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Dr. Allen

Dr. Allen (10)

Thursday, 23 October 2008 00:05

Dr. Allen - Home Care for Vomiting and/or Diarrhea

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Home Care for Vomiting and/or Diarrhea

If our gastrointestinal system is upset, for whatever reason (virus, stress, foods), the first thing it needs is rest. No solid food of any kind should be given for 24 hours. Staying hydrated is important, however, especially for small animals. Pick up a bottle or two of generic pediatric electrolyte water at the drug store and offer this instead of your pet's regular water. I usually get the unflavored variety. If your companion animal doesn't like it, offer bottled or filtered water instead. It's important that they continue drinking to avoid dehydration.

It's nearly always safe to give your dog Pepto-Bismol®; a teaspoon three times a day for a small dog and a tablespoon for a large dog. Tablets are just as effective, and it does soothe the stomach. This product has aspirin-like qualities, so do not use it for cats. Kaopectate® can be used in both dogs and cats, using the infant dosage.

Since there is inflammation of the stomach or intestines in many cases, an injection is often helpful to reduce the turmoil and settle things down. We prefer a combination of penicillin, dexamethasone, Centrine®, and vitamin C. This gives an antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, antispasmotic, and vitamin C for recovery. For dogs we also may send home an antispasmotic tablet to be given three times a day. If there is diarrhea, you'll want to use these tablets until the stool is formed, then stop.

After the 24 hours, you can offer your pet small amounts or their regular food. In severe cases, you might want to cook some rice and hamburger (pour off the fat), and just offer a small amount of half rice and half hamburger for a couple days, gradually adding their regular food. Don't push the food too soon or too fast. Remember the last time you had intestinal flu. You probably only wanted toast and soup when you started getting better.

If your pet is not obviously better within two or three days, don't hesitate to call your veterinarian. These things usually pass quickly, but if prolonged, there may be another problem.

Thursday, 23 October 2008 00:05

Dr. Don Allen Takes Stand Against Pet Shop Industry

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Dr. Don Allen Takes Stand Against Pet Shop Industry

Dr Allen

CAPS Board Member Urges Other Vets to Follow His Lead

The "Dateline" story featured CAPS board member Dr. Donald Allen. He has been active in educating his veterinary clients about the pet shop industry for 15 years. Chris Hansen of "Dateline" showed Dr. Allen hidden camera footage of Nielsen Farms, a breeding/brokering facility in Kansas. Dr. Allen agreed with Mr. Hansen that the footage showed dogs with open wounds, mange and eye problems. Dr. Allen noted that these dogs are "[s]till popping out puppies."

Dr. Allen went undercover with Mr. Hansen to three Petlands in Ohio. Although he couldn't examine every puppy, in just one day, Dr. Allen spotted some potentially serious problems that he said are likely linked to how the puppies were bred. He saw one puppy with demodectic mange. According to Dr. Allen, this condition is hereditary, and it was likely that all of the puppies in this litter had it. Dr. Allen also examined a Chihuahua with an open fontanel, a hereditary condition in which the skull hasn't closed around the dog's brain and a bop on the head could be fatal.

Dr. Allen noted that pet shop warranties are pretty much worthless. He told Mr. Hansen that he has seen three-year-old puppies develop epilepsy, hip dysplasia and luxating patellas -- conditions that are not always readily apparent in the first year. State puppy lemon laws usually provide just one-year warranties for hereditary defects.

Dr. Allen's companion animal practice in Youngstown, Ohio cares for dogs, cats, reptiles, birds and exotic animals. Prior to starting his own veterinary clinic in 1992, Dr. Allen was Medical Director of Animal Charity, a nonprofit private humane society and veterinary facility in Youngstown. During his five years at Animal Charity, he discovered that a number of sick puppies requiring treatment had been purchased at a local Docktor Pet Center.

After Dr. Allen went to the Docktor Pet Center and questioned the source of the puppies -- an employee denied the puppies were from mills -- he received a call from the franchise owner. The owner stated that he did not buy dogs from puppy mills and asked Dr. Allen not to visit the store.

