Author Archives: Steve

Ask The Doc

posted February 15th, 2015 by

Ask the Doc

Ask The Doc

Dr. Leonardo Baez / Midtown Vets / OKC


Q: You’ve always heard the expression, “walking in circles before lying down.”  Well, I rescued a mutt, and she walks in circles for about 10 minutes before she settles down. It drives me absolutely nuts. Is there anything I can do to stop this?


A: Pets can circle before they lie down as a ritual to get comfortable; however, excessive circling could be a sign of a bigger problem. The problems to consider are associated with the nervous system such as obsessive compulsive disorder, cognitive dysfunction or some types of growths in the nervous system.

At Midtown Vets, our clients are encouraged to make an appointment if any-thing is concerning, has changed or has slowly worsened. If they are just getting comfy you may consider some different types of bedding that encourage them to plop down and go to sleep.


Q: I’ve seen people shave their dogs due to the summer heat, and my dog   has a very thick coat. Is it really OK to shave them?


A: Controversy exists amongst veterinarians on the topic of shaving dogs in the heat. It seems pretty intuitive that if you shave the coat, the pet should stay cooler. However, there are no studies on this topic. If shaved, it is important to not cut too short because of the potential for sun burn.

Nordic breeds (Siberian Huskies, Malamutes, etc.) may not grow their coats back properly. The best way to protect your pet from heat-related illness is to provide fresh, cool water and shade. In breeds such as the English Bulldog or Pug (short-faced breeds), it is important to keep them indoors when the humidity and temperatures rise.

Keep in mind that humidity is just as important as temperature. If your pet does show signs of overheating (uncontrolled panting, extremely red mucous membranes, or collapse), you should find an open veterinary clinic, douse the pet with water and take them in. In some cases, the pets require sedation, oxygen and more extensive cooling measures such as intravenous fluids.


Q: I have a friend who only gives her pets heartworm prevention during the summer. Aren’t we supposed to give it year-round here in Oklahoma?


A: Heartworms are worms that live in a dog or cat’s heart and should not be mistaken for intestinal worms.  Heartworms are spread by mosquitos and can cause significant disease and, in some cases, can be fatal.  Dogs with heartworms can exhibit excess tiredness, sometimes coughing or a pot-bellied appearance. Cats will show signs of asthma such as coughing or wheezing.

If there are no mosquitos to spread the disease, then prevention is not necessary such as in locations like Arizona. However, in Oklahoma given the variability of our climate, it is recommended that heartworm prevention be given year-round. At Midtown Vets, in most canine cases we recommended a product that provides six months of heartworm protection with a single injection. For kitties we recommend a monthly topical year-round. Keep in mind that yearly heart-worm screening tests are recommended for all dogs, and if not on heartworm prevention, testing is recommended every six months.

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Training 911 – Stop the Jumping!

posted February 8th, 2015 by

Training 911

Training 911

by Khara Criswell, MA, CPDT-KSA, CNWI

STOP THE JUMPING! You come home from work, and your dog is so happy to see you, he leaps into the air and hugs you. You then realize his paws are covered in mud or something worse.

Instead of requesting a sit or touch, you yell at the dog for greeting you. Maybe you yell “Down” or “Get away!” but the only thing the dog hears is the tone and inflection in your voice. What is a responsible dog owner to do to eliminate the jumping?

There are a number of ways you can teach your dog not to jump. Remember, do not hit the dog or step on the dog. When you start training, you should start with the highest value reward first—for most dogs, a treat or a toy. You can take away the treat and use other rewards when your dog has learned the opposite behavior.

I usually tell clients they can decide if they want 7/10 to 10/10, meaning if I ask my dog to sit 10 times and the dog sits 8 out of the 10, I have an 80 percent sit rate with my dog. An important point to remember is, keep the training consistent. Here are some options:

Option 1:

  1. Your dog jumps up; you leave the area. Go into the nearest room or outside the house and shut the door only for a second or two.
  2. When you come out, approach your dog. You can ask for a sit or touch; if the dog doesn’t jump up, you mark or say “good girl/boy.” (If you have a clicker device for clicker training, use it in this step.) Next, you give the reward—a “treat/toy/pet/verbal praise.”
  3. If the dog jumps up, repeat the leaving of the area.

Option 2:

  1. The dog jumps up; standing like a tree, arms crossed, say, “Off.”
  2. Allfour paws are on the floor. Now you can pet him or her.Kneel down to the dog’s level.
  3. Ask for a sit. Mark or say “good girl/boy/clicker” and give the reward with a “treat/toy/pet/verbal praise.”

