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New radio program focuses on pet health

posted February 25th, 2014 by
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A new weekly short radio series will focus on animal health. OSU Center for Veterinary Health Sciences, KOSU and the Kirkpatrick Foundation have partnered to create Vet Met Moment which airs Wednesdays at 1:20 p.m. and Sundays at 6:40 a.m. on Uniquely Oklahoma KOSU, 91.7 in Oklahoma City, 88.3 in Stillwater, 107.5 in Tulsa and

“Public radio listeners love their pets and they love to be informed,” said Kelly Burley, KOSU Director.  “This program will be a great way for Uniquely Oklahoma KOSU to bring these two things together.”

According to the press release:

The launch of the program comes at a time when pet ownership continues to climb.  The American Pet Products Association estimates the population of pets includes 95 million cats and 83 million dogs in homes nationwide.  According to its 2013-14 annual survey, 68 percent of households own a pet, up from 56 percent in 1988, the year of its first survey.   As the pet-as-family member bond grows, so does the need for information about how to keep pets safe and healthy.  

“Our goal is to engage the audience around the powerful bond between animals and humans,” said Dr. Lesa Staubus, Clinical Assistant Professor in the center’s Veterinary Medical Hospital and host of the program. “Each week, we’ll touch on a subject that is important to animal health and hope to give listeners information that will promote excellent animal care.”

-Lauren Cavagnolo, [email protected]

Dental Dangers

posted January 14th, 2013 by
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by Kiley Roberson

Is your pet’s smile making him sick? The truth is that more than 85% of pets over age 3 suffer from some sort of dental disease. Tartar buildup on your pet’s teeth means bacteria, and bacteria leads to infections. Many pets develop heart disease or kidney disease as a result of harboring harmful bacteria in their mouths over time.

Veterinarians, like Dr. Heather Owen at Animal Acupuncture, are constantly reminding clients to provide annual dental exams and cleanings for their pets followed by care at home. “Smaller pets may need to have their teeth cleaned every six months,” Owen explains. “Larger pets need a cleaning every year. I tell people to flip their lip; if there is tartar, they need to be cleaned.”

Still, pet owners are reluctant to follow these recommendations. Some don’t like the idea of using anesthesia to put their pets to sleep during dental procedures because they think it’s dangerous. That’s why many groomers have started offering Anesthesia-Free Pet Dentistry (AFPD).

Marketing brochures show calm dogs sitting on the laps of “pet dental hygienists” who gently scrape tartar off the pets’ teeth. For anyone who has a senior pet or anyone who has lost a pet under anesthesia, this idea might seem to be right on target. But, Owen says, don’t be fooled.

“Don’t do it,” Owen warns. “You can pay a groomer to brush your pet’s teeth and check for bacteria if you want, but they are not educated in veterinary dentistry nor are they trained. This is a money making trend in the industry, and that is it.”

Veterinarians use ultrasonic scalers and sharp dental instruments for cleanings. This is one reason a general anesthetic is needed. Beyond keeping the patient from moving, heavy sedation or general anesthesia allows a more thorough procedure of the entire mouth and hard to see areas. Sedation also helps keep the pets from inhaling the bacteria as it is scraped from their teeth, which could make them very sick.

Dr. Owen says that Anesthesia-Free Pet Dentistry is not only dangerous, it’s a scam on pet owners. “The biggest danger is causing your pet harm,” Owen says. “Without sedations, we cannot take oral X-rays which are imperative in helping to assess the health of your pet’s teeth.

“We cannot protect their airway, allowing them to inhale massive amounts of bacteria. We could hurt them with the scaler if they unexpectedly move on us, and we cannot extract painful or infected teeth. In essence, it is a waste of your time and money.”

In a veterinary office, dental cleanings are followed by a polishing step that helps remove the microscopic divots from the tooth enamel and creates a smooth healthy surface. Many veterinarians also apply a barrier sealant that helps repel plaque-causing bacteria and has been shown to reduce plaque and tartar accumulation. Neither of these can be done sedation free.

