Archive for June, 2012

Preventing Dog Bites

Friday, June 8th, 2012

Nice weather drives people outside. It also brings more dogs outside; thus, increasing the chance of possibly being the victim of a dog bite.


June 06, 2012 10:45 pm  •  By Joanne Fox with the Sioux City Journal

Each year, approximately five million dog bites occur in the United States, nearly 50 percent of which are unprovoked according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Dr. David Ray of Perry Creek Animal Hospital listed a few reasons a dog will bite.

“Fear. Being backed into a ‘corner,’ kind of a fight or flight attitude. Pain. Poor boundaries of behavior set by the owner when dog is a puppy or the dog is trained to bite,” he said.

Most often, a biting dog is a product of poor ownership, Ray stressed.

“Now there are always a few dogs that are just poor dogs to own due to their own behavioral issues,” he said. “These are the type of dogs that the ‘Dog Whisper’ is so famous for.”

Ray has an edge in the veterinary profession. Those trained in that vocation soon learn what to be watching for when a dog might be considering an attack.

“Watch the eyes. Curling lips. Head turning away and down,” he said. “What is the tail doing? Listen for the low growl. Are you a threat to them? What is your body language like?”

Contrary to popular belief and a city council ordinance on pit bulls, Ray felt certain breeds are not prone to more biting.

“The smaller the dog, the less severe the bite usually is,” he said. “But small dogs bite more than bigger dogs. You should know your breeds and how they behave.”

If you’re walking down the street and a dog approaches you, how you react will depend on the dog’s behavior, Ray said.

“If the dog is just walking along with tail wagging and head up, let the animal approach you at its pace,” he said. “Allow them to sniff the back side of you hand. If tail and head are still up, then you may slowly pat or stroke the top of the head and behind the ears.”

If a dog seems to be thinking about coming after you, walk, don’t run, Ray recommended.

“Walk toward a safe place or to an object of protection,” he said. “Never run! That is like giving the dog permission to chase and bite.”

Siouxland plastic surgeon Dr. Kelly Gallego with Tri-State Specialists, LLP in Sioux City has joined the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) efforts to educate pet owners on the prevention and impact of dog bites.

“I treat one to two dog bite injuries each month just from the area,” he said. “While some are relatively minor, other cases are much more serious, requiring multiple procedures and leaving patients and families emotionally traumatized.”

Fortunately, fatal attacks are extremely rare. However, dog bites can occur anywhere on the victim’s body. Children sustain more injuries to the head and face while adults typically experience injuries to the upper extremities. Gallego estimated some 30,000 victims nationwide will require reconstructive surgery this year alone to repair injuries sustained from dog bites.

“It is important that victims seek immediate medical attention,” Gallego said. “Educating dog owners is vital to decreasing the number of dog attacks.”

Ray echoed those sentiments.

“It is important to understand that it’s the owner of the animal that is totally responsible for what that animal does,” he said. “Owning a pet is a responsibility. It isn’t a right.”

It’s also an entirely different situation if one’s family pet becomes aggressive, Ray pointed out.

“A owner should never be fearful that their dog will bite,” he said. “If they are, they need to question their training techniques or the type or temperament of the dog they own.”

Shar Pei Adopts Endangered Tiger Cub Pair

Friday, June 8th, 2012

From the Associated Press:

In this picture taken, Monday, June 4, 2012, Shar Pei dog Cleopatra feeds two baby tigers in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, southern Russia. Two baby tigers whose mother refused to feed them found an unusual wet nurse, a wrinkled, sand-colored Shar Pei dog named Cleopatra. The cubs were born in late May in a zoo at the October health resort in Sochi.

MOSCOW — Two Siberian tiger cubs abandoned in Russia by their mother have found an unusual wet nurse — a wrinkled, sand-colored Shar Pei dog named Cleopatra, a zoo worker said Wednesday.

The cubs were born late May in a zoo at the Oktyabrsky health resort in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

Zoo assistant director Viktoria Kudlayeva said the dog immediately gave the cubs all her attention.

“She accepted them right away,” Kudlayeva said in a telephone interview. “She’s cleaning them and breast feeding them as if they were her own. And they also sleep together.”

The cubs — named Clyopa, after their adopted mother, and Plyusha — are also being fed goat’s milk.

Kudlayeva said that the cubs pose no danger to the dog even though they are already showing their claws and hissing.

“They aren’t aggressive and they depend on her for feeding,” she said.

Fewer than 400 Siberian tigers — also known as Ussuri, Amur or Manchurian tigers — have survived in the wild, most of them in Russia’s Far East.

