Archive for the ‘Pets’ Category

Ticked Off!

Thursday, April 14th, 2016

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0815_tickYou’d think that Scout’s House, as a rehab therapy center, wouldn’t care too much about ticks. But care we do—and a great deal. And if you have a dog or cat, you should too. These little blood suckers are showing up in greater numbers in California and infecting our dogs and cats with a whole new host of potentially deadly diseases.

Tick-borne diseases are on the rise in California, as well as all over the country. According to the Companion Animal Parasite Council, the US is experiencing a significant tick expansion, with new species of ticks—and new tick-transmitted diseases—moving into new areas across the county. Veterinary Week reported an alarming 30% increase in the number of dogs exposed to tick-borne diseases between 2006 and 2010. And a national survey of veterinary clinics conducted by Idexx Laboratories in 2008 found positive tests for three nasty tick-borne diseases (Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, and ehrlichiosis) in most states.

Little Mouths of Horrors
0814_ticksAs parasites, ticks attach themselves to your dog or cat, feed on your pet’s blood, and then graciously thank their host for the free lunch by transmitting any number of potentially deadly diseases directly into your pet’s system.

Some of the most debilitating tick-borne diseases we see in California are:

Lyme disease – caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi, it      can be transmitted to your dog or cat by several species of teeny, tiny deer ticks. With Lyme disease, pets may show up at the vet’s office with a fever, shifting leg lameness, swollen lymph nodes, and/or a disinterest in eating. As the disease advances, they may also develop neurological problems, heart disease, and kidney failure from the infection.

californiaAnaplasmosis – called “the new kid on the tick-borne disease block,” this disease causes fever, loss of appetite, stiff joints, lethargy, and a low platelet count in pets. Symptoms of infection may also include vomiting, diarrhea, and in extreme cases seizures. Also transmitted by the deer tick, anaplasma is found in highest concentration in the Midwest, Northeast, and—you got it—California.

Ehrlichiosis – transmitted by the brown dog tick. Symptoms of this disease, which may take months to surface and are similar to those of anaplasmosis, may include fever, loss of appetite and weight, runny eyes and nose, swollen legs, and lethargy. Cases of ehrlichiosis caused by the Ehrlichia canis bacterium are considered more common in the South, where infestations of the brown dog tick occur more often, but California shows the next highest infection rate.

These are three of the most common diseases we see in California, courtesy of ticks. Unfortunately, there are others.

It Takes a Village
vetDiagnosing tick-borne disease is not easy. For some infections—Lyme disease comes to mind—there’s no definitive test to confirm the diagnosis, so veterinarians have to rely on the patient’s history, symptoms, and response to treatment to know if they’re on the right track.

If a dog or cat shows symptoms like those caused by tick-borne diseases, veterinarians can use blood tests to check a pet’s exposure to certain tick-transmitted bacteria, but interpreting tick antibody titers isn’t easy, which means a veterinarian can miss incipient infections.

Sometimes, too, it helps to have another set of eyes on the patient. At Scout’s House, it isn’t uncommon for us to see patients whose problems have veterinarians stumped about their causes. And because tick-borne diseases can mask themselves as something that rehab therapy can help (some forms of erhlichiosis, for example, can mimic immune-mediated multi-joint arthritis and Lyme disease can cause neurological problems seen in neurodegenerative diseases), we’re quick to check in with our referring veterinarian partners whenever we suspect tick-borne disease in our patients.

What, Me Worry?
Think your pet’s safe? It’s true, not every dog or cat who’s bitten by a tick will get a tick-borne disease. But your couch potato in woodsy Woodside or active “outdoors-pet” in suburban Menlo Park is still at risk of contracting a tick-borne disease just by living in the Golden State. Not only are these diseases moving quickly into areas where they weren’t found just five years ago, the ticks that transmit them can survive and reproduce year-round in many areas of the country, including our own temperate Bay Area.

Keep in mind, too, that although tick diseases may be more concentrated in certain regions, pets from the Bay Area do get around. At Scout’s House, we have many patients who regularly travel to areas where infected ticks are prevalent.

Prevention vs. Cure
beachTick-borne diseases can be difficult to diagnose and sometimes even more difficult to treat successfully. Doxycycline is the preferred antibiotic for these diseases and your pet should be on it for at least 28 days. Studies show that shorter courses aren’t effective at clearing the infection—longer courses are, particularly with some of the more persistent cases.

Easier than curing tick-borne disease, though, is preventing it. The Companion Animal Parasite Council recommends pet owners use year-round tick preventatives everywhere in the United States. Talk to your veterinarian about which one is right for your pet.

stopDon’t assume your pet is safe. Some people recommend avoiding tick habitats (areas of high grass, brush, forests, beaches, and deserts—that pretty much covers everywhere, right?!) during “tick season,” but our climate ensures that every season in the Bay Area is “tick season.”

