HEALTH AND WELLNESS
It's never too late to paws and breathe.
Good news, cat owners! There is now a new diagnostic tool that can predict the deadly chronic kidney disease (CKD) in cats before it's too late to make intervention and treatment.
Antech Diagnostics, a veterinary laboratory owned by Mars Petcare, has launched RenalTech that allows the accurate prediction of the disease in cats. The RenalTech™ tool is now available to veterinarians in the US. Veterinarians will now be able to create tailored proactive care plans for cats and work to delay the onset of CKD.
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is the number one cause of death for cats over five and affects 30-40 percent of all cats over the age of 10. It is a highly complex disease that historically has been difficult to diagnose. The current methods are only able to confirm the disease in a pet once significant and irreversible kidney damage has occurred, which makes any intervention and treatment challenging.
The RenalTech™ tool was developed from a research project led by Richard Bradley at WALTHAM that was published in Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine (Bradley et al., 2019). The project involved mining the veterinary records of more than 150,000 cats that visited BANFIELD® Pet Hospitals to create a biomarker of six common feline health measurements (creatinine, blood urea nitrogen, white blood cell count, urine specific gravity, urine protein, urine pH–along with approximate age) to predict CKD up to two years before traditional diagnosis. Access to large data sets allows data scientists to use computers to search for patterns that can predict an event occurring in the future. In this case, historic health records spanning 20 years from 750,000 veterinary hospital visits for over 150,000 cats were examined to hunt for changes that were characteristic of the pets that were known to go on to develop CKD, when compared to those who remained healthy. This approach also allows for these predictive patterns to be tested to determine how accurate the diagnosis is. For the RenalTech™ tool, they found the accuracy was greater than 95 percent.
“When we looked at the historic data from thousands of pets, it was clear that the data had a story to tell” explains Richard Bradley, author and Data Science Technical Lead at WALTHAM. There were subtle changes in several of the blood and urine parameters long before disease was diagnosed, but they were different from pet to pet. Machine learning allowed us to imprint all the subtleties of the changes in a computer algorithm, which was then able to spot the small abnormalities and make a robust prediction.”
A promising future for preventive veterinary medicine
“This is a paradigm shifting moment for veterinary medicine” says Jonathan Elliott, MA, Vet MB, PhD, Cert SAC, Dip ECVPT, MRCVS and Vice Principal for Research and Innovation at the University of London Royal Veterinary College and partner in the development of the tool. “The ability to use artificial intelligence on data collected in practice as part of routine health screens to address chronic kidney disease well before the disease becomes clinically apparent gives us an opportunity to leverage best practice medicine for cats not previously available to veterinarians. It’s also exciting that we were able to move so quickly from publication in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine to making the tool available in practice.”
The development of RenalTech™ tool signals the beginning of a new wave of predictive diagnostics. There are many more diseases and conditions that in future may be managed proactively, allowing veterinarians and pet owners together extend the health span of their pets.
WALKING your dog regularly is good for you and your dog. Turn your walk into a workout! Concentrate on your posture, intensity and purposeful movements to increase calorie burn.
Ideally, here's how you should walk your dog:
* Keep head up, look forward – not at the ground.
* Relax your head, neck and shoulders.
* Swing arms freely with a slight bend at the elbow.
* Engage your stomach muscles to support your back.
* Take a smooth stride: initiate from heel to toe.
* Walk fast enough to elevate breathing and heart rate.
As your dog's workout partner, your job is to also help your dog get the most out of his/her walk. Here are some basic guidelines to follow:
* Use a leash or vest. Keep your dog's head up.
* The back of your dog should be straight with fluid hind and front limbs movements.
* Discourage your dog from sniffing around or at least keep it at a minimum – this is a walking workout.
* Make your dog walk next to you and not in front of you.
* Walk fast enough to burn more calories.
As you start your walking routine, remember to:
*Wear bright or reflective clothes, especially at night.
