Archive for July, 2012

Don and Carole Melvin’s Memorable Visit at CHOC

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

Seasoned pet partner teams Carole and Don Melvin had what they called a “very unusual experience” at CHOC (Children’t Hospital of Orange County). There were several people in a room on the PICU floor so Carole asked the nurse whether she should go in or not. As it turned out the girl in the room, about 12 years old, had passed away just a few minutes before and, yes, the family did want Carole to come in with Missy (the dog on the right). Carole spent about 45 minutes in the room with Missy comforting the girl’s siblings, a couple of the girl’s friends, and several of the family.  One of the girl’s friends was laying on the bed with the girl so Carole placed Missy between them and Missy gave them every ounce of love within her.  Then some of the family took turns holding Missy. Occasionally Carole and I are a little weary  the morning we’re scheduled to go to CHOC and think it would be nice to take the morning off. In the 7 years we’ve been at CHOC we can never anticipate what circumstances we’ll face on any given day but when anything near like this happens, we know why we go.  As long as our girls are able to go and our health holds up, we’ll be there for the kids and their family.

AHF Board Member, Dr. Dirk Yelinek, Is Honored

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

Dr. Dirk Yelinek, practicing veterinarian and Hospital Director of the Redondo Shores Veterinary Center received the NDMS Outstanding Achievement Award 2012 for his contributions in disaster animal response.

The award was given at the National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) 2012 Integrated Training Summit in Nashville, TN.

The award, for Response Team Distinguished Employee of the Year, is presented by the Director of the Office of Preparedness and Emergency Operations, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

The National Disaster Medical System is comprised of 96 medical teams, five of which are veterinary teams. Award recipients are chosen by nomination by their peers.

In addition to regular practice Dr. Yelinek maintains a government position as Deputy Team Leader of National Veterinary Response Team-4, Department of Health and Human Services, and has been a member of the VMAT program since 2002.

He is also a Founding Member of the Department of Homeland Security.

AHF Caring Creatures Pet Partners to participate in Royal Family Kids Camp registration

Friday, July 6th, 2012

For the fourth year, Animal Health Foundation Pet Partners will be participating in a very worthwhile event: registration activities for the Royal Family Kids Camp.


It is a camp for severely abused children from all over Orange County about ages 7-12 who are given the opportunity to go to camp for 5 days.


This year marks their 20th Anniversary!


The kids get a lot of love and attention for the week and the whole purpose is to give the kids a week of fun and enjoyment and love.  It is an International organization but the camps are all sponsored by local groups, i.e. Orange County camp is sponsored by two local.  There will be about 100-150 children at registration prior to the buses leaving for camp and then the same amount of children upon their return.  Registration and Return will be a Rock Harbor Church in Costa Mesa.


There will be pet teams stationed around a big recreation room that the kids can come up and pet.  This helps relax and entertain the children — who may be apprehensive and anxious before leaving for camp  — while the buses are being loaded with luggage and all the paperwork is being completed.


Upon their return from camp the pet teams work again because many of the children are anxious and apprehensive to return home.  Upon their return the kids go in the recreation room while the buses are unloaded and they wait for their caregivers, guardians or parents to pick them up.


Organizers say “this is the fourth year that the pet teams have assisted with registration and you cannot imagine the positive feedback that I’ve had.  Everyone involved says the dogs (and sometimes other animals) make registration and return go so much smoother now than before. The children, many with developmental and/or behavioral difficulties, had never been as calm as when the dogs have been there.”


Volunteer’s dog finds missing 5-year-old Wisconsin boy

Friday, July 6th, 2012

Article  by  ROCHELLE OLSON , Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune

Autumn, an 8-year-old golden retriever, found 5-year-old Scott Meyer early Wednesday morning near Prescott, Wis.

