Archive for January, 2013

Dogs at work: A well-planned program can benefit everyone

Monday, January 28th, 2013

It’s possible that allowing employees to bring their dogs to work could improve a company’s bottom line, according to this article, which notes that powerhouses including Amazon and Google allow dogs in the office. Potential upsides include better employee satisfaction and productivity, fewer missed workdays and increased congeniality at work. However, employers need to have clear rules about cleaning up after pets, training of animals and dealing with aggression, as well as a plan to address the possibility of allergies among workers. 4Hoteliers

Do you want to follow the example of successful businesses like Google and Amazon?  One way to start is to allow employees to bring dogs to the workplace, just as they do.
You wouldn’t be alone –  it is estimated that 2.3 million dogs attend work each day with 1.4 million owners, and that’s not even counting one-person shops and those who work at home.
While you will not be guaranteed to transform your company into an internationally-recognized brand overnight, you may take a step towards that direction.  This article will cover the pros and cons of a pet friendly workplace, and will offer some guidance if your office wants to go to the dogs.
Two important points before going further: first and foremost, this article does not cover service animals, including seeing-eye dogs.  There is a whole special set of regulations and responsibilities when it comes to accommodating workers and members of the public who require assistance because of disabilities, and these rules and tips do not apply to them.  Second, this article focuses on dog-friendly workplaces, so leave the ferrets and the cats at home.
While some may choose to allow any type of pet at the workplace, most companies restrict their policies to dogs only (with perhaps fish also being allowed, given they are unlikely to escape the office or cause too much of a mess).
Puppy Uppers Vs. Doggie Downers
Companies that offer dog-friendly workplaces cite numerous advantages to allowing the animals at work.  Some reasons can’t be easily quantified – improved quality of life, better office morale, increased camaraderie, lowered stress, and greater happiness are all cited as positives.  But beyond these warm and fuzzy reasons, there are some distinct advantages that may increase your company’s bottom line.
Employees with dogs are likely to work longer hours since they don’t have to leave for doggy daycare at 5:00 PM.  You will probably see decreased absenteeism because your workers won’t have to stay home to tend to their pets.  Employers often note increased productivity and efficiency when employees have dogs with them at work.
Combine all of these factors, and also consider that employees enjoy saving pet-sitting money, and you have probably separated yourself from your competitors when it comes to attracting and hiring new talent.  There is no doubt that, at least for some employees, a dog-friendly workplace is a benefit no different than healthcare coverage or three weeks of vacation, and they will choose where they work based on that benefit.
On the other hand, remember that not all employees love dogs, and perhaps a pet-friendly workplace will be a disincentive to some current or prospective workers.  For all of the benefits listed above, some workers – and customers – may view the atmosphere as too unprofessional.  Further, there may be some industries where state or local regulations prevent dogs from being present, such as some restaurants, food stores, hair salons, medical offices, etc.
Follow The Rules
If you are ready and able to move forward with a dog-friendly workplace, here are the steps to take and issues to consider.  First, check to make sure that the building you occupy allows dogs, and also make sure that you have proper insurance to cover any injuries or damage that may occur.
Next, take some time to consider what kind of rules you want to have in place, and put them in writing.  Will you require all workers to prove their dogs have been recently vaccinated and are free of fleas, etc.?  Would you want all dogs to go through a pet training class as a prerequisite?  Will you do a trial run, such as dogs allowed on Fridays only for a month, before deciding your next step?  Are there areas of the office where dogs will not be allowed (kitchens, work rooms, bathrooms, etc.)?   Will all dogs be allowed, or only those under a certain weight?  If an employee needs to go out of the office, where will the dog be kept in his or her absence?
Staying Out Of The Doghouse
Finally, at a bare minimum, you need to address the following issues.  If another employee has or develops an allergy to dogs, or perhaps even a psychological phobia to animals, you will need to accommodate that employee under disability law.  Consider having a “dog free” area of your workplace, or installing high-grade filtration systems to reduce dander and hair.
Make sure your policy addresses aggressive behavior against other employees and dogs, and enforce the policy by barring offending animals for good or until they are properly trained.  And lay down rules regarding cleaning up after the animals, being clear about whose responsibility it is to wield the pooper scooper.

