News & Updates
Concerns for Heart Disease in Dogs Fed Grain-Free Diets
Grain-free diets have gained popularity in recent years, but new observations have led to concern that some grain-free diets – particularly those using lentils, peas, chickpeas, potato, or exotic meats such as kangaroo – may be a contributing factor to heart disease in dogs (and potentially cats as well). Very little is currently known, and the FDA is investigating the issue. The specific type of heart disease that has been observed, Dilated Cardiomyopathy, is otherwise uncommon in most dog breeds.
Formal recommendations will be developed as more information is gathered on this problem. Please speak to your veterinarian about your pets’ diet if they eat a grain-free diet that includes lentils, peas, chickpeas, potato, or exotic meats as primary ingredients. A diet change may be recommended, and taurine supplementation is also an option. Fortunately, most pets do not actually require a grain-free diet, so changes should be simple to make.
If you choose to change your pet’s diet, remember to make the transition gradually. For example: Feed 1/4 of the new food and 3/4 of the previous food for a few days. Then feed half of each type for a few days. Next, feed 3/4 of the new food and 1/4 of the previous food. You may then fully transition to the new food.
Canine Influenza Update
Cases of canine influenza have recently been reported in the NY metro area including southwestern Connecticut. No cases of H3N2 influenza have been reported local to Bolton Vet in eastern Connecticut.
Here are our recommendations for keeping your dogs safe:
- If you are concerned and would like to have your dog vaccinated for any reason, please call our office to schedule an appointment. We have the influenza vaccine in stock for those who would like to vaccinate their pets.
- Avoid situations where your dog may be exposed to dogs of unknown health status (for example, dog parks). A boarding kennel or “doggie day care” that requires all animals be in good health in order to attend is expected to be a safe venue.
- Avoid traveling inter-state with your dog if possible.If you must travel with your dog, avoid interacting with other dogs on your trip, and/or consider vaccination.
- If you work or volunteer at an animal shelter, kennel, grooming shop, pet store or other venue that involves meeting community dogs, be sure to shower and launder your clothing before interacting with your own pets when you get home.
- Monitor your dog for signs of illness, and call your veterinarian if you are concerned. Signs to watch for include coughing, sneezing, fever, and discharge from the nose or eyes.
Canine Influenza H3N2 was first observed in the Chicago area in early 2016. No cases were reported in Connecticut, and a very limited number of cases were reported in some neighboring states. A vaccine was developed, and is recommended for use in dogs at increased risk of exposure (for example, those who attend dog shows).
In May 2017, multiple cases of H3N2 were reported in association with a Florida dog show. Due to upcoming dog shows in our region, we continue to recommend that dogs who attend shows be vaccinated against canine influenza. The risk to the rest of our local dog population remains low. If any cases are reported in Connecticut, we will post updates and make recommendations for a broader scope of vaccine administration.
Local Respiratory Virus Outbreak
Recently, news and social media have brought attention to an “outbreak” of a respiratory virus in our area. Beginning in the last week in April 2016, three dogs originating from a kennel in Windsor were treated for severe respiratory signs (pneumonia, seen as coughing, discharge from the eyes & nose, a high fever, and nosebleed). While canine flu was originally considered as a possibility, later testing showed that the dogs did NOT have any variant of canine flu. They were infected with Pneumovirus and Streptococcus equi (for which there is no vaccine). One dog also had Bordetella (also known as kennel cough, for which there is a vaccine).
Since the original three dogs were treated, surveillance for dogs with similar clinical signs has been rigorous. Only one additional dog was found to have the same illness in the following week. No other kennels or dogs in the general population appear to have any clinical signs. None of these dogs were treated at Bolton Vet. While we are continuing to be especially careful regarding dogs who develop any signs of a respiratory infection, it does not seem like the “outbreak” is ongoing.
Recent news stories have highlighted the spread of Canine Influenza H3N2 strain. This is a strain that was first reported in the Chicago area, and subsequently spread to other states. More recently, this virus was suspected to be present in Washington state. As of the time this update was written, a case has not been reported in Connecticut, and a very limited number of cases were reported in some neighboring states.
The previously established canine flu vaccine is not believed to be effective against the H3N2 flu strain. Merck and Zoetis have each developed a new canine flu vaccine with the goal of protecting against the H3N2 strain.
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