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Sherry’s Corner

Three Days Sick–Your Money and Your Health

According to one experienced veterinarian quoted in the Bayer Veterinary Care Study, “I’m seeing pets three days sicker.”


      Since we are guilty of waiting a day or more before making an appointment for ourselves, it is no surprise that we wait when our pet may be ill, especially in today’s economy. Our solution–too often–is to check the Internet or to use a non-prescription for days one and two in the hopes that taking this course of action will remedy the situation.

      According to the American Animal Hospital Association, the major reasons for avoiding a clinic visit include not just the economy, but a false reliance on the Internet.  However, a veterinarian must see a pet in order to treat him/her.  This cannot be done over the computer or the phone–even a smart phone. 


      YES, if I am convinced it will help my pet live longer, prevent problems and more expensive treatments–resulting in each visit being less expensive.

AND MAKE IT EASY WITH –a monthly payment plan covering a year of routine care and some DISCOUNTS.  GIVE ME–information on financing programs AND ADVERTISE competitive prices for products from flea and tick treatments, to specialty foods, etc. SET UP a website to make scheduling appointments easier and enable access to password-protected medical records and information.   And, include the services the hospital offers–laser therapy, stem cell options, acupuncture, etc.   

      In addition to the recession as one reason for delays in care, the Bayer report cites the dwindling number of visits to the number of specialties today and the higher cost of fees.  Specialty practices usually require a blank check and/or a credit card. But perhaps the most important reason more pets are not visiting their doctors is poor communication.  According to Karen Felsted, CEO of the National Commission on Veterinary Economic issues, veterinarians can do a better job communicating the value of all visits–appointments–so that owners are comfortable with costs.  For example, I pay $20 twice a week to have my dog’s bandages changed and the wound checked for infection.  I think of this as insurance that healing is progressing satisfactorily. It is an investment I am willing to make.  Veterinary appointments help protect the health of my dog–and mine, too.  

Aug 22, 2011 | Comments are off | Uncategorized

How We Fail Our Dogs (Part II)

The decrease in the number of pet visits to veterinary hospitals since 2006–before the recession–has many wondering if pets today are receiving adequate medical care. Only 30% of veterinary canine patients are pronounced healthy, according to the Banfield report, as compared to 50% that are in need of dental care.  Conclusion: only 33% of us give our dogs a good quality of life–health!            

A yearly dental cleaning and some work at home and dogs won’t suffer from dental disease, according to Dr. Jeffrey Klausner, Banfield’s chief medical officer.

According to the Banfield Pet Hospital State of Pet Health Report based on over 2 million dogs, 50% of all dogs are in need of dental work; ear problems will be part of the health diagnoses of 18%; and over 10% will be overweight–with 50% under 2 years of age!  Other common problems include dermatitis, fleas, lameness, skin tumors and conjunctivitis–most are common preventable conditions easily diagnosed in a yearly hospital visit and with home attention need not become major problems.   

Klausner hypothesized that the surprising increase in the instances of fleas could be due in part to pet owners buying preventative medications from big box stores and over the Internet without benefit of veterinarian education.  When it comes to internal parasites, the report showed that round worms and tapeworms were more common than heartworm.

Small dog breeds were most commonly seen at Banfield hospitals:  the number of pit-bull-type dogs increased 47% in the past 10 years. 

The Banfield report is available at by searching for “state of pet health”.  

Next up: Part III, Health care solutions and the effect of the Internet

FROM GREAT DANES TO GOLDFISH. If it flies, crawls, runs, swims or slithers, legislation in some community or county or state would prevent pets from being sold in pet stores.  Shelters are being over-run with every imagined species and more hamsters are euthanized than any other animal!  Some shelters are even agonizing over cloudy goldfish bowls.  The question–treat the goldfish so they are adoptable and healthy or flush them down the toilet!  Stay aware of all animal legislation.  