* Plan your walk. Consider the weather and distance.
* Bring water for you and your dog, especially if the walk will be long.
* Bring pick-up bags to clean up after your dog.
* You can walk anywhere that is safe. Softer surfaces like grass and sand are better for the joints
* Walk together slowly for at least 5 minutes.
* Cool down for another 5 minutes by walking slowly.
The average dog and person spend more than 8 hours a day sitting or sleeping. To stay fit, aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day for you and your dog. If you can't set aside that much time, split it up.
TOADS are poisonous to dogs. Toads secrete poison from their skin glands which can cause dogs that tried to bite or swallow them to experience from mild to severe physical discomforts that could be life threatening if untreated.
Dogs don't need to eat toads to get their poison. A mere skin contact can send toad's toxins to the dog's mouth and gums, causing instant redness, excessive drooling, involuntary jaw movements and ascending paralysis.
If you are certain your dog has been exposed to a toad, immediately wash your dog's mouth with water and rub the gums with wet gauze. For severe toad poisoning, do this first aid procedure for at least an hour while you rush your dog to the nearest vet clinic. It will also help to induce vomiting if your dog is still conscious.
A veterinarian will administer an antidote (atropine) with supportive therapy.
It is less likely for cats to get toad poisoning because they seem to know not to mess with these nasty garden creatures. In case they do get a spray of toxin from the toad's skin, the same first aid procedure should be immediately administered to the cat. -- MetroPets
By ALMA J. BUELVA
AT the recent Intrapets show in Tokyo, several companies exhibited pet products that are normally kept out of sight: pet toilets. But made automatic, some even fitted with data-collecting features, the new pet toilets and accessories gave the old standard litter box and dog pee mats their much-awaited upgrades so that they are now must-have products designed for pet loving homes.
First is the Wan-wan Meister which claims to be the world's first fully-automated pet toilet. Developed by Japan First Step Co., Ltd., the flat-bed toilet features self-winding absorbent sheets made from special paper. It also has indicator lamps, a waste tray and sensors.
Designed for indoor use, particularly in small apartments or condominiums, the Wan-wan Meister automatically rolls away soiled sheets and brings forth fresh ones thanks to its built-in sensitivity sensors that controls the conveyor belt. The sensors work the moment the dog leaves the platform.
This product allows a home, especially where a dog has to stay alone for hours, to stay tidy by cleaning after the dog with very minimal human intervention. However, the Wan-wan Meister comes with a steep price tag: JP¥188,000. (see related story)
Not to be outdone, Sharp Corp. also displayed its smart toilet for cats. Driven by Artificial Intelligence (AI) and IoT (Internet of Things) technologies, the Pet Care Monitor can analyze a cat's urine and frequency, body weight as well as detect health problems early on. It sends a report to the cat owner's smartphone.
Built-in sensors allow the Pet Care Monitor to gather relevant information, be it good or bad, which are to be analyzed by Sharp experts and their counterparts at Tottori University. For all these great features, the Pet Care Monitor is priced at 24,800 yen ($225), plus tax. Sharp will also charge users a monthly JP¥300 plus tax.
Also making heads turn during Interpets is the patented Kitty Twist'r, a litter disposal system that makes cat poop its primary business. Michelle Yan, COO of Red Rocket Asia which makes the Kitty Twist'r, told MetroPets that they could guarantee a no-smell cat litter bin even if cat owners collect two weeks of cat poop there.
-- Who wants to store that many cat poop? Probably no one, but the Kitty Twist'r at least gives cat owners a way not to keep using plastic bag every time they need to dispose their kitty's “No. 2”. Masking the almost unbearable cat waste stench are activated charcoals kept at the Kitty Twist'r cover. The active charcoal can last for up to three months.
After every use, the Kitty Twist'r can wring the opening of its seven-layer plastic garbage bag so no bad smells can escape.