Check your pet daily for ticks, especially if you live, hike, or play in those tick habitat areas. With Lyme disease, a tick must be embedded 24-48 hours to successfully transmit the bacteria, so you have a window of opportunity to ward off potential illness if you find it before the damage is done.

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Puppies Are Terrible People

By Amy Reichert, RVT

Amy-and-RockoOn a sunny summer day when I was 25 years old, I got the bright idea to bring home a puppy. I didn’t do any research or put much thought into the idea aside from thinking that this puppy would likely be a great way to meet boys on the San Diego beaches I spent so much time on. I flipped through the newspaper classified section and came across an ad for “Golden Labradors $350” and thought, “Hey, that sounds good to me!” <click here to read more>

So off I went to a barn in Bonita, CA to meet a litter of fluffy yellow dogs. I took one look at the biggest male in the litter, happily chewing on the sawdust in his pen and knew that he would be coming home with me. I spent all of 5 minutes with the litter before handing over my $350 and headed out on my way. What I didn’t know then was how much that snap decision would change my life.

Rocko-as-a-puppyI drove home with a 10-week-old, 15-lb. yellow dog on my lap thinking of all the wonderful things this puppy and I would do together and how much fun raising him would be. He looked up at me at a stoplight and vomited on my lap and in between the seat and center console. Lovely. But I couldn’t be mad at those big almond eyes staring up at me. “It’s ok, little man, we’ve all been there!” We pulled up to the house and it dawned on me that I didn’t tell my roommate I was bringing home a puppy. Oops. Thankfully, she was won over by the little fluff ball almost as quickly as I was. After much deliberation, I named my new minion “Rocko.”

I bragged to friends that first month about how wonderful my puppy was, and how he never caused any trouble and was housebroken within a week. But the thing that no one tells you is that puppies are sneaky little creatures that lure you into a false sense of security, and then unleash a level of havoc so severe that you question your own sanity at volunteering for this. It began simply enough, while I was at work he shredded the “Labradors for Dummies” book that I had been reading. The next incident involved a slightly cracked closet door leading to a completely demolished collection of shoes—he somehow managed to eat just one shoe of every pair in the closet out of what I can only assume was spite. In another act of puppy terrorism, he dragged a Costco pack of toilet paper (that was easily twice his size) over to his bed and shredded every last roll of it. Christmas snow came early that year in our living room. And while I knew that my retriever would probably be a fan of water, I didn’t expect him to spend half of his days digging in his water dish, creating his very own lakes in the kitchen. He didn’t outgrow this until he was nearly a year old. His piece de resistance was pulling down and eating the window molding in my bedroom, chasing it with a stash of peanut M&M’s left over from Halloween. When I called the vet, the front desk knew my dog was a Lab before I even told her. Talk about a reputation….

By now, Rocko has reached 7 months old and as any Lab owner will tell you, this is when they really kick that mischievous streak into high gear. On our very first trip to Dog Beach in San Diego, he pooped in the surf – just far enough in that I couldn’t grab it with a bag, but got plenty of dirty looks from fellow beach goers. I thought that was bad enough, but while I was doing haphazard damage control on the poop situation, my maniac of a yellow dog snatched a popsicle from a toddler’s sticky grasp and ran joyfully down the beach as the child wailed away at the injustice of it all. I chased Rocko for a good 5 minutes as he played a rousing game of keep away with me, darting left and right, his collar just out of my grasp, melting popsicle in his mouth. After profusely apologizing to the mother of the inconsolable lad, I ran to the nearest corner market and bought the kid a new popsicle. All was once again right in the world, although my plans of Rocko attracting cute boys on the beach was not going as predicted. He was getting the age range completely wrong!

In between his acts of teenage rebellion, my best buddy was the source of many smiles in my life. My constant companion never told anyone about how I cried into his soft fur after reading Marley and Me, telling him that he wasn’t allowed to leave me until he was at least 25 years old. He looked up at me, belched in my face, and jumped off the bed. When I went though break ups (with all the boys he didn’t find for me at the beach), I could always count on Rocko to snuggle up next to me on the couch and not complain about the terrible movies I made him watch. When he was diagnosed with hip dysplasia, the research I started doing is what led me to eventually becoming a rehab therapist today.

One day I woke up and looked over at my crazy puppy and saw that his face had turned from golden to white, and I couldn’t remember the last time he had raided the pantry or garbage can. (To be fair, it was within the last year—he’s still a Lab, after all.) He had woken up with me in the middle of the night to help nurse orphan kittens, and he let me practice all the things I learned in vet tech school on him without complaint. Somehow, along the way, my puppy grew up and became my best friend, earning his spot on the couch that I always said he wasn’t allowed on but he never listened. I let him win this battle, but he still isn’t allowed to have popsicles.

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Are you a dog person or a cat person?

People who define themselves as “dog people” are more extroverted, more agreeable, and more conscientious than people who define themselves as “cat people,” according to a study conducted by a psychologist from the University of Texas at Austin.

