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The Gift of Life

posted December 18th, 2015 by
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Senior Advantage

The Gift of Life

The spirit of giving is alive and well at the Richardson Birthing and Special Needs Center, a division of PAAS Vinita.   The following stories are written from the heart by Vicki who oversees the birthing center – – she and her husband Tom play key roles in saving the lives of special dogs.  It is truly a gift.

Over the past several years we have taken in, cared for and either adopted out or adopted ourselves, many special needs dogs. Crippled, cancer, very ill, heart disease, failure to thrive pups and kittens. They also need to be considered in the rescue world. When you look into their eyes and they look back, you can see them just asking for help. Let me recap just a few.
Camille, a little 6 yr. old mini doxie, was brought into Second Chance Shelter 3 years ago. She was pregnant, had massive infections on her skin and in her mouth. When it came time to have her pups, she was so weak, she couldn’t do it, so had a c-section. After they were weaned we noticed a nodule in one of her breasts. Removal and biopsy showed cancer, a slow growing one, but cancer never the less. 6 months later it came back and was removed again. 6 months after that, it was back, and the docs remove almost the entire breast. It never recurred after that, but no one was interested in adopting her, so we did. After 3 years of having her, we got a call from one of Tom’s high school friends that her father, actually the preacher that married Tom and I, had been recently widowed, and felt he needed a dog to keep him company. Tom took a couple of fosters we had and at the last minute, threw in Camille. She had done well with us, but was a very needy little girl, and had a difficult time sharing me with the other dogs. It was a match made in heaven. He has had her for 3 months now and adores her and spoils her rotten.
The GiftBubba Henry, a little shih tzu, paralyzed in the back legs, was pulled from a high kill shelter in OKC, on the day he was to be euthanized. He came to us a year ago. We worked with him, but the damage was too bad and we eventually got him a wheel chair. He is very sweet, loving and ours.
Strawberry, a little schnauzer, yorkie mix was stepped on by her mama when she was just a few days old. A young couple took her and raised her with such love and compassion, but financial and time constraints, forced them to look elsewhere for care for her. They knew she had very little quality of life, but were so attached to her they reached out to us to take her, instead of having her euthanized. She was about 7 months old at the time. She was very independent and determined to do what the other dogs did. We had her several months and worked with her legs, built her a wheelchair and she was eventually was adopted to a home where a 14 year old girl wanted a special needs pup. She is fiercely protective of her family now, and goes all over the ranch. Her legs have gotten stronger, and she even herds the goats.
There are many others, but will give just one more example. Little Skipper was brought into PAAS in Vinita. He was an older skipperke. His teeth were rotten, he couldn’t eat and was very weak. First thing they did, was get him to a foster home (us), and get his teeth cleaned. He gradually gained strength and after a month or so, was integrated into our family, running in the yard and laying in the sun. After 3 months a couple contacted the shelter. They saw his picture in the paper and were hoping that it was their little dog, they had been looking for for 3 months. It was and they were happily reunited a week ago.
Would it have been better to euthanize these dogs? This is usually what happens to dogs in these situations. But the wonderful people that adopted these dogs, love them in spite of, or maybe because, they are special.   They see the courage, determination, love and loyalty in their eyes and would not give them up for anything.

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

Training 911

posted December 11th, 2015 by
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by Khara Criswell, MA, CPDT-KSA, CNWI

 

Holiday Training Tips To Keep Your Home Jolly And Safe

 

Fresh Water

If your dog is spending some time outdoors, check the water dish. Just because the temperature has dropped, it doesn’t mean your dog is drinking less water. If the temperature drops below 32 degrees, make sure you have chipped away the ice so your pup has a place to drink. Dogs eating snow could pick up dangerous objects or chemicals that may be hidden. Some dogs that eat snow can get an upset stomach and even hypothermia.

 

Warm Place to Stay

Dogs have fur coats, but even in extreme temperature changes a dog can get frost bite. If your pup lives outdoors, provide the pup a heated dog bed and adequate shelter. If you have a small dog or a dog with little or no hair, a sweater will help the dog retain its body heat. If you see your dog lifting its paw more than normal, check the paw. Some dogs’ paws are more sensitive to cold than others.

