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Ask the Vet

posted April 15th, 2007 by
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Story by Chris Adolph

Q: I know this is disgusting, but I have a dog who is a poop-eater.   She won’t eat her own but can’t wait to eat the poop of my other two dogs.   I have tried everything from getting that stuff to feed the other two to make their poop “undesirable,” to pouring Tabasco on the other’s poop,    Nothing works.   Now the only thing I can do is run out and scoop every time there’s more poop, but I can’t always do that with the weather.   What can I do?

A: Eating feces is an instinct in dogs.  This behavior is very common.  It seems to be more common in females than males because mothers clean their puppies and the environment by eating the feces.  Males will also do this. You can begin to break this habit by constantly picking up the feces.  This will be easier when the weather warms up. Don’t scold or make a big deal about it. 

Routinely eliminating parasites and feeding twice daily help develop regular outdoor pooping habits and will assist you with regular clean-up to further change the habit.

Use a word for “outside” at the door and another word for “go potty” when she is in the right place. When she relieves herself in the right spot, praise her by saying something like “good girl to go potty outside.” You can also give her a treat as you say this, but don’t let her see it beforehand. This habit will eventually fade.  

You can sprinkle meat tenderizer on food or there is a product called “Forbid” to discourage the habit, but neither of these is a magic bullet.

Q: I have a mutt puppy about a year old who has a beautiful brown coat except for these weird scars on the tops of his ears.   Somebody mentioned that he was probably left outside all one summer and the scars are from fly bites. Would you know what these are, and is there anything I can put on them to make them go away?    He also has scars with no hair on his front feet where his dew claws were removed.

A: The skin needs to be checked by a veterinarian to determine the cause.  In general terms, this is usually called fly strike dermatitis. It can be treated by applying an ointment with insecticides and limiting exposure.  There are other causes and your veterinarian can direct you on appropriate testing and treatment.  Proper diagnosis, treatment and environmental conditions can help minimize the ear scars.  The hairless areas where dew claws were removed are scar tissue and hair does not grow in scar tissue.

Q: My husband and I have a 15-year-old lab female who has lost the use of her back right leg.  She’s not in pain, but I feel it’s time to let her go. My husband says a firm “no.”    How do we know when that time is here?

A: We should not always assume that health problems in older animals are always related to old age. The loss of use of one rear limb can have several causes, most of which are treatable.  Osteoarthritis of the hip and/or knee joints is the most common cause that I see.  There are very safe and effective treatments for this condition.  The other common causes are neurological disorders, ruptured ligaments and trauma.  The key lies in working with your veterinarian to get a true diagnosis.  This will most likely include a complete exam to localize the problem.  Additionally, blood and urine testing determine organ function.  X-rays are critical to determining the cause and sometimes mild sedation is needed to do this.  With this information, your veterinarian can guide and direct your decision-making process. 

Q: I’ve noticed that my 10-year-old kitty is drinking more water, more often every day and he’s in the litter box more than usual. What’s going on?

A: These are common symptoms is older felines and there are many causes.  The most common are diabetes, hyperthyroidism, and kidney failure.  There are many other causes, but this is what I see the most, and each one is treated differently.  The cornerstone is getting a true diagnosis.  This will include blood and urine testing to start with.  This will most likely lead to other tests, but the initial tests will get your veterinarian pointed in the right direction. 

New Easter Bunny?

posted April 15th, 2007 by
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By Cyndy Harnett

Congratulations on owning a new pet rabbit!  You might have lots of questions on what to do as a rabbit owner, but taking care of your new pet rabbit isn’t difficult.  It’s basic pet care, like caring for a dog or cat.  There are some daily tasks, and some tasks that need to be done less often.  The mostimportant daily task is providing fresh food, hay and water. One of the least favorite tasks is trimming toenails, which should be done about every 4 to 6 weeks. Here’s a general timeline of tasks
for new rabbit owners.

Daily:  Provide fresh rabbit pellets, grass,hay and water on a regular schedule.  Some rabbit owners include greens such as Romaine lettuce or parsley as part of a daily diet. Hold and handle your rabbit.  Daily handling makes a gentler pet.  A rabbit behaves like a cat since she will come to you on her own terms.  Give a limited amount of treats.  There are many kinds of treats.  Check to see what is suitable for your rabbit.  Watch for changes in your rabbit’s condition or behavior.  Discharge from the nose or a rabbit who has stopped eating may mean a health problem for the veterinarian.  Provide out-of-thecage exercise time. Daily exercise helps controlweight and aids digestion. Exercise should be supervised and take place in a “rabbit proof” area.

