Pet Health

Sophie Jane’s Story

posted November 4th, 2014 by
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Adherence To proper diet and nutrition could mean the difference between life and death.



By Megan Miers


Just a few short months after her Shih Tzu mix, Sofie Jane, was euthanized due to severe illness, Debbie Davis still finds it hard to talk about her beloved pooch without tearing up.


Adopted two years ago, the then 6-year-old Sofie Jane was overweight at 22 pounds—normal weight for a Shih Tzu is roughly 12 pounds—and suffering from several health issues brought on by a poor diet and lack of good nutrition.

“She was very sweet and she would tilt her little  head to the side when she looked at you,” Davis says of her furry friend, whom she says loved food and going  for rides in the car.

Davis, the office manager at Muddy Paws grooming salon and doggie daycare center in Tulsa, was often joined at work by Sofie Jane, who made herself at home by the salon’s front desk, greeting customers and being loved on by Muddy Paws staff members.

With the knowledge that Sofie Jane had previously been on a poor diet, Davis immediately switched her to a nutritionally-sound, high-quality dog food to get her back on the road to good health. After a year, when Sofie Jane was due for her annual vaccinations and checkup, Davis brought her to Dr. Lauren Davied at Riverbrook Animal Hospital in Tulsa where she learned Sofie Jane was suffering from kidney disease.

Despite switching Sofie Jane to a kidney-friendly diet, helping her lose the excess weight and putting her on medication for her health issues, long-term damage had already been done. After nearly a year of dietary changes and veterinary treatment, in December 2013, Davis and Dr. Davied made the difficult decision to put Sofie Jane to sleep.

“She was so sick, she couldn’t even hold her head up or hold down water or food,” Davis says of Sofie Jane’s last days.

The loss of Sofie Jane, and the realization that a poor diet ultimately contributed to her death, now has Davis speaking out in hopes of alerting other pet owners to the importance of feeding their furry family members properly and foregoing the rich treats that can make them sick.

“I want the public to realize there are consequences to a poor diet and that you’ll see deterioration of your dog’s health if you feed them the wrong things,” Davis says, noting that pet owners all too often feed their dogs regular people food and table scraps without considering the effects it might have. “Dogs are defenseless. I believe that God gave us our pets to take care of and that we should take that responsibility seriously.”

In Sofie Jane’s case, her previous owners had fed her a steady diet of greasy, fatty fast-food chicken nuggets and hot dogs and not much else. The long-term effects of such a nutritionally-unsound diet contributed to dental issues, allergies and kidney disease, a problem that became apparent after Davis brought Sofie Jane to Dr. Davied for her checkup.

“Sofie Jane had started having GI and upset stomach issues,” Dr. Davied explains. “We did blood work and found that her kidney values were very elevated.”

Initially treated for a kidney infection, Sofie Jane was then put on a prescription dog food, Science Diet k/d formula, which is formulated for dogs with kidney disease, as well as medication for kidney failure.

“Some people just don’t care, and they feed their dog whatever they want,” Davis says, adding that pet owners should be careful about checking food labels and being aware of issues such as allergies—Sofie Jane was later found to be allergic to chicken—when feeding their pets.

Prescription dog food, such as the formula Sofie Jane was on, is often part of a maintenance program for dogs with chronic kidney disease, Dr. Davied says.

Other steps may be taken, such as periodic blood tests to check kidney function, ensuring adequate water intake, including phosphorus-binding additives to a dog’s food—excess phosphorus levels can indicate kidney disease—and carefully watching the protein and sodium content in a dog’s diet.

Benazepril, a blood pressure medication belonging to a class of drugs known as ACE inhibitors, may also be given to dogs with kidney disease, as it helps with kidney failure and conditions where excess protein is being excreted through the dog’s kidneys into the urine.

“When we do an exam, we look at a dog’s teeth, their weight, their coat and how shiny it is, and their overall health status,” Dr. Davied says. “That tells us a lot about their diet.”

Poor diet can lead to a host of health problems for dogs, some of which can be very serious or even fatal as in Sofie Jane’s case.

“The biggest thing we worry about long-term with a poor diet is nutritional deficiencies,” Dr. Davied says. “Then you also have problems with obesity, bad bones, joint pain and toxins in certain foods that can make dogs sick.”

