Monthly Archives: June 2011

  • Disaster Preparedness for Your Family and Pets

    Written By Jenny Pavlovic
    (Please note: This article includes information from the Not Without My Dog Resourcethe Not Without My Dog Resource and Record Book by Jenny Pavlovic & Record Book. Although it was originally written for dogs, it also applies to cats and other animals in your care.)
    Disasters disrupt hundreds of thousands of lives every year. Each disaster has lasting effects on people, animals and property. In recent months, floods created havoc in the Midwest and tornados left wide paths of destruction across southern states. June 1st marks the official start of the hurricane season. Most people don’t expect disaster to strike their own homes and families, but I encourage you to make a disaster plan for your family and pets.
    If a disaster occurs in your community, local government and disaster-relief organizations will try to help you, but you need to be prepared. Local responders may not be able to reach you immediately, or they may need to focus their efforts elsewhere. You should know how to respond to severe weather or any disaster that could occur in your area—hurricanes, earthquakes, extreme cold or blizzards, tornadoes, flooding, or terrorism. Prepare to be self-sufficient for at least three days. This may mean providing your own shelter, first aid, food, water, medications, and sanitation.
    Being prepared may reduce the fear, anxiety, and losses that can accompany disasters. People should be ready to evacuate their homes, take refuge in public shelters if needed, and know how to care for their basic medical needs. People may also reduce the impact of disasters, and sometimes avoid danger completely, by taking preventive measures such as flood-proofing their homes and securing items that could shake loose in an earthquake.
    You have a responsibility to protect yourself and your family by knowing what to do before, during, and after a catastrophic event. Here are some examples:
    Before:
    • Purchase insurance to protect against financial loss. Consider including flood insurance, which is not part of your homeowner’s policy
    • Know the risks and danger signs of an impending disaster in your area
    • Develop a specific disaster response plan
    • Prepare a kit with disaster supplies
    During:
    • Put your plan into action. Be ready to evacuate before the disaster occurs
    • Keep all family members safe, including the animals in your care
    • Follow the advice and guidance of officials in charge of the event
     
    After:
    • Repair damaged property
    • Take steps to prevent or reduce future loss
    • Re-evaluate your disaster plan with your family and make recommended changes
    • Re-stock your disaster supply kit
    • Enjoy quality time with your family, and pat yourself on the back for being prepared
    Your Disaster Plan
    The following information is intended to simplify disaster preparedness. Please read it and plan ahead now.
    Obtain Information from Local Officials
    Contact your area Community Emergency Response Team (CERT, www.citizencorps.gov/cert) to find out about hazards that may threaten your community. Learn your community’s emergency plans, including how you will be warned and which evacuation routes are to be used when a disaster occurs. Your local CERT can also provide basic disaster response training specific to your community. If no CERT is available in your area, contact your local emergency response officials for information, and consider organizing a local CERT. Your family can learn basic safety and first aid skills from the local CERT or Red Cross.
     
    Create a Family Disaster Plan
    A disaster is an extremely stressful situation that can create confusion. Knowledge and preparation may save lives. The best emergency plans are simple so people can remember the important details.
     
    Discuss Possible Disasters and Know What to Do
    Discussing disasters ahead of time can reduce fear and anxiety by preparing people to respond properly. Meet with your family and discuss why you need to prepare for disasters. Explain the dangers of fire, severe weather, and other possible disasters, and discuss what to do in each case. Plan to share responsibilities and work together as a team. Discuss what to do if family members are not together when a disaster occurs.
     