For the convenience of not taking out the cat's trash daily, the Kitty Twist'r will set back cat owners around US$44.99. -- MetroPets
THERE'S this notion that if you are fat, chances are your pets are fat, too. Pet owners' own lifestyles and the choices they make for their pets play a huge role in determining their furry companions' overall health.
A recent piece in The New York Times point to veterinarians' growing concern over pet obesity in the United States. The report cited how animal doctors are alarmed to find nearly half the dogs they see as overweight or obese. It's a problem made worse by how only few owners admit that their pets are overweight because of what they do or not do.
The alarming increase in pet obesity cases is happening not only in America but in other advanced economies, too, like Hong Kong. Cooped up in small apartments while their owners work long hours, thousands of pets in Hong Kong are reportedly on the heavy side because they have nothing to do while alone in the house but sleep and eat.
Pet obesity brings with it a raft of other ailments, effectively shortening a pet's life expectancy. Common obesity-related sickness in cats and dogs include diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, arthritis and other conditions that similarly occurred among overweight people.
Veterinarians recommend the following to help dogs and cats lose weight:
* Take pets' weight regularly to get an understanding of how much food they need to take daily.
* Cut back on treats and replace them instead with activities that stimulate their mind and body.
* Measure the dog or cat food and follow the minimum suggested amount on the pet food label.
* Discourage food begging especially if you know your pet has already sufficiently eaten its meal.
* Try to exercise your pet 15 to 30 minutes a day.
* Ask veterinarians about prescription diets designed for pet weight loss.
* Ask your veterinarian about other possible medical reasons for your pet's weight problem.
THE influential Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), the largest animal welfare charity in the United Kingdom, is warning cat owners against feeding their cats solely vegetables.
Unlike dogs which are omnivores that can eat food of plant and meat origins, cats are carnivores and need more meat protein than dogs. However, there seems to be a growing trend that turns cats into vegans, which prompts the RSPCA to remind cat owners that such is deemed illegal under UK's Animal Welfare Act which requires owners to ensure that all their pet’s needs are met, including species-appropriate diet.
Cats are strict carnivores and depend on some very specific nutrients that are found in meat including taurine, vitamin A and arachidonic acid. Forcing cats to become vegetarian could make them seriously ill in the long run.
“Owners could be slapped with a huge fine or even a jail sentence if convicted under the Animal Welfare Act if the animal is very malnourished,” an RSPCA spokesman said.
Despite the health and legal warnings, the number of pet food companies that develop and sell vegan pet food and non-meat alternatives products seem to be growing. They make pet food derived from soya, wheat, maize, rice and beet pulp with synthetic vitamins and amino acids naturally found in meat.
Pet owners are advised not to extend their personal views on ethical diets onto their pets' food. Animal nutrition experts say a cat's diet must include at least 20 percent meat protein, oherwise feeding an inappropriate or incomplete diet becomes a welfare issue, said the RSPCA. -- MetroPets
Can't sleep? If you are a woman, the solution could be as easy as getting a dog as sleep buddy.
A scientific study called "An Examination of Adult Women's Sleep Quality and Sleep Routines in Relation to Pet Ownership and Bedsharing," studied 962 American women to find out how pet ownership affects their sleep. The respondents were women who sleep with at least one pet dog in their beds (55%) and women who shared their bed with a cat (31%).
The study underscored dog's natural or innate ability to comfort people and help them sleep soundly, as they often sleep soundly, too. In contrast, cats (like humans) are not peaceful bed companions and are known to disturb their ladies' sleep, frequently at the most ungodly hours, too. -- MetroPets
DOGS have very sensitive ears which probably explains why they hate and are terrified of loud noises. Thankfully, dogs that are terrified of excessive and booming noises caused by fireworks and firecrackers, traffic, gun shots and other commotions can now take a new drug to calm them down.
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the drug Pexion (imepitoin) for veterinary use.
Pexion is used in some countries to treat epilepsy in human. For dogs with aversion to loud noise, Pexion can reduce it as established in clinical tests by the FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine.
