Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Returning



The Ramblings of a Purple Peke blog will be back up after this weekend.  So much has been happening we were all a little insane for a while.
 We are happy to be back and look forward to rambling about Purple Pekes again.

The Peke Pups

Friday, January 17, 2014

January Pet Special Days

Jan. 22, 2014: National Answer Your Cat’s Question Day.
Jan. 24, 2014: Change a Pet’s Life Day.
Jan. 29, 2014: Seeing Eye Guide Dog Birthday.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

7 Ways to Pay It Forward and Help Get Dogs Adopted



If you're not ready to adopt another fur kid, here's how you can assist in pet rescue.

Although 2.7 million adoptable pets languish in U.S. shelters each year, each pup we foster and every dog photo that I “share” on Facebook chips away at seemingly insurmountable numbers. If you want to help pets -– without adopting another fur kid -– pet rescue experts offer a few action items to get started in your community.

1. Share a ride

Rescue organizations relieve overcrowding at animal shelters by placing pets in foster homes, where they learn basic obedience and meet prospective families at adoption fairs or other events. These nonprofits typically rely on a small network of volunteers to handle everything from foster care to marketing, and they need a helping hand.

“We need a lot of people for pet transports,” says Dianne DaLee, president of Atlanta Boxer Rescue, which places about 200 dogs in forever homes each year. “Getting dogs to and from vets, shelters, and training facilities is a big need.”

To volunteer, find a rescue organization in your community and register to join the transport committee. Petfinder.org and Volunteer Match are great resources to begin your search. When the need for pet transport arises, volunteers receive email updates. If you are available, grab the keys and go score some karma points. Otherwise, wait for the next email request.

2. Volunteer at pet fundraising events

I live in Atlanta, where each October, Atlanta Boxer Rescue holds a daylong music festival called Boxerstock, which helps fund veterinary expenses for rescued pooches. The event includes everything from agility competitions and bounce houses to musical performances and pet-friendly vendors. It’s a massive undertaking that requires dozens of volunteers to collect tickets, secure sponsors and wrangle Boxers in costumes for contests.

3. Donate gently used items

Caring for hundreds of adoptable animals requires a lot of linens, says Jennifer Eddy, Development Director for Lifeline Animal Project, a rescue organization that manages two of the largest county shelters in Georgia. Volunteers can pay it forward for pets simply by donating used blankets, sheets and towels to their local animal control agency.

You can also turn trash into treasure, as Eddy says newspapers are highly valuable at animal shelters. Consider making a monthly deposit of old reading material.

4. Lend a hand during shot clinics

In 2006, the Humane Society of the United States launched a Pets For Life program that provides education, training tools and vaccinations in underserved communities. It’s a fun, day-long project that begins well before the sun rises on Atlanta’s west side. Rachel Thompson, manager of Pets For Life Atlanta, says shot clinics require at least 60 volunteers to assist with crowd control, pet food distribution, and registration. It’s a great way to help hundreds of pets at one time. Schedule a team-building exercise for coworkers and search for Pets For Life volunteer locations or check pet event listings in your area to find an organization that holds shot clinics.

5. Donate wish list items

In addition to people power, pet organizations have a constant need for pet supplies. To keep shelves stocked, many groups maintain online wish lists that link directly to shopping sites such as Amazon.com. Lifeline’s wish list includes cat toys, dog treats and laundry detergent. At Pets For Life Atlanta, tax-deductible donations of vaccinations are in high demand. A series of vaccinations –- rabies, distemper and parvo -– costs about $150. Crates also rank high on the wish list for pet organizations. If your pet has outgrown a crate or two, shelters can still put it to good use. “We are assisting our clients now to adopt shelter pets,” Thompson says. “Crate training is our best option to keep pets in their new homes.”

6. Conduct home visits for rescues

One major difference between animal shelters and rescue organizations is the vetting process for prospective families. To reduce the possibility of pets returning to shelters, reputable rescue organizations take more time evaluating adoption applications to find a good fit. Often that evaluation process involves conducting a home visit with prospective families.

A few years ago, Lulu and I fostered a sweet little Pit mix named Hooch for an organization called Rescue Me Animal Project. When we first met, the pooch shrank at the sight of his own shadow, but Lulu quickly taught Hooch the joys of playing fetch and slipping out of even the most secure wire crates. As his foster mom, I got to review applications and select his forever home. After visiting two really awesome households, it was clear that one family would be a better fit for Hooch. They were so friendly that I wanted to don a dog costume and stay there myself.