In fact, without anesthesia, only the visible portions of the teeth can be cleaned. Areas under the gum line and the insides of the teeth will still have tartar and bacteria. In time, the teeth will deteriorate and become painful.

Under a safe anesthetic, veterinarians are able to probe all areas of the mouth and use tools to remove plaque and bacteria from under the gum line. This actually stops the disease process. Veterinarians also use X-rays to help find potential problem areas, and you won’t find X-ray equipment at an anesthesia-free dental facility.

If you are concerned about the cost of dentals, use the February dental discount month to help your money go further. Brush your pet’s teeth daily at home. Listen to your veterinarian’s recommendations. They are trained in this area!

The anesthesia used is safe, and the risks are minimal—more so if you have your pet’s teeth cleaned more often (less time under). Be certain to have your veterinarian listen to his or her heart and perform blood work prior to sedating/anesthetizing your pet. Ask your vet to take dental X-rays to examine along with you!

If you know your pet needs a proper dental cleaning, but the thought of general anesthesia frightens you, talk with your veterinarian. “The anesthesia used is very safe, and the risks are minimal,” Owen says. “It’s even better if you have your pet’s teeth cleaned more often, because they are actually under for a shorter amount of time.”

While no anesthetic protocol is 100 percent safe, anesthetic complications are extremely rare. Ask your veterinarian to show you the monitoring equipment and explain how a well-trained staff makes anesthesia as safe as possible.

You can also reduce the need for dental cleanings by using dental home care products designed to remove plaque buildup in between the veterinary visits. The gold standard is to brush your pet’s teeth daily. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and special toothpaste designed for pets. You should never use human toothpaste. If you’re worried your pet might have teeth troubles, here are some signs to look for:

• Bad breath

• Excessive drooling

• Inflamed gums

• Tumors in the gums

• Cysts under the tongue

• Loose teeth

These are signs that your pet may have a problem in his mouth or gastrointestinal system and should be checked by a veterinarian.
Taking good care of your pet’s pearly whites is important to his or her overall health. While anesthesia-free dentistry might sound like a good idea, the truth is the benefits are strictly cosmetic, and risks are dangerous. Keep your pet safe with regular dental cleanings at the vet’s office; that sparkling smile will thank you.


Know the ABC’s of Pet CPR

posted May 15th, 2012 by
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by Kiley Roberson

THERE ARE pet spas, pet daycares and many pet stores. But animal lovers want to do more than pamper their pets. They also want to protect them. So, the American Red Cross is offering pet first aid classes that include the ABCs of pet CPR.

“Pets are often our companions and even cared for at the same level as we would our own children,” says Kay­lene Kenner of Red Cross Tulsa. “Of course, do­ing what we can to in­crease their chance of survival during a medi­cal emergency is our re­sponsibility since they depend on us for care.”

Kenner has worked for Tulsa’s Red Cross chapter for six years. She says pet first aid is one of her favor­ite classes that the Red Cross offers. And she’s not alone; a typical class is full of animal lovers, who want to get savvy with safety procedures that could help a pet in distress.

From basic pet owner responsibilities, like spaying, neutering and administer­ing medications to managing breathing or cardiac emergencies and preparing for disasters, pet first aid courses offer infor­mation and advice for pet owners. Topics include managing urgent care situations, such as car accidents; wounds; electri­cal shock; and eye, foot and ear injuries.

The classes are three to four hours long and are taught by a local volunteer vet­erinarian. The maximum enrollment for the class is 12, and Kenner says they fill up quickly. Real pets aren’t actually allowed in class. Instead, mannequins are used to demonstrate techniques. Each pet man­nequin has a set of simulated lungs to give the student a good sense of how hard to blow and how hard to push when ad­ministering breaths and compressions on the pet. Very often, injured animals are scared and likely to bite. So, the course also teaches pet owners how to devise a makeshift muzzle. In addition to lectures covering topics like capturing and han­dling an injured animal, the day’s instruc­tion also includes video presentations.

The class only covers CPR for dogs and cats, but Kenner says the same prin­cipals can be used on other pets, as well. She also says it’s especially im­portant to know the signs to recog­nize when a pet is ill or in distress.