Option 3:

  1. The dog jumps up; lean into your dog’s space and say, “Off.” (Some dogs may not like you in their inner space. Do not do this with strange dogs.)
  2. Allfour paws are on the floor. Now you can pet him. Kneel down to your dog’s level.
  3. Ask for a sit. Mark or say “good girl/boy/clicker” and give the reward with a treat/toy/pet/verbal praise.”

Option 4:

  1. You come home from work or walk into the house, your dog jumps up. Turn your back and start talking aloud or walk over to a window and describe what you see.
  2. Allfour paws are on the floor. Now you can pet your dog. Kneel down to his or her level.
  3. Ask for a sit. Mark or say “good girl/boy/clicker” and give the reward with a “treat/toy/pet/verbal praise.”

Option 5:

  1. You are letting your dog inside the house from being outside. As soon as the dog sees your hand on the door handle, he starts to jump up. You take your hand off of the door handle, and when the dog is calm, you put your hand back on the door handle. Play this game until the dog is calm when you are touching the door handle.
  2. If the dog jumps up when you start to open the door, then close the door. You slowly open the door. If the dog gets too excited, you can close the door. Once the dog is calm, you can open the door to let the dog in. Mark with “good girl/boy/clicker.”

Option 6: Premack Principle

According to, Premack’s Principle, or the relativity theory of reinforcement, states that more probable behaviors reinforce less probable behaviors. Essentially, if your dog wants the reward, he or she will perform the desired activity required by you to get to that reward.

You teach your dog to jump up and get excited by dancing around or tossing a toy. When the dog jumps up, mark “good girl/boy/clicker” and give a reward with petting only.

Then, you immediately ask for a sit. Mark or say “good girl/boy/clicker.” Reward with a “treat/toy” and ask for the hug or jump up again.

Eventually, you will fade the treat/toy reward, and your dog will sit for a hug/jump up.

Option 7: Hand Target

While facing your dog, hold your finger or your open hand a few inches away from the dog’s nose.

When he or she sniffs your hand or the target to investigate, mark or say “good girl/boy/clicker” and reward him or her with a treat.

Repeat several times, and then move your hand to the left, right, up and down. Each time the dog touches the target, mark or say “good boy/girl/clicker.” Next, reward with a treat.

When the dog comes running over to jump on you, stick out your hand; your dog should stop to nose-touch it. Mark or say “good girl/boy/clicker.” Reward him or her by petting or with a toy.

The important thing to remember is consistency. Before long, the jumping days will be over, and you will find a better behaved pooch in your home.

Tick 411

posted February 1st, 2015 by

Tick 411-2

Tick 411

Tick 411


Everything You Need To Know About Treatment, Symptoms And Prevention


By Christy VanCleave



Ticks, more than just a nuisance, can carry diseases dangerous to people and animals.

That’s why it’s important for Green Country folks to know about ticks most common to the area and the viral, bacterial diseases and toxins they carry, as well as tick bite symptoms in both humans and dogs and how to treat and prevent them.

Here is the tick low-down to keep you and your pets tick free and healthy this summer.

Tick-born illnesses are caused by infection from a variety of pathogens. Because ticks can carry more than one disease-causing agent, patients can be infected with more than one pathogen at the same time. Diagnosis can be difficult since symptoms overlap with many common illnesses.

Reactions to tick bites may not show up for two to six weeks after the tick has been removed. Patients could experience one of many symptoms of the disease, and symptoms could appear intermittently.

Common symptoms in humans include headache, flu-like symptoms, stiff neck, fever, chills, swollen lymph nodes, fatigue, muscle aches, joint pain, nerve problems, abdominal pain and vomiting. If left untreated, the diseases can become severe and lead to other complications, even death.

The two most common tick-related diseases are Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever, but they are also the easiest to diagnose due to the rash that usually accompanies them. Lyme has a very distinct bull’s eye rash and Rocky Mountain spotted fever is a wide-spread rash.

Doxycycline is the first line of treatment in both adults and children and is most effective if started right away—within five days of the first symptoms. (The disease can later be confirmed by specialized lab tests.)

Canine symptoms are a little different and may include recurrent lameness due to inflammation in the joints, lack of appetite, depression, kidney damage, a visible stiff walk with arched back, sensitivity to touch, difficulty breathing and fever.  A blood panel test and urinalysis can be performed for accurate diagnosis. Again, doxycycline is the first choice of treatment if caught early.

Should you find yourself or your dog with a tick, promptly remove it with tweezers and grip the tick as closely to the skin as possible. Never use a smoldering match, cigarette, nail polish or kerosene as they may irritate the tick and cause it to inject bodily fluids into the wound.

