Pet Health

Veterinary Dental Specialists Launch Program for Service Dogs

posted July 30th, 2012 by
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American Veterinary Dental College

The first annual American Veterinary Dental College (AVDC) Service Dog Oral Healthcare Exam program will be held in August 2012. The event will honor the dogs who selflessly serve the public – guide dogs, service dogs, working and military dogs, and search and rescue dogs. Complimentary oral healthcare examinations will be provided by AVDC veterinary dental specialists.

These AVDC veterinary dental specialists will be looking for signs of periodontal disease, fractured teeth, discolored teeth, oral masses, and other oral and dental diseases that can cause pain or discomfort for service dogs.

Although no treatment will be offered as part of the Service Dog Oral Healthcare Exam program, if oral or dental abnormalities are found, a treatment plan will be laid out that the owner or handler can elect to pursue at a later date. In addition, the veterinary dental specialists will teach service dog owners and handlers about the benefits of preventative oral health care.

Many AVDC veterinary dental specialists have treated service dogs in the past and are well aware that oral pain can prevent these dogs from working effectively. This program will help ensure that America’s service dogs are able to do their important work at peak efficiency.

Owners and handlers of service animals who have been certified from a formal training program, or enrolled in a training program can register on-line between now and August 15 at the AVDC website: Once registered, owners or agents will receive a registration number and a list of participating veterinary dentists in their area whom they can contact to schedule an appointment during August. Times may vary, depending on the facility, and appointments are provided on a first-come, first-served basis.


For further information, contact:



Kenneth M. Capron, DVM


Capron Veterinary Hospital and Dental Clinic for Pets (Animal Dental Clinic of Tulsa)

6705 East 51st Street

Tulsa, OK 74145-7606

(918) 627-5188


David S. Russell, DVM


Veterinary Dental Center of Tulsa

4820 E. 33rd Street

Tulsa, OK 74135



Pearly Whites for Pets

posted July 15th, 2012 by
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by Kiley Roberson

If you thought trying to get your kids to brush their teeth was hard work, try handing the floss to Fido.


Of all the members of your fam­ily, it isn’t hard to guess who has the worst dental hygiene: your pets. They don’t brush or floss their teeth, and this can go on for years. If you want to show your kids what will happen to their teeth if they don’t brush regularly, just look at your pet’s teeth—or worse, smell his bad breath.


According to, 80 percent of dogs over age 3 have some kind of gum disease, and for those adopted from shel­ters, the percentage is almost 100. That number doesn’t even include cats. That’s why Tulsa’s Partnering for Pets had to get involved. The organization donated a den­tal machine to the Tulsa and Owasso ani­mal shelters to make sure the animals at both locations have healthy smiles.


“We have seen pets at the shelters with poor teeth and bad breath, which poten­tially makes them less adoptable,” ex­plained Sherri Griggs with Partnering for Pets. “A prospective pet parent might be hesitant to adopt an animal with tooth de­cay or heavy tartar. If you have ever had tooth pain, you can empathize with an animal that isn’t feeling well and may even be nippy or grumpy.”


Griggs is a volunteer for Tulsa’s Part­nering for Pets. In fact, everyone at the organization is a volunteer. Partnering for Pets is a non-profit organization founded in 2008 and funded entirely by donations and grants from charitable foundations.


Partnering for Pets works mostly with local animal shelters and communities; they also hold adoption events for home­less pets and teach humane education.


“Humane education is targeted to pro­mote responsible pet ownership: reduc­ing the overpopulation of unwanted pets, offering reduced-rate spay/neuter and vaccination service, providing food and shelter for your pet, dog training, groom­ing, and, yes, brushing your pet’s teeth,” said Griggs. “Dental health can make a significant difference in a pet’s well-be­ing, and without such care, gum disease and infection can lead to life-threatening illnesses.”


Periodontal disease is disease around the outside of the tooth. Our (human) dentist reminds us that if we do not reg­ularly brush away plaque on our teeth, it will become tartar. When tartar builds up, it begins to affect the gums. As the dis­ease advances, it damages the ligaments, and eventually the actual bone around the tooth can begin to deteriorate. Bacteria in the mouth can travel through the blood­stream leading to infection in the heart, liver, kidneys or other organs.


All of this is true for your pets, too. But, thanks to Partnering for Pets, the shelter animals in Tulsa and Owasso have some­thing to smile about. The new donated machines polish and clean, scrubbing away dangerous tartar and revealing clean, healthy teeth.


“Dental equipment, or specifically, a simple scaler or polisher helps shelter pets have a little better chance to be adopted,” Griggs explained. “In addition to removing the tartar and polishing the teeth, the electric scaler polisher saves time. Not only will these animals feel so much better without a toothache, but it will help them put their best paw and smiles forward.”


