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Ask The Doc

posted February 15th, 2016 by
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Ask The Doc

Gary Kubat, DVM / Veterinary Emergency & Critical Care Hospital BluePearl Oklahoma City
Q: I live near a location where the emergency sirens blow every Wed-nesday at noon. My Lab puppy, who has never heard this sound before, has started running outside and howling when he hears the noise. Why does he do this, and are the sirens hurting his hearing?
A: Ahhh… another great mystery of canine behavior that can only have a definitive answer when we learn to speak “dog” (and they learn to speak back). We may be disappointed in the canine’s answer as it is probably not as interesting or mysterious as it appears.
The general consensus is that the sirens are interpreted by your pet as another canine howling; hence, the natural response is to answer back in the instinctual language that is heard. This same reasoning could also apply to barking as it is heard progressing through a neighborhood. The howling may communicate a location, sex, dominance status—we simply do not know for certain, but it is likely not complicated.
Perhaps some dogs just enjoy the vocalizing! Someday a behavioral researcher with the time and funding may find a way to conduct fMRI tests on howling dogs to see which parts of the brain are activated and functioning just prior to the initiation of the vocal response; then we might have some insight into the reason.
It is unlikely that the sirens are causing discomfort. Observe dogs that are howling; they do not exhibit the expected signs of pain or fear. They do not try to run or hide; they do not tuck their tails or lower their ears or heads. Just as your dog, some try to run toward the sound outside rather than away.
Two of the greatest and most enjoyable sounds in nature are the howling of a wolf and, for those of us in Oklahoma, the howling-yapping of a pack of coyotes in response to sirens (it certainly serves to locate the pack!).
Meanwhile, here is another pack behavior to ponder. Why do some municipalities test storm sirens on Wednesday and others do it on Saturday? And who picked noon as the time?

Q: My dog has “hot spots” no matter what time of the year. I can’t clear them up. Any suggestions?
A: Hot Spots (more expensive-sounding synonyms are: acute moist dermatitis, pyotraumatic dermatitis, or just moist eczema) are always initially a problem of self-trauma. A focal itch or inflammation is scratched and rubbed until the skin becomes even more inflamed. This induces more itching, initiating a self-traumatizing progressive cycle. The lesion can become very large even in a few hours. At this point the lesion is painful to touch, and many dogs will require sedation just to clip and clean the wound to allow topical treatment.
The location of the lesion is often a clue as to the cause of the originating itch or lesion. For example, if the lesion is located on the hips or rear limbs, the prime suspect is flea infestation. You may only see one flea, but that is enough to start the problem. If the lesion is on the side of the face below the ear, the original problem may be an ear infection that resulted in the dog scratching at the ear area.
The hot spot skin lesion needs to be treated, but the initiating factor needs to be identified. Dogs do not spontaneously self-traumatize (exceptions exist: see acral lick dermatitis or lick granuloma). Other causes include staph skin infections; skin fungal infections; allergies, topical or inhaled, that result in skin itching; and many other factors.
Another common denominator is a moist environment, especially with a long-haired breed. The skin stays wet, becomes inflamed and itches, resulting in the scratch/rub response. Some dogs that drool heavily develop hot spots on the lower jaw as a result of constant excessive moisture. I once had a patient presented because the owner thought the dog had been struck by lightning, when in fact the dog had multiple hot spots all on one side of its body.
The dog had spent long periods of time in its dog house (with wet straw bedding) during a recent rainy spell of several days. The long-haired dog simply never dried out, and dermatitis developed, which the dog then self-traumatized. Another potential complication during the warmer months is an infestation of the lesion with fly larva or myiasis. The hot spots’ lesions are oozing serum and often smell strongly necrotic, attracting the flies. This is often a problem with older, arthritic or obese dogs that are not mobile enough to keep the flies off the lesion.
The treatments of the skin lesion include topical ointments with antibiotics and corticosteroids for the inflammation (after the lesion is clipped, cleaned and dried). Topical antiseptics may also help, as well as antihistamines. I usually dispense the topical medication as a spray since most patients are too painful in the area to allow application of an ointment. I also like to apply a topical anesthetic, such as lidocaine ointment, or an injectable anesthetic, such as Marcaine, for an instant although brief relief from the itching to break the cycle. Treating the actual lesion is relatively easy and usually responds well within a few days.
The real problem and solution is to identify the inciting cause, especially in your case of repeated episodes at all times of the year. Frankly, in Oklahoma, your problem is flea infestation until proven otherwise. If not fleas, then we proceed through the culprit list based on logically identifying the most likely cause. A skin allergy may be only seasonal, but if it is induced by household items (smoke, carpets, foods, straw in the dog house), it could be a problem year-round.
Some cases will require a skin biopsy to determine if a bacterial infection (pyoderma) or other disorder exists. If your pet is experiencing repeated year-round hot spots you need to be prepared to spend some time and effort with your veterinarian to resolve the problem.