Self-described cat people are more open but also more neurotic than dog people, says the study’s principal investigator Sam Gosling. Of the 4565 volunteers who participated in the study, 46% identified themselves as dog people and a mere 12% said they were cat people. Nearly 28% said they were both. Those are our people!

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Patient of the Month: Maddie I.

Maddie-PoolWhen we met Maddie in August of 2012, we knew we were going to be meeting a very special dog. When calling her former state of Texas for previous rehab records, the staff gushed over how much they already missed her and assured us that we would love her too. At just shy of 13 years old, Maddie’s had her fair share (and maybe more!) of orthopedic and neurologic injuries that have been managed well with regular rehab therapy. From knee surgery on both knees to neck surgery to fix a slipped disc, Maddie has been a trouper through it all. We asked Maddie’s mom to share a few thoughts with us about her.

What is Maddie’s favorite treat?
Without question, her favorite treat in the world is homemade banana bread!

What is your favorite memory of Maddie?
Maddie hiking. The perfect trail dog. Whether it was a mountain in Montana or Windy Hill, she got right away how to keep pace ahead checking back frequently to check everyone’s progress. She thrived on it. Especially if we were hiking to a river or a lake. She would ask permission before plunging in. Classic Lab.

If Maddie could trade places with any other animal for a day, what would she be and why?
This sounds hifalutin’ to say, but unless you put “human” in the animal category, Maddie wouldn’t want to be another animal. In fact she doesn’t see herself as an animal at all. I would take her to the dog park and she would sit there bored and aloof looking at all the riff-raff with a look that said, “What are we doing here? This is silly. Let’s go have coffee with your friends.”

If Maddie could talk, what would she say is her favorite part about going to Scout’s House?
Without a doubt it is the first eye-to-eye contact she gets with Amy. Wonderful Amy with the treats in her pocket and who makes her feel soooo good.

What Maddie’s therapists have to say about her:
Alisa says that Maddie’s smile, always bigger on one side, makes her day whenever she sees it. Andrea says that without a doubt, Maddie’s happiness and zest for life is her favorite characteristic. Krista says that Maddie is one of those dogs that reminds you that life is what you make of it, and through every challenge she’s been given nothing ever gets her down, tackling each one with happy determination. Amy could list a million reasons why she loves Maddie, but most of all she is inspired by Maddie’s spirit to always see the good in each day, the joy of an afternoon nap, and to always give those you love lots of kisses, especially when they have a pocket full of cookies!

Are You Ready to Rehab?

Sunday, February 1st, 2015

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0215_rehabDid you know your pet’s therapist goes through not one, not two, but THREE training programs to become a Rehab Therapist at Scout’s House?

First, she has to complete a two-year Registered Veterinary Technician program at an accredited college—or, in Krista’s case, an accredited physical therapy program. (This is on top of the Bachelor degrees all of our employees have from different California universities.)

Next up: she completes our proprietary training program, developed by Sandy Gregory, RVT, M Ed, CCRA—a rigorous course that takes many weeks and countless hours of study and hands-on learning.

Finally, she goes through the nation’s top rehab therapy certification program at the Canine Rehab Institute in Florida. This program, which takes about a year to complete, puts the finishing touches on her formal education in the science—and the art—of rehabilitation therapy.

0215_quizWant to see what she learns? Take this simple quiz to see how much you know about rehab therapy!

1) What disease in dogs is related to Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis in humans?

2) What’s the ACL called in a dog or cat?

3) Circle the area where you’ll find the supraspinatus muscle in a dog:

dogtocircle

4) True or False: A dog or cat who’s paralyzed by a disk rupture will never walk again.

5) What modality can be used for both muscle strengthening and pain control?

a) pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) therapy
b) therapeutic ultrasound
c) low level laser therapy
d) electrical stimulation

6) What is proprioception?

7) Which of the following is NOT a sign of rear limb weakness in dogs?
a) plopping into a sit
b) slowly sinking into a sit
c) hesitating before walking down stairs
d) inability to back up

8) Does a dog’s head bob DOWN or UP with front limb lameness?

9) Which of the following is NOT a symptom of pain in a dog?
a) licking his/her lips
b) change in respiration rate
c) change in behavior
d) increased appetite

10) How many degrees of flexion does a healthy dog’s stifle (knee) normally get? (Extra points if you know what flexion is!)
a) 33°
b) 45°
c) 90°
d) 135°

Answers:

1) Degenerative Myelopathy. Similar to ALS (or Lou Gehrig’s Disease), DM is a neurodegenerative disease for which there is currently no cure.

2) In humans, the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of four ligaments in the knee that connect the femur to the tibia. An ACL tear is more likely in athletes, such as football or basketball players. In dogs, the ligament is called the cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) and, unfortunately, even couch potatoes caught in a burst of energy can—and do—injure it.