Barn Owl Once Considered Extinct Surfaces in Michigan

Friday, June 8th, 2012

GRAND RAPIDS, MI — When Blandford Nature Center staff received a call from a Coopersville resident in late May saying she found a sick male owl on the floor of her barn, they were skeptical.

With the last sighting of a Michigan barn owl in 2000, some thought the bird to be extinct.

There have only been four confirmed sightings of individual barn owls in the state since the  last breeding pair were spotted in Michigan in 1983. Lori Martin, wildlife program coordinator at Blandford, hadn’t seen or heard of a Michigan barn owl in her 10 years at the center.

But to the staff’s surprise, the lethargic bird in the barn – unable to hold himself up or keep his eyes open  – was a barn owl. He was in bad shape when staff took him in on May 21.

“When we came in he had a really slow heartbeat, and for birds, their heartbeat is extremely fast because they have a higher metabolism than humans,” Martin said. “With him, (the heartbeat) was very easy to count: a sign he was not doing well.”

Blandford’s veterinarian, Dr. Rebecca Vincent of the Animal Medical Center of Wyoming, thought the bird exhibited signs of neurological issues, possibly due to West Nile virus or poisoning.

Throughout the past few weeks, however, the owl has made strides. He has been on a fluid and feeding regimen and daily physical therapy, and he’s regaining the use of his legs, which appeared to be stiff and unusable when staff found him. He is also becoming more vocal – a contrast from his original meekness.

“He screams every time we go to handle him, like a typical barn owl. He puts up a fight and is way more feisty than he was before,” Martin said.

The owl is still being hand-fed, and it’s a matter of time to see how he will recover. If he proves strong enough, staff will work with the Department of Natural Resources to release him back into the wild. Otherwise he’ll be added to Blandford’s family of birds of prey and reptiles, either to live among the center’s wildlife trails or to be taken to schools for endangered species education.

Of course, the staff at Blandford are rooting for the owl’s full recovery, but if he becomes a resident there’s the likelihood that he’ll acquire a name. A few staff members have loosely thrown around the name Soren from the book series “Guardians of Ga’hoole,” Martin said.

The nature center’s wildlife department is accepting donations to assist in the owl’s recovery. Tax deductible donations can be made in person, or on the nature center’s website (specify in the comment section that it’s for the barn owl). Checks can also be mailed to Blandford at 1715 Hillburn Ave NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504 with “Barn Owl” in the memo.

E-mail Angie Jackson: and follow her on Twitter at

Facebook Friends Rescue “Miracle” the Dog

Friday, June 8th, 2012

From digital life on

Beth-Andy Kohn Gresham’s photos, shared on Facebook, along with her callout for help, generated a huge response.

By Suzanne Choney

“PLASTIC CONTAINER IS STUCK OVER THIS BABY’S HEAD !!!! NEEDS IMMEDIATE HELP !!!!!!” read a frantic Facebook posting last Friday by Beth-Andy Kohn Gresham, rescuer of homeless and needy animals.

That container was only one part of Miracle’s miseries, Gresham would find out later. The young dog — estimated to be between 6 and 8 months old — had previously been hit by a car and also shot in her right ear, likely with a BB gun, according to a vet who is now treating Miracle.

Gresham, of Memphis, Tennessee, has a Facebook page filled with the photos of animals rescued and those needing homes. When Tracee Burton spotted the thin dog with its head trapped in the container, wandering in a wooded area off of Interstate 40, she stopped and tried to help it, but the frightened creature ran into the woods.

Burton called Gresham, who managed to get within 20 feet of the dog before it ran off again. On a work lunch break, Gresham came back to the site again. She reported on Facebook that she was:

… able to get this pic (it has been zoomed in) I am leaving jobsite now and going back by. Hoping it will be laying in same place and traffic noise will help me sneak up !! THIS BABY CAN NOT EAT OR DRINK with this container stuck !!! VERY THIN can see ribs !! Must be getting some air or would not have lasted this long today !! If ANYONE CAN HELP please let me know ASAP!!!

Hundreds of people responded with offers of help after Gresham posted the photo. “The animal loving community pulled together quickly,” she said on Facebook. “By early afternoon, the search began. We were disappointed that we were not able to locate her that night.” A Facebook effort was made to get a search group together for Saturday.

“Again we searched and searched and  NOTHING,” Gresham said on Facebook. “We  were ALL so SCARED for this poor baby, but no one would  give up !!”

