Animal Health Foundation Blog

Archive for the ‘Healthy Pets’ Category

Dr. Jean Dodds – Dog Vaccine Protocol

Saturday, December 9th, 2017

The following vaccine protocol is offered for those dogs where minimal vaccinations are advisable or desirable. The schedule is one I recommend and should not be interpreted to mean that other protocols recommended by a veterinarian would be less satisfactory. It’s a matter of professional judgment and choice.

9 – 10 weeks of age

Distemper + Parvovirus, MLV
e.g. Merck Nobivac (Intervet Progard) Puppy DPV

14 – 15 weeks of age
Distemper + Parvovirus, MLV

18 weeks of age
Parvovirus only, MLV
Note: New research states that last puppy parvovirus vaccine should be at 18 weeks old.

20 weeks or older, if allowable by law
Rabies – give 3-4 weeks apart from other vaccines
Mercury-free (thimerosol-free, TF)

1 year old
Distemper + Parvovirus, MLV
This is an optional booster or titer. If the client intends not to booster after this optional booster or intends to retest titers in another three years, this optional booster at puberty is wise.

1 year old
Rabies – give 3-4 weeks apart from other vaccines
3-year product if allowable by law; mercury-free (TF)

Perform vaccine antibody titers for distemper and parvovirus every three years thereafter, or more often, if desired. Vaccinate for rabies virus according to the law, except where circumstances indicate that a written waiver needs to be obtained from the primary care veterinarian. In that case, a rabies antibody titer can also be performed to accompany the waiver request. Visit The Rabies Challenge Fund for more information.

W. Jean Dodds, DVM
Hemopet / NutriScan
11561 Salinaz Avenue
Garden Grove, CA 92843

Dr. Jean Dodds – Feline Vaccination Protocol

Saturday, December 9th, 2017


Approximately seven years ago, the American Association of Feline Practitioners(AAFP) sponsored and conducted a groundbreaking study on feline vaccines. The panel – which included Dr. Dodds’ colleague, Dr. Ron Schultz – divided the vaccines into core and non-core. Just this year, the AAFP published updated feline vaccination guidelines. Dr. Dodds agrees with the panel’s findings, with the exception of giving feline leukemia vaccine to kittens that will be kept strictly indoors. She also prefers a more minimal and delayed vaccination schedule to offset potential adverse vaccine reactions and feline vaccine injection site-associated sarcomas. Additionally, Dr. Dodds considers factors such as presence of maternal immunity, prevalence of viruses or other infectious agents in the region, number of reported occurrences of the viruses and other infectious agents, how these agents are spread, and the typical environmental conditions and exposure risk activities of companion animals.

2013-2016 Feline Vaccination Protocol
 The following vaccine protocol is offered for those cats where minimal vaccinations are advisable or desirable. The schedule is one Dr. Dodds recommends and should not interpreted to mean that other protocols recommended by a veterinarian would be less satisfactory. It’s a matter of professional judgment and choice.

8-9 Weeks Old:
Panleukopenia (feline parvovirus), Calicivirus, Rhinopneumonitits Virus (feline herpesvirus-1)

12-13 Weeks Old:
Same as above

24 Weeks or Older (if required by law):
Rabies (e.g. Merial Purevax™, recombinant)

1 Year:
FVRCP booster (optional = titer)

1+ Year:
Rabies, same as above but separated by 2-3 weeks from FVRCP

Perform vaccine antibody titers for panleukopenia virus every three years thereafter, or more often, if desired. Vaccinate for rabies virus according to the law, except where circumstances indicate that a written waiver needs to be obtained from the primary care veterinarian.  In that case, a rabies antibody titer can also be performed to accompany the waiver request. Visit Rabies Challenge Fund.

W. Jean Dodds, DVM
Hemopet / NutriScan
11561 Salinaz Avenue
Garden Grove, CA 92843

AAHA’s Canine Vaccination Guidelines – 2017

Saturday, November 11th, 2017
AAHA’s Canine Vaccination Guidelines

From the American Animal Hospital Association

Top 10 things you need to know about AAHA’s Canine Vaccination Guidelines

Vaccination is one of the easiest and most important ways to protect your dog’s health. Yet in this age of “overvaccination” scares and “Dr. Google,” some pet owners are hesitant to vaccinate their dogs—even when it’s in the best interest of their beloved pooch.

