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  • Cody Parks
Dogs Need Exercise!

Dogs Need Exercise!

NPR released an article yesterday on Germany's potential ordinance that would order dog owners to exercise dogs twice a day, getting them outside more; and that got us thinking:

Maybe Germany has the right idea. Maybe pets really do need more exercise.

The ordinance would require that dogs be "permitted to exercise outside of a kennel at least twice a day for a total of at least one hour," according to the ministry. "This is to ensure that dogs are given sufficient exercise and contact with environmental stimuli." (NPR)

It's true, dogs need time spent outside to move freely; stretch their legs; and play with other animals including their owners. Furthermore, they need exercise! Without physical fitness, dogs risk health issues such as cardiovascular disease and obesity. 

If dog walking or taking dogs to a local dog park is not in the cards, consider installing a yard fence in the backyard for easy access to an open puppy play area. Dogs require at least 30 minutes to one hour of daily activity to stay lean and fit.

Germany may have the right idea; and pet owners across North America should follow their lead.

Outdoor Cats In Texas

Outdoor Cats In Texas

The closure of spay neuter facilities over the past few months has led to a population explosion of outdoor cats.

“San Antonio is known to have a huge population of outdoor cats. In San Antonio, the cats breed year round,” said San Antonio Feral Cat Coalition President Sherry Derdak.

The coalition was formed about 15 years ago to help spay and neuter cats, and has grown tremendously over the years.

"We also rescue and do adoptions. We help people with their vet bills, we help with food," Derdak said.

The pandemic has thrown all that work into overdrive.

“Around mid-March a lot of the spay neuter clinics had to close due to COVID, and then by the end of March, the Animal Care Services Community Cat Program closed down and they were the high volume spay neuter clinic for outside cats. They had a free service,” Derdak said.

She said Animal Care Services was spaying and neutering about 120 cats per week through the Trap Neuter Release program.

“We started looking around trying to work with anyone who was still open, doing cats, including private vets, and we were able to work with some but we had to pay full price,” Derdak said.

The procedures can cost up to $100 per cat.

In the month of April, Derdak’s spay neuter bill was $29,000. Typically, it’s around $10,000.

Still, she said paying that much money is a necessary investment.

"More kittens were born and will be breeding and having their own kittens by the fall. So we're going to be digging out of this for quite a while," she said.

The feral cat coalition is run strictly by volunteers. They request grants when available but operate primarily on donations.

Story re-posted from KSAT. Written by Courtney Friedman and Eddie Latigo.

Gas Post Drivers

Gas Post Drivers

Installing fence posts is easy but it can be tedious work for fence installers working on a lot of acreage. The job can be challenging if the ground is hard or rocky, as well. Fence installers and contractors alike turn to gas-powered post drivers for these reasons. 

There are different types of post drivers on the market ranging from economical to professional grade use. As such, they may or may not come with a Honda engine. Post drivers are 100% self-contained, easy to lift, move, and carry down the fence line. No hoses or compressors are needed.

The gas-powered post drivers make driving in fence posts easier than ever and help expedite the process.

COVID-19 In Pets

COVID-19 In Pets

Last month, the first U.S. dog to definitively test positive for COVID-19 died in New York City. The canine—a German shepherd named Buddy—likely had lymphoma, but the case served as a reminder that pets, too, are at risk.

Now, COVID-19 cases are surging in some areas of the United States, including in places that had largely escaped the virus in the spring, and some countries around the world are grappling with renewed outbreaks. People are also wondering and worrying about their pets.

Scientists are, too. It remains unclear, for example, how often cats and dogs become infected with the virus, what their symptoms are, and how likely they are to pass it along to other animals, including us. Yet veterinarians are hard on the case, and a handful of studies are starting to provide some answers. Experts have some concrete advice based on what we know so far.

We’re a much bigger risk to our pets than they are to us.

Federal health agencies and veterinary experts have said since the beginning of the pandemic that pets are unlikely to pose a significant risk to people. Hard evidence from controlled studies for this assertion was lacking—and still is—but everything scientists have seen so far suggests cats and dogs are highly unlikely to pass SARS-CoV-2 to humans. “There’s a lot greater risk of going to the grocery store than hanging out with your own animal,” says Scott Weese, a veterinarian at the University of Guelph’s Ontario Veterinary College who specializes in emerging infectious diseases and who has dissected nearly every study on COVID-19 and pets on his blog.

Indeed, pets are much more likely to get the virus from humans than the other way around. “Almost all pets that have tested positive have been in contact with infected humans,” says Jane Sykes, chief veterinary medical officer at the University of California, Davis, and a founder of the International Society for Companion Animal Infectious Diseases, which is providing COVID-19 information to both pet owners and veterinarians. A genetic study of the viral sequences in the first two dogs known to have COVID-19 indicates they caught it from their owners. Even tigers and lions infected at New York City’s Bronx Zoo in April appear to have contracted the virus from humans.

But some researchers caution that this finding may be due in part to limited testing: Most of the pets that have been evaluated got the tests because they lived with humans who had already tested positive. “It’s a stacked deck,” says Shelley Rankin, a microbiologist at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, whose lab is part of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Veterinary Laboratory Investigation and Response Network.

