Pet Health

Animal Emergency Ambulance

posted March 15th, 2012 by
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by Stacy Pettit

Dr. Troy McNamara is well versed when it comes to giving advice. After all, as a veterinarian and co-owner of the Animal Emergency Center, giving advice to pet owners is part of his job description. However, in the past, when pet owners transported their ill loved ones between their primary veterinarian and the Animal Emergency Center for nighttime care, McNamara was giving advice that just seemed foolish—drive as quickly as possible.

“That’s asinine,” says McNamara, who has worked at the Animal Emergency Center for 15 years. “After all these years of watching this, why not just have an ambulance where we can make runs and have oxygen and all the necessary equipment on board. We can have a veterinarian or a registered technician physically back in the treatment area of that vehicle driving down the road administering care.”

This past fall, McNamara’s idea got the green light as he decided to alleviate the anxiety for pet owners and pets alike with the addition of the Animal Emergency Center’s pet ambulance. Now, the center can regularly transport owners’ four-legged friends from vet offices to the center for surveillance and care.

“This is an easy and convenient way to transport sick or critically injured animals from the veterinarian clinic to the emergency room while taking that burden off the owner,” McNamara says.

He says the pet ambulance is not just a tool to ensure the safety of the animal. The new addition to the clinic eases the anxiety for veterinarians as well. In many instances, pets are left overnight at a vet’s office when they need to be monitored at a 24-hour clinic. Sometimes, veterinarians have to take cases to their personal homes to care for the animals at night.

“It doesn’t make sense when you have a staffed emergency room,” McNamara says.

And the ambulance is ready for any kind of medical situation. It is equipped with everything an ill or critically injured pet could need, including oxygen, defibrillators and monitors for blood pressure. But in many situations, it is the affection of a vet tech stationed in the back to calm the nerves of an already anxious animal that makes the biggest impact, he says.

With the new ambulance program still in its infancy, McNamara says the current list of veterinarian offices utilizing the service is small. However, the ambulance is available to all veterinarians, and he hopes to see his list of clients grow throughout Tulsa and the surrounding areas.

Currently, the cost rate for the ambulance service is based on the distance traveled and the severity of the animal’s condition. Even with the additional cost, owners are willing to do whatever they need to ensure the health and safety of their four-legged loved ones. And McNamara is pleased to be able to offer owners that extra care, working toward the goal of returning to them a healthy pet.

“I am proud to offer the service,” McNamara says. “I believe it elevates the quality of care that we as an emergency and trauma center can offer to the Tulsa pet owners.”

Avian, Exotic and Zoo Medicine Service

posted March 15th, 2012 by
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by Derinda Blakeney

The Avian, Exotic and Zoo Medicine Service (AEZ) at Oklahoma State University’s Center for Veterinary Health Sciences, directed by Cornelia Ketz-Riley, DVM, DACZM, treats a myriad of animals. Dr. Ketz-Riley is board certified through the American College of Zoological Medicine, which currently only has 132 diplomates. She also brings more than 20 years of experience in working with a lot of different species, not only privately-owned exotic pets, but also with animals kept in zoos or free-ranging wildlife. The AEZ team, consisting of Dr. Ketz-Riley, Jill Murray, certified veterinary technician, and an intern, provides high-quality medical care to all creatures big and small. “Here at the Center’s Boren Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital (BVMTH), we treat all kinds of birds, from canaries to ostriches, small mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish, invertebrates, actually any animals, from spiders to elephants,” laughs Ketz-Riley. “We have taken care of zebras, giraffes, camels, antelope, primates, and even an elephant. Our philosophy is that all animals should get medical care.”  The BVMTH is open to the public, and anyone can bring his or her pet to the hospital for care. If the pet is under the care of another veterinarian, a referral appointment can easily be arranged. The AEZ service offers state-of-the-art veterinary medical care for a wide variety of non-traditional animals.