Photo: David Brewster, Star TribunePRESCOTT, WIS. – Her auburn fur still wet from a cooling break in the Mississippi River, Autumn headed up an embankment and turned hard right on Wednesday morning, leading owner Jason Moser in their search for missing 5-year-old Scott Meyer.

After a few minutes trailing the 8-year-old golden retriever, Moser said, “I heard a little whimpering, a little crying. I saw bare skin and a diaper.”

Moser sprinted toward the boy, who was tucked near a tree on a steep slope. He dropped to a knee as Scott snatched a water bottle from his hand and drank half.

Scott’s rescue and reunion with his parents, Barb and Dick Meyer, was a seemingly improbable ending to a 20-hour hunt for the boy who disappeared under blistering midday sun and amid warnings about excessive heat.

The boy, who is autistic and doesn’t use words, had been missing from his home just south of Prescott since midday Tuesday, when he wandered away from the family’s home and large fenced yard on the bluffs over the St. Croix River.

He was found about a half-mile from home.

He was taken to Children’s Hospital in St. Paul. A spokesman declined to release the boy’s condition on Wednesday, but aunt Rose Poss said he was dehydrated, sunburned and suffering from bug bites and a severe diaper rash.

Moser and Autumn found him about 8 a.m. “As fast as he grabbed that water, you could see he was doing well,” Moser said. “I told him, ‘Let’s get you back to your parents.’ He didn’t want to move or go anywhere. … You could tell he was a little scared, a little weak.”

Moser, who drove the 20 minutes from nearby Ellsworth to search, called 911 and shouted for help before texting his wife, Melissa, at 8:02 a.m. with the news.

The rescue crew loaded up Scotty and reunited him with his parents. Moser said he saw the initial hugs before the boy was tucked into the vehicle and taken to the hospital.

Community mobilizes

His tearful parents, who also have two older autistic sons, had appeared on television pleading for help and thanking volunteers who turned out by the hundreds. By 8 a.m. Wednesday, the roads surrounding Prescott High School were jammed with hundreds of people ready to board buses and go to the search area surrounding the family’s home. The volunteers were to be sent out in shifts, staying cool in the school’s air-conditioned basement on breaks. A local grocer donated water. Tubs of Gatorade sat on tables and fans blasted the hallways.

The good news, however, came fast, and by 10 a.m. buses full of would-be searchers returned to the parking lots.

Meghan Smith, 32, of Prescott, handed water bottles to those stepping off buses. She had also gone out to search Tuesday night even though she doesn’t know the family.

“I think everybody put themselves into the mom’s and dad’s shoes,” Smith said. “It says a lot about our community.”

Among those searching for the boy was Melissa Miller, his pre-kindergarten teacher for the past year. Miller also taught the two older brothers and knows the family well.

“He loves music like ‘The Wiggles,’ nursery rhymes and the ‘Wheels on the Bus,'” she said of Scott. “He’s generally a happy kid, smart — just nonverbal,” she said. Miller said Scotty loves Eric Carle books, Dr. Seuss and water. “He loves to drink water, to play in water and swim,” she said.

Miller said she went to search as soon as she heard. “I knew he was out there. He doesn’t like to travel too far. He’s one to sit down,” she said, adding that Scotty would avoid the direct sunlight because he doesn’t like it. “I knew we’d find him.”

Autumn’s big day

Moser’s wife almost talked him out of bringing Autumn on the search. Melissa Moser said she worried about bringing the dog, who is a rotund 75 pounds. But Moser said Autumn looked rested and eager to go.

The Mosers have two children at home, 4-year-old Liam and 11-month-old Kage, so the couple recruited 13-year-old neighbor Megan Taplin to baby- sit and headed out.

“We were over here as soon as we could,” Moser said. “There are so many bad places he could have gone. There’s a train down there, the river. My son would do anything to see a train.”

