Author Archives: Steve

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.

Another Avenue

posted December 28th, 2014 by

Another Avenue

Another Avenue

Ovary-sparing spay provides alternative to traditional spay surgery


By Bria Bolton Moore


Purchase vs. rescue. Purina vs. Science Diet. Tennis ball vs. Kong. This vet vs. that one. Boarding vs. dog sitter. When it comes to their canine companions, owners are used to choices.

However, until recently, there wasn’t an option when it came to spaying female dogs. Dr. Brad Roach, DVM and owner of Best Friends Animal Clinic in Oklahoma City and Shawnee, Okla., is one of about 20 veterinarians in the nation performing the ovary-sparing spay. During a traditional spay procedure, known as an ovariohysterectomy, a dog’s ovaries and uterus are removed.

However, in an ovary-sparing spay, sometimes called a hysterectomy or partial spay, the ovaries are left while the entire uterus is removed. In essence, this alternative spay is a way to curb population concerns while guarding the dog from the negative effects of hormone loss.

“We’re trying to redefine what a spay is and what a spay should be,” Dr. Roach said. “We’re trying to render them unable to reproduce without having the problems and infections of a uterus, so this procedure allows us to do that. We are trying to be responsible with reproduction, and yet spare them the potential negative effects of hormone loss.”

In recent years, experts have taken a second look at the common spay surgery. In 2007, Veterinarian Margaret Root Kustritz published a review of the pros and cons of spaying and neutering of different breeds at different ages. The report indicated that the traditional spay procedure has many benefits, including a decrease in mammary and ovarian tumors as well as infection of the uterus.

However, there are a number of disadvantages including aggression, obesity, urinary incontinence (lack of bladder control), urinary tract tumors, diabetes, and more. The study spurred more research and conversation. Additional breed-specific research indicates that especially for large-breed dogs, like Rottweilers, Golden Retrievers and Huskies, the benefits of keeping the ovaries, and therefore hormones (lower incidence of joint disorders and cancers) outweigh the risks (infection of the uterus and mammary tumors).

A 2013 study of Golden Retrievers by researchers at the University of California, Davis indicated that disease rates for two joint disorders and three cancers were significantly higher for male and female dogs that had been sterilized than those that had not been spayed or neutered. The study also linked early sterilization with an increase in cranial cruciate ligament tear (a joint disorder) for both male and female Golden Retrievers.

“I see these animals after being in   practice 24 years coming in overweight, looking terrible, broken down in the hips, incontinent and just thinking, ‘There’s got to be a better way,’” Dr. Roach said. “Surely those hormones are there for a reason; God put them there for a reason.”

Dr. Kutzler, DVM, PhD, DACT and associate professor at Oregon State University, has been performing the ovary-sparing spay since 2008 and is a leading proponent of the surgery. While the first known reference of the partial spay dates back to a 1972 article by Dr. Wendell O. Belfield (DVM), Dr. Kutzler was one of the first in the U.S. to openly talk about and advocate for the procedure.

In fact, the Parsemus Foundation, an organization that “works to advance innovative and neglected medical research,” funded a video demonstration of Dr. Kutzler performing the ovary-sparing spay. While the video’s original intent was to educate veterinarians, the video is available to anyone at

Dr. Kutzler is passionate about spreading awareness of the procedure because as female dogs lose their ovaries, their hormones are negatively affected.

Most people only think of the ovaries and the testes as gammy-producing organs—  egg-producing organs or sperm-producing organs, and that’s it, she said. What they don’t understand or haven’t really thought about is the importance they serve as endocrine organs or, plainly stated, hormone-producing organs.

“So, other endocrine organs in the body are the thyroid glands, parathyroid glands, and the pancreas. We would never talk about removing the endocrine glands from a dog unless there was something wrong with them,” she said.

Dr. Kutzler said the result of this interruption of the hormone production can include urinary incontinence, obesity and other health problems.

Ovary-sparing spay in Oklahoma

Dr. Roach is the only vet in Oklahoma offering the partial spay, according to the Parsemus Foundation, which works to keep an updated list of veterinarians who perform the procedure. He has been providing the ovary-sparing spay for about six months and has performed dozens of these surgeries. Clients have trekked to his clinics from Dallas, Wichita and across Oklahoma for   the procedure.