READERS INVITED TO READ BETWEEN THE LINES. Matthew Allwein, a 2010 criminal justice graduate from Lock Haven University, is the newest member of the five-member Kennel Compliance Specialist Team.  Listed on his inspection record are the well-known Main Line Rescue and Kimbertal Kennels (Doberman Pinschers).  Both kennels have stirred national controversy.  

Jul 10, 2011 | Comments are off | Uncategorized

Death in Pet Dogs: Study Examines Causes of Death in Dogs (Part I)

      Dr. Kate E. Creevy of Georgia’s veterinary college recently studied death in dogs. Her findings are based on an examination of the records of more than 75,000 dogs from 82 breeds. Here’s what she found:  

      #AGE. Young dogs died most commonly of trauma, congenital disease, and infectious causes.  Older dogs died overwhelmingly of cancer, peaking in a group that included 10-year-old dogs and then declining with the oldest age group.

      #ORGAN SYSTEMS. The gastrointestinal, nervous, and musculoskeltal systems tended to be involved most often. Skin, eyes, liver and glandular systems were less commonly affected.

      #SIZE. Large dogs died more commonly of musculoskeletal and gastrointestinal causes; small dogs died most commonly of endocrine causes.  Cancer was a cause of death more commonly in large breeds.

      #BREEDS. In breed analysis Golden Retrievers and Boxers had the highest percentage of death from cancer; Dachshunds from neurologic disease; Bulldogs of respiratory disease; Chihuahuas, Maltese and Fox Terriers of cardiovascular diseases; and Afghan Hounds and Vizlas of respiratory disease.

      #CANCER. In the study population, a few breeds were less likely to die of cancer in the study population: Chihuahua, Pekingese, Pomeranian, Toy Poodle, the Australian Heeler, and the Treeing Walker Coonhound.

      #IMPORTANCE OF STUDY. The study results can be used to create BREED-SPECIFIC HEALTH MAINTENANCE PLANS and point to the importance of the patient breed population treated in a veterinary clinic.  “If we can anticipate better how things can go wrong for dogs, we can manage their wellness to keep them as healthy as possible,” Dr. Creevy said in a press release.  

For further information:  JAVMA Vol. 238, 6/15 2011.   

      Next up: Part 2Report of Common Preventable Health Conditions

Jul 01, 2011 | Comments are off | Uncategorized

Being Chased by Columbo was like being Nibbled to Death by a Duck!

When we lost the gentle “Basset-Hound-friendly” Peter Falk we lost one more special friend to animals.  The late actor is said to have had ten dogs.  I am sure they are now curled up on his rumpled trench coat dreaming of the day when they will be reunited.  DOG, his famous Basset Hound, even appeared with him from time to time in Columbo episodes.  And his wife Shera was filmed in a Barbara Walters interview on the VIEW feeding fish food to Lucchia, one of their dogs.  Falk was once bitten by a dog when he was searching at a shelter for a another companion.  The facial bite almost injured his left eye.  Falk’s response was to try to adopt the dog. “He will be a perfect guard dog”, he is reported to have said. 

SPEAKING OF DOG BITES—DON’T THROW OUT MY BROWN STRAW BROOM! I don’t know how many people, both family and friends, have taken my brown raggedy straw broom out to the curb.  I, of course, drag it back into the house to rest where it awaits any crisis of aggression.  After all, it has a firm pole and the stitching still holds.  The bristles are dangerously sharp if uneven.  Only behaviorist Gary Wilkes appreciates this treasure and its usefulness in a dog fight.

      Wilkes writes (and I quote since I am not a behaviorist or even one of the many untitled presumed behaviorists–and there are many, too many!), “Make sure you do not use a broom that has sharp, plastic corners. When the fight erupts, stick the straw part of the broom between the combatants and try to firmly separate them.  Do not whack or strike them with the broom so that the straw becomes the vertical barrier between them.  Keep the barrier between the dogs so the most they can do is bite the straw.  Pretend you are playing a form of pup-hockey and try to scoot them away from each other.  They can’t remain aroused forever and within a few seconds should return to semi-normal.” So far in this house, bites –broom 3, me 0.

