Pet Health

Area Vets Endorse Three-Year Vaccines

posted January 15th, 2008 by
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Current concerns about the possible over-vaccination of dogs and cats during their lifetimes, and what problems, if any, there could be with over-vaccinating, have led to the development of a three-year vaccine for rabies, distemper, hepatitis, and parovirus for dogs, and a three-year vaccine for the herpes virus, calicivirus, panleukopenia, and rabies for cats.   

TulsaPets Magazine wanted to find out more about a three-year vaccine, and queried three local veterinarians for their opinions, including Dr. Chris Adolph, South Park Veterinary Hospital, Dr. Mark Setser, All Creatures/Village Vet Animal Hospitals, and Dr. Rodney Robards, Southern Hills Veterinary Hospital.

Dr. Adolph:  “For dogs, it is beneficial due to the fact that we are providing the same level of protection with less immune system stimulation over their life time.  Same for cats, but it is beneficial to give cats less injections due to the injection sarcoma issue.”   Dr. Setser: “A big plus with the new vaccine is the fact that your pet receives fewer vaccinations over his/her lifetime.  The antigens (proteins) included in vaccines stimulate the body to develop resistance to infectious agents.

By using the three-year vaccine, the body is challenged less often by these antigens, which minimizes the total risk for vaccine reactions, and also minimizes the number of injections over a pet’s lifetime.” Dr. Robards: “We vaccinate our pets more than we vaccinate our children.”

Because the 3-year vaccines do not cover all diseases, some vaccinations are still recommended annually for cats and dogs.  Additionally, veterinarians recommend annual or semi-annual exams for pets.

In general, the three year vaccines cost about twice as much as a one-year, so averaged over three years, the total cost is less than these annual vaccinations.

Dr. Setser notes that the FDA has extensively tested the new vaccine. “It’s been challenge-tested…” Dr. Robards adds that research indicates the 3-year dosage “is probably more effective than annual vaccinations.”

Contact your vet for more details on the three-year vaccine.

Story by Marilyn King

Ask the Vet

posted January 15th, 2008 by
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Photo by Evan Taylor Photography

Story by Dr. Chad Lewis


 Even though I feed my 8 year old Schnauzer/Poodle mix a good quality lamb and rice mix food and no people food (except for an occasional piece of cheese) she has periods where she will leave a mess on the carpet even though she has just been outside a couple of hours earlier.  It is definitely diarrhea and I treat it with crushed Pepto-Bismol tablets, which generally works.  She will be fine for months and then for two or three days have diarrhea.  I have heard that a day of fasting for a dog will allow their digestive system to rest and “catch up.”  Is this true and if so, will it hurt her?

Thanks- D. Bennetch

A: I am glad to hear that you limit her “people food”; Schnauzers as a breed more commonly get a disease called pancreatitis which is severe stomach upset including vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. Dogs and cats in general have a sensitive stomach and rapid food changes or fatty treats such as steak, hot dogs and hamburgers can cause vomiting and diarrhea.  As a general rule I would recommend a good lab work up to rule out metabolic diseases, multiple fecal screens and a giardia ELISA test to rule out intestinal parasites.  Sometimes intestinal parasites such as whipworms or giardia can cause on again off again diarrhea.  If she will eat you do not need to withhold food, but a diet higher in fiber may help calm the signs of diarrhea.

Q: My 15-year old female Lab has suddenly started having a hard time getting around, and her back legs splay out from under her, especially on tile or hardwood floors where there’s no traction.   I’ve put her in little hunting type “boots” with a non-skid bottom on them.   I’ve heard that dogs sweat through their feet, so will leaving these boots on her for prolonged periods of time hurt anything?

S. Miller

A: It is true that dogs do sweat through their pads, but they pant to get rid of the majority of their excess heat.  Leaving on the booties will not cause her to overheat, but may make it more likely to develop a skin infection if the booties are left on all the time.  Just take them off occasionally to let the feet dry out a few times a day and make sure that skin is a healthy pink and does not smell abnormal.  Also there is a newer prescription diet out by Science Diet that is great for older dogs with arthritis called J/D.  It has done wonders for our patients and some dogs are acting like puppies again. We try to use multiple methods to treat arthritis pain in dogs: weight control, chondroitin-glucosamine supplements, diet and controlled exercise.