National Zoo’s orangutans play with iPads

Monday, January 28th, 2013

Thanks to Orangutan Outreach’s Apps for Apes program, the orangutans at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo enjoy 10 iPad apps as part of their regular enrichment. The animals’ preferred apps include cognitive skills challenges and virtual instruments. Orangutan Outreach has provided iPads for apes in other zoos in part to promote conservation of the endangered species. The idea is to “show zoo visitors how similar humans and apes are, be it through observation, talking with wildlife experts or seeing the apes use the same technology we use every day,” said Richard Zimmerman, Orangutan Outreach’s founding director.

Orangutans at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo are now using iPad apps to keep occupied.

“It’s about changing up the day-to-day lives of our animals,” Becky Malinsky, a keeper at the zoo, said in a statement. “We already vary their food, toys and social interactions every day, but the iPad offers another way to engage their sight, touch and hearing.”

So far, the apes are using 10 different apps, including cognitive games, drawing programs and ones that feature virtual musical instruments. According to their keepers, some of the orangutans are already showing their preferences — 36-year-old Bonnie likes to hit the drums, 16-year-old Kyle likes to play the piano, and 25-year-old Iris likes watching animated fish swim in a virtual koi pond on the screen.

The iPads were made available through Apps for Apes, an initiative from the conservation organization Orangutan Outreach, which has already provided tablet devices for the intelligent primates in 12 other zoos, including zoos in Houston, Atlanta, Toronto, Utah and Milwaukee. [10 iPad Alternatives]

“Primarily, we want the Apps for Apes program to help people understand why we need to protect wild orangutans from extinction,” Richard Zimmerman, founding director of Orangutan Outreach, said in a statement. “We do that when we show zoo visitors how similar humans and apes are, be it through observation, talking with wildlife experts or seeing the apes use the same technology we use every day.”

Orangutans are among humans’ closest living relatives, and there are only a few tens of thousands of them currently left in the wild. They are found in the Sumatran rain forests, where they are critically endangered, and the Borneo rain forests, where they are endangered.

Neutering prevents pet overpopulation and safeguards pet health

Monday, January 28th, 2013

Spaying or neutering a pet is an important preventive health measure as well as a means of limiting the number of homeless pets, writes veterinarian Ann Hohenhaus, who notes the AVMA’s Guidelines for Responsible Pet Ownership encourage owners to help keep the pet population under control. During a neuter operation, a veterinarian removes a male dog’s testicles, the main source of reproduction and testosterone, thereby preventing the dog from siring puppies and protecting it from testosterone-related problems including behavior issues and health threats such as prostate cancer, Dr. Hohenhaus points out. WebMD/Tales from the Pet Clinic blog

By Ann Hohenhaus, DVM

Dexter, a new dachshund patient of mine, was in last week for another round of puppy shots.  He will soon be six months old and it was time for me to discuss the next step in his preventive health care plan:  neutering.

Neutering meets the guidelines

The American Veterinary Medical Association has developed guidelines for responsible pet ownership.  One of the guidelines obligates pet owners to control their pet’s reproduction through spaying and neutering; subsequently helping to control pet overpopulation in their community.  Neutering is the common term for castration of a male dog or cat and spaying refers to removal of the ovaries and uterus, or in some cases just the uterus, of a female pet.

Lifesaving responsibility

Pet overpopulation is a serious issue in the United States today.  According to the Humane Society of the United States, over 4 million unwanted pets are destroyed annually.  For every puppy or kitten prevented by neutering an adult pet, there is one less homeless and unwanted puppy or kitten euthanized in an animal shelter.