Moser described finding the boy as “overwhelming.” He said Autumn, who has been hunting only once, likes to “kiss” kids, but he couldn’t recall whether the dog approached Scotty. The Mosers said they were going to go home and relax for the rest of the day and maybe have a little celebration in a couple of days. Moser said Autumn, however, would receive her own steak or hamburger for dinner, in addition to her usual bounty of spillage from Liam and Kage.

Staff writers Katie Humphrey and Randy Furst contributed to this report. Rochelle Olson • 651-925-5035 Twitter: @rochelleolson

Stray cat saves man from fire at infamous site

Friday, July 6th, 2012

  In the same spot where a shootout involving the infamous “Bonnie and Clyde” gang left a sheriff’s deputy dead and the sheriff severely wounded eight decades ago, a stray cat has made history again — this time saving a life. The cat visited the bar-turned-fruit-and-vegetable-stand for a year and woke its 85-year-old clerk when a massive fire broke out, ultimately burning the stand to the ground.

By MICHAEL OVERALL World Staff WriterPublished: 7/5/2012  2:17 AM Last Modified: 7/5/2012  7:35 AM

STRINGTOWN, OK –  Parked at a juke joint south of town, Clyde Barrow was sitting in a stolen car with a couple of other guys from the notorious “Bonnie and Clyde” gang.
The music spilled outside and the crowd came with it, trying to catch a breeze in the Dust Bowl heat, still sweltering after dusk.

Sheriff Charles Maxwell didn’t know it was Barrow, at least not at first. But he went over to the car anyway.
Some say he thought the group looked suspicious.
Others insist that he just wanted to tell the guys to put their moonshine away, since Prohibition was still in effect.
Either way, the conversation didn’t go well.
On the west side of U.S. 69 about two hours south of Tulsa, a stone marker commemorates “The Stringtown Shootout” of Aug. 5, 1932.
By most accounts, it really wasn’t much of a shootout.
The sheriff noticed a gun in the car and then recognized Barrow.
“You can consider yourselves under arrest,” witnesses heard him say just before he fell to the ground with seven gunshot wounds.
Maxwell somehow survived. But his deputy, Eugene Moore, took a fatal bullet to the head before he could fire a single shot.
Barrow and his gang got away. And that’s about all the excitement that ever came to this little town.
Until now.
Maybe Stringtown needs a second historical marker in this very same spot  –  to remember a disaster that was averted and the unlikely hero who saved a man’s life.

Night watchman

A doctor had told 85-year-old Leland Duff that he shouldn’t live alone anymore, so he moved to South Dakota to stay with his son.
“It was unbelievably cold,” he says. “And I didn’t have anything to do up there but sit around all day.”
A couple of friends offered to drive 1,600 miles round-trip to bring him back to Oklahoma last year. But Duff doesn’t take charity.
He would come but only if he could repay them by working at their family fruit stand.
The place didn’t have a name. The sign just said “Tomatoes and Peaches.” But locals knew it was the famous old saloon.
Instead of contraband whiskey, Phyllis McPherson kept watermelons behind the bar. Where a jazz band used to play, she piled up cartons of squash and cucumbers.
“It wasn’t a very big place,” McPherson explains. “Back then, a tavern didn’t have to be. But it was big enough for us.”
Duff slept in a back room, partly because he didn’t have anywhere else to go. But the fruit stand also needed a night watchman.
“People around here have a habit of picking things up and walking off,” Duff says, “especially when nobody else is looking.”
About a year ago, a stray cat started coming around, and Duff would leave food out for her.
She found a place to squeeze through a crack in the walls, coming and going as she pleased. But she never bothered Duff, until one night in early April.
“About 4 a.m.,” he remembers, “she jumps up on my bed and lets out a big ‘meow.’ I thought, ‘What’s wrong with this cat?’ ”
Half asleep, he smelled smoke and decided to get up.
“I walked outside and didn’t see nothing,” Duff says. “Then I turn around and, whoa! The whole top of the building is on fire.”