    Plan for Your Pets
    Plan where to take your pets in a disaster. If you must go to a public shelter, you may need to make a different plan for your pets. Pets (with the exception of service dogs) usually are not allowed in public shelters where food is served to people. Some Red Cross shelters partner with animal emergency response groups to provide emergency animal shelters nearby, but please plan ahead.
    What to Include in Your Disaster Response Plan
     
    Escape Routes from Your Home
    Make sure that all family members know how they will escape from your home, in the case of a fire or other damage to the home. Draw a floor plan, using a blank sheet of paper for each floor. Mark two escape routes from each room. Make sure children understand the drawings and know what to do without assistance (if possible). Post a copy of the drawings at eye level in each child’s room. Figure out how to assist family members who need physical help. Decide how you will evacuate companion animals. Practice or simulate exiting your home via the escape routes to make sure everyone understands and is capable of following the plan. The practice of going through the motions may make an actual emergency evacuation go more smoothly.
    Places to Re-Group
    Agree on two places to meet, one near your home in case of a sudden emergency, like a fire, and one outside your neighborhood in case you can’t return home or are asked to leave the immediate area. An example near your home is the telephone pole next door. An example farther away is a grocery store parking lot. Make sure everyone knows the address and phone number of the meeting location, but remember that cell phones and/or landlines may not be working.
     
    Family Communication Plan
    Separation during a disaster is a real possibility during the day, when adults are at work and children are at school. Plan how you will contact one another if your family is separated when disaster strikes. Ask a relative or friend who lives outside your area to be your family contact. Complete a contact information card for each family member to keep handy in a vehicle, wallet, purse, and/or backpack. You may want to have one on file at school for each child. Make sure family members know the contact’s name, address, and phone number, and check in with the contact in an emergency. Program important numbers into cell phones, but don’t count on always having cell phones available when needed.
     
    Evacuation Plan
    Depending on the type of disaster, it may be necessary to evacuate both your home and neighborhood. Discuss what to do if authorities ask you to evacuate. Designate a family member to shut off household utilities if this can be done safely before leaving. Make sure this person knows what to do.
    Follow the advice of local officials during evacuation situations. They will know which roads may be blocked or could put you in further danger and will direct you to the safest route. Be familiar with community escape routes, and plan several escape routes in case some roads are blocked or closed.
    Learn about shelter locations or make arrangements for a place to stay with a friend or relative who lives out of town. If you need a place to stay with your pet, find a pet-friendly hotel listed on one of the following websites: petfriendlyhotel.org, petswelcome.com, and pet-friendly-hotels.net.
     
    Special Needs
    If you or someone close to you has a disability or special needs, you may need to take additional protective steps to prepare for an emergency. Special arrangements may be needed for people who don’t speak English, the hearing impaired and mobility impaired, those without vehicles, and those with special dietary needs. Elderly people living alone, single parents, and people with multiple pets and/or livestock may need assistance with emergency evacuation.
    The Not Without My Dog Resource & Record Book includes a template for making a disaster preparedness plan for your family.
    LEAVE NO ANIMAL BEHIND
     
    Animals are especially dependent on people for their survival when disasters strike. That is why you, as a caregiver, need to take the time—now—to prepare to evacuate and care for your pets on short notice. Disaster planning for pets need not be an overwhelming task! By completing the following two life-saving steps, you are well on your way to protecting your pet:
    1. Plan a safe way to transport your pets
    2. Know where you’re going to take your pets
    Choose someone you trust to take care of your pets if you’re not at home when a disaster strikes. Plan with neighbors, friends, or relatives to make sure someone is available to care for or evacuate your pets if you are unable to get home. Share your evacuation plans with your pets’ caregiver, show them where you keep your emergency supply kit, and provide telephone numbers of emergency contacts outside of the immediate area. Leave your dog’s Not Without My Dog Book in a sealed plastic bag, to go along with your dog.
    Make sure your kennel, pet sitter, and doggy day care provider all have actionable disaster plans, in case your dog is in someone else’s care when a disaster strikes. Prepare yourself and your dog for a disaster situation by writing a Dog Disaster Plan and putting together a Dog Disaster Supply Kit (templates are included in the Not Without My Dog Resource & Record Book).
    Your Dog Disaster Plan should include the following information:
    How I will transport my dog(s):
    Designated emergency dog guardian(s) and contact info:
    Location of Dog Disaster Supply Kit:
    My emergency contact information (phone #s):
    Places to take my dog(s) in an emergency (addresses and phone #s):
    Hotels that welcome dogs (addresses and phone #s):
    Plan ahead by preparing a disaster supply kit for your pets. Plan to be self-sufficient for atleast the first three days when evacuating, and store enough supplies for three weeks athome. Pack your kit in a secure, easy-to-carry, water-resistant container stored in aconvenient place known to all family members. Plan to travel with your pets ridingsafely in secured crates.
     