Q: My dog got pancreatitis and almost died. It was really touch and go, and it was scary. What exactly is pancreatitis, and how does a pet owner prevent this?
A: First, let’s determine what exactly is a pancreas? It is an abdominal organ closely associated with the duodenum and liver that produces and secretes chemical enzymes that assist in digesting food. It also secretes insulin, associated with the most common diabetes. Amazingly, it does this without harming or digesting itself… normally. Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas that develops when the normal protective mechanisms of the organ are overwhelmed by pancreatic enzymes, resulting in autodigestion.
What is the cause? Anecdotally, most veterinarians (myself included) will blame a dietary indiscretion of a high-fat diet (often table foods) as the inciting cause most of the time. In truth, the actual causal agent of pancreatitis is frequently unknown. What we do know are a whole lot of related risk factors associated with pancreatitis and pancreatitis patients.
Certainly, ingestion of high-fat foods is on that list. But we have all heard the story of how the same dog has eaten the same table food many times without a problem, and the other dogs in the household ate the same thing and are having no problem. Pancreatitis is more common in obese animals (that probably eat more table food anyway, which is why they are obese). Hyperlipidemia (high levels of fats/lipids in the blood even when fasting) is associated with increasing frequency of pancreatitis.
The miniature Schnauzer is a breed often associated with hyperlipidemia and pancreatitis. But pancreatitis can also cause hyperlipidemia. Pancreatitis can also cause diabetes, at least transiently. Diabetes is also associated with hyperlipidemia, and it is not unusual for a miniature Schnauzer to be diagnosed diabetic. Which came first? Isn’t this complicated? There is more…
Some commonly used drugs have been associated with pancreatitis, including furosemide, a diuretic often used in cardiac dysfunction; if the heart is not functioning well, the pancreas may suffer from hypoperfusion or poor blood supply, which leads to pancreatitis as well). Potassium bromide, an anti-seizure medication, has been associated with a higher frequency of pancreatitis. Hyperlipidemia has been associated with seizures.
Now suppose you have an older, overweight, diabetic, hyperlipidemic miniature Schnauzer taking potassium bromide for occasional seizures, and on furosemide for mild heart disease. How do you prevent pancreatitis? Well, at the very least, be extremely careful with diet. The bacon fat can find some other use. Also, consider pet insurance.
If your pet is diagnosed with pancreatitis, it will usually be treated in-hospital at least during the acute phase. It was once believed that all oral stimulation and food should be withheld to avoid stimulating the pancreas to secrete enzymes, but current thinking is to provide oral nutritional support as soon as nausea can be improved. IV fluid support, antiemetics, antibiotics, and narcotic pain medications are usually the basis of treatment. Complications can involve the liver-bile duct system, sepsis, or in severe progressive necrotizing pancreatitis, surgery may be required to address the peritonitis (inflamed or infected abdominal cavity). Other complications can include pulmonary failure, kidney failure and blood coagulation problems. While most patients do recover, pancreatitis is not usually a 24 to 48 hour recovery. Expect your pet to be in-hospital for several days, and if complications do develop, the prognosis for recovery is reduced.
Although in some cases it may be unrealistic to completely prevent pancreatitis, you can certainly reduce the risk by eliminating associated risk factors as much as possible and adhering to very strict dietary control. You should work closely with your veterinarian to identify the risk factors you have the power to change. Specially developed prescription-only diets are very beneficial also.