3)supraspinatus-circle

4) False. That’s one of the things we love most about our job! Getting animals to walk again after being paralyzed is pretty darned wonderful.

5) D. Although each of these can be useful for strengthening muscles or controlling pain, only electrical stimulation can do both.

6) Simply put, proprioception is knowing where your limbs are in space without having to look at them.

7) C. Hesitating to walk down stairs can signal other issues but not rear limb weakness.

8) UP. Think about it, if you’re a dog and your front leg hurts, you try to lift the front of your body UP to take weight off of it. If your back leg hurts, you’ll lower the front of your body DOWN to take weight off that. Makes sense when you visualize it.

9) D. Sometimes decreased appetite can indicate a painful pup, but not an increased one.

10) B. Although it can vary based on a dog’s breed, age, and ability, 45° is about average.

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Amy is Our Valentine

Big hugs to our Scout’s House Valentine—Rehab Therapist Amy Reichert, who just earned her CCRA certification from the Canine Rehab Institute! It took a year of dedication, study, and travel to get it. We couldn’t be prouder of you, Amy!

 

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Gobs of Love

bonesWhat better way to fete your Valentine than with these awesome Frozen Peanut Butter Banana Pops? They’re easy, low-cal, and (according to our kitty Rascal) even cats like them! Thank you Andrea Archambault for the recipe and photo. You can find more great dog cookie recipes on Andrea’s blog: http://andreaarchambault.blogspot.com

INGREDIENTS
3 (6 oz.) containers of low-fat plain or vanilla yogurt
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 (4 oz.) jar banana baby food
1 T. honey

INSTRUCTIONS
In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients thoroughly. Pour mixture into small paper cups or silicone molds. Freeze. Once frozen, peel away paper cup and serve!

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Patient of the Month:

by Amy Reichert, RVT, CCRA (newly minted!)

noodle-01George Noodle first came to Scout’s House following surgery on a ruptured disc in his back, which left him unable to use his back legs properly, making walking difficult. Not surprisingly, George—a Dachshund—also had a few pounds to lose, which made walking all the tougher. His big, soulful eyes won over every therapist who worked with him, and he quickly wiggled his way into all of our hearts as he progressed through his rehab program. Slowly but surely, George regained full use of his hind legs, but he continued to work on his weight loss goals.

In the winter of 2013, we determined that “The Noodle” had achieved all of the goals we’d set forth in his rehab program, including returning to his previous levels of function and using his hind legs normally again. But George is an overachiever and has elected to continue coming to Scout’s House every two weeks for our conditioning program. This accelerated program allows us to continue to work on his weight loss goals and further challenge George with higher level obstacle courses and endurance training.

George’s sessions are often as much fun for the therapist as they are for the patient. He tackles each obstacle with joy, and often adds his own personal flair—usually involving a very wiggly tail and not-so-subtly requests for treats after completing his tasks. In between exercises, he’ll often climb in my lap and look up with a contented smile on his face as if to say “That was REALLY fun. What’s next?!”

It’s been our pleasure to help maximize George’s mobility and to find new and exciting challenges for him as he continues to lose weight. Keep up the great work, Noodle!

Why Grooming Matters: Not Just Another Pretty Face!

Wednesday, October 1st, 2014

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beforeby Amy Reichert, RVT, CCRA-pending

If you’re like me, you may think grooming is something only people with small or long-haired pets have to contend with. As the owner of a Labrador Retriever, I thought the extent of grooming was limited to a few baths and cleaning his ears after a swim. It wasn’t until we adopted Koukla, our Havanese mix, that I realized I couldn’t have been more wrong. There are some great benefits to grooming for pets of all shapes, sizes, and coat types. Let me share some things I learned to help you avoid the same mistakes:

 

1014_bangsMy, What Big Eyes You Have!
When we got Koukla, her hair was cut very short at the shelter to get rid of the severe mats (hair tangled in a dense mass) and fleas in her coat. But as her full coat came in, it didn’t stop growing the way a Lab’s or German Shepherd’s coat would, and Koukla seemed to turn into a living dust mop overnight! In a way, I found the shaggy coat endearing, but it was clear something needed to be done: her hair was once again beginning to mat under her arms and on her tummy. While the matting at this stage was minor, if left uncared for, it could’ve caused her a lot of pain by pulling on her skin, restricting proper body movement, and providing nesting areas for parasites like fleas and ticks (yuck!).

Additionally, her “bangs” were so long her vision was obstructed unless we tied the hair out of her face. Having her vision impaired could’ve led to something simple like making her anxious because she couldn’t see to something disastrous like causing her to fall down the stairs and hurt herself. I enlisted the help of a groomer to address these issues and the change in her demeanor was instant. It was obvious how much more comfortable and confident she felt without those mats—and with a clear line of sight! Thankfully, people who are owned by cats usually don’t have to deal with this problem.

