Dog Strollers: A Do or a Don’t?

October 17, 2012

Belle takes a stroll. Photo courtesy the Rabb Family.

One of my most favorite things to do here in New York City is to walk in Central Park.

Filled with beautiful trees, twittering birds, and, of course, dogs, Central Park provides a shady, calm respite from the hustle and bustle of city life. As of late, I have been noticing more dogs being rolled about the park and wheeled to The Animal Medical Center in special dog strollers. Then last week, one of my friends called and asked my opinion about these devices, which he had also noticed were growing in popularity with city dog owners.

Just following doctor’s orders

All I said was, “Your dog needs six weeks of cage rest,” and I could see the pet family slumping in their chairs. They had plans for attending their children’s soccer match and picking pumpkins on the weekend. The thought of excluding their dog from these important events was dreadful. To follow my no-dog-exercise rule, they zipped Rover into a dog stroller and everyone got out of the house for some fresh air while still following doctor’s orders.

Getting there is half the battle

Many of the dogs I have seen in the park have been taken out of their strollers to enjoy the grassy park lawns. Often I notice these dogs are recovering from orthopedic or neurologic disorders and are a bit unsteady on their feet. The stroller allows them to come to the park, walk on the grass, and get stronger. Falling while walking to the park on the hard asphalt and concrete of the city would be dangerous, but a tumble on the grass is much safer until they completely recover.

Tired, small dogs

Small dogs are popular with city apartment dwellers. A Sunday afternoon walk to see the leaves changing color sounds just right for a fall afternoon, but halfway through the walk, your pooch poops out and refuses to walk another step. Either you drag your dog by its leash all the way home or you carry it. Dragging is not appropriate and carrying even a tired 10 pound dog for more than a block or so is hard work; a stroller lets you continue on the walk without breaking your back carrying a tired dog.

A crate on wheels

Many people are proponents of crate training for dogs. Think of a dog stroller as a crate on wheels. You can give your dog a safe place of her own while still being part of the family. The upcoming Thanksgiving holiday represents a perfect time to use the dog stroller. Your dog doesn’t like strangers or children or Uncle Mortimer. Prevent a holiday mishap by keeping your dog zipped in the dog stroller and Uncle Mortimer safe during dinner.

A do or don’t

Doctor’s orders, dog safety, and your back – all good reasons for dog strollers to be on your “Doggie Do” list. A stroller is a don’t for healthy dogs who need regular exercise to maintain themselves in option body condition.


World Rabies Day 2012

September 28, 2012

Today, Friday, September 28th is World Rabies Day. This annual event serves to increase awareness about rabies in both animals and humans. In the United States, human cases of rabies have dramatically decreased since the 1970’s due to the “One Health” collaboration between public health officials, veterinarian-directed rabies vaccinations for companion animals, and wildlife vaccination programs.

Something new under the sun

Described in ancient Babylonia, by Homer in the Iliad, and also by Aristotle, rabies is possibly the oldest infectious disease known to both man and beast. But two recent developments, a shortage of the human vaccine, and increasing reports of rabies in animals has led to new issues in the prevention of rabies.

More animals and more species of rabid animals

Wild raccoons, bats, skunks, and foxes harbor the rabies virus and transmit it to domestic animals and people. Airplane passengers got a scare earlier this year when a rabid bat checked himself into an Atlanta bound flight.

As cute as some wild animals are, we must never forget they are, in fact, wild and can cause great harm to humans. Most of us are wary of the typical rabies carriers like raccoons, bats, skunks, and foxes, but recently, reports of rabies in unusual animals reminds us to look and not touch any wild animal, including groundhogs, beavers and deer.

Even NYC is not immune to rabies. We had a small raccoon epidemic a couple of years ago in Central Park.

Cats are the number one domestic animal infected with rabies, and just a few days ago, rabid kittens inadvertently adopted by families in Georgia provoked a public health scare.

Human vaccine shortage

Six cases of human rabies were reported in the United States in 2011; in 2010, only two cases were reported. Since rabies is virtually always fatal, even one case is too many. Some people at high risk, like veterinarians and international travelers, are vaccinated against rabies as a precaution. For those not vaccinated, post exposure prophylaxis is administered.

The same vaccine works for both pre- and post-exposure treatments, but right now vaccine supplies are limited. Priority for vaccination goes to those possibly exposed to rabies, and preventive vaccination is on hold. Government officials believe this situation will resolve shortly.

Protect your pet, protect yourself

  • Rabies vaccine is safe and readily available for companion animals. Talk to your veterinarian about rabies vaccination for your pets.
  • Both you and your pet should avoid contact with wild animals. If you find an injured wild animal, report it to the appropriate authorities; don’t try and care for it yourself.
  • Don’t encourage wild animals to visit your yard by feeding them.

If you want more information about rabies, review the most recent surveillance report from the American Veterinary Medical Association that was published just two weeks ago.


