en How a Therapy Dog-in-Training is Helping Kids Cope at the Dentist  
This year Fishers Pediatric Dentistry introduced a therapy pup in training named Pearly to patients who need the calm comfort of an adorable dog by their sides during dental procedures. 
At six-months-old, this hypoallergenic Miniature Australian Labradoodle has quickly changed the lives of patients—and the staff."I thought it would help [having a therapy dog in the office], I just didn’t realize how much it would help," Dr. Misti Pratt, one of the dentists at the practice, tells petMD. 
Dr. Ana Vazquez, the lead doctor at Fishers Pediatric Dentistry, came up with the idea after seeing how happy her own pets made her daughter. Pearly, who lives with Vazquez and her family, comes into the office whenever she does and is made available to patients who request her services. The pup is kept in a separate area of the facility and is only brought to those who request her. This helps alleviate any problems for patients who are afraid of dogs.
Pearly's services include sitting on the laps of patients who are getting anything from a routine cleaning to a cavity filled. The plesant distraction of petting a well-behaved pup helps people get through the unpleasant procedures. 
Pearly stays in Dr. Vazquez's office until a patient needs her, but she keeps regular hours—like any working member of the staff. "We respect her naps," Vazquez says, "She’s still a puppy." 
"If a patient wants her and she’s on duty, we bring Pearly with one of the team members we have been training," Vazquez says. "We don’t let her run around anywhere she wants. She’s still in training." 
In fact, training has been a crucial part of this process, not only for Pearly, but for staff members as well. From the doctors to the administrators, Fishers Pediactric Dentistry has been under the tutelage of a dog trainer who helps them learn to handle Pearly in their office environment. 
Pearly, who will continue to be trained for the next six to eight months, has not only learned how to be a friendly, calming presence for patients, but she's become familiar with the strange sights and sounds of a dentist's office. Getting Pearly used her surroundings was Vazquez's top priority. 
As Pearly continues her training, the staff has already noticed a huge difference in their patients—especially young children and people with special needs. 
"Having a child sit still is difficult at the dentist. [Pearly] is not just a rewarding tool, she gives them a reason to sit still," says Pratt. "That changes the whole behavior of the patient, not just having the comfort, they know they are responsible for Pearly in their lap. It's amazing how much it has helped in the success we’ve seen with the patients." 
Of course, Pearly makes the entire office pretty happy whenever she's there. "It puts us in a good mood," says Vazquez. "How can you not be happy around a beautiful dog?" 
Image via Fishers Pediatric Dentistry 
Rescue Dog Comforts Kids Who Suffer from the Same Brain Condition
]]> dog Lifestyle & Entertainment therapeutic Tue, 29 Nov 2016 19:09:50 +0000 35080 at
Rescue Dog Comforts Kids Who Suffer from the Same Brain Condition  
Frank, a Dachshund/Chihuahua mix, has hydrocephalus, more commonly known as “water on the brain.” The condition is caused by an overproduction of fluid that doesn’t drain, or fluid that cannot be absorbed in the spine due to an obstruction.
At 8 weeks old, Frank experienced a seizure related to his condition. At the time, he was in a shelter along with his litter mates. They were adopted; however, he was at a high risk of being euthanized due to his condition. 
The Richmond Animal League (RAL) stepped in and got Frank into a foster home with the Mark family, where he thrived with their love and regular medications. Still, it was hard to find a forever family due to Frank’s medical condition, a condition that can result in costly MRIs and possibly even surgery for a shunt, which may be needed later to help drain the fluid and relieve pressure on his brain.
Finally, Stacey Metz found Frank. Metz is an administrative assistant in the Department of Neurosurgery at Virginia Commonwealth University who works with both adults and children who suffer from the same condition. She knew that Frank would be a good inspiration for others and adopted Frank last August.  
Today, the dog is in training to become a therapy dog to show children that they aren’t alone.
Toni Mark, Frank’s former foster mom, says Frank will be a perfect therapy dog thanks to his outgoing and easy-going personality.
“It’s really about the dog’s personality. The dog needs a combination of being calm and not flappable while also being very affectionate,” Robin Starr, who oversees Paws for Health therapy dog training program, told the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “The lovely thing about smaller dogs is that they can be on someone’s bed and someone’s lap. It makes it a little bit more comfortable to have more direct physical contact.”
Frank began his therapy dog training shortly after his adoption and he still has about a year to go on his training.
In the meantime, patients can request Frank to come to their homes, or they can meet him at the RAL shelter.
Frank recently met 2-year-old Dylan Lipton-Lesser, a little boy who has endured 15 brain surgeries to-date. Frank and Dylan hit it off and everyone hopes the friendship between the two will last for a long time.
“These two boys — a toddler and a puppy — come on, it’s just too much,” Dylan’s mother, India Lipton, told “Dylan is on his way to walking now ... I can just see him and Frank running when Dylan is strong enough. In the meantime, they’ll have lots of fun crawling around together!”
Image: Frank’s Facebook page.
]]> family-wonderful Petlanthropy Mon, 28 Nov 2016 16:03:12 +0000 31423 at
Finding the Right Veterinarian – For Your Pet AND for You  
Finding the right “fit” may take some time and a little research, but it can make a huge impact on a pet owner’s stress level and the health of their pet.
Here are some of the tips I have collected over the past decade on how to select a veterinarian.
Word of mouth
Before the days of internet search engines, we used to ask our friends and family for their opinions. Where should we go to eat? What’s the name of your handyman? Can you recommend a good babysitter? So why should finding a veterinarian be any different?
If you have just moved to an area, or have a new addition to your family, ask around for a good vet. Your friends, neighbors, and co-workers will give you an honest and, in most cases, unfiltered suggestion. They will tell you what’s good, bad, and just plain ugly with the vets in the neighborhood.
Online reviews
In this internet age, social-media savvy, google search engine world, we tend to look to others’ reviews for the perfect restaurant, most comfortable shoe, or even the best cell phone carrier. But take these online reviews from yelp or google with a grain of salt. Not all reviews should be trusted for their accuracy – whether positive or negative. You should first take a look at the profile of who is listing the review. If you notice that this individual either gives 1 or 5 star reviews, and nothing in the middle, their judgement may be questionable. This individual may only give reviews if they are upset with the services they receive and never recognize good service, or vice versa.
In my experience, the reason many veterinary hospitals receive a bad review is because the reviewer is upset about a hospital policy that is in fact law. They will then take to social media to air their grievance because they could not get what they wanted. You may even look to see if the review is for a particular veterinarian or for the clinic/hospital itself.
Keep in mind that not all owners will get along with all vets. We all have different personalities and tend to respond more positively to those we share common traits with.
The staff
This is the GOLD standard to finding the right vet for your pet and you. The staff works with the veterinarians on a daily basis, they know their personalities, their expertise, and what their general bedside manner is. Is this vet talkative? Do they prefer to just breeze in, say hello, give you the basics and breeze out? Has the vet been out of school for a few years or a few decades? Are you the type of owner that needs to know every single detail of the physical exam, or do you just need to know if Fluffy is healthy or not?