To provide fact-based leadership about this issue, AAHA published the 2017 Canine Vaccination Guidelines, a regularly updated online educational resource for veterinary teams and the clients they serve. Here are the top 10 things you need to know about these guidelines:

  1. Get a rabies vaccine for your dog—it’s the law. Rabies is a fatal—and preventable—disease that can be spread to humans by contact with saliva, so it’s mandatory in all 50 US states. Your veterinarian is bound by law to give your dog a rabies vaccine to protect you as well as your pet; if an unvaccinated dog is scratched or bitten by a wild animal, it can lead to your pet being quarantined or euthanized. Learn the specifics about the rabies laws in your state at
  2. Not all dogs need every vaccine. Your veterinarian will ask you questions about your dog’s lifestyle, environment, and travel to help tailor the perfect vaccination plan for him. AAHA’s Lifestyle-Based Vaccine Calculator uses factors such as whether your dog visits dog parks, groomers, competes in dog shows, swims in freshwater lakes, or lives on converted farmland to help you and your veterinarian develop your dog’s individualized vaccination plan.
  3. There are “core” and “noncore” vaccines. Vaccinations are designated as either core, meaning they are recommended for every dog, or noncore, which means they are recommended for dogs at risk for contracting a specific disease. However, your veterinarian may reclassify a “noncore” vaccine as “core” depending on your dog’s age, lifestyle, and where you live—for instance, in a region like New England where Lyme disease is prevalent, that vaccine may be considered “core.”

Core Vaccines

Noncore Vaccines

  • Rabies
  • Combination vaccine:
    • Distemper
    • Adenovirus-2
    • Parvovirus
    • +/- Parainfluenza
  • Bordetella bronchiseptica
    • +/- Parainfluenza
  • Leptospira
    • 4-serovar
  • Borrelia burgdorferi (Lyme disease)
  • Influenza (H3N8 and H3N2)
  • Crotalus atrox (Western Diamondback Rattlesnake)


  1. Titers, or quantitative antibody testing, can help determine your dog’s protection from some diseases. Titer testing can be useful when a dog’s vaccination history for distemper, adenovirus, and parvovirus is unknown—a positive result typically means he is considered protected. However, no test is 100% accurate, so in areas where these diseases run rampant, your veterinarian may still recommend vaccinating. While titer testing for rabies is available, the law still requires that the dog be vaccinated since this is a fatal, zoonotic (i.e., can be spread to people) disease.
  2. Some vaccines only need boosters every three years. For example, the distemper vaccine, a combination of distemper, adenovirus, and parvovirus vaccines that protects against very serious diseases, can be given every three years after a dog has completed his initial series of inoculations. However, a dog’s immunity is as individual as he is, so if you want to have more certainty that he’s protected, have a titer performed to measure the amount of antibody response he has to these diseases.
  3. Protect at-risk dogs annually from certain complex diseases. If your veterinarian believes your dog is at risk for Lyme disease, leptospirosis, influenza and/or Bordetella (kennel cough), you’ll want to vaccinate him every year instead of every three years because of the differences in how a dog’s immune system responds to these specific germs.
  4. Serious vaccine reactions are rare. The risk of contracting a dangerous disease by not vaccinating a dog outweighs the potential for vaccination side effects. Still, seek veterinary attention if your dog begins vomiting and scratching, develops bumps (hives), facial swelling, or has difficulty breathing within a few hours of being vaccinated. Long-term side effects, like behavioral changes, immune-mediated diseases, and other complex conditions, have not been formally linked to vaccinations. Studies continue on this topic.
  5. Don’t administer vaccines to your dog by yourself. While vaccines are available through sources other than your veterinarian, they may not protect your pet against disease unless they are properly stored, handled, and administered. Your veterinary team is trained to do this correctly. It’s important to note that in many states and provinces, it is against the law for anyone other than a licensed veterinarian to give a rabies vaccine.
  6. AAHA’s Canine Vaccination Guidelines are based on science. A task force of five expert veterinarians created them, along with 18 contributing reviewers, based on practical clinical experience and 123 references to scientific evidence. The guidelines also underwent a formal external review process.
  7. Communicate any concerns to your veterinarian. You and your veterinary team should have the same goal: to provide the best possible care for your pets. If, say, you are worried about a puppy or small dog receiving too many injections in the same visit, ask if there are noncore vaccines that can be postponed. Your veterinarian will offer a recommendation based on knowledge of your dog’s specific circumstances and veterinary medicine.

