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The Ruff Report: News about dogs Dec. 14 to 20, 2008

Dec. 14 to 20, 2008

Dogs are better medicine than pills

Feeling blue or anxious? Try cuddling up with a dog.

Stanley Coren, a psychology professor at the University of British Columbia and author of the book The Modern Dog: A Joyful Exploration of How We Live with Dogs Today, says having a dog nearby works better than prescription drugs to control depression and stress in people.

"The data is absolutely unambiguous," Coren told the Vancouver Sun said in an interview. "This actually works better than having a loved one next to you."

People also will feel better faster from having a beloved dog close by than from taking pills, according to Coren's book. People showed signs of reduced stress when they were with their dog in only five to 24 minutes compared with the days or weeks it can take for prescription medications to help with stress and depression.

Research also shows that dog owners - especially seniors - make fewer visits to the doctor and are more physically active. Seniors who live with a dog are four times less likely to suffer from depression than those without a dog.

"It's quite an amazing statistic," Coren says.

Laser therapy helps pets recover from injury

A Massachusetts veterinarian is using a new high-tech laser therapy as an alternative to anti-inflammatory drugs to treat injuries in dogs and cats.

Dr. Ronald Hirschberg of Brockton Animal Hospital says the low-level laser treatment promotes healing and relieves pain, The Enterprise of Brockton reports.

"Long-term anti-inflammatory medication can have harmful effects on the body, primarily gastrointestinal as well as liver damage," Dr. Hirschberg told the newspaper.

Dr. Hirschberg began using the laser treatment on animals after he received it himself for arthritis in his hands. "I saw what it did for me, and I wanted to see what it could do for animals," he said.

Brockton Animal Hospital has so far treated about 40 animals, including a 21-year-old cat, Dr. Hirschberg said. Treatments last 10 to 30 minutes and most animals see improvement within the two to four treatments.

Some animals have felt better and been more alert as soon as the first treatment, Dr. Hirschberg said. The treatment has no known long-term harmful effects, he said.

Dogs rescued from Alabama puppy mill

The Greater Birmingham Humane Society is caring for 50 dogs taken from a breeder in Alabama that were found to be neglected and in need of medical attention.

Most of the dogs are small breeds such as Pekingese, Shih-tzu and poodles, the humane society states in a media release.

"Most of these dogs are highly adoptable, but because they have been so mistreated and neglected, it may take time for us to get them to healthy weights and prepared mentally to become someone’s pet," Jacque Meyer, executive director of the Greater Birmingham Humane Society, states in the media release. "We are going to give all of them the opportunity to live the happy, loving life that they have never received."

Visit for more information about adopting the dogs.

Florida humane society receives accolades

A Florida humane society has received recognition from a leading charity evaluator in the United States.

The Suncoast Humane Society of Englewood was cited for fiscal soundness by Charity Navigator, the humane society reports on its web site.

"We are proud to announce Suncoast Humane Society has received our 4-star rating for its ability to efficiently manage and grow its finances," Ken Berger, president and CEO of Chairty Navigator wrote in a letter to the humane society.

Only 25 percent of the organization's reviewed by Chairty Navigator receive the highest rating, Berger states. "Suncoast Humane Society executes it mission in a fiscally responsible way, and outperforms most other charities in America. ... and demonstrates to the public it is worthy of their trust," he states.

Visit for more information about the Suncoast Humane Society.

Another warning about chicken jerky treats

A new warning has been issued about health-related problems related to dogs eating chicken jerky products.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says in a media release that it continues to receive complaints about dogs becoming ill after consuming chicken tenders, strips or treats imported to the United States from China.

This is the second time the FDA has issued a cautionary warning. One was issued in September 2007.

Scientists have been unable to determine a definitive cause for the reported illnesses, and the FDA has conducted chemical and microbial testing but has yet to identify a contaminant.

The FDA is advising consumers who feed their dogs chicken jerky products to watch their pets for the following symptoms which may occur within hours to days after the feeding: decreased appetite, although some may continue to consume the treats to the exclusion of other foods; decreased activity; vomiting; diarrhea, sometimes with blood; and increased water consumption and urination.

Owners should consult their veterinarian if these signs are severe or persist for more than 24 hours. Blood tests may indicate kidney failure and urine tests may indicate Fanconi syndrome (increased glucose). Most dogs appear to recover, but some reports to the FDA have involved dogs that have died.

Reports about dogs becoming ill after eating chicken jerky treats prompted an Australian company to recently announce a voluntary recall. Kramar Pet Company is voluntarily removing Supa Naturals Chicken Breast Strips after receiving 15 complaints about dogs becoming ill with Fanconi-like Syndrome after eating the treats. The product was manufactured in China.

Students can enter Marley writing contest

A writing contest about dogs and animals offers students in grades seven through nine a chance to win up to $2,500 in prizes.

The Marley & Me Creative Writing Contest, sponsored by Twentieth Century Fox and Weekly Reader Custom Publishing, asks students to write a story up to 300 words from the viewpoint of a dog or different animal.

"The contest will give children the opportunity to express themselves by showing their literary creativity," Fox 2000 Pictures president Elizabeth Gabler states in a media release. "I'm looking forward to seeing all of the imaginative and original ideas coming from entrants. Who knows, maybe there is a budding screenwriter out there."

The contest's grand-prize winner will receive a $2,000 Best Buy gift card and have a $500 donation made in their name to an animal charity. One first-prize winner will receive an $800 Best Buy gift card and one second-prize winner will receive a $500 Best Buy gift card. Five runner-ups will receive $50 Best Buy gift cards. Teachers who encourage their students to enter are also eligible to win prizes.

This contest meets national language arts standards for grades seven through nine. Stories must be submitted by Jan. 30, 2009. Children under age 13 must submit entries by mail, while children age 13 may submit entries online at Winners will be notified on or around April 3, 2009.

Visit for contest rules and entry forms.

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