“The owners of 66 percent of dogs receiving Pexion scored the overall treatment effect as excellent or good, compared with 25 percent of dogs receiving the placebo,” said the FDA.
To be available by prescription only, Pexion can be given to a dog twice daily starting two days before a known noisy event and until the actual occasion. One of the loudest and nerve-racking occasions for dogs are New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. Dogs scared of fireworks are known to shake uncontrollably, pant, cry and hide. Hopefully with Pexion, dogs can also enjoy fireworks display with their owners.
But the FDA also warned to administer Pexion on dogs with caution and to monitor the dogs' reaction to it carefully In their tests, three of 90 dogs that received Pexion reportedly became aggressive by growling at a child and lacking self-control towards other dogs.
“Certain drugs used to reduce anxiety, such as Pexion, may lead to lack of self-control of fear-based behaviors and may therefore result in a change in aggression level. The label information accompanying Pexion notes the recommendation that owners should carefully observe their dogs during treatment,” the FDA said. -- MetroPets
By ALMA J. BUELVA
CATS, the obligate carnivores living with us under one roof and habitually rejecting the expensive food we give them, are not exactly finicky eaters; we just have to understand the essentials of their diet.
In a visit to the Philippines, Dr. Elena Pagani, a veterinary nutritionist from Monge, a leading Italian pet food manufacturer, shared with groups of cat lovers an overview of cat nutrition and the ingredients that must be present in its food at all times.
For a cat to be heathy and live its reputed nine lives, it needs enough proteins, fats, fibers, vitamins, minerals and water. To understand the role of each nutritional item, Pagani provides the following insights:
Cats need more protein than dogs for normal body functions. Pagani said humans typically need about 14 percent of protein in their daily diets. Dogs, on the other hand, need to have at least 18 percent to 25 percent of protein in their meals. As for cats, they need a quarter (25%) or more (35%) of protein in their food.
All cats, even kittens or seniors, can benefit from a moderate protein level of 23 percent to 33 percent.
Pagani also said cat owners should make sure they are giving their cats high quality protein.
“The protein should provide all the needed amino acids. A 100g of good meat has high digestibility so cats can absorb all the available nutrients, unlike poor quality meat which has only about 70 percent protein content that the cat can use,” she explained.
Animal-based protein helps promote an acidic urine for optimal urinary tract health and to provide essential amino acids, Pagani added.
She also noted that contrary to popular belief, quality chicken meat is the best source of protein for cats and not fish.
Of the 22 different amino acids (protein building blocks) that make up proteins, Taurine and Arginine are very important to cats, Pagani said. Both are found only in animal, fish or egg proteins.
Arginine is necessary for normal metabolism while Taurine is necessary for healthy heart, eyes and reproductive system.
Pagani warned cat owners about serious health disorders resulting from taurine-deficiency such as blindness, tooth decay, digestive illness and, in severe cases, the weakening of the muscle cells in the heart.
Of the various protein sources, eggs contain all the amino acids required by cats.
Fats are essential for the absorption of some vitamins that strengthen pets' immune system, particularly Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-3 benefits cats by fighting inflammation and supporting natural healing process, while Omega-6 helps by improving a cat's skin, coat and joints, among others.
Omega-3 fatty acids are in fish meal, fish oils and flax (linseed). Omega-6 oils are in animal fat, corn oil, vegetable oil and sunflower oil.
Pagani said cats can better absorb animal fat than vegetable fat.
Wondering why there's ash on your cat kibble? Pagani reassured cat owners that ash is only a measure of mineral in pet food.
“Don't be scared in the amount of ashes shown in the pet food label. Ashes are minerals,” she said.
A high ash content in a pet fod diet may indicate a lesser quality protein source since poor quality protein sources will often raise the ash level.
Cats also need their alphabet—of vitamins that is. Just like in humans, vitamins provide substances that the body needs to grow and develop normally.