Dr. Roach said the operation is more complicated than a traditional spay because the incision is longer than a traditional spay incision to allow for the surgeon to remove the entire uterus down to the level of the cervix. This meticulousness is necessary to avoid a condition known as stump pyometra, an infection that can develop in the remaining uterine tissue when estrogen is present.

“It does take longer,” Dr. Roach said. “It’s a little more difficult surgery, so the price is higher. I bet if the price of it were the same, there would be very few people who would choose the other way.”

The ovary-sparing spay costs Dr. Roach’s clients about $100 more than the traditional surgery. The cost of this procedure is usually about 30 percent higher than a traditional spay.

“As surgeons find out the benefits and get exposed to this kind of surgery, they’re going to be more comfortable with the surgery, and the cost may reduce as vets gets faster at it,” he said.

Kama’s story

Bernadette Bowker of Edmond, Okla., has been entrusting her pets’ health to Dr. Roach for about two years. Her Husky Kamala, commonly called “Kama,” had the ovary-sparing spay surgery. Bowker learned about this type of procedure from Dr. Roach who encouraged her to do a bit of research and consider the ovary-sparing spay over the traditional spay.

“I thought it was a really interesting option to have so that she has a better chance of good health later on in her years.”

Bowker had another Husky, Gabby, before Kama. Gabby unfortunately developed arthritis and hip problems later in life and also struggled with disorientation. So, Bowker was interested in options that would lead to Kama’s quintessential health, and hopefully, help avoid some of the challenges Gabby faced.

Kama’s surgery went smoothly, and she bounced back quickly.

“She’s a very active dog, so it didn’t keep her down for very long at all,” Bowker said. “She seemed to be comfortable and happy and then back to full throttle.”

Kama’s now about 15 months old, and Bowker encourages other dog owners to talk to their vets and research the ovary-sparing option when preparing to have their pets spayed.

There’s no arguing the benefits of sterilizing pets. According to a 2003 study by Elizabeth A. Clancy and Andrew N. Rowan (Companion Animal Demographics in the United States: A Historical Perspective), the number of unclaimed dogs and cats killed at animal shelters has decreased from about 23.4 million in 1970 to about 4.5 million in 2000.

While many supporters of the ovary-sparing spay believe the traditional procedure has its rightful place in veterinary medicine, Dr. Roach, Dr. Kutzler and Bernadette Bowker, along with many others, want dog owners to know: you have a choice.

November / December OKC Pets Magazine

posted November 13th, 2014 by

Publisher – Marilyn King

Creative Director – Debra Fite

Advertising Sales – Marilyn King, Steve Kirkpatrick, Nancy Harrison, Cheryl Steckler

Web Manager – Steve Kirkpatrick

Editor – Anna Holton-Dean

Contributing Writers – Anna Coffin DVM, Brianna Broersma, Khara Criswell, Anna Holton-Dean, Lauren Cavanolo, Nancy Gallimore

PO Box 14128 Tulsa, OK 74159-1128

Petunia Pet Records App

posted November 13th, 2014 by
Petunia 2

PetuniaLouisville, Colo., USA (5 November 2014)—We are proud to announce the release of Petunia, the app that helps keep your pets safe, and their records close when it matters most.

Petunia is a freemium iPad app that saves your pet’s health history and personality quirks and makes it easy to share that information with your pet sitters and veterinarians. Want to make sure the pet sitter remembers that Fluffy likes her food warmed 12 seconds in the microwave? Petunia’s got that. Need to note when Fido did not eat his dinner? Don’t write it down on a napkin. Note it in Petunia where Fido’s information is backed-up and organized. Information is critical in the health-care equation. Make sure that your pet sitters know when to give Sparky his medications, and that your new vet knows the manufacturer of Sparky’s vaccinations.

The app is great for single pet households and multiple pet households. Pet owners can update each pet’s unique profile anytime and simply email or print it for a sitter or the vet. No need to fill out pet forms over and over again. Get it at

Petunia helps you with:
• Pet sitting: Minimize stress and reduce the risk of missing important health-information when leaving pets in someone else’s care. Petunia lets you share critical pet care details with pet sitters.
• Symptom tracking: Record when your cat threw up, or when Fido needs his heartworm pill. You’ll see trends that can keep your pets healthy and never forget details.
• Changing vets: When traveling, keep your pets’ medical records close and share them with new vets any time, even in emergencies.

Petunia’s free features:
• Record profiles, vet visits, and home care for all of your pets
• Share information about one pet, using email, within a single page PDF
• Automatically add dates, e.g., vet appointments, into calendar
• Graph weight history of pets
• Customize your pet’s photos on his or her profile page

Petunia’s paid features:
• Share information about all your pets in text format or multi-page PDF’s through email, Dropbox, and Google Drive. US$0.99/year, or US$4.99 for permanent use.
• Advertising removal. US$0.99/year, or US$4.99 permanently.

Petunia was developed by pet-loving folks at Spastic Muffin, LLC, a software development company in Louisville, Colorado, USA. Our pets inspired the idea for Petunia and helped with the testing.

Training 911

posted November 11th, 2014 by


by Khara Criswell, MA, CPDT-KSA, CNWI


Aroo, woof, woof, yelp, yelp… Oh my, you’re home!  Why won’t you feed me dinner now?

I don’t like that dog! Did you hear that sound? Stay away from my owner!

This is our house!  Every time the doorbell rings, I must tell my owner.


Aroo… when are you coming back?

This might be an interpretation of what your dog is saying when he barks. Did you know there are five different types of barking: 1) excitement barking, 2) frustration barking, 3) watchful barking, 4) learned barking, 5) separation anxiety barking. Telling the difference might take some record keeping, such as a barking chart.

In the barking chart, you can track: where you are and the date, time barking starts, time barking stops, how long it lasts, how the barking sounds, where the dog is located, what the dog is barking at, and what the dog is doing (movements, etc.) Once you get this data, you can interpret the type of bark and what your dog is trying to communicate.

Solving the barking can take different avenues. For the excitement barking and frustration barking, you will want to stay calm and not yell at the dog. When you raise your voice, the dog might think you are barking with them, so keep your voice a neutral tone or whisper.

Teach your dog to go to a place (go to a mat), to sit, fetch or play the “find-it” game. When the dog does another behavior, remember to mark it “good dog” with a reward, toy, praise, treat or anything else your dog finds fun.

Watchful barking can be solved by using your dog’s kibble or a high value reward, such as a treat or toy to come with the trigger. Scenario: I walk my dog on leash and another dog or skateboard is coming the other way. My dog is going nuts on leash. I would keep walking and say “good boy” and feed my dog treats as we walk by the other dog or skateboard.

During this scenario, I would give some distance between my dog and the other dog or skateboard. Eventually, I would pair this with a “watch me” or “touch,” then “good boy” and a treat. I’m teaching the dog that the thing is not that scary, and he does not need to be watchful for me.

Learned barking is something us humans have conditioned the dogs to do. Doorbells seem to be the best learned barking we teach our dogs. Solving the doorbell can be two-fold.

One way to solve it would be to desensitize your dog to the doorbell by going to your local hardware store and picking up a doorbell with two push buttons. Put one of them on your front door and the other one in the house with you. You will randomly hit the house button.

You have options: 1) do nothing while your dog is barking, and when the dog takes a breath say “good dog” and reward, using treats, toys, or your dog’s kibble; 2) you can say “thank you,” “who wants hot dogs?” or any other phrase and walk over to the back window or kitchen and give out treats; 3) you can say “go to your spot,” and when the dog goes to the spot, say “good dog” and reward on the spot, not from your hand.

Be consistent and your dog will learn that the doorbell means good things will come. You will eventually wean off the treats, but you will never wean off the marker “good boy” or reward of toy or praise.

Separation anxiety barking is when you leave the home or come home, and the dog starts talking. You should make a list of triggers, such as putting on shoes, getting the keys, etc.

As you put on the shoes, or grab the leash, just have a seat and do nothing. You are trying to teach the dog that just because things are occurring doesn’t mean you are always leaving.

Keep it up, and you will be on track to a quieter household!

Walk for a Dog iphone and android app

posted November 8th, 2014 by
Walk for a Dog 2

Walk for a Dog

GPRO Supporters,

We have a new fundraiser that we’re asking for your participation. Take your Walk for a Dog iphone and android app Supports

Great Pyrenees Rescue of OK & the other rescues networked with National Great Pyrenees Rescue simply by walking your dog! Use the app each time you grab for the leash. It’s healthy for you, your dog, and your favorite rescue. Go to and click “Get the App” at the top of the page, install the free Android or iPhone app, and start taking your Walk for a Dog every day. You can set the rescue you are walking for to National Great Pyrenees Rescue in the setup tab of the app for iPhone users, or in the settings menu for Android users. The more people walking for the rescue, the more donations earned.