The following is a list of services available for these patients:

• Preventive Health Care

• Exotic Pet Grooming (Beak, Wing & Nail Trims)

• Dental Care

• New Pet Examinations

• Nutrition Consultations

• Behavior Consultations

• Wildlife Rehabilitation

• Referral Services for Veterinarians

• 24-Hour Hospital Care

• Advanced Medical Care & Procedure

• Advanced Imaging

o Digital Radiography

o Ultrasound

o Computed Tomography (CT)

o Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

• Endoscopy

• Internal Medicine

• Ophthalmic Consultations

• Hematologic, Histopathology & Viral Testing

• Surgery

o Micro-Surgery

o Orthopedic

Being located in the Small Animal Clinic of OSU’s Veterinary Hospital gives the AEZ service access to the latest technology in veterinary medicine, including CT scanners and an MRI. The interdisciplinary atmosphere at the university allows Ketz-Riley and her staff access to many board-certified professionals in such fields as surgery, anesthesiology, radiology and more.

“One of our goals is to provide good client education regarding preventative healthcare,” says Ketz-Riley. “Many of the animals we see have systems that are much more sensitive than your everyday pet. Early detection of problems, proper husbandry, good nutrition, wellness exams, blood work and vaccinations can go a long way in making sure your special pet has a long, good, quality life.

“For example, an annual wellness exam for a guinea pig or a rabbit will cost an owner anywhere from $47 to $147, depending if blood work is included. It is important for a guinea pig to have regular checkups because it could develop bladder stones or large ovarian cysts, for example. This can go undetected for a long time, since rodents and rabbits often hide symptoms of illness as they are potential prey animals that have to hide weakness to avoid predation.

Once the animal is exhibiting clinical signs and is brought into the veterinary hospital, the disease is often far progressed, and the animal may need surgery. At that time, additional diagnostic work-up and surgery could cost the owner much more, so early detection through regular health checks is the key to less expensive medical management and treatment of this problem. So, in the long run, a wellness exam is money saved in the future and helps keep your pet healthy,” she says.

The Oklahoma State University Center for Veterinary Health Sciences is the only veterinary college in Oklahoma and one of 28 veterinary colleges in the United States and is fully accredited by the Council on Education of the American Veterinary Medical Association. The Center’s Boren Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital is open to the public and provides routine and specialized care for small and large animals. It also offers 24-hour emergency care and is certified by the American Animal Hospital Association. For more information, visit www.cvhs.okstate. edu or call (405) 744-7000.

Beware of Chicken Jerky Treats

posted February 21st, 2012 by
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Chicken Jerky

Bella in New York, Chansey, Ginger and Sampson in Ohio, Shelby in Pennsylvania, Sarge in Tennessee, Venus in Washington, Sherma, Tundra, Gracie Mae, Chester and Anna Claire; this is just a handful of victims of the latest deadly danger to pets.

Animal owners are once again at the mercy of pet food companies, as their pets are being poisoned by the very people that they trust to keep them healthy. Once again, claim pet owners, their beloved and innocent family members are dying from eating food items that US companies are importing from China.

Pet owners went through a similar scare in 2007, when the biggest dog food recall in U.S. history came in the wake of thousands of dead and dying pets. That year the FDA received reports of approximately 8500 animal deaths, including at least 1950 cats and 2200 dogs who died after eating contaminated food.

The 2007 recall effected brands ranging from budget labels like Ol’ Roy to top shelf brands like Royal Canin. Eventually it was determined that the contaminant was melamine, a product made in the production of plastics, and that the products had all been imported from China.

This time, there is no recall. The poisoned products are still stocked on store shelves across the country, with no indication that they will be removed any time soon. Dogs varying age from puppies to seniors have been falling ill and dying and the only thing the dogs have in common is that each of them ate dog treats imported from China.

The FDA is aware of the connection and is investigating, but so far they haven’t been able to pinpoint the contaminant.

“FDA, in addition to several animal health diagnostic laboratories in the U.S., is working to determine why these products are associated with illness in dogs. FDA’s Veterinary Laboratory Response Network (VLRN) is now available to support these animal health diagnostic laboratories. To date, scientists have not been able to determine a definitive cause for the reported illnesses. FDA continues extensive chemical and microbial testing but has not identified a contaminant.

Because tests by the FDA are inconclusive, pet treat manufacturers are not required by law to recall their products, and none of them have volunteered to do so. But given that the tests have not pinpointed the contaminant does not mean it is not contaminated. The FDA issued a warning to pet owners in November, 2011 in regards to this issue.

