can-dogs-smell-covid-19

Dogs have a sense of smell that dwarfs our human olfactory sense. Theirs overpowers our own by orders of magnitude, between 10,000 and 100,000 times stronger.

For example, dogs’ noses have up to 300 million olfactory receptors, as opposed to around six million in ours. And the area of a dog’s brain devoted to evaluating odors is proportionally 40 times larger than humans’. Astonishingly, they can detect some smells in the parts per trillion.

French researchers have recently published a study covering their endeavor to train dogs to smell COVID-19, in human armpit sweat. Here we present a recent article on the study published by aaha.org. Learn about why the scientists chose armpit sweat, and some of the surprising results. 

Click here for the original article.

 


 

Training dogs to sniff COVID-19 in . . . armpits?

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A dog scents for SARS-CoV-2 in samples of human sweat at the National Veterinary School of Alfort in France. Photo courtesy of Dominque Grandjean

SARS-CoV-2 is transmitted person-to-person through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. But what other bodily fluids might it lurk in?

Scientists around the world are trying to answer that question in the hopes of developing a fast-casual version of a COVID-19 test using dogs to do the testing.

Researchers in Finland have been training dogs to sniff out SARS-CoV-2 in human urine, while scientists at Penn Vet are working with dogs trained to detect SARS-CoV-2 in human saliva.

Now, researchers in France have published a study detailing their efforts training dogs to scent the virus in human sweat. Specifically, armpit sweat.

NEWStat reached out to corresponding author Dominique Grandjean, DVM, PhD, HDR, head of the equine and carnivores clinical sciences department at the National Veterinary School of Alfort, to find out more.

The scientists opted for the armpit samples because human sweat contains a strong chemical signal indicating a possible pathogen in the body, and it’s easy to collect. It has the added advantage of ensuring that the dogs wouldn’t be exposed to the actual virus, which, as far as scientists know, can’t be transmitted through sweat.

Grandjean’s team conducted a series of experiments to see whether trained detection dogs can differentiate the odor of sweat produced by people infected with COVID-19 versus those who are not.

The team trained 18 experienced detection dogs, including 8 Belgian Malinois shepherd dogs, who’d previously been trained to successfully nose out explosives and colon cancer. The dogs were trained to sniff sweat samples taken from the armpits of 360 infected and uninfected participants.

Jars containing samples of COVID-19-positive perspiration were placed in a line; funnels were inserted into the jars to allow the dogs to put their noses close to the sample. During the trials, each dog identified between 15 and 68 samples. Four of the dogs achieved a perfect score of 100%, while the rest had an accuracy rate between 83% and 94%.

On two occasions, two of the canines indicated a positive result for samples that supposedly came from people who were not infected by COVID-19. Those people were immediately retested by traditional laboratory tests and both results came back positive. In both cases, the dogs were able to detect the virus a week before the people showed positive in the lab test.

The study found that “COVID-19-positive people produce [underarm] sweat that has a different odor for the detection dog than COVID-19-negative people.”

Overall, the dogs averaged a 96% accuracy rate. So how does that compare to standard tests?

According to Grandjean, “The accuracy of lab tests depends on the type of [test] and the quality of the sample.” Accuracy ranges from 70% to 95% for positive results and from 35% to 70% for negative results. “So it seems dogs are more accurate in our trial.”

Grandjean said the dogs could be prescreeners, so people who “smelled” positive would undergo traditional lab testing afterward. “The dog is reliable day after day, people can be sniffed without any intrusion, [and] it does not cost anything [besides] the dogs’ training and kibble.” Additionally, dogs can be deployed at international borders, on ships, and at large public gatherings such as professional sporting events (in the event they’re ever held again). Moreover, he said, dogs are ideal for smaller communities and countries that can’t afford mass testing.

Grandjean was unfamiliar with the ongoing Finnish study involving urine, but didn’t immediately see the advantage of training dogs to scent urine over sweat: “Better [to] sniff sweat that is more accessible and ready to use 24/7, I think.” Although he graciously added, “I might be false in my thinking.”

