Sharing infections; Crow becomes family pet

Pete Keesling

You and your pets share infections. You’ve heard this before, but now there’s new evidence that makes it even more significant. For example, humans aren’t the only ones who will be infected by the flu virus this coming season. Studies have shown that cats and dogs often carry flu viruses. We’ve known for some time that kitty-cats could be carriers. But research in 2000 implicated dogs as well. And the numbers of infected pets is really surprising. A recent Ohio study of feline blood samples found that almost a third of cats had been infected with seasonal flu, and one in five had been infected with the H1N1 flu strain that caused so much concern in 2009.
Researchers are voicing several concerns. First, this study confirms that our pets carry infection and spread disease. But more importantly, when a flu virus jumps across species, it has the potential to undergo changes to its genetic code that could make it more virulent and a lot more dangerous to people. That’s what has scientists worried. You can bet that a lot of family doctors will tell their patients to keep the family cat and dog away from anyone that has the flu. I’d say it’s probably good advice.
n n n
There’s a new warning about an ingredient in pet shampoos that may cause an adverse reaction. The FDA has issued an alert about products that contain D-limonine, a botanical extract that’s caused a severe skin rash in some pets and dangerous, asthma-like symptoms in others. This ingredient smells nice and is found in a significant number of grooming products. If you have a product with this ingredient, be careful. Use it on a small area of your pet’s skin to test for reaction before doing a full body shampoo. Most pets aren’t bothered by this stuff, but this simple test will give you safe warning about your pet.
n n n
And here’s a news story we didn’t expect to see. There have been five different alligators recently found running loose. No, this was not in Florida, but in Long Island, N.Y.! Authorities believe they were probably abandoned by their owners, and they blame this bizarre problem on the ease with which anyone can get one of these reptiles via the Internet. By the way, they’re illegal because of the danger they pose to the public. But some knuckleheads buy them anyway, only to find out that guess what? They’re too dangerous to keep! Let’s hope we don’t see anything like this in our neighborhoods. California has enough problems already. And now on to this week’s questions.
Q:
Connie is our 7-year-old mutt. She’s been the picture of good health until just recently. She has a lump on her cheek that has me worried. It’s very hard but it doesn’t seem to hurt her when I touch it or squeeze it. I’m betting it’s a tumor and she may not be with us much longer. What else could it be? If it is a tumor, can it be treated?
A:
I can understand your worry about Connie’s lump. But tumors aren’t nearly as common as an infected or abscessed tooth, and I’m hoping she only has a dental problem. Take Connie to the vet right away. If she has a bad tooth, she’ll need a little dental work. But afterward, she’ll be good as new. We’ll all hope for the best. Let us know what the vet tells you.
Q:
Did you see a recent news story about a crow that had been hand-raised by a family? When they set him free, he came back and stays in the yard or near the house. He’s become a pet. Crows are pretty smart, huh?
A:
This is a heart-warming story, to be sure. It was covered recently on network television news. Not only is this particular bird a regular in this family’s backyard, he also flies alongside the kids when they ride their bikes to school. Crows are very smart birds with all kinds of interesting behaviors. Scientists have compared their cognitive ability to that of chimps and apes. They’re clever animals, often seen dropping nuts onto the street pavement to get a car to break the shell. Many will do this at a traffic light crossing, waiting patiently with human pedestrians for a red light before safely retrieving their prize. As my mother would say, “Now that’s using the ol’ noggin’!”

Leave your comments