Pet Health

The Problem with Microchipping

posted January 15th, 2010 by
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STORY BY JANA LAYTON, DVM,
RIVERBROOK ANIMAL HOSPITAL, TULSA

What would you do if your dog or cat accidentally got out of your home or yard? According to the American Humane Society, only about 17% of lost dogs and only 2% of lost cats ever find their way home to their original owners after being lost. Most of the animals that do return to their homes are identified with tags, tattoos or microchips.

Aside from providing your contact information, a collar with a nametag and phone number on it notifies others that the pet they have found does have an owner and a home, and therefore that person will be more likely to assist your pet in finding you. However, most tags can fade, rust, become scratched or even chewed on, making them difficult to read. Therefore, it is important to inspect these tags frequently and replace them with new, readable ones. Some veterinary hospitals will even re-issue a 3-year Rabies vaccination tag every year in order to keep it readable and to let people know that your pet does receive regular veterinary care and that a family is most likely missing their beloved pet.

Although collars and tags are very important to have on your pet, what if the collar gets torn or slips off and your pet is lost without immediate identification? This is where microchipping becomes even more important. A microchip is a tiny computer chip about the size of a grain of rice that a veterinarian injects under your pet’s skin, between the shoulder blades – much like giving a vaccination.
The chip contains a unique ID number that can be read by a microchip scanner at any veterinary hospital, shelter or humane society. This unique number can then be entered into a database to find a lost pet’s home and reunite them with their family.

Microchipping your pet is safe, reliable and permanent for the life of your pet. However, microchips are only as good as the information provided to the chip’s company. If you fail to register your pet’s microchip, or if you move or change your telephone number after you have registered a chip, it is as good as never having the microchip placed in your pet. According to a 2009 Journal of American Veterinary Medical Assoc i a ti on study of pets entering animal shelters, the return rates of 7,704 microchipped pets were reviewed. 876 of these pets could not be returned to their owners because of incorrect owner information listed in the database. In this study, shelter personnel contacted a microchip registry for 1,943 of the pets and found that only 58.1% of them were registered.

Microchipping can be an invaluable tool for pet identification allowing lost pets and their owners to be reunited. We in the veterinary community encourage you to be educated not only about the importance of microchipping your pet, but about making sure that your pet is actually registered and that your information in the database is kept current. Ask your veterinarian and their staff to teach you the necessary information to make sure you and your pet don’t get lost in the system. It can make the difference between life and death for your pet.

IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT THE CHOCOLATE…

posted November 15th, 2009 by
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STORY BY Mary Green

THE HOLIDAYS ARE UPON US! We are so busy with decorating, baking, shopping, traveling your pets’ safety can be the last thing on our list. Keeping the “furry” family members happy and safe during the Holiday season should be as important as Grandma’s sugar cookies!

RULE NUMBER ONE SHOULD BE: PETS SHOULD NOT BE GIVEN AS PRESENTS!

AS YOU DECk THE HALLS, THINK ABOUT WHAT MIGHT BE HAZARDOUS TO YOUR PETS.

TINSEL - while not toxic to animals, can cause intestinal obstruction or even present a choking hazard.
THE CENTERPIECE of the Holiday decorations, the Christmas tree, presents particular challenges to be pet-safe. Dogs find lights and cords tempting to pull on, and cats have a particular penchant for climbing the trees, both of which can cause the tree to come tumbling down. OTHER HAZARDS TO CONSIDER ARE:
GLASS ORNAMENTS - hang them high on the tree. Consider instead hanging nonbreakable wooden, metal, plastic or resin ornaments on lower branches.
BUBBLE LIGHTS – they contain ethylene chloride which can be lethal if ingested.
ANGEL HAIR – not the pasta, but the spun glass, can cause irritation to your pet’s eyes and skin.
RIBBONS AND BOWS ON PACKAGES – can be a choking hazard or cause intestinal obstruction. And please don’t put ribbons around your animal’s neck. This could cause serious injury or even death.
TREE STAND WATER – may contain harmful bacteria which could give your pet a very upset tummy.