Don’t be shy to ask the front staff or the veterinary technicians who they prefer to treat their own personal pets, and WHY. Each staff member may pick a different vet for different reasons, but this could help you find a vet that you may get along with, feel more comfortable with, and ultimately develop a productive relationship — with the goal of ensuring your pet’s lifelong health.
If you chose a veterinary hospital with multiple veterinarians (especially if you have a new puppy or kitten and will be visiting the hospital 2-3 times in the next couple of months), request appointments with different vets. This will give you a chance to “interview” the veterinarians and get to know them a bit. This will also ensure you have a client-patient relationship with multiple doctors within the practice. That relationship is the basis for prescribing, diagnosing, and making a prognosis for your pet, and, in some instances can make getting appointments, medication refills, and other general questions addressed in a timelier fashion.
And if you should you choose a favorite amongst the group, most veterinarians will not be offended if you prefer to see one of their colleagues over them. They understand that their “cageside” manner is not for everyone and even have favorite clients of their own.
Finally, if you feel uncomfortable with the treatment your pet is receiving or with a specific veterinarian, do not be afraid to request to see another doctor or to leave the practice entirely. There are no contracts, no exclusivity deals, and there should not be any hurt feelings.
Do what works for you and what makes you and your pet most comfortable.
]]> View Mon, 28 Nov 2016 11:00:00 +0000 35040 at
Do Dogs Benefit from ‘Wild Time’?  
Ray Ray’s owner thinks her dog has a strong prey drive and would benefit from the opportunity to hunt and kill rats rather than be limited to eviscerating his stuffed dog toys, so they spend an evening with the Ryders Alley Trencher-fed Society (Get it? R-A-T-S), a group of volunteers and their dogs who hunt rats in New York City. Long story short, Ray Ray doesn’t make a kill but does seem to enjoy his evening out.
While I applaud Ray Ray’s owner for attempting to enrich his life, the way she went about it was risky, to say the least. Letting your dog off-leash to chase and attack rats through piles of garbage on the side of the street is an invitation to injuries of all sorts.
But the bigger question remains, should dogs be given a chance to explore their wild sides? My answer is, “to a degree.”
Think about. Our ancestors were perfectly suited to run down and kill prey over long distances in hot weather. Modern humans still have the ability to run for extremely long distances and hunt for our food, but most of us use our physical and mental stamina in other endeavors.
The same logic can be applied to our dogs. Even though some breeds were bred to kill rats, or even lions, we don’t need to let them do exactly that to ensure they have a satisfying life.
What all dogs need is physical and mental exercise and a chance to socialize. Your average pet will thrive with some combination of

daily walks outside to enjoy new sights, smells, sounds and experiences
trips to the dog park to mingle with other dogs and run free
playtime, training sessions, and/or food puzzles to work the brain at home

Of course, some dogs do want to do more than the average pet. This is why activities like agility trials, search and rescue, field trials, weight pulling, and, for the Ray Rays of the world, barn hunting are becoming so popular. They give dogs a fun and safe outlet to explore different aspects of their nature.
But remember, the transformation from canine couch potato to super athlete involves a lot of hard work. I recently attended the Purina Canine Sports Medicine Symposium, a meeting of experts who are dedicated to preventing and treating injuries in dogs who participate in these types of endeavors. Mike Lardy, owner and Head Trainer of Handjem Retrievers, put what these dogs do into perspective when he explained:
Field trial retrievers are endurance sprinters that routinely retrieve multiple marks and blinds requiring total distance traveled in excess of one mile with individual retrieves at over 400 yards. They travel at speeds up to 25 miles per hour as they run through cover and complex terrain, on land and in the water, in conditions from subfreezing to over 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
There is simply no way for dogs to safely compete at this level in any activity without a lot of prior conditioning and an intense focus on their wellbeing.
So, if you think your dogs need some “wild time,” go for it. Just make sure you do so in a safe manner.
]]> View Mon, 21 Nov 2016 11:00:00 +0000 34976 at
New Jersey Assembly Panel Approves Cat Declawing Ban  
According to, the bill states that "Veterinarians caught declawing a cat and people who seek them out would face a fine of up to $1,000 or six months in jail. Violators would also face a civil penalty of $500 to $2,000." 
The ban of the controversial procedure—in which the claw and, sometimes, the bony top of each finger or toe is removed—would be the first of its kind in the United States. The news has been met with varying responses from lawmakers and veterinary professionals. reports that Assemblyman Troy Singleton (D-Burlington), who sponsored the bill, said in a statement: "Declawing is a barbaric practice that more often than not is done for the sake of convenience rather than necessity. Many countries worldwide acknowledge the inhumane nature of declawing, which causes extreme pain to cats. It's time for New Jersey to join them." Nicole Feddersen, medical director for the Monmouth County SPCA, also described it as an "invasive surgery," that puts cats "at risk for pain and lameness."
However, some medical professionals, including the New Jersey Veterinary Medical Association, oppose the bill. In a statement release to petMD, the NJVMA says that because so many pet parents who are unwilling or unable to change their cat's scratching behaviors, they are "likely to abandon or euthanize their cats if de-clawing is not an option. The NJVMA believes that de-clawing is preferable to abandonment or euthanasia." They also note that at-risk pet parents (including diabetics) can not run the risk of having a cat scratch them. 
The NJVMA cites that, "Veterinarians are the animal experts. Medical procedures should not be legislated but should be left as a decision between the owner and his or her veterinarian." They also argue that those opposed to declawing "generally reference outdated medical and pain management procedures. Modern veterinary medicine now provides much-improved pain management procedures and the utilization of laser surgery have improved both the outcome and recovery times for de-clawed cats." 
For some safe and effective alternatives to decalwing your cat, read up on these vet-suggested tips.
Image via Shutterstock 
]]> Care & Safety cat cats nails Thu, 17 Nov 2016 18:39:29 +0000 34975 at
Post-Election Stress and Therapy Dogs  
In addition to the think pieces and advice being given to American citizens feeling uneasy, it seems some have been calling on therapy dogs to relieve stress and lift spirits. On Wednesday, November 8, therapy dogs were offered to workers on Capitol Hill who were feeling the emotional impact of the Election Day results. According to, one intern who petted the dogs stated, "I feel so much better now." 
Schools around the country, including the University of Pennsylvania and University of Kansas, reminded their students that therapy dogs were available if they needed them. Many of the schools who offered therapy dogs to students in the wake of the election provide this service year-round to help students and faculty relieve stress.
There have been countless studies that prove the positive effect that therapy dogs can have in reducing stress levels. In a study conducted at Virginia Commonwealth University researchers concluded that therapy dogs significantly reduced students’ perceived stress during the week of final exams. Additional studies regarding animal assistance therapy state that interactions with therapy dogs can reduce blood pressure rates and calm fear and anxiety.
Even though dogs can provide a temporary relief of tension and anxiety, Dr. Hal Herzog, Ph.D., urges that those in major distress not use animal therapy as the only means. He is also against the notion of getting a dog in order to feel better about the election results and the political changes to come. 