Success – Redefined

posted February 14th, 2016 by
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Looking Back

Success – Redefined

 

SuccessThe Peaceful Animal Adoption Shelter opened in late April of 2015.  At that time the goal was to find new homes in northeastern Oklahoma for the dogs and cats who would come through our doors.  Six weeks later we realized we needed to redefine our mission.

 

In August we made our first transport to the Cheyenne Animal Shelter in Wyoming. This was quickly followed by transports to Boulder Valley Humane Society and Denver Dumb Friends League.  As of today, 340+ dogs and 85+ cats have found their forever homes – – almost exclusively out-of-state.  The hand writing is on the wall – we save lives via transport.

 

Sooo, when you read this (and share it with your friends), by all means do look at our web and facebook pages to see if we have available dogs and cats.  Don’t be surprised if we only have a few – if any.  However, do visit your local shelters and rescues.  In our area, they include:  Miami Animal Alliance, Second Chance Pet Rescue of Grand Lake and Pryor Animal League.  I know there are others – – the point is one of us will have the pet you are looking for – – please give all of us in rescue a chance.

 

As the Executive Director at PAAS, it is exciting and rewarding to now reach out to area municipal pounds and rescues.  Working with them, we will make a significant impact on the homeless dogs and cats in northeastern Oklahoma.  States with good (and enforced) spay/neuter laws will welcome our dogs and cats.  It’s a win for PAAS, a win for the area and a home run for the families in Colorado and Wyoming who want, need, and adopt.

 

Yes, we’ve redefined success – and it took less than one year!!!!!!

Kay Stout, Director   PAAS Vinita  [email protected]  918-256-7227

Agora Craft Market April 2

posted February 10th, 2016 by
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Agora Craft Market April 2

Hosted by Bixby North Elementary

More than 50 Vendors to Exhibit to Benefit Bixby North PTA

Contact: Kristy White (918) 638-0686

Agora Craft MarketBixby, Okla.  – Bixby North Elementary PTA will host its second annual Spartan Craft Market to benefit Bixby North Elementary on Saturday, April 2 from 9 am to 4 pm at Bixby North Elementary gym, located at 7701 E. 121st St. S. in Bixby.

The Bixby Agora craft market, Agora meaning Sparta/Greek for market place, will host more than 50 vendors at the first annual craft market. Vendors are coming from around the Bixby and Tulsa area to set up and sell everything from jewelry and candles to spring-time home décor, woodworking and kids’ apparel and accessories.

“Our community is filled with so much talent from participating individuals and businesses showcasing their hobbies and skills,” said Sarah Morgan, president of Bixby PTA. “Our goal is to raise more than $3,000 which will go toward funding of teacher grants. Teachers are given the opportunity annually to write grant proposals to request items not covered by current public school funding that will enhance the classroom experience for their students.”

Participating vendors to date include: Dimple Toes, Kiln Arts of Tulsa (KAT), Scentsy, Bix Chix, His Floral Designs, Simply Splendor Home Decor, Perfectly Posh, Matilda Jane, Younique, Roark Acres Honey Farm,  Sisto’s Stitches, The Wright Designs Jewelry, Flamingo Beads, Angel Stitches, Connie with Rodan & Fields, Barbara’s Hand Painted Porcelain Dolls, Triska Pottery, Kairos 10, 3rd Life Wood Products, Avon, Your Word Cuffs, Shabby Mac Steel,  and Share Joy Home Decor.  Plus many more.

KAT will be offering a “Make & Take” ceramic booth for the kiddies.

Admission is free to the public. Doors are open from 9 am to 4 pm. Goodcents will be selling sandwiches, drinks and other concession stand items.

For more information about the Agora Spartan Craft Market visit their Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/AgoraBNEPTA or contact Bixby Spartan Craft Market Chairman, Jackie Stevens at [email protected].

