Disability is in the Eye of the Beholder

One of my favorite quotes is “There is no greater disability in society than the inability to see a person as more” (Robert M. Hensel). This is pretty powerful when you think about it. Are people truly disabled if we don’t tell them they are? And is their differently-abled life just as happy as a typically-abled life? We are all pre-conditioned to think of someone, or some animal, that is differently-abled as flawed in some way. We often do this without ever having had a personal interaction with a differently-abled person or pet. Many people and animals with impairments have had them since birth and known no other way. To them, this is normal, the way it has always been. In many cases it is only when someone else tells them or treats them differently that they feel lesser as a result of their impairment. It is when they are told they won’t be able to do certain things that they become a disabled person. I have seen firsthand from my two-decade involvement with Canine Companions for Independence that disabled people are really just differently-abled people. It is the perceptions of others that put limitations on their abilities.

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Training With Treats - Is It the Best Choice?

Training with TreatsJust to be clear, I am not a dog trainer, but I am a keen observer and see the consequences of training daily. I see the good and I see the bad.

In recent years, many dog training have adopted new philosophies and techniques. In the past, it was commonplace to see the, unfortunately misnamed, “choker” correction collars, pronged collars, and shock collars. Personally, I still see a place for the correction collars in a balanced method if they are used properly. However, I am not a fan of pronged collars and, in my opinion, there is absolutely no situation that justifies the use of a shock collar. Shock collars are not training collars. I have seen so many dogs become uncontrollably fearful and anxious due to shock collars.

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Avalanche Dogs

Well, we had a great fall after a scorching summer, but eventually we had to have a winter.  I have written in the past about winter time hazards, and how to keep your pet happy and healthy during the winter months.  But, despite how I may sound in  my gloomy, cautionary posts,  I actually love winter.  I love to ski, especially in Deer Valley Utah.  It is beautiful!  The sky is a blue that everyone needs to experience.  

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Help save a life, share a pet insurance experience

Behavior Problems

When most people hear the words “pet insurance” they tend to laugh, thinking of eccentric pet parents, or the human health care mess comes to mind, and people want no part of that for their pets. But, pet insurance is not human insurance. Not even close. Human health insurance is managed care with plans that have negotiated prices and can dictate what procedures they will pay for, without a doctor’s opinion being considered. And, there are the restrictions on which doctors are in network. The cost of processing these plans is staggering. The handling of insurance billing in a physician office is a full time job and accounts for approximately 30% of their total expenses. Pet insurance will never be managed care. The reason? Simply: Vets don’t make enough. Vets could not afford to have the employees needed to process the claims.  

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Who is to blame for our pet’s bad behavior?

Behavior ProblemsBehavior problems in our pets seem to be more common than they once were. Aggression, barking, digging, begging for food, and fear and anxiety seem to be common complaints with my clients’ pets. Are we just recognizing them more or are they really increasing? Well, if it were up to dogs they would be roaming the street scavenging food, defecating anywhere they wanted, and searching for the next sexual encounter. We have forgotten that this is normal canine behavior. Instead, we expect them to live in a house, ask permission to go outside, sit perfectly at our feet, and patiently wait for our next command. With training and persistence, they can learn to be comfortable in our idea of normal, but we need to remember this is contrary to their instincts.

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Prevention: Pets Gone Missing

Lost Dog FlyerThere is absolutely no feeling like when your pet goes missing. Thoughts of them getting hit by cars, attacked by coyotes, or wandering around scared and looking for you fill your head. It is horrible. In the past, the only thing you could do was put up flyers , contact the local shelters, and hope that your pet would be found. Things have changed drastically, for the better, in the past few years. Technology has made finding your lost buddy (or budd-ette) much easier.

The advent of the microchip has made the most difference. The microchip is injected between the shoulder blades through a large-bore needle. The actual size is a little bigger than a grain of rice. Coded onto the chip is a unique number that can be read with a scanner. In the early days, each microchipping company had their own scanner, which meant if you didn’t have the right scanner, you were out of luck. Now, the vast majority of chips are able to be scanned with a universal scanner. Once the number has been scanned, we look in the universal microchip online database. This site will direct us to the identification of your pet and your contact information. Yea!!!