Cathy Pienkos, DVM, with Tulsa Animal Welfare was extremely happy about the donated dental machine. She says the shelter’s first patient was a 4-year-old Sia­mese mix named Jo. Jo came to the shel­ter as a neutered and declawed stray cat with some fairly bad teeth. With the help of the new dental machine, Dr. Pienkos was able to clean Jo’s teeth and during the process found two teeth that required extractions. He recovered well and was moved to adoptions the very next day, where he soon found his forever home.


“This dental machine will greatly im­prove the health of our adopted animals. It will also help us save lives, as we will be able to adopt out more middle aged and older animals,” Dr. Pienkos explained in a thank you letter to Partnering for Pets.


Jo’s story is just the beginning. Now lots of homeless pets in Tulsa and Owasso will get the much needed dental care they de­serve, living longer and healthier lives.

A Diagnosis No Dog Owner Wants to Hear

posted July 15th, 2012 by
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by Nancy Gallimore Werhane

A torn anterior or cranial cruciate ligament – the diagnosis no dog owner wants to hear. That is especially true when your dog is not only your best buddy, but also your valued service dog.


But that is the diagnosis David Skaggs, a Vietnam veteran, heard when he took his service dog Toby, a handsome yellow Labrador retriever, to the vet because of a limp. Dr. Dennis Henson, with Hammond Animal Hospital, found that Toby had not only torn his ACL, but also had a malformed knee joint that probably contributed to the injury.


For Toby’s long-term wellbeing and to allow him to continue in his vital role as David’s service dog, he would have to undergo surgery to repair the knee. Traditionally, injuries of this nature have been remedied using a procedure in which the damaged ligament is removed and a large, strong suture replaces it to tighten the joint and provide stability until the dog’s own healed tissue is able to hold the knee in place. However, in larger dogs, fifty pounds or heavier, this procedure may not provide enough stability while the tissue heals. In these cases an advanced procedure called Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy (TPLO) is proving to be the answer. With this surgery, the tibia is cut and rotated in such a way that the natural weight bearing of the dog actually stabilizes the knee joint.


Though this is a complex surgery that requires a specialist, many experts now believe that TPLO is the best method for repairing a cruciate ligament rupture regardless of the size of the dog. Dr. Henson performed the special procedure on Toby’s knee in January of 2012. Today, Toby has made a full recovery and is back to doing all of the things he enjoys–chasing tennis balls and serving as David’s constant companion and aide.


“Toby is able to turn lights on and off, retrieve the phone, pick up things I’ve dropped and even open doors for me,” said David of his canine counterpart. “My first service dog, Martin, had to retire because of hip problems and, at just seven years, I wasn’t ready for Toby to have to retire too.”


Thanks to Dr. Henson and the staff at Hammond Animal Hospital, retirement is the last thing on Toby’s agenda. David summed up his gratitude in one simple statement, “I can’t imagine my life without Toby by my side.”

Simple and Easy Conditioning Methods

posted July 15th, 2012 by
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by Jennie Lloyd

Photos by Sirius Photography

Is your dog slowly turning into one plump pup? Dr. Heather Owen, a friend­ly veterinarian at the Veterinary Well­ness Center, has several simple, easy ideas and methods for conditioning overweight dogs. Banish your pooch’s pouch with Owen’s great tips to get your dog back in fighting shape.



But first things first: How do you know if your pup is packing extra pounds? For us, our Body Mass Index (BMI) is a good indicator of where our weight and height intersect. For our dogs, a Body Condition Score (BCS) “tells us how overweight the pet is,” Owen says. A ranking “from one to nine, with one being way too thin and nine being se­verely overweight” will help you figure out how much your pet may have to lose. A score between six and nine is a healthy goal.


Another way to check if your pet is overweight is by giving him a close look from above. Is there a big bulge? If you can “feel [his or her] ribs without push­ing too hard and without being able to see them,” [he or she] is at a good weight, Owen says. If you want a more specific measuring stick, have your dog weighed twice a year at the vet and keep track of [his or her] weight history, Owen suggests.

So, Baxter is a little chubby. What now? Make sure your dog isn’t suffering from an­other ailment that’s contrib­uting to weight gain. “When a dog is gaining weight,” Owen says, “we say, ‘what’s going on?’ We find that dogs that are heavier have more arthritis. Sometimes a dog is overweight because [he or she isn’t] moving as much,” she says. “We recommend a good physical exam.”

The two big contributors to weight gain are thyroid prob­lems and arthritis. But if your pet gets a clean bill of health from the vet, let’s take a look at some fun and easy things you can do to get your dog’s weight back on track.



Owen warned pet owners not to be embarrassed about their dog’s weight. “Seventy percent or more of [dogs] are overweight,” she says.


