Pet Health

Can You Hear Me Now?

posted January 15th, 2012 by
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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)

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)

By Kiley Roberson

Photos by Sirius Photography

Always Flip the Lip

posted January 15th, 2012 by
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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: or

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.

National Keep Pets Safe in Winter Day, Dec 22

posted November 22nd, 2011 by
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Winter can be hazardous for people living in cold-weather regions – and for our four-legged friends. To help keep pets safe this winter, Morton Salt’s  Safe-T-Pet® brand ice melt and the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) today announced a public service campaign that kicks off on the first day of winter, Dec. 22, with “National Keep Pets Safe in Winter Day.”

The purpose of the campaign, which runs through January 2012, is to share important pet safety tips with as many pet owners as possible to help reduce winter weather-related pet injuries and fatalities.  These tips can be found on Morton’s website ( and on Facebook at (

As part of the campaign, Morton is making a $20,000 donation to the ASPCA to help continue its life-saving work and provide resources to pet owners on pet wellness.  In addition, for every unique Facebook fan “like” received on Morton’s Facebook page from Oct. 1 through Jan. 31, 2012, Morton will donate $1 to the ASPCA, up to $55,000. This additional funding from Morton will be used by the ASPCA to raise awareness about the importance of proper winter pet care and safety.  

“Pet owners should know the importance of keeping their furry friends safe during the winter, which is what we hope to raise awareness about by teaming up with Morton for this public service campaign,” said Elysia Howard, vice president of marketing and licensing for the ASPCA.  

Morton brand manager Sara Matuszak added, “The world looks different to pets when it’s covered in ice and snow.   We are proud to offer animal enthusiasts a chloride-free  ice melt that’s safer for pets in cold weather areas, and now by collaborating with the ASPCA on the ‘National Keep Pets Safe in Winter’ campaign, we hope to make a bigger difference in the lives of millions of pets and their owners.”

Low awareness of household hazards and prevention measures drive too many pet injuries and fatalities each year. Some quick guidelines for winter pet safety include:

  • Using pet-friendly (salt free and chloride free) ice melters such as Morton® Safe-T-Pet®.
  • Keeping anti-freeze high on shelves in sealed containers and quickly cleaning any spills/leakage.
  • Limiting outdoor time for pets when temperatures drop below freezing.
  • Checking warm spots on cars, such as hoods, where animals might seek shelter from the cold.  
  • Keeping pets on a leash, especially dogs, which can become disoriented or lost when once familiar surroundings are covered in ice and snow; and
  • Making sure pets are wearing identification tags and proper outerwear as needed.

More about the ASPCA

Founded in 1866, the ASPCA (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) is the first humane organization established in the Americas and serves as the nation’s leading voice for animal welfare. One million supporters strong, the ASPCA’s mission is to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States. As a 501 [c] [3] not-for-profit corporation, the ASPCA is a national leader in the areas of anti-cruelty, community outreach and animal health services. The ASPCA, which is headquartered in New York City, offers a wide range of programs, including a mobile clinic outreach initiative, its own humane law enforcement team, and a groundbreaking veterinary forensics team and mobile animal CSI unit. For more information, please visit To become a fan of the ASPCA on Facebook, go To follow the ASPCA on Twitter, go to
More about Morton and Safe-T-Pet®   

A company with roots that date back to 1848, Morton has established itself as America’s trusted authority on salt based on consistent excellence and an evolving product line that continues to pass the test of time.  Morton® Safe-T-Pet® ice melt continues this tradition.  Developed with veterinarian support to be safer for your furry friends, Safe-T-Pet has a completely salt and chloride free formula which is less irritating and safer for pets’ paws and stomachs, people, and plants, as well as paved surfaces, than plain salt.  Safe-T-Pet can be purchased online or at major national retailers.  Click here to find a store located near you. For more information visit  or

Proper Prior Planning: A Must

posted September 7th, 2011 by
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View of thunderstorm clouds above water

By Stacy Pettit

Last weekend, I know many of us stayed glued to the TV or near our cell phones to check in with friends and family on the East Coast as Hurricane Irene ferociously drilled the shore. Last week’s storm should serve as a reminder to properly care for those friends and family closer to home – our pets – in the event of a natural disaster. And with Oklahoma already seeing its fair share of disasters in 2011 including blizzards, fires, floods, extreme heat and tornados, the sooner you have a plan in place to keep your pet safe, the better.