    The above information should help your family and pets get ready for a disaster. Once you’re prepared, you can enjoy the summer without worrying about what steps to take if and when disaster strikes.
     
    This article includes information from The Not Without My Dog Resource & Record Book and provided by Noah’s Wish (www.NoahsWish.info), an organization dedicated to assisting animals in disasters. Learn more at www.8StateKate.net.

  • Lipid Nutrition: Part 2, Performance Benefits of Fat

    Written By Dr. Kris Hiney
    Last month we discussed the usefulness of fat in the equine diet, as well as some examples of typical feeds which contain fats. Fats are an easily digestible source of calories which can readily supply the extra energy that performance horses may need. Fat may lower the heat load on the horse compared to traditional diets, which may aid in performance in hot climates. Finally, fat may even help calm the horse compared to when they are fed high starch diets. But is there any other reason to feed fats that may help you get to the winner’s circle?
    Fat Metabolism
    Lipid2_skeet.bmp When horses are fed fat in the diet, their body responds by increasing the number of enzymes that are involved with lipid metabolism. These include the enzymes needed to remove fat from the bloodstream and enter muscle or adipose tissue, and those that ultimately oxidize the fatty acids. Feeding fat to horses results in a lowering of plasma triglycerides which is believed to be caused by a decrease in synthesis of triglycerides in the liver. The horse becomes more efficient at utilizing dietary fats for energy, rather than needing to use carbohydrate or protein.  This adaptation has repeatedly been shown to take at least three weeks after the change in diet.  Complete adaptation may take as long as 2-3 months.  Therefore, if switching your feeding regimen, don’t expect to see instantaneous results.
    Exercise and Fuel Sources
    rice branWhen fatty acids are oxidized in the body for fuel, their final metabolic pathway involves the Tricarboxylic cycle (TCA)* or Kreb’s cycle. This cycle is dependent on oxygen (through its connection to the electron transport chain) in order for it to work.   The TCA cycle supplies the bulk of Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP)** for horses when they are working aerobically, or at lower intensities. Technically, aerobic work is at a low enough intensity that the requirement of ATP can be met by the slower metabolic pathway of the TCA cycle.   At low intensities of exercise, fat typically supplies up to 50-60% of the calories needed.  All dietary energy sources – fats, carbohydrates and protein – can be utilized in aerobic metabolism, provided there is sufficient intake of oxygen.   That means that the horse’s heart and lungs can keep up in the race to deliver oxygen to the tissues. However, when the horse’s muscles are contracting faster or harder than the ability of the cardiovascular system to keep pace, they then enter into anaerobic metabolism. The horse must then switch to a different supply of fuel, primarily carbohydrate metabolism. They are simply working too hard for the aerobic system to keep up with the demands of the muscles for ATP. Therefore, horses undergoing intense exercise, or sprinting type of activities, must rely on their carbohydrate stores for energy. These include blood glucose, liver and muscle glycogen, and the body’s ability to perform gluconeogenesis (make glucose from other sources).
    Can Fat Save Glucose?