Do not squeeze, crush or puncture the body of the tick since fluids may contain infection-causing organisms. The “head” does not stay in the skin, but the mouth parts may break off under the skin. Leave the mouth parts alone; they will expel on their own.

After removal, tape the tick to a calendar in case treatment is needed.  You can show the doctor for identification should it be necessary. It is also helpful to know how long it was attached if it was engorged.

While flea prevention has come a long way over the past 10 years, tick prevention hasn’t. Topical applications of Front-line or Advantix help, but take 24 hours to kill the tick once attached to the host. Some flea and tick shampoos with a pyrethrin base have a residue that lasts up to four weeks after application.

With Oklahoma’s high tick population, sound advice is to look over yourself and your pets after each walk or run in wooded or tall grass areas. With prevention in mind, and some basic knowledge of treatment, your summer outings can be fun, safe and tick free.

American Dog Tick

The American Dog tick is the most commonly-identified species responsible for transmitting rickettsia, which causes Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) in humans. This tick can also transmit tularemia.

Brown Dog Tick

The Brown Dog tick has recently been identified as a reservoir of Rickettsia, causing Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Ehrlichia canis. It is also responsible for Hepatozoon canis and Babesiosis (zoonotic). Dogs are primarily the host for this type of tick.

Black-Legged Tick (Deer Tick)

Commonly-known as the deer tick, the black-legged tick can transmit the organisms responsible for anaplasmosis, babesiosis and Lyme disease.

Lone Star Tick

The Lone Star tick transmits Ehrlichia chaffeensis and Ehrlichia ewingii, causing human ehrlichiosis, tularemia, and Southern tick-associated rash illness (STARI), as well as Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

Gulf Coast Tick

The Gulf Coast tick can transmit Rickettsia Parkeri rickettsiosis, a form of spotted fever. Adult ticks have been associated with transmission of R. parkeri to humans. It is also responsible for hepatozoonosis infection that comes in two forms, but this tick is only responsible for Hepatozoon Americanum.

On The Go

posted January 25th, 2015 by

On the Go

On The Go


Dr. Sharon Marshall’s Riverbend Mobile Vet Service brings medical services to pets in the comfort of their homes.


By Kayte Spillman



It all started out of necessity.

When Dr. Sharon Marshall finished veterinary school, she opened a mobile vet business. She drove to clients’ homes to care for their dogs, cats and horses to save on the overhead cost associated with opening a vet clinic of her own. But it was more than that.

“I didn’t want to look at the same four walls every day,” Marshall says. “I wanted to be out where the animals and my clients were.”

Twenty-one years later, Marshall’s frugal business savvy has grown into a successful veterinary practice. Her mobile vet business, Riverbend Mobile Vet Service, drives directly to the clients in a 40-mile or more radius around Lexington, Okla., while clients can also come to her five days a week at the brick-and-mortar office she’s operated for the last 10 years.

“It’s really for the pet’s comfort and the client’s ease,” Marshall says. “You know, we have many clients who are elderly or homebound, and for them a mobile vet is really a necessity.

“But we also have so many clients who have multiple pets and multiple children, and it is just so much easier for everyone to have me come to them. We’ve had the family with the two toddlers and the dog and the cat trying to get down our hallway, and the kids are crying, and the dog’s peeing all the way down the hall, and the cat’s stressed out. It’s not a good situation for anyone!”

Marshall says the animals are significantly more relaxed and less stressed when she can see them in their home environment than when they come into the office.

“It removes the fear factor that often comes with bringing a pet into a vet’s office,” she says. “I can go where they feel safe and at ease, and a lot of times help them before they even know I’m there. They don’t have time to ramp up.”

She also says visiting in the home allows her to spend more quality time with both the clients and the animals. In a typical vet office visit, a vet may be able to stay with the client for about 15 minutes, Marshall says. However, when Marshall is in a client’s home, she says she gets to know each client and each animal so much better.

“It’s a much more close and personal experience for the client,” Marshall says. “I’m not on that tight schedule that you have to be on if you are in the office. I enjoy slowing down and talking to my clients.”

Sky Lindsay has been a mobile client of Dr. Marshall’s for almost 15 years. She says with six animals roaming around her house, it is very helpful to have a house call to avoid the hassle of getting her four cats and two dogs out of the house and to the vet.

“I love having Dr. Marshall come to us,” Lindsay says. “Cats don’t travel well… well, at least mine don’t! And our dogs absolutely love when she comes to visit.”

Lindsay says Dr. Marshall usually comes out once a year for a checkup on all her animals, she takes her time letting everyone get settled and used to her before she treats them. She said she doesn’t even think her cats realize they are having a checkup from a vet, and it takes a lot of the stress of the typical visit away from her pets.