But the effort and word-of-mouth-via-Facebook paid off. Even TV station WREG covered the story. Miracle was spotted — lured and trapped by animal rescue volunteer Chester Burns who, with the help of other volunteers, got the container off the dog. Gresham shared this 47-second video on Facebook right after that.

They took Miracle to Shelby Center Hospital for Animals where she was “bathed, ticks galore removed, given fluids, weighed in  at  28 lbs., (should be around 40-45 lbs.),” treated for fleas and worms, “then went home” with a foster dog parent, Gresham wrote on Facebook:

This sweet girl has had a ROUGH life so far! Full body x-rays were taken and it was determined she has recently been hit by a car. There was a fracture to her left pelvis and her lower jaw bone. It will be determined later, once she gains some weight and gets her strength back if it will bother her, and if surgery will needed. She also has a shallow socket where the head of the femur connects to her hip in the right pelvis area which appears to be a birth defect. They also discovered that she had been shot with a BB gun, a BB was removed from right ear … She is on antibiotics and pain meds for the procedure today to remove the BB and the pain for her hips.

Miracle will be fostered until the Memphis Humane Society “has room for her or until she is adopted,” Gresham says on Facebook. The dog, is an “amazing soul. She has endured more in her short life and she is still a SWEET, LOVING and a TRUSTING girl!”

Gresham urges those who want to help to contact the Humane Society to make donations in Miracle’s name:

“We didn’t fail her when she was in the woods alone, so let’s not fail her now, at a time she really needs us to heal and recover from this nightmare she has been living,” she wrote.

24-7 VETS: Basic First-Aid for Your Dog

Friday, June 8th, 2012

24-7 VETS: Basic first-aid for your dog

Summer provides great opportunities for outdoor time with your dog. Enjoy it while it lasts, but keep in mind some of the following health risks:

Insect stings

Bee and wasp stings cause local pain and swelling. Apply a cold compress to the area for three to five minutes (a bag of frozen peas or ice cubes wrapped in a towel works well). Seek veterinary attention if symptoms persist or worsen.

Severe allergic reactions are rare in dogs, but facial swelling and hives are common. These warrant timely veterinary attention, but typically respond well to treatment with antihistamines. Never administer medications to your pet without consulting a veterinarian; some over-the-counter antihistamines are extremely toxic to pets.

Heat stroke

Dogs pant to cool down. This is less effective than sweating, so dogs are far less heat-tolerant than people.

Overweight dogs, and breeds, such as bulldogs, with compressed airways, are even less able to handle hot weather.

Early signs of heat stress include shade-seeking behaviour, intense thirst and uncontrollable panting.

Stop your pet’s activity immediately and seek shade (or air conditioning) and offer small amounts of water to drink. You can cautiously resume more moderate activity once signs resolve. Continued overheating may progress to life-threatening heat stroke.

Symptoms include weakness, collapse, vomiting, diarrhea or seizures, and require immediate veterinary care. Wetting your dog down with cool (not cold) water and fanning him en route can start the cooling progress and may save his life.

Prevention is better than treatment.

To avoid heat stroke:

1. Keep your dog fit.

2. Avoid exercise during the hottest parts of the day or on extremely hot, humid days.

3. Keep water readily available at all times.

4. Watch your dog closely for signs of heat stress.

5. Remember: there is no safe amount of time you can leave your dog in a parked car. Even with windows partially open, it can quickly become too hot for your dog to prevent overheating. Fatal heat stroke can occur within minutes.


Parasites, both internal and external, become active as the temperatures increase. Some, such as ticks and mosquitoes, can transmit serious disease. Many products are available to both prevent and treat many of these parasites.

A discussion with your veterinarian about parasite control is an important part of your dog’s annual preventive health care exam.

Dangerous wildlife

Encounters with skunks, porcupines and snakes are more common during summer months.

In addition to smelling terrible, skunk spray can be irritating and cause red eyes, sneezing, pawing at the face or vomiting. If your dog is showing these signs, and they are severe or persist, contact your veterinarian.

Check your dog’s face and paws carefully for evidence of bite or scratch wounds, which may become infected. As for the smell, commercial products are available, but a combination of three per cent hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and dish soap is effective. Tomato juice, vinegar and toothpaste are not.

Porcupine quilling is a serious matter. Quills are barbed, will imbed deeper into tissues and can migrate through the body to end up in the eyes, lungs or heart.

Examination and treatment by a veterinarian is recommended for any case of quilling. Try to prevent your dog from pawing at his face while he is en route; broken quills are challenging to find and remove, resulting in higher risk of infection and quill migration.