Animal Charity then filed a complaint with the Ohio Attorney General's office against the Youngstown Docktor Pet Center for misrepresenting the source of its puppies. Shortly thereafter, Dr. Allen visited six puppy mills and a broker's facility in Missouri to verify the conditions under which some of his clients' dogs had been raised.

At Dr. Allen's instigation, the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA) stopped running a Docktor advertisement seeking veterinarians as franchisees. Dr. Allen then wrote a letter to JAVMA encouraging veterinarians to "unite against the ongoing atrocity of puppy mills." This letter prompted negative responses from veterinarians in puppy mill states, including one from a staff veterinarian for Honeydew, a Missouri brokerage facility owned by The Hunte Corporation.

After the "Dateline" story aired, Dr. Allen wrote another letter to JAVMA in which he again called on other veterinarians and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) to take a stand against the pet shop industry. JAVMA printed the letter in the June 15, 2000 issue. Here is a reprint of his letter:

As the April 26, 2000 "NBC Dateline" program and the February 1999 issue of "Reader's Digest" pointed out, THERE IS NO READY SOURCE OF PUPPIES FOR THE PET STORE INDUSTRY OTHER THAN PUPPY MILLS. For over 15 years I have known this fact, and have counseled my clients to avoid pet stores when shopping for a puppy. Likewise, when I have a client with a new puppy present me with a Petland warranty, I explain to them that their newest family member has a shady origin, very likely a puppy mill.

Not all clients are happy with this news, especially those who feel they have been swindled. For this reason, the vast majority of veterinarians do not discuss the puppy mill-pet store connection. Some vets want their clients to have a "happy-happy" visit, and not leave their clinic with anything but good feelings. For the same reason, some veterinarians won't mention that a client's pet is overweight; don't forget, staff, we want a "happy-happy" visit experience!

As the most authoritative source of pet-related information available to the public, the veterinary profession should be championing the fight to eradicate puppy mills. It does not. Some vets may feel that stopping pet store sales of puppies would hurt their practice income. Those same vets probably don't push spaying and neutering for the same reason. They are wrong.

No state in this nation has a shortage of dogs. Millions of dogs are euthanized every year because there are too many of them. Puppy mills and pet stores are primarily to blame for this tragedy. And so are we. When someone buys a puppy in a pet store: 1. They are perpetuating the cycle of misery and suffering for the mother of that puppy, and all those to follow. 2. They have paid a tremendously inflated price and believe they have a "high-quality puppy with a pedigree and 'papers' from AKC." 3. Many believe they can recoup their purchase cost by breeding their dog and selling the puppies. 4. Because their puppy is such a fine example of the breed, and is registered, they SHOULD breed it.

Our part in this problem is that most vets do not discourage 3 and 4 or educate the client about 1 and 2. Failure to do so promotes the problem by default. But then, I'm sure some of my colleagues don't see this as a problem at all.

The AVMA won't take significant, constructive steps toward eliminating puppy mills because it abhors the thought of harming the practice of ANY member, i.e. those working for brokers or allied with pet stores. Instead it formulates a politically correct, carefully worded "position statement" (AVMA Policy Statements and Guidelines section I, paragraph F) which allows the AVMA to look like it has done something.

It is up to every conscientious, caring vet in this country to do something themselves every day in their practices. If you are an employed vet and the boss only wants "happy-happy," then it's time for you to start your own practice, preferably just up the street. The public will soon forget about Dateline and Reader's Digest. The majority probably didn't see or read it. The pet store industry knows this. They also believe in P.T. Barnum and the fact that there is a new generation ready to buy a puppy every year. All they have to do is keep quiet. This will all blow over, and everything will remain status quo. They've been through this all before and nothing changed.

Donald K. Allen, MS, DVM (ILL '80)

CAPS encourages veterinarians to follow Dr. Allen's lead. Please write a letter to the journal in support of his position.

Thursday, 23 October 2008 00:05

Dr. Allen - Blood Chemistry Profile and CBC

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Blood Chemistry Profile and CBC

At times when your companion animal is ill, and when they reach middle age (5-7 years old) a blood sample will be taken to aid with diagnosis and prognosis. The blood sample is analyzed by a medical laboratory to find levels of certain enzymes, electrolytes, and other factors. If these levels are above or below their normal ranges, they may indicate a disease process. A complete blood count (CBC) may also be run on part of the sample to check for anemia, infection, and abnormalities.