The question many are asking is how many dogs will have to die before the products are recalled? It is already estimated that the dead and dying are numbered at more than 500. This number does not count all of the cases that have not made the connection yet between a pet’s illness and the treats. The treats are causing kidney failure and Fanconi syndrome, with some cases resulting in death; others, in chronic kidney disease.

Four months has passed since the FDA warning yet the treats are still being sold, and pets are still dying.

When Purina began to receive calls from customers whose pets had become ill after eating their Waggin Train jerky treats, they initially discussed financial settlements, but when the FDA’s tests came back with inconclusive results, Purina took all offers off the table.  Some consumers who have posted about pet’s illnesses on Purina’s and Dogswell’s websites have been banned from posting there any longer.

At a news conference today in Cleveland, Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, and Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich both petitioned the FDA to step up their investigation. They both called for the Food and Drug Administration to take immediate action to put a stop to their policy that allows dangerous pet treats and pet foods to remain on the market and to put an immediate stop to its continued sale.

So far, the list of brands with treats made in China that are linked to pet illness and deaths are:

If your pet has eaten tainted treats, symptoms may include:

  • Decreased appetite
  • Decreased activity
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Increased water consumption
  • Increased urination

If your pet is sick and you have been feeding it these treats please report it to the FDA.

For now, pet owners who find the current state of this situation unacceptable are urged by animal advocacy groups to take the following actions.

  • Download the FDA warning here, and print some copies.
  • If you find the products in your store, remove them from the shelf, give them to store managers with a copy of the FDA warning, and ask that the store return the treats to the manufacturer.

About the author: Ariel Wulff is an author, artist and animal advocate. She has worked in animal rescue for more than 24 years, authoring the book Born Without a Tail, a memoir of her experiences with rescued animals. She writes a column as the Cleveland Pets Examiner, and is the National Animal Books Examiner. She also maintains a personal blog about dogs: Up on the Woof, and uses her yelodoggie art to spread the joy of living with dogs.

We Can Stop the Suffering

posted January 27th, 2012 by
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Rabies Photo IIB

Dr. Xianfu Wu, Dr. Charles Rupprecht, Ruth Steinberger

By Ruth Steinberger

Photos by Fabiola Alvarez

Rabies kills tens of thousands of people in impoverished nations each year.  While many people may be surprised by the fact that people die of rabies today, most are shocked to learn that dogs are the vectors in over 95 percent of rabies cases in humans.

an embedded rabies immunocontraceptive target

A family pet visits the spay neuter clinic in Colima in 2011. Volunteers who gather donated supplies hold clinics as often as possible but the numbers are too great to even make a dent without the help of a sterilent for female dogs.

According to the Global Alliance for Rabies Control (GARC), an estimated 375 million homeless dogs exist worldwide—three quarters of all dogs born.  Over 80 percent of unwanted dogs are born in nations in which animals are not protected under the law and where rabies is a genuine human health threat.  Official methods for killing dogs in rabies-plagued nations include clubbing, electrocution, poisoning, drowning and intentional starvation.

an embedded rabies immunocontraceptive target

People waiting near the check-in for the spay neuter clinic, Colima, 2011. Living in poverty there is little money to care for the dogs. Most public facilities in Mexico are operated as "anti-rabicos" meaning they collect the dogs as a prevention against rabies. Most anti-rabicos kill the dogs by electrocution.

Indeed, on a worldwide scale, more dogs are killed by electrocution, clubbing and poisoning than by humane injection; fear of rabies is the number one reason for these aggressive killing programs.  The good news, however, is that a vaccine which could, at once, prevent rabies and pregnancy in dogs may be on the horizon, and GARC is embarking on a campaign to raise the funds to begin the testing of this vaccine in dogs. To begin, at least $150,000 must be raised to move forward.

Researchers, Dr. Xianfu Wu and Dr. Charles Rupprecht, of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (US CDC), have developed a rabies vaccine with an embedded immunocontraceptive target, which has prevented litters in 80 percent of vaccinated female mice.  The vaccine would require a commercial partner and must be approved by regulatory authorities. If this combined rabies/ contraceptive vaccine is determined to be effective in preventing dogs from becoming pregnant, it could revolutionize animal welfare while also preventing and eliminating rabies in developing nations, effectively ending the worst horrors facing unwanted dogs in numbers that are impossible by any other means.  The average life of a street dog is just two years.  Preventing unwanted litters by sterilizing owned females obviously halts the main source of street dogs.

an embedded rabies immunocontraceptive target

Boys on tribal lands in the US play safely with a dog that has been spayed and vaccinated against rabies.