The traditional surgery

Surgical removal of the testicles is the current standard of care in both dogs and cats.  This surgery renders a male dog or cat unable to reproduce and also removes the major source of the male hormone, testosterone.  Removing the source of testosterone eliminates mating behavior in males and also plays a role in eliminating other unwanted dog behaviors.  In both the dog and cat, neutering involves a small skin incision through which the testicles are removed.  Cats typically go home the same day, but dogs may stay overnight to recover from anesthesia and for incisional monitoring.

My recommendation

Dexter’s owners were concerned about the surgery.  They asked if he could just have a vasectomy instead of the traditional neutering surgery.  Because my job is to make the best medical recommendations for the specific health concerns of each of my patients, I recommended the traditional surgery for Dexter.  It provides him with the greatest number of health benefits.  The surgery prevents unwanted litters of puppies and also prevents prostatic disease, testosterone-induced tumors and behaviors linked to testosterone production.


Sweaters are a necessity for some dogs

Monday, January 28th, 2013

Although clothes for pets can be trendy, the AVMA says certain breeds benefit from wearing coats, sweaters, booties and other items when the temperature is too cold for them to handle naturally. However, dogs can overheat in sweaters, so owners should closely monitor the weather, the dog and the dog’s activity, according to Dr. Bonnie Beaver, a past president of the AVMA

In certain parts of New York City, high-end dog clothing shops are as ubiquitous as coffee shops. Not all well-heeled pooches are dressed up for reasons of fashion, though. When the weather turns frigid, even furry creatures might appreciate the comfort of a warm sweater.

“Just like people, pets’ cold tolerance can vary from pet to pet, based on their coat, body fat stores, activity level and health,” The American Veterinary Medical Association says.

dogredsweater(Photo: Flickr via Creative Commons/lindyj)On especially frigid days, vets recommend keeping walks short.

Certain breeds, especially short-haired ones, are not as naturally adapted to be cold-tolerant as, say, a Siberian husky. Smaller dogs with short legs may also feel the cold more because their stomachs and bodies are more likely to touch snow-covered ground, according to the AMVA. Pets with certain medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease or hormonal imbalances may also be more susceptible to the cold because they can’t regulate their internal temperature as well.

doggreensweater(Photo: Flickr via Creative Commons/eco-pup)In moderate temperatures, dogs might be better off naked.

If you do choose a dog sweater or coat, experts recommend that you bring a spare.

“Have several on hand, so you can use a dry sweater or coat each time your dog goes outside. Wet sweaters or coats can actually make your dog colder,” the AMVA says.

bigdogsweater(Photo: Flickr via Creative Commons/Laertes)Even big dogs might appreciate a little extra warmth when it gets really cold.

But pet owners should exercise caution, especially in moderate temperatures.

“Wearing a coat can be very dangerous for a dog, especially if it’s a heavy coat and the dog is doing a lot of exercise,” Bonnie Beaver, a past president of the AVMA, told the New York Post in 2010.

Another cold-weather accessory to consider is booties. Both city and country dogs wear them to protect their feet from freezing sidewalks or ground.

whitedogboties(Photo: Flickr via Creative Commons/goldberg)Booties can help protect your dog’s paw pads from frostbite.

Even sled dogs get in on the act!

sleddogbooties(Photo: Flickr via Creative Commons/Alaskan Dude)Dog competitors in the famous Iditarod race in Alaska.

Feds to provide veterinary medical insurance for veterans’ service dogs

Monday, January 28th, 2013

Some 2,500 service dogs that aid disabled veterans may soon be insured for routine veterinary medical care including annual vaccinations, exams and certain lab tests. The Department of Veterans Affairs is seeking veterinary medical insurance for the dogs. The coverage will only apply to those that are actively engaged as working dogs. blog

Depending on which vet you talk to, health  care provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs is either the cat’s  meow…or going to the dogs.

We mean that literally: the VA is seeking to keep its growing pack of service  dogs provided to wounded veterans in tip-top shape by buying “veterinary health  insurance and wellness coverage” for 301, and as many as many as 2,500, dogs now  helping veterans around the nation.