And despite what he alluded to as a lack of support from the French government for his team’s work, Grandjean remains committed to the idea of COVID-19 screening via sweat.

His reasoning is simple: “It works.”

As of March 20th, the hospital will remain closed through at least March 26th.  That planned opening is tentative as it is dependent upon many unpredictable factors.  Emailing us at Crotonah@gmail.com is the best way to communicate with our staff.  At the present time, there are four, 24 hour emergency clinics in the area to meet your urgent veterinary needs.  They are The Veterinary Emergency Group , Taconic/202 Veterinary Center, Katonah Bedford Veterinary Center and Animal Specialty Center.  We appreciate your understanding in these unprecedented times and hope that you all stay safe and healthy. 

Dear Client:

As we all learn to deal with the new normal of living with the novel coronavirus, we here at Croton Animal Hospital have instituted some changes in our protocol for client appointments with the goal of minimizing contact between clients and staff.  We anticipate staying open and serving our patients until such time as we are instructed to close by governmental health agencies.

As of this writing, the latest information from Idexx Reference labs is that they have found no evidence of covid19 infection in thousands of samples submitted from pet dogs and cats in the US and South Korea. The lab has developed a test for the disease in these species that is ready to launch if it is deemed necessary by the CDC.  Owners still need to be aware that their pets can have the virus particles reside on their fur and collars if an ill human has contact with them when infectious.  Please avoid unnecessary contact with all of your pets when you feel ill.

In light of the latest recommendations by the CDC and mandates by New York State, we have adjusted our hours and staffing to avoid contact between clients and between clients and staff.  Our hours will change from the present schedule listed on our website to the following; Monday and Friday 8am-6pm, Tuesday/Wednesday/Friday 7:30am-6pm and Saturday 8am-1pm.  We will have scheduled appointments between 9am and 5 pm on weekdays and 9am-12pm on Saturday.  Appointments will be scheduled at no more than two per hour with a gap of 15 minutes between each appointment to allow for sanitizing between each appointment.  Only scheduled appointments will be accommodated with the exception being life-threatening emergencies.  Clients will not be permitted to enter the building. Clients will be asked to complete a health history form (available on our website) at home and to call from the parking lot upon arrival.  We ask that cat carriers be cleaned inside and out the day of the appointment.  An assistant will come to the parking lot and he/she will request the owner place a our slip lead on the dog and transfer the pet to the assistant outside the car. The assistant will take your completed history form as well as your cell phone number and your pet into the hospital.  The veterinarian will perform the exam and will call you with those findings and an estimate for recommended care. Upon your approval, the treatment will be completed and payment will be completed over the phone with credit card or by payment to the assistant with cash or check when your pet is returned to you.  Pets presented for an outpatient procedure will be scheduled specific drop off appointments and discharge instructions will be discussed by phone, unless specific arrangements are made. As above, owners are asked to call from the parking lot upon arrival.  House calls will be suspended until further notice.  If you are ill or you have been instructed to quarantine at home, please do not schedule appointments.  If you need medication or a special diet for your pet and you are under quarantine, please call us and we will arrange for delivery to your home for a nominal fee.

We understand these changes in protocols represent a hardship for all but we genuinely appreciate your efforts to keep our staff and yourselves safe.  It is our hope that we will be able to stay open with these changes in protocol, but there is always a chance that health agencies may determine that we must close. Should that happen, we will notify our clients through an email blast such as this one, a Facebook post, a tweet (@crotonah) and an outgoing message on our office phone.  We will keep ourselves available to our clients by monitoring our Facebook page for your queries, our email (crotonah@gmail.com), twitter (@crotonah) for your tweets and our office voicemail.  Furthermore, we are exploring a telemedicine platform that would afford us the opportunity to offer our clients a telehealth communication portal throughout this pandemic and perhaps beyond.  We will announce this to our clients once it goes live.

 

Thank you to all our clients for your understanding and patience.  We wish you all the best during this difficult time.

 

 

Sincerely,

 

 

The Staff of Croton Animal Hospital

We know that many of our clients have concerns about the new Coronavirus and whether their pets can transmit the disease to human family members and visa versa.  The Amercian Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) released an update to their members about  what is presently known about this new virus.  The following information is reproduced from that memo dated March 3, 2020.