Feeding a dog table scraps or rich, fatty foods can also lead to pancreatitis, according to Dr. Davied. Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas, which can result in abdominal pain, gastrointestinal upset, kidney failure and even death.

Most pet owners are conscientious of what they are feeding their dogs, Dr. Davied says, but that’s not always the case. What seems like an OK treat for the humans may not be so good for the four-legged members of the family, who can be very convincing with their happily-wagging tails and pleading puppy dog eyes.

“There are so many good foods and low-fat treats on the market now,” Dr. Davied says, adding that so-called “people” food isn’t even necessary for a happy and healthy dog. Some typical human foods that also are acceptable as occasional dog treats include plain, boiled or baked chicken breast without the skin or added seasonings, raw carrots and canned green beans without added salt.

When choosing food for your dogs, whether it is treats or their regular food, it’s always a good idea to check with your vet first for recommendations, Dr. Davied says, adding that owners should shop mindfully and be careful to pick the right dog food or treat formula based on their dog’s age, size and other factors, such as allergies or stomach sensitivity.

Davis, who recently adopted two rescued pups named Charlie Joe and Katherine Jane, agrees.

“Check labels, know the nutrition your dogs need and be aware of any allergies,” she cautions. “If your dogs get sick because of a poor diet, don’t expect the vet to be able to save them.”

Easter Lilies are toxic to cats!

posted April 17th, 2014 by
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Easter Lily

Easter LilyCat owners, please keep in mind that Easter lilies are very toxic to your cat!  We have learned of some recent fatalities of cats that have ingested the leaves, and have learned that even the pollen from Easter lilies can be toxic.  Please beware!

7th Annual ACVO® National Service Animal Eye Exam Event

posted March 16th, 2014 by
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AVCO 1MERIDIAN, Idaho (March 16, 2014) – Service animals including: Guide, handicapped assistance, detection, military, search and rescue, and registered therapy animals, selflessly serve the public. To honor these animals and their work, the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists (ACVO) is launching the 7th Annual ACVO® National Service Animal Eye Exam Event throughout the month of May. More than 250 board certified veterinary ophthalmologists throughout the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico will donate their time and resources to provide free eye exam screenings to thousands of eligible service animals. Registration for service animal owners and handlers runs from April 1 – 30 at

Since the program’s launch in 2008, nearly 22,000 service animals have been examined. In addition to dogs, other service animals including horses and even a service donkey named Henry have received free sight-saving exams.

“Early detection and treatment are vital to these working animals,” Stacee Daniel, executive director of ACVO, said. “Our hope is that by checking their vision early and often, we will be able to help a large number of service animals better assist their human friends.”

Ben is a black American Field Labrador who can climb a three-story ladder, unassisted. Ben’s eyesight is vital to his job.  He is a search and rescue dog from Ventura, Calif. that can be called upon at any time to rescue someone who is alive, during a disaster. Ben’s handler, Eric Darling, has brought Ben to participate in the ACVO National Service Animal Eye Exam Event for three years in a row. “Catching something early is huge!” Darling said. “This event ensures that we have the opportunity to get this exam done, with no excuses.”

The event is sponsored by ACVO and generous industry sponsors. Other non-profit supporters that endorse the event include the American Veterinary Medical Association, most state veterinary medical associations in the U.S. and Canada, the American Society of Veterinary Medical Association Executives, and other national service animal organizations.


To qualify, animals must be “active working animals” that were certified by a formal training program or organization, or are currently enrolled in a formal training program. The certifying organization could be national, regional or local in nature. Owners/agents for the animal(s) must FIRST register the animal via an online registration form beginning April 1 at Registration ends April 30. Once registered online, the owner/agent will receive a registration number and will be allowed access to a list of participating ophthalmologists in their area. Then, they may contact a specialist to schedule an appointment, which will take place during the month of May. Times may vary depending on the facility and are filled on a first-come, first-served basis.