This is a good time to play on the floor with yourrabbit. Weekly: Clean the cage. This may need to be done more often if your rabbit lives indoors or the weather is warm. Clean the water and food containers.  Examine your rabbit for signs of poor health.
Catching problems early such as sore spots will keep them from getting worse later. Check food and supplies needed for the coming week, or else you may be going to the store just before it closes to buy rabbit pellets.

Monthly: Brush your rabbit.  Wool breed rabbits need brushing or trimming more often.  Trim toe nails about every 4 to 6 weeks.  You may need a helper the first time or two.  Clean inner ears, if needed.  Check cage, equipment, and exercise area and make any repairs.

Seasonally: Change or add toys for rabbit fun and enjoyment. Protect rabbit from hot or cold weather.  Weigh your rabbit.  Weight gain or loss may indicate a health problem such as molar spurs.  Go to the veterinarian for a check up.  While not mandatory, it is recommended.  Rabbits do not need annual shots.  Having a pet rabbit is a wonderful experience, and you’ll find taking care of your rabbit is easy.  A happy pet rabbit may get you the best reward of all, a lick on the face!

FOR MORE INFORMATION Cyndy Harnett is the owner of www.RabbitsAtoZ.comfor pet rabbit products and information. She has enjoyed house rabbits for many years.

Rescuing Sugar Ray

posted April 15th, 2007 by
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By Camille Hulen

He had lost his mom and siblings, a young girl had rescued him, but he was still hungry. 

Unfortunately, although she tried, the young lady did not know how to care for a kitten so young. Her mother wanted to help, but she didn’t know what to do either.
They gave the kitten dry food, but he longed for the warmth of mother’s milk. Finally, the girl’s mom asked a friend to intervene. The friend took the kitten to a foster home where the lady had cared for many small kittens.

When the kitten arrived, it was determined that he was at least a month old, but he weighed less than seven ounces.  You could see every bone in his tiny body! He was also flea-infested: the foster mom gave him a bath and the water ran red with flea feces, the worst she had ever seen.  But the water was warm, and so was the kitten formula that she fed him with a syringe. At last the kitten fell asleep. However, he awoke in two hours and cried again, for he was hungry.  Night and day, every two hours, the lady fed him, and he fought to survive.

Then the kitten paid his first visit to the vet, who treated him for parasites that frequently accompany fleas. However, the vet did not offer any particular words of encouragement: this kitten was very malnourished. But he was a fighter,the vet said. The kitten continued to eat, but could not quite absorb all of the new food which was foreign to him, and he developed diarrhea, so hewent to visit the vet again.  This time, the doctor stuck him with a big needle and gave him fluids to combat dehydration.  His foster mom continued togive him lots of fluids, and he fought to survive.

He ate and ate, and new medication helpedhim to overcome the diarrhea.  He would now diveinto a can of Fancy Feast™ and absolutely wallow in it, eating to his heart’s content.  Next a new problem developed: an abscess at the site of thefluid injection required antibiotics. The wound healed, and as it did, he had this funny spot on the side of his body, a brighter color than the rest of his fur. Plus, he began to lose all the fur on his faceand forelegs, even his whiskers! You see, because he got his face so covered with food every time thathe ate, he had to have many baths. Because he suffered from malnutrition, his fur was fragile, and it just washed away.  What a funny looking cat hewas! But he was a fighter, still trying to survive.

At last he began to respond. He was still skinny, not a cute round bundle of fur like most kittens. He even began to play. But, would anyone want him? He was awfully scrawny looking. What should we name him? He certainly wasn’t a “Fluffy” or a big bold “Tiger.” No, he had to be named after a fighter, because that he was. Thus, he was called “Sugar Ray,” after two great boxers named Sugar Ray.

As Sugar Ray grew, he was still thin, and notparticularly handsome, but his hair grew back and he developed an endearing personality.  He was“quite a character,” someone said. Well, it so happened that the person whosaid that he was a “character”could not resist “the character,”and adopted him. Sugar Ray now lives with his new family of twoother cats, a dog, and two humans who love him dearly.

Phoebe’s Phashions Decking Out the Dogs

posted April 15th, 2007 by
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By Marilyn King

The building lights in nighttime downtown Tulsa aren’t the only things sparkling in that part of town. Just as dazzling are the canine jewels that Lisa Steinmeyer makes for her business,Phoebe’s Phashions.