The AVMA is actively monitoring developments related to animals and the novel cronavirus (COVID19).  On Thursday, February 27, a dog in Hong Kong tested “weak positive” for coronavirus (the owner tested positive for coronavirus).  The dog has since received a second positive result that has been sent to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), which is working with Hong Kong health officials on this case. The precise meaning of “weak positive” remains unclear and further evaluation is ongoing. Hong Kong authorities have said the dog shows no clinical signs of illness but remains quarantined. We will keep you updated as we learn more.

At this time, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) say there is no evidence that companion animals, including pets, can spread COVID-19. However, as with any disease, it’s always a good idea to wash your hands after being around animals.

According to the CDC, people who are sick with COVID-19 should restrict contact with pets and other animals, just like you would restrict your contact with other people. When possible, a member of the household other than the individual who is ill should care for any animals in the household. Those infected with COVID-19 should avoid contact with animals, including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food. Those who must care for a pet, or who will be around animals while sick, should wear an appropriate face mask and wash hands thoroughly before and after interacting with those animals.

We will be sure to keep our clients updated on new information as it becomes available.  Additional Tips and Information can be found at

Celebrating National Pet Dental Health Month

Over 85% of dogs and cats have some type of periodontal disease. In fact, this preventable disorder is the number one health problem diagnosed in small animals. Here is our simple, four step plan to greater health for your pets.

1. Annual Exam 

It begins with an annual oral examination by your veterinarian. A dental exam and cleaning (dental prophylaxis) may be required, including removal of plaque above and below the gum lining and polishing. Problems in their early stages can be diagnosed and treated. Many dogs age four and older may need to be examined more frequently. 

2. Daily Brushing

This is why you’ve got opposable thumbs and your pet doesn’t. Buy a special pet toothbrush and toothpaste and do what’s right – brush their teeth daily. Start when they’re young to get them used to it, but it’s never too late to begin proper home dental care. Reward the animal with a treat; they’ll associate it with the brushing and won’t resist as much. 

3. The Seal of Acceptance

Next, address your pet’s diet. Look for the “Seal of Acceptance of the Veterinary Oral Health Council” on foods to determine if  they meet standards for plaque and tartar control. Dog biscuits will remove some plaque but cannot clean below the gum line and will not prevent periodontal disease. There is no substitute for daily brushing.

4. Regular Exams

Regular checkups are imperative to ensure good oral health. Your veterinarian will monitor your pet’s progress and look for any signs of advanced stages of gum inflammation and periodontal disease. 

 

 

Amazing ways from the Croton Animal Hospital Veterinarians, to save the planet, keep your health, and help your pet! 
Amazingly simple ways that is. 

 

  • Use biodegradable poop bags made out of organic or recyclable materials; your dog will be on his way to going green.
  • Old blankets and sheets may seem like junk, but if you donate them to your local shelter, they are warm beds and comfort for lonely pets.
  • Socks with missing partners? Make a dog toy out of it! A great way to reuse, rather than consume. Also, some toys sold at pet stores can be expensive and wasteful of our planet’s resources.
  • Instead of driving to the dog park, how about rollerblading, biking or just walking instead? It’s more exercise and time for you and your dog to spend together, and it’s not using fossil fuels or spewing greenhouse gases into the air.
  • Consider a natural, holistic, or eco-friendly diet. Some dog foods and treats on the market use all-natural, “green-footprint” ingredients.
  • Many grooming centers  and kennels are now offering dogs aromatherapy and all-natural botanical oils so that our best friends can also enjoy an eco-friendly and relaxing day at the spa.
  • Whether eco-friendly, simple, or extravagant, continue to learn about and implement practices that allow your pets to thrive in a more environmentally friendly lifestyle.

Always consult your veterinarian before making any drastic changes in your pet’s diet, care or grooming practices.

 

rescue-dog-christmas-croton-vet

Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds, with nary a thought of the dog in their heads. And mamma in her kerchief and dad in his cap, they knew he was cold, but who cared about that?