      LYME DISEASE AND LYMPH NODES. The latest research on Lyme disease notes that swollen lymph nodes are the main symptom.  It seems that B.burgdorferi hinders the immune system from protecting the body.  The search for medications to prevent Lyme is ongoing.  Consult your veterinarian. 

      The cost of caring for and keeping your dog safe is often hard to budget.  Dr. Nancy Kay offers her clients multiple medical options.  She says that “many choose the less expensive route of EMPIRICAL THERAPY (providing treatment without certainty of what the underlying medical issue is) rather than performing diagnostic testing.”

800 PET ADOPTATHON IN JOPLIN. The Pennsylvania PSART teams have been invited to participate in the adoptathon in Joplin, Missouri.  For those of you who want to help animals in disasters both home and across the country the path lies through membership in the local volunteer animal response teams open to the public. Locally you will have the opportunity to join with others in training and exercises. For the Joplin effort travel expenses, meals and lodging were arranged and paid for by the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals). The Joplin effort combines the efforts of PetSmart Charities and Mars Petcare with the ASPCA–all three are members of the National Animal Rescue and Sheltering Coalition.  The rescued animals have been decontaminated, vaccinated, dewormed and treated with flea medication.


Jun 27, 2011 | Comments are off | Uncategorized

The Internet Doesn’t Have the Important Information

They need to have a mosquito repellant for cars and trucks! “There was a cloud of mosquitoes surrounding my truck,” my friendly vet told me.  “They followed me into the yard attracted by the heat of the vehicle!”  And so do treat your dog for heartworm (mosquito) protection.  Although trucks and cars aren’t afflicted with heartworm, dogs are–especially in Pennsylvania, one of the leading states reporting heartworm.  Another caution–try not to walk or exercise your dog early at dawn or dusk when mosquitoes are most frequent fliers.  And have your dog tested for heartworm exposure at 6 to 7 months after a good hard frost or when your veterinarian feels its appropriate.  Remember, however–”Lack of regular testing and testing at the wrong time of the year may lead owners and veterinarians to miss heartworm infection.” If it is any consolation, according to the just released Banfield report, dental problems and obesity along with ear problems were more frequently treated than heartworm infection. Also note that the “tornado dogs”, the southern strays being imported to local shelters, could be and probably are heartworm carriers.  Today there is no long a free dog and samaritans must have very deep pockets!

      SAD to have Jesse Smith no longer heading up the enforcement of puppy mill abuse.  This lady, who could have been a Vogue cover, wore steel gloves and a royal-wedding-worthy-white hat when it came to helping our less fortunate Pennsylvania canines.  We knew there was a movement in the Corbett administration to relax enforcement in the name of economics, but hoped it did not mean the sacrifice of the people in the white hats.

      With the kitchen warning of salmonella dangers in feeding our pets in that area one has to wonder if Chef Michael will continue his commercials and what kind of image Milo’s Kitchen dog meatballs will enjoy?  I am surprised no one has developed a “healthy pet feeding educational plan for children.” Measure the food and avoid treats to avoid obesity.  Wash hands after touching the food and know what you are feeding, i.e., read the ingredients on the container.  Also, from the garden–carrots and green beans!  And, due to all the moisture this spring it pays to know where the wheat and other grains in our pet food originate.  If we have a head scab danger in central Pennsylvania perhaps we need to know more about ingredients.

      According to the most recent AKC Gazette Dottie Davis has achieved national fame as the CANDY LADY!  Davis and her tupperware containers of candy at ringside has sweetened many a judge, not too mention spectators and exhibitors at our local shows. 

      The Animal Recovery Teams or CARTS now have a new temporary sheltering policy.  In instances in which volunteers are called upon to assist in recovery and rescue of animals the group may provide temporary sheltering.  This should be a help for the often overtaxed Red Cross and could include house and barn fires.