Monge's resident pet nutritionist said fibers don't provide much nutrients, but cats need them for their gastro-intestinal wellness.
Grains such as barley, maize, rice, sorghum and wheat are common carbohydrates starch sources used in pet food.
Pagani said dogs and cats don't really need much carbohydrate but, since domestication, their systems learned to absorb it and convert it into energy. Cats, however, cannot store large amounts of carbohydrates which is a quick energy source, so they also need fats.
But carbohydrate is a key ingredient in the production of kibble or dry cat food.
“Check the pet food label and I'm pretty sure it will show that it is 50 percent starch because it is needed to make the kibble.
Pet foods usually have additives. Pagani busted that all food additives are bad by saying that there are certain additives that are good for cats that are not available in homemade diets.
Additives commonly used in pet foods include colorants, flavors, preservatives and emulsifying and gelling agents.
This doctor said no to vegan diets, especially for cats which cannot adapt to low-protein diets. As obligate carnivores, cats have a high protein requirement. Also, while dogs can absorb vegetable protein, cats simply can't, said Pagani.
Pagani is also not a fan of raw feeding which she said is something that animals in the wild adapted to, but not domesticated pets.
“Raw meat is full of microorganisms that could be dangerous to cats. Animals in the wild can destroy the microbiota in raw meat. But not cats that have been domesticated for so long. Always cook the meat for cats,” she emphasized.
Biases aside, Pagani also recommended that cat owners feed their cats quality manufactured pet food over homemade pet dishes.
“Using technologies, pet food manufacturers can standardize everything. Home-made pet food, although usually more palatable than processed ones, is subject to mistakes as no one is checking unlike in pet food companies where everything is being checked (including by a third party veterinarian),” she said.
She also noted that many diseases in cats and dogs can be prevented and cured with specific dietary formulations which a pet nutritionist like her can provide.
When switching to a new type of cat food, Pagani advised cat owners to allow a one-week transition period for the cat's gastro-intestinal tract to adjust.
Pagani attended the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of Turin (Italy) and took a three-year doctorate at the University of Utretch (The Netherlands) while also doing an internship in Animal Nutrition.
Planet Paws, a Web and social media-based resource on pet health, calls rawhide the most dangerous pet chew ever. Almost two years ago, Planet Paws founder, Rodney Habib, a pet nutrition blogger, ran a substantive article on how rawhides are made that shocked and educated thousands of dog owners. But though the article was seen, read by thousands of people and shared over 1 million times to date, rawhides are still being sold and bought in many places around the world today.
In a bid to save dogs from what it believes to be toxic “raw” leather stick and to educate pet parents, especially the newbies, Planet Paws' article pointed out the following ugly truths about rawhides.
* A rawhide stick is not the by-product of the beef industry nor is it made of dehydrated meat. Rather, rawhide is the by-product of the “leather industry”, said Planet Paws.
* Rawhides have been repeatedly treated with chemical baths that includes a highly toxic recipe of sodium sulphide liming to strip away hair and fat attached to the hides. The outer layer of the hide becomes leather used for human items, while the inner layer is used for dog chews.
* Rawhides are washed and whitened using a solution of hydrogen peroxide and/or bleach to remove the smell of rotten leather.
* Rawhides are painted with artificial dyes and flavors or even a coat of titanium oxide to make them look nice on pet shelves. The toxic confection of chemicals and preservatives make for slow, low-dose poisoning according to thebark.com.
* Rawhides, when tested, have been found to have lead, arsenic, mercury, chromium salts, formaldehyde, and other toxic chemicals. Glue of questionable nature is also used at times to hold the rawhide's shape and form, said Planet Paws.
Rawhides usually come with a printed warning as to how it could block a pet's esophagus or digestive tract leading to surgery or death. Planet Paws said this should already discourage dog owners from purchasing rawhides and feeding it to their dogs.
* Renaltech predicts CKD in cats with 95% accuracy.