The blood chemistry profile, also called a "SMAC," provides information on kidney and liver function, sugar or glucose level (pancreas), and other factors that indicate metabolic or nutritional disorders. Early signs of kidney failure will warn of a need to reduce protein levels in the diet. High sugar values may confirm diabetes mellitus, and a need to start insulin therapy. Liver enzymes above the normal range may be due to inflammation, infection, or degeneration, and steps can be taken to arrest or reverse the problem. There are also several blood factors that indicate heart disease.

In addition to the SMAC and CBC, there are other specific tests that can be run on the blood sample. Amylase and lipase levels are also indicators of pancreas function and if inadequate can cause digestive disorders. A thyroid profile can reveal hypo- or hyperthyroidism, both of which are treatable. The presence of several infectious diseases can also be checked through a blood sample.

Many problems that develop in our pets can benefit from special prescription diets. Dr. Jack Mara, Huntington, NY, says, "There is no disease that does not depend on nutrition in its treatment." Hills Prescription Diets® have helped many pets live longer lives by adjusting the nutrition to minimize disease processes. They are available only through veterinarians.

The initial expense of doing a blood profile may prevent much higher costs down the road, and can definitely help to discover and treat potential problems before they get out of hand. Your pet will benefit and feel better on a Prescription Diet® designed for its problem.

Children's Self-Esteem and Companion Animals

Children's positive self-esteem will affect just about every aspect of their lives. It will influence how they gets along with others, how they handle school and studying, how they deal with pressure and stress and everything they do as children, adolescents and adults. Bright children with poor self-esteem may do poorly in school, but average children who believe in themselves can excel. Children with high self-esteem are more willing to accept challenges in life and are more apt to try something new. They even tend to be healthier.

The Delta Society is an organization devoted to the study of the human-animal bond. This bonding we do can be with just about any species of animal that isn't trying to eat you, from a pet cricket to the bond that develops between a zookeeper and her elephant. But the majority of cases are, of course, between humans, dogs and cats.

When I was growing up I can't remember when we didn't have a companion animal in the house. I faintly remember Scratchy the cat who was banished for what we now call "indiscriminate elimination." Then there was a Schipperke that would drag its butt on the floor (now I know its anal glands were bothering it). When I was seven I had a hamster, and I brought him to school on the day we had our class picture taken. There I sit, holding him up against my chest. As I grew older, we always seemed to have a cat living with us, and practically every year she had kittens. Mittens was a polydactyl, a cat with extra toes, and she passed trait onto many of her offspring.

My mother was widowed when I was five-and-a-half, I had an older brother and a couple friends in the neighborhood. And I always had a companion animal. I would always talk to them, sometimes confide in them, like the time I was scolded by my mother for some infraction. I told Mittens I was going to run away and take her with me. She was very understanding, reassuring and agreeable. And very comforting. Did our companion animals help me as a child? In retrospect, I truly think they did.

The Delta Society cites a number of studies regarding children and companion animals:

  • "Children exposed to humane [animal] education programs display enhanced empathy for humans compared with children not exposed to such programs. (Ascione, 1992)."
  • "Positive self-esteem of children is enhanced by owning a Companion animal. (Bergensen, 1989)."
  • "Children's cognitive development can be enhanced by owning a Companion animal. (Poresky, 1988)."
  • "70% of families surveyed reported an increase in family happiness and fun subsequent to companion animal acquisition. (Cain, 1985)."
  • "The presence of a dog during a child's physical examination decreased their stress. (Nadgengast, 1997, Baun, 1998)."
  • "Children owning companion animals are more involved in activities such as sports, hobbies, clubs or chores. (Melson, 1990)."
  • "Children exposed to companion animals during the first year of life have a lower frequency of allergic rhinitis and asthma. (Hesselmar, 1999)."
  • "Children with autism have more prosocial behaviors [and] less autistic behaviors such as self-absorbtion. (Redefer, 1989)."
  • "Children who own companion animals score significantly higher on empathy and prosocial orientation scales than non-owners. (Vidovic, 1999)."