When out on the lawn there rose such a clatter, he sprang from his bed to see what was the matter. Away to the window he flew like a flash, the dog must be loose; he’s into the trash!

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow, gave the luster of midday to objects below.

When what to his wondering eyes should appear, but Santa Claus with eyes full of tears.
He unchained a dog, once so lively and quick,
Last year’s Christmas gift, now thin and sick.
More rapid than eagles, he called the dogs name, And the dog went right to him, despite all his pain.

Now DASHER, Now DANCER, Now, PRANCER and VIXEN! On COMET, on CUPID, on DONNER and BLITZEN! To the top of the porch! To the top of the wall!! Let’s find him a home where he’ll be loved by all!!

I knew in an instant there were no gifts this year. For Santa had made their mistake very clear. The gift of a dog is not just for the season, they had gotten a pup for all the wrong reasons. In their haste to think of a gift for the kids, there was something important that had been missed.

A dog should be family, and cared for the same. You don’t give a gift, then put it on a chain.

And I heard him exclaim as he flew out of sight,

“YOU WERE GIVEN A GIFT!! YOU WERE GIVEN A LIFE.”

Author Unknown

sparc-pet-connectionThis Fall I made two visits to SPARC’s Pet Connection session with my two dogs, Freddy and Erin, and one of my rabbits, Snowy.  SPARC is an organization based in Yorktown that provides therapeutic recreation activities to people with developmental disabilities.  Through these activities individuals develop friendships, independence and inclusion skills.

 

 

 

Croton Animal Hospital Veterinarian Visits SPARC in Yorktown

I was fortunate enough to visit with 8-10  adults who had varying degrees of disabilities, both physical and cognitive, and their aides.  Both evenings we met in Harrison in a church community room and each person had time to interact with my dogs and rabbit.

We were able to elicit language and physical displays of affection for the animals, even if only briefly for some of the participants.

For their parts, the dogs relished the opportunity to have the additional contact time with caring humans.   Although Freddy, a young mini labradoodle, was a little concerned by the motorized wheelchairs on the first visit, he quickly regained his composure and had no reaction on our second visit.

Erin, a 12 year old labrador retriever that is retired from her service career for my son with autism, took it all in stride as Guiding Eyes had trained her for this type of work.  She even knows to move closer to an individual upon hearing the command “close”.

Snowy also seemed to enjoy the caressing and stroking and one young man named Alex took a particular liking to her, and she to him.

 

croton-vet-vistis-sparc-yorktown

 

Service Animals in Westchester County

The work that service animals do for their charges should never be overlooked.  Organizations all over the country place highly trained animals with PTSD victims, developmentally disabled individuals, physically impaired and emotionally traumatized people.

Often the first volunteers on site in the aftermath of a school shooting are handlers and their service animals with the sole purpose to provide silent comfort.  Right here in Westchester we have Guiding Eyes for the Blind and BluePath Service dogs providing highly trained dogs to visually impaired individuals and children with autism, respectively.  K9s for Warriors and America’s VetDogs provide service dogs at no charge to our veterans who have sacrificed everything for us all.

Unfortunately, these deserving individuals and their working companions are encountering obstacles and greater scrutiny as they travel together on aircraft and on public transportation.  This is a direct result of others who are exploiting rules to bring their pets on flights as service or emotional support animals.  We are all responsible for ensuring that the privileges appropriately afforded to these service animals are not reduced because of our own selfish desire for convenience.

veterinarian-croton-on-hudson-vet-tech-weekVet Tech week recently passed and although noted on our facebook page in a timely fashion, I am belated in honoring our technicians with the praise they deserve. Erin and Karolina are dedicated to the care and comfort of our patients and we all recognize their compassion and professionalism each and every day.

Veterinary Nursing in Northern Westchester

Veterinary Nursing is an often overlooked profession for the many young people who approach us seeking information about a career as a veterinarian. There are 4 year bachelor degree programs as well as two year associates degree programs in veterinary technology.