It’s another example of the hidden costs of war that you might not think  about unless you stumbled across a contract solicitation for it. Vets get dogs from the VA to help them  with physical disabilities; there is also discussion about expanding such programs to aid vets with  PTSD or other mental ills.

“Coverage will encompass Service Dogs owned by Veterans suffering from  visual, hearing and/or substantial mobility impairments and may be expanded to  include any other future disabilities approved by VA,” the solicitation says. “The Contractor shall provide VA with full comprehensive, quality veterinary  health care insurance coverage for all Service Dogs approved by VA for receipt  of insurance coverage regardless of age, breed, geographic location or  pre-existing condition as long as the Service Dog is determined capable of  performing as a Service Dog.”

The breeds to be covered include boxers, collies, Dobermans, German  shepherds, golden retrievers, great Danes, black, golden and yellow Labs,  Labradoodles, poodles, pugs, and Rottweilers. They range in age from 1 to 12  years.

Under the deal, VA service dogs will be entitled to these vaccinations:

– Distemper Parvo

– Leptospirosis

– Hepatitis

– Rabies

– Lyme Disease

– Bordetella (2 per year)

…and these annual exams:

– Otoscopic Exam

– Opthalmic Exam

– Rectal Exam

– Dental Exam

– Neurologic Exam

– Cardiovascular Evaluation

– Weight/Nutritional Counseling

– Coat & Skin Evaluation

– Abdominal Palpation

– Urogenital Evaluation

– Musculoskeletal Evaluation

– Pulmonary/Lung Evaluation

– Tonometry/Ocular Pressure

– Intestinal Parasite Fecal Exam

– Roundworm and Hookworm Dewormings

– Blood Sample Collect/Prep

– Blood Cell Count

– Differential Exam of Blood Cells

– Internal Organ Function Screens (liver, kidney, calcium/phosphorus,  cholesterol and diabetes)

– Canine Dental Prophylaxis Protocol (utilizes one blood screening and one  internal function screen, listed above)

– Urine Sample Collect/Prep – Free Catch

– Urinalysis – Individual Tests

– Urine Specific Gravity

– Urine Sediment Exam

– Chest X-Rays (3 views)

– Electrocardiograms

– Ear Swab and Microscopic Exam

Weight/Nutritional Counseling?

As well as:

– Dental Cleaning (sedation/general anesthesia is required for all  cleanings)

– Grooming (Blind Veteran-owned Service Dogs only)

– Heartworm/Lyme/Ehrlichia Test – Rocky Mountain Tick Fever

– Free Interstate Health Certificates (when needed)

Of course, such care won’t continue forever, according to the VA:

Upon successful completion of the annual comprehensive exam, VA will certify  or non-certify each Service Dog as fit/unfit for further duty. Those Service  Dogs determined by VA as non-certifiable will no longer be eligible for  insurance coverage and the Contracting Officer via contract modification in  accordance with Section 5.4.2 will terminate the insurance coverage for the  non-certifiable Service Dog.

We’ve asked the VA for an estimate of the annual per-dog cost, but it’s bound  to be more than you might think, given the VA’s response to a potential bidder  who asked if his employees would need security clearances if their company won  the contract:

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) requires that all contractor  personnel with access to VA sensitive data have a fingerprint check adjudicated  favorably and a security investigation, which includes submission of various  security documents, be favorably evaluated before access may be granted to VA  information. In addition, all contractor personnel must successfully complete  the following training each year:  VA Cyber Security Awareness and Rules of  Behavior training, VA privacy training,  and any additional cyber security  or privacy training deemed necessary by the Contracting Officer and/or  Contracting Officer Representative.

Wonder if the dogs have to be so, ahem, vetted, as well?

Read more:

Put preventive care first in 2013, veterinarian advises

Monday, January 28th, 2013
Preventive care is the most important strategy for keeping pets healthy, writes veterinarian Lidja Gillmeister. Preventive care includes regular veterinary visits, vaccines, internal and external parasite control, proper nutrition and exercise, and routine dental care at the veterinary clinic and at home, advises Dr. Gillmeister. A good relationship with a veterinarian is the foundation for the best possible preventive care, Dr. Gillmeister adds.