Start a new physical train­ing schedule slowly. Increase your pet’s activity by 30 per­cent each week, Owen sug­gests. Over a 12-week period, your pet can go safely from couch paw-tato to 5K jogger. Emphasize building toward a healthier lifestyle. “Build up [his or her] stamina very slowly. It’s about the long haul and not the short term,” Owen says. Make sure your dog isn’t acting sore or getting really tired.


Dogs need to get a workout about three times a week “just like a person,” Owen says. So take your pick of fun physical activities and embark on a new adventure with your pup. “Just going for a walk around the block or going to a dog park,” Owen says, is a good idea.


Other fun ideas for a little exercise and bonding time with your dog in­clude hilly hikes, Frisbee or playing ball and fetch. But again, condition your dog slowly before jumping full-stop into any sport. “The slower you go, the more apt you’ll be to continue it,” Owen says. Before a marathon Frisbee-throwing session, try tossing a disc for just a few minutes three times a week at first.


In the heat of summer, don’t leave out water sports. “Dogs love water,” Owen says. “And swimming, especially in lakes where they can wade in and wade out.”

Before you dive into the pool with your pup, check the filter and make sure it can handle dog hair, Owen suggests.


If you’re planning on having fun on dry land this summer, make sure you keep your dog cool in other ways. It’s best to head outdoors in the early morning or at dusk; also make sure his or her paws aren’t burning on the as­phalt while you’re out on a summery jaunt.

“If asphalt is too hot for your hands, it’s too hot for your dog’s feet,” Owen says. She suggests cooling jackets or booties for your dog if you like to exer­cise in the summer sun.


For those who prefer staying cool in­doors, there are fun conditioning exer­cises using a fit ball or yoga and Pilates workouts just for dogs. You can order a balance ball peanut through the Veteri­nary Wellness Center or at various on­line retailers.


Not sure where to start? Check into the doggy boot camps available at the Center. These programs are for people who don’t have time or knowledge to work out their dogs. Owen says the Center’s programs are catered to each dog’s specific needs. A few months ago, a dog with 40 pounds to lose was brought in for weight loss classes. “She had bone and joint problems,” Owen explains, so regular exercise put too much impact on her joints. In­stead, staffers “put her in the water and walked her in an underwater treadmill twice a day with shorter workouts,” she says. The dog is down 10 pounds in just two months.


Whether you want to start swimming, walking or playing a little Frisbee with your dog, Owen says the bottom line is: “Start off really slow, so you’ll be able to do it for forever.”



Exercise and conditioning are only part of the journey to a healthier pup. You may also need to put your pet on a diet. Owen says decreasing your dog’s food intake by 10 percent is an easy change. Even if you’re strictly follow­ing the recommendations on the dog food labels, it’s important to note the serv­ing sizes are calculated for dogs that aren’t spayed and neutered.


Once a pet is no longer “intact,” she says, they’ll re­quire a 10 percent decrease in food. So, reduce his or her intake for one month and weigh your dog again to see if that helps. Of­ten, that added 10 percent turns into a puppy pooch over time.


For dogs that have more weight to lose, Owen rec­ommends feeding them sig­nificantly less or feed them diet food.


And consider the extracurricular eating your dog is doing. “Check their treats,” she says. “We’ll forget that treats have calories.”


Many dog owners don’t think much about throwing their dog a few crack­ers, a few bites of chicken, a couple of chips. But humans take in many more calories than our canine counterparts, so a little bit for us can mean a ton for our pets. For a 10-pound dog, a normal daily caloric intake is around 200 calo­ries per day. For us, that’s a tiny amount of food. Toss your dog a piece of pizza, and he may be chomping his entire dai­ly calorie requirement in one sitting.


Owen suggests offering your pup a cup of cooked green beans instead of nutritionally empty table scraps. A cup of green beans is only 10 calories and also gives your dog folium and other important vitamins.


If you still want to throw your dog a few tasty morsels, Owen recommends at least paring down the amount. “If you’ve got a Beggin’ Strips dog, take one strip and divide it into teeny-tiny pieces,” she says.


When it comes to conditioning your dog, the trick is to start slowly. Don’t make drastic changes that will leave your pup sore, fatigued or feel­ing deprived. One baby paw at a time, your dog will go from pooped-out pooch to well-con­ditioned canine.

Small Animal Surgery Services at OSU

posted May 27th, 2012 by
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by Derinda Blakeney

Photos courtesy OSU

Meet Dr. Mark Rochat, a veterinary surgeon at Oklahoma State University’s Boren Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, where he has worked for 17 years.  He performs and oversees (with the surgery residents) approximately 550-600 surgeries per year, is a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons, and holds the Cohn Family Chair for Small Animal Care.