Here in Westchester County we are fortunate to have both with the four year program located at Mercy College and the two year program at Westchester Community College. Our own Karolina is a distinguished graduate of Mercy College and passed her boards this year. I serve on the Advisory Board for the WCC program and I cannot overstate the quality of education provided at both of these fine colleges.

Graduates of both programs are eligible to sit for the New York State Veterinary Technician Licensing exam and they are fortunate to be entering a profession that places their skills and education in high demand.

In addition to traditional college settings there are also many high quality distance learning programs that permit the matriculated student to pursue their veterinary technology degree on their own schedule.

Our own Erin Story chose to pursue her degree in this fashion so she could continue to work full time at Croton Animal Hospital throughout her education. She passed her boards on her first try this year.  Obviously, it takes great commitment and organization to manage all of these rigorous demands at the same time. Paula Chamberlin, who is presently working as a veterinary assistant at Croton Animal Hospital,  is presently pursuing her veterinary technician degree through a distance learning program.  We are very proud of all our staff members but these examples of dedication to the goal of furthering their training culminating in licensure are noteworthy.

vet-tech-crotn-animal-hospital

Interested in Veterinary Medicine?

Finally, for those who are in their early teens and are interested in learning more about a career in veterinary medicine, I recommend a visit to the New York State Fair in Syracuse and the Hall of Veterinary Medicine.

Also, the New York State College of Veterinary Medicine puts on an open house at their campus in Ithaca, usually in the month of April. These venues have exhibits for all ages and visitors should plan to spend the better part of a whole day absorbing the full experience.

Bruce Hoskins, DVM

dog-nose-wet-westchester-ny

FOR SOME DOG PARENTS, A DOG’S WET NOSE IS ONE OF LIFE’S GREATEST JOYS. FOR OTHERS, IT’S JUST AN ICKY MYSTERY. 

You enter a room, and immediately your pooch is at your side rubbing his mucus-ridden schnoz in your face, sniffing away along with a little tongue lapping. 

You react by:

    • Ah, how wonderful and endearing to have that slimy little thing all up in your business OR…
    • Uggg! How gross and disgusting you icky, sticky thing. 

So why are dogs noses wet?

    • Your nose works perfectly fine dry, so what’s up with their sniffers? It turns out there are many reasons for those wet noses – and a big misconception about what wet vs. dry noses really means. 

They secrete mucus 

    • When dogs are trying to follow a specific scent, their noses make a thin layer of mucus that allows them to actually absorb scent chemicals, and therefor, smell better. 

They tend to lick a lot

    • This one seems pretty straightforward, but there’s more to it – namely, why dogs lick their noses. First, because these long snouts and noses can get dirty pretty easily, especially when they’re rooting around in food. Licking cleans them off.
    • Dogs also lick their noses because of the mucus mentioned above. Why? Because they can actually lick off those scent chemicals so that the olfactory glands on the roof of their mouth can sample them. 

It helps them to cool off

    • Most dogs pant to cool off because they don’t sweat, but then again, this isn’t strictly true. Dogs do actually sweat – by secreting moisture from their paws and their nose. A really wet nose may be Fido’s way of releasing heat after exerting himself. 

Dogs’ noses pick up moisture

    • If you’ve ever watched your dog sniffing around outside, you know that it’s an “all-in” process where that nose is often being shoved right into grass, leaves, dirt, and so on. In doing this, dogs’ noses often pick up moisture from the environment, making them cold and wet. 

They’re born that way

    • Certain dog breeds just have colder, wetter noses than others due to genetics and other factors. 

Just an old dogs’ tale

    • Now it’s time to dispel a myth. It’s likely that you’ve heard tales of how a warm, dry nose means that your pooch is sick. However, ask a vet and they will tell you that the relative moisture level of your dog’s nose has little to do with whether or not she’s sick.
    • Some dog’s just naturally have wetter noses than others.
    • It’s important to note that dogs can be sick even if their noses are cold and wet.
    • Instead of obsessing over the moisture level, you should keep an eye on the kind of discharge coming from your dog’s nose. If the mucus suddenly becomes crusty or gets thicker, this can be a sign that something is wrong. Then it’s time to get your pooch to the vet – because he/she is the one who NOSE what to do!