"There are lots of reasons for living with a pet, but getting a dog because you have heard it will help you cope with the stress of the Trump presidency is not one of them," Herzog explains to petMD. "Some studies have found that people with pets are less lonely, anxious, and depressed, but other studies have found just the opposite. And while interacting with dogs can temporarily reduce psychological distress in some people, there is little evidence that getting a pet causes long-term improvements in mental heath and well-being."
So while patting the head of a sweet and attentive therapy dog may work for some in the moment, it's important that people know the difference between wanting and needing long-term help. 
Image via Shutterstock 
]]> dog Lifestyle & Entertainment therapeutic Tue, 15 Nov 2016 17:47:39 +0000 34959 at
Oral Chemotherapy for Pets is Not a Reliable Substitute for Traditional Chemo
Countless times, owners ask me if I couldn’t just prescribe the “chemo pill” they heard about from one of several typical sources (insert any one of the following: primary veterinarian, friend, cousin, groomer, teenager worker at the pet food store, etc.). I’m the first to admit that it would be remarkable if there was a pan-cancer tablet that effectively treated a multitude of tumors, but oddly enough, in all my years of training as a medical oncologist, I never once learned about the “chemo pill.” Sadly, this magic bullet doesn’t exist.
After a few awkward seconds and a bit of further probing, I’m usually able to discern that owners are asking about one of two oral chemotherapy options: Palladia ®, a tyrosine kinase inhibitor licensed for treating a form of skin cancer called mast cell tumors in dogs, or metronomic chemotherapy, which entails administration of low-dosages of chemotherapy drugs on a continuous basis to inhibit blood vessel growth to malignant cells.

Mainstream use of oral chemotherapy is a relatively recent development in veterinary oncology. For some cancers and the patients attached to those tumors, it can be an excellent treatment alternative. Research with a few specific cancers is available, and data is promising regarding its efficacy. However, evidence based information supporting a superior effect of oral protocols compared to well-studied injectable protocols is lacking for most cancers we treat. In fact, for most tumors, the efficacy of an oral protocol is, at best, theoretical.
Owners are attracted to the option of treating their pet with oral chemotherapy for several reasons. One of the major perceived pros is the incorrect belief that oral chemotherapy is less toxic than injectable treatments. This is a problematic thought process for two reasons: one is it perpetuates the overestimation of frequency and severity of side effects seen with injectable treatment, and the second is it underestimates the potential negative effects of the oral drugs.
Chemotherapy drugs, regardless of form of administration, carry narrow therapeutic indices, and their potential for inducing adverse effects remains a major consequence of their administration.
The typical side effects of injectable chemotherapy include adverse gastrointestinal signs, including vomiting, diarrhea, and/or poor appetite, and a temporary lowering of the recipient’s white blood cell counts. These signs are the same potential consequences of oral medications as well.
Veterinary oncologists typically quote a 20% chance that a pet will display outward signs of illness following chemotherapy. This number holds true whether chemotherapy is given via an injection or via oral form.
Another perceived benefit of oral chemotherapy is that treatment is less stressful for pets because it’s done at home rather than at the hospital, as is done for injections. While I cannot argue against the concept that pets, especially cats, are most comfortable in their familiar environments, the majority of animals remain absolutely calm during in-hospital treatments. The process of administering intravenous chemotherapy is not stressful, and rarely do animals exhibit any distress from the process.
Many owners overestimate the degree to which their pets would be affected by the restraints required for injecting chemotherapy and assume the administration is in some way uncomfortable for the pet. In reality, this simply isn’t true.
A last area of misconception about oral chemotherapy occurs when owners mistakenly believe that animals receiving this form of treatment do not require monitoring. This usually relates to the aforementioned goal of keeping things as low-stress as possible. It also relates to a perception that oral chemotherapy drugs are less costly than injectable drugs because they can be administered out of office. Owners are surprised to learn that pets receiving oral chemotherapy still need to be monitored closely. For example, I recommend monthly exams and lab work for most patients undergoing chemotherapy. Therefore, owners must be aware that choosing an oral treatment plan doesn’t mean their pets are “off the hook” from spending time at the veterinarian’s office.
When you consider how little is known about the potential benefits of oral chemotherapies along with their relative newness, it makes sense that an oncologist would want to monitor your pet even more frequently than for a more well-established therapeutic plan. Cost-wise, all this monitoring means most oral chemotherapy plans are on par with injectable protocols.
What concerns me more than owners wanting to use oral chemotherapy are the primary veterinarians who offer such treatments rather than the standard-of-care injectable protocols because oral chemo requires no specific equipment or training in its administration. The physical act of injecting chemotherapy drugs requires advanced technical skills and experience. Injectable chemotherapy drugs pose health hazard risks to staff members if not properly drawn up in a biosafety cabinet, wearing appropriate personal protective equipment, and using a closed contained system. These fundamentals may not be present in a general veterinary hospital.
If a veterinarian discusses an oral chemotherapy plan, it should not be done under the guise of it being easier, less toxic, or less invasive, especially if that veterinarian lacks the necessary training or equipment to successfully administer injectable drugs. A drug that is “easier” to prescribe is not an appropriate substitute for a proven option for a particular diagnosis.
While I can comprehend why the idea of treating your pet’s cancer with a pill would, on the surface, seem like a simpler and less formidable solution, owners must be aware of the potential limitations and drawbacks of such a treatment plan. Consultation with a veterinary oncologist would be the most effective way to understand the available options and potential risks to your pet’s health.
To locate a qualified veterinary oncologist near you, visit the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine.
]]> View Mon, 14 Nov 2016 11:00:00 +0000 34955 at
DNA Clears Service Dog of Guilt for Another Canine's Death  
According to the Associated Press, over the summer, Jeb—who is a service dog for his owner Kenneth Job of Michigan—was found standing over the body of a neighbor's deceased Pomeranian. "Authorities said the Pomeranian's injuries suggest he was picked up and shaken by a larger animal." 
From there, Jeb was taken away by animal control and was sentenced to death, but the Job family wanted to prove that not only was their dog innocent, but that he was never a dangerous pet to begin with. 
While Jeb waited in an animal control facility, his family did everything they could, on social media and beyond. Job's daughter, Kandie Morrison—who rescued Jeb from Detroit—began a Facebook page, a GoFundMe page, and a petition to raise awareness about the treatment Jeb was recieving and to gain support for his case. 
As reported by the Detroit Free Press, "District Judge Michael Hulewicz ruled in September that Jeb was a dangerous dog and ordered him to be euthanized." Thankfully, that changed a month later when the judge granted the Job family 30 days to conduct a DNA test on the dog. It was discovered by the University of Florida's Maples Center for Forensic Medicine that Jeb's DNA did not match that found on the deceased Pomeranian. 
After Jeb was cleared of the charges, Morrison tells petMD that it still took the family roughly a week to get the service dog back from animal services, and says that he came home emaciated, tired, and aching from sores. Morrison also claims that the family could not see Jeb, or provide him with veterinary care when he was with animal services. "Every civil right we had was denied—we couldn’t see him, he couldn’t have a blanket or a toy," says Morrison. 