Could My Pet Die from Epilepsy?

March 31, 2011

Learning a Lesson from Knut the Polar Bear

I have loved zoos since I was a child when my mother used to take me to the Como Park Zoo in St. Paul, Minnesota to see the Sammy the Seal show. I am a regular at the Central Park Zoo polar bear enclosure here in Manhattan.

Knut the polar bear

The death last week of 4 year old Knut, the celebrity polar bear, at the Berlin Zoo was exceptionally sad. On Monday, a Reuters news feed reported the cause of death as epilepsy.

Epilepsy is a caused by abnormal function of the brain. In its worst form, epilepsy causes loss of consciousness, recumbancy and generalized, uncontrolled movement of the body. Epilepsy is not the only cause of seizures, which can result from trauma, infection or tumor in the brain, or a low blood sugar depriving the brain of glucose for energy.

Several features of Knut’s case are apropos to our dog and cat companions who suffer from epilepsy. The Reuters article says Knut inherited epilepsy from his father, Lars. Epilepsy also runs in some dog breeds: border collies, Dalmatians, Siberian Huskies, German shepherds, golden retrievers and St. Bernards, who tend to have high frequency seizures. Some breeds seem to be less likely to have epilepsy such as the Doberman pinscher, Rottweiler and Newfoundland. Epilepsy is generally an uncommon diagnosis in cats.

A prolonged seizure, also called status epilepticus, demands a trip to the emergency room. Seizures occurring in rapid succession, also called cluster seizures, require an emergency room visit. There, testing will begin to determine if epilepsy is the cause of the seizure. If the seizures are recurrent or persistent, antiseizure medication will likely be administered. Like in the case of Knut, a severe or prolonged seizure can sometimes result in death if treatment is not immediately administered.

A word to the wise pet owner: know where your closest animal ER is and don’t hesitate to go — it just might save your pet’s life.

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This may also be found in the “Tales from the Pet Clinic” blog on WebMD.com.

For over a century, The Animal Medical Center has been a national leader in animal health care, known for its expertise, innovation and success in providing routine, specialty and emergency medical care for companion animals. Thanks in part to the enduring generosity of donors, The AMC is also known for its outstanding teaching, research and compassionate community funds. Please help us to continue these efforts. Send your contribution to: The Animal Medical Center, 510 East 62nd Street, New York, NY 10065. For more information, visit http://www.amcny.org. To make an appointment, please call 212.838.7053.

 


Rabies in NYC

March 16, 2010

Rabies is on the move in New York City (NYC). Last summer, five rabid raccoons were identified in NYC – four in the Bronx and one in Manhattan’s Inwood Park. By fall, three rabid raccoons were identified in Central Park. This week, a rabid cat from the Riverdale section of the Bronx was identified. Unfortunately three humans were exposed to this cat and are undergoing rabies prophylaxis. Below is a map prepared by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene showing the number of rabid animals in NYC between December 2009 and February 2010. This tally includes 52 raccoons and a number of rabid animals in Central Park. New Yorkers should also be aware that bats can serve as rabies vectors and rabid bats have been identified in all five boroughs.

Click image to enlarge

Statues governing rabies vaccinations vary amongst municipalities. In New York City, all dogs and cats must be vaccinated for rabies. Some cat owners are not aware their cats can or should be vaccinated against rabies. With rabies in our communal backyard, vaccination is one critical means to protect not only pets, but humans as well.

For more information about vaccination requirements click here.

The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has excellent information on rabies in New York City.

Below is a list of what pet owners can do to help protect their pets and families against rabies.

• Check with your veterinarian to confirm your dog or cat is currently vaccinated against rabies. Keep a copy of the vaccination certificate in your files in case you need to prove your pet is vaccinated.

• Keep your dog on a leash or your cat indoors if you are in areas where there may be wild animals.

• Do not let trash accumulate outdoors. Trash may attract hungry wild animals to your neighborhood.

• If your dog or cat is bitten by a wild animal, seek veterinary attention immediately.

• Never approach a wild animal, even if it is acting friendly. Rabid animals exhibit unusual behavior and you should always be suspicious of rabies when a wild animal is behaving abnormally.

• If you find an injured wild animal, do not try to assist it but call 311 (in NYC) or your local police precinct for help.

• If you are bitten by a wild animal, seek medical attention immediately and notify the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene that you have been bitten.  You should also submit a Bite Form if bitten in New York City.

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For nearly a century, The Animal Medical Center has been a national leader in animal health care, known for its expertise, innovation and success in providing routine, specialty and emergency medical care for companion animals. Thanks in part to the enduring generosity of donors, The AMC is also known for its outstanding teaching, research and compassionate community funds. Please help us to continue these efforts.  Send your contribution to: The Animal Medical Center, 510 East 62nd Street, New York, NY 10065. For more information, visit www.amcny.org. To make an appointment, please call 212.838.7053.


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