Questions to ask your veterinarian:

  1. Why are you recommending these vaccines for my dog? What risk factors does he have that lead you to those recommendations?
  2. Can you discuss the risks and benefits of titer testing with me? How accurate is it?
  3. Is the vaccine less expensive than the titer test?
  4. How often does my pet need to be vaccinated for rabies by law?
  5. What additional side effects should I watch for after my pet is vaccinated?
  6. Will you please document the injection site and vaccine type in my dog’s medical record?
  7. My dog is small. Is there a vaccine we could delay until a later time or is now best?
  8. When will my dog need a booster to stay protected?

Tips for How to Pick the Right Pet Insurance

Saturday, October 21st, 2017

From Top Dog Tips (

Since 2009, the number of pet health insurance companies in North America has exploded, and more pet owners today than ever before are in search of great companies and the best coverage plan. But what makes a coverage plan the “best” for you and your pet?

The goal of having pet health insurance is to save money on your vet bills. However, picking the best pet insurance plan can become complicated when you’re not sure what to look for, and the wrong option can cost you more in the end. With so many pet insurance choices available today, doing the research and comparing all available plans can save you hundreds of dollars every year. So here’s what you must know before you set out to pick the right type of plan and provider for your dogs and cats.

Pet Health Insurance Tips

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Pet Health Insurance Facts and Tips
How to Pick the Right Provider and Coverage Plan?

Since the US pet health insurance industry got its first start back in 1982 (Nationwide was the first), it has been growing at staggering rates. North American Pet Health Insurance Association (NAPHIA) has been reporting consistent growth over the years. Here are some current numbers:

  • 1.8 million pets insured in the United States
  • 220,000 pets insured in Canada
  • 4.8 years is the average age of insured pets

Average annual premiums:

  • Accidents and illness plans – $496 per pet
  • Accidents only – $163 per pet
  • Average claim amount paid out – $264

Most popular types of coverage:

  • Accidents and illness insurance – 98%
  • Accidents only – 2%

The growth rate of the pet health insurance industry is nothing short of impressive, too. For example, the total premium volume combined at the end of 2016 was reported at $836.6 million (this is a +21.4% increase from the previous year). Here’s what the last few years looked like:

  • End of 2015 – $688.9 million (+17.1% increase from the year before)
  • End of 2014 – $588.4 million (+17.7% increase from the year before)
  • End of 2013 – $499.8 million

Currently, there are 12 major pet insurance providers in North America, and we’ll discuss those below. The reason for their existence is the expensive pet care that dog owners and cat owners have to deal with, which includes veterinary bills, surgeries, health supplies and preventative treatments. According to data collected by American Pet Products Association (APPA), pet owners spend staggering amounts every year.

Total estimated pet health sales in the U.S. for 2017:

  • Veterinary care – $16.62 billion
  • OTC Medicine – $14.93 billion

This can be broken down into several categories. On average, below is what an pet owner would spend.

Surgical expenses:

  • Dog – $474 per year
  • Cat – $245 per year

Routine health expenses:

  • Dog – $257 per year
  • Cat – $182 per year

Vitamins and supplements:

  • Dog – $58 per year
  • Cat – $46 per year

This is just a fraction of pet care expenses that majority of pet owners in the USA and Canada will encounter. All these numbers combined result in a hefty sum, which explains why pet health insurance is becoming more popular every year, as more pet owners try to provide the best possible care while saving a good chunk of money in the process.

19 Pet Health Insurance Tips to Help You Pick the Best Plan

With so many pet health insurance providers offering different coverage plans it’s becoming increasingly difficult to understand and pick the right one that fits the bill for you and your pet. Here are nineteen questions you should probably ask yourself and the provider before making the final decision.

1. Who’s the Best?

Compare all available pet insurance plans.

Do the research and begin comparing all pet insurance providers and their plans side-by-side to see their costs for premiums, co-pays, deductibles, reimbursements and other vital details.

2. How Old is the Provider?

It’s a clever idea to pick someone with more experience.

The longer pet insurance provider has been around, the more experience and budget they are likely to have, offering better terms. It’s also much easier to find feedback and reviews of an older provider.

3. Are They State Licensed?

Not every provider can legally sell insurance in all states.