Under the conditions of Jeb's release via the prosecution, Morrison says they have built a protective fence on their neighbor's property, but they will not adhere to labeling him as a dangerous dog. 
"Jeb is good with everyone: children, other animals," Morrison tells petMD. She explains that Jeb helps her father, a veteran who suffers from auto-immune diseases. "If he falls down, Jeb will come stand by him and he can use Jeb to get up." 
Morrison says that since Jeb has returned home, her father doesn't let the dog out of his sight. She also says that she is appreciative of the support they've recieved on social media—from monetary donations for Jeb's care to signatures to ensure his freedom. "It was a long fight." 
Image via @FreeJeb Facebook  
]]> dog Health & Science Mon, 07 Nov 2016 14:41:44 +0000 34902 at
When to Get a Second Opinion from a Veterinarian  
Neighbors will knock on your door with their dog in tow, point to a wound, and ask “What is this?” They might stop you in the grocery store, whip out their phone, and ask you to tell them why their cat is limping based a four second video. Your neighbor’s co-worker’s cousin will find you on social media because, well, she heard you can help her pet.
What I’ve realized is that more times than not, what these loving pet parents are looking for is a trusted second opinion about how to help their sick or injured pet. Though I don’t encourage middle-of-the-night visits to my or anyone else’s home, I do think that medical second opinions can be very important.
Here are some tips on when to seek a second opinion and how you can help the consulting veterinarian to provide you with the most educated and accurate treatment advice.
When To Seek A Second Opinion
Poor prognosis: If your pet has been diagnosed with a serious and life-threatening illness and the prognosis for recovery is poor, seeking a second medical opinion is a very good idea. A different veterinarian, perhaps a specialist, may be able to offer different treatment options that will provide a different or better prognosis.
Complicated or expensive treatment: Some conditions, such as cancer or orthopedic injuries or abnormalities, require complicated and expensive treatment. Consulting a different veterinarian, perhaps a specialist in this area or one who incorporates holistic treatment options, may be able to suggest a more targeted or less complicated and expensive treatment plan.            
Unfamiliar vet: There are a lot of reasons you may be meeting a veterinarian for the first time. Perhaps you just moved to a new area and haven’t had a chance to establish a relationship with a new veterinarian yet. Perhaps your trusted veterinarian has recently retired. Or maybe you just haven’t taken your pet to a veterinarian in a long time, only to have the wind knocked out of you with an unexpected diagnosis and/or prognosis. Consulting with a second veterinarian may give you some comfort and help you to establish trust with your new veterinarian.
Your gut says differently: You know your pet better than anyone. If your gut says that your pet is sick but the veterinarian can’t find anything wrong after examining your pet and running some preliminary tests, then seeking a second veterinary opinion may be a good idea.
The opposite, however, is rarely true. If your veterinarian says your pet is sick, it most likely is. You may still want to seek a second opinion to confirm the diagnosis or to discuss alternative treatment options, but that won’t change the original diagnosis.
When NOT to Seek a Second Opinion
If your pet is experiencing a medical emergency, this is not the time to refuse treatment and seek a second opinion. Medical emergencies are life threatening and the sooner treatment can be started the better the prognosis will be. In these cases, please trust the veterinarian, follow his or her advice, and get your pet the treatment that he or she needs. Once your pet is stabilized and healthy enough to come home, then you can think about consulting a different veterinarian about long-term care.
How to Prepare for a Second Opinion
When seeking a second veterinary medical opinion, there is no need to hide this from your regular veterinarian. Be upfront with your veterinarian; nearly all veterinarians will understand and will encourage you to consult a peer. In fact, I’ve never met a veterinarian who felt offended when a client wanted a second opinion.
When you call to schedule an appointment for a second opinion, ask what medical records they would like you to bring with you to the appointment. You can get copies of these records from your regular veterinarian.
At a minimum, try to bring any current test results that are relevant to your pet’s medical condition, such as blood work or x-rays. Also, it is a good idea to write down the symptoms you’ve noted in your pet, such as when the symptoms started and any other information that may seem pertinent. Having these notes with you will help you to give the consulting veterinarian as much information as possible.
]]> View Mon, 07 Nov 2016 11:00:00 +0000 34903 at
Exotic Animal Veterinarian Laurie Hess Discusses Her New Book 'Unlikely Companions'  
From her unqiue challenges at work (including solving mysterious cases involving the tragic deaths of sugar gliders in her area) to balancing her home life, Hess's memoir (which she co-wrote with Samantha Rose) provides insights into all kinds of animals and the people who love them. 
Hess chatted with petMD about her book and it's five-year journey to print. "We went through different versions and different feels," she tells us, adding, that ultimately, "It’s very much the way we wanted it to come out."
Hess—who treats everything from lizards to birds to rabbits—explains, "I always try to write about, and talk about, standing up for the notion that exotic pets need preventative medical care." 
While Hess is a dog and cat parent herself, she wants pet owners to understand that all animals deserve the same special attention and love. Hess urges that if you own an exotic pet, "You should bring them to the vet, they should have check-ups, they should have the same opportunities that dogs and cats do."
Hess also wants exotic pet owners to feel less alone in a market that's saturated with love for more "mainstream" animals. 
"There are books like 'Marley & Me' for dog owners or 'The Library Cat' for cat owners, but there haven’t been that many exotic animal stories that people with all sorts of pets could relate to," she says. "I wanted to write them a book they could identify with and go, ‘Hey, that’s exactly what I went through’ or ‘That’s how I feel about my iguana.'" 
It's that sentiment and respect for exotic animal parents that comes through on the pages of Unlikely Companions. The book not only shows the wild nature of her career, but it's a love letter to those who adore their pets—no matter what. It's the people and the pets that make Hess' job so fulfilling.
"I get to see someone whose first pet is a hamster to the serious snake breeder to bird owners who have had [their pets for] 40 or 50 years," she says. "You form very close relationships with these people. These people become like my family, it’s a nice dynamic."
Unlikely Companions is available on November 1. 
Image via Jamie Kilgore 
]]> Lifestyle & Entertainment PetsAreFamily Mon, 31 Oct 2016 13:49:41 +0000 34885 at
Norovirus Update – Can the Virus be Passed from Dog to Human?  
The symptoms of norovirus infection in people are downright nasty. Vomiting, diarrhea, fever, headache, and body aches are common and tend to last anywhere from one to three days. If you’ve lived with dogs for long enough, you’ve probably observed them having similar symptoms, perhaps even right before, during, or after you’ve been sick. Under these circumstances, it’s reasonable to wonder if dogs can get norovirus and, if so, whether the virus can be passed between people and dogs.
First, some clarification is needed. Dogs (and cats) appear to have several of their own species of norovirus that cause gastrointestinal symptoms similar to those described above. The question we’re asking here is whether or not viruses that we’ve assumed can only infect one species (or closely related species) can actually move between dogs, cats, people, etc. Why is this important? If it proves to be true, we would know that when dogs in a household become infected with norovirus, people could be at risk for infection, and vice versa.