Dr. Robert M. Gwin

Animal Eye Clinic    Tulsa, OK  74145

918-632-0508  or  800-256-6454

About the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists®

The American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists® (ACVO) is an approved veterinary specialty organization of the American Board of Veterinary Specialties, and is recognized by the American Veterinary Medical Association.  Its mission is “to advance the quality of veterinary medicine through certification of veterinarians who demonstrate excellence as specialists in veterinary ophthalmology.” To become board certified, a candidate must complete a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree, a one-year internship, a three-year approved residency and pass a series of credentials and examinations. For more information, please visit

It’s Hip to Snip Month

posted January 31st, 2014 by
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OAA Heart Logo 3

Hip to Snip 2Tulsa, Okla. — February 25th marks the twentieth annual World Spay Day, an event sponsored by the Humane Society of the United States in an effort to educate pet owners about the importance of spaying and neutering pets. During World Spay Day’s first nineteen years, participants spayed or neutered more than 2 million animals, preventing millions of surplus births and saving millions of taxpayers’ dollars. Oklahoma Alliance for Animals (OAA) is a participating partner in the HSUS World Spay Day effort, turning World Spay Day into an entire Spay Month with their “It’s Hip to Snip!” campaign.
For the 9th year, OAA has partnered with Spay Oklahoma and other mobile veterinary clinics to subsidize low cost spay neuter surgeries for low-income households in the Tulsa and surrounding areas.
OAA is asking area veterinarians to discuss the importance altering pets with their clients, as well as offer spay and neuter Last year’s campaign resulted in over 1600 animals being sterilized.
There are many benefits to having pets spayed and neutered. It not only prevents unwanted litters, it also improves a pet’s health and behavior. Deadly diseases related to the reproductive organs such as testicular cancer, breast cancer and pyometra can be prevented. Pets that have been altered are less likely to roam looking for mates. Neutered males are less aggressive toward other male animals and are less likely to mark.
In addition, pet sterilization is a key factor in reducing the number of animals that enter animal shelters. It is estimated that approximately 7 million pets enter animal shelters each year and of those, nearly 4 million are ultimately destroyed because there isn’t enough room to house them. Oklahoma suffers from even worse euthanasia rates due to our severe pet overpopulation problem. At the Tulsa shelter alone, only 35% of the animals that enter the shelter are either reclaimed by their owners or adopted. Spaying and neutering would result in fewer animals entering shelters thereby reducing the number of healthy, adoptable pets that must be housed and ultimately destroyed. Reducing intake at municipal shelters could mean an huge savings in tax dollars.
Another good reason to have your pet spayed or neutered is that it is required by ordinance in the City of Tulsa and many other communities in Oklahoma. “Spay/neuter prevents the destruction of adoptable animals by preventing unwanted litters, protects a pet’s health, improves pet behavior, lessens the financial burden on animal shelters and taxpayers, and it’s required by law in Tulsa,” says Jamee Suarez-Howard, President and Founder of OAA. “If you haven’t done so, now is the time to spay or neuter your pet. If you have, now is the time to share with others the reasons why they should do so.”


posted January 25th, 2014 by
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tips to ensure your pet’s tootsies stay healthy all season long

by Anna Holton-Dean

Paw CareThe thought of going for a barefoot walk on an icy Oklahoma day sounds painful, right? The same goes for your pet’s paws.

Kristie Plunkett, DVM and owner of Mobile Veterinary Hospital of Tulsa, says not only can icy weather be painful for your pet, but it can be dangerous. Here she shares some winter paw care tips to keep your pet’s feet warm, cozy and, most importantly, healthy during the colder temps.

Winter is tough on paws for numerous reasons including chemical burns from de-icers, frostbite, and dry, cracked pads from dry weather. Dr. Plunkett further explains why these are major concerns.

“De-icers contain chemicals and/or salt that can be very irritating to the skin and foot pads, as well as toxic if ingested,” she says. “I have seen numerous cases involving de-icer chemical burns on the foot pads of cats and dogs, along with burns in the pets’ mouths and down the esophagus.

“You can use all-natural de-icers, but most people use those containing chemicals. Pet owners can help prevent these burns and ingestion of chemicals by cleaning off their pets’ feet after every trip outside. If you think your pet has walked in de-icer, make sure they do not lick their feet until you get them cleaned off. If ingestion has occurred, wipe his or her mouth out with a wet cloth and take [him or her] to your veterinarian as soon as possible.”