 

Should every child have a companion animal? For the majority of cases, probably yes. Since companion animals can be used to teach children values and wanted behaviors, getting a companion animal is a great idea. It involves, however, a lifelong commitment to the care and welfare of that animal as a member of your family. For most companion animal owners, their dog, cat or bird is as much a family member as is a child, and their loss is taken just about as hard.

Dogs perhaps require the greatest commitment for companion animal ownership. They are very social creatures that demand a great deal of human interaction for THEM to be self-fulfilled. Cats require less time, and sometimes seem to be indifferent about your presence at all. We have two dogs and nine cats. Each of our companion animals has a unique personality. Our oldest cat would probably be happier if the other eight left home. Yule and Mina are always waiting to greet me when I open the bedroom door in the morning. Another hides when a stranger is in the house and one rejects human affection.

Selection of the best companion animal for your particular family situation should take time and considerable forethought and planning. Find out all you can about a particular breed or type of companion animal. Pocket companion animals (hamsters, mice, gerbils, rats, rabbits, Guinea pigs and ferrets) are caged animals that don't take up much space or financial investment, but still require daily care and attention. You might be surprised how engrossed and enamored some adult owners of pocket Companion animals become.

Very young children (under 3 to 4 years old) do not have the maturity to control their aggressive and angry impulses, and companion animals should always be monitored when interacting with them. I have treated companion animal injuries due to young children carrying them and falling on the companion animal or dropping it. If you wouldn't let your child play with a Hummel, don't let them play with an equally breakable living creature.

Children under 10 are rarely able to care for a large companion animal, like a dog or cat, entirely on their own, and you must assume that much of the care will fall to you. Of course, you must supervise and oversee the companion animal's care even if your child is old enough. They need to be reminded that animals, like people, need food, water and exercise. Parents serve as role models here, and children learn responsible companion animal ownership by observing their parents' behavior.

A child's good relationship with a companion animal can also help in developing non-verbal communication, compassion and empathy. Children often talk to their companion animals, as they do with their stuffed animals, and they become safe recipients of secrets and private thoughts. A companion animal may also provide lessons about life, including illnesses, accidents, death and bereavement. Perhaps most of all, they can teach respect for other living things. Likewise, rough or abusive interaction with a companion animal may be a sign of significant emotional problems requiring a comprehensive evaluation by one of you.

Then there is something I see almost every day when I handle a Companion animal. It's called "comfort contact." It's a proven phenomenon that when we stroke a dog or cat our blood pressure goes down, along with our heart rate. It's a calming effect. Well, guess what? The feeling is mutual. When I'm listening to a nervous dog's heart and I reach out and pet it while I'm listening, the heart rate decreases. It's the contact. Almost as good as a hug.

Thursday, 23 October 2008 00:05

Dr. Allen - Companion Animals and Cancer

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Companion Animals and Cancer

We humans tend to think we're pretty unique in the animal world, but, in fact, we are all very much alike when it comes to medical problems. Tumors and cancer are examples of conditions that affect all animals, from fish to elephants to birds.

In general, we all have potential cancer cells develop in our bodies every day. They might be mutants of normal cell division that could go wild and overproduce more cells, thereby creating a mass. Our immune systems, however, identify these abnormal cells and destroy them, or the cells naturally die off. Some animals' immune systems may be genetically inadequate from birth, and those animals tend to have abnormal cells slip through and develop into tumors. Likewise, as we get older our immune systems are not as strong or efficient as when we were young, and again some potential tumor cells slip through our body's screening process. Perhaps this is why lumps and bumps are more common as we get older.

Some breeds of dog seem to be more prone to tumors than others. Boxers have a reputation for being "tumor factories," and white boxers lead their group. Labradors tend to get lipomas, but then Labradors also tend to be overweight, and I seldom see lipomas on lean dogs.

If you've had a companion animal for a long time, say 10 years or more, you may have noticed lumps develop, or moles or warts as the dog or cat gets up in years. Often these lumps are nothing to worry about unless they continue to grow or they are bothering the pet. Lipomas are a case in point. They are fat cell tumors; essentially a fat cell that has multiplied out of control. They can usually be felt under the skin, are round or oval, feel soft and somewhat moveable. The most common site they develop is on the side of the chest behind the front legs, but they can pop up anywhere on the body. People get lipomas, too. Lipomas are benign and need only be removed if they are getting too big (or for cosmetic appearances).