In the summer of 2003, Lisa, a native Tulsan and court reporter by day, started dabbling in a new hobby making sterlingsilver jewelry.  She soon found out that the sterling was too expensive, so she decided to try a necklace for Phoebe, her
miniature dachshund. Phoebe, by the way, was alreadyfamous in her own right, having appeared as Winner of the Week in the 2001 Workman Page-A-Day calendar series for dogs in pink sunglasses on a blue float in Lisa’s pool.

Lisa went to Hobby Lobby, purchased some fake pearls, and the first phashion was born. Friends starting asking for them, and soon after Southern Agriculture placed a large order that kept Lisa and a few friends beading day and night.  Oneby one, different Tulsa pet businesses placed orders, and Lisa’s business savvy to exhibit at the nation’s largest pet trade show,H.H. Backer, landed her an order from Harrods in London that to this day is renewed three to four times a year.

Now Lisa is decking out dogs in 36 states, along with canines in London, Ireland, Canada, Tokyo, and Australia.  Herjewelry is still made right here in Tulsa, and each piece carries a special charm of little silver sunglasses dedicated to her Phoebe.
Also, Phoebe’s is not just for the girls – there’s a line of “neckwear” for those macho boys out there who don’t want to be too frilly!

Way to go Lisa! Are these jewels cool or what!!!
Phoebe’s Phashions – Haute Couture for the Stylish Canine 918-582-6253

Publisher Letter

posted April 15th, 2007 by
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20070415 1

 By Marilyn King

Happy Spring to all you Tulsa Pet Lovers out there!

The joys of Spring! It turns a dog’s fancy hopeful for more walks in the park, and all the kitty’s fancies to leisure naps in the longer daylight hours. It’s a relief to have the winter of 2007 behind us, and I’m sure all creatures great and small in Green Country are enjoying this warmth on their bones. For those of you who missed my first issue, here I am with my rescued chocolate lab Samuel August us King (named after my Dad), who is one year and three months now. After I “christened” him I learned from a friend there’s an old saying that if you name your dog after someone you loved, the dog will love you more. Sam’s certainly full of love, and it gives me great joy to observe his boundless happiness.

Rather naively, I hadn’t anticipated the more sobering aspects of my new career — the horror stories coming my way of abuse and abandonment. Visits to the City shelter also give me quite a dose of reality that some of you don’t even know about. If you haven’t been there lately, go. I challenge you to not come away with a heavy heart. All the animals there are so hopeful they’ll find their way home, or be picked to get to have a home. All the little faces are wrought with anxiety, and the sadness is palpable.

One aspect that helps soften the blows of the horror stories is the number of people I’m meeting and hearing of who truly are making a difference in our homeless pet community. People who foster dogs and spend their money feeding them, tending to their health issues, trying to find them homes; others who devote all their spare time (and then some) to provide assistance in transport and countless other ways of truly giving. It’s wonderful to know there are folks out there who take a great deal of their time, energy, and resources to help. We plan to introduce you to some of these people in a future issue.

We hope you enjoy this second issue of TulsaPets Magazine, and that you share it with your friends and family. I’ve had countless emails and calls of compliments about the first issue, and I wish to say thank you to all who took their time to contact me with their positive comments. I also want to say THANKS BIG TIME to my advertisers. Without their support there would be no TulsaPets Magazine. And of course another thanks to Langdon Publishing. (They do good work, don’t they!)

I value your ideas, suggestions, questions, etc., so please don’t hesitate to call or email. Also, don’t forget that if you have a question for a vet, trainer, or attorney, please email the contact information on the respective article.

So “chow” until July. Keep those cards, letters and emails coming, and enjoy your Spring!

TheraPETics Service Dogs of Oklahoma

posted January 15th, 2007 by
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Story by Sherri Goodall

Along with a devoted, specially trained, four-legged helpmate, people who are partnered with a TheraPETic’s canine are given the invaluable gift of INDEPENDENCE.

Under the watchful eye of Lisa Bycroft, Executive Director and Diane Hutchins, Administrative Assistant, magic transpires on East 21st Street at TheraPETics. Adorable balls of fur—golden, black, brindle, apricot, chocolate and many hues in between— are transformed into superbly trained service dogs.

Golden Retrievers and Labradors are excellent service breeds; they love to retrieve and they love to please. The newest breed is the Labradoodle (Standard Poodle/Labrador)—the uber breed of service dog. Labradoodles combine the best of both worlds: non-allergenic coats, retrieving instincts, love of service and superior intelligence.

