Updated Veterinary Guidelines for Cat Health: FIV and FeLV

The American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) has updated their testing and management guidelines for the feline retroviruses FIV (feline immunodeficiency virus) and FeLV (feline leukemia virus).

These two potentially life-threatening illnesses can be managed with proper owner education, testing, and vaccinations.  As the AAFP notes in an article on phys.org:

“Education and early testing can greatly assist in the treatment and management of feline retrovirus infections. Routine veterinary care, when cats are well and when they are sick, can lead to better care and decrease the spread of infection…with regular healthcare and reduced stress, cats infected with retroviruses, especially FIV, may live many healthy years.”

The new guidelines are designed for veterinarians in private practice, as well as those in shelter medicine, because these diseases can spread in multi-cat environments.

Testing is key to identifying infected cats, especially when they are in contact with other cats.  FIV is often spread via saliva in bite wounds, especially in adult males.  About 3-5% of cats in North America have FIV.  FeLV is commonly passed from the mother to her kittens, often through grooming and feeding.  4% of cats in North America are thought to have FeLV.

Vets can download the 2020 guidelines via the AAFP website HERE.  Cat owners interested in learning more about FIV and FeLV can download an electronic owner education brochure HERE.  You can learn more about how to spot an infected cat, testing and vaccinations, and how to care for a cat living with FIV or FeLV.

 

 

Allergic to Dogs? Neutering May Be the Solution

There are many reasons to spay and neuter your pets.  Spay/neuter is the best way to reduce homeless pet overpopulation and to prevent certain kinds of diseases—including cancer—of the reproductive system in both males and females.

New research published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology suggests that another benefit of neutering is to reduce human allergic reactions to a specific protein found in intact male dogs.

Dog and cat allergies are common, and can be caused by allergens in your pet’s urine, saliva, and dander.  But this new research shows that as many as 30% of people with dog allergies may be affected by a single prostate protein called Can f 5, found only in male dogs.

People who are allergic to Can f 5 can live with female dogs in the house but have problems with male dogs.  Some people with this allergy can tolerate neutered male dogs, while others may be better off with female dogs only.

If you suffer from pet allergies, you can note if certain dogs are easier to be around than others.  You can also talk to your doctor about getting tested.  An article on the Can f 5 research on the Mother Nature Network website notes that there are currently 6 different dog protein tests available, so you can narrow down the exact cause of your pet allergy.

 

Scientists Develop New Dog Aging Calculator

Does one dog year really equal seven human years?  This long-held belief is undergoing some high-tech revision.

Scientists say a more accurate way to measure an animal’s age is to use something called an epigenetic clock—the accumulation of chemical modifications in an animal’s DNA over its lifespan.

One particular modification known as methylation is especially useful in tracking biological age.  DNA methylation has been used on humans and other animals, including mice, chimpanzees, and dogs.

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego have specialized in DNA methylation in dogs.  The researchers at UC San Diego studied over 100 Labrador Retrievers and found that their DNA methylation is somewhat similar to humans.

They also came up with an updated dog aging calculator, which shows that a dog’s “human age” can be calculated with a logarithm that multiplies a dog’s real age by 16, and then adds 31 to the total.

You can try the calculator HERE.

What does this new analysis of dog age mean?  Most dogs reach puberty at 10 months and live up to but not beyond 20 years.

The researchers found that a 7 week old puppy is roughly equivalent to a 9 month old human baby.  A 12 year old dog is roughly the same as a 70 year old human.

The researchers found that the canine epigenetic clock runs at a fast rate when a dog is young, then slows down somewhat as the dog grows older.

Scientists are hoping to apply DNA methylation to the study of how different dog breeds age, and also how certain diseases impact the various breeds.

 

Owning a Dog Benefits People with Cardiovascular Disease

The American Heart Association recently published a study on the health benefits of dog ownership for people at risk for heart attack and stroke.

According to the study, dog ownership is associated with a 33% lower risk of death for heart attack survivors who live alone, as compared to non-dog owners.

Dog-owning stroke survivors who live alone have a 27% reduced risk of death compared to those who don’t own a dog.

Dog ownership has been found to be associated with a 24% reduced risk of all-cause mortality (31% reduced risk for heart attack and stroke).

Why is there such a significant reduction in mortality?  The American Heart Association points to two key factors related to dog ownership: companionship/social connection and increased physical activity, both of which can lead to improved health and lowered blood pressure.

The researchers found that among heart attack and stroke survivors, the risk of death was lower for dog owners than even for people living with a spouse or child!

Check out this video on the study to learn more:

 

Kitten Checklist Helps New Owners Pick the Perfect Cat

 

An organization of cat care professionals in the UK called The Cat Group has created a very helpful “Kitten Checklist” for anyone thinking about adding a new kitten to their family!

This user-friendly checklist was designed to help owners choose a happy and healthy kitten, whether it comes from a shelter, rescue organization, friend, or breeder.

Besides checking for signs of poor health, the creators of the checklist also note the importance of assessing temperament.  “Many people don’t understand that in order to become a good pet cat, kittens need positive interactions with people and need to get used to the human environment and lifestyle before they are about 8 weeks old,” they report.

The checklist guides potential owners through a series of questions.  These include things to consider before visiting a shelter or breeder to see kittens and what to observe when you are visiting and interacting with a kitten.

The health section includes an easy way to evaluate the different parts of a kitten’s body:  eyes, ears, nose, coat, etc.

You can download or print out the Kitten Checklist pdf by clicking HERE.