While nature provides hairy feet to some pets for protection against ice, the hair can allow buildup of little ice balls between the toes, causing the pet to chew at his feet, possibly ingesting the de-icer through which he has walked.

Dr. Plunkett cautions this can lead to inflammation around the toes. “This can be prevented by trimming the hair around the toes,” she says. “I do not recommend shaving between the toes, as this usually leads to nicks and razor burn.”

Another area of concern is frostbite because it can occur in a matter of minutes, especially if the pet’s immune system is compromised (juvenile, geriatric, kidney disease, liver disease, diabetic, etc.), Dr. Plunkett says. “Frostbite can lead to loss of blood supply and nerve function to the affected areas, resulting in loss of toes or permanent damage to the pads.”

Most cases occur on the feet, but she says she has seen it on mammary glands and scrotums as the tissue is quite thin and adheres easily to the ice.

“Indoor pets do not develop the same winter coat as an outdoor pet,” Dr. Plunkett says. “Therefore they cannot tolerate the cold for nearly as long. Most indoor pets can stay outside just long enough to do their business. If you, or they, want to stay out longer, make sure they are bundled up with a pet jacket/coat and booties.”

Next up is dry, cracked pads due to winter air and walking on cold surfaces. Dr. Plunkett says dry skin can become inflamed at the least, but of greater importance is that it can lead to a secondary infection at the site of the chapped, cracked skin.

“Vaseline, vitamin E oil and lotion can be massaged into the foot pads to keep them moist and healthy,” she says. If your pet will not allow anything to be applied to his or her feet, Dr. Plunkett recommends giving an oral form as it will still provide moisture to the skin and pads.

While these concerns can be alarming, take heart, pet lovers. As Dr. Plunkett already mentioned, most dangers to pets’ paws during winter can be prevented by fitting them with booties that will protect their feet from chemicals, ice and extreme temperatures.

“Pets don’t usually care for the booties when first put on,” Dr. Plunkett says, “but after a while of walking around like they are stuck on sticky trap for a short amount of time, they get used to them.” 

Half Dog, Half Goat

posted January 25th, 2014 by
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Half Dog

By Nancy Gallimore

SATURDAY MORNING got off to a smooth start. I was about to head out the door to attend a much anticipated conference when I noticed Chip, one of our young foster dogs, doing a funny little dance across my kitchen floor.

Breakdancing? No. Trying to dislodge something disgusting that was protruding from his backside? Oh yeah.

OK, it happens. You dog people out there, don’t you dare turn your backs on me. You know you’ve at least had to help your dog free itself of a long blade of grass or something similar. This however, was no blade of grass. I’m a tough gal though, so I grabbed some paper towels and rushed to Chip’s rescue.

My rule of thumb is that if something protruding from that tender region of a dog’s anatomy comes forth easily, with just a little assistance on my part, then all is well. Resistance is not necessarily futile, but it’s not a good thing.

So, just as I raised Chip’s tail to get a closer look, he gave a push and voilà! An impressive length of some sort of material came right out. Hooray! Now I can run out the door, still on schedule.

Not so fast. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Chip doing the south-of-the-border cha-cha once again. Darn it.

You guessed it. There was another length of foreign object exiting Chip’s nether region. Sigh. Dog ownership is oh so glamorous. I gathered another handful of paper towels and gave a gentle tug. Yelp! Foreign object not budging. Chip not amused. Darn it again.

I yelled to my partner, Jim, “Hey! Chip has something stuck in his backside,” which somehow did translate into, “One of the dogs has a potential medical emergency and I need your assistance.”

After Jim and I stared down at our embarrassed patient for a few moments, we decided to call in reinforcements. It was time to admit that the “certified professional dog trainer” had not observed her young charge quite as closely as she should have. Oh, how I longed for that now elusive ounce of prevention.

Fortunately, our veterinarian is also a close friend. After a rather hysterical exchange of text messages, I learned that there was not much sense in trying to get Chip in to see her at this delicate point. The sage advice was, “If whatever ‘it’ is has made it all the way through his intestines to his colon, then you just have to wait it out. Feed him some fiber.” Great.