Nearly every type of cancer that people develop can also develop in our companion animals. The methods for controlling or eliminating these tumors are essentially the same for dogs and cats as it is for people. We use surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, nutrition, and everything else that works in people. There are veterinary oncologists that specialize in the latest methods for dealing with cancers. Specialty practices and veterinary schools take patients on a referral basis for diagnosis and treatment. Many veterinarians do not routinely carry the chemotherapy drugs because they are very expensive, they expire quickly, and are used infrequently.

Prognosis for certain types of cancer therapy may vary with the individual animal. Older animals may not be strong enough or have competent immune systems to battle the tumor. Other complicating factors, such as liver or kidney disease, may preclude them from treatment. In many cases, surgery is the first step if just one site is involved. If there are many tumors, both surgery and chemotherapy may be the answer. Then there are some cases in which nothing will slow or stop the progress of the cancer, as with osteosarcoma, or bone cancer.

As veterinarians, we've known for a long time that estrogen is connected with breast cancer. Dogs and cats that are spayed (ovariohysterectomy) before their first heat have a zero incidence of breast cancer later in life. Each year that a female animal goes unspayed increases the likelihood that lumps will develop. Dogs and cats have five pairs of mammary glands, so right away they are five times as likely as humans to develop problems. An unspayed dog is about 70% likely to develop masses in the mammary tissue when they get to be 7 plus years old. Breast cancer in our pets can be prevented through early spaying. Likewise for the males, early neutering prevents testicular cancer.

Cats can acquire all sorts of tumors and cancer, too. Injection-site sarcomas are something we see on rare occasion, and steps have already been taken by vaccine companies to avoid any future connections with injections. They usually occur over the shoulder area, where we commonly give distemper shots, and first appear as a lump that you feel, but often can't see. Surgical removal early on may prevent spread, but they commonly return in the same area. A very small percentage of cats have been affected (a fraction of one percent), but that's still too many if we can prevent it.

As with humans, early diagnosis is important, and if you detect a lump or mass on your dog or cat, consult your veterinarian. It may turn out to be only a sebaceous cyst, but it could be something more serious.

Thursday, 23 October 2008 00:05

Dr. Don Allen - Companion Animal Protection Society

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Dr. Donald K. Allen, MS, DVM (member of CAPS' board of directors)

Dr. Allen's companion animal practice in Youngstown, Ohio cares for dogs, cats, reptiles, birds and exotic animals. Prior to starting his own veterinary clinic in 1992, Dr. Allen was Medical Director of Animal Charity, a nonprofit private humane society and veterinary facility in Youngstown. During his five years at Animal Charity, he discovered that a number of sick puppies requiring treatment had been purchased at a local Docktor Pet Center.

After Dr. Allen went to the Docktor Pet Center and questioned the source of the puppies -- an employee denied the puppies were from mills -- he received a call from the franchise owner. The owner stated that he did not buy dogs from puppy mills and asked Dr. Allen not to visit the store.

Animal Charity then filed a complaint with the Ohio Attorney General's office against the Youngstown Docktor Pet Center for misrepresenting the source of its puppies. Shortly thereafter, Dr. Allen visited six puppy mills and a broker's facility in Missouri to verify the conditions under which some of his clients' dogs had been raised.

At Dr. Allen's instigation, the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA) stopped running a Docktor advertisement seeking veterinarians as franchisees. Dr. Allen then wrote a letter to JAVMA encouraging veterinarians to "unite against the ongoing atrocity of puppy mills." This letter prompted negative responses from veterinarians in puppy mill states, including one from a staff veterinarian for Honeydew, a Missouri brokerage facility owned by the Hunte Corporation.

In 1994, Dr. Allen and his wife started a joint venture business with a veterinarian and her father in Kaunas, Lithuania. Dr. Allen's maternal grandparents were from Lithuania. The business provides high quality veterinary vaccines, pharmaceuticals and supplies at affordable prices. It also helps Lithuanian and other Baltic veterinarians start their own private practices. Dr. Allen travels to Lithuania twice a year to lecture at the Lithuanian Veterinary Academy on business methods and veterinary science. 

