style.
What this is: a cute graphic with limited specifics intended to share knowledge about foods that might cause a problem for your dog, so that you can discuss it with your veterinarian if you are concerned.
What this is not: An exhaustive treatise with toxic dose approximations, a prediction of your dog’s demise if he eats a piece of cheese, an academic piece in a peer reviewed journal, a substitute for your vet’s opinion.
It’s a poster, and a really cute one at that. Lili has them available for download here as well. Hope you like the hooligan chocolate bar as much as me!
It’s a horrible story you might have seen in the news: A dog fell to its death from the 43rd floor of a high-rise condo building in the Lakeshore East neighborhood on Wednesday, according to CBS Chicago.
You would be tempted to write this off as a tragic accident — things happen — until the rest of the story comes out. A cat fell off this very same balcony, and died, just three days before the dog fell.
What on Earth is going on in that condo?
The condo's tenant, a 26-year-old musician named Ryan, is claiming both are simply accidents. He's been in the process of moving. The dog who fell, a Rottweiler/Shar-Pei mix named Duke, belonged to Ryan's mother. She brought the dog with them when they came over to help Ryan move. They had piled boxes and furniture on the balcony while cleaning the apartment.
“It created a ladder that no one was thinking of,” Ryan told the Chicago Sun-Times.
Nobody was home when the dog fell. After Ryan's step-dad returned to the apartment and couldn't find the dog, he tracked Ryan down at a friend's apartment a few floors away.
“He was in shock and he was like, ‘Where’s the dog?’ and since this had just happened to the cat ... I already figured the worst,” said Ryan.
They went back to the balcony, peeked over the edge, and saw police cars by the front door of the building. Ryan said his step-dad “couldn’t even hardly talk. He put this dog almost as high up as my mom and my little sister.”
One woman and her boyfriend were walking their dog outside when Duke hit the ground. The boyfriend said Duke hit on his side and died instantly.
“He can’t get the vision out of his head, or the sound,” the woman told CBS Chicago. “He’s pretty torn up about it. I’ve never really seen him like this before.”
Investigators, of course, were skeptical.
“Police were questioning and threatening to arrest me,” Ryan said. “Slowly but surely they, thank God, they believed what I told them.
They were skeptical because three days before, one of Ryan's cats went over the edge and died. This, too, was a tragic accident related to his moving, according to Ryan. He says the cats, Ash and Oak -- one of them a two-month-old kitten, according to the Huffington Post -- were old hands on the balcony. But then Ryan's mother came over with Duke. The cats were on the balcony, with the glass door shut. The dog ran up to the door, startling the kitten.
“I’d convinced myself thoroughly that there’s no way these cats would even slip off because they had that instinctual fear that right over this edge is a big drop ... but, I guess they freaked out because they never had a dog in their face before," Ryan told the Sun-Times. "I’m assuming one of them got skittish, went on the edge and just kind of jumped when they saw [Duke] through a glass window.”
Three days later, Duke would go off the same balcony.