Lack of response could be a hearing problem

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It seems as though, at least for the moment, the spread of swine
flu has slowed. We know it’s still out there. And we know that it
has the potential to be fatal (recent reports state that at least
10,000 people have died from it). There’s real concern that it
could possibly mutate and become more infective. And the concern
with H1N1 is real.
It seems as though, at least for the moment, the spread of swine flu has slowed. We know it’s still out there. And we know that it has the potential to be fatal (recent reports state that at least 10,000 people have died from it). There’s real concern that it could possibly mutate and become more infective. And the concern with H1N1 is real. As we reported a while back, H1N1 was found in several cats, two in Oregon and another in the midwest. Several ferrets also were infected.

Now an infected dog in upstate New York has caught the attention of epidemiologists. This 13-year-old pooch evidently caught the bug from his owner, but recovered from his infection. And to this point, scientists from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) are stating that this case is not a major concern. According to an official for the CDC, “A rare occurrence in other species is not a problem.” Stay tuned as we wait to see if any more pets show up with swine flu.

Q:

We have a 10-year-old sheltie who is hard to wake up. She doesn’t respond to noise or touch. She eventually responds and acts normally. Is this a sign of serious problems?

A:

At the very least, I’ll bet that her hearing is not as good as it used to be. You might test this by tossing some keys onto the floor where she cannot see them. I’m guessing that she won’t respond to the noise because she won’t hear them. Even so, there may be more to it than just poor hearing.

While many aging dogs develop deep sleeping habits in their later years, there are some other possible problems. A central nervous system (i.e.: brain) disorder could cause her deep sleep. Marked changes in sleep habits can be a sign of some potentially serious health issues, including epilepsy or even narcolepsy.

A thorough physical exam would be a good idea at this point. And it might also be a good idea to have a geriatric blood panel taken to rule out problems with her liver function or electrolyte levels.

Deep sleep is common in older critters. Chances are, if she is otherwise healthy, you have no worries. But any time there’s an abrupt change in behavior, a full physical exam can rule out a lot of potential problems.

Q:

My dog is scared of loud sounds like thunder. What is a good way to get her used to these sounds?

A:

Many animals suffer anxiety whenever there are loud noises. Veterinarians get lots of calls to treat this type of problem, especially around Independence Day and New Year’s Eve. Here are a few tricks that you can try.

First, make sure your little girl has a lot of toys to distract her. Second, try to “condition” her to listen to music. Turn on your radio and leave it on for long periods of time. At the same time, play with her so that she’s distracted from her worries. Repeat this over and over for a few weeks. If she’s OK with this, then any time there is a thunder storm, or any time you anticipate loud noises, turn on the radio and play that same music.

My father once suggested that a John Phillip Souza march (Stars and Stripes Forever) is ideal for conditioning a dog. Unfortunately, our dog Reggie didn’t like marching bands. He preferred Pink Floyd.

And I had a friend who had the ultimate frustration; his hunting dog was frightened by loud noises. This poor dog would hit the ground shaking like a leaf whenever John shot his gun. John also had her full sister who was one of best hunting dogs he ever had. Two sisters with completely different personalities. No one knows why.

Needless to say, there are medications that are used to treat canine anxiety disorders. But behavioral conditioning should be tried before any drugs are administered. Good luck.

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