By piggybacking on rabies vaccination programs, this vaccine could provide population control in places where high-volume surgical sterilization for dogs and cats is still decades away, or even in places where dogs and cats are viewed as vermin and providing medical care to them may not be considered valuable.

“Although most developing nations lack animal welfare facilities, such as shelters, much less having spay/neuter programs, many do have rabies control programs,” says Esther Mechler, originator of Spay USA and founder of Marian’s Dream, an animal welfare foundation. Mechler points out that the rabies component could dramatically increase the number of public agencies willing and able to administer the product, essentially taking some of the burden off of the animal welfare community while increasing efficiency in animal welfare efforts.TulsaPets Magazine

In addition to being unconscionably cruel, collecting and killing stray dogs is generally ineffective at stopping the disease because whether or not owned dogs are vaccinated, intact females have litters which replenish the numbers of potential rabies vectors each year.  The outcome is not simply theoretical; rabies produces a violent death as the central nervous system is destroyed by the virus, and, tragically, 40 percent of those who die of rabies are children.  Mechler says, “It’s exciting that this [CDC] team is working on solving these two serious problems together and will be helping the people and the animals both with this one product.”

an embedded rabies immunocontraceptive target

Prevention is the only alternative to collecting and killing, and where there are free-roaming animals, the efforts must focus on females. Male animals are often cited as having a theoretical number of potential offspring which is quite high.  However, sterilizing male animals has no effect on whether or not the females go into estrus and attract males from afar.

Currently, the research is on hold due to the lack of funding; therefore,  GARC’s fundraising efforts are starting immediately.  “Finding a feasible answer to humanely reduce the dog population is probably the single most important missing tool in the battle to reduce the burden of rabies across the globe,” Professor Deborah Briggs, executive director of Global Alliance for Rabies Control, says.

an embedded rabies immunocontraceptive target

Kids hold their cats in pillow cases waiting for them to be spayed.

“Supporting research on the development of an immunocontraceptive could save millions of dogs from being slaughtered in the name of rabies control and revolutionize rabies control strategies.”

Can You Hear Me Now?

posted January 15th, 2012 by
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TulsaPetsMagazine.com

TulsaPetsMagazine.comClose your eyes, plug your ears and welcome to the world of a newborn puppy. Those adorable little balls of fluff snuggled up tightly to one another look so at peace and content, especially for lacking two major senses. The idea that pups are born functionally deaf (with their ear canals closed) and blind (with their eyelids tightly shut) makes every move and mealtime seem like quite an accomplishment. As the days pass, senses develop and exploring begins, but sadly, not for all. Some puppies, due to genetics, are born blind or deaf. Typically, blind pups are easy to identify, so their special needs can be met, but deaf dogs can be trickier to detect.

Any dog lover will tell you how amazing canines are, how smart and intuitive. So the thought of a dog overcompensating for a disability is no surprise. Dogs that are born deaf don’t know what they’re missing, and even though they can’t hear you call their name, they can feel the vibrations of your foot steps and come running. Many people never even know that their pet can’t hear them. How could they if sometimes Rover comes when called and other times he ignores them? They chalk it up to stubbornness.

If you find yourself frustrated by a non-responsive pooch, or one who responds half the time, a simple BAER test could be in order before deciding that your canine acts more like that of the swine family (aka pig-headed).TulsaPetsMagazine.com

The BAER (Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response) machine/ procedure uses a computer to record the electrical activity of the brain in response to sound stimulation. This is the same test used to check the hearing of human infants, and it measures the same range of hearing. The test is not painful and can be performed on any dog over six weeks of age.

Unfortunately, BAER machines are very expensive and, therefore, not common. Only two are known of in Oklahoma. One is located at Oklahoma State University’s veterinary school and the other is right here in Tulsa at Best Friends Veterinary Hospital. Dr. Carol Best, owner of Best Friends, says the hospital purchased the machine in September, and the response has been very positive.