When buying pet insurance online, make sure the company is allowed to sell it in your state. Also consider if your pet will be covered in case you move to a different state in the future.

4. Is There a Money Back Guarantee?

This is a wonderful way to test the provider with minimal risk.

Majority of pet insurance providers will offer a money back guarantee period, which is when you get all the paperwork and review it thoroughly. If you’re unhappy, take your money back and move on.

5. Are They Dependable?

Check insurance provider’s reviews and track record.

After comparing plans, go through their reviews online, ask for feedback on forums, and do some research on their track record so you know you can count on them to pay when the time comes.

6. Do They Offer Medical Review?

This is a list of coverage exclusions which can make or break the deal.

Make sure that your provider offers and does the medical review before your money back guarantee expires. That way if you’re unhappy with their exclusions, you can move onto the next one.

7. Can You Pick Your Own Vet?

Some providers may not allow you to pick your own vet.

In most cases, it’s best that you’re allowed to pick your own veterinarian. Company assigned veterinarian may not be close to your location or simply isn’t someone you trust enough.

8. Is Their Customer Support Good?

Great customer services is often worth the extra cost.

There’s nothing more frustrating than having your provider ignore calls or keep you on hold for hours. Before you pick one, call them, email them and check their website to see how they’re doing.

9. What Happens When You Go Out of State?

If you plan to travel with your pet out of state, this is important.

Check if your plan covers any veterinarian or specialist visits when you’re traveling out of state. Most insurance providers offer that, and some even provide coverage for vet visits in foreign countries.

10. Will There Be Restrictions?

Read their plan details in full to know what your pet is covered for.

Go through the provider’s insurance plan in full to know what may affect your pet’s coverage and what exactly is covered. Pay special attention to pre-existing conditions and what may increase premiums.

11. What’s Best for Your Case?

Only pick a type of coverage that will work specifically for your situation.

Read about their different coverage types and consider what’s worth it and what isn’t for your pet. Sometimes just routine wellness coverage is enough while other times you may want full coverage.

12. What Is Their Bilateral Conditions Policy?

Many providers have restrictions on the bilateral conditions policy.

Health conditions like hip dysplasia or cruciate injuries may not be covered fully with some plans. Make sure you understand what is the provider’s policy on these and other bilateral conditions.

13. How Are You Getting Paid?

Choose the type of reimbursement that fits the bill.

Insurance providers have several ways they calculate reimbursement. Consider if you’re more comfortable with a benefit schedule, percentage of invoice or the UCR structure.

14. How Long Before You Get Paid?

Find out how long you’ll have to wait before you’re reimbursed.

You’ll pay the vet bill out of your own pocket, so after you check the type of reimbursement, make sure you know how long it takes your chosen provider to pay you back. Read reviews to confirm this.

15. Is It Worth It?

Think about the price you pay for the value that you’re getting.

Pet insurance may not always be the best choice for you. If a provider is cheap but doesn’t offer a plan that doesn’t cover what your pet needs, there’s no point in using them. Move onto the next one.

16. How Healthy Is Your Pet?

Try to avoid enrolling your pet when he’s old or unhealthy.

Some providers will either offer only limited insurance, or charge an arm and a leg for older pets or those who already have health issues. In many cases, pet insurance is not worth it for older pets.

17. What About Premium Increases?

Pay attention when and by how much your premiums will increase.

All pet insurance providers will increase their premiums at some point. Make sure you know when and who they do this, and by how much you should expect your premiums to increase. It must be in writing.

18. Did You Negotiate?

It never hurts to ask for discounts or special plans.

After picking several best insurance providers, ask for any possible discounts. Some may offer a reduced price for households with multiple pets, while others will give you a discount simply because you asked.

19. Have You Considered Other Options?

Pet insurance is not always the best choice for every case.

If after all the research you still cannot find an ideal provider to fit your and your pet’s needs, consider skipping pet insurance and simply starting a “pet emergency fund.” Save up for that rainy day.

Comparing Popular Pet Insurance Providers

While the number of pet health insurance providers is growing, we still have only a handful of major providers that are well-known to pet owners in the US and Canada. Here are the twelve companies that have been offering the best pet health insurance plans for dogs and cats over the last decade.

ASPCA Pet Health Insurance


Plans available for dogs and cats that are 8 weeks or older, and there is no upper age limit.