“Pets, especially cats, will often try to hide signs of illness until the disease or injury is very advanced,” she explains. “I recently lost my two cats, both at age 19. They hid their symptoms from me and because cats are smaller animals, their health conditions deteriorated very quickly. After taking this class I now know the signs to watch out for and can try to intervene as early as possible.”

For pet first aid and CPR, the course costs $70. The courses are offered at var­ious times throughout the year. You can sign up by going to or by calling 1-800-REDCROSS. If you can’t make it to a class, don’t worry; the Red Cross has an available book, “Pet First Aid.”

“Taking a course like Pet First Aid will give you the tools and techniques to iden­tify and treat such medical emergencies as soon as possible,” says Kenner. “Allow­ing your pet a better chance for survival.”

Learn your ABCs   To find out if a dog, for example, is breathing, watch the rib cage and see if it goes up and down. Also, find the pulse on your dog, which you can locate be­hind the pad on his front or back foot. Then, feel the rib cage just behind the left elbow. If the heart is beating, you should be able to feel it there. That’s called the ABC: Airway, Breathing and Cardiac.

Pet CPR Basics

1.) Cover and seal the pet’s entire mouth and nose with your mouth and gently exhale until you see the chest rise.

2.) Give four or five breaths rapidly; then check to see if your pet is breath­ing without assistance. If he begins to breathe, but the breathing is shal­low and irregular, or if breathing does not begin, continue giving him res­cue breaths at about a rate of 20 to 30 breaths per minute, pausing every 2 to 3 minutes to check for breath­ing and pulse. Continue until you reach the veterinary hospital or for up to 20 minutes. Beyond 20 minutes, there is little chance of reviving your pet.

Proper Prior Planning: A Must

posted September 7th, 2011 by
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View of thunderstorm clouds above water

By Stacy Pettit

Last weekend, I know many of us stayed glued to the TV or near our cell phones to check in with friends and family on the East Coast as Hurricane Irene ferociously drilled the shore. Last week’s storm should serve as a reminder to properly care for those friends and family closer to home – our pets – in the event of a natural disaster. And with Oklahoma already seeing its fair share of disasters in 2011 including blizzards, fires, floods, extreme heat and tornados, the sooner you have a plan in place to keep your pet safe, the better.

            FEMA has declared September as National Preparedness Month so what better time to gather supplies and create a plan in case the unimaginable happens to you and your family? Here are a few tips to get you started:

  1. Make sure your pets have proper tags and contact information on at all times. This will make it easier for you to find your pet in case you get separated. It is also a good idea to put medical information if your pet needs medicine on the back of their tags.
  2. Much like the kit that you pack for the rest of your family, include three days worth of food and water for your pet along with a first aid kit in a natural disaster safety pack. Other good ideas to include in this pack are food bowls, extra leashes and collars, and an adequate supply of medications that your pet might be on.
  3. Always plan to bring your pet along with you if you must evacuate your home. A pet has a much better chance at survival if he is with his owner. If you are away from home when disaster strikes, talk with a neighbor ahead of time and ask them to check in on your pet if you are not home during a disaster.
  4. Because it is a good idea to take your pet with you if you are evacuated, be sure and have a list of shelters or hotels that allow pets. If it is impossible to bring your pet with you to a shelter, check out possible places to board your animals.

 With such a wide array of possible natural disasters, you must be ready to think on your feet. If you become confused about what to do for your pets in a disaster, the best idea is to treat your pet as part of the family. After all, let’s face it – they are a big part of the family and in the end, if a nightmare hits your home, having that friend there to support you will make the rebuilding process a little easier. 

Understanding Tapeworms Like It or Not

posted July 15th, 2011 by
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By Nancy Gallimore Werhane

If you are squeamish, this may not be the article for you. Fair warning. But if you are a concerned pet owner, this is a topic you need to understand, so steel yourself and read on because frankly, your veterinarian may need your help to diagnose this one.

The topic? The mysterious tapeworm. Also formally known as the disgusting tapeworm.