Feline family

A rectangle of scorched dirt is all that’s left of the place.
But Duff and McPherson have reopened outdoors with a couple of lawn chairs and some netting for shade.
He lost all of his family photos and his clothes.
“But I have nothing to complain about,” Duff says. “If it hadn’t been for that cat, I would’ve burned up in there myself.”
They hope to rebuild, but without insurance, it could take a while to find the money.
Duff keeps the stand open seven days a week, sun-up to sundown.
But business stays pretty slow until the weekends, when drivers stop on the way back and forth between Dallas and Tulsa.
After the fire, the cat disappeared, and Duff figured she must have died.
Then, four days later, she showed up again with two  kittens.
They live with Duff in a borrowed camper, no bigger than the bed of a pickup, parked about where Barrow and his gang must have been sitting all those years ago.
“I keep the little ones safe inside, but the momma cat can run around all she wants,” Duff says.
“She’s under my feet most of the time, except when she goes off hunting. Ever since the fire, she hardly never leaves my side.”
Like the fruit stand, the cat still doesn’t have a name.
People have made a few suggestions  –  probably the best one being “Peaches,” considering the color of her fur and the stand’s most popular item.
But Duff doesn’t see the point.
“I just yell ‘Hey, kitty!’ and she comes running,” he says. “She’s just like a dog that way.”

Angel Fund Recipients Rosemary and Simon

Thursday, July 5th, 2012

The Cat Care Clinic in Orange used the Angel Fund to offset costs for Rosemary, whose cat, Simon, ingested Advil and was suffering from ibuprofen toxicity.  We hope that Simon makes a full recovery!

Angel Fund Recipients Kristan and Sunday

Thursday, July 5th, 2012

Many thanks to the Southern California Veterinary Hospital for utilizing our Angel Fund to help Sunday, the Dalmation who was limping.  We look forward to Sunday feeling better very soon.

How many ways can the thyroid malfunction

Thursday, July 5th, 2012
Posted: 04 Jul 2012 06:38 AM PDT

From the Animal Endocrine Clinic Blog by Dr. Mark E. Peterson

Thyroid disease (i.e., hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, and   thyroid tumors) is common in dogs and cats. Dr. Ann Hohenhaus, an oncologist   and former colleague of mine at the Animal Medical Center in New   York City, wrote the following blog post on WebMD about 2 dogs and a cat with   thyroid disease that I thought was worth sharing.

The first case concerns a dog with thyroid cancer; the second case a hyperthyroid   cat who previously had intestinal lymphoma (a cancer); and the   third case of a dog with hypothyroidism.

How Many Ways   Can the Thyroid Malfunction?
By Ann Hohenhaus, DVM

The thyroid gland sits in the neck of dogs and cats, just below the voice   box, and controls metabolic functions. Most of the time, a routine physical   examination cannot detect the organ if it is normal.

Last week, my patient list ran the gamut of thyroid dysfunction. Here is a   sampling:

A Tail of Two Thyroids
Some days, strange coincidences happen in the waiting room. Today it was two   dogs, both with thyroid cancer. Although measuring 15 centimeters in length,   Beckey’s thyroid tumor had been surgically removed. The biopsy showed her   tumor trying to escape into the lymph vessels and she was waiting her turn   for chemotherapy, administered to halt the spread. Her treatment involves   intravenous administration of two different chemotherapy agents and Beckey so   far has sailed through the treatment with flying colors.

As Beckey was leaving the waiting room, Henry entered. A CT scan showed his   thyroid tumor had already spread to the lymph nodes in his neck, precluding   surgical removal. He was in for a check-up following completion of four   radiation therapy treatments. Careful measurement of his tumor with calipers   showed no increase in tumor size. The radiation treatment arrested tumor   growth but had given him a sore esophagus. I had warned the owners about this   type of side effect before we started treatment and told them to expect it to   start resolving about two weeks after he completed his treatment. Henry did   not disappoint us. Through telephone triage, we had already rearranged his   medications to make his throat less painful. Henry spends summer in the   country but in the fall he will come back to The AMC for measurement of the   tumor and a chest x-ray.