While Poinsettias often get a bad rap for being toxic to pets, there are many more seasonal plants that are very dangerous if your pet ingests them. Ivy, HoLLY, AND MISTLETOE all are very toxic and can be lethal if consumed. Cedar, balsam, juniper, pine and fir are moderately toxic. CANDLES are a particular challenge, and if lighted, should be well out of reach of pets. It is too easy for a pet to knock them over and cause a fire hazard, both to themselves and your home.

Using caution and a common-sense approach to decorating for this holiday season will help keep your pet safe and happy!

Tulsa Pets are Safely in the Hands of the American Red Cross

posted July 15th, 2009 by
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By Kelsy Taylor

The Tulsa Area Chapter of the American Red Cross has helped the community in so many ways. One very important part of their program is to help families and their pets during emergencies.

“The Red Cross has always included pets in their plan, especially in disaster preparedness and first aid” emphasized Devone Chezum, the Education Community Coordinator of the Tulsa Area Chapter of the American Red Cross.

There are a variety of resources and programs that involve pets in the organization. Devone Chezum said that, “most chapters of the American Red Cross offer Pet First Aid classes that are available once or twice a year.” The classes will help prepare pet owners to face a variety of situations with confidence. This is a great opportunity for owners of both dogs and cats in the Tulsa area to learn valuable skills, when to recognize an emergency and how to prepare for one. “Rescue breathing and CPR are taught in the class, instructors also show the students how to create Tulsa Pets are Safely in the Hands of the American Red Cross By Kelsy Taylor a first aid kit for their pets” explained Chezum. The pet first aid kits include helpful supplies such as bandages, ointments, and blankets. The kits are also available, already prepared, from the American Red Cross. Devone emphasized that the kits should be brought along with the dog wherever it goes because you never know when you may need them!

Pets have become a part of the family in recent years. They come along during family activities, welcome long walks with us, and enjoy spending time curled up by our sides. Recently an increase in pet ownership and more people feeling like pets are a part of their family has inspired the American Red Cross to create two very important products to accompany their pet first aid classes.

The organization has prepared a book that includes valuable information for pet owners. The topics range from minor situations up to how to aid an animal while rushing it to a veterinarian. This product can be used as a quick reference guide since the topics are well organized and easy to find. Devone added that the book “is a supplement to being a good pet owner.”

The organization also offers an informative DVD that also covers a wide range of topics. “The DVD is a reinforcement of what is learned in the class” describes Devone. A few of the topics that are covered include: eye injuries, wound care, burn care, and broken bones. The DVD is also a great reference guide designed for easy access to specific topics.

“It is very comforting to know the information from the books and DVD for your own or others pets” mentioned Devone. Often, the skills that are gained through the classes and products from the American Red Cross can save not only the participant’s pet but a stray or injured animal.

Anyone interested in enrolling in a pet first aid class or purchasing one of the products should visit www.tulsaredcross.org or call 918-831-1126. The Tulsa Area Chapter of the American Red Cross has a store in their lobby, located at 10151 East 11th Street Tulsa, OK 74128, where all of their pet products are available.

Physical Rehab: Up and Moving

posted April 15th, 2009 by
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A much-loved Pit Bull named Chyna was painfully limping following an injury, not placing one paw on the ground except for balance.  Ligament surgery brought limited recovery.
Senior-aged Malamute Kiska has severe arthritis along her spine.  Along with hip dysplasia, she struggles to stand after a nap and often has to rely on her owners for help getting up.  Even just a touch to her back hurt her.

A painful ruptured disk caused Labrador Max to have trouble using his back legs.  Pain medications weren’t helping and his owners were close to euthanasia.

These dogs are among the growing numbers benefiting from physical rehabilitation.  It’s an exploding field and some Tulsa vet hospitals are establishing rehab centers, offering an array of services for furry patients.

Visit a doggie rehab facility and you’ll see underwater treadmills, electrical stimulation, range-of-motion exercises, massage, acupuncture,  laser therapy to help injured tissue heal, and exercise equipment similar to what’s in fitness centers for humans such as aerobic steps, balance balls, hills, and poles for over and under maneuvers.