      Breed profiling can be a two-way street!  That problem behavior can be the result of the DNA.  Thus farm dogs or herding breeds get a free pass in Pennsylvania if they bite or attack either man or beast, live on 20 acres, and have an owner with an annual farm income of $2,000! And, of course, war dogs are usually chosen from specific breeds.  Now that Governor Corbett has chosen two Airdales (brother and sister) to be family members we have pause.  The last Airdales to earn public office were owned by the infamous President Warren Harding.   

      Listened to a talk by a veterinarian on zoonoses–great idea, bad talk.  She ignored canine flu, which does not discriminate when it comes to species and loves a crowded venue.  She also advocated using the Internet for information.  One has to wonder about a vet who would rather have you do an Internet search than talk to you about your pet’s problem!  The most important information is mine–and the important vet question, ”why are you here?” 

Jun 20, 2011 | Comments are off | Uncategorized

Don’t Feed Your Pet in the Kitchen

      If you feed your dog and cat in the kitchen–a tradition in most pet homes-then you and your family are flirting with possible salmonella contamination. Your kitchen can be dangerous to your health and the health of your pets, says Dr. Kate KuKanich in a recent nutritional article in JAVMA. Salmonella can be present not just in pet food bowls, but pet foods and even treats, vitamins, and nutritional supplements! A dangerous place of cross-contamination for children and the elderly! And, although humans don’t regard pigs ears as a treat, pigs ears are uncooked and we do handle them.  51% of pigs ears have been found to be contaminated with salmonella.  Pet treats containing dried beef were found to be responsible for human illness in a 2002 outbreak; in 2006 there was an outbreak of both contaminated dog and cat food produced at a plant in Pennsylvania in a process designed to enhance palatability–crossing 21 state lines! Vitamins and nutritional products can also become contaminated during production.  In 2010 a nutritional product for joint health had to be recalled.  Other contaminated products include multivitamins, ear powder, glucosamine, a fresh breath treatment and calming tablets.

      What to do?  Pets should be fed in a room other than the kitchen to minimize cross-contamination of pet food and food intended for human consumption.  Use a scoop or a cup to remove food from bags and clean routinely. Wash hands after feeding pets and all contact with pet food or pet treats.  Purchase individually packaged pigs ears rather than those from bulk bins. Store dry food in its original bag placed inside a plastic container to provide extra protection.  And, save the date code and product code of all food products for identification in case contamination is suspected.  

      Finally, although uncooked, raw foods are usually the cause of food illness (for example, the recent e-coli outbreak in vegetables in Europe). Raw meat in either homemade or commercial pet diets should be avoided and it must be remembered that pigs ears are not cooked.  Canned food, although considered safe, when opened are also susceptible to contamination from the environment. And then, suppose your pet is being medicated?  This could also add to the environmental contamination threat.

      Also important–the late Job Michael Evans (How To Be Your Dog’s Best Friend) discouraged feeding dogs in the kitchen because he felt it caused behavior problems. Dogs quickly learned to become food-territorial.  Another reason to avoid the kitchen as a dog dining area!  The crate is, of course, the preferred spot for a dog to enjoy his or her meal without feeling threatened.

My dogs race toward their crates when they see the food dishes are ready to be served!   

      I enjoy a special food area for preparing my dogs’ meals.  It has a sink close by with both soap for dishes and a hand sanitizer.  The preparation table also has a small stairs so that puppy Ben can climb up and supervise

After all, there is always a spoon that needs to be licked!  

Jun 12, 2011 | Comments are off | Uncategorized

More on Military Dogs, Hospice Care, Puppy Lemon Law; Using L-Carnitine

MORE ON MILITARY DOGS. A monument will be erected at Fort Belvoir, Virginia near the National Museum of the United States Army to honor dogs who served in World War II to the present.  The design is a granite history wall.

MORE ON HOSPICE CARE. The AVMA board has approved revisions to the “Guidelines for Veterinary Hospice Care”.  The guidelines now state that veterinarians who do not offer hospice services should be prepared to refer clients to a veterinarian who does.     