Old Patient, New Problem
Otra’s family was worried. This cute kitty had completed chemotherapy for   intestinal lymphoma about a year ago, but suddenly her weight plummeted. I   could see from the look on their faces they were sure the cancer was back.   Auscultation of Otra’s heart discovered a very elevated heart rate, prompting   a test of her thyroid levels. Overactive thyroid glands ramp up the cat’s   metabolism and they lose weight despite eating well, have a high heart rate,   and are very peppy. An abdominal ultrasound showed no evidence the lymphoma   had recurred and blood tests showed the thyroid was overactive. I sent   thyroid-suppressing medications home with the relieved family and planned to   reassess the thyroid hormone levels in two weeks.

Porterhouse to Pork Chop
Every time I saw Mango to follow up on a skin tumor that had been completely   removed via surgery, she had gained another pound. This 60-pound Portuguese   Water Dog should have weighed 50 pounds. The owners took her swimming, fed   her diet food from feeding toys, and still she gained two more pounds. During   an evaluation for a urinary tract infection, we noted her thyroid hormone   levels were borderline low. When we retested the levels three months later,   we confirmed diagnosis of hypothyroidism. Low thyroid function, the opposite   of Otra’s problem, can cause weight gain. Since she started treatment with   thyroid supplementation, Mango has lost nearly 6 pounds and gone from a   20-ounce porterhouse to a 4-ounce pork chop over the past few months!

There you have it, thyroid malfunction runs the gamut of disease: overactive,   underactive, and two different tumors, all in one tiny organ.

How poop helps veterinarians keep pets healthy

Thursday, July 5th, 2012

Routine fecal sample evaluation is an important means of protecting the health of pets and their owners, according to veterinarian Sandy Willis. Several intestinal parasites present zoonotic risks and can be detected on a fecal flotation, a method in which parasite eggs can be separated from fecal material and identified using a microscope based on size and morphological features, Dr. Willis says. This blog post details how the samples are evaluated, what organisms are detected and how to best collect and store a sample until it is tested.



Question: Vets typically want to test a stool sample from our pets during an annual exam. It can be a smelly and messy collection, and many pet owners ignore the request. How valuable a diagnostic tool is poop?

Answer: The importance of a routine fecal examination and deworming has grown in recent years.

A fecal exam is very helpful in health and disease. It will identify most gastrointestinal parasites in a healthy pet and those that may be causing disease in a sick pet with a variety of signs, including diarrhea, vomiting, poor skin and hair coat, weight loss, etc.

Most pets acquire parasite infections from the environment because parasite eggs often can exist for long periods of time in the soil and grass. Fecal examinations in healthy pets will identify asymptomatic shedders, allowing us to treat them, eliminate shedding, serving to reduce overall contamination and exposure of other pets to infection.

Some parasites, such as toxocariasis (roundworm infections, shown right) and toxoplasmosis are zoonotic, meaning that if eggs are ingested by people, they can develop disease. This occurs rarely, but routine fecal examination and deworming of our pets is important to the health of our families.

Furthermore, restricting access of children to contaminated areas, such as sandboxes, pet-walk areas and other high-traffic areas, is important.

An important zoonotic parasite is the raccoon roundworm Baylisascaris. Raccoons defecate in areas called latrines, and surrounded soil can be contaminated with Baylisascaris eggs.

People should discourage raccoons from their yards but not feeding raccoons or other animals around their homes, carefully removing any raccoon fecal material, and not allowing children to play in areas where raccoons have been.

Question: What can a fecal sample tell you about a dog’s health?

Answer: Fecal examination will identify internal parasites, such as worms, coccidia including giardia, and sometimes larvae such as lung worms.

In puppies, parasite infections often come from the mother, so the health of the puppy and bitch can be assessed by a fecal examination.

