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Latest health and behavior news and advice from the veterinarians at Tufts University.

June 2019

Full Issue (PDF)

June 2019 - Full Issue PDFSubscribers Only

Features

Probiotics for Fido’s Sensitive Tummy?

Almost a decade ago, the Canadian Veterinary Journal published a seminal study on probiotics for dogs showing that of 25 commercially available products tested, only two met criteria for quality control. Ten did not even list the bacterial counts in their merchandise, a critical point because probiotics are all about “good” bacteria flooding the GI tract to help calm a dog’s diarrhea or other gastrointestinal signs. Of the 15 that did list bacterial counts, only one in four actually contained what the label said. Some products mentioned bacteria that don’t exist, while others had bacterial counts that were too low to effect any beneficial changes in the gut.   More...

FDA-Cleared Device May Aid in Pain ManagementSubscribers Only

Imagine a medical device that hastens the healing process and provides relief from conditions ranging from osteoarthritis to itchy hot spots on the skin, often to the point that a lower dose of medication may be used. The Assisi Loop may be such a device.   More...

Leash RageSubscribers Only

“Imagine if we had to greet people by slapping them in the face, or by swearing at them before we said hello. It would get things off on the wrong foot,” says the head of the Tufts Animal Behavior Clinic, Stephanie Borns-Weil, DVM, “and that’s how it is for dogs on leashes. Meeting on leash is not natural for dogs. On their own, they approach each other tentatively, in a wide arc from the side. They evaluate the other dog’s body language and determine whether to come forward or retreat. But on leash they’re forced to come face to face — with other dogs, with people. It’s considered impolite in the canine world to approach too head-on. And for some dogs that are fearful, the head-on greeting may trigger aggression. They can’t get away — they’re tethered to you, after all — so they feel they have no other choice. They need to guard their perimeter. It’s a very common problem that I work with.”   More...

Saving the World, One Poop Bag At a TimeSubscribers Only

Americans are starting to get the hang of bringing reusable tote bags to the supermarket so we don’t pollute our oceans and landfills with more and more plastic. But dog owners by and large continue to use rolls of plastic poop bags. It’s understandable — they're so convenient.   More...

Why Writing An Obituary For Your Dog May Be a Good IdeaSubscribers Only

People who lose a dog often experience what social workers have called disenfranchised grief, says veterinarian Karen Fine, a graduate of the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts. By which she means that the grief one feels upon losing a pet often is not considered socially acceptable and is given short shrift by others. “‘You’re still upset?’” people will ask cavalierly, Dr. Fine says. “That was a couple of weeks ago.” They don’t realize that people often have a closer bond with their dog than they do with many of the other loved ones in their lives, caring for their pet every single day and developing a daily rhythm through walking with the animal, feeding her, and being greeted by her when coming home from work.   More...

News & Views

Raw Meat Diet Risks As High As Ever

As the popularity of raw-meat diets for dogs has increased, so have their levels of dangerous bacteria. When researchers in the Netherlands tested 60 raw-meat products intended for dogs, more than half of them had levels of bacteria such as Salmonella and Campylobacter that exceeded the maximum threshold set by the European Union. The products were made in Scandinavia, Germany, and the United Kingdom, all of which have hygiene standards comparable to ours. E coli, found in about a third of the samples, can cause serious illnesses, and even death in some cases.   More...

Chocolate Labs Less Healthy Than Black Or Yellow

Labrador retrievers have remained the most popular dog breed for almost three decades, but Lab lovers who opt for chocolate rather than black or yellow Labs may be in for more veterinary bills — and heartache. A study of some 2,000 Labs published in Canine Genetics and Epidemiology shows that chocolate Labs are two times as likely to get dermatological problems in the form of hot spots. They are also more likely to end up with otitis externa — the canine version of swimmer’s ear. They die younger, too — at an average age of 10.7 years as opposed to 12 years for the other two colors.   More...

Free Online Seminars At Our School of Veterinary Medicine

Want to learn about the new frontiers in DNA tests for dogs? Or how dogs can increase support and motivation for increased physical activity — and increased health? Or even about non-dog animal matters, like how people and cheetahs can be expected to share the same landscape? And would you like to learn about all these things for free? Well, you can.   More...

Expert Advice

Dear Doctor: Lack of selenium in grain-free diets?

I know that selenium deficiency can be a rare cause of cardiomyopathy in people. I’m wondering if too little selenium could also be contributing to the new cases of cardiomyopathy in dogs that have been linked to grain-free diets. I know there has been a lot of talk about a deficiency of the amino acid taurine, but maybe it’s too little of the mineral selenium that’s causing the problem. Do you think that could be the case?   More...