Annual coverage limits range from $2,500 to $20,000 depending on plan. There are unlimited options available on certain plans. Choice of deductibles from $100 to $500 and reimbursement levels of 70%, 80% and 90% of the vet bill.

AKC Pet Insurance


Plans available for dogs 8 weeks and older, and for cats 10 weeks and older; up to any age for accident coverage and before ninth birthday for illness coverage.

Annual coverage limits range from $3,000 to $16,000. There is a lifetime limit per injury or illness of $1,500 to $8,000. Deductibles from $100 to $1,000 and reimbursement up to 80% of eligible charges.

Embrace Pet Insurance


Plans available for dogs and cats up to the age of 14 years old.

Annual coverage limits range from $5,000 to $15,000. Choice of deductibles from $200 to $1,000 and reimbursement levels of 65%, 80% or 90%.

Figo Pet Insurance


Plans available for dogs and cats aged 6 weeks and older with no upper age limits.

Annual coverage limits of $10,000, $14,000 and unlimited. Choice of deductibles of $50, $100, $200 and $500 and reimbursement levels of 70%, 80%, 90% and 100%.

Healthy Paws Pet Insurance


Plans available for dogs and cats of 8 weeks and up to the age of 14 years old.

There is no annual or per incident caps on coverage and unlimited lifetime benefits. Choice of deductibles range from $100 to $500 and reimbursement levels of 70%, 80% and 90%.

Trupanion Pet Insurance


Plans available for dogs and cats of 8 weeks and up to the age of 14 years old.

There is only one plan with no payout limits. Deductibles range between $0 and $1,000.

Nationwide Pet Insurance


Plans available for dogs and cats up to age of 10 years old.

Annual deductible choices are $100 or $250.

24PetWatch Pet Insurance


Plans available for dogs of 10 weeks and up to 10 years old, and for cats of 8 weeks and up to 12 years old.

Annual coverage limits range from $3,000 to $20,000 with $100 deductible and 80% reimbursement.

In Summary

Having all the needed information and comparing both the company and their plans can help make the right decision that will not only provide all the necessary pet health insurance coverage for your dog or cat, but also save you plenty of money at the end of the year (instead of doing the opposite).

Who’s your provider, which plan have you chosen and why did you make that decision?

How To Treat Tick Bites from The Whole Dog Journal

Monday, September 25th, 2017

A dog in the wrong place at the wrong time can be bit by dozens or even hundreds of ticks. Deer ticks go through three stages of life (larva, nymph, and adult), and feed only once in each of these stages; a blood meal ends each stage.

Larval ticks dine on mice and other small rodents, but nymphs and adults are a threat to dogs.

Because they are small and their bites don’t itch, ticks are easily overlooked, especially adult deer ticks and the nymphs of any species. Ticks prefer warm, moist conditions, so double-check under collars and around ears. If you aren’t sure what a lump or bump is, inspect it with a magnifying glass. Warts, similar skin growths, and nipples can feel like feeding ticks.

Be careful when removing a tick to grasp it with tweezers firmly at the head, as close to the dog’s skin as possible, and slowly pull straight back. Never twist, press, burn, or apply irritating substances like kerosene to an attached tick because doing so can cause the parasite to expel the contents of its digestive tract, creating an unwanted hypodermic effect.

Three-percent hydrogen peroxide, the common disinfectant, is recommended for tick bites because the oxygen it contains destroys the Lyme disease bacteria. Hydrogen peroxide can be liberally poured over bites on light-haired dogs (keep away from eyes and apply directly to the skin) but because it’s a bleach, this method is not recommended for black or dark-haired dogs.

Using an eyedropper to apply hydrogen peroxide directly to the bite helps prevent unwanted bleaching.

For more advice on ways to avoid and deal with ticks, purchase and download the ebook Ticks and Canine Lyme Disease from Whole Dog Journal.

Build a Pet First Aid Kit

Monday, September 25th, 2017

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You can only work with what you have!

While you may purchase a pet first aid kit and then add to them. We suggest building a kit of your own. Print the list and then add one item to it every time you go to the store! In no time at all you will have and be familiar with each item in your kit.

   Remember to take a Pet First Aid and CPR Class
as the items in your kit are only as good as your knowledge to use them!

Below is a list of items we suggest for a basic kit.