By Lidja Gillmeister, DVM

The New Year is a great opportunity for individuals to set goals for health and prosperity; and this year, why not consider making a few resolutions to help keep your pets healthy as well? When it comes to pet health advice, most veterinarians will agree that preventative health care is the single greatest gift you can give your furry and feathered friends. With that in mind, here are some tips to help jumpstart a healthy New Year for your beloved pets.

Top preventative health tips for pets

  • Schedule      a veterinary appointment: don’t wait for Fido to start exhibiting signs of disease or injury. Instead, make regular veterinary check-ups part of your routine – and stay ahead of the game with improved chances for early detection and prevention.
  • Say      yes to vaccinations: talk to your vet      about the vaccinations that are right for your pet, and stay current with      the appropriate treatments.
  • Focus      on nutrition and exercise: pet      obesity is a grown trend throughout the U.S., and just as in humans it can      lead to a number of serious health concerns including diabetes and      arthritis. Prioritize active playtime with your pet, and take dogs for      daily walks. In addition, make sure to discuss proper nutrition with your      veterinarian in order to select the best possible food source for your      pet.
  • Take      a proactive role: whether the issue      is getting your pet spayed or neutered or scheduling behavioral training      sessions, it is important to take action early. Unless you are serious      about breeding your pets, get them fixed – and invest in some basic      behavioral training early on to ensure a better quality of life for both      you and your pets.
  • Seek      out safe pest and parasite prevention:      ask your vet about the right flea and tick prevention methods for your      pets to prevent inconvenience, discomfort and the threat of disease. Not      all products are safe and effective, so do your homework before giving      your pet topical or oral treatments. Also, schedule routine fecal      examinations and dewormings to check for intestinal parasites, which can      cause disease in both animals and humans.
  • Don’t      forget dental care: don’t skimp on dental      health care for your pet. Take your dog or cat in for professional      cleanings, and make at-home tooth brushing a habit early on. Your      veterinarian can give you suggestions to make this process easier and more      effective.

Ultimately, preventative health care for pets is all about common sense, customized recommendations and a good relationship with your local veterinarian. If you have a new pet in the family this year, now’s the time to visit La Jolla Veterinary Hospital for a complete examination and personalized care. Visit us online to learn more and schedule an appointment today, at

Protecting pets from wildlife

Monday, January 28th, 2013

As pet owners, we do all we can to safeguard our pets from dangers in and around the house. We can do a lot to keep some risks — like medications, poisonous plants, and antifreeze — away from our pets, but some dangers — like wild animals — may be out of our control. In this podcast, Dr. Bernadine Cruz, associate veterinarian at Laguna Hills Animal Hospital in Laguna Woods, Calif., talks about what we can do to protect our pets from wildlife. Listen to the podcast.

Hartz Mountain is voluntarily withdrawing its Chicken Chews and Oinkies Pig Skin Twists wrapped with Chicken

Saturday, January 26th, 2013

SECAUCUS, N.J., Jan. 25, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — The Hartz Mountain Corporation is voluntarily withdrawing its Hartz ® Chicken Chews™ and Hartz ® Oinkies® Pig Skin Twists wrapped with Chicken for dogs in the United States because they contain trace amounts of unapproved antibiotic residue.


We are taking this action after recent Hartz testing found trace amounts of unapproved antibiotic residue in samples of Hartz Chicken Chews™ and Oinkies® Pig Skin Twists wrapped with Chicken products. Even though two-thirds of the products we tested did not contain antibiotic residues, we would rather be overly cautious by voluntarily withdrawing these products from the market.

These antibiotics are approved for use in poultry in China and other countries, including European Union member states, but are not among those approved in the U.S. Based on the FDA’s review of the New York State Department of Agriculture & Markets (NYSDAM) results, there is no evidence that raises health concerns, and these results are highly unlikely to be related to the reports of illnesses FDA has received related to jerky pet treats.