Still, most researchers think pets pose little risk to people—and to other pets as well. A few studies have shown that cats can transmit SARS-CoV-2 to other cats, but all were conducted in an artificial laboratory setting. And, like many COVID-19 studies in humans, most studies are preprints that have yet to be published in peer-reviewed journals. What’s more, Sykes notes there have been multiple reports of households where one pet tested positive and others didn’t. “Everything we’ve learned so far suggests that it’s unlikely that pets are a significant source of transmission,” she says.

COVID-19 symptoms in pets are likely mild to nonexistent.

Because pet testing remains rare, it’s unclear how many cats and dogs have been infected with SARS-CoV-2. A serological preprint published last month indicated that 3% to 4% of cats and dogs in Italy had been exposed to the virus at the height of the pandemic there—comparable to the rate among people.

But even if the numbers are really that high, there hasn’t been a concomitant uptick in symptoms. The Seattle-based Trupanion, which provides health insurance for more than half a million dogs and cats in North America and Australia, says it has not seen an increase in respiratory claims—or any other type of health claim—since the pandemic began. “No big trends are jumping out,” says Mary Rothlisberger, the company’s vice president of analytics, even when she looked at pandemic hot spots. Two recent studies have also shown that cats, at least, are unlikely to exhibit symptoms. “My gut sense is that [the disease is] much more minor than we’re seeing in people,” Sykes says.

That could mean pets are silent transmitters of the virus, as some scientists have suggested, but so far there’s no direct evidence for this.

It probably doesn’t make sense to get your pet tested.

Several pet tests are available, but they aren’t widely used because the priority has been on human testing. Agencies like the United States Department of Agriculture have cautioned against routine testing of cats and dogs.

Even if your pet does test positive, Weese says, “What are you going to do with the results?” If your dog or cat has COVID-19, it’s probably because you do too, he says. “It doesn’t change anything for the pet or the family.” And because there aren’t any drugs for the disease, he says, “We wouldn’t prescribe anything” for the pet.

Safety precautions for pets haven’t changed.

Whether it comes to taking your dog to a dog park or petting an outdoor cat, the standard advice still holds: Wear a mask, wash your hands, and social distance. “If you are not taking precautions … you are putting both yourself and your animal at risk,” Rankin says. But, she says, “If you are a responsible pet owner, then it is probably safe to say that your animal’s risk [of infection] is lower than yours.”

Weese agrees that people should be more concerned about other humans than about pets. “The risk from people present at dog parks or vet clinics is much higher than the risk from dogs at those locations,” he says.

Scientists still have more questions than answers.

Researchers are just beginning to understand how companion animals play into the pandemic. The pet studies so far “are all part of a puzzle we’re still trying to put together,” Sykes says.

And they’re preliminary. “Almost every preprint I have seen is flawed in some way,” says Rankin, who dings small sample sizes, incomplete data, and a lack of vigorous testing. That doesn’t necessarily invalidate the results, but she and others would like to see more robust studies.

Sykes and Weese, for example, want more research done in the home. That could give scientists a better sense of how likely pets are to transmit the virus to other pets, how long pets remain contagious, and what—if any—clinical signs of COVID-19 show up.

Rankin is part of a project to do what she calls “full-on epidemiology” of the complete medical backgrounds, including any COVID-19 cases, of 2000 pets that have been seen at her vet school for various reasons, or just for routine checkups. The hope is that such an approach will weed out some of the biases of previous studies—such as those that only looked at pets in COVID-19–positive homes—and get a better sense of the true risk factors for the disease.

Sykes and Weese are involved in similar endeavors. Weese also hopes to investigate whether pets, especially feral and outdoor cats, pose a risk to wildlife. “If we want to eradicate this virus,” he says, “we need to know everywhere it might be.”

Other researchers are exploring whether drugs that treat other coronaviruses in cats could also combat COVID-19 in both pets and people. “Answering these questions isn’t just important for companion animal health,” Sykes says. “It could help us, too.”

Story re-posted from Science. Written by David Grimm

COVID Dog Dies, NC

COVID Dog Dies, NC

“A necropsy was performed to try to determine the animal’s state of health at the time of death and the cause of death, and the complete investigation is ongoing,” said the NCDHHS in a press release.

The family along with state health officials from NCDHHS and the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services were immediately notified of the positive result.

According to the Charlotte Observer, citing a spokeperson from NC State University, identified the dog as an 8-year-old Newfoundland but the release from NCDHHS did not identify the dog or information about the owners and where the family lived.

“There is no indication at this time that dogs can transmit the virus to other animals, so there is no justification in taking measures against companion animals that may compromise their welfare,” said State Veterinarian Dr. Doug Meckes in the NCDHHS statement.

The CDC says that there is currently no evidence that pets play a significant role in the spreading of COVID-19.

“Based on the information available, the risk of animals spreading the virus to people is considered to be low,” said Dr. Carl Williams, State Public Health Veterinarian.

Story re-posted from ABC News. Written by Jon Haworth

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