Homeless, But Not Hungry

posted February 7th, 2016 by
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What's in Your Dog Shampoo

Homeless, But Not Hungry

By Nancy Gallimore, CPDT-KA

 

She was waiting patiently, lying on the grass in a patch of early morning sun. Her head resting on her front paws, she kept her brown eyes focused on the sidewalk where a steady stream of people were coming and going from a nearby church. She didn’t move a muscle; she wasn’t pulling against her leash; she wasn’t barking or whining.

I later found out that her name is Bella. She is 8 months old. She is the pride and joy of her owner, a slender, quiet young man named Stacy.

Stacy, who was initially too shy to even look at me, lit up when I complimented Bella’s sweet temperament and shiny coat. As the big puppy climbed into my lap and lavished my face with kisses, Stacy told me that a friend had given Bella to him a few months earlier. She had been a stray puppy. Now she was his best friend.

It’s a nearly perfect “boy and his dog” story except for one small issue; Stacy and Bella are homeless. I met Stacy and Bella during breakfast at Tulsa’s Iron Gate at Trinity Episcopal Church. Iron Gate is a non-profit organization housed in the basement of Trinity. Iron Gate’s mission is to provide food in a friendly environment every day for the hungry and homeless of Tulsa, regardless of race, color, creed or religious affiliation. Hundreds of people—old, young, and entire families—come to the organization’s soup kitchen and food pantry each week.

This story is not unique—many members of Tulsa’s homeless population have pets. According to Iron Gate Executive Director Connie Cronley, it is not unusual to see a number of dogs tethered outside the soup kitchen as their owners go in for a bite to eat. While you may think that life on the streets is not a good life for a pet, a little time around some of these dogs and their owners could easily change your mind.

Bella, for example, was a sweet, healthy, friendly dog. She has obviously received good care in her young life. She was leashed to a shopping cart that clearly held all of her owner’s possessions. Among those things was a bowl, a bottle of water, a dog bed, and a gallon zip-lock bag full of dog food. Bella’s owner is dedicated to taking care of his dog.

I asked Stacy if it was hard to find a place to sleep with a dog in tow. He just shrugged and said, “Not really. We figure it out.” I asked him if it was hard to care for Bella. Again, with a slight smile on his face, he said he got food for her from the dog catchers and then he glanced across the parking lot at a truck parked on the corner.

The “dog catchers” on duty were Tulsa Animal Welfare (TAW) Animal Control Officers Jeff Brown and Pete Theriot. Together with Field Services Supervisor Susan Stoker, they formed a support group known formally as Feeding the Pets of Tulsa’s Homeless (FPTH).

FPTH was officially founded in January of 2014 when Stoker received a large donation of dog food and asked Brown what he thought they should do with it. The TAW shelter is a division of the City of Tulsa and does not use food donations for city shelter dogs. Brown, however, had an idea.

In the past, Brown and other TAW employees had distributed donated pet food to Tulsa’s homeless population at various camp sites around the city. Brown suggested that this donated food could be used for the same purpose, and Stoker quickly agreed to the idea. With that first supply of donated food, FPTH was born.

“Initially, we would pull up to a camp or to an area where homeless people congregated, and they would all scatter,” Brown said. “They would take one look at our TAW trucks and assume we were there to take their animals away.” Brown said it took time and a lot of reassurance through word of mouth to assure the homeless citizens the animal control officers were not there to separate people from their pets, but instead to help provide for the animals.

Once trust was gained, and the program began to evolve, Brown found that rather than trying to take the food to various sites, it was more efficient to have specific distribution points. Now Tulsa’s homeless citizens can count on seeing the friendly faces of these dedicated TAW employees every Wednesday morning at Iron Gate, and also on Thursday evenings at Night Light Tulsa, a downtown community outreach program for homeless and low-income individuals and families. There are no  strings attached, no questions asked. If someone says they need pet food, they receive pet food.

“Between the two locations, we hand out nearly 4,000 pounds of dog food and about 1,200 pounds of cat food a month,” Brown said. The food is packaged into gallon zip-lock bags that are easy for the pet owners to carry in backpacks. Because the food is distributed weekly without fail, people can take just what they need for one week and don’t have to try to carry heavy bags.