Dr. Allen hosts "Pet Talk," a daily call-in program on WKBN radio in Youngstown. He also appears twice a week on WKBN Television News.

Dr. Allen has bachelor degrees in animal science and veterinary science, a masters degree in animal nutrition, and a DVM. He completed all of his studies at the University of Illinois.

 

Companion Animal Nutrition and Food Selection

Fifty years ago, the pet food section of your grocery store offered no more than half a dozen brands of dog or cat food. Thirty years later, there were a lot of new brand names and flavors, and today the selection is mind-boggling. In fact, there are whole stores devoted to pet foods. How can you possibly pick the right food for your cat or dog?

As with just about everything else in life, our companion animals' nutritional needs can be illustrated with a bell-shaped curve. The vast majority of pets are in the center of the curve, and these dogs and cats have "average" nutritional demands. On the far right of the curve are those animals with genetic or medical problems that require specific or limited diets, such as Dalmations with urate metabolism deficiency or cats with food allergies. On the far left lip of the bell curve are those animals that can eat anything and thrive, probably even toxic waste.

By now you probably know whether or not your companion animal is on the right, left or middle of the curve. If you are having what you think might be a diet-related problem with your companion animal right now, the best thing to do is to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to explore the possible causes. If all is well, remember that it's still a good idea to get an annual check-up for your pet and to discuss diet at that time.

I have always believed that Purina products have been the standard of the industry through the years. They are the biggest and have spent the most money on research and development. There are also pet foods that I feel are inferior and many that are probably superior in overall quality. Generics and brand names you've never heard of before may be OK for some dogs, but many dogs will decline in overall health if fed these brands over a period of time. Brands touted as "superior" may be much more than your dog really needs, and you are throwing away a lot of money. They may even be harmful in some cases, such as those with high protein levels that can cause kidney failure. It is probably safe to say that American dogs and cats are better fed than most people on this planet.

Pick a name brand you are familiar with and give it a try. Remember to slowly switch the diet by mixing the new food with the previous food over a period of a week to avoid sudden change loose stools. If all goes well, and they like it, stick with the same brand and flavor. Don't make frequent changes because your animal's body needs to adjust each time you jump from one brand to another.

Avoid giving your companion animal lots of treats and table scraps. Over half of Americans are overweight, and so are our dogs and cats. When you give lots of treats you are upsetting the balanced nutrition of the main diet food and you are adding more calories. I tell my clients that, "Food is not love, and love is not food - you are killing them with kindness or 'loving them to death!'"

Obesity in dogs wears out their hip and knee joints prematurely, sets them up for anterior cruciate ligament rupture and more vet bills down the road. The odds are they will not live a full life expectancy due to the many negative effects of overfeeding. The best rule of thumb is that if you can see the ribs, they are too thin, and if you can't feel the ribs, they are too fat. You should be able to feel individual ribs when you rub your hand over the chest behind the front legs.

Beware of the pet food salesperson who says, "That food is no good because they use wood shavings for fiber." If they are trying to run down another brand to sell their own, realize their motives. Pet store chains may have their own "house brands" to sell, and their profit margin is higher if they push their own food. If it's a name brand they are degrading, they are probably wrong. There is also the sales pitch that, "Chicken is better than corn," or "We use only the finest ingredients." There are thousands of types of corn, soybeans, wheat and other grains and legumes, but some are poorly digested and some can be digested, but are not "bioavailable" to the pet's system. When in doubt, consult your vet.

How much food and when to feed are questions I'm frequently asked. There are several pet food charts available that show a breed's ideal weight (Fit 'N Trim®) and suggest how much food to feed to achieve that weight. There is usually a reducing schedule and a maintenance schedule once that weight is achieved. Basically, you are counting calories, and the entire diet can be fed once in the morning or divided and fed twice during the day. The chart assumes, of course, that you are not cheating by giving your companion animal "extras." Remember that many feeding recommendations are too high in calories for the average dog's needs. After all, pet food companies are trying to sell dog food, and the more your dog eats, the more they sell.

For large breed dogs, it's best not to feed too close to exercise time to prevent bloat and gastric torsion. No strenuous exercise or running for two hours after eating. Exercise is always a part of dieting, and a slow, gradual build-up is advised. Just a walk around the block is a good start. Overweight dogs are in danger of injuring their knees if they overload the joint while running and turning, so take it easy.