    It is presumed that due to the adaptation of the horse to become more efficient at fat metabolism, they are less reliant on their carbohydrate stores (blood glucose, muscle and liver glycogen) to supply their energy needs.    This should allow the horse to work longer before turning to carbohydrate metabolism. This may be advantageous for two reasons. One is that carbohydrate stores in the body are much more limited in comparison to lipid stores, and two, usage of carbohydrate through anaerobic metabolism can result in the production of lactic acid.  This may contribute to the onset of fatigue, due to depletion of energy sources or the accumulation of lactic acid. Therefore, fat fed horses may have some advantage in their resistance to fatigue.
    Most studies of horses fed high fat diets have reported an increase in resting muscle glycogen stores. However, there have been a few reports which have shown an opposite effect of lowered muscle glycogen. In these studies, the horses were either untrained or receiving low intensity exercise. In studies which exhibit an increase in resting muscle glycogen, the horses received more intensive training, including sprinting exercise. This may be the key in seeing a response to the fat added diet. In addition, the amount of fiber and starch in the rest of the diets differed between studies, which also clouds interpretation. If horses do have higher glycogen stores at rest, it is unclear if this results in an increase in glycogen utilization during exercise. Some researchers found an increase in glycogen utilization while, again, others have found no change in glycogen metabolism during race simulations or long term sub-maximal exercise.   But would an increase in glycogen utilization improve performance? Again results are mixed. Horses fed 12% fat for four weeks improved their run time to fatigue in a high intensity exercise bout on a treadmill. Others have found increased performance in sprinting exercise and in a simulated cutting event, while some have found no clear advantage to feeding fat in improved performance.
    Is Anything Consistent?
    Lipid2_SkeetsSugarNSpice.jpgIn studies looking at blood metabolites in exercising horses fed a fat added diet, some consistent results have been seen. Feeding fat does decrease the exercise related drop in blood glucose. This is seen simultaneously with an increase in serum triglycerides and free fatty acids. Presumably these horses have indeed shifted toward a more efficient utilization of fatty acids during exercise, sparing their glucose stores. This seems to be supported by data which shows that horses on fat supplemented diets have a higher blood pH during exercise versus non-supplemented controls. The above effects are seen at lower intensities of exercise.  When the horse increases its ATP demand, they will need to draw more from anaerobic metabolism and must shift to carbohydrate usage.
    So with all of these conflicting results, what should you believe? It is clear that feeding performance horses fat rather than carbohydrates is a much healthier alternative. High carbohydrate diets carry with them the risk of laminitis, colic, ulcers and insulin resistance. As of now, no negative effects of feeding fats to horses have been found. The potential benefits are many, including a potentially calmer horse, a decrease in reliance on blood glucose (at least at lower intensities), and a possibility of increased performance in anaerobic activities. With little to lose, and benefits to gain, it is no wonder fat added diets are so popular in the equine industry.
    Next month – The usage of fat added diets in metabolic diseases.
    * TCA – Tricarboxylic cycle, also known as Citric acid Cycle, has been described as the “central metabolic hub of the cell”. A sequence of reactions taking place in mitochondria where acetyl units attached to CoA are degraded to carbon dioxide and the electrons produced transferred to the coenzymes NAD⁺ and FAD.
    **ATP – adenosine triphosphate, an adenine nucleotide used as the energy currency in metabolism. The free energy released when ATP is hydrolyzed is used to drive reactions in cells.

