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Sherry’s Corner » pet therapy

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Heard Around the Water Bowl

HEARD AROUND THE WATER BOWL. “No kill shelters” are “limited access shelters”.  For some shelters a temperament test and a physical are required in order to surrender a pet!  (Some shelters use a foster system only.  This has its drawbacks as well as advantages–just as with foster homes for children!  Foster homes can be subsidized mini-boarding kennels without supervision.)  The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has been called a paper industry!  It has no shelters or foster system.  And, a very reliable source was overheard calling one area shelter “a non-profit puppy mill”.   And last, but far from least, one veterinarian asks, “At the request of a good client, would you inject or dispense an anabolic steroid or a growth enhancing agent for his or her hopeful prize-winning dog?”

      ANTIOXIDANTS seems to be the banner cry of nutritionists.  How do they work and what are they?  GOOD molecules have paired electrons.   BAD molecules or free radicals contain unpaired electrons which attack cells and even scavenge electrons.  Think of these free radicals as thieves trying to steal electrons.  The bad molecules can originate within the body itself or can come from a bad environment–air pollution, exposure to UV light or radiation.  Antioxidants neutralize free radicals either by providing the extra electron needed to make the pair or by breaking down the free radical to render it harmless.  Because antioxidants are used up in this process, the diet needs to have a constant supply.  It is best to obtain the antioxidants through natural food and not supplements or processed food.  Blueberries are a good example.  A recent article in the AKC Gazette noted that blueberries are added to the diet of dogs at Westminster to help combat damage from air pollution, etc.,  etc.  My Springers have a breakfast ration mixed with non-fat plain yogurt and topped with fresh blueberries when they are in season.  Frozen blueberries will work too.  All colorful fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants.  See which ones your pets might like best sprinkled on their usual meal.  And, let’s hope a  pet food store will  bring a farmer’s market to its front door.

      CAGNEY, my senior canine companion, and I seem to be sharing the same or similar supplements.  We both take fish oil and milk thistle.  She takes CosequinD for her arthritis and I take Cosamin DS for mine.  Both are made by Nutramax.  She now takes Relax Caps since she had a seizure and I am wondering if she should share these with me too.

      When I was able to do pet therapy it was always wise to remember never to visit a resident alone.  I remember one team who suffered because someone felt slighted in the room and later reported the dog had scratched her.  Investigation revealed that she had scratched herself with a nail file.  Still it took awhile before therapy dog teams were allowed back into the facility, preventing others from all the benefits of such visitation.  Two teams can witness the events.   Back to pet therapy guidelines as reviewed in the Journal of American Veterinary Medical Association.  They advise that dogs visiting family members in a healthcare facility who do not have therapy dog certification be CONFINED TO FAMILY MEMBERS ONLY–no sharing because he is so cute and everyone wants to meet him!   The Guidelines  also exclude animals who have been fed any raw or dehydrated foods, chews or treats of animal origin within the past 90 days.  The threat is of course salmonella.  Also excluded are animals who are being treated with antimicrobials, animals receiving immunosuppressive dosages of any medications, animals with open wounds, ear infections, or acute moist dermatitis and of course animals in season.  

      I will finish this  quick review of the Guidelines next week.  Until then your veterinarian has access to this article and I am sure can answer your questions.

Aug 10, 2008 | Comments are off | Humane Society of the United States, antioxidants, blueberries, no kill shelters, pet therapy

Pet Health and Pet Therapy News

The most recent issue of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association has a most informative article summarizing and commenting on guidelines for pet therapy in health-care facilities.  One of the most startling points in the commentary was the emphasis on hand hygiene!  The authors not only recommended that patients who touch the dogs practice proper hand hygiene, but that the owner/handler do so, too.  Question–does this mean we should carry wipes and/or suggest to administrators that after a therapy dog visit they make sure those touching the dogs also be cautioned to use wipes?  The article’s authors also suggest that all leashes be nonretractable and that collars and leashes be clean and odor-free.  They recommend against allowing puppies to participate in therapy since they are more likely to shed zoonotic organisms and suggest that the owners of therapy dogs be aware that as dogs approach their geriatric years they may change both mentally and physically which could adversely affect their ability to interact safely with patients.  And they further advise that dogs from an animal shelter not be taken into a healthcare situation until they have lived at least six months in a permanent home.  An old idea that was discarded was discussed–using veterinarians as evaluators.  However, the veterinarian would  have to have hands-on experience in pet therapy.  I know of only one who would qualify–Don Kamsler.   (I hope to share more of the guidelines in future BLOGS.)

      THE PLANET DOG Foundation has awarded $10,000 to the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation to help it fund the PAWS FOR PURPLE HEARTS program, a cooperative project between the Bonnie Bergen Assistance Dog Institute and veterans hospitals and rehabilitation centers.  The program trains service dogs in therapeutic intervention for returning wounded soldiers who are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and other returning military men and women who have become paraplegic or quadriplegic as a result of combat-related injuries.  The PAWS FOR PURPLE HEARTS program also supports therapy dog visitation programs centered at the Walter Reed Medical Center.  FFI: or call 207-761-1515.

      AN EASTON  MRI FACILITY FOR PETS–Animal Scan advertises on-site veterinarians and certified MRI technologists, a board-certified veterinary radiologist with same-day scheduling and same-day results.  Phone 877-838-6747.  Fax 610-250-9403;  


I have been thinking in that direction due to the great cluster of AKC dog shows recently at the Bloomsburg Fairgrounds.  If you went, you saw Michael Scott show the #3 all-breed dog in the country, a Pointer, to Best in Show back to back!

The Back Mountain Veterinary Hospital not only uses ultra sound for help in a diagnosis but uses the Internet for second opinions from veterinary specialists across the country.  

The DOGHOUSE DANCERS, a freestyle dancing club, puts on demos, matches, classes and seminars.  Phone 570-696-4925 or 570-477-2943. 

At the Harvey’s Lake Veterinary Clinic, Dr. John Bucha  advocates raw diets for pets.  The Clinic is a distributor of Nature’s Variety. 

The area also boasts a dog park which opened this spring.  (The only other one I know of is located in State College.) THE GARDEN VILLAGE DOG PARK is located in West Pittston behind the Muncipal Building.  Open dawn to dusk, the park was created by the WOOF! Pack members of the Leadership Wilkes-Barre Class of 2008.  Contact the group at or 570-332-3583.  

Aug 02, 2008 | Comments are off | Animal Scan, Back Mountain Veterinary Hospital, Bloomsburg Fairgrounds, Bonnie Bergen Assistance Dog Institute, Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, Doghouse Dancers, Don Kamsler, Dr. John Bucha, Easton MRI facility, Garden Village Dog Park, Harvey's Lake Veterinary Clinic, Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, Michael Scott, Paws for Purple Hearts program, Planet Dog Foundation, pet therapy, pet therapy in healthcare facilities, therapeutic intervention, veterans
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