Q: I have a young Golden Retriever pup that’s about six months old.   Sometimes when she’s sleeping she must be having violent puppy dreams because she’ll cry and jerk and her legs go back and forth.   Should I wake her up when she’s doing this?   Sometimes it can be loud and she seems frightened.

T. Wilder

A: Dogs and cats seem to “dream” while they sleep and will twitch and cry out at times and this is normal and nothing to be concerned about.  You do not need to wake her up.  You can video tape her when this happens and have your veterinarian take a look to make sure it is not a seizure.  

Five Saves Lives

posted January 15th, 2008 by
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Story by Ruth Steinberger

Five Saves Lives is a simple concept that could dramatically reduce the number of animals euthanized in shelters across the country without any additional expense, facilities or staffing. In fact, while reducing the number of unwanted litters, fewer resources will be used, money will be saved and animal welfare programs made easier and more streamlined. Does it sound like a dream come true? It is not. 


Five Saves Lives  is a brand new nationwide campaign developed to educate the public, as well as veterinarians, on the importance of sterilizing kittens and puppies by five months of age in order to prevent pets from producing early, unwanted litters, which often come as a surprise. A Tulsa spay/neuter program is rolling out the carpet for the concept.

According to Peter Marsh, Esq., of Concord, New Hampshire, a founder of the first statewide spay/neuter program in the US, and co-developer of Five Saves Lives, Oklahoma will be the first state in which a large scale FSL campaign will be rolled out. 

The Five Saves Lives Campaign will emphasize two facts that many pet owners may not be aware of: that health benefits from pet sterilization are the greatest for female cats and dogs if they are sterilized before their first heat cycle and female kittens and puppies can go into heat as early as five months of age. As a result, the best time for sterilizing female pets is at five months of age or earlier. Any delay beyond that time will jeopardize the pet’s health.

Dr. Brenda Griffin

Marsh explained that timely pet sterilization will not only benefit individual cats and dogs, it will also reduce pet overpopulation. A study by Dr. Andrew Rowan, a veterinary expert on pet overpopulation, found that close to 90% of all kittens and puppies are born to females who are sterilized after they have given birth to at least one litter. Many of these litters are unplanned and unwanted.

‘Early age’ spay/neuter normally refers to pets that are at least eight weeks old and weigh at least two pounds. According to research accepted by the American Veterinary Medical Association, early age spay/neuter is safe.  Five Saves Lives is a modest approach to the early age concept, moving the timeline back just a few weeks from the traditional six month recommendation.   For veterinarians uncomfortable with the more drastic change from six months to eight weeks, this protocol can have dramatic benefits with a less drastic change in recommendations. 

In support of the concept of preventing the first litter, SPAY OK, a high volume income based spay/neuter clinic located in North Tulsa, will reduce the price of surgeries for kittens and puppies less than five months of age as of January 1, 2008. Spaying or neutering a puppy will cost $20 and a kitten will cost $15.


Esther Mechler, Executive Director of SPAY USA and co-founder of Five Saves Lives said, “Millions of kittens born in this country are in ‘whoops litters,’ meaning they are born accidentally. Many are born because some veterinarians are not spaying cats before six months old.” Noting that cats mature at four to five months of age, Mechler said, “Those few weeks, the ones between four and a half months and six months, are when a lot of unwanted litters are produced. Moving the surgery back in time just a few weeks will save millions of lives on a nationwide scale.” 

Mechler said, “We can gain a lot of ground by changing the timeline slightly. It doesn’t cost a penny more to spay a few weeks earlier, it is easier on animal shelters because the litters are just not born.” 

Brenda Griffin, DVM, MS, Diplomate ACVIM (Internal Medicine), Director of Clinical Programs for the Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine said, “Five Saves Lives refers to spaying and neutering pets before sexual maturity, and that not only prevents the birth of unwanted litters, it improves the health of the pets having surgery—and that’s what people need to get.”