And in conjunction with the in-center rehabilitation services, pet owners are counseled with homework programs that complement what happens at the hospital.

What’s behind the growth of doggie rehab?

“Pets would come in to be euthanized because they could not get up, generally due to arthritis.  Still mentally able and with an otherwise good quality of life, they were in pain, could not move around easily, maybe not urinating,” says veterinarian Lori Freije, South Memorial Animal Hospital, 7924 E. 55th Street.

“I knew this needed to stop, that more can be done and I’m particularly interested in pain management and physical rehabilitation,” she says.

In November, following additional education and training, she opened an extensive canine physical rehabilitation center at the hospital.

Freije notes that more people are willing to help their pets with pain management, follow home-based  treatment plans and commit to a rehab program, which can continue for several weeks.

“Just because a dog is down doesn’t mean that life is over,” Freije notes.  “There are things that can be done to get him up and moving again.”

Contributing to the expanding world of veterinary medicine is the fact that pets are living longer, developing some “senior citizen” diseases and disorders, and more pet owners are seeking alternative care for ailing pets to treat pain, restore health and quality of life instead of moving directly to euthanasia.  

Rehab helps regain strength and movement and reduces the need for long-term pain medications for pets who have various muscle injuries (most common in limbs), hip dysplasia, arthritis, bone fractures, and more.  Weight control is important in recovery and work-outs in rehab can take off pounds.

For example, an underwater treadmill is popular with the dogs at VCA Woodland South Animal Hospital, 9340 S. Memorial Drive.

“The most popular uses for the aquatic treadmill are following certain orthopedic surgeries, general conditioning for weight loss, and geriatric chronic conditions like arthritis – to minimize the need for pain medicine” says Elizabeth Rhodes, registered veterinary technician and certified canine rehabilitation assistant.

Brother and sister Labradors Buck and Peaches are regulars in the water.  Following knee surgery, Buck  exercises to build muscle and for weight-loss.  Peaches is diabetic and she has lost 10 pounds through treadmill conditioning.  

“It’s rewarding to see the dogs get back on their feet again, and they are happier, more energetic and get around better,” Rhodes says, adding that the dogs recover more quickly, and that rehab helps reduce pain and swelling and the need for long-term medication use. 

Veterinarian Freije says she integrates traditional Western medicine with therapies that approach “the whole patient, the environment, where they live and who they live with…there are many alternative therapies available and hopefully we will keep adding more and more.”

Rehab can help pets recover more quickly from surgery or injuries and reduce chronic pain so that the need for pain medication is minimized.  It is also used for increasing mobility, endurance and agility.  Often, helping pets lose weight improves their health and pain status.

And while Freije says her hands are her most important assessment and treatment asset, she notes that physical rehab centers for dogs and cats have several approaches to bring into play.

Lasers help reduce inflammation and encourage tissue growth.  Electrical stimulation strengthens weak limbs and encourages a return to full function.  Pulsing magnetic field therapy helps heal bones, burns, wounds and more. Massage and range-of-motion exercises improve the way the dogs feel.

Chyna, for example, now uses her injured leg almost normally.  Her weakened leg has regained muscle and function after weight loss, laser therapy, therapeutic exercises, electrical stimulation and stem cell injections.

Malamute Kiska’s hip dysplasia and severe arthritis were so painful that the “first time I touched her back, she dropped to the ground,” Freije recalls.

Following laser treatment, a weight loss program, range of motion exercises , pain medications which were gradually decreased as she improved, and at-home walking and strength training exercises, Kiska now runs, jumps and her balance is better.  Now she can “stand like a surfer” during car rides.

Do the dogs like rehab? 

“They love it! Some almost knock down the door to get here because it improves the way they feel,” Freije says.  “And with some, we see improvement within days or a few weeks.

“Our pets deserve the best care we can give so that they can return to everything they were able to do before (disease or injury).  I hope this becomes a standard of care and routine in the animal world, not just limited to a few.”

