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Vets: Pet care changes as dogs age

Older dogs bring a new set of health issuesDog owners who have maintained a regimented practice of monitoring pet health may need to make changes in care to accommodate older dogs, some veterinarians suggest.

Dr Vern Otte, a veterinarian in suburban Kansas City warns that as dogs get older, the diagnosis of medical conditions can be obscured by misleading symptoms. For instance, Cushing’s syndrome is a common disease among mature dogs that is sometimes mistaken for diabetes, though requires different treatment.

Cushing’s syndrome is caused by a tumor on the pituitary or adrenal gland and causes thirst, lethargy, an increased appetite, excessive panting, hair loss and thick skin.

If Cushing’s is diagnosed early and treated with an FDA-approved product, the dog can have a much happier and longer life," says Dr Audrey Cook, clinical professor at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Texas A&M University. She advises checking all dogs over seven years of age for the symptoms.

If left untreated, the disease, which can be diagnosed using special blood tests, can lead to diabetes, blood clots in the lungs, kidney infections, urinary tract infections or an inflamed pancreas.

In the cases of such medical treatments, the North American Pet Health Insurance Association says that veterinary pet insurance can be used to protect pet health and ensure the financial stability of the pet’s family.

Expert: Pet care tips for owners with allergies

Vets recommend a few techniques for coping with pet allergiesThe struggle for pet owners with allergies to live comfortably with their favorite animals can be eased through education and control of the situation, officials at the Seattle Humane Society report.

Spokesmen at the Humane Society say that allergies represent the primary reason that people decide to surrender their pets to a shelter or other accommodation. However, Brenda Barnette, CEO of the Seattle Humane Society, tells allergy sufferers that comfortable pet care is still possible.

"I know cat owners with severe asthma," Barnette told reporters from NBC affiliate King 5. "They’ve educated themselves, and now they take a few precautions to ensure that the cats don’t interfere with their own health."

While the news source indicates that no dogs or cats are completely "non-allergenic", some "hypo-allergenic" breeds are known to cause less of a reaction among allergy sufferers. These breeds include poodles, schnauzers and Portuguese water dogs. While there are fewer in this class among cats, experts say the hairless types and the Cornish Rex are known to reduce the severity of allergic reactions.

Furthermore, eliminating carpeting, frequently vacuuming or mopping, and using a high-efficiency furnace filter can reduce the amount of allergens in a household.

According to the U.S. Humane Society, about 15 percent of Americans are allergic to dogs or cats.

Pet weddings: The cure for puppy love

Pets in love can now exchange vowsAmorous cats and dogs with puppy love now have the option to bid farewell to the philandering life of the animal kingdom and tie the knot of holy matrimony, as one kennel owner has launched a pet wedding service.

Ann Clark, who owns Kitz-Katz animal shelter, will perform a wedding service for owners who wish to make honest animals of their pets, and can pay about $200. According to the Evening Telegraph, cake and a marriage certificate are standard amenities of the ceremony; limousine service and caterers for the pet wedding breakfast are optional.

Kitz-Katz will accommodate small animals in love, like dogs, cats, hamsters and guineas pigs – love struck horses, however, have no recourse. Though animals of different species may marry, Clark strictly forbids marrying pet owners with their pets, as the services are designed solely for furry creatures.

"I ask people to write their own vows as they know their pets best," Clark told the news source. A traditionalist, she added, "I encourage people to dress their animals up in a suit or a dress for the wedding too."

The first pet wedding will unite two adoring Chihuahua dogs, and is scheduled for next spring.

While Clark admits, "People think I’m mad," she also recognizes that some "people really love their pets."

Spread of flu strain worries dog owners

Some pet owners are concerned about the circulation of dog fluWhile H1N1, or the swine flu, may be getting front-page press, pet health experts and dog owners are beginning to worry about the spread of a respiratory infection known as dog flu.

The flu, or H3N8, is highly contagious and potentially deadly infection, according to the Tampa Tribune. Experts say the strand began circulating at a Florida greyhound track and has now spread to 30 states.

While there is no evidence dog flu can spread to people, researchers from NYC Veterinary Specialists say the type A influenza was likely transmitted to dogs from horses. Last year 1,079 cases had been confirmed in dogs.

Cynda Crawford, professor in the University of Florida’s College of Veterinary Medicine who assisted in identifying the infection, advised dog owners to be wary of runny noses, coughs and fevers – the same symptoms of the flu in humans.

Dog owners are further advised to wash their hands after handling other dogs, as the flu strand is easily killed by disinfectants, the news source says.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, about 80 percent of dogs exposed to the virus will develop symptoms, and as many as 5 percent will die, typically after developing pneumonia.

Marathon miles benefit homeless dogs and cats

NYC Marathon runners are pledging to support an animal shelterOn Sunday, November 1, some athletes running in the ING New York City Marathon will be raising money to benefit the North Shore Animal League America (NSALA), the largest no-kill animal rescue and adoption organization in the world.

At least 50 runners have made pledges to the fundraiser, which hopes to net $300,000 for the dogs, cats, puppies and kittens of NSALA. To boost efforts, the organization is now selling t-shirts to anyone wishing to donate.

Parties who donate $100 or more will receive a t-shirt that depicts drawings of dogs and cats victoriously crossing a finish line, stenciled with the phrase, "Go Team Animal League." The shirts, designed by Spiritual Whimsy, are intended as a badge of support for responsible pet care, especially for homeless animals that heavily rely on community support.

Each year, NSALA finds permanent homes for about 20,000 dogs and cats. Entering its 65th year, the organization boasts nearly 1 million success stories. In this regard, representatives believe it has fulfilled its mission to "rescue, nurture and adopt homeless animals."

The U.S. Humane Society estimates that 6 to 8 million cats and dogs enter shelters each year, and about half are eventually euthanized.

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