 

Princess Fluffy Toes
1014_pawMany breeds—dogs and cats—have fur that will grow between the paw pads and while this can look very cute (think doggy/kitty mutt-lucks) it can actually be quite dangerous for your pet, especially as she ages. Your pet’s paw pads help to provide traction on slippery surfaces and when fur is allowed to grow long there, it can hinder that traction and cause more slips and falls on slick surfaces, such as tile and hardwood floors, and lead to injury. Furthermore, if your pet is losing traction from her paw pads, she’ll try to compensate by using her nails to grip the floor, which isn’t so great for your hardwood floors either!

 

The Hair “Back There”
1014_snipAlthough long feathery fur may seem luxurious, if your cat or dog has GI upset or is incontinent, keeping his hind end clean may be a challenge for even the most dedicated owner. Just the same, keeping the area clean and dry is very important: irritation or even infection can occur on the skin due to prolonged exposure to urine, feces, and moisture, and elderly and obese pets who go outside run the risk of getting fly larvae (yes, we’re talking about maggots!) embedded in the skin surrounding the anus. At Scout’s House, we suggest clipping the hair short to help make clean up easier and using bedding that can wick moisture away from the body if incontinence is an issue. If a full bath is not an option following a messy accident, waterless shampoos can be a godsend. And if you see fly larvae on your pet’s bum, get Fluffy to the vet immediately!

Is your dog or cat scooting across your prized rug or chewing at his bum? It’s possible his anal sacs, an anatomical feature that assists with defecation and marking of territory, might need to be emptied. While a groomer often performs this service as part of a complete grooming appointment, you may also want to talk to your vet if this if the first time you’ve seen your pet do this just to be sure there’s no infection. And if you ever see patches of red, irritated, or raw skin anywhere on your pet’s body, call your veterinarian.

 

Brush It Out
1014_brushRegular brushing/combing can be difficult to work into an already busy schedule, but once you understand the benefits you may be convinced to set a few minutes aside each day, or at least a few times a week to do it. Brushing or combing out your pet’s fur helps maintain proper air circulation and insulation of double coated breeds (such as American Eskimos and Labrador Retrievers in the dog world and Maine Coon cats and Scottish Folds in Kittyland), which is important for temperature regulation. This is why brushing out that coat is much preferred to shaving these breeds as those double coats serve a valuable purpose for your pet.

A thorough brushing/combing can also help to prevent matting in long-haired breeds (eg, Maltese, Rough Collies for dogs, Himalayan or Persians for cats). If you find a mat, don’t try to comb it out as that can be painful for the pet (and you, if you persist!). Instead, use a comb to carefully lift the mat and then gently pull it apart with your fingers.

A final benefit of grooming is it allows you to feel all over for any new lumps and bumps or note any weight loss that might not be visible under your pet’s thick hair coat, alerting you to signs of trouble that should be evaluated by your veterinarian.

 

Don’t Fear the Pedicure
1014_nailsDid you think you would get away from this article without any mention of trimming nails? By far the most feared of all aspects of grooming (by pets AND owners), clipping your pet’s nails is very important to her comfort and mobility.

For cats, clipping their nails every few weeks may not only save your furniture, but it’ll also give you a chance to detect ingrown or torn nails, the most common nail problem in cats. Because cat nails retract, it’s often difficult to spot problems until they’re major issues, so trimming your cat’s nail every few weeks will help you catch nail injuries early. Also keep in mind that too-long nails in old cats can get caught up on blankets and rugs, which weaker, older kitties find difficult to “detach.” Too often, the struggle to free it results in the pain of a torn nail.

Allowing your dog’s nails to grow too long can alter how she uses her paws and can lead to painful arthritis, making it difficult for her to walk as she gets older. Yes, it’s THAT important! Don’t let the fear of the clippers keep you from getting those nails clipped, and it’s perfectly acceptable to enlist the help of a vet’s office or a groomer to get the deed done. A good rule to abide by is if you hear the nails clicking on the floor, its time for a trim. The more frequently the nails are clipped back, the further the quick of the nails recede, allowing you keep those nails at a safe length. While she may not thank you at the time, we promise her joints will thank you later!

 

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Trick-or-Treat Dog Treats

by Lisa Stahr

gfx_oct_2014-10It’s that time of year when I start craving pumpkin treats and I can’t think of anyone I’d rather share my love of pumpkin with than Rerun, Belle, and Beckett. Here’s a super-simple recipe for pumpkin treats that they love:

1 cup canned pumpkin
(I use brands with BPA-free liners)
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 1/2 cups flour (wheat, rice, oat—your choice)
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350°

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl or in the bowl of an electric mixer and mix until it forms a ball. Feel free to use your hands if you’re into that kind of thing.

Roll the dough out on a floured surface or between two sheets of parchment paper until ½-inch thick. Cut the dough with a cookie cutter (bone shapes are the obvious choice, but use whatever shape you want—honestly, your dog won’t care) and place on a cookie sheet that’s either been lined with parchment paper or sprayed with non-stick spray.