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Spring Skin Hassles for Pets

Spring has sprung and so have all of the things that make our pets itch and rub and shake. Allergy season is upon us. Animals can be allergic to all of the same things that make us sneeze. But, while our organ of anaphylaxis (the organ system that is most commonly affected) is our respiratory system, dog's and cat's organ of anaphylaxis is their skin. So, when my eyes start burning and I can’t stop sneezing, I know I am going to see a lot of itchy animals.

The system affected is not the only difference. The chemicals responsible for causing the signs of allergies are also vastly different. In humans, histamines play a big part. Histamines are chemicals released when we encounter the allergen, which is the inciting agent of allergies. This why antihistamines are so effective in treating human allergies. They counter the affects of histamines.

For dogs and cats, histamines play only a minor role. It has been reported that antihistamines only work in about 10% of dogs/cats, but truly there has been no proof that they work at all on pet allergies. Benadryl has the benefit of causing the dog to be drowsy and thus causing the dog to itch less, which does have a value, but steroids have been our mainstay in treating allergies. They are inexpensive and stop the itch quickly, but they can cause the dog to drink and urinate more and are not to be used long-term.The signs of allergies in dogs and acats are due to a number of different chemicals - leukotrienes, cytokines, and kinases. Drugs can be made to block these chemicals. One such drug, Apoquel, works as quickly or quicker than steroids and without the side effect. It is changing the way we treat allergies. (The one downside is that the manufacturer wildly underestimated the demand and has been playing catch up since its rollout. It now looks to be more available, but if your vet says they don’t have any...believe him/her!)

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Wellness: The Importance of Preventative Care

Poodle mix at VetI am always reminded of this difference between animals and humans when I take dental radiographs. We can see only what is above the gum line, but most dental disease happens under the gums. I can’t believe how a tail-wagging dog will come in as if nothing is wrong, but then we take radiographs and we can see tooth root abscesses. Now, anyone who has had a root canal will remember that excruciating and unbearable pain prior to the procedure. That pain was due to a tooth root abscess, the same thing that seemingly had no effect on that dog. It does though, just as much as us, but they handle it better.

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The Trending Pet Poison Risks You'll Want to Know About

In years past, most pet parents just worried about letting their pets get into chocolate or the Easter lilies. Those issues are still a concern, but in our changing world the risks are becoming a bit more diversified. Let’s talk a bit about the trends in toxicity over the past few years.

Prescription Drugs

The CDC estimates 48.7% of people have used at least one prescription drug in the past 30 days. That makes for a lot of pill vials that look like a tasty treat to dogs. Make sure you keep them high and away from your animals, because prescription toxicity is one of the most common cause of poisoning we see in the clinics. It’s not as easy as keeping them out of reach. Cat owners know that if you leave a vial of the counter or table your cat will gleefully bat it off and watch if fall because…..well, just because. Then your dog will be glad to “dispose” of it for you, especially since “child safe caps” rarely translates to “retriever proof bottles.” For whatever reason, a dog will pull a prescription bottle out of a purse or off a counter and chew through it. The most common drug toxicities I see are antidepressants, blood pressure meds, and pain meds. And remember, just because a little is safe for you, does not mean it is safe for your pet. For example, a single Tylenol can kill a cat, and ibuprofen can cause gastric ulcers and renal failure in dogs and cats. If you animal swallows any medication, get them to your vet immediately. If we can get the pet in before much is absorbed, it can make a big difference.

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Why Is My Pet’s Dental Cleaning so Pricey?

You’ve probably wondered “why is my pet’s dental cleaning so expensive?” But, are they truly expensive when you see what all is involved? There are many ways dental cleaning and teeth extractions for our pets are different than our own trip to the dentists. Let’s talk a little more about what happens during a dental cleaning and then see if it still seems pricey...

The first question I often get is, “why does my dog need to be put under anesthesia to get his teeth cleaned?” Well, one reason is that I have become fond of my fingers over the years! The real reason is that a dog or, god forbid a cat, is not going to allow you to do a thorough cleaning without being knocked out.

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