So why in the world should we even discuss this parasite? You take your cats and dogs to the veterinarian for checkups, right? Your veterinarian checks for things like this. Right? Well, here’s the ugly truth. While your veterinarian can screen your pets for many intestinal parasites like hookworms, roundworms and whipworms, the sneaky tapeworm evades detection in standard screenings.

How then, you may ask, is your pet diagnosed with tapeworms? Good question. Otherwise healthy dogs or cats may have tapeworm infections with no outward symptoms. That means detection often comes when you actually see them. Yes, you. Yes, see them. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Ok, let’s sort this out. Perhaps it’s best to start at the end. Literally. Tapeworms are most often diagnosed when someone notices what appear to be little white worms either in a pet’s stool or left behind where the dog or cat was sitting. The most common description is that they look like little pieces of squirming white rice. They might also be diagnosed by the discovery of what appears to be little grains of dried brown rice or seeds around the dog or cat’s anus. Why we compare both to food items is hard to fathom, but there you have it.

According to Dr. Dennis Henson of Hammond Animal Hospital in Tulsa, these little pieces are not the actual worms, but are segments of an adult tapeworm. “As the tapeworm matures,” explained Dr. Henson, “ it drops tail segments called proglottids, that are mobile. Each proglottid is a separate reproductive unit that contains the eggs of the tapeworm. These egg packets then pass in the feces of the dog or cat.”

That’s what makes tapeworm detection a bit tricky. With other parasites, the eggs shed directly in the animal’s feces.

Because the tapeworm eggs shed so neatly packaged, unless the segments disintegrate first, which rarely happens, they don’t show up in a traditional fecal test. The culprit in the spread of the most common form of tapeworm found in our pets is the common flea. Unlike other parasites, tapeworms require an intermediate host to complete their reproductive cycle. So here’s the Reader’s

Digest version of how it works:

  • A flea larvae eats fecal matter that contains tapeworm eggs.
  • The eggs hatch inside the flea and become cysticercoids.
  • A dog or cat may then swallow a flea that contains these cysticercoids.
  • The flea passes into the dog or cat’s intestine where it is broken down, releasing the cysticercoids.
  • The cysticercoids then develop into adult tapeworms that attach to the lining of the animal’s intestine and feed off the nutrients.

This is where we come full circle back to the part where the segments containing the eggs shed and the cycle is allowed to start all over again. Isn’t nature fun?

You may think your pet is safe because you religiously follow a flea prevention routine and don’t have fleas in your home environment. According to Dr. Henson, yes, that helps, but it does not guarantee that your pet will not be infested by tapeworms. “Your pet only has to swallow one infected flea,” said Henson. “A dog who goes for a walk where other animals have been or a cat who strays from its own yard can easily ingest a flea even with flea preventatives in use.”

There is also another type of tapeworm that is transmitted through small rodents, such as mice, rats, squirrels or rabbits, that serve as the intermediate host. If you have a hunter in your midst — and what dog or cat won’t occasionally partake of a “natural diet” when opportunity presents itself — then you have yet another avenue for the tapeworm to find its way into your pet’s intestinal tract.

According to Dr. Henson, there is some good news here. First, unless left unchecked for a very long period of time, tapeworms don’t generally cause a lot of damage in pets. Second, because they must have a very specific intermediate host, tapeworms cannot be transmitted directly from pet to pet or through contact with infected feces. Without a proper host, the tapeworm just can’t exist. It’s hard to imagine, but if your pet must have a parasite, the tapeworm may be the best of the pack. Of course that doesn’t mean we love them. We don’t. So let’s discuss how to get rid of them.

Dr. Henson advises that most over-the-counter worm treatments are not effective for tapeworms. He suggests you call your veterinarian to report your find. “Today’s treatment for tapeworms is simple and effective,” said Henson. “The medication we prescribe causes the tapeworm to lose its protective layer and it is simply digested. You will not see them pass, they just basically disappear.”

The most common medication prescribed is called Droncit® and it comes in the form of a chewable tablet that is apparently quite tasty to pets. Problem solved.