Immediately upon learning of this finding, Hartz contacted the FDA to share our test results and execute a nationwide voluntary withdrawal.  There have been no known illnesses to date associated with the consumption of these products.

“Upon learning about the nationwide voluntary withdrawal of several other brands of chicken jerky products through media reports, Hartz acted immediately to begin additional testing to determine if the same unapproved antibiotic residues were present in our products,” said Sean McNear , Sr. Director of Quality and Regulatory at Hartz Mountain.

There is no indication that the trace amounts of unapproved antibiotic residue are linked to the FDA’s ongoing investigation of chicken jerky products produced in China. The trace amounts of antibiotic residue do not pose a health or pet safety risk.

No other Hartz products are affected by this withdrawal.

If you have these products contact the Hartz Consumer Affairs team (24 hours/day 7 days/week) at 1-800-275-1414 for a product refund or go to for additional information.

SOURCE The Hartz Mountain Corporation

Explaining arrhythmia under anesthesia

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

When a pet owner asks about arrhythmia under general anesthesia, veterinarian Padma Yadlapalli explains that the issue can result from medications or underlying medical problems. Dr. Yadlapalli writes that in most cases, the arrhythmia can be corrected, but she recommends a frank conversation with a veterinarian to discuss the risks and benefits of anesthesia and the procedure for which it’s needed. Dr. Yadlapalli emphasizes that dental cleanings under anesthesia are an important part of preventive care. The Baltimore Sun

When my Chihuahua had her teeth cleaned last week, the vet said her heart rate went down into the high 60s and that an episode of second-degree heart block occurred, but they reversed it with meds. Does this mean she is at risk of it happening again under anesthesia? Other than perhaps a follow-up EKG at her next comprehensive exam, should anything else be done? I am scared to have her teeth cleaned again.

First, I would schedule a consult with this pet’s veterinarian and review the risks and the benefits of the procedure.

That said, there are a certain possibilities that could cause the heart rate to drop or cause an arrhythmia. Some medications used to anesthetize pets have the potential to cause bradycardia (a slow heart rate) or other forms of arrhythmia. The good news is that when you have good equipment and, most important, skilled personnel monitoring anesthetized pets to watch for these issues, you can correct them before major problems arise. And some of these medications can be reversed to eliminate those side effects.

Pet dental cleaning should be under general anesthesia

Monday, January 21st, 2013

While many procedures can be performed with the patient sedated, veterinary technician Christina Holland emphasizes the importance of general anesthesia for dental cleanings. Holland writes that animals under anesthesia are intubated and have a peripheral intravenous catheter, and these measures allow for a thorough, comfortable cleaning and exam while keeping the patient safe by allowing the veterinarian to respond quickly if an emergency arises. The Airdrie City View (Alberta) (12/21)


General anesthesia (GA) is something to be respected, but not feared. If your pet is being monitored by a qualified person, either a veterinarian or a technician, then issues can be addressed immediately. For most procedures, I would feel more comfortable monitoring a patient who is under a GA rather than one who is merely sedated. A sedated patient cannot be intubated (have a tube put down the airway) and this means that if the patient stops breathing, I first have to place that tube, and then breathe for the pet.

Also in many sedated pets, an IV catheter is not placed, meaning that if I need to give emergency drugs, I first have to place the catheter, which uses precious time. In order to have a better idea of how your pet will do under GA, you should have a physical exam performed by a veterinarian, as well as some bloodwork run. Bloodwork tells us how the internal organs are performing.

If organs are not working as well as they should, different drugs can be chosen that will not be as hard on the animal’s system.

The bottom line is that there are some procedures that definitely can be done with only sedation, such as removing small skin lumps, but a dental procedure really should be done under a general anesthetic. If your pet is only sedated, your vet may not be able to do a thorough job.

I understand your anxiety, and encourage you to speak with your veterinarian about your concerns. Just like you, they only want the best outcome for your pet.

Christina Holland is an animal health technologist in Airdrie. To have your pet questions answered, contact