Dateline Dr. Allen

AND PETLAND SAYS THEIR PUPPIES ARE EXAMINED BY VETERINARIANS. BUT THIS VETERINARIAN SAYS HE'S SEEN FIRSTHAND THE PROBLEMS THAT CAN ARISE WITH PET STORE PUPPIES.

Chris: When you talk to the people at the pet store, the dog is guaranteed.

Dr. Allen: Well, there are all kinds of things that can go wrong and do go wrong. I've seen these puppies go on when they're three years of age develop epilepsy, hip dysplasia or kneecaps that slip out, that aren't going to be readily apparent in a puppy for maybe the first year or so. So the warranties that they give are in many cases pretty much worthless.

DR. DON ALLEN IS NOW ON THE BOARD OF THE COMPANION ANIMAL PROTECTION SOCIETY, A NON-PROFIT GROUP FOCUSED ON PET WELFARE ISSUES. HE JOINED US WHEN WE TOOK OUR HIDDEN CAMERAS TO THREE PETLAND STORES IN OHIO.

AND THOUGH DR. ALLEN CERTAINLY COULDN'T EXAMINE EVERY PUPPY, IN JUST ONE DAY, HE SPOTTED SOME POTENTIALLY SERIOUS PROBLEMS THAT HE SAYS ARE LIKELY LINKED TO HOW THE PUPPIES WERE BRED.

Dr. Allen: See, he's got kinda like a moth eaten appearance here?

IT'S NOT CONTAGIOUS BUT APPEARED TO BE A HEREDITARY FORM OF MANGE.

Dr. Allen con't: Probably all the puppies in this litter have it.

THIS CHIHUAHUA ALSO HAD A HEREDITARY PROBLEM - ONE THAT'S NOT UNCOMMON TO THIS BREED. BUT WE WOULDN'T HAVE KNOWN ABOUT IT IF WE HADN'T BROUGHT ALONG OUR VET.

Dr. Allen: It's called an open fontanel.

Chris: What does that mean for a dog?

Dr. Allen: Got a hole in her skull.

THE SKULL HADN'T CLOSED AROUND THE DOG'S BRAIN. A BOP ON THE HEAD COULD BE FATAL.

Dr. Allen: The fact is here that pet stores have no other source of puppies other than puppy mills. If the three of us were to start a pet store tomorrow and sell puppies and were only going to buy from local breeders, well we might have puppies this month, but we don't have 16 breeds every day of the year.

Thursday, 23 October 2008 00:05

Dr. Allen - Dental Care for Your Companion Animal

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Dental Care for Your Companion Animal

One of the most frequently overlooked aspects of companion animal health is dental care. Many people notice their animal's bad breath, but few will open their dog's or cat's mouth to determine the cause of the problem. The source of the odor is almost always a build up of tartar on the molars: teeth that are not readily visible. Opening the animal's mouth and pulling the corner back will reveal the offending tartar.

We brush our teeth several times a day and still need the tartar scraped off by a dentist at least once a year. The tartar does not necessarily develop from a build up of food but is usually a result of the chemistry of our saliva. Our teeth are constantly bathed in saliva, and tartar is usually worse where the salivary ducts empty into the mouth. The same is true for animals.

Feeding your dog or cat a hard, crunchy pet food is the best way to control tartar. Do not moisten it or mix it with canned food. Frequent brushing - at least three times a week - with enzymatic pet toothpaste and a soft toothbrush made especially for dogs and cats will also help control the problem.

When brushing your dog's or cat's teeth, it is not necessary to hold the mouth open. Most tartar forms between the outside of the teeth and the gums. You can hold your animal's muzzle and insert the toothbrush or finger brush under the lip. You merely reach back to brush the molars. Most tartar damage affects the upper teeth, especially the molars, first. By cleaning these teeth, you will control much of the problem.

Many products that help control tartar are available through veterinarians and pet supply stores. These products include food, treats and toys that work like dental floss. These products, however, are not a replacement for brushing.