 

Kong Stuffed with Goodies

During the holidays, we might be too busy to pay as much attention as usual to our pets, so they need some other forms of mental stimulation. Stuffing and freezing a Kong makes for an excellent treat while company is over or during any hectic time. The dog is occupied while you can enjoy your guests or holiday prepping.

 

A Break or Retreat Zone

During the holiday season, your pup can get too much socialization or over-stimulation. Company can be tiring, so make sure your pup has a place to go to decompress away from the action. Start designating an area as the “dog safe zone,” so the pooch can get away, and maybe you too when you need to decompress. Sometimes the break could just be a walk with a familiar friend. One of the best things to train a dog to do is to go to a place/mat.

 

How to Mat Train:

Step 1. With a treat in your hand tell your dog, “go to your mat,” in a cheerful tone of voice and point to her mat.

Step 2. Pause a second or two (one-one thousand, two-one thousand), then lure your dog onto her mat by putting the treat up to her nose and slowly moving it over the mat. If you move your hand too quickly or too far away from her, she may give up and lose interest.

Step 3. As soon as your dog has four paws on the mat, give the treat.

Step 4. Tell your dog, “down/sit.” Give the hand signal or lure her if she needs helps. It is up to you whether you want to make her lie down or sit. If she doesn’t stay on the mat, you can take her to it. When she lies down, give the treat to her. Continue to give treats to keep her on the mat. After a few seconds, tell her “OK/free” and allow her to get up.

Repeat steps 1-4, gradually increasing the amount of time you ask her to stay on the mat. Mat training is great for working at your desk, watching TV, cooking in the kitchen, when guests are visiting (like during the holidays), or any time you need to get your dog out from under foot.

 

Practice

Practice this skill when you can pay attention—such as when you are answering easy emails, not when concentrating on a report due tomorrow, or when preparing a sandwich, not trying a gourmet recipe for the first time. TV commercials are a better practice time than engrossing movies.

As you increase the time the dog spends on her mat, throw in some shorter intervals to keep her motivated. As your dog gets better and better, space out the treats so she gets some for staying on her mat.  Eventually she will stay for no treats at all, but to keep the stay strong, give a verbal praise such as “thank you” or “you’re such a good dog.”

Troubleshooting: If your dog gets up before you release her, tell her “ah-ha” and immediately direct her back to her mat and into a down/sit. Don’t treat her, but make the duration of this down/sit short, so you can release her and repeat the exercise right away and reward for a successful result.

 

Beware of the Dangers

With the cold holiday weather and additional edible delicacies, keep these dangers in mind:

Antifreeze is highly toxic; although it tastes good to pets, it can kill them.

Human foods to keep away from Fido include grapes, raisins, avocados, onions, chocolate, anything coffee-related, macadamia nuts, tomatoes, and seeds from apples, cherries, peaches and similar fruit, and of course bones, which can break apart in the intestines.

Household items such as cleaners, rat and mouse poisons.

Christmas décor can be hazardous, including Christmas berries, Christmas cactus, sap, candles

Christmas Rose, the tree and all its parts (needles, tree water, holly, and mistletoe, tinsel, ornaments and lights). If you have a puppy, start the decorations on the tree higher from the ground than he or she can reach.

 

Call your vet or Animal Poison Control if you feel your pet ingested a toxin at (888) 426-4435. A $65 consultation fee may be applied to your credit card.

Keep these tips in mind to ensure a safe holiday and remember you’re never too young or old to have fun with your pup

This Holiday Season

posted December 10th, 2015 by
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Holiday Gift

Holiday SeasonHoliday Season

This holiday season remember those who serve others.  Vicki oversees our birthing center and the following heartfelt story says it perfectly.  Remember the shelters and rescues – – they need your help and support.

As most of you know, we had another litter of puppies born at our house on Thanksgiving morning. These are blessed events are part of Tom and I’s ministry here on earth. We have had countless puppies born at our house. Some have needed c-sections, others, such as Foxy would have died in the birth process, if she had been left in a shelter. When we lived in California, I was well schooled in the birth process of dogs by my then boss, Dr. Sue Buxton. Little did I know how handy that would be when we moved to Oklahoma, but the all knowing Father knew. It is funny how things work out, if we just follow His lead. Sometimes I feel like I am going blindly, but have to trust. Tom and I feel blessed to be entrusted with the care of these little ones that we know are precious to Him, but sometimes forgotten.