Story by Pat Atkinson

The Life of Riley

posted July 15th, 2008 by
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To look at this dog’s photo, you wouldn’t think he lives the Life of Riley, but he does.

Riley, the liver–spotted Dalmatian, has a team of devoted handlers—especially his owner, Tiffany Barnes Talley — that minister to his every need. The team includes two veterinarians who administer medicines, physical therapy, acupuncture, electrical stimulation and hydrotherapy and massage therapy.  Tiffany installed a pool for Riley so she can take over the hydrotherapy. She also performs much of the physical therapy and massage therapy.

Tiffany rescued, fostered, and then adopted Riley twelve years ago, through the Dalmatian Assistance League. He became her agility trained dog and her running buddy. Two years ago, Riley was diagnosed with Degenerative Myelopathy, a progressive spinal cord disorder that results in weakening of the rear legs and eventually leads to complete loss of function.

At first sight, Riley pulls at your heart. However, after watching him for a few minutes, you see that he doesn’t have any idea that anything is wrong. During his “interview,” he attempted to chase squirrels, befriend other dogs, and busy himself in the bushes. He can get going at a pretty good pace, especially downhill! 

Riley is in a custom harness/wheelchair which supports his hind end and legs. He wears custom fitted therapeutic shoes to keep his feet in a “natural” position so that they don’t turn under. The shoes also protect his  paws from injury while dragging on the ground. He pulls with his chest and front legs, which are very well developed.  Tiffany said that the minute Riley was fitted with his hind “legs,” he took off.  He knows how to back up and turn around. Sometimes Tiffany has to slow Riley down when he gets going too fast or help him go uphill. In the first few months of his diagnosis, Riley only used the wheelchair part time.

Paralyzed three times, Riley was rehabilitated back to full movement thanks to his rigorous schedule of physical therapy, acupressure, acupuncture and medical treatment. His fourth paralysis in 2007 left him with minimal control in his hind legs and now he must use the wheelchair whenever he is mobile

Karma might factor in Tiffany’s life with Degenerative Myelopathy and Dalmatians. Riley is her second dog with this disease.  Her first dog, Dominik, a black and white spotted Dalmatian, was diagnosed with DM at age eight, and died four years later. His treatments consisted of meds, movement therapy and acupuncture. Many of the treatments used today on Riley were not available two years ago. 

In the last several years, great strides have been made in the veterinary world in regard to these kinds of neurological diseases. 

Dr. Ronald Hooley, DVM, and CCRP (Certified Canine Rehabilitation Practitioner) at VCA Woodland South is building a facility to house a special underwater treadmill and rehab area for dogs like Riley. Dr. Heather Owen, DVM at VCA Woodland Central, treats Riley with acupuncture.  Elizabeth Rhodes, Registered Veterinary Technician at VCA Woodland South and certified in Canine Rehabilitation, helps with Electrical Stimulation and physical therapy.  Tiffany  also does his physical therapy, and his massage therapy.

Riley’s treatment is a full time job. It requires a huge emotional and physical commitment by Tiffany. She and her husband have created a “wheelchair friendly” home for Riley, removing furniture and carpets to make for easier access. She must exercise him several times a day in his wheel/harness. He can scoot around her yard and visit with her other dogs as long as someone is there to supervise. Occasionally, his hind legs become tangled and he must be re-adjusted. He eats and drinks from raised bowls. He also can do “his business” outside with some assistance. 

Dr. Hooley and Elizabeth outlined physical therapy treatments for Tiffany to provide at home. They include:

Standing and bearing weight

Walking with Tiffany’s aid, (no wheel chair)

Moving hind limbs in full range of motion

Standing, bearing weight and shifting his weight from one leg to another

Stretching

Swimming at home (Tiffany puts Riley in a life jacket, and supports him while he swims)

Out of his wheelchair, Riley can stand for a few minutes, but he must be supported. Tiffany props him between her legs and lets him put weight on his hind legs. She also moves his back legs in a “walking” position while she supports him. When Riley sleeps and rests, he does so without his contraptions. He uses his upper body to move around.