Bake 15-17 minutes or until completely dried out. Let cool before serving.

 

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The Story of Frida Kahlo

by Alisa Juarez, RVT

1014_fridaAlthough Frida Kahlo was a well-known Mexican painter famous for her self-portraits, this story is about another Frida, one who coincidently shares the resiliency and spirit of the painter who inspired her name.

About 5 months into my time here at Scout’s House, a new patient being fostered by the Humane Society was awarded a grant by Scout’s Fund to come in for rehab therapy. Then named “Kona,” our new patient had had surgery to repair a shattered femur head after being hit by a car and picked up by Animal Control. (click here to read more)

 

 

 

1014_frida03After months of refusing to use her surgically repaired leg, the Humane Society was hoping Scout’s House could help her regain strength in her significantly atrophied leg resulting from prolonged disuse and return her to normal function. On her first day of rehab in walked a mustached, black and white, very nervous little scruff ball. I was immediately drawn to her endearing “facial hair” and exclaimed “How CUTE! That dog has a mustache!” She was irresistible. Over the course of her session, it became apparent that however shy and wary she was, she was a very sweet and affectionate little dog, scurrying into my lap to find security and comfort.

That night, I came home and casually showed a photo I had taken of “Kona” to my boyfriend Sam, saying “Isn’t this dog cute? Look, she has a mustache… and she’s not too big either. The perfect size for an apartment dog. She’s being fostered right now, but needs a home.” Sam agreed that yes, she was a cute dog, and I decided to leave it at that—he was in the middle of a tumultuous few months studying for the California State Bar, and I knew starting a conversation about adopting a dog was something best reserved for a later date.

Weeks went by and I would only see “Kona” in passing as she worked with the other therapists here at Scout’s House. By then it had become a running joke that “Alisa’s dog is here!” as everyone was encouraging (albeit forcefully) my adoption of “Kona.” I silently promised myself that if, in fact, she had not been adopted by the time it was ok for that “new dog” convo to happen, I would do everything in my power to make it work. I refused to be the reason for her not being adopted sooner and so I kept my hopes to myself, always asking the foster owner if there had been anyone expressing interest in her.

The day came when the Bar Exam was a distant memory (finally!) and her foster owner informed me that however sweet little “Kona” was, she couldn’t keep a dog long term and therefore wouldn’t be adopting her (yes!). I spoke to Sam that night and pragmatically brought up the idea that we could foster her on a “trial” basis to make sure it was a good fit and that she’d be happy in our city apartment, which was lacking a yard. The night we picked her up from the foster that lived a few blocks away, I anxiously expressed my doubts to Sam: “What if she doesn’t remember me? What if she’s scared that strangers are taking her from her home? What if she hates it?” To my relief, I learned all of my doubts were unfounded as I called “Kona!” and she came speeding towards me and jumped straight into our car, a sure sign we’d made the right decision!

1014_frida2As we spent our first night cuddling in bed with the new “foster” we knew we would never be giving back, we brainstormed names that would fit our little scruff ball better. Sam suggested, “What about Frida? You love Frida Kahlo.” The perfect combination of determined spirit and strength through life’s difficulties proved to be the epitome of our little Frida Kahlo. In our home she blossomed into a high spirited albeit very determined little dog who continues to fill our lives with happiness. And thanks to her time at Scout’s House, she now enjoys running on the beach—on all four legs, of course!

 

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Patient of the Month: Cyrus

1014_cyrusOur friend Cyrus is one of those dogs who has a way of brightening our gym every time he walks through our door. When we first met him, he was barely able to walk on his own following a spinal stroke but that never stopped him from trying! In record time, Cyrus was up and running on all four legs, proving once again that hard work and a great attitude will get you far in life. We asked his mom to share some stories on what makes Cyrus so lovable!

What is his favorite thing to do during the week?

To rub his back on clean blankets and sheets on our bed. He rolls around left and right with the silliest, happiest expression on his face and his legs up in the air.

If Cyrus could talk, what would he say is his favorite thing about coming to Scout’s House?

Pupperoni, pupperoni, and the lovely ladies who give it to me!

Favorite memory of Cyrus?

When I first met Cyrus he was so honored to meet me that he peed on my leg 🙂

If Cyrus could trade places with any other animal for a day, what would he be and why?

A “hippocutamus.” When Cyrus does his silly clean sheet roll, he does something to his nose that makes him look just like a cute hippo, which we’d dubbed “hippocutamus.” It’s very endearing.

What do his therapists say?

Krista loves the soulful look in his eyes and his can-do attitude! Alisa is smitten with his goofy personality and Amy says that Cyrus is a patient that seems to understand exactly what she’s saying and lets her know that he appreciates the session with a gentle head nudge and a paw on the shoulder. One thing is clear: Everyone is continually amazed by him!