A few scientific papers have recently been published that attempt to answer this question.
In 2012, a group of researchers in Helsinki, Finland looked at 92 stool samples from dogs living closely with people who had recently experienced symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea. They screened those samples for several different types of human norovirus and found human norovirus in “four faecal samples from pet dogs that had been in direct contact with symptomatic persons…. All NoV [norovirus]-positive dogs lived in households with small children and two dogs showed mild symptoms.”
The study’s authors concluded that human noroviruses “can survive in the canine gastrointestinal tract. Whether these viruses can replicate in dogs remains unresolved, but an association of pet dogs playing a role in transmission of NoVs that infect humans is obvious.”
Another interesting paper appeared in 2015 and was titled “Evidence for Human Norovirus Infection of Dogs in the United Kingdom.” The research showed that human norovirus could indeed bind to canine gastrointestinal tissues and that 13% of the dogs in the study had antibodies against human norovirus in their bloodstream, an indication that they had been previously infected. Interestingly, the types of human noroviruses that the dogs had been infected with closely mirrored the types of noroviruses that had been circulating in people in their communities.
While the scientists did not find evidence that human norovirus could be transmitted through dog feces, this study does show that it is at least theoretically possible for dogs to act as a reservoir for human norovirus.
Since then, there have been no further reports of human norovirus infections in dogs (or cats), but this certainly is a topic that deserves more attention. And until we know for sure whether noroviruses have the ability to move between species, it only makes sense to practice meticulous hygiene if anyone in the family develops vomiting or diarrhea.
Learn more
CDC: Making a Norovirus Vaccine a Reality
Emory University: Norovirus stays infective for months in water
Pet dogs--a transmission route for human noroviruses? Summa M, von Bonsdorff CH, Maunula L. J Clin Virol. 2012 Mar;53(3):244-7.  
Evidence for human norovirus infection of dogs in the United Kingdom. Caddy SL, de Rougemont A, Emmott E, El-Attar L, Mitchell JA, Hollinshead M, Belliot G, Brownlie J, Le Pendu J, Goodfellow I. J Clin Microbiol. 2015 Jun;53(6):1873-83.
]]> View Mon, 31 Oct 2016 11:00:00 +0000 34858 at
10 Must-Own Books For Every Pet Parent  
While every dog lover likely owns a copy of Marley & Me, and every feline enthusiast can't help but recite The Cat in the Hat, there are other books that are must-haves for any pet parent's library. 
Whether you are using them as health resources or breed guides, these books are essentials for all pet owners. 
The First Aid Companion for Dogs & Cats by Amy D. Shojai: While your veterinarian should always be your first resource for your pet's health and care, this essential guide can be there for you and your pets when they require care at home or on the go. The book not only explains what to do in the case of a pet emergency, but informs the reader, in great detail, exactly what is happening to their cat or dog and the steps to take to give your pet the aid he or she requires. 
Encyclopedia of Dog Breeds by D. Caroline Coile Ph.D.: With more than 150 American Kennel Club-specified breeds covered, dog owners will be able to use this as a reference for their own dogs, including their history, temperaments, and grooming needs, among other facts. It's also a pretty great educational tool for learning about all kinds of canines. 
Encyclopedia of Cat Breeds by J. Anne Helgren: Much like the Encyclopedia of Dog Breeds, this must-have book for any cat parent or cat enthusiast will help you learn about 45 different feline breeds and covers everything from their coats to their claws. What makes this encyclopedia so good is that it works as a guide for people interested in becoming cat owners, and helps in narrowing down which breed will work best for a potential new cat parent's lifestyle. 
Feed Your Best Friend Better: Easy, Nutritious Meals and Treats for Dogs by Rick Woodford: Part-cookbook, part-healthy living manual, Rick "The Dog Food Dude" Woodford's book gives pet parents the opportunity to make and bake everything from cookies to "Puppy Pesto" for their canines. 
Cooking for Two—Your Cat & You!: Delicious Recipes for You and Your Favorite Feline by Brandon Schultz and Lucy Schultz-Osenlund: What's better than a homecooked meal? A homecooked meal that you and your cat can feast on. This book is filled with delicious, easy recipes that will leave pet parents as satisfied as their purring (and contently full) kitties. 
How Dogs Think: What the World Looks Like to Them and Why They Act the Way They Do by Stanley Coren: If you've ever pondered what is going on inside your adorable canine's brain, this insightful book will get you into the perspecitve of your pooch. By better understanding your dog's behaviors and mindset, it allows you to be a better, more intuitive, and understanding pet parent. 
The Cat Behavior Answer Book: Practical Insights & Proven Solutions for Your Feline Questions by Arden Moore: As funny and relatable as it is educational, Moore's book gets into the psyche of cats and allows pet parents to gain a better understanding of their feline's oft-baffling behavior. Not only will this book make you appreciate just how unique cats are, but it will make your love as their pet parent grow, too. 
The Merck/Merial Manual for Pet Health by by Merck Publishing and Merial (Author), Cynthia M Kahn BA MA (Editor), Scott Line DVM PhD DACVB (Editor): Pet parents aren't just moms and dads to cats and dogs, of course. For the pet parents who take care of everything from fish to horses and reptiles to rabbits, this book covers all bases for every type of animal lover. 
Herbs for Pets: The Natural Way to Enhance Your Pet's Life by Gregory L. Tilford and Mary L. Wulff: Whether or not you provide your pet with a holistic diet or lifestyle, this book is an invaluable resource for pet parents who want to provide herbal remedies, in addition to veterinary care, for everything from anxiety and skin problems to arthritis. 
When Your Pet Dies: A Guide to Mourning, Remembering and Healing by Alan D. Wolfelt PhD: Tragically, losing a beloved animal is something every pet owner will go through, but your time of pain and reflection is made easier with the help of this book. Not only is Dr. Wolfelt's book compassionate and caring, but it gives those going through this tremendous loss a practical guide on how to heal. 
Image via Shutterstock 
]]> Lifestyle & Entertainment Fri, 28 Oct 2016 15:34:18 +0000 34884 at
Understanding Feral Cats and Urban Relocation Programs  
The care of feral cats is a unique and important one, and now some cities are stepping up to allow these felines tto hrive in their environments while helping the communities where they reside. Take Chicago, where Tree House Humane Society—a no-kill shelter with a trap, neuter and release (TNR) program—uses feral cats to help control a rat problem in an Evanston apartment complex.
According to the Chicago Tribune, cats have been controlling a once-massive rat problem at the residence buildng. The cats "are micro-chipped, tagged and fed twice daily by a group of roughly 10 volunteers." The Tribune states that the cats have drastically reduced the number of rats at the apartment complex.
Peter Nickerson, the manager of the Tree House Humane Society’s Cats at Work Program, tells petMD that while it is ideal for any feral cat to be taken back to the same location after TNR, "sometimes it is unethical or unsafe to return them to the place they were trapped." For instance, if a feral cat's caregiver dies, or there's an immediate physical threat to the cats, the Cats at Work Program relocates the felines to a safe, new location. 