Unfortunately, the need is great. We long for a time when the birthing tubs and boxes are no longer needed. When people learn that their animals need to be spayed and neutered. I am not talking about the quality breeders of specific breeds, but the puppy mills, and backyard breeders, and irresponsible dog owners that have clogged our shelters and streets with unwanted pets. These unwanted ones face horrible tortuous lives. We must all become conscious of this problem. As animal lovers, if each of us could take up the cause, it would make a big difference. It does not have to be rescue and fostering, although that is extremely important, it is not for everyone. You could be a volunteer at your local shelter, even those who think they have no skills, can learn. Walking dogs, cuddling kitties, tearing newspapers, working at the desk as a greeter, helping with computer work, cleaning cages. I did all of this before I found my niche, so did Tom. If you have time constraints, but have a few extra dollars, they would most be appreciated to help defray the enormous cost of this effort. If you are unable to do any of this, talk it up, encourage people to spay and neuter their pets, help out with one of the many spay and neuter clinics run in our area. We in the business call them SNEUTERS. Share posts of available dogs on Facebook. Unlimited opportunities are there for people that want to help. It will help the animals, and make you feel so blessed.

 

Kay Stout, Executive Director    PAAS, Vinita, Oklahoma    628 S Wilson  918-256-7227

The Endearing History of Reindeer and Christmas

posted December 5th, 2015 by
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By Anna Holton-Dean

 

Christmastime is near, and we bet our mistletoe many of you will soon be singing “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” watching the iconic cartoon of the same name or even putting antlers on Fido for a holiday snapshot.

But have you ever stopped to ponder how reindeer came to be synonymous with Christmas? Or do reindeer even exist? While Rudolph alone might be a beloved, fictional character, reindeer are 100-percent real.

Spotting one might sound exciting, but reindeer are a common sight in  many regions where they are nowhere near endangered. They can be found in Europe, Asia, Greenland and even North America, particularly in Maine where they are known as Caribou; there’s even a town in Maine named Caribou.

Sometimes hunted for meat and  hides, reindeer are domesticated for milking and pulling things during Arctic or Subarctic winters, according to allpetsnews.com. “Caribou have large hooves that are useful tools for life in the harsh northlands,” according to National Geographic. “They are big enough to support the animal’s bulk on snow and to paddle it efficiently through the water. The hoof’s underside is hollowed out like a scoop and used for digging through the snow in search of food. Its sharp edges give the animal good purchase on rocks or ice.”

With that knowledge, it’s easy to see how a storyteller would choose reindeer for pulling Santa’s sleigh through snow. Throw in a little “willing suspension of disbelief” by giving them flight, now you’ve got a story!

“In terms of stories, Santa is much older than his trusted reindeer,” allpetnews.com says. As early as the 4th century, stories were told of a jolly old man dropping off presents during the Christmas holidays.

“But it wasn’t until the 1800s that reindeer joined the party. Previously, South Americans believed Santa rode a donkey, while Europeans thought he owned a white horse. Reindeer made their first appearance, it’s believed, in  the poem ‘A Visit from St. Nicholas’ (which we now know as ‘The Night Before Christmas’), written by Clement C. Moore.” The poem made them a permanent fixture in American culture.

So what about Rudolph? He was made for marketing purposes. In 1939, Robert Lewis May created a rhyming book for promotional purposes for Montgomery Ward department store. His book, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” sold more than 6 million copies over the next 10 years, allpetsnews.com says.

In 1947, Gene Autry recorded the Rudolph song and, just as the lyrics proclaim, he will surely “go down in history.”

And the red nose? “Reindeer have 25 percent more blood vessels in their nasal region than humans, meaning more blood flows there. At higher elevations, their blood flow increases    in order to keep warm, turning their noses a shade of red,” allpetnews.com says. Spying a red-nosed reindeer is scientifically possible after all.

Perhaps there is more truth to the reindeer lore than we ever knew.

Ask The Doc

posted November 28th, 2015 by
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Gary Kubat, DVM / Veterinary Emergency & Critical Care Hospital BluePearl Oklahoma City

 

Q: I live near a location where the emergency sirens blow every Wednesday at noon. My Lab puppy, who has never heard this sound before, has started running outside and howling when he hears the noise.  Why does he do this, and are the sirens hurting his hearing?

