Weekly companion animal news: August 29, 2022

Unidentified ‘parvo-like’ disease kills puppies in Michigan

An unidentified illness has been sickening and killing dozens of dogs in Michigan in recent weeks, with veterinarians racing to figure out whether it’s contagious and if there are treatments, The New York Times reports. Most of the affected dogs have been under the age of 2. The Otsego County Animal Shelter in Gaylord, Michigan, said the illness has killed more than 20 dogs in the county, some within a few days of showing symptoms. The symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea and bloody stools, according to a statement from the shelter’s director, Melissa FitzGerald. She said that while veterinarians were unsure what the cause of the illness is, “the best guess” is that it is a new strain of parvovirus, a disease that particularly affects puppies and causes bloody diarrhea and vomiting. Michigan state veterinarian Nora Wineland said the state is at the beginning stages of investigating the “parvo-like” illness.

North Carolina veterinarians don’t know what’s causing respiratory disease outbreak in dogs

North Carolina veterinarians are seeing an outbreak of respiratory illness in dogs, including some serious cases, CBS 17 reports. The illness hasn’t been traced to any one known cause at this point, said Dr. Jared Conley, a veterinarian at Complete Pet Care Animal Hospital in Raleigh. “We are seeing a lot of dogs starting off with very similar symptoms. Mild things in the beginning, a little bit of a cough, a little bit of congestion,” Conley said. “What’s been really concerning is some of these dogs have gone from minimal symptoms, not sick, to really sick in a pretty short period of time….Young, healthy dogs, 2 to 7 years of age, have progressed into pneumonia requiring hospitalization, and some of the illnesses have been life-threatening.” He noted that many of the dogs need multiple antibiotics.

Los Angeles offers free COVID-19 testing for pets

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has started offering free COVID-19 testing for local pets to help pet owners prevent transmission involving domesticated animals, Medical Daily reports. The initiative was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists to support surveillance of the virus in animals in Los Angeles County. “This project will help us to learn more about COVID-19 from a One Health perspective, meaning that we can learn more about the significance of COVID-19 in human, animal and environmental relationships,” the health department said. Owners can request the test if their pet is experiencing symptoms.

British veterinarians call for stricter dog import rules while welfare advocates question Canada’s new ban

The British Veterinary Association is urging prospective dog owners to rehome dogs from within the country rather than importing them. The association is also calling for veterinary teams to take extra precautions and for the government to tighten pet import rules. This follows a positive Brucella canis test in a rescue dog imported from Belarus earlier this year, the United Kingdom’s first confirmed dog-to-human case. BVA’s announcement comes as Canada prepares to implement its own rule banning dog imports from certain countries to prevent the spread of rabies, leading welfare advocates to call for more lenient measures.

New York and California dog owners spoil their pets the most in the country, Forbes survey finds

Dog owners in New York, California, Washington, Pennsylvania and New Jersey spoil their dogs more than the rest of the country, according to a new analysis by Forbes Advisor. The analysis focused on nine key metrics from a survey of 5,002 dog owners to identify the places where people spoil their dogs the most. In New York, which ranked No. 1 overall, 40% of respondents said they’ve spent more money spoiling their dog than on spoiling their significant other, and 55% said they spend more money on their dog’s health and grooming than they do on their own. In California, which ranked No. 2 overall, dog owners were more likely than residents in other states to get their dogs a special restaurant order, and more than half of survey respondents there said they spend more on their dog’s health and grooming than they do on their own.

Scientists want to extend the lives of dogs, then do the same for humans

Scientists are working to improve, delay and possibly reverse the aging process in dogs, with groups such as the Dog Aging Project, the biotech company Loyal and a project called Vaika leading the way. These efforts are part of a larger goal of extending life in humans, for which dogs serve as a good model. In the meantime, attempts to prolong the life of pet dogs may help get people onboard with the idea of life extension in humans. “It will go a long way to convincing people that this is possible [in humans],” Matt Kaeberlein, co-director of the Dog Aging Project, told MIT Technology Review. “Aging is modifiable.”

HABRI announces winners of inaugural Human Animal Bond Innovation awards

The Human Animal Bond Research Institute announced the winners of the inaugural Human Animal Bond Innovation awards, which recognize companies and organizations with innovative products and programs designed to advance the human-animal bond. Nominations were selected by an expert committee of pet care community leaders assembled by HABRI. Award winners include Health Alliance Medical Plans, the American Heart Association and Pet Peace of Mind.

People going back to work ‘are getting their pets a pet,’ industry members say

A New York dog walker told Quartz that he and his industry peers are overloaded with clients as people return to working in person and need someone to watch their pet. Industry members say pet spending is unlikely to decrease. In fact, they say, many owners going back to work are even getting second pets. “People are getting their pets a pet,” said Dr. Cherice Roth, chief veterinary officer at the pet telehealth startup Fuzzy. “It’s really common and it actually does increase the number of pets that have to be seen.”