In Chicago there was a business and residential need to deal with rat issues, and with that, the Cats at Work Program came to fruition. Nickerson explains that the cats are given a 28-day period to get used to their new surroundings and put on a new feeding schedule—which gives them initiative to stay on or near the property. "There’s no guarantee the cats will stick around, but you can mitigate it by providing the best you can." 
When the cats do stick around at their new "home," it's bound to keep the rats away. Nickerson says that if a feral cat does leave an area, the rats will return in a 24-hour period. 
However, not all community organizations agree that caring for the feral cats and allowing them to prey on small rodents like mice is a good idea.
In a Facebook post, the Evanston North Shore Bird Club asked its followers to oppose a bill that would use funds to support TNR programs in the state of Illinois, stating: "These programs are bad for bird because they involve feeding the cats, which results in very large concentrations. Cats are the largest human-related cause of mortality for birds."
Chicago isn't the only city making headlines for these kinds of initiatives. In New York City, feral cats aided in stopping a rat infestation at Manhattan's Jacob Javits Convention Center. 
But according to the NYC Feral Cat Initiative (NYCFCI)—which is part of the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals—they do not use cats specifically for rodent control and the cats were not put there intentionally. 
In a statement released to petMD, Steve Gruber, director of communications for the Mayor's Alliance for NYC's Animals, said: "The NYCFCI would never place a cat on the street for the purpose of providing rodent control. Our express mission is to have as few cats living on the streets as possible. The very rare person who offers to adopt a feral cat or colony in need of relocation must pass an application process showing they wish to provide compassionate daily care to the cat or colony at-risk, and are not merely looking for 'mousers.'" 
The NYCFCI runs safe and efficient TNR programs with the help of more than 6,000 volunteers, who do their part to sterilize, feed, vaccinate, and monitor feral cats. The Javits Center offered to host a colony of cats, and soon after, NYCFCI needed to relocate an already existing group of street cats from a dangerous area. The group knew that several feral cats had already lived safely at the north end of the Javits Center for more than ten years and felt comfortable relocating the new group to the area. And when it comes to relocating groups of feral cats, the NYCFCI says it's not an easy thing to do. 
"These new cats were successfully relocated from danger to safety and released at the Javits Center after a three-week period of confinement onsite for habituation after confirming their comfort level in an area with heavy traffic and loud noise," said Gruber. "As it turned out, the new cats have helped to control the rodent population at the south end’s loading docks, but that would not have been sufficient reason for our placing them there. They had been offered a permanent home, not conditional to their performance as rodent deterrents."
However, the NYCFCI points out that feral cat colonies that are monitored and carefully taken care of can be efficient, when done properly and ethically. "It is true that neighborhoods and areas hosting spayed/neutered community cat colonies managed through TNR do enjoy the collateral benefit of a non-toxic rodent deterrent," said Gruber. "The scent established by hosting and feeding cats regularly in one place is what keeps the rodents away. Breeding female rats will move away from an area inhabited by resident cats that would clearly be a danger to their litters. When the breeding females move out, the male rats follow." 
Image via Shutterstock 
]]> cat cats Strange But True Wed, 26 Oct 2016 13:47:17 +0000 34864 at
Alternatives to Declawing Your Cat  
But that doesn’t mean problems associated with cat claws have disappeared. Thankfully there are far better ways to deal with cat scratching than declawing.
The first thing we have to accept is that cats are going to scratch at things. It is a perfectly normal feline behavior. Our goal is not to stop the scratching but to direct it toward appropriate surfaces and to reduce the damage that might occur if a cat strays from those surfaces. Here are five alternatives to declawing that actually work.
1. Invest in Scratching Posts… Lots of Scratching Posts
Cats need to scratch, but they can be rather finicky about what they deem worthy of their attention. Some cats prefer scratching on carpet, others like the feel of corrugated cardboard, wood, or rope. Some cats want to scratch vertically and others favor horizontal surfaces. Buy several different types of scratching posts and scatter them around your home near the areas where your cat spends the most time scratching. As you get a feel for your cat’s preferences, you can switch entirely to the types of posts that are getting the most use.
Also, your cat should never have to make much of an effort to reach an appropriate surface on which to scratch. Keep a scratching post in every room where your cat spends significant amounts of time.
2. Keep Your Cat Away from the Old Favorites
Prevent access to the areas where your cat has been scratching inappropriately. Keep doors shut to these rooms whenever possible. Two baby gates stacked on top of each other can do the trick in a pinch. Electronic pads that deliver a harmless zap when stepped on (e.g., ScatMat) are another good option. Place the pad directly in front of the problem area so your cat can no longer stand or sit where he usually does to scratch. You can also make the old scratching surfaces unattractive to your cat. For example, cover the corner of your sofa with double sided tape or aluminum foil.
3. Trim Your Cat’s Nails
Learn how to trim your cat’s nails, and do so at least once a week. Using a nail trimmer with sharp blades will make the process more comfortable for your cat. Make sure you praise and reward her when she cooperates. When you bring home a new kitten, start trimming nails immediately so the process becomes routine.
4. Use Nail Covers
Rubbery nail covers (e.g., Soft Paws) can be a good option for some cats. You can either learn how to apply them yourself (you do have to trim the cat's nails before every application) or make an appointment with your veterinarian. Nail covers generally last between four and six weeks before they have to be replaced.
5. Train Your Cat
If you catch your cat in the act of scratching somewhere he shouldn’t, you can loudly tell him “no” or make another startling sound to stop the behavior, but do not physically reprimand him in any way. Positive reinforcement is always better than punishment, so when you observe your cat scratching on his post, don’t miss the opportunity to praise him or give him a little treat for doing the right thing.
How to Trim Cat Nails
How to Keep a Cat from Scratching the Furniture
]]> View Mon, 24 Oct 2016 11:00:00 +0000 34853 at
Veterinarian Who Killed a Cat With Bow and Arrow is Suspended For One Year  
In the disturbing post that accompanied the photo, Lindsey wrote, "My first bow kill lol. The only good feral tomcat is one with an arrow through its head! Vet of the year award… gladly accepted."
Lindsey wasn't named vet of the year, rather, according to People, she was fired by her employers at Washington Animal Clinic in Brenham, Texas. (petMD reached out to Washington Animal Clinic, who declined to give a statement regarding the matter.) 
Two months after the case came to light, a grand jury in the state capital ruled that no criminal charges would be filed against Lindsey because there was "insufficient proof," according to People. But a complaint to the Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners led to an investigation and hearing regarding Lindsey's ability to practice veterinary medicine in the state.
On Tuesday, the Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners ruled that Lindsey would be suspended from practicing medicine for a year and would be on four years of probation following the year-long suspension. She was also ordered to conduct 100 hours of community service and take part in animal welfare training. 