In addition to his surgical responsibilities in the hospital, he spends time teaching.  Rochat works with pre-veterinary through fourth year veterinary students in the classroom, laboratories and clinics.  He also supervises interns and surgical residents.  Currently he is mentoring three small animal surgery residents.  As the residents progress in their training, they are able to do more and more on their own under Rochat’s watchful eye.

“Owners don’t come here because it is a teaching hospital,” explains Rochat.  “They come here because their animals are in need of the equipment we have and the surgical expertise.  I keep a close eye on every case, in surgery and out, to make sure the balance of good patient care and proper training occurs.”

Dr Mark Rochat in surgery Christmas Eve 09

The veterinary hospital is equipped with three surgical suites where Rochat performs a wide array of surgical procedures.

“You name it, we do it,” he smiles.  “We perform soft tissue surgeries (general, head and neck, cardiothoracic, urologic, endocrine, reconstructive, oncologic, etc.).  We do neurosurgeries such as disk rupture, tumors, various acquired and congenital deformities, brain tumors, hydrocephalic shunts and trauma.”

Dr. Rochat is probably most known among veterinary colleagues for his orthopedic surgical expertise.  To keep those skills current, he recently took total knee replacement and total elbow replacement courses.  He hopes to be able to soon add those total joint replacement procedures to total hip replacement surgery, which he has been doing since arriving at OSU.  Other orthopedic surgery options available at OSU include managing trauma, such as fractures and dislocations; congenital/developmental conditions (hip dysplasia, elbow conditions, growth deformities); arthroscopy, cranial cruciate ligament disease, orthopedic oncologic surgery, and more.

When asked why he decided to become a veterinarian, he replies “I liked animals, medicine, and being outdoors…I thought I would be a general practitioner in a mixed practice,” he adds.

So how did he wind up as a veterinary surgeon?

“I’m very visual and like the ‘see the problem, fix the problem and move on’ concept.  I also like ’tools’ and anatomy.”

Dr Mark Rochat views radiographs of a dog with a dislocated elbow.

Some of the specialized equipment at Dr. Rochat’s disposal is an array of arthroscopic equipment, total joint replacement systems, fracture management systems including plating, external fixators, and interlocking nails, ring fixator systems, surgical stapling devices, laparoscopic and thoracoscopic systems, and operating microscopes.   He typically operates on mainly dogs with some cats and a decent amount of zoo animals.  He rarely performs surgery on food animals, especially since OSU’s veterinary hospital has both food animal and equine surgeons on faculty.

Throughout his career at OSU, Rochat has had a lot of memorable cases, too many to list.

“Some you remember because of the complexity of the case and others stand out because of the amazing power of the body to heal.  And then there are cases where the animal or the owner was just special and you were glad you could help them achieve a positive outcome from a particular situation.  We do a lot of amazing things.  Small animal surgery wise, just about anything you can do for a human, you can do for an animal.”

The veterinary hospital must generate much of its budget through revenues from referral cases as well as from local clientele.  Therefore, the hospital fees for referral cases are very similar to those of a private surgical specialty practice.

And Dr. Mark Rochat is available to perform that surgery when it benefits your companion animal.

The Oklahoma State University Boren Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital is open to the public 365 days a year.  Routine and specialized care for small and large animals are available at this facility as well as 24-hour emergency care.  The veterinary hospital is certified by the American Animal Hospital Association.

The Oklahoma State University Center for Veterinary Health Sciences is one of 28 veterinary colleges in the United States and is fully accredited by the Council on Education of the American Veterinary Medical Association.  For more information, visit or call (405) 744-7000.

Diamond Pet Foods has issued yet another pet food recall

posted May 19th, 2012 by
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Diamond Pet Food2

May 18, 2012

Diamond Naturals Small Breed Adult Dog Lamb & Rice Formula samples, 6 pound and 18 pound bag sizes, manufactured on Aug. 26, 2011, have been added to the limited voluntary recall, due to potential exposure to Salmonella. No illnesses have been reported.

The product was distributed in the following states, further distribution through other pet food channels may have occurred:

  • Colorado
  • Illinois
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Wisconsin

Production Code & Best Before Dates:

DSL0801, 26-Aug-2012

DSL0801, 26-Aug-2012

DSL0801, 27-Sept- 2012 (Product manufactured on Aug. 26, 2011 and packaged on Sept. 27, 2011)

DSL0801, 18-Oct- 2012 (Product manufactured on Aug. 26, 2011 and packaged on Oct. 18, 2011)

DSL0801, (Samples)

Pet owners who are unsure if the product they purchased is included in the recall, or who would like replacement product or a refund, may contact Diamond Pet Foods via a toll free call at 1-866-918-8756, Monday through Sunday, 8 am – 6pm EST.

Diamond Pet Foods apologizes for any issues this may have caused pet owners and their pets.