A Basic Pet First Aid kit should contain;
Latex-Free Gloves
Cotton Swabs (*Q-Tips)
Small and Large plastic Syringe (*No needles)
BPS Free Water Bottle (filled)
Blunt Nose Scissors
Ticked-Off Tick Remover
CPR Shield
Digital Thermometer
White Adhesive Roll Tape
Non-Stick Pads for Burns (6)
Gauze Squares (10)
Gauze Rolls (4)
Flex-Wrap Self-Adhering Elastic Bandage
Triangular Bandage for slings/splints or bandannas
Emergency Blanket
Portable Food and Water Bowl
Emergency Meal and Water
Doggie Walk Bags
Pets Toy
Emergency ID Tag
Pet First Aid Book
Emergency contact names and numbers
Some ER Cash
One-Size-Fits-All Temporary Muzzle
Extra Leashes and or “D” Leash
Cold Packs 

Antiseptic Towelettes
3% Hydrogen Peroxide (4 fl oz)
Saline Solution Eye Wash (4 fl oz)
Iodine Swab Sticks / Antiseptic
Triple Antibiotic Ointment (*Neosporian)
1% Hydrocortisone Cream / Anti-inflammatory
Tri-Buffered Aspirin Tablets (as prescribed by vet)
Diphen Tablets/Antihistamine (*Benadryl)
Diotame Tablets/Antacid (*Tums)
Simethicone (*Gas-X)
Antibacterial Soap (*Dial barsoap)
Chlorexidine Cleanser (*Hibiclens)
Water Based Protectant (*K-Y Jelly)
Styptic Powder

Special items in my own kit include; 
Witch Hazel or Vinegar
Gold Bond Powder
Aloe Vera
Activated Charcoal
Liquid Bandage

Additional Items in my home;
Ginger Snap Cookies
Plain Yogurt (for Probiotics)
Epson Salts
Pure Pumpkin
Mineral Oil

Remember to take a Pet First Aid and CPR Class
as the items in your kit are only as good as your knowledge to use them!
Confidence comes from knowing you are using the right product and techniques.

Go To and sign up for first aid classes!

AHF treats homeless pets at Santa Ana River Trail for free

Monday, July 31st, 2017
PUBLISHED: July 30, 2017 at 7:17 pm | UPDATED: July 31, 2017 at 7:50 am



ANAHEIM   Michael Diehl has had Osiris since the pit bull was just a pup.  Diehl, 46, suffers from sudden seizures and Osiris helps keep him safe, alerting him before they happen, he said.  “He means everything to me,” he said. “He protects me from everything.”  

As one of hundreds living on the riverbed of the Santa Ana River Trail, Diehl was among 60 people and their pets who took advantage of free veterinary services offered on Sunday, July 30.

The services were offered by two groups, the Healthcare Emergency Animal Rescue Team out of Yorba Linda run by veterinarians Debra and Dr. Todd Kopit, and  Dr. Mark Malo, vice president of the  Animal Health Foundation, a nonprofit that is a charitable wing of the Southern California Veterinary Medical Association.

The veterinarians did wellness checks, vaccinations, de-worming and parasite treatment.

“We launched this program because we know there are many services for homeless people but not for their pets, ” said Malo, who also works at the Garden Grove Dog and Cat Hospital. “These people are dedicated to their animals. They would go without their own meals to feed them.”

Angel Nole, 32, brought his dog Bandit, a Dalmatian pit bull-mix, for shots and flea control. He also brought Robin, a six-week-old pup for his first puppy shots.

“It helps out a lot,” said Nole said, adding that he can’t afford any veterinary care.

TJ and Chance Ivey were thankful for the opportunity to get their pit bull-Labrador-mix Daisy checked out.

Daisy has helped make life bearable for the couple, they said.

“She brightens everybody’s day,” TJ Ivey said. “If they’re disgusted with life, she walks up to them and it’s a blessing.”

AHF Therapy Dog with Cancer Received Petco Grant

Monday, May 22nd, 2017

“Rock star” Therapy Dog Gets Sidelined with Cancer
Jane Horsfield and Dan Balza of Fountain Valley, California, adopted their dog Kiss at six-months-old when her previous owner no longer had time to train her for flyball. Through the years, Kiss’ super energetic nature has made her a perfect participant in flyball, agility, and nose work competitions as well as in recreational dock diving and K9 Disc.