But the exams do not identify all infections, and, thus, routine deworming is important even if fecal tests are negative.

This is particularly important in the puppy and in recently infected older dogs. In these dogs, worms are present in the intestines but they are not yet shedding eggs, resulting in a negative fecal examination.

Our common antiparasiticals have become so much more advanced in recent years.

They are safer, easier to administer and kill and prevent more infections. However, the fecal examination remains important to make sure we are treating the dog or cat with the most appropriate antiparasitical.

Clients should seek advice from their veterinarian on which dewormers are best. There are many out there, some less effective than others, and the veterinarian’s advice can save costs by making sure the right one is selected from the beginning. We also have to be careful with cats and make sure they receive dewormers appropriate for the feline.

Question: What can’t a fecal sample tell you?

Answer: There are other causes of diarrhea, including pancreatic insufficiency, small intestinal disease, hormonal problems, even cancer. Routine fecal examination will not diagnose these.

Bacterial causes of diarrhea are rare in small animals. A fecal culture, looking for unusual bacteria in the stool, is needed to diagnose a bacterial diarrhea. Parvovirus diarrhea is not diagnosed on a routine fecal examination, but there is another fecal test for this viral diarrhea.

Question: What specifically are you looking for in fecal tests?

Answer: We are looking for worms, small, moving organisms such as tritrichomonas and eggs of common gastrointestinal parasites.

Question: Is one stool sample usually enough?

Answer: Generally, yes. Sometimes we prefer to check multiple fecal samples because shedding may be intermittent, which can be the case with a giardia infection. In a patient with diarrhea, we may end up treating for gastrointestinal parasites even though a fecal sample is negative because a negative result does not absolutely rule out all parasites.

Question: What kinds of common issues are typically found?

Answer: The worm eggs: roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, coccidian, shown right, including giardia in small animals. Stomach worms, tapeworms, some whipworms and hookworms are seen in large animals.

These must be distinguished from common contaminants in stool, including environmental yeasts and fungi, pollen and other plant material, grain mites and parasites of other species (such as rodents, amphibians, large animals and horses) that are acquired from eating the species (i.e. frogs) or their stool (sheep and cattle).

Parasites from other species are just passing through, cause no disease in the dog and cat and do not require treatment.

Question: What are some of the more unusual diseases detected?

Answer: We can occasionally find organisms that are not related to the gastrointestinal tract, such as skin parasites like demodex and sarcoptes. These are mites that are usually picked up in skin scrapings made of the skin, placed on a slide and examined under a microscope. Sometimes the itching dog or cat will ingest these mites, they will pass unchanged through the gastrointestinal tract, and we will find them in the stool. Pretty cool.

We have occasionally seen a huge load of worm eggs from a species other than the one being sampled, such as deer worm eggs seen in the feces of a dog that routinely ingests deer poop!

We occasionally also see eggs that might cause significant disease in a sheep, goat or llama — in the stool of a dog. It is not necessary to treat the dog for the parasite, because these worms are generally species specific and only cause a problem in the natural host, but it is important to contact the owner of the pasture and have them do a routine deworming of their livestock.

Question: What is the worst thing it can reveal?

Answer: Sometimes we see such large infestations of parasites that the patient must be really ill. Overwhelming gastrointestinal parasitism can cause severe illness and death, particularly in young and immunocompromised patients.

In the Pacific Northwest, we also see a disease called salmon poisoning, shown right. Salmon poisoning occurs in domestic and wild dogs from northern California and Washington. This disease can be fatal if not identified and treated.

It is caused by a small microscopic organism called a rickettsia. Clinical signs include fever, not eating, weight loss, vomiting and diarrhea, which can sometimes be bloody. Signs are severe and dogs can become very ill, needing immediate veterinary care.