David Skaggs and his black lab, Martin, greeted us at TheraPETics. Martin demonstrated his talents soon enough. Martin, like many of his TheraPETics peers, functions as the body and legs of Skaggs, who is paralyzed from the waist down. Martin deftly removed Skaggs’ long-sleeved jacket on command. He also will remove Skaggs’ pants. Doodle, a young Labradoodle demonstrated her talent of undoing Skaggs’ Velcro shoes. Buster, Doodle’s brother, was the ace light switch operator. He entertained us with a frenzy of light switching— on, off, on, off, until we were dizzy.

Skaggs says Martin not only gives him the confidence and freedom to pursue his life and work; but also gives his wife the opportunity to pursue her life without worry. Martin retrieves tools for Skaggs, brings the telephone to him and can go to a neighbor for help.

Buster belongs to Diane Hutchins and alerts her when her sugar drops. Dogs cannot be trained to alert a human to seizures or other body changes, like sugar swings. This ability is due to the canine’s uncanny sense of smell. When sugar drops, or a seizure is about to begin, the dogs smell the changes inthe human’s body chemistry. Once the dog is rewarded for this behavior, it will repeat it when appropriate (Pavlov). Buster, also “braces” to help Diane stand.

What we consider simple tasks; dressing and undressing, opening and closing doors and cabinets, retrieving items dropped on the floor, sitting up, standing, turning on lights, answering a telephone, ringing a doorbell, unloading a washer or dryer—are monumental, if not impossible tasks for the physically limited. TheraPETics dogs perform all these tasks and more.

Children face the most difficult challenges with their disabilities… both emotional and physical. Once a service dog comes into their lives, typical social barriers are broken. The dogs become the bridge between “abled” and “disabled.” More than just physical doors are opened.

It takes tremendous trust and confidence for a physically challenged human, who has known only hardship, to turn him or herself over to a dog. This is where the training begins.

Lisa begins with 7-8 week-old puppies. Haikey Creek Kennels donate the Goldens. Labradors come from Wyngmaster and Glen-Mar Kennels. Sommer’s Doodles in OKC supply the Labradoodles.

Before being accepted, the puppies must take the Volhard Puppy Aptitude Test, which measures their retrieval drive and temperament (whether too dominant or submissive). Only those that measure up, make the cut.

From here, volunteers take over. First, the puppies go to a puppy raiser for one year. They come to class (raisers and puppies) once a week where they work with Mary Green, the official trainer. They learn basic obedience behavior, socialization, and patience. Their instincts of pulling and retrieving are honed and rewarded. The puppies learn to associate desired behavior with praise and reward. As important as their “schoolwork” is their socialization in their raiser’s home, where there might be children and other pets.

After a year with the puppy raisers, the dogs graduate to a trainer home. This is where the specific task- training begins. The trainer and dog go to work in the real world, whether it’s to a job, classroom or errands around the city. Once a week they go to class at TheraPETics, where they learn and practice desired behaviors. There are wheelchairs to pull and push, doors to open and close, refrigerators with items to be fetched, washers and dryers to be emptied, directions to be learned, tasks upon tasks to be mastered. Then they go home and practice some more. The dogs visit malls, ride escalators and elevators, visit restaurants, retail stores, museums, grocery stores, health centers, hospitals, doctors—all the service and entertainment establishments necessary to our lives. They travel on public transportation, through airports, on airplanes, in taxis, stay in hotels…just as we do.

Each dog costs about $14,000 to train. TheraPETics places the dogs with their partners at no cost. This is due to the volunteers that give so generously of their time, many of the in-kind services donated by vendors and veterinarians, corporations, and the fund raising efforts of TheraPETics.

At last… THE BIG DAY! GRADUATION. The hours, days, weeks and months of training culminate when the dogs are paired with their humans…the bond is formed. Team Training begins. The specific needs of each disabled person are added to the dog’s repertoire. The human/dog team train together for 100 hours, usually at the person’s home, so that the dogs can train to a specific environment.

It’s a beautiful merger. People gain their freedom and independence and the dogs get to do what they love best.

Each year, TheraPETics has two fundraisers: A K9K Race (a 5.5 mile sponsored race benefiting TheraPETics), and DOGFEST where all canines can strut their stuff. Silly contests abound, including Best Trick, Owner/Dog look-alike, Doggie Cross-Dressing Races, and agility races. Many vendors and rescue groups are on hand displaying their services and products. Of course, the TheraPETics dogs demonstrate their talents.

A special fund, The Dolly Fund, honors Dolly Carter, the famous black lab who dived into dryers. Its purpose is to fund extraordinary veterinary bills for service dogs.

These funding opportunities and much more can be found at