Oh, and in case you are worried, apparently humans rarely get tapeworms. It is possible that you could swallow a flea, and yes, you could get a tapeworm that way, but humans are more likely to come down with a species of tapeworm that is passed through raw or undercooked meat or fish. Just a little something to think about as you sit down to enjoy that next round of sushi or sashimi. Still rare, people. Don’t panic.

So all in all, while tapeworms are truly disgusting, on the scale of parasitic infections, they do rank as fairly harmless. Now take your new knowledge, go forth and watch your pet do number two. Your veterinarian is counting on you.

Cancer in Pets Similar to Human Disease

posted March 15th, 2011 by
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KIMBERLY REEDS, DvM, recently joined Oklahoma State University’s Center for Veterinary Health Sciences as an assistant professor of oncology. She works at the Boren Veterinary Medical Hospital treating dogs and cats with cancer.

“Dogs and cats get cancers comparable to the ones humans get,” explains Reeds. “The types of cancer are very similar to those diagnosed in humans and similar cancers appear in both small animal species such as lymphoma and skin tumors. The most common cancers we treat are lymphoma and mast cell tumors in dogs.”

While attending OSU’s veterinary college, Reeds’ interest in oncology was sparked one summer working on a research project.

Dr. Kimberly Reeds examines Sahara as registered veterinary technician, Lisa Gallery, holds the dog.

“I liked being able to offer help to people who didn’t think any help was available for their pet,” she says. “Cancer is a devastating diagnosis. I want people to understand that usually there is something we can do to extend the patient’s life or at least make it better. A cancer diagnosis is no longer a death sentence. In most cases there is still hope.”

She recommends a veterinary examination when pet owners notice sudden changes in behavior or appetite, vomiting and diarrhea, the presence of a mass or a swelling that doesn’t go away or persistent pain. However, not all of these symptoms lead to a cancer diagnosis.

In animals, the protocol for cancer treatment differs from humans.

“The first option in general for animals is surgery to remove the cancer followed by chemotherapy and/or radiation, except for lymphoma. There is usually no surgical option for lymphoma so it’s straight to chemotherapy treatment, which varies in length of time for treatment.”

Depending on the diagnosis, chemotherapy may last 3-6 months or some longer-term chemo treatments may be for an indefinite time, with the owner giving the pet a pill daily.

“The side effects vary depending on the drug itself, the drug dose and the intensity of the drug protocol. Some animals experience gastro intestinal upset, but in general, dogs and cats actually handle chemotherapy pretty well.

They don’t experience the expectation that it will cure them. Animals also do not lose their hair during treatment like most people do. It’s a rare occurrence when that happens.”

OSU’s veterinary hospital offers surgical and medical oncology services.

“We are approved to use the new melanoma vaccine, which is not available in many private practices. We maintain an inventory of most of the common chemotherapy drugs as well as the new anti-cancer drug, Palladia, which is used to treat mast cell tumors in dogs.”

She notes that access to a wide variety of specialists provides for consulting regarding “each other’s cases often as a team of doctors to try to come up with the best plan to obtain the best possible outcome for our patients.”

“Our focus is on extending the patient’s life while maintaining a good quality of life.” Reeds recalls a dog she treated during her oncology residency.

“I treated a chocolate female lab owned by the nicest older gentleman. The dog had a thyroid tumor in her neck. Whenever he brought her in for treatments as he would see me walk toward them, he would lean down and say to the dog, ‘Look, here comes your BFF (Best Friend Forever), Dr. Reeds.’ I smile whenever I think of that and know I made a difference in her life and her owner’s life. I gave them quality time and hope for one more good day and that is priceless.”

Following graduation from OSU’s veterinary college, she practiced for a year in Texas, then returned to OSU for advanced study of tumors. She completed a one-year Radiation Therapy Internship at Purdue University and a three-year Residency in Oncology at Kansas State University before joining OSU’s faculty. She is currently completing an M.S. degree in Veterinary Clinical Sciences at Kansas State University and the requirements for board certification as a veterinary oncologist.

For Information:
Dr. Kimberly Reeds – (405) 744-7000