Brenda Griffin, DVM, MS Diplomate ACVIM (internal Medicine), Director of Clinincal Programs for the Maddie's Shelter Medicine Program at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, Ithaca, NY

Griffin explained the health benefits to animals sterilized before sexual maturity. She said, “For female dogs you virtually eliminate the risk of breast cancer, which is the most common type of cancer in female dogs. Griffin added, “Everyone has known someone with breast cancer, yet breast cancer is much more common in dogs than it is in people.”  Griffin continued, “If the dog begins to come into season you reduce that benefit. In unspayed dogs we also commonly see serious uterine infections (called pyometra) which are often handled as emergencies once they get older.” Griffin said, “A parallel situation exists for cats.” 

Griffin explained that for male pets, neutering decreases the risk of prostate disease, perianal tumors and hernias.  She said, “We also decrease scent marking by dogs and spraying by cats, as well as inter-male aggression. Many people neuter working dogs because it means that they keep their mind on the job. Less marking, spraying and fighting and better working ability means better pets, so you see, Five Saves Lives is life-saving in many ways!” 

Tulsa Pets Magazine asked Dr. Griffin what she views as the most important part of pet ownership. She said, “Spaying or neutering a young pet is one of the most important things people can do for the life of the animal.  Vaccination, sterilization, some basic training and making sure your pet has identification are the most important things you can do for them.”

Judy Kishner, President of SPAY OK, said, “In addition to the health benefits of spaying pets before sexual maturity, the failure to spay a pet in a timely manner results in euthanasias, animal abandonment, wasted shelter resources and more. An unwanted litter is a completely preventable tragedy.”

Pet Peace of Mind

posted October 15th, 2007 by
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Story by Marilyn King

Hospice of Green Country has introduced a new program to provide pet care for their patients when they become physically or financially unable to do so themselves.  Entitled “Pet Peace of Mind,” it’s a unique feature to hospice care and was started last July.  

Delana Taylor, Hospice of Green Country’s Director of Spiritual Care and a non-practicing veterinarian, oversees the program, and says it’s a mission that’s close to her heart.   She sees how important the patient’s pets are to them, and says it lifts a huge worry from them to know their best friends will be cared for in the event of their incapacity or absence.

Pet Peace of Mind provides financial support for routine vet care, spaying and neutering assistance, pet boarding or pet sitting services in case of patient hospitalization, pain and other medications for elderly pets, and pet transport to nursing facilities or elsewhere to visit their owners.   

Dee Rosewitz, a participant in the program, says it’s been a godsend to her.   When her dog of 13-1/2 years, DeWayne, passed away in July, Pet Peace of Mind helped with the cremation.  Her remaining dog, Amanda, DeWayne’s litter mate, and three cats, Pud Pud, Pinkerton, and Tip still share Dee’s home.   Pet Peace of Mind has provided pain medication for Amanda, monthly heartworm preventative, and allergy shots for one of her cats.

Pet Peace of Mind, a non-profit United Way supported hospice, accepts monetary donations for support, but also says gift certificates from veterinarians, groomers, pet food/supply stores are much needed and appreciated.   In addition, they are seeking volunteers to help with transport of pets, fostering of pets, and people who would like to permanently adopt.

For more information about the program or how to help, call Pet Peace of Mind at 747-2273. 

Ask the Vet

posted July 15th, 2007 by
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This issue’s participating veterinarian:    Mark Shackelford, 15th Street Veterinary  Group, Tulsa

Q: I have a 15 year old lab female who’s in pretty good shape for her age.   Lately, though, she’s developed this “cough.”   She does it mainly in the mornings and recently it’s become more persistent.   Should she be checked for this?

A: Most definitely.  Coughing can be a symptom of several maladies, including heartworm disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, allergic bronchitis, cardiomyopathy, congestive heart disease, lung cancer, and several other pathologies that can affect the upper and lower airways.  You should see your veterinarian for a full examination, which will probably include a chest radiograph and blood tests.


Q: My older dog has a nasty habit that could be medical-related.  After she goes out to do her “business,” she comes back in a “scoots” across the rug.   It’s especially embarrassing when guests are here.   Is there anything I can do about this?  