Conducting home visits requires time as well as thorough knowledge of the dog’s personality and lifestyle needs. To volunteer in this capacity, connect with a local rescue group and familiarize yourself with the needs of each adoptable pet. It’s a more time-consuming way to pay it forward, but I will always cherish the moment that Hooch made a love connection with his forever family.

7. Plan your own event!

Exposure is what gets pets adopted, fueling the increase in Facebook pages for rescues and shelters. But there’s nothing like making a face-to-snout connection, which is why so many organizations set up shop outside local PetSmart and Petco stores. Eddy also encourages pet lovers to set up their own adoption events. If your neighborhood hosts block parties, fall festivals other gatherings, invite the local rescue group to set up a table with adoptable animals.

“This is one of our biggest needs: finding more opportunities for the animals to be exposed to the public,” Eddy says. You may just help make a love connection. 

Raw Food Cautions

If you live in the Pacific Northwest and your dog goes swimming, boating or fishing with you – or if you live elsewhere and are in the habit of offering raw fish to your pet – you should be aware that your dog could be at risk for salmon poisoning.

Salmon poisoning is a life-threatening condition most commonly caused by raw fish taken from coastal streams and rivers in the Pacific Northwest, from San Francisco all the way up to the coast of Alaska.

Cause of Salmon Poisoning Disease

The organism Neorickettsia helminthoeca, which embeds with Nanophyetus salmincola, a fluke present in raw fish, is what causes salmon poisoning disease.

Salmon, trout, lamprey and other fish native to the Pacific Northwest can be carriers, as well as sculpin, redside shiner, shad, sturgeon, candlefish and large-scale sucker.

When a dog eats infected raw fish, the larval flukes release the rickettsiae organisms, which then travel in the bloodstream to the liver, lungs, brain, and lymphoid tissues, causing necrosis, hemorrhage, and hyperplasia.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

Infected dogs will begin showing symptoms within 6 to 10 days after eating contaminated fish. Symptoms can include loss of appetite, depression, high fever, vomiting, diarrhea, discharge from the nose or eyes, and weight loss.

Diagnosis is accomplished either by fecal analysis to detect parasite eggs, or through a needle sample from a swollen lymph node to check for the presence of bacteria. Standard treatment involves an antibiotic and a dewormer. Many dogs respond immediately to treatment and begin improving within a few days. Once fully recovered, some dogs develop lifetime immunity to the disease.

If you know or suspect your dog has eaten raw fish and is having any of the above symptoms, you should make an appointment with your vet right away. Left untreated, salmon poisoning can be fatal within two weeks.

How to Prevent Salmon Poisoning Disease in Your Pet

When you’re near bodies of water with your dog, make sure he has no opportunity to eat raw fish.

When handling raw fish, make sure to wrap the waste carefully and dispose of it where your pet can’t get access.

Avoid feeding raw fish to your dog. Freezing fish meat can inactivate both the Neorickettsia helminthoeca and Nanophyetus salmincola organisms, depending on the freezing temperature, the time needed to freeze the fish tissue, the length of time the fish is frozen, and the fat content of the fish.

I recommend you deep-freeze salmon and all types of anadromous fish (fish that swim upstream to spawn) for at least 7 days if you plan to feed it raw, or cook it before feeding it to your pet.

Is Your Dog Feeling OK?

Dogs will rarely cry or whimper when they have mild or moderate pain. Their pain has to be severe before they will show major symptoms. Most often, they will just change the way they move or want to be less active when they aren’t feeling well or hurt.

Be aware of these subtle changes and don’t push them to exercise when they may be hurting. In several of these cases, pet parents unknowingly pushed their fur babies to a breaking point where they needed emergency medical care.

Some of these dogs probably would have ended up needing veterinary care because of the symptoms and diseases that were developing but, some of them were pushed to exercise when what they needed was rest, time and healing.

Learn to read your dog’s cues, pay attention to subtle changes in their behavior, and don’t push them til they break.