Visits to both distribution sites made it clear the commitment of the people behind FPTH’s mission runs deeper than just the distribution of bags of pet food. Brown, Theriot and Stoker have forged relationships with many of their regulars.

“Hey, it’s the Dancing Man,” Brown exclaimed in the early morning chill at Iron Gate. The approaching man grinned as he recognized his nickname. Brown and the Dancing Man shook hands and clapped each other on the back. Theriot was already reaching into the truck to get the food he knew their visitor needed for his pets. This welcoming scene played out over and over as people steadily approached the truck to get their weekly ration of pet food.

“We like to interact with all of our friends in the homeless community,” explained Brown. “It’s our way of having a little fun and showing them that we are here to help. There’s too much bad in the world today. If we can put a smile on someone’s face or make someone’s day better by helping them care for their pets, we will.”

At both events, Brown, Theriot, Stoker and a few volunteers helping hand out the food and supplies seemed to be at a family reunion instead of at an outreach for homeless and low-income Tulsans. Heartfelt greetings were exchanged. Friendly dogs were admired and petted.

One man asked if there was anything for a young dog that was a powerful chewer. Brown immediately went to the front of his truck and produced a sturdy bone for   the man’s dog. “We’ve handed out leashes, dog coats, toys, food and anything we think might be helpful,” Brown said. During one two-hour event at Night Light Tulsa,  in addition to handing out food,        the TAW employees also had two big boxes of donated fleece blankets to distribute to the line of people waiting to stock up on pet food.

“The FPTH program relies 100 percent on donations from individuals, veterinarians and pet supply stores,” Brown said. “Without donations, we couldn’t keep this program going. Thanks to area veterinarians, we have also been able to hold clinics to provide vaccinations and wellness exams for these pets and hope to have more in the future.” 

The value of FPTH’s efforts needs no explanation. All you have to do is head downtown to see some of the dogs firsthand. Every dog I met was friendly, appeared healthy and in good condition.

When asked if they had ever taken in any animals from the homeless, Brown was quick to respond. “We have never had to take even one animal because of neglect or cruelty,” he said. “The homeless will take care of their pets before they take care of themselves. These animals are their life.”

What is clear to see when volunteering at Iron Gate or Night Light Tulsa, is that the definition of the word “home” doesn’t always mean four walls and a roof over your head. Sometimes home is the place where you find a loyal companion who trusts you and will stick by you no matter what. Now, thanks    to some very dedicated animal welfare officers and the generosity of donors, the word “homeless” does not have to include “hungry” in its definition.

SPOT: Saving the Pets of Tulsa

posted January 31st, 2016 by
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SPOT

SPOT

Mayor Announces New Effort to Save Tulsa’s Pets

TULSA – City of Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett announced a new collaborative effort among the City, the Oklahoma Veterinary Medical Association (OVMA) and other partners with the aim of reducing the number of adoptable cats and dogs put down at the Tulsa Animal Shelter.

SPOTSPOTIn his welcoming address to the 2016 OVMA state conference at the Downtown Doubletree Hotel on Saturday, Bartlett announced the new initiative titled Saving the Pets of Tulsa, or SPOT. The Mayor stressed that many other cities in the nation have achieved goals of saving pets and that it was Tulsa’s time to do the same.

“Tulsans love their pets,” Bartlett said. “Most citizens would be shocked to learn that more 4,000 homeless dogs, cats, puppies and kittens must be euthanized each year. This program will make tremendous strides in saving more of Tulsa’s pets.”

SPOT will combine three strategies to address pet overpopulation in Tulsa: increasing City pet registrations; increasing access to low-cost spay and neutering services; and an education campaign.

“Through this effort, we are implementing some ways to make pet registration more convenient for pet owners,” Jean Letcher, Tulsa Animal Welfare Manager, said. “We are working toward putting increased revenue directly to spay/neuter education and services.”

Letcher estimated that now only about six percent of Tulsa’s pets are registered as required by law, even though the cost of a license is at most five dollars per year. SPOT will facilitate online registrations that pet owners can access from their smart phones immediately after their pet receives the required rabies vaccine. Owners can also access the system online, which can provide annual reminders.