“She comes in and sits and talks, and then once everyone calms down, she’ll just grab whichever one is walking by,” Lindsay says. “She’s a straight shooter, and I love working with her. The animals love her too.”

Marshall makes about six to seven home visits every day, making sure her office is staffed with a vet tech in her absence to care for anyone stopping in for basic needs. She travels about a 40-mile radius from her base in Lexington to see patients. On a mobile visit, she performs basic veterinary services, but has a full lab and radiology capabilities at her physical office in Lexington.

“We are a full-service vet office, which many people don’t know,” Marshall says. “We do boarding; we do internal medicine, ultrasounds, radiology—whatever is needed. We literally do everything.”

Well, not literally everything… Staying true to her roots, she’s strictly a dog, cat or equine veterinarian.

“If you eat it,” Marshall says. “I don’t do it!”

January / February OKC Pets Magazine

posted January 14th, 2015 by

Publisher – Marilyn King

Creative Director – Debra Fite

Advertising Sales – Marilyn King, Steve Kirkpatrick, Nancy Harrison, Cheryl Steckler, Susan Hills, Tina Collie

Web Manager – Steve Kirkpatrick

Editor – Anna Holton-Dean

Contributing Writers – Marilyn King, Holly Brady Clay, Ruth Steinberger, Kim Schlittler, LaWanna Smith, Emily Cefalo, Dr. Gary Kubat, Shelley Erdman, Pat Becker

PO Box 14128 Tulsa, OK 74159-1128

Ask the Doc

posted January 4th, 2015 by

Ask the Doc

Ask The Doc

Gary Kubat, DVM / Veterinary Emergency & Critical Care Hospital


Q: My 13-year-old dog is showing signs of cataracts. Can they be removed in dogs, and if so, how do I know when it’s time to remove them? I just went through cataract removal, and I sure hate to think that my dog has them.


A: Yes, cataracts can certainly be removed from your pet’s eyes; the procedure will be similar to the surgery performed on your eyes. When you notice functional deficits in your pet’s behavior, mobility, orientation and awareness of surroundings, then it is time to consider removal.

You have been through this so you can empathize well with how your dog is coping with the visual deficits, as well as what improvements can be expected after removal. However, before considering a referral to a veterinary ophthalmologist specialist for cataract removal, you should have an exam performed by your general practice veterinarian.

Sometimes cataracts can be related to diabetes, and you will also want to know that all the other organs are functioning well before anesthesia. The age of the dog is not a risk factor if any preexisting underlying problems are identified beforehand.


Q: I have an opossum in my yard, and I’m not exactly sure if it’s just one. I have fountains around with water, and they probably drink out of them. I also have two dogs. Is it safe to have opossums in the same yard as dogs? I called the City, and they said they could trap and relocate them. Any advice is appreciated, and of course, my dogs are vaccinated for rabies.


A: Is it safe to have opossums in the same yard as dogs? Generally, not for the opossum, especially if you have a larger breed dog. Otherwise, the opossum is usually going to adopt a live and let live approach to your pet’s presence. Rabies transmission (as well as many other transmissible diseases) is highly unlikely. As a marsupial, the opossum normally has a lower body temperature than other mammals. This prevents most common viruses from replicating.

In addition, rabies transmission is through the saliva/fluids of an infected animal. As a general rule, any rabid animal that attacks and bites an opossum is going to kill it and possibly eat the opossum. This precludes transmission of the rabies virus. (The same rule would apply to any mammalian prey species such as rodents, rabbits, squirrels, etc.) Nevertheless, keep-ing your pet’s vaccinations current is always good preventative medicine.

Opossums may defecate in your fountain and could contaminate the water with E. coli, salmonella, and other bacteria. But the same could be said of the birds, squirrels and other critters in your yard. My advice? Do not fret. Enjoy the urban wildlife that your yard is attracting—someday it may be gone.  If your yard is attracting opossums presently, then removal by trapping will probably only result in another opossum moving into your attractive area.


Q: My 11-year-old cat has started drinking tons of water, and it seems like all of a sudden. It’s hard to keep the bowl full. Do I need a visit to the vet?


A: Yes, especially since this is a recent change from normal intake. Consider a general rule:  if it would seem abnormal or unusual if happening to you, then it is likely abnormal or unusual in your pet. In this case, the possible causes are numerous. Diabetes and kidney dysfunction are top on the list. Some medications can result in polydipsia (excessive water intake), as well as hyperthyroidism.

Your veterinarian will probably start diagnostics with a complete blood profile and urinalysis. You can be of great assistance before your appointment by also noting the volume and frequency of urination by the cat (separate from other cats in the house, if necessary), specifically measuring the volume of water taken in over an average 24-hour period.