Aflatoxin: The Single Pet Food Ingredient to Be Especially Vigilant About



Almost a year ago, I wrote about the potential for an increase in deadly aflatoxins in pet food made with corn-based ingredients. The increased risk is due to extreme drought conditions in the U.S. Midwest. Aflatoxins are naturally-occurring mycotoxins produced by the Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus paraciticus species of fungi that grow on certain crops. Aflatoxins are highly carcinogenic. They poison the liver and promote tumor development.

Given the drought and the number of pet foods – especially dry dog foods – that contain corn products these days, I wasn’t surprised earlier in the year to learn of several pet food recalls for aflatoxin contamination.

'Pet Foods with Plant-Derived Proteins May Contain More Harmful Toxins Than Pet Foods with Traditional Fish and Meat Proteins.'

Now it seems the mainstream pet food industry may be catching on. According to PetfoodIndustry.com:

"Pet foods with plant-derived proteins may also contain more harmful toxins than pet foods with traditional fish and meat proteins, according to new research from the University of Guelph."

Animal and poultry science professor Trevor Smith at Guelph in Canada is conducting the research. “A shift in pet food ingredients is on,” says Smith. “Instead of worrying about bacteria spoilage or disease contamination, like we have in the past, we now have to focus on removing mycotoxins.”

According to Smith, who has spent over three decades researching mycotoxins:

"Although we have no exact numbers, we can estimate that when half of the food is of vegetable origin, there will almost always be some degree of contamination. If the food is mainly of animal origins, the chances of contamination are greatly reduced."

He counsels pet owners to minimize the risk by avoiding inexpensive pet foods containing vegetable cereals, corn or wheat fillers, and especially rice bran.

Foods Most Likely to Be Contaminated with Aflatoxins

Aflatoxins frequently contaminate agricultural crops before they are harvested. Conditions that promote pre-harvest contamination include high temperatures, prolonged periods of drought, and insect activity.

Aflatoxins can also be a problem after harvesting if the crop stays wet for too long. And they can grow on stored crops if the moisture level is too high and mold develops.

The three plants with the highest rate of aflatoxin contamination are corn, peanuts and cottonseed. Other frequently contaminated agricultural products include:

Maize, sorghum, pearl millet, rice, and wheat cereals
Peanut, soybean, and sunflower oilseeds
Chili peppers, black pepper, coriander, turmeric, and ginger spices
Almonds, pistachios, walnuts, coconuts, brazil nuts
Processed foods containing corn can also carry a risk of aflatoxin adulteration. Infected corn and cottonseed meal fed to dairy cows has resulted in aflatoxin contamination of milk and other dairy products including cheese and yogurt.

How to Steer Clear of Aflatoxin-Infected Pet Foods

Aflatoxicosis is more common in dogs than cats because commercial dog food formulas more often contain corn products. So if you’re a dog owner, you should be especially vigilant.

I recommend you transition your pet away from all dry food to either a high quality, human grade canned food, or better yet, a balanced, fresh food diet. You can make your pet’s meals at home using recipes that are balanced nutritionally for either a cat or a dog. You can also look into commercially prepared raw pet foods as well as dehydrated raw. Or you can consider a mixture of homemade and commercially prepared diets.

In the meantime, study the ingredients in the dry food you buy your pet, and avoid brands containing grains or corn in any form, including corn gluten meal, whole grain corn, corn flour, etc. Along with the increased risk of for aflatoxin contamination, corn is a notoriously allergenic food that is difficult for many animals to digest.

Also avoid formulas containing cereal grains like maize, sorghum, pearl millet, rice and wheat.

Symptoms of Aflatoxin Poisoning

Aflatoxicosis is chiefly a disease of the liver, causing GI symptoms, reproductive issues, anemia and jaundice. Certain types of aflatoxins are linked to cancer in animals.

If your dog or cat ingests food contaminated with aflatoxins, you can anticipate one or more of these symptoms: severe, persistent vomiting; bloody diarrhea; lack of appetite; fever; sluggishness; discolored urine; jaundice, especially around the whites of the eyes, gums and belly.

If you think your pet has eaten potentially contaminated food, even if he’s showing no symptoms of illness, get him to your veterinarian or an emergency vet clinic as soon as possible. And bring the food with you.

I also recommend you talk with your holistic vet about natural liver detox agents like milk thistle, SAMe, and chlorophyll.
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