Oftentimes, the BAER test is used to detect deafness for breeding purposes. “As with any genetic problem, early diagnosis of the affected animals can keep them from being used for breeding and, therefore, should help reduce or eliminate the gene from the breed,” Dr. Best explains. As the BAER machine becomes more commonplace, those considering adoption from a deaf-prone breed may inquire if the dogs have been tested — eliminating any of the guesswork up front.

However, there are also benefits for the average dog owner who simply wants to better understand and meet the needs of his or her furry family member, making life easier for everyone in the home. The BAER test is the only sure way to know if a dog is deaf; it is a 100-percent reliable method for measuring the extent of hearing loss.

Dr. Best says certain breeds are more prone to deafness than others. Dalmatians and Australian Cattle Dogs are at the top of the list. Other breeds include: American and English Foxhounds, Boston Terriers, Bull Terriers, Collies, Dachshunds, English Setters, Fox Terriers, Great Danes (color linked), Great Pyrenees, Maltese, Miniature Poodles, and Scottish Terriers.

If you suspect that your dog might be deaf or have hearing loss, Dr. Best says there are some signs to look for. “They can include not coming when called, especially if their back is to you, not waking up when you come home, and having trouble locating where a sound is,” she says. “Signs of hearing loss can be subtle, especially if only one ear is affected.”

While the BAER machine can work on all types of animals, Dr. Best says it is mostly used for puppies. If you’re interested in having your pet’s hearing tested, you can contact Best Friends Veterinary Hospital at (918) 663-7595.TulsaPetsMagazine.com

By Kiley Roberson

Photos by Sirius Photography

Always Flip the Lip

posted January 15th, 2012 by
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Fotolia_8297199_XS2

Dr. Kenneth M. Capron

He’s the kind of veterinarian who makes your pet smile—a glistening, pretty smile at that.

But make no mistake, Dr. Kenneth M. Capron is serious about his work as a board certified veterinary dental specialist, and he has many titles, letters and awards behind his name to prove it.

“It is just a great feeling of success when you can help something, such as an animal, that cannot help itself. I receive my highest satisfaction when I help law enforcement dogs get back to ‘duty.’ They ‘can do’ what man ‘cannot do’—sniffing out drugs and tracking down ‘bad folks’ with their noses. They cannot do it with malodor coming from their mouths and bad teeth—it decreases and blocks their ability to smell,” Capron said.

In 1994, Capron was president of the American Veterinary Dental Society and founded National Pet Dental Health Month (Campaign), which is observed yearly in February and has since become a worldwide campaign celebrated at different times of the year. It is a campaign to encourage veterinarians and pet owners to “Flip the Lip” of their pets and look for abnormalities in the mouth, whether it be periodontal disease, fractured teeth, oral tumors, orthodontic misalignment of teeth, fractured maxillas (upper jaws), fractured mandibles (lower jaws), sympysis separations, especially in cats (left and right mandibular separation), gingivitis, stomatitis and tooth resorptive lesion.

The most common problem in dogs and cats is periodontal disease. Research has shown that by age 3, 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats have some form of periodontal disease, whether it be early gingivitis or severe periodontal disease. This disease can progress to deep pockets in the gingival sulcus of the teeth, leading to loss of the surrounding bone, and, ultimately, loss of teeth caused by the infection. Periodontal disease is inflammation of the gingiva and periodontium (gingiva, periodontal ligament, cementum and osseous bone) and is caused by gram negative anaerobic bacteria (the type that lives without oxygen below the gums).

It is recommended to start having your pet’s teeth professional cleaned and polished by your veterinarian between 2 and 3 years of age and yearly after.  In cases of older pets, where the disease has already started, they may need to have their teeth cleaned more than once a year, and once the problems are addressed and taken care of properly, it may be possible to return to the once a year schedule.  Home care by the pet owner, after the professional cleaning, polishing, intra oral dental X-rays and assessment by your veterinarian, is of utmost importance. Brushing the teeth is the “gold standard” (same as for people), and every day would be great, but no less than every other day, in order to prevent the bio film (plaque) from forming into calculus and tartar (the hard yellow brown deposit on the teeth at the gingival margins). It is impossible to be brushed away by the time it reaches that stage of the process of periodontal disease.