PUPPY LEMON LAW EXTENDED TO LIMPING DOGS?  Senator Greenleaf has introduced two changes to the existing Puppy Lemon Law.  The changes would extend the puppy purchaser’s right to reimbursement for incurable as well as curable illness.  HIP DYSPLASIA WOULD BE COVERED!  If SB 27 passes the veterinarian would only need to find “a significant adverse effect on the health of the animal”!  SB 27 has wide support. 

FROM THE GYM TO THE KENNEL. L-Carnitine is a supplement beloved by athletes for turning fat into muscle by oxidating fat.  It can be purchased in health stores and even over the counter at grocery pharmacies–where I purchase it.  Weis carries the Sundown label and L-Carnitine is a “buy” when a BOGO is in effect.  I give my dogs one tablet a day (500 mg) since the vet has proclaimed they are “chunky” and I assume she doesn’t mean “muscular”!!  I have noticed L-Carnitine as an ingredient in many diet pet foods, both dog and cat, and even on the label of doggy dental rinses.  Now we also have Quinicarn, a new L-Carnitine supplement for dogs and cats produced by the Nutramax  Laboratories as a liver health and wellness product. Quinicarn comes in 250 mg packets and is chicken-flavored.  My Springers have their Sundown tablets smothered in cheese whiz and seem to enjoy their one-a-day dose  that way. Since the Spaniels are a chunky 50 pounds you should consult your veterinarian as to the weight-correct dosage for your dog–and in fact this is always a wise first step in giving a pet any medication or supplement.  

Jun 06, 2011 | Comments are off | Uncategorized

Opportunities in Caring Careers

The American Veterinary Medical Association is looking at the possibility of expanding animal care into such hot paw areas as hoarding and animal cruelty: translate–training veterinarians in forensics!  And, most recently they are opening discussions in the area of “end of life care”–terminally ill animals and the aging pet. The possibility of working in these growing areas of concern could open doors that would not necessitate a traditional veterinary degree. As far as I am aware there is no formal curriculum in any of these areas. 

      Locally, hospice seems to be performed by volunteers working with veterinary approval. An oncologist once told me his patients were most afraid of two words–cancer and morphine. Pet owners also fear the cancer word but the second word with the most fear attached is “euthanasia”.  Hospice emphasizes quality of life. Frequently, the veterinary profession emphasizes “natural death”. A recent study indicates communication with the client often centers on management of quality-of-life goals and not euthanasia.

      Hoarding, of course, is more a human mental health problem than animal behavior and psychology courses could prove helpful. As with animal cruelty an interagency approach championed by the Latham Foundation and Phil Arkow is probably today’s best answer to this problem. Agencies like zoning, code enforcement, public health, rescues and law enforcement need to work together. The most definitive work in this field is Forensic Investigation of Animal Cruelty by Sinclair, Merck and Lockwood.

      Veterinary hospice in our area is largely an individual effort and the caregivers are trained vet technicians who work with the approval of a veterinarian either in the home or in the hospital. Such care provides important family support—a strong veterinarian-client-patient relationship. It usually involves home care and thus reduces the pet’s anxiety about being in the hospital. Euthanasia is part of hospice care and it is worth noting that although this service is appropriate, more and more veterinarians favor natural death. Although euthanasia is often called “the good death”, hoarders and no-kill shelters are often unfortunate by-products.

      In the not too distant future there could be a veterinary hospice association. In the meantime veterinary technicians, retired veterinarians, and retired nurses and healthcare workers may find employment here. It is to be hoped that a pet hospice movement will follow in the path of pet grief hotlines that began with human grief counseling–the important difference will be an awareness and enhancement of the pet’s quality-of-life and not a focus on the other family members. There are usually scheduled disruptions as well as changes that must be kept flexible for the continuing love of life we want our dog to have. 

May 30, 2011 | Comments are off | Uncategorized

War Hero Dog Puts Titanium Teeth into Dog Bite Week

Most readers probably marveled at the Navy Seal war dogs, especially the one that parachuted to help with Bin Laden.  Besides bullet-proof vests and night googles these war dogs are supposed to have been fitted with titanium teeth.  The dogs earned an infamous reputation in the Abu Ghraib pictures!  And so, I hope President Obama has his picture taken with the one that came face to face with Bin Laden.  (I wonder if the image of the threatening dog in the prison haunted Bin Laden for the last second of his sight!) 