Named after the rock band Kiss because of her black and white face, her outgoing nature also made her an ideal candidate for pet therapy work. As part of the Animal Health Foundation, an affiliate of Pet Partners, Horsfield and Kiss started visiting adults and children at local hospitals as well as elementary schools where children practiced their reading skills with Kiss sitting by their sides.

“There is not a person she doesn’t love to meet,” says Horsfield. “She loves everyone, and everyone loves her.”

As a “rock star” therapy dog, Kiss also gets invited to special events around town to raise awareness and money for skin cancer awareness through the local Rotary Club. It was during an event that Jane noticed some swelling above Kiss’s front left paw.

“At first, I thought it was related to her athletic activities,” says Horsfield. “So, I put some ice on her leg when we got home, and it looked a little better the next day.”

The family had been down this road before

But a week later, Kiss’ lower front left leg still looked swollen. Her veterinarian, Dr. Wayne Kopit of Brook-Ellis Pet Hospital, biopsied the lump and called Horsfield the day after Thanksgiving with the results. Kiss had a soft tissue sarcoma on her leg.

He decided to refer Kiss to Southern California Veterinary Specialty in Irvine, California for the cancer treatment.

Never in my wildest dreams did I expect it to be cancer,” says Jane. “The news struck terror into my heart.”

That’s because the previous Thanksgiving, the couple also had received cancer news about their dog Sheila. She died seven months later despite extensive surgeries and treatments to save her life. Unfortunately, the heartbreak doesn’t end there. The couple has lost four dogs to cancer through the years.

“My veterinarian says 50% of dogs die of cancer these days, and that none of the cancers my dogs have had have been related,” says Horsfield. “But that doesn’t make the news any easier when it’s your fifth dog with the diagnosis.”

New treatment delivers the right stuff

When Horsfield contacted the Animal Health Foundation to let them know about Kiss’ diagnosis, they told her that Pet Partners had grant monies from the Petco Foundation’s Pet Cancer Awareness campaign to help therapy dogs with their cancer treatments.

A $3,000 grant provided help with Kiss’ surgery and chemotherapy. “We had already spent thousands on Sheila’s treatments, so we really needed this support to help Kiss,” says Horsfield.

In the past, doctors might have amputated Kiss’ leg because of the difficulty in removing the entire tumor. But a new therapy combined surgical removal of the tumor with chemotherapy beads implanted directly into the tumor site. “The beads dissolve over four to five weeks releasing chemotherapy drugs to where it’s needed most,” says Horsfield.

So far, the results are good. The tumor hasn’t grown back, but Horsfield checks the leg daily, since if it returns, it will come back in the same spot, doctors say. She and Kiss are making therapy visits again, and Kiss is participating in some of her favorite sport activities on a limited basis.

“She won’t officially be out of the woods for 18 more months,” says Horsfield. “But in the meantime, we’ve got our sassy girl back. I am grateful for the help in saving her life. I never had kids, so my dogs are everything to me.”


6 Natural Remedies for Your Dog’s Itchy Skin

Thursday, April 27th, 2017
Skin allergies are a common problem among dogs and owners and veterinarians alike are constantly fighting to make dogs more comfortable. Dogs, like people, can be allergic to just about anything, from their food to the environment. While there are many different medications to help deal with allergy symptoms, many of us prefer to go a more natural route first to make sure we’ve tried all of the safest options. Always consult with your veterinarian before giving your dog any treatments or supplements, but if you’re looking to try some natural allergy remedies, consider these.

#1 – Proper Bathing & Grooming

This might not seem like a “natural” remedy, but if your dog suffers from environmental allergies, frequent bathing and grooming is going to offer much needed comfort. Using soothing ingredients such as oatmeal in the shampoos will help your dog’s skin feel softer and will relieve the itching they feel. Depending on the severity of your dog’s allergies, bathing once a week will greatly improve your dog’s condition. Brushing and combing will also help remove dead skin and coat, promoting new growth and removing allergens on top of the skin and fur.


#2 – Feed a Wholesome Diet

Your dog’s diet might be completely overlooked if your dog only suffers environmental allergens. But the more natural your dog’s diet, the better their bodies are able to fight off and heal from allergies and external stressors. If your dog is allergic to certain ingredients, you’ll want to avoid those ingredients and replace them with something else. Grain-free diets are highly recommended for dogs with any type of allergy (or no allergy at all!) but if this isn’t possible, consider feeding organic, whole grains. The better your dog’s nutrition, the better their overall health and their ability to fight off allergens.