Periodontal disease can affect the internal organs (liver, kidneys, lungs), and toxins excreted by the bacteria causing the periodontal disease can cause seizures, which can be fatal.  The smaller the pet or older, the faster and more severe the problem can occur. A number of commercial products are available and have been through rigorous testing by the VOHC (Veterinary Oral Health Council), which is similar to the human ADA (American Dental Society). When a pet owner purchases a product for home care of the pet’s mouth, he or she should look for the VOHC seal of approval, because that product has research and testing behind it.  The VOHC website and many of the Veterinary Dental web sites can be reached through Capron’s sites: www.CapronVetHospital.com or www.AnimalDentalClinicofTulsa.com.

If a product is too hard for you to bite down on with your own teeth, do not feed it to your pet.  It will break teeth or sliver down the tooth, cutting the periodontal ligament and starting the process of periodontal disease.  So, no pigs ears, cows hoofs, hard bones, large knotted chews, hollow bones that you stuff with goodies, no chicken jerky or duck jerky. Salmonella bacteria have also been found in them and can be transmitted to man and animal alike.

Common signs of periodontal disease are malodor (stinky breath), pawing at the face, rubbing the face on the carpet or door jams, inflamed and reddened gingival margins, bleeding from the mouth, food falling out of the mouth with a whimpering sound, or not eating at all and weight loss. The power of observation by the pet owner at home, in the pet’s own environment, is very important in order to catch problems early. The longer a problem exists, the more time and effort is required to correct the problem.

Dental X-rays (intra oral radiographs) are “a must” when diagnosing dental problems.  The battle against periodontal disease is won—or lost—below the gums (gingiva) and is prevented or treated by doing sub gingival cleaning and polishing, or even employing more advanced techniques.  The problems are identified by measuring and charting the depths of the periodontal pockets and the diagnostic information from intra oral X-rays. If periodontal disease is caught early, then many times the problem can be treated with medications and other methods, such as laser therapy and antibiotic gel placement into the deep pockets, while the pet is under isoflurane gas anesthesia.

Many times, slightly mobile (loose) teeth can be saved by doing surgical soft tissue flaps and artificial bone placement around the tooth. The tissue is sutured and a splint device is placed on the tooth and to adjoining teeth to immobilize the movement while the new bone becomes more stable.

If a pet’s mouth has not been examined regularly, hopeless teeth have to be extracted and artificial bone must be placed back into the boney socket and the gingival (gum) sutured.  After the gum heals, the replacement bone placed into the boney socket gives support to the area where the roots used to be. In a couple of months, it will give a good biting surface, and pets can “gum their food” fairly well. “I have a few dogs—and several cats— that are running around town that do not have a tooth to their name (in their mouth) and they are eating canned food or dry food that has been moistened with a hot water soak before presenting the meal to them,” Capron said. “These drastic oral surgical procedures are avoidable if you take pet dental health seriously.”

“Kittens normally have 26 deciduous teeth, and adult cats have 30 permanent teeth.  Puppies normally have 28 deciduous, and adult dogs have 42 permanent teeth.  I have found up to as many as 51 adult teeth on a dog. The areas of missing teeth in the mouth need to be X-rayed, looking for abnormal development of the permanent tooth. Teeth that never erupted can cause problems later in life, such as dentigerous cystic caverns in the bone. This problem needs to be ruled out or identified as genetic inherited missing teeth.

Kitten’s deciduous (baby) teeth begin to erupt at 2 to 3 weeks of age, and their permanent teeth begin to erupt at 3 to 4 months of age.

“Puppy’s deciduous (baby) teeth begin to erupt at 3 to 5 weeks of age, and their permanent teeth begin to erupt at 3 to 5 months of age. Both cats and dogs vary somewhat by their breed, size and genetic background, just like in people, practically the only difference is that they walk on all four legs, and we (as people) walk on two legs.

“A few of the veterinary dentists on the East and West Coasts have tried placing implants with artificial tooth pontics, but this has not been very successful due to the fact that when we see the animal, and the tooth is so loose, the bone is almost eaten up with infection, and the strength of the metal implant is designed for man and not the power of a dog’s mouth.

“Other problems found upon doing an intra oral dental examination and assessment would be fractured teeth, non-vital (dead and discolored) teeth, resorptive lesions on pet’s teeth, especially found in cats, misalignment of teeth causing soft tissue trauma (orthodontic problems) and adding to the problem of periodontal disease.