Ontario is home to the poisonous Massasauga rattlesnake. While some bites are ‘dry bites’ (where no venom is injected), all bites should be considered dangerous. Signs of envenomation include local pain and moderate to severe swelling.

If you suspect your dog has been bitten:

1. Keep him calm and restrict his movement.

2. Keep the bitten limb below the level of the heart and do not allow him to walk.

3. Do not apply tourniquets, ice or suction to the limb

4. If he was bitten in the head or neck remove or loosen his collar.

5. Seek veterinary attention as soon as possible.

Dr. Jason Donohoe is a graduate of Ontario Veterinary College and worked in a large animal practice until he found his passion in emergency medicine. Donohoe has a special interest in service dogs and has the privilege of working with both the OPP and Canadian military to provide first aid and emergency training to their dog handlers. He currently practices emergency medicine at Toronto Veterinary Emergency Hospital

Hot Spots Cause Problems for Pets and Owners

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

A hot spot is a focal moist dermatitis that is hard to prevent, per se. They can come on quickly and grow from the size of a dime to a very large area in just hours! Dead hair that is trapped next to the skin and a lack of grooming can cause this, but usually it is a bug bite, parasites, allergies, grooming or some other local insult to the skin.

These fast-growing problems can occur almost anywhere but often are on the side of the face just below the ear, under the neck, or near the back end of the dog. Given where your dog had her hot spot, I would make sure the anal glands are not full, potentially causing local irritation and causing the dog to chew the area.

At this time of year, the pollen count is high and dogs with allergies itch and scratch, which could be the cause. I see a lot of these hot spots in the late spring and early fall and attribute them to possible allergic re-sponses. Shaving and cleaning the area is a must because the skin often produces a wet sticky film on the area that needs to be removed. I often suggest that owners put hydrogen peroxide on the cleaned area three times a day for one or two days after I have given the dog a shot of corticosteroids and started them on an antibiotic like Cephalexin. Sounds like the treatment worked and is similar to what I would have done.

John de Jong, D.V.M., is the owner/operator of Boston Mobile Veterinary Clinic and CEO/director at Boston Animal Hospital.

Deaf Dogs Can Be Trained with Hand Signals

Friday, June 1st, 2012

Nearly 100 breeds of dogs are recognized to have congenital deafness, meaning a defect that has been present since birth.

Dalmatians, bull terriers and Australian cattle dogs are overrepresented. Cats can be deaf from birth but exactly which breeds are predisposed is less understood. Deafness in either species seems to be linked with white coats and/or blue eyes but not always.

An animal can be deaf in one or both ears, but we often don’t pick up on any deficiency in those that are deaf in just one ear. Deafness in dogs is more quickly recognizable since we expect them to respond to the sound of our voice or loud noises. Since humans as well as the world at large are frequently ignored by cats, it’s a little tougher to tell when they can’t hear. In either case, deaf animals should never be bred, since the trait will be passed down to subsequent generations.

The only completely accurate way to determine if a dog is deaf in one or both ears is to perform a Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response (BAER) hearing test. The test uses a computer to record the electrical activity of the brain in response to sound stimulation. Since the BAER test was developed for use in humans, it does not measure the full range of canine hearing. But enough data can be gathered to determine if the dog can hear within the normal human range.

The CSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital can perform this test to determine if an animal is deaf in one or both ears.

Dogs that are deaf from birth can be trained to respond to hand signals and still be wonderful pets. The trick to training them is getting their attention so they can look to you for a signal. Vibrating collars often are used to train these animals. The dog is taught that when it feels a vibration from the collar it should look to its owner.

Dogs and cats can have acquired deafness, meaning they become deaf later in life. Causes of acquired deafness include chronic ear infections, noise trauma, certain drugs used in topical ear preparations, geriatric changes and rarely general anesthesia. Dogs with acquired deafness also can be trained to respond to hand signals.

It’s important to remember deaf animals need to be protected from dangers that would give auditory cues to a hearing animal, such as oncoming cars. Children need to be instructed on how to approach a deaf animal so they do not startle it.

The website is maintained by the school of veterinary medicine at Louisiana State University and is an excellent resource about congenital and acquired deafness in dogs and cats. Helpful tips on training deaf dogs can be found at


Christie Long is a veterinarian at the VCA Fort Collins Animal Hospital. Once a month, she will answer questions from her readers regarding pet health issues. Call her at (970) 204-4567 or send email to