Canned and moist pet foods tend to accentuate tartar build up because they lack the abrasive action that results from chewing hard food. A diet of soft food, including table scraps, often results in more tartar, inflamed and receding gums, and loosening teeth that will eventually fall out.

Chronic dental infection can cause serious health problems when bacteria around affected teeth enters the bloodstream. This bacteria may enter heart valves and cause valve damage and heart disease. It is common to hear a heart murmur in a companion animal with bad teeth. But it is not necessarily too late. Prompt attention can arrest these health troubles.

Check you companion animal's teeth today for bad breath, tartar, red gums, and movable teeth. If you find a problem, make an appointment with your veterinarian for an evaluation. Brushing or changing the diet may be all that is needed. The average dog or cat needs professional cleaning by a veterinarian about every three years. General anesthesia is required to do a thorough job and poses a minimal risk for healthy animals.

Rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, rats and mice should have chunks of wood in their cages for chewing. These animals have a natural need to chew on materials which help keep their teeth sharp and clean. If a piece of pine is available, they will probably not destroy the plastic or other wood structures in their cages. A cut off piece of a two-by-four will work well.

Horses need periodic dental care, too. Sharp edges can develop on the sides of the grinding teeth that can cut into a horse's tongue or cheek. "Floating" the teeth - the filing of these sharp edges - allows more comfortable chewing. Contact your veterinarian for further information.

Geriatric Medicine and Your Dog

Advances in modern medicine have helped us live longer and longer lives and have spilled over into veterinary medicine as well. It is not unusual today to see dogs survive well into their teens.

Quality of life is always an issue, however, and an old dog that can no longer enjoy life is a sad sight. Arthritis affects dogs just as it does humans, but there are many ways we can help alleviate their aches and pains.

First of all, our dogs have steadily become overweight, like our society. At least 50% of our dogs are either overweight or pathologically obese. Many of us equate love with feeding, and we continually give our dogs tidbits from the table, too much pet food and too many pet treats. An overweight dog will wear out its joints well before old age. Dogs just weren't designed to carry that much load. I tell clients to go home and put 500 pounds of sand in the trunk of their car and see what it does to the rear axle bearings.

Check with your vet about what your dog's lean weight should be and ask how you can get the dog down to that level. We control what our dogs eat, so if the weight doesn't come off we are doing something wrong. Switch to a low-calorie dog food and actually measure what you give each day. Stop buying commercial dog treats and start giving your dog raw carrots, apple slices, celery or other fruits and vegetables instead of dog biscuits (unless they are low calorie diet biscuits). Start a moderate, regular exercise program for your dog. It will be good for you, too. Getting the weight down will help your dog's arthritis perhaps more than most medicines.

When your dog is having a hard time going up stairs, laying down and getting up, or is showing other signs of arthritis, you can always give him the same over-the-counter medicine you might take yourself. Aspirin, tylenol and ibuprofen can all be used twice a day to alleviate aches and pains in your dog. Like people, some dogs' stomachs are sensitive to these "non-steroid anti-inflammatories" and you should always give them with a meal. Check with your vet for dosages.

Your vet also has prescription medicines for arthritis, such as "Rimadyl" and "Eto-gesic," to work directly on arthritic inflammation. On really bad days, an injection of cortico steroids may be called for to give fast relief. Occasional use of cortisone is not harmful, and will significantly reduce an arthritic flare-up for up to several weeks (using dexamethasone and Depo-Medrol). I usually add some vitamin C, A, D and E to the shot.

Perhaps the best thing to ever come along for arthritis is an injectable product called "Adequan." This has been called a "fountain of youth shot" for its remarkable results in many cases. Developed as a product for race horses to keep them running and making money, it was tried by small animal vets and found to be greatly helpful for arthritis. The shot is given once or twice a week for four weeks, then a booster is given about every three months. It works by increasing the production of synovial fluid, the joint lubricant, and by stimulating cartilage repair. The earlier it is used in an arthritic case, the better the response.

Lastly, there are "nutriceuticals," such as glycosaminoglycan and glucosamine supplements that provide the building blocks for cartilage repair. These are nearly always beneficial, with no side affects, but the response may not be noticeable. People who take these products sometimes didn't think they were helping until they stopped taking them. In essence, these products provide 20 to 30 percent improvement, but every little bit helps.

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