“Orthodontics in veterinary medicine is performed mainly to correct the function of the mouth and to realign the teeth rather than for cosmetic appearance as done in human medicine and dentistry. Interceptive orthodontics is performed on young pets when they still have their deciduous (temporary, baby or milk) teeth.  There should never be two teeth of the same type in the same alveolar socket at the same time. I see this many times in both the canine and feline (dog and cat) species, and if not corrected early, then when the permanent teeth erupt, they will be out of their normal position (misalignment).

“Orthodontic appliances can be made to correct adult pets’ problems. Alginate impressions are taken and stone models poured and sent to a dental lab with instructions on what is needed to be manufactured for the pet’s problem. When the appliance is received back from the dental lab, the pet is put back under gas anesthesia, and the appliance is cemented into place. Usually, orthodontic problems in dogs and cats can be corrected much faster than their human counterpart.”

Metal braces with rubber bands, which Capron designs, can help dogs with “bite” problems and aren’t just for cosmetic purposes, but for function. Fractured teeth are treated by performing endodontic procedures, such as indirect pulp capping, direct pulp capping (if performed within 24 to 48 hours from the time of injury) or root canal procedures if non-vital teeth are presented. Light cure composite restorative material is placed over access holes or fracture sites. Stainless steel metal crowns are highly recommended to be placed over the finished tooth in order to further protect the dental restorative work completed. Follow up intra oral X-rays should be performed yearly for about three years after an endodontic procedure is used to check the success.

Capron performs root canal procedures using battery-operated hand held light speed hand pieces with files that look like drill bits. Dental implants for animals aren’t yet standard because of dogs’ chewing on hard objects. “Our patients don’t have the power to follow instructions and reason,” he said.

“Ceramic-type of crowns can be used in dogs, but remember we are dealing with a patient that does not have the ‘power to reason,’ and you can tell a human not to chew on a hard piece of candy or ‘do not bite down on a steak bone’ (as in human dentistry), but the pet goes outside and chews on the fence instead or picks up a piece of firewood and carries it across the back yard—and shatters the ceramic crown—kind of like dropping a heavy metal soup spoon into a porcelain sink in the kitchen. So, for that reason, I recommend the stainless steel metal crowns on large dogs, but if you have a small dog that is very mindful, then it may work—‘may,’ that is.”

TulsaPets Magazine

Recently, “Yari,” an 88-lb. German Shepherd police dog from Fayetteville, Arkansas, was in the Capron Veterinary Hospital & Animal Dental Clinic of Tulsa to have some restoration work done on one of his canine teeth.

Eight-year old “Yari” has been a patient since 2005 and had four stainless steel crowns placed on his four canine teeth. Three years later, he broke off one of the metal crowns during a struggle with a Bullmastiff over land rights. The existing tip of the root was restored with light cure composite, but it was too short to put another stainless steel crown back on the root. A surgical crown extension of the root was not feasible in his case.

Recently, he had bitten down on something hard (car trunk or cowboy belt buckle) during an apprehension and broke away the composite restoration, so he was visiting Dr. Capron for another restoration. The sooner it was fixed, the faster he could get back to work (on duty).  “He is the type of employee that likes to work 25/8,” Capron said.

“He’s helped us find a lot of dope and bad guys,” said his handler, Sgt. Tion Augustine, with the Washington County Sheriff’s office.

While the doctor listened to the patient’s heart in an extensive pre-operative examination and assessment, “Yari” began to show his softer side, realizing that he and Dr. Capron had met previously. “It’s a V-12 engine in there,” joked Dr. Capron, a former Captain in the United States Air Force Veterinary Corps and a private pilot belonging to the Kansas State University Flying Club while attending veterinary college there.

Of course, he understandingly let “Yari” calm down from his long drive from Arkansas before performing a blood test, general gas anesthesia and intra oral digital radiographs (X-rays). Capron noted the importance of the blood test to detect underlying conditions, such as kidney, liver, pancreatic diseases or heartworms, before administering the anesthesia. Undiagnosed problems can have fatal results when a pet is under anesthesia,   just like in people.

The extensive exam and lab work performed on “Yari” eased the anxiety of Sgt. Augustine. But not to fear, as always, Capron had it under control. “It’s all about paying attention to detail,” the officer said. “You’ve got to ‘flip the lip’ and pay attention to what your eyes are telling you.”