The ruling has upset many animal activists—and welfare organizations like the Animal Legal Defense Fund—who want justice for the feline. In Lindsey's original Facebook post, the veterinarian justified the killing of the cat because she believed it to be feral. But feral cat advocates stress the importance of respecting and taking care of community cats. "These cats are absolutely not a danger,” Audrey Stratton, clinic supervisor at San Diego’s Feral Cat Coalition, tells petMD's sister site PawCulture. According to, the feline killed by Lindsey was allegedly not a feral cat at all. The newspaper reports that the cat was named Tiger and belonged to a neighbor.  
A statement on the ALDF website reads, "The Animal Legal Defense Fund is deeply disappointed by the Veterinary Board’s decision to only temporarily suspend Kristen Lindsey’s veterinary license. This slap on the wrist pales in comparison to the egregious felony cruelty that Ms. Lindsey committed against a defenseless cat. Allowing Ms. Lindsey to continue to practice veterinary medicine in the future puts animals in the community at great risk, and taints the good name of the trusted veterinary profession." 
The ALDF tells petMD that "our attorneys are looking into additional legal options" against Lindsey. 
Image via Shutterstock 
]]> cat Strange But True Wed, 19 Oct 2016 18:05:29 +0000 34856 at
Screwworms Outbreak in Florida: What Pet Parents Need to Know  
According to the USDA, the New World screwworm was detected in Key deer in a wildlife refuge in Big Pine Key, Florida—which has since been declared an agircultural state of emergency. Screwworms are fly larvae (maggots) that feed off of the flesh of living animals. "A major concern for the US is agriculturally important species such as cattle, sheep, goats, horses, and pets such as dogs and cats—and even people," says Michael J. Yabsley of the University of Georgia's College of Veterinary Medicine. "Birds are less commonly infested but can be hosts as well."
The screwworm, which thrives in warmer climates, enters through a wound, break, or cut in the skin of an animal. "Female flies, about the size of houseflies, lay their eggs in and around the wounds or mucous membranes," Yabsley says. "Once the eggs hatch into larvae, they begin to ingest tissues. This is why these screwworms are so devastating—unlike other maggots that feed on dead flesh or animals, these maggots ingest live tissue."    
Dr. Douglas Mader, MS, DVM, of Marathon Veterinary Hospital in Marathon, Florida, notes that a screwworm infection in pets and animals is "very painful" and may emit a foul odor and/or ooze fluid. Maggots will be present in the wound and must be removed for the animal to heal properly. If an animal has been infected by screwworms, veterinary care is urgent, as the infection could be life-threatening. Depending on the extent of the wounds, veterinarians will help by eradicating the maggots and giving the animal the proper medication to heal. 
"If it’s a minor wound, we can use a local anesthetic, numb the area with novocaine or lanacaine, and then clean the wound out," Mader says. However if the wound is extremely deep, Mader explains that surgery is often necessary to cut away the dead tissue and remove all the maggots."[Pets] are put on medication to kill any maggots that may have been missed," he says. 
Still, as scary as screwworms may be, Mader urges pet parents not to panic and to simply take proper precautions. "[Screwworms] are not going to come out of nowhere and attack a healthy animal." 
That's why prevention is key. Keep wounded pets and animals indoors and away from flies if possible, says Mader. "If your pet has any wounds, and you have to take it outside, cover the wounds so a fly can’t get to it," he says. If the animal does need to be outside for any period of time, Mader suggests visiting a veterinarian so that proper dressing can be applied to the wound site.
The USDA is currently working to eradicate the screwworms from the Florida Keys. 
Find out how to treat minor dog wounds at home: How to Treat Dog Wounds
Image via Shutterstock 
]]> Health & Science Mon, 17 Oct 2016 13:16:31 +0000 34852 at
Why You Should Always Thank Your Vet Tech  
But vet techs need also to learn about most, if not all, animal species – including cats, dogs, horses, ferrets, rabbits, mice, birds, etc. Yes, it may sound super human, but vet techs are their own form of super hero. Veterinary technicians work side-by-side with veterinarians, veterinary assistance and veterinary client care coordinators to ensure your pet receives the highest level of medical care.
Because You Only Live Once
Most technicians have entered the veterinary field after a lifelong love of animals. For many of us, this is our second, or even third career. I had plans of becoming a music teacher and was even on a full tuition scholarship to Arizona. Amy McKenzie, a former coworker of mine and a licensed veterinary technician (LVT) from the VA area, was a social worker (with a masters of social work) before she made the leap into veterinary medicine. Amy and I were similar in that we both felt the jobs we initially went to school for were not our “calling.”
Amy was forced into unsafe situations doing house calls as a social worker, and felt she burned out quickly. I was dealing with injury, uncertainty and a diminishing passion for music. We both realized that we should follow our hearts and join a profession we were passionate about, and felt we could make a real difference, serving as voice for those who could not speak for themselves.
Why We Love Our Jobs
There have been days I have left the vet clinic covered from head to toe in fur and every bodily fluid imaginable. I have also been bitten, scratched, tossed around, hit in the head, growled and/or hissed at, dragged across a treatment room, and have stayed so busy that I was unable to eat, drink or urinate for hours. I have cried, laughed, screamed in fear, yelled in anger and every other emotion all in a single shift, but I wouldn’t change a thing.
Some of the best stories are from situations we never considered “weird.” Becky Mossor, a registered veterinary technician (RVT) from Wilmington, NC had a chance to make three sheriff K9 officers “look like sissies.” She, along with a very petite staff member, were able to carry a large great dane into the clinic, shaming the officers with their impressive weight-lifting skills.
Pets have a wonderful way of making our lives better, decreasing our blood pressure, helping us to heal and inspiring us to laugh. The fact that vet techs have the ability to keep these precious little lives healthy and happy, is all the reward we need. We don’t need a “thank you” or “great job,” usually just a lick on the face or a purr in the ear will do.
We Receive More Than We Give
Animals do not judge, they do not hold grudges and they love unconditionally.
Naomi Strollo, an RVT from Cleveland, OH, vividly remembers the passing of a patient she and her team tried desperately to save. A dog was savagely stabbed by his owner over 20 times. The pup entered Naomi’s clinic wagging his tail, and she stayed at the clinic till 4 am trying to save him, but sadly without success.
She remembers this case because of the dog’s ability to still wag his tail and trust humans, despite the horrible things his owner did to him. We have all been there, witnessing cases that break our hearts, diminish our faith in humanity and bring into question our ability to trust. We all remember that single case that broke our hearts, made us love again, or brought us to tears from laughter. Vet techs have the unique ability to walk out of room where a geriatric dog took his last breaths, then into the next exam room to welcome the new 12-week-old puppy to the practice. We witness the odd, the crazy and the unexplainable during each work shift. But most of all, we are human, and we have a large capacity for love and compassion. Veterinary technicians are here to help you and your pet, we listen without judgment, heal with compassion, and love without limits.
This week (October 16- 22) is National Veterinary Technician Week. The American Veterinary Medical Association dedicates the third week in October to recognize and, “honor (vet tech’s) commitment to compassionate, high-quality veterinary care for all animals.” If you get the honor to meet your veterinary hospital’s techs, say “thank you.” It will mean the world to them and give them strength to face the next adventure. 