SPOT

Data courtesy of City of Tulsa Animal Welfare

Through donations, the OVMA will be offering statewide assistance for low income Oklahomans to spay and neuter their pets through the Oklahoma Animal Care Foundation. Funds that are specifically dedicated to SPOT will be directed to qualified Tulsa residents.

“Through this fund, qualified pet owners can take their pet to a participating Tulsa veterinarian and have the spay or neutering done for only $10,” said Dr. Christine Kunzweiler, a veterinarian and SPOT founder. “Right now we are working to increase donations directed to the SPOT fund.”

Finally, an education campaign will encourage pet owners to register their pets through the City of Tulsa, make donations to the OVMA fund for spay and neutering assistance and motivate reluctant pet owners to get their pet spayed or neutered.

“Of course, it’s actually illegal to have an unsterilized pet in Tulsa,” said Letcher. “But SPOT is more about reducing the unwanted pet population so that more pets can leave our shelter alive. That’s something everyone wants.”

A Time for Reflection

posted January 31st, 2016 by
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A Time for Reflection

By Pat Becker

Every once in a while someone asks me how and why I became an animal enthusiast, a pet advocate, a dog lover. After all, I have hosted a national PBS TV series, “The World of Dogs Biography Series,” a local radio show on KTOK, “Speak,” and a local TV show on KSBI, “Dog Talk.” So when I’m interviewed, it’s often the first question asked of me.
I’ve given it some thought. It occurred to me I was exposed to the charms of animals at an early age. I can only assume it was through my parents’ compassion for—and access to—puppies and kittens raised by my grandmother. Both my sisters and I learned the value of having furry, loving companions with whom we shared our secrets, our joys and our sorrows. To hold a tiny kitten, to be aware of its vulnerability and feel the obligation for its care taught us dependability.
We also took pride in having trained our dogs by gaining their trust. My family and I have long been involved in obedience trials. As a result, the tradition has been passed down to my daughters. I began showing my Cocker Spaniel in conformation classes at a young age. I trained my Beagle in agility and freestyle and my Canaan dog in barn hunting. Likewise, my daughter Lorri achieved a CDX title on her Old English Sheepdog and had the first Rat Terrier in the U.S. to win a Master award in Fly Ball. And we’ve hunted quail with seven fabulous Pointers for years.
Out of my love of animals I have developed close relationships with the best and brightest professionals in the country, having had the opportunity of highlighting their skills with dogs on my radio and television shows. I never tire of learning new information about dog training, medical updates for animals and the all-important psychology of evolution among our animals. Passing on exciting, educational data is my mission.
My experience as an actress with 20th Century Fox in the 60s, and as a singer with The William Morris Agency, gave me the confidence to feel comfortable in the area of communication as a media professional, allowing me to further the cause of loving and caring for our animal friends.
Through the years, most of my dogs have been adoptees. God blessed me with 46 furry companions in my lifetime. Some were purebreds; some were crossbreeds. Frankly, I saw more in them than their DNA and defined them by their good character, not a breed.
After all, I’ve never met a dog who could not be trained. However, I’ve met countless numbers of people who had a great deal of trouble communicating with their dogs and other people, a fact which might account for their lack of training skills.
When any of us in the business of dog advocacy are asked the question, “What in your opinion is the most important advice you can give to someone who has recently adopted a dog?” our answer is unanimous: learn to “speak dog!” You can’t understand a dog if you don’t have the ability to communicate with him.
We can truly learn to “talk” with our dogs. Dogs study our physical movement and the energy level of our vocal activity. Then they interpret and respond to our interactions with them. Trying to understand us and how to please us are necessary efforts which ensure our dogs’ survival. Sadly, many people are often inconsistent in their physical and emotional behavior, and it makes the dogs’ job harder.
Also, we can learn to read our dogs’ body language. From the tip of their ears to the tip of their tails, their bodies speak to us. Make it a point to study your dog’s active and reactive movements. It will make your lives together so much easier! Remember every time you interact with your dog you’re teaching him something about you, himself and the world around him. Make it something good!

Many hugs!