TulsaPets Magazine

But back in the examination room, “Yari’s” eyes were beginning to droop from the pre-anesthesia medication, showing he was relaxed enough to begin his procedure.

General anesthesia was administered and “Yari” was transported to the dental suite.

Capron cleaned and polished “Yari’s” teeth while the dog was under isoflurane gas anesthesia; Capron took intra oral digital X-rays, (checking the remaining 3 stainless steel metal crowns and then replacing the damaged restoration. The doctor may need to perform a laser treatment for gingivitis).

After the successful, nearly three-hour procedure, the dog was walking within 20 minutes. Sgt. Augustine said “Yari” will be back to putting the bite on crime within no time.

Capron’s office—consisting of a dental suite, surgical room, treatment room, X-ray room, laboratory, four examination rooms and a couple of offices—offers various treatments (periodontics, endodontics, orthodontics, restorations, crowns, oral surgery, intra oral digital radiology and digital laser therapy) with state-of –the art dental and surgical equipment. A spacious backyard allows the pet patients to stretch and exercise their legs before and after surgical and dental procedures.

Dr. Capron uses a digital camera to document procedures; this allows him to show pet owners the entire process, easing any lingering anxiety, and they can understand the before and after aspects of the case. An intra oral digital X-ray sensor is used inside the mouth and X-rays are produced within 10 seconds. A back-up hand held X-ray gun is available for portable work.

Any oral tumors are surgically removed and sent overnight to the Oklahoma State University Diagnostic Lab where board certified veterinary pathologists view and fax back results within 5 days. Within two weeks, they also send back to him a microscopic slide of the tissue that was sent over to the OSU Diagnostic Lab. Capron has 26 years of slides—as long as he has been performing advanced dentistry.  In the laboratory, he has a digital camera on a triocular microscope that can take digital pictures of the tissue, and also he can project the tissue slide on a large overhead monitor for teaching purposes to inform veterinary assistants, technicians and other veterinarians.

“Most importantly,” Capron said, “if you are not using a dental X-ray machine and doing intra oral radiographs, you cannot perform the advanced dental services that are needed on pets—only dental hygiene.”

Another high-tech piece of equipment is the cold laser therapy machine, used to treat pulled muscles, torn cruciate ligaments, ear infections, hip dysplasia, degenerative joints and arthritis, and it aids the healing process of periodontal disease after doing intra oral surgery. Laser therapy can be used on outpatients or awake/conscious pets, as well. Dr. Capron moves the laser over the target area, and the pets relax, responding to it as if they were receiving a good massage. Pain relief follows after just a few minutes of therapy. A similar device is used on people.

“About two-thirds of my business is dental and one-third general small animal practice,” Capron said, who calls himself “just a country boy,” who became one of 114 veterinarians in the world to go through the rigorous training and testing process to become a board certified veterinary dentist.  He was president of the American Veterinary Dental College in 2002-2004. Recently, at the Veterinary Dental Forum held in Boston, he was elected the president elect of the Academy of Veterinary Dentistry.

Dr. Capron’s wife, Beverly, works chair-side with him on the dental patients, along with other veterinary assistants. One of Capron and Beverly’s sons, Dr. Steven D. Capron, is a graduate of Oklahoma State University College of Veterinary Medicine and is a Fellow of the Academy of Veterinary Dentistry. He has a 100 percent veterinary dental practice in Austin, Texas. Together, they were the first “Father & Son” members of the Academy of Veterinary Dentistry.

Back to the animals, it’s not just the humongous dogs like “Yari” that Capron treats.  He also works on cats and tiny dogs, such as a 2-lb. Yorkie named “Toots.” He showed X-rays of “Rosita,” a 12-year-old 2-lb rescued Chihuahua on whom he has extracted all of her teeth—or what was left of them after years of neglect and gum disease. The dog put on a full pound about 6 months after the oral surgical procedures. “The new owner is one of the most responsible people I have ever known, and the lady with the 2-lb. Yorkie is another one, and both ladies have been clients of mine for about 35 years,” Capron says. Stories like these serve as proof that attention to dental health in pets makes a difference in their overall health and quality of life.