            FEMA has declared September as National Preparedness Month so what better time to gather supplies and create a plan in case the unimaginable happens to you and your family? Here are a few tips to get you started:

  1. Make sure your pets have proper tags and contact information on at all times. This will make it easier for you to find your pet in case you get separated. It is also a good idea to put medical information if your pet needs medicine on the back of their tags.
  2. Much like the kit that you pack for the rest of your family, include three days worth of food and water for your pet along with a first aid kit in a natural disaster safety pack. Other good ideas to include in this pack are food bowls, extra leashes and collars, and an adequate supply of medications that your pet might be on.
  3. Always plan to bring your pet along with you if you must evacuate your home. A pet has a much better chance at survival if he is with his owner. If you are away from home when disaster strikes, talk with a neighbor ahead of time and ask them to check in on your pet if you are not home during a disaster.
  4. Because it is a good idea to take your pet with you if you are evacuated, be sure and have a list of shelters or hotels that allow pets. If it is impossible to bring your pet with you to a shelter, check out possible places to board your animals.

 With such a wide array of possible natural disasters, you must be ready to think on your feet. If you become confused about what to do for your pets in a disaster, the best idea is to treat your pet as part of the family. After all, let’s face it – they are a big part of the family and in the end, if a nightmare hits your home, having that friend there to support you will make the rebuilding process a little easier. 

Understanding Tapeworms Like It or Not

posted July 15th, 2011 by
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By Nancy Gallimore Werhane

If you are squeamish, this may not be the article for you. Fair warning. But if you are a concerned pet owner, this is a topic you need to understand, so steel yourself and read on because frankly, your veterinarian may need your help to diagnose this one.

The topic? The mysterious tapeworm. Also formally known as the disgusting tapeworm.

So why in the world should we even discuss this parasite? You take your cats and dogs to the veterinarian for checkups, right? Your veterinarian checks for things like this. Right? Well, here’s the ugly truth. While your veterinarian can screen your pets for many intestinal parasites like hookworms, roundworms and whipworms, the sneaky tapeworm evades detection in standard screenings.

How then, you may ask, is your pet diagnosed with tapeworms? Good question. Otherwise healthy dogs or cats may have tapeworm infections with no outward symptoms. That means detection often comes when you actually see them. Yes, you. Yes, see them. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Ok, let’s sort this out. Perhaps it’s best to start at the end. Literally. Tapeworms are most often diagnosed when someone notices what appear to be little white worms either in a pet’s stool or left behind where the dog or cat was sitting. The most common description is that they look like little pieces of squirming white rice. They might also be diagnosed by the discovery of what appears to be little grains of dried brown rice or seeds around the dog or cat’s anus. Why we compare both to food items is hard to fathom, but there you have it.

According to Dr. Dennis Henson of Hammond Animal Hospital in Tulsa, these little pieces are not the actual worms, but are segments of an adult tapeworm. “As the tapeworm matures,” explained Dr. Henson, “ it drops tail segments called proglottids, that are mobile. Each proglottid is a separate reproductive unit that contains the eggs of the tapeworm. These egg packets then pass in the feces of the dog or cat.”

That’s what makes tapeworm detection a bit tricky. With other parasites, the eggs shed directly in the animal’s feces.

Because the tapeworm eggs shed so neatly packaged, unless the segments disintegrate first, which rarely happens, they don’t show up in a traditional fecal test. The culprit in the spread of the most common form of tapeworm found in our pets is the common flea. Unlike other parasites, tapeworms require an intermediate host to complete their reproductive cycle. So here’s the Reader’s

Digest version of how it works:

  • A flea larvae eats fecal matter that contains tapeworm eggs.
  • The eggs hatch inside the flea and become cysticercoids.
  • A dog or cat may then swallow a flea that contains these cysticercoids.
  • The flea passes into the dog or cat’s intestine where it is broken down, releasing the cysticercoids.
  • The cysticercoids then develop into adult tapeworms that attach to the lining of the animal’s intestine and feed off the nutrients.

This is where we come full circle back to the part where the segments containing the eggs shed and the cycle is allowed to start all over again. Isn’t nature fun?

You may think your pet is safe because you religiously follow a flea prevention routine and don’t have fleas in your home environment. According to Dr. Henson, yes, that helps, but it does not guarantee that your pet will not be infested by tapeworms. “Your pet only has to swallow one infected flea,” said Henson. “A dog who goes for a walk where other animals have been or a cat who strays from its own yard can easily ingest a flea even with flea preventatives in use.”

There is also another type of tapeworm that is transmitted through small rodents, such as mice, rats, squirrels or rabbits, that serve as the intermediate host. If you have a hunter in your midst — and what dog or cat won’t occasionally partake of a “natural diet” when opportunity presents itself — then you have yet another avenue for the tapeworm to find its way into your pet’s intestinal tract.