I glanced at the clock. I glanced at Jim. I put on my best pleading face as I looked between the two once again. “Yeah,” he said, “I’ll keep an eye on him.” Yes, he is a great guy.

I was out the door in a flash and off to my conference, knowing that our little goat in Dalmatian clothing was in very good hands. Hopefully, nature, aided by a Metamucil wafer or two, would do the trick.

A bit later, as I was enjoying a wonderful panel discussion featuring some very respected and successful authors, I felt my phone shudder and quickly checked the text message that read, “Got it,” accompanied by a photo. There was a pair of rubber gloves, a wad of paper towels and a pile of blue… something blue.

“What was it?” I queried innocently.

“Your underwear.”


Rule number one in raising a puppy is to maintain a safe environment in which you keep things put away and out of reach. My laundry basket apparently runneth over. Chip apparently consumeth. Bad dog owner. Baaaaaad.

In reality, while we can have a good chuckle over this— let’s call it a mishap—when dogs consume unusual objects, it can quickly turn into a serious medical emergency. We were lucky that things came out in the end (yeah, I went there), but every pet owner needs to be aware of steps to take if you know your little darling has been doing some creative grazing.

The most common problem when a dog consumes a foreign body is the potential for an obstruction, a potentially life-threatening condition that occurs when an object ingested by your dog is unable to make it successfully through the intestinal tract.

Even if you don’t catch your dog in the act of consuming, there are signs to be aware of that can indicate a potential foreign body obstruction.

Whether you know for sure or not Fido has consumed something, don’t take the wait and see approach if you:

• notice your dog is reluctant to eat, or is vomiting and unable to hold food down.

• see that your dog is straining to poop and not succeeding.

• notice your dog acting quiet, in pain and/or distressed in any fashion.

In these instances, seek immediate assistance from your veterinarian or an emergency veterinary hospital.

“Gastrointestinal foreign bodies are a very common occurrence in the ER setting,” says Dr. Troy McNamara, medical director at the Animal Emergency Center. “Dogs are very food motivated and will ingest just about anything.”

Dr. McNamara says he has seen everything from food items such as whole chickens and corn cobs, to foreign objects like underwear (I’m not alone!), hygiene products and, yes, even intact tennis balls.

“Cats tend to ingest smaller and more tactile objects like strings and tinsel. They are much more discriminating, whereas dogs are just… dogs,” he says.

According to Dr. McNamara, the course of treatment depends on the type of object ingested, the location of the object within the gastrointestinal tract, and the condition of the patient. “Linear or stringy foreign bodies or sharp objects, for example, can easily tear a hole in the stomach or intestines, leading to fatal infections and require aggressive treatment,” he says.

When a pet is suspected of ingesting a foreign object, it is possible that a veterinarian can detect an obstruction by simply palpating the animal’s abdomen. Oftentimes, however, lab testing and radiographs may be necessary to confirm the diagnosis.

“As a general rule,” explains Dr. McNamara, “metals and bone show up well on routine radiographs, while papers, plastics and fabrics can remain undetected and require an X-ray study using a contrast agent called barium to determine if there is an obstruction.”

If it is discovered that a foreign object has become lodged in the intestinal tract, it may require either endoscopic removal or traditional surgery to clear the blockage. These are necessary, life-saving procedures— obstructions cause great distress and can be fatal if not treated immediately.

If you are lucky, like we were, and see an object protruding, this, at least, means it navigated through the intestines. Something that is small may pass easily on its own. In all cases, beyond the common piece of grass, it is best not to try to remove an object yourself because, in extreme layman’s terms, things can get tangled up in there and pulling may cause a lot of damage.

In our case, we did immediately seek advice from our veterinarian and stayed in touch with her until we felt certain that Chip was in the clear.

That included watching him carefully for the next 24 hours to ensure all systems were functioning normally, and then keeping an eye on him for the next several days to be sure there were no gastrointestinal upsets that followed.

Now, several mornings posttrauma, I let my mind reflect on Chip’s close brush with Victoria’s Secret as I am putting another pile of laundry away where it belongs. Well, that which doesn’t kill my dogs makes me a better teacher, right?

I will make a note to review the importance of puppy proofing your home with my students. They will learn from my mistake. Yes, I will do that. Right after I find… find… DAMN IT! Where is my bra?


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