The interesting aspect of salmon poisoning is this: the rickettsia, called Rickettsia helminthoeca, is carried within a trematode or fluke. The fluke requires two other life-forms, the snail Oxytrema spp., which is only found in fresh and brackish stream waters in our coastal areas, and salmonid fish (salmon), certain nonsalmonid fish (such as trout) and the Pacific giant salamander. The dog becomes infected by eating or sometimes even licking, a fish or salamander. We diagnose the infection by finding the fluke eggs in a stool sample. It is rare to find the rickettsia agents themselves.

Salmon poisoning only occurs from the ingestion of raw fish. Cooked fish do not present a problem. Thus owners should really discourage their dogs from eating any raw fish.

This disease is not seen in cats.

Question: Which diseases, parasites, etc., can only be detected in an analysis of poop?
Answer: We can only detect the presence of gastrointestinal parasites, such as worms, trichomonads, coccidia, etc., by a fecal examination. There are no blood tests for these organisms.

Question: Are there any situations in which diseases/problems can be caught early by examining poop, before more serious symptoms develop?

Answer: We can occasionally detect fecal parasites before we see signs of disease such as diarrhea, blood in the stool, weight loss, poor skin and hair coat and condition, etc.

In addition — and more importantly — some parasites are zoonotic, meaning they can cause an aberrant infection in man, such as roundworms and certain hookworms. Thus we do want to make sure our pets are parasite free by performing routine fecal examinations and deworming.

In salmon poisoning, if we find the fluke eggs on a routine fecal examination, we will generally treat to prevent the disease with a tetracycline antibiotic.

Question: Vets usually want the samples to be “fresh.” Why?

Answer: Even the finding of one egg can be diagnostic, thus we want the samples to be fresh. With time, samples and eggs dry out and disintegrate.

Also, fecal samples in the environment can quickly become contaminated with fly eggs, free living larva or worms from the soil, and other contaminants that can be confused with real parasites.

Question: What is the best way to collect a sample? What do you suggest it be scooped up with?

Answer: The sample can be scooped up with anything clean and submitted in a special fecal vial provided by the veterinarian, a clean dry cup of any type with a lid, or even a plastic bag. The key is to not gather up too much of the environmental contamination, such as leaves and dirt and little box clay.

We usually only need one to six grams of a sample, thus the owner does not need to provide a huge amount. When there is diarrhea, the sample size should be larger. With firm stool, we need less.

Question: What is the best sanitary way to keep a sample if you can’t get to the vet immediately?

Answer: Keep the sample in a container with a lid, or in a bag that is closed. I would keep it in a cool place.

As pets defecate at least one to two times a day, samples should be collected on the day they are submitted or the day before so they shouldn’t need to be kept for long periods of time.

Question: How is a fecal sample prepared for review?

Answer: Fecal samples are analyzed either at veterinary diagnostic laboratories or within the practice. The basic technique of the fecal procedure is to first identify any large parasites within the sample.

We may take a small sample, mix it slightly with water and do a direct examination under the microscope for any moving parasites. Then, another small sample is prepared for a fecal flotation. A flotation technique uses a solution (can be sugar solution, zinc sulfate, sodium nitrate, etc) and either passive ( the sample sits on the counter for a given length of time) or active (centrifugation of the sample) flotation to separate parasite eggs from debris in the sample and allow them to be identified under a microscope by egg size and morphology.

Question: How much does an analysis usually cost?

Answer: This varies depending on the technique and whether the fecal sample in done in the veterinary clinic or sent out to a veterinary diagnostic laboratory. Costs can vary from roughly $25 to $45. Clients are urged not to shop tests based on cost alone  because the cheapest fecal test may not be run the complete way with centrifugation. Also, a clinic is not going to simply run a fecal test without a physical examination, an interpretation of the results and appropriate therapy.


Dr. Sandy Willis

Colorado Springs veterinary clinic deals with Waldo Canyon Fire

Thursday, July 5th, 2012
Jamie Gaynor, DVM, MS, EMT, treats evacuated animals, hopes clinic will avoid evacuation.