Arthritis: It’s Not Just for Dogs!

Monday, September 1st, 2014

newsletter_sept_2014

by Amy Reichert, RVT,CCRA-pending

kitty_2Does your older cat walk differently or have trouble jumping up on things? Does she seem less interested in play or grooming herself? Is she having trouble using her litter box? If you answered yes to any of these questions, your cat might be showing signs of arthritis, a painful joint disease that will progress as your cat ages. The most common site of arthritis in cats is in the elbow joint but it can occur anywhere, including the spine, hips, and tarsi (ankles). Only your veterinarian can diagnose this disease, so if you suspect your cat might be affected, make an appointment to have Kitty evaluated. The good news is that there are many options available to treat arthritis and to help your cat live a happy—and comfortable—life. Here are our Top Five Tips for helping arthritic kitties:

1. Lose Weight!
Just like dogs and humans, carrying around excess weight can be very painful for your cat, especially if that weight is putting more pressure on an arthritic joint. It can make it even harder to jump on the bed or squat to use the litter box. Before embarking on a weight loss strategy for your pet, ask your veterinarian to help determine the best weight for your cat and to assist you with devising an appropriate diet plan.

2. Rehabilitation Therapy Rehab for Cats?
While not every cat will enjoy a dip in the underwater treadmill (although some do!), there are many other exercises and therapies that cats respond quite well to, including massage, laser therapy, acupuncture, and pulsed electromagnetic therapy. At Scout’s House, we can develop a home exercise program for your cat to help maximize the benefits of therapy throughout the week. And most exercises are a great way to play with your cat while helping her feel better. Win-win!

kittywindow3. Modify His Environment
You may have noticed that your cat has trouble jumping up onto surfaces that were once easy for her to get to. While you might appreciate fewer footprints on the kitchen counter, it’s not at all fun to find accidents outside the litter box. If other medical reasons have been ruled out by your veterinarian, you can give your cat better access by choosing a large litter box with low sides or a model with a small ramp to get in. Those with high edges can be difficult for an arthritic cat to jump in and out of, which is why cats often choose an easier place to do their business—like your favorite rug. Other home modifications that many cats appreciate are steps to get up onto the bed or their favorite windowsill.

catbrush4. Help with Grooming
If your cat is having trouble grooming due to arthritis, you can help by brushing her once a day. If she’s a long-haired breed, you may want to enlist the help of your vet or a professional groomer to prevent or remove matting, large tangles of fur that can be painful if not addressed. (Do not attempt to shave or remove mats yourself as you could accidentally cut your cat’s skin.) Regular brushing will help prevent the formation of mats, requiring fewer trips to the groomer.

5. Medications and Supplementspills
Your veterinarian can determine if medication is appropriate for your arthritic cat and which drug is right for him. NEVER give your cat any human or dog medication unless specifically instructed to by your vet as many medications that are safe for humans and dogs are very dangerous to cats. Just one dose can be fatal.

Also talk to your veterinarian about which supplements can be helpful for your cat. We’ve seen great results with Dasuquin for Cats (see accompanying article) with our own felines, but your veterinarian might have other suggestions for you.

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The Wonders of Dasuquin for Cats

By Lisa Stahr

kittyEveryone acknowledges penicillin as the Miracle Drug. But if you own an older, arthritic cat—or one who suffers from repeat urinary tract infections, or UTIs—Dasuquin for Cats is your own personal Miracle Drug.

Trust me on this. I started using Dasuquin for Cats on my two kitties with paralyzed rear legs because animals who can’t walk frequently get UTIs. And G, the eldest, had multiple UTIs before I got him. So I started him on Dasuquin for Cats as soon as I adopted him and he’s had one UTI in seven years—and that’s only because I ran out of Dasuquin for a couple of days! That’s why I’m a big believer in this supplement, not only for cats like G, but also for cats with arthritis (which is almost any older cat). It works as many miracles for arthritic kitties as it does for felines with UTIs—I saw the proof of that with our 3-legged black cat Nick, who was still jumping up on things when he died at 21 despite having arthritis in his one front leg.

From Nutramax Laboratories, the same people who brought you Cosequin, Dasuquin for Cats is more than just a glucosamine/chondroitin supplement: it inhibits the expression of several agents that break down cartilage using a powerful cocktail of ingredients, all that are safe for cats and proven to improve joint function and comfort levels.

Dasuquin for Cats also replenishes the compounds that are found in the cells in the inner lining of the bladder, strengthening the bladder lining and improving bladder health in cats.

So if you have an arthritic or UTI-prone kitty, do Fluffy a favor and give Dasuquin for Cats a try. I think you’ll be as impressed as I am.

 

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Do You Know About Amazon Smile?

amazon-smileWe have a soft spot in our hearts for Scout’s Animal Rehab Therapy Fund, the nonprofit that underwrites the cost of rehab therapy for pets from low-income families, for assistance dogs,K9 Unit dogs, and animals in the care of rescue groups and shelters.