        These dogs are truly heroes and have been on and behind the front lines in every war in history–most recently, besides our current wars, the Korean war and Vietnam.

        The dog trainer who pioneered work with America’s attack, guard, rescue and bomb sniffing dogs was the late Captain Arthur Haggerty.  His training methods are not popular today.  “Sit means sit”–no treats.  The dog learned and worked for the comradeship and love he and his owner shared. 

        Haggerty taught the dogs of such celebrities as Jack Paar, wrote numerous books, won awards and acclaim but he was proudest of our war dogs, which he felt not only needed their own parades but deserved to be disposed of with dignity and respect when they were no longer able to serve.  Sadly, these dogs do die, are killed by the very hands that train them to work with us –no one thinks about rehabilitation.  We can rehabilitate the Vick fighting dogs but for our American hero dogs it is a one-way path to death. Haggerty called war dogs, America’s Forgotten Heroes.  No medals and little recognition–the people’s dog!  We were fortunate when one of these dogs parachuted into Pakistan.    

        I once wrote about how violent and sad the image of the Abu Ghraib dog was in the famous torture pictures.  Haggerty telephoned and told me it was a picture of a dog doing his duty as he was commanded–proud picture. 

        I wonder if this picture flashed through the mind of Bin Laden?  

        They say Bin Laden was a tall man.  If they measure height in heaven I believe Captain Haggerty is a little taller today.  NATIONAL DOG BITE PREVENTION WEEK IS MAY 15-21 THIS YEAR.  This year it may have titanium teeth.

May 10, 2011 | Comments are off | Uncategorized

Easter Tidings

      You can’t dress a bunny in a vest and call him a service animal!  As of March 15, service animal guidelines are limited to dogs and housebroken miniature horses.  No ducks, chickens, donkeys, snakes, rats, monkeys and cats, according to the Department of Justice for the Americans With Disabilities Act.  The new guidelines also exclude animals that provide emotional support or comfort and rightly so–the therapy dog and not the service dog provides support and comfort.  A service animal is defined as one that enables his owner to get safely from one point to another.

ROYALTY WITHOUT A PEDIGREE. The first mutt to earn a Master Agility championship title is owned and handled by a first-time AKC exhibitor.  His name is PRINCE DOGGIE and he earned the title in obedience, rally and agility in ten months!

AKC PENNSYLVANIA BOARD MEMBERNewly elected to the AKC Board is Robert Gladstone from Mount Pocono.  Gladstone, a lawyer, is active in the Welsh Corgi breed.  Another new Board member is Robert Amen.  It is Amen’s belief that the dogs of the future will be sold to older couples (empty nesters) and smaller families–the two-member family rather than four-member family will be the dog market of the future.  This will create a revolutionary change in which dogs are in demand!  These new families will need training and trainable dogs, dogs that can vacation with ease, be easy to groom and have few health problems.  Their primary function will not be hunting, herding, obedience and other performance activities but COMPANIONSHIP.  They will need to be tolerant of not only grandchildren but health caregivers.  In addition, Gladstone would set up AKC cooperatives in every community made up of dog interests–without barriers.  Clubs as well as pet services would work together to make living with dogs truly a bonding activity.  He models his program after one introduced by the renowned Kitty Stiedel who introduced us to the Portuguese Water Dog and most recently the Havanese.

      We must remember that the AKC is a business.  Competition is expensive and so are the executives and professionals who run them.  In this economy they need more and more revenue or registrations.  It is time they realize they took a wrong turn when the Canine Good Citizen was being developed.  They should have allowed and ENCOURAGED CGC competition, ribbons and titles.  The Canine Good Citizen is the AKC lifeline to continued success.  Of course, the AKC must always stress good breeding.  It is a truism.  BUY THE BREEDER before buying the dog.    


Apr 21, 2011 | Comments are off | Uncategorized
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