A: Your veterinarian can perform an examination to that area of your dog’s anatomy to rule out several causes of her scooting.  Among other things, anal sacs, which are located on either side of the anus, can become impacted and are usually easily emptied by a qualified professional.  Skin allergies can be another major cause of itching, which will cause the scooting.  You want to be sure that fleas are not a problem by using any one of the recommended topical and oral products that are available. 

Q: My old dog (13) is showing signs of cataracts.   How do I know when it’s time to remove them?

A: Cataracts, or an opacity of the lens of the eye, are fairly common in older animals.  Cataracts should not be confused with a more common condition in the older animal called lenticular sclerosis, which is a thickening of the lens of the eye.  This condition of the lens causes a gray color, but does not usually cause blindness.  Cataracts are a complete opacity of the lens, which means light cannot penetrate to the retina at the back of the eye.  This barrier to the retina results in blindness.  Other causes of cataracts are diabetes and trauma to the eye. Observing symptoms of blindness, such as running into walls or furniture, is the time to consider removing cataracts.  A qualified veterinary ophthalmologist can surgically remove cataracts, which can result in a significantly improved field of vision.

Have a question for October’s Ask the Vet Column?   Email [email protected].

Vets and their Own Pets

posted April 15th, 2007 by
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Story by Pat Atkinson

 Area veterinarians share open homes, open hearts, and wide open spaces with a variety of four-footed family members.

Horses, dogs, and cats are most numerous, and there’s a scattering of rodents, reptiles, birds, and fish making themselves right at home among the vets’ pets.

And much of the time, special pets of yesteryear guided their humans to the path to veterinary medicine. 

We thought you’d like to hear some personal pet talk about these furred, feathered, finned family members.


Dr. Melissa Montgomery
Head Vet at the Big and Tiny Zoo

Dr. Montgomery says senior citizen Wellington, a Morgan, "seems to know what I'm thinking" during their 23-year relationship.

There should be a sign in front of the rolling acreage south of Jenks welcoming all visitors to “The Big and Tiny Zoo,” which is what Dr. Melissa Montgomery’s daughter calls the family home.

That figures.  In residence are five cats, three dogs (from a big Mastiff to a little Pomeranian mix), four Morgan horses (all big!), and various smaller species including birds, rodents, and latest arrival Mr. Fishy, a red Beta.

Dr. Montgomery, in private practice for about 20 years, is now the Tulsa SPCA’s veterinarian where there’s no shortage of dogs and cats in need of a foster (or permanent) home.  And, yes, a few have “followed” her home.

The group’s longest-timer is Morgan horse Wellington, age 27, who moved into Dr. Montgomery’s life 23 years ago.  “He seems to know what I am thinking,” she says. “He takes care of our (3) children when they ride him, so he has a special place in our hearts.  And now he goes into his stall and looks around as if to say, ‘Why did I come in here?’ just like I do in the house!”

Other “special” furry friends include Gwyneth, an unforgettable English Mastiff rescued from death row at a municipal shelter (her name means “love and happiness”) who shares 125 pounds of unconditional canine love, and Owen, a most “Garfield-like” cat who once kissed Dr. Montgomery just above the left eyebrow, the exact spot where she kisses him.

Another equine, a pony named Beauty, was this young country girl’s first pet, shared with her brother and sister.  “Beauty was old and kind of lame, but she and I explored the county together.  As I got older, I would take off on her and be gone all afternoon.  I am profoundly grateful to my parents for allowing me that independence.”

After leaving for college, she missed the many family farm animals and soon found that majoring in veterinary medicine “became attractive as a way to be in contact with many animals, but not necessarily have to support them!  So, I guess all the dogs, cats, horses, cows and other animals that I grew up with brought me to my life’s work.”  

And about that “Big and Tiny Zoo” name.  When daughter Bonnie was 3, she had a plan to charge admission to the “Zoo,” but Mom would get in free since her job was to vet the animals! 

Dr. Montgomery, formerly in private practice, is veterinarian for the Tulsa SPCA.

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