Jul 3, 2012 By: Julie ScheideggerDVM NEWSMAGAZINE

He had little time to be on the phone. At 2 a.m. the morning of Wednesday, June 27, Jamie Gaynor, DVM, MS, EMT, was activated by the Colorado Veterinary Medical Reserve Corps. Animals evacuated by the Waldo Canyon Fire in Colorado Springs, Colo., were showing up at shelters and needed attention. Members of his staff had been evacuated from their homes. Gaynor’s practice, Peak Performance Veterinary Group at 5520 N. Nevada Ave. in Colorado Springs, is located west of the wildfire that at the time covered 18,500 acres and was only 5 percent contained. An evacuation plan was necessary.

“This is crazy what’s going on here,” Gaynor told DVM Newsmagazine that day. At the time visibility was less than a quarter-mile, and the fire was moving in three directions. “They’re constantly updating evacuation notices,” Gaynor said.

On that Wednesday Gaynor was caring for evacuated animals and creating the clinic’s evacuation plan. He was cautiously confident the fire wouldn’t reach the clinic, but it was in the danger zone–embers blown by the wind could have ignited new fires at any time. The practice had been inundated with smoke for the past two days. Although most of his clients had canceled their appointments, the clinic was housing eight hospitalized patients and five dogs that had been evacuated in their care. Gaynor continued to update a practice evacuation plan he hoped he wouldn’t have to use.

In the meantime, animals were showing up at area shelters with smoke-related symptoms, which Gaynor was helping to treat. “At least 30,000 people have been evacuated, which means there are a lot of animals involved,” he said.

Gaynor said he saw a lot of coughing, sneezing and respiratory issues in the pets he was treating, including smoke-triggered asthma in cats. “I also looked at a dog with ocular issues,” he said. “(I can) clean him up, flush his eyes and make him more comfortable.”

In addition to physical effects, Gaynor says he saw an emotional impact on the animals as well. “What’s interesting between my own patients and the evacuees is a certain level of anxiety,” he said. “They can smell the smoke and their natural reaction is to exit that smoke.”

His team was experiencing a certain level of anxiety, too. Some had already been evacuated from their homes. And everyone was bracing for possible evacuation of the clinic–either voluntary if conditions worsened or mandatory if the fire continued to blaze east. “We can be out of this facility with patients in 30 minutes or less,” Gaynor said.

Although he felt the practice was not in imminent danger, Gaynor said the fire seemed to change moment to moment. But an evacuation plan gave everyone peace of mind. “We have a plan; we know what to do if something happens,” he said. “Even if we have to evacuate we know where we’ll set up our ICU. The south office is six miles from here–really in no danger zone.”

Gaynor wasn’t as confident about the risk to his family’s home, however. He suspected his neighborhood would be evacuated within the week. “My house is getting closer and closer to the evacuation area,” he said. “My dogs and family are out of town, so at least I don’t have to worry about them.”

Gaynor said he was carrying around five boxes of important papers and belongings from his house in his car. “I don’t have to go back to the house to evacuate it,” he said. “While I would hate to lose my house, bottom line is, it’s stuff. As long as family and pets are OK, that’s the bottom line.”

As of Friday, June 29, Gaynor, his staff and clinic were safe; firefighters were making progress on perimeter containment. However, staff members who had been evacuated from their homes had not been able to return. “We are feeling better about the possibility that our hospital will not have to evacuate,” Gaynor said in an e-mail on Monday, July 2, “but it is a wildfire and we learned (last Tuesday) that it can be very unpredictable.”

The Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region has set up sites for evacuated animals at 610 Abbott Lane and 3650 N. Nevada Ave. They are currently in need of dog and cat crates of all sizes, as well as blankets and towels.

Additional information For more information about the Waldo Canyon Fire, go to the Incident Information System website at For more information about the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region, go to