Image source: Oleg. via Flickr

#3 – Try Apple Cider Vinegar

Organic, raw, unfiltered apple cider offers many benefits to dogs suffering from allergies. If your dog has hot spots or itchy skin, you can apply a 50/50 solution of apple cider vinegar and water to your dog. Put the solution in a spray bottle for easy use. This same spray will help repel fleas and ticks – a common allergen for many dogs. You can also use it to clean out your dog’s ears. The acidity of the mixture makes for an environment that yeast can’t live in – and yeast infections are typically caused by allergies. Make sure that the acidity isn’t too strong for your dog – some prefer a different mixture than the 50/50 suggested.

#4 – Manage Heat & Moisture

Your dog’s environment plays a large role in the health of their skin. Be sure to keep your home appropriately cooled and use a humidifier in dry conditions. When grooming, avoid using a high heat blow dryer, which might be faster but wreaks havoc on your dog’s sensitive skin.

Make sure your dog always has access to fresh, filtered water. Dogs on a dry kibble diet are in need of more moisture in their diets than dogs that eat a home-cooked, raw, or wet food diet.

#5 – Consider Applying Calendula

Calendula is a member of the sunflower family and offers several benefits to dogs with allergies. Either made into a tea or gel, applying calendula to your dog’s skin will help relieve inflammation from allergies. It also has natural anti-fungal and anti-yeast properties. It also helps improve your dog’s immune system when taken internally, so consider this as an allergy treatment as well.

#6 – Add Omega-3 Fatty Acids Supplementation

Omega-3 fatty acids are extremely beneficial to dogs with allergies. These oils help improve your dog’s skin and coat by keeping the natural oils present in healthy amounts. Omega-3s also work as anti-inflammatories and greatly reduce the intensity of allergens. There are many Omega-3 fatty acids on the market, and you’ll want to look for something that works quickly to support a soft, silky coat, minimize normal shedding, and maintain the skin’s normal moisture content, such as Project Paws™ Omega-3 Select soft chews.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional. 

Tarzan Recovers From Encounter With Car, Thanks to Angel Fund

Friday, April 8th, 2016


On an August morning in 2014, Robin – a writer and editor who lives in West Los Angeles – heard a cat crying in her courtyard.  “He was yelping and he was really upset. He just kept crying and crying,” she said, “and his mouth looked swollen.”

Robin, who asked that her last name not be used, recognized Tarzan, a friendly cat who lived outdoors in the neighborhood after his owner died. eH “At first I thought he had an abscessed tooth. I could see he was in pain. . . . So I took him inside and started researching veterinarians on the internet.”

Robin took Tarzan to the Westchester Veterinary Center and Cat Clinic. “When I got there, I explained that I was not Tarzan’s owner and that I was just a concerned animal lover. The staff . . . was really friendly and concerned about the cat,” she said.

A staff veterinarian said Tarzan’s jaw was shattered and that he needed surgery. She said that he probably had been hit by a car.

“I sat inside the exam room with Tarzan and I was massaging him and talking to him and the [clinic] staff was talking about what to do.  Someone came in after a while and said that I could apply to Angel Fund for Tarzan’s surgery. I said I was willing to chip in $150. Angel Fund and the clinic paid the rest.”

Robin and Tarzan Feb 2016Dr. Henry Yoo, owner of the clinic, did the surgery. “He did an amazing job with Tarzan,” Robin said. “There were a couple of months of feeding him with a turkey baster and going to the clinic regularly for follow-up appointments. The people at the clinic were always friendly and helpful.”

The time she spent caring for Tarzan had an impact on Robin.  “After a couple of months,” she said, “I got very close to him. And I didn’t want him going back outside. It’s healthier for cats indoors [where they’re unlikely to pick up diseases] and there are no cat fights.  And I certainly didn’t want him to get hit by a car again. So I just had to adopt him.”

And, she said, “without Angel Fund, who knows what would have happened to him. He might have been put down. I really think that the clinic and Angel Fund saved his life.”

Today, she said, you can’t tell he had surgery. “He’s a special cat. He eats normally and has a good appetite. He has a lot of energy. He’s very clean and he was always really friendly. One day I woke up and he was lying there beside me.” She thinks Tarzan is “teen or pre-teen” in age.

Are she and Tarzan living happily ever after? “He is.  I am.”

Are you doing it together. “Exactly.”