Apps Help People Reunite With Lost Pets

Few things are more distressing to pet owners than losing a dog, cat, or other beloved pet.  Unfortunately, pets go missing all the time, and the statistics show that un-microchipped animals that get brought to shelters only have around a 20% chance of being reunited with their families.

The internet has made it much easier to share information about lost and found pets than ever before.  Besides social media, which can be a great lost pet resource, more and more people are also turning to lost pet apps.  Here are a few of the most popular ones to check out:

Fur Alert:  The Fur Alert app is promoted as a kind of Amber Alert for missing pets.  Before your pet ever goes missing, you can download the app and create a profile for your pet.  If your pet does get lost, you can activate a missing pet report that will send an alert to other users in your vicinity.  You can also be a hero and help other people find their lost pets with the app.

Finding Rover:  The Finding Rover app uses facial recognition technology to help find lost pets.  You just take a picture of your dog, mark the eyes and nose, and they will keep your dog’s info on file in case he ever gets lost.  If your dog does go missing, Finding Rover will alert a large network of shelters, vets, fellow members, and other organizations to help you find your pet.

Paw Boost:  Paw Boost also helps users find lost pets via their app.  They have a variety of free tools that enable you to spread the word about your lost pet.  Notifications go out to shelters, vets, other members, and Facebook.  You can even use it to create a quality missing pet flyer to post around your community.

ASPCA Mobile App:  The ASPCA offers a free app that not only helps you find your lost pet by offering a personalized pet recovery kit and a digital flyer tool, they also let you store health record data on your pet and provide advice on how to keep animals safe before, during, and after a natural disaster.

PIP:  Similar to Finding Rover, the PIP app uses facial recognition technology to help people find missing dogs and cats.  The app analyzes photos of lost and found pets to find identifying features and make a match.  They also alert a network of shelters, vets, social media, and other users to help you find your missing pet.

 

Thyroid Disease in Cats Linked to Chemical Found in Our Homes

One of the more perplexing feline health issues seen by veterinarians is the growing epidemic of hyperthyroidism (overproduction of thyroid hormone) seen in cats in the past few decades…a condition rarely seen by vets as recently as the early 1970s.  A new article in the New York Times sheds some light on this veterinary mystery…and may cause cat owners to take a second look at the presence of a common chemical in our homes.

Hyperthyroidism in cats (also called feline wasting disease) causes serious symptoms like weight loss (combined with increased appetite), restlessness, poor coat quality, rapid heartrate, and increased thirst.  This had been a rare condition in cats, but over the past few decades, cats have been developing thyroid tumors, causing the thyroid gland to secrete large amounts of thyroid hormone into the body.

According to the article, several veterinarians began taking a closer look at feline patients with this wasting disease, starting in the late 70s and early 80s, and discovered that many of the cats had thyroid tumors and high levels of thyroid hormones.  These feline thyroid problems were rare until the late 70s.  The condition continued to grow and spread throughout the U.S. and to other countries into the 1990s.  Today, 10% of older cats will get hyperthyroidism.

An epidemiological study of cats with hyperthyroidism found some common risk factors that proved to be very important clues:  spending most of their time indoors, sleeping on carpets and our bedding materials, eating certain kinds of foods, and living in a home with a gas fireplace.  Researchers have narrowed their focus to one culprit:  a chemical substance that is commonly used as a flame retardant, called polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs).

Starting in the 1970s, this chemical was added to everyday household materials like carpeting, furniture upholstery, and even electronics.  Tiny particles of this substance migrate from the household item into the air…and bodies of our pets.  Cats seem to be especially sensitive to the fact that the structure of PBDEs mimic thyroid hormones and affect bodily functions.

This chemical has largely been removed from the manufacture of household items, although many people still have things containing it in their homes, and it also takes a very long time to degrade.  Feline behavior like sleeping on furniture and, more importantly, grooming, makes cats especially vulnerable to ingesting PBDEs.

As veterinarians continued to look into feline hyperthyroidism and PBDEs, they also found that there are high levels of PBDEs in certain canned cat foods, particularly fish-flavored food.  Cats exposed to high levels of PBDEs in their home environment are at increased risk of developing hyperthyroidism as they age.

The article notes that cats and other pets can often be seen as the “canary in the coal mine” when it comes to discovering how toxic substances in our environment can harm all living creatures, including us humans.  Pets that spend most of their time indoors, exposed to all of the toxins in the home environment, are especially good at telling us when something is wrong.  Testing reveals that virtually all humans have some PBDEs in the body.  Humans are also experiencing more cases of thyroid disease and thyroid cancer.

Want to learn more?  There is a Canary Database that actively tracks environment-related diseases in animals that may also affect humans.