]]> View Mon, 17 Oct 2016 04:00:00 +0000 34844 at
New Tests Will Be Underway For a Serious Disease That Impacts Shar-Peis  
According to Cornell University's College of Veterinary Medicine, SPAID is "characterized by recurrent symptoms of inflammation: fever; swollen, painful joints; a condition that causes bubbles containing a clear, jellylike substance on the skin; ear problems and kidney failure." Sadly, there is no cure, vaccine or known cause for the disease, which roughly 20,000 Shar-Peis suffer from.
However, new testing regarding SPAID will be conducted at Cornell, which will identify dogs that are more likely to develop the symptoms of the disease. "The new test, using droplet digital PCR (ddPCR), measures the number of copies of the faulty gene in individual Shar-Pei."
As the Director of Molecular Diagnostics at the AHDC, Amy Glaser, DVM, PhD, explains to petMD, "identification of gene structure of an individual animal will allow an owner to understand if their dog has an elevated risk for developing one ore more of the SPAID-associated clinical syndromes. Dogs at high risk can be identified and breeding to other dogs that would produce offspring at high risk can be avoided."
So, how, exactly, will this be determined? "Blood samples from dogs can be collected and submitted for testing," Glaser says. "The DNA is extracted and the copy number of the allele (gene) associated with an increased risk of developing SPAID with increasing copy number is determined. Results are returned with an interpreted statement to help owners and veterinarians."    
While no date has been set for the testing yet, Glaser assures that  for pet parents of Shar-Peis, "links will be provided to submission information and samples will be accepted for testing. We are working hard to be able to offer this assay to the community as soon as possible."
]]> dog Health & Science Fri, 14 Oct 2016 16:40:58 +0000 34851 at
Mars Recalls Select Cesar Classics Wet Dog Food Due to Production Issue  
The Cesar Classics recalled products were distributed throughout the U.S. and could have been purchased individually or as part of a variety pack.
Affected products can be identified with a “Best Before” date of 080418 (August 4, 2018) and 080518 (August 5, 2018).
Recalled products purchased individually will have the following information printed on the side of the tray:

Click for larger view
The recalled Cesar Classics Filet Mignon Flavor dog food can also be found in variety packs with the following lot codes:


See picture below for an example of where to find a lot code on a Cesar Classics tray:

According to a press release issued by Mars Petcare, the hard white pieces of plastic entered the food during the production process.
“While a small number of consumers have reported finding the plastic pieces,” the press release adds, “to date, we have not received any reports of injury or illness associated with the affected product.”
Mars Petcare US is encouraging people who have purchased the affected product to discard the food or return it to the retailer for a full refund or exchange.
Pet owners who have questions about the recall can call 800-421-6456 between the hours of 8:00 am to 4:30 pm CST, Monday through Friday, or from 8:00 am to 12:00 pm CST, on Saturdays. Visit for more information. 
]]> Alerts & Recalls Mon, 10 Oct 2016 18:37:46 +0000 34832 at
Is it the Veterinarian’s Responsibility to Provide Affordable Health Care?  
One case in particular sticks out: AJ, a one year old pup who had been vomiting for several days came to see me. We are always concerned about foreign bodies in young dogs, and I thought I might have felt something when I palpated his abdomen. I recommended x-rays, which the owner said they didn’t have money to do; they just wanted some nausea medications.
I understood their limitations, but I was still incredibly nervous about sending them home with the knowledge that AJ might have something life threatening in his abdomen and would prefer that they save their money for surgery if necessary.
As an employee, I could no more give away services than a Macy’s employee could give you a pair of shoes. To do so would be stealing, and could get me fired. But for my own peace of mind, I took an x-ray anyway to make sure AJ didn’t have a ball in there. I spoke to the practice manager and explained the situation, offering to have the cost taken out of my paycheck (she found a way to cover it from our angel fund).
Secure in the knowledge that AJ would probably be OK with a little rest, I went back in to discuss his discharge with the owners. Before I could open my mouth, the owner looked up from his iPhone and laid into me: “If you cared you would have done x-rays for free! It doesn’t cost you anything! You’re a terrible vet and you’re only in it for the money!”
And when I told him what we had done, all he had to say was, “Well that’s exactly what you should have done.” Then he left.
All services cost something. The technician who took AJ’s x-ray draws a salary, as do I for the time I spent interpreting it. The machine itself costs money to maintain, as does the software system where we store the images. Were we to donate services to all who wanted and needed it, we would be out of business in a matter of weeks. AJ’s owner, who was holding a $700 piece of electronics in his hand, made the choice not to make his pet’s care a priority but was happy to leave me and the other wonderful clients who contributed to our angel fund to pay the bill instead. He never did thank us.
In that particular emergency hospital I would often spend over half my time during a shift calling charities on behalf of clients, trying to help them fund lifesaving care, and taking me away from a whole lot of other sick pets who needed my help. I wish I could say that was an uncommon occurrence but it happens all the time, and it’s a major contributor to veterinary burnout. It broke my heart to not be able to perform tests or procedures due to cost, and I cried many nights.
I do understand that veterinary care is expensive, oftentimes prohibitively so. Those high costs reflect an increasing demand for high-tech diagnostics and care rivalling that of human hospitals—though I would challenge anyone who thinks our fees are out of control in comparison to that of human hospitals, where a single exam in the ER can run you thousands of dollars.
I understand that the cost of care is a problem for many people. On the one hand, I don’t think it’s an issue that should be left to individual veterinarians to figure out, nor should they be in the habit of floating loans to clients who 90% of the time never pay them back. On the other hand, I think there are many ways our profession, along with owners, can work together to make veterinary care more affordable, and as an industry, I’d like to see us be proactive in helping you.
From an industry standpoint, I support the many veterinarians who are trying to make affordable care options available by partnering with financial services who can help provide payment plans for clients. It is simply not feasible for individual practices to hope clients will pay them back, but we are seeing a number of businesses that can help make that happen. While we can’t be in the business of both providing and funding pet care, continuing to explore these partnerships can result in increased access to care benefits for everyone.
As an owner, please understand that you have a proactive role to play as well. Pet insurance is quite often a literal lifesaver. In times of catastrophic injury or illness it can be the difference between life and euthanasia, and there are hundreds of insurance options out there.
We also rely on you to convey your constraints to us so we can work with you. We all understand that you just might not have hundreds of dollars available at a moment’s notice. While I cannot change what our costs are, I promise I will do my best to make the most of what we have. That might mean pursuing diagnostics in stages, or trying a course of medication instead. At the end of the day, we are all trying to do our best by you.
If I wanted to be wealthy, there are about 500 other jobs I could have chosen that make more sense than this one. I still wouldn’t change it for the world, and I will always work as hard as I can to make lives better for pets and the people who love them.
How to Perform the Heimlich Maneuver if your Dog is Choking
Emergency: Swallowed Objects in Dogs
Image via Shutterstock 
]]> View Mon, 10 Oct 2016 11:00:00 +0000 34830 at