  • A Rat in Every Room

    Written By Barbara O'Brien
    You have all heard of celebrities or rock stars that trash their hotel rooms. They break guitars, smash TV sets and leave big messes behind. And although I do not do anything like that, I have been known to break a few rules when it comes to hotels. My work as an animal actor trainer has occasionally forced me to take drastic measures to keep the animals safe and with me at all times.
    Pet white ratWe were once hired to train some rats for a television commercial about the plague. We had to train the rats to run up and down a table on a mock pirate ship, nibble food, and well, act like rats. That part was easy. Rats like to explore new places and they like to nibble on food even more.
    Getting to the studio for the taping was no problem. We were living in South St. Paul, Minnesota at the time and the job was in Cedar Rapids Iowa, only about 250 miles away. We had talked about leaving the rats in the studio but because of a snowstorm, which slowed us down, we didn’t arrive until evening and the studio was closed. I didn’t feel too bad, as I was worried about leaving the rats there overnight anyway. What if they escaped? There would be no finding them in a massive studio with thousands of places a rat could hide.
    Our big problem was that it was now –15 degrees Fahrenheit and we knew that we could not leave them in the car overnight. We had no choice but to bring them into the hotel. Kevin, my husband, checked us in and we smuggled the rats’ carriers up the side stairs and into our room. We fed and watered the rats and then I took them out individually to continue their training. Rats are highly intelligent animals and of course, food motivated so they are easy to train. These were friendly domesticated rats with cute little pink noses and long gray tails. 
    The next morning using animal safe food dyes and vegetable oil we colored their coats to resemble brown Norway rats, the scourge of all ships at sea. I have to admit the transformation was amazing. What was once a cute little rat with a soft white coat turned into a grayish brown, somewhat fiendish looking animal that seemed fully capable of carrying diseases that could wipe out an entire population.
    Once we were done, I put the rats into the bathtub to dry. I knew they couldn’t climb the slick walls to escape.
    We went downstairs to the hotel’s restaurant to have breakfast. We had a nice young man as our server. He was cheerful in spite of the early hour and asked all the usual touristry questions.
    “So, where are you folks from?” he asked, smiling broadly as he poured our coffee.
    “We are from St. Paul.” I said, smiling back.
    “And what brings you to Cedar Rapids?” he asked.
    “We are here shooting a commercial.”
    “Wow, really, what for?” he said, intrigued.
    “It’s for a pharmaceutical company.”
    “And,” he said, nodding, “what is your part in it?”
    “Oh we are not in it.” I laughed. “We are the animal trainers, we brought the rats for it.”
    “Rats?” he gasped. He then quickly covered his mouth, as he didn’t want to draw the attention of nearby patrons.
    “Oh, yes, rats. A dozen of them,” I smiled again. “They are in the commercial.”
    I could see him taking this in and then he leaned conspiratorially over the table and whispered. “They are not in the hotel, are they?”
    I paused, thinking about the consequences of my answer. What would they do if the maid found 12 fiendish looking brown rats playing in the bathtub when she went to clean the room? Could be part of a new ad campaign, I mused, perhaps a new slogan for the hotel chain. A Rat in Every Room.
    I quickly I came to my senses and laughed heartily, “Oh, no, no, no, noooo, of course not. Don’t be ridiculous. The rats are at the studio. We would never bring them into the hotel.” The server gave visible sigh of relief and clutching his coffeepot, made his way back to the kitchen.
    Kevin looked at me curiously, as he knows I do not, as a general rule, out and out lie to people. “I guess we couldn’t tell him,” he said finally. “No, I guess not,” I agreed. I chuckled a little at the thought.
    We began to dig into our meals when Kevin asked suddenly. “You did hang the Do Not Disturb sign, didn’t you?”
    “No,” I said surprised and shocked. “I thought you did….”
     We both jumped up, leaving our breakfast behind as we raced to our room. As we tumbled out of the stair way and onto our floor I could see the maid beginning to swipe the card to our room.
    “Stop! Wait!” I called out, as I ran towards her. She pulled back, startled.
    “Excuse me, maid service,” she said, glancing at her cart. I quickly put myself between her and the door. “Maid service,” she said again. “I am here to clean the room.”
    “No, no thank you.” Kevin said calmly, trying to look cool “Please come back later.”
    “Yes.” I said too quickly. “We are very clean. We do not need our room done.”
    She gave us a look that read, “All right, have it your way” and went on to the next room.
    We couldn’t stop laughing as we watched the rats crawl around the tub, wondering what would have happened if we had been caught. We thoroughly scrubbed the bathtub, packed up the rats, and, unlike rock stars and celebrities, we hoped we left no evidence of our little rat adventure.

3 Item(s)