Since Riley’s disease is degenerative, his extensive physical therapy is designed to maintain muscle strength and prevent further nerve degeneration.

Much of Riley’s treatment is due to Tiffany’s exhaustive research. She is also a Canine Behavior Consultant, so she is well versed in the world of dogs. You might call her Tulsa’s Dog Whisperer.

The most important message from Tiffany is for families to know that there is hope and treatment for dogs with degenerative disease or injury.  

Story by Sherri Goodall

Cat Lovers Beware – Lilies are Toxic

posted April 15th, 2008 by
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Story by Sarah Freundenthal

This is the story of “Stanley,” a handsome cat in every way.  

I first laid eyes on him four years ago while I was working as a Registered Veterinarian Technician at a local veterinary clinic.  He was an abandoned kitten who needed a home.  He soon became a member of our family which at the time consisted of one dog and two other cats. 

When my husband and I found out that we were pregnant with our first child we were a bit concerned about how the animals would adjust.  Twenty weeks into my pregnancy I found out that I hadcomplications which caused me to be on bed rest.  The days were long and boring but Stanley rose to the challenge of keeping me entertained.  He would bring me toy mice (sometimes in the middle of the night) and want me to play with him.  He was notorious for curling up at my head to help lull me to sleep with his purring.  After seventeen weeks of this, our son was born and the concerns we had with the introduction of him had vanished.  All the animals took to his addition well, especially Stanley.  He loved to curl up with his little infant toes and as my son grew older he accepted everything from tail yanking to hair pulling.  Just recently I caught my son basking with him in the sun.

It was Valentine’s Day and my husband sent me flowers to my work.  They didn’t show up, but were surprisingly delivered to my house that night.  It was a lovely bouquet with some greenery and several types of flowers including just three large tropical looking pink and white lily blossoms.  I try not to keep flowers and plants in the house because the cats like to eat them, so I wasn’t surprised to see a small portion of leaf eaten off of one of the lilies.  To keep the rest of the flowers from being eaten, I moved the bouquet into the garage so I could take it to work with me the next day.

A few hours later Stanley vomited, which didn’t concern me, as I knew that eating foliage of certain types of plants could sometimes cause gastric upset.  What did concern me however, was that Stanley didn’t eat dinner that next night.  By the next day he was very lethargic and stayed in the playroom behind a chair.  He stayed there until I took him to the vet.

After a complete physical exam and blood work diagnostics we found that his kidney blood values and electrolytes were extremely elevated.   He was treated with intravenous fluids and after he received a small bag it was determined that his kidneys were not producing urine.  I knew the prognosis for complete kidney shut down was not in his favor.  It was decided to take him into emergency exploratory abdominal surgery to be sure just what was going on. 

The exploratory revealed that his kidneys were unsalvageable.  A normal kidney is a rich red brown color and his were completely white!  His bladder was totally empty, indicating that his kidneys were producing no urine.   At that point I had to make the decision that no pet owner wants to make.  It was time to let him go peacefully, euthanasia was the only humane answer.  He had already gone through enough and there was no way he would survive without functioning kidneys. 

When I got home that night my son, who is now two, said to me, “Stanley sick.”  I had to put on a smile and tell him that Stanley wasn’t sick anymore, that he had gone to Heaven.

It is generally well known that Easter lilies are toxic. A quick look through the toxicology book shows that all species of lilies should be considered toxic and deadly to cats.  Even the smallest amount of ingestion, of any part of the plant, leaves, stems or flower, can be enough to kill.  Only a few hours after consuming the plant, the cat may start to vomit and without immediate veterinary intervention and treatment the cat may go into kidney failure and die.

If your cat does happen to eat any of the lily plant, seek veterinary care immediately.  As of now, there have been no reported cases of this in dogs, the only concern man’s best friend has is an upset tummy.

Stanley was not only a pet, but a member of our family.  He helped me through my difficult pregnancy and was a best friend to my son.  We were blessed to have him with us, even if it was only for four short years.  There is not a day that will go by that I won’t think of his death and how it could have been prevented.  If I know that his story can save the fate of at least one cat, then my family and I can finally be at peace.