So we want to tell you about a super easy way to help Scout’s Fund while shopping online:

Use Amazon Smile.

Amazon Smile is the same as Amazon—same products, same prices, same service. The only difference is it donates 0.5% of the price of all your eligible purchases to the charitable organization of your choice when you shop there.

We’re amazed at how many people haven’t heard about Amazon Smile, so we encourage you to bookmark the page (instead of the regular Amazon page) and do all your buying there.

And of course, you can designate any charity as your recipient, but we encourage you to consider Scout’s Animal Rehab Therapy Fund. We can’t think of an easier way to help animals in need live longer, more comfortable lives.

 

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200thPatient of the Month: Gallagher

This month we celebrate Gallagher, our 2000th patient since opening our doors in 2005. Thank you, Gally, for trusting us with your care—and thank you to all of the 1,999 dogs, cats, rabbits, chickens and rats who came to Scout’s House before Gallagher. We love you all!

Keep Your Special Needs Pet in Tip Top Shape

Tuesday, July 1st, 2014

newsletter_July_2014

We see a lot of dogs and cats with neurological deficits at Scout’s House, including older pets who develop neuro issues as they age. This month, our therapists wanted to share with you their top ten tips for keeping your older or neurologically impaired pet happy, healthy, and safe!

 

harness1) If your pet has trouble walking or can’t walk unassisted, don’t allow him to drag himself around as this may limit his recovery or lead to additional injuries. Instead, use a harness (such as a Ruffwear or Walkabout) to help him stand and/or walk. And when you can’t assist him, keep him in an enclosed space, such as inside an X-pen or crate.

 

 

water2) If your pet can stand, use elevated food and water bowls to encourage normal posture. Placing a yoga mat or other “grippy” surface near the bowls for your pet to stand on will help as well. If your pet cannot stand, use weighted food or water bowls so they don’t slide away.

 

 

boots3) Use boots to protect your pet’s feet if she “knuckles” (walks on the top of her feet) or drags her feet when she walks. Pets who knuckle or drag their feet will scrape the tops of the toes, which not only hurts but also increases the chance of infection. Dragging feet will also cause your pet to wear down her nails, which will eventually bleed.

 

 

mat4) Use non-slip area rugs or yoga mats around your house in areas where your pet walks to keep him from slipping or falling.

 

 

hug5) Keep your pet with you and your family, especially if she’s unable to walk. Regular family contact is even more important to pets with special needs.

 

 
cat6) If your pet is unable to move on her own, be sure to change the side she is lying on every 2-3 hours to keep her from getting pressure (bed) sores. Placing her on a soft bed can also help to reduce pressure on bony areas.

 

 

dry7) If your pet is incontinent, keeping him clean and dry can help limit skin irritation and reduce the risk of infection. Absorbent bedding and waterless shampoo can help with this. And keep your pet on a regular potty schedule to help reduce the likelihood of accidents.

 

 

sitting8) Proper positioning can help keep your pet more comfortable and help with recovery.
Try to keep her back legs tucked up (bent at the hips, knees, and ankles) when she’s lying down or sitting.

 

 

towel9) Putting a rolled up towel between his back legs when he’s lying down can help support his joints and make him more comfortable.

 

 

sad10) Monitor your pet’s comfort. Avoid putting her in a location where she may become too cold (eg, near a draft) or too hot (eg, in direct sun), especially if she’s unable to move herself to another place. Also ensure that she has easy access to fresh water at all times.

 

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Greyhounds: A Breed Apart

By Andrea Mocabee, RVT

walkingWhen I walk my two Greyhounds down the street, it never fails that people stop and stare, ask questions, or simply state how beautiful they are. But what people don’t realize is that Greyhounds are very unique and a lot of education goes into living with a retired racer.

The first thing people should understand about Greyhounds is that although they are the second fastest land mammals, they are sprinters not endurance runners. Greyhounds are not good running partners as they fatigue quickly. As racers, they are only expected to run 1650, 1980, or 2310 feet. Greyhounds are happiest when they have a comfortable bed, especially yours, or a couch to lounge on and be lazy. They didn’t earn the nickname “fastest couch potato” for nothing!

libertyAnother thing people need to be aware of when adopting a Greyhound is that life outside of the racetrack can be unfamiliar to them. Many have never used stairs before or walked on hardwood floors. These are things that need to be introduced slowly and with patience. My first rescue, Barney, was afraid of the ceiling fan. The first time he saw it, he ran and hid in the bedroom. What seems normal to us may be very scary to a dog who has never seen these things before.

bedsAlso, Greyhounds have a high prey drive; they’re raised to chase the lure at the racetrack. But after retirement, they carry that drive with them. Greyhounds should never be off leash. A small dog, squirrel, or even a plastic bag blowing in the breeze may trigger them to take