According to Dr. Henson, there is some good news here. First, unless left unchecked for a very long period of time, tapeworms don’t generally cause a lot of damage in pets. Second, because they must have a very specific intermediate host, tapeworms cannot be transmitted directly from pet to pet or through contact with infected feces. Without a proper host, the tapeworm just can’t exist. It’s hard to imagine, but if your pet must have a parasite, the tapeworm may be the best of the pack. Of course that doesn’t mean we love them. We don’t. So let’s discuss how to get rid of them.

Dr. Henson advises that most over-the-counter worm treatments are not effective for tapeworms. He suggests you call your veterinarian to report your find. “Today’s treatment for tapeworms is simple and effective,” said Henson. “The medication we prescribe causes the tapeworm to lose its protective layer and it is simply digested. You will not see them pass, they just basically disappear.”

The most common medication prescribed is called Droncit® and it comes in the form of a chewable tablet that is apparently quite tasty to pets. Problem solved.

Oh, and in case you are worried, apparently humans rarely get tapeworms. It is possible that you could swallow a flea, and yes, you could get a tapeworm that way, but humans are more likely to come down with a species of tapeworm that is passed through raw or undercooked meat or fish. Just a little something to think about as you sit down to enjoy that next round of sushi or sashimi. Still rare, people. Don’t panic.

So all in all, while tapeworms are truly disgusting, on the scale of parasitic infections, they do rank as fairly harmless. Now take your new knowledge, go forth and watch your pet do number two. Your veterinarian is counting on you.

K-9 Chiropractic? Who Knew?

posted April 12th, 2011 by
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Dr  Duree pic I

 For over 100 years here in the United States, Doctors of Chiropractic have been treating human spines and extremities.   Why not treat dogs too?   Doctors Certified in Animal Chiropractic do just that!

Chiropractic is the healthcare science that focuses on optimal joint function.  With chiropractic, the patient, as a whole person or a whole dog, is the center of care, not just the symptom or the disease process.   The goal of treatment is to restore and to maintain full function of the joints.  Doing so improves the neurological aspect of health.  

What usually brings a patient to the chiropractor is pain.  With dogs, pain may take on many forms.   Your dog may have difficulty climbing, jumping, or walking.   He may not be able to get up from a laying or sitting position.   He may resist any movement as you attempt tugging on the leash to go forward.  You also may see him shaking his head frequently.   There could be problems with eating or lack of interest in playing with toys.   Other signs of pain could include abnormal postures when standing or sitting, or holding the tail to one side instead of wagging it from side to side.   A dog may demonstrate behavioral changes like snapping, or may not be interested in playing with family members

What causes these changes in the dog’s ability to perform normal, usual activities?   It may be that the dog jumped from a great height or was hit by a car.   Or a series of micro traumas may occur over a span of time that has a cumulative effect.  Jumping in and out of cars, jerking at the leash and riding in a car with sudden starts and stops are examples of micro traumas.  Dogs that perform agility, flyball and herding may be prone to joint strain due to the high physical demands of these activities.

And with age, degenerative changes occur at the joints and the intervertebral discs just like with humans.   This degenerative process is accelerated if the joint dysfunction goes untreated. If the dog is overweight, the additional weight strains the joints in an ongoing way every minute of the day.

Chiropractic treatment helps to restore normal joint dysfunction.   And in so doing, the treatment relieves pain, helps promote full healing, restores and maintains full function and prevents accelerated degeneration.

Most dogs enjoy the treatment.   The doctor starts by performing a complete examination, including taking a complete history and doing a gait analysis.  Chiropractic adjustments are performed by hand in a gentle manner using very little force.  

The speed of recovery depends on many different factors.   The longer the condition has been present, the longer the recovery.   Older dogs will heal more slowly, but the quality of life will improve with treatment.  Much depends on how much damage has been done to the nervous system and the joints’ soft tissues, and/or damage to the spinal cord, the spinal nerve and/or the disc and joint tissues.   The speed of recovery also depends upon how well the dog’s owner cooperates with the recommendations of the doctor.  If the doctor recommends that the dog be rested in the kennel for two days, it is important to do so for the best result.   If the doctor advises that the dog be walked on leash and not allowed to run free, then it is important to do so for the best result.

The power that made the body also heals the body.  There are no unrealistic goals…only unrealistic time frames for healing.

Dr. Willa Duree, D.C., CCSP, CAC

Doctor of Chiropractic for humans, dogs and horses.

Utilizing spinal decompression and cold laser therapies.

Shawnee, OK  74802