A: Ahhh… another great mystery of canine behavior that can only have a definitive answer when we learn to speak “dog” (and they learn to speak back). We may be disappointed in the canine’s answer as it is probably not as interesting or mysterious as it appears.

The general consensus is that the sirens are interpreted by your pet as another canine howling; hence, the natural response is to answer back in the instinctual language that is heard. This same reasoning could also apply to barking as it is heard progressing through a neighborhood. The howling may communicate a location, sex, dominance status—we simply do not know for certain, but it is likely not complicated.

Perhaps some dogs just enjoy the vocalizing! Someday a behavioral researcher with the time and funding may find a way to conduct fMRI tests on howling dogs to see which parts of the brain are activated and functioning just prior to the initiation of the vocal response; then we might have some insight into the reason.

It is unlikely that the sirens are causing discomfort. Observe dogs that are howling; they do not exhibit the expected signs of pain or fear. They do not try to run or hide; they do not tuck their tails or lower their ears or heads.  Just as your dog, some try to run toward the sound outside rather than away.

Two of the greatest and most enjoyable sounds in nature are the howling of a wolf and, for those of us in Oklahoma, the howling-yapping of a pack of coyotes in response to sirens (it certainly serves to locate the pack!).

Meanwhile, here is another pack behavior to ponder. Why do some municipalities test storm sirens on Wednesday and others do it on Saturday? And who picked noon as the time?

 

Q: My dog has “hot spots” no matter what time of the year. I can’t clear them up. Any suggestions?

A: Hot Spots (more expensive-sounding synonyms are:  acute moist dermatitis, pyotraumatic dermatitis, or just moist eczema) are always initially a problem of self-trauma. A focal itch or inflammation is scratched and rubbed until the skin becomes even more inflamed. This induces more itching, initiating a self-traumatizing progressive cycle. The lesion can become very large even in a few hours.  At this point the lesion is painful to touch, and many dogs will require sedation just to clip and clean the wound to allow topical treatment.

The location of the lesion is often a clue as to the cause of the originating itch or lesion. For example, if the lesion is located on the hips or rear limbs, the prime suspect is flea infestation. You may only see one flea, but that is enough to start the problem. If the lesion is on the side of the face below the ear, the original problem may be an ear infection that resulted in the dog scratching at the ear area.

The hot spot skin lesion needs to be treated, but the initiating factor needs to be identified.  Dogs do not spontaneously self-traumatize (exceptions exist: see acral lick dermatitis or lick granuloma).  Other causes include staph skin infections; skin fungal infections; allergies, topical or inhaled, that result in skin itching; and many other factors.

Another common denominator is a moist environment, especially with a long-haired breed. The skin stays wet, becomes inflamed and itches, resulting in the scratch/rub response. Some dogs that drool heavily develop hot spots on the lower jaw as a result of constant excessive moisture. I once had a patient presented because the owner thought the dog had been struck by lightning, when in fact the dog had multiple hot spots all on one side of its body.

The dog had spent long periods of time in its dog house (with wet straw bedding) during a recent rainy spell of several days. The long-haired dog simply never dried out, and dermatitis developed, which the dog then self-traumatized. Another potential complication during the warmer months is an infestation of the lesion with fly larva or myiasis. The hot spots’ lesions are oozing serum and often smell strongly necrotic, attracting the flies. This is often a problem with older, arthritic or obese dogs that are not mobile enough to keep the flies off the lesion.

The treatments of the skin lesion include topical ointments with antibiotics and corticosteroids for the inflammation (after the lesion is clipped, cleaned and dried). Topical antiseptics may also help, as well as antihistamines. I usually dispense the topical medication as a spray since most patients are too painful in the area to allow application of an ointment. I also like to apply a topical anesthetic, such as lidocaine ointment, or an injectable anesthetic, such as Marcaine, for an instant although brief relief from the itching to break the cycle. Treating the actual lesion is relatively easy and usually responds well within a few days.

The real problem and solution is to identify the inciting cause, especially in your case of repeated episodes at all times of the year. Frankly, in Oklahoma, your problem is flea infestation until proven otherwise. If not fleas, then we proceed through the culprit list based on logically identifying the most likely cause. A skin allergy may be only seasonal, but if it is induced by household items (smoke, carpets, foods, straw in the dog house), it could be a problem year-round.

Some cases will require a skin biopsy to determine if a bacterial infection (pyoderma) or other disorder exists. If your pet is experiencing repeated year-round hot spots you need to be prepared to spend some time and effort with your veterinarian to resolve the problem.

 

Q: My dog got pancreatitis and almost died. It was really touch and go, and it was scary. What exactly is pancreatitis, and how does a pet owner prevent this?

A: First, let’s determine what exactly is a pancreas? It is an abdominal organ closely associated with the duodenum and liver that produces and secretes chemical enzymes that assist in digesting food. It also secretes insulin, associated with the most common diabetes. Amazingly, it does this without harming or digesting itself… normally. Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas that develops when the normal protective mechanisms of the organ are overwhelmed by pancreatic enzymes, resulting in autodigestion.

What is the cause? Anecdotally, most veterinarians (myself included) will blame a dietary indiscretion of a high-fat diet (often table foods) as the inciting cause most of the time. In truth, the actual causal agent of pancreatitis is frequently unknown. What we do know are a whole lot of related risk factors associated with pancreatitis and pancreatitis patients.

Certainly, ingestion of high-fat foods is on that list. But we have all heard the story of how the same dog has eaten the same table food many times without a problem, and the other dogs in the household ate the same thing and are having no problem. Pancreatitis is more common in obese animals (that probably eat more table food anyway, which is why they are obese). Hyperlipidemia (high levels of fats/lipids in the blood even when fasting) is associated with increasing frequency of pancreatitis.

The miniature Schnauzer is a breed often associated with hyperlipidemia and pancreatitis. But pancreatitis can also cause hyperlipidemia. Pancreatitis can also cause diabetes, at least transiently.  Diabetes is also associated with hyperlipidemia, and it is not unusual for a miniature Schnauzer to be diagnosed diabetic. Which came first? Isn’t this complicated? There is more…

Some commonly used drugs have been associated with pancreatitis, including furosemide, a diuretic often used in cardiac dysfunction; if the heart is not functioning well, the pancreas may suffer from hypoperfusion or poor blood supply, which leads to pancreatitis as well). Potassium bromide, an anti-seizure medication, has been associated with a higher frequency of pancreatitis. Hyperlipidemia has been associated with seizures.

Now suppose you have an older, overweight, diabetic, hyperlipidemic miniature Schnauzer taking potassium bromide for occasional seizures, and on furosemide for mild heart disease. How do you prevent pancreatitis? Well, at the very least, be extremely careful with diet. The bacon fat can find some other use.  Also, consider pet insurance.

If your pet is diagnosed with pancreatitis, it will usually be treated in-hospital at least during the acute phase. It was once believed that all oral stimulation and food should be withheld to avoid stimulating the pancreas to secrete enzymes, but current thinking is to provide oral nutritional support as soon as nausea can be improved. IV fluid support, antiemetics, antibiotics, and narcotic pain medications are usually the basis of treatment. Complications can involve the liver-bile duct system, sepsis, or in severe progressive necrotizing pancreatitis, surgery may be required to address the peritonitis (inflamed or infected abdominal cavity). Other complications can include pulmonary failure, kidney failure and blood coagulation problems.  While most patients do recover, pancreatitis is not usually a 24 to 48 hour recovery.  Expect your pet to be in-hospital for several days, and if complications do develop, the prognosis for recovery is reduced.

Although in some cases it may be unrealistic to completely prevent pancreatitis, you can certainly reduce the risk by eliminating associated risk factors as much as possible and adhering to very strict dietary control. You should work closely with your veterinarian to identify the risk factors you have the power to change. Specially developed prescription-only diets are very beneficial also.

Rock and Brews – OKC

posted November 27th, 2015 by
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Rock and Brews

Rock and Brews

Rock and BrewsSince the November days have been relatively mild, we decided to check out the newly opened Rock & Brews,  2737 W Memorial Road, OKC. The website clearly states that the patio is dog friendly, so we knew we were good to go. As soon as mom walked in the door, the host had spotted me outside and asked if we wanted outdoor seating. The patio is a decent sized, easily accessible from the parking lot, and space heaters are available. We were the only group out on the patio and they turned heaters on for us immediately.

Full disclosure, Mom and Pops weren’t expecting much in the way of food and beverage. Since this is a theme restaurant partially owned by Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley of Kiss, we figured there’d be some overpriced Coors Light and TGI Fridays-type-food with clever music-themed names. The first pleasant surprise… read more