Spring 2012 Magazine

Animal News Briefs

Everyone with a companion animal knows the temptation to spend on your friend. The American Pet Products Association has released its annual 2011-1012 APPA National Pet Owners Survey. This lets us know just how much we are willing to spend to keep our companion animals happy and healthy.

In 2011, $19.53 billion per year was spent on food, which is the highest single expense in the study. This is followed by veterinary care at $14.11 billion and supplies and OTC medicine at $11.4 billion. The category covering pet services such as grooming and boarding is $3.65 billion. This is up by almost 7.9% from the previous survey. It is expected to gain 8.4% in 2012. This growth is attributed to people taking better care of their companion animals.

Some areas of the survey have flattened out a bit. Animal sales and adoptions have lessened, probably due to the economy, with more people deciding to wait to get a companion animal. Also, the sale of high-end foods has declined. Pet insurance is another area that is growing. Insurance sales are expected to rise to $450 million in 2011. Insurance helps owners provide more expensive veterinary procedures, when necessary, for their animals. This is a way of keeping animals healthier.

Pet industry trends follow the trends of human purchasing. Earth-friendly pet products and organic food options are increasing as people become more environmentally conscious. Many big-name corporations, such as Paul Mitchell, Old Navy and Harley-Davidson, are offering lines of pet products. More hotels are opening their doors to animals with new pet-friendly policies. It is easier to buy pet products because they are showing up in more places. High-tech products are appearing from computerized identification tags to digital aquarium kits. More dogs are traveling with their people. This has led to harness/seatbelt combination systems and traveling supplies like foldable bowls, motion sickness aids and water disposal systems.

This is a good time to be a pampered companion animal. There are more products available for your pleasure and health and your people are more likely to get them for you.

Calling all South Valley dogs! The first off-leash dog park in unincorpated Bernalillo County has opened at 3910 Isleta Blvd. SW. It is near other recreational places including the Rio Bravo Skate Park, the South Valley Pool, the Rio Bravo Senior Center and the South Valley Library. Have your person bring some balls, gather your dog friends and head to the new dog park. Enjoy the freedom of an off-leash romp.

An innovative cancer treatment process is improving the survival rates for dogs with cancer. The American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation funded a ground-breaking study using expanded T-cells to help extend the lives of dogs that have lymphoma cancer, the most common canine cancer.

The research is being performed by a team of scientist at Texas A&M and the University of Texas MD Anderson Children's Cancer Hospital in Houston. A blood sample is drawn from a dog who has cancer. The white cells (T-cells), which are critical to fight infection and control cancer, are expanded and infused back into the same dog after chemotherapy treatment to help rebuild the dog's immune system. The hypothesis of the study was that the infused cells would wipe out any remaining cancer cells not eliminated during typical chemotherapy treatments. The early results are encouraging.

Dogs are genetically closer to humans than humans are to mice. Cancer in dogs develops in a similar way to human cancers. Given the promising results of this treatment with dogs, a similar trial is immunotherapy process is currently in clinical trials to help treat human cancer patients at MD Anderson Children's Cancer Hospital.

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration has approved using T-cell immunotherapy to treat humans for lymphoma. New trials stemming from this research are forthcoming. For more information on the AKC Canine Health Foundation check at: www.akcchf.org

The U.S. Postal Service has released four new stamps to honor working dogs.

The set depicts four hard-working canines: a guide dog assisting a woman who is blind, a tracking dog on the trail of a scent, a therapy dog visiting an elderly woman in her home, and a search and rescue dog standing in a field, ready to tackle the next assignment.

Artist John M. Thompson created original paintings for the stamps, which were designed by art director Howard E. Paine. The Dogs At Work stamps are being issued at the two-ounce rate.

The USPS notes that some 10,000 guide dogs in the U.S. and Canada serve as an extra set of eyes for people who are blind. Therapy dogs bring comfort and joy to the elderly and the ill. Dogs that work with police and military personnel are trained to detect drugs, guns and explosives. Search and rescue dogs speed up search efforts, increasing the odds of survival for disaster victims.

Two pieces of legislation that went into effect in January 2012 will ban puppy mills in Ireland. According to Irishcentral.com, "The two laws - the Welfare of Greyhounds Act and the Dogs Breeding Establishments Act - have been approved to control dog breeding and force breeders to look after their animals properly.

Unlike bills that have failed here in the United States, these laws do not limit the number of dogs a breeder can have at one time. Instead, the laws ensure accountability for every animal's well-being by requiring breeders to be registered and giving local vets the right to inspect any kennel they are suspicious of with the obligation to do so as part of their job.

In addition, every single puppy must be microchipped so that they can always be traced back to their original breeder, should problems arise.

Any dog breeding facility found to be non-compliant in terms of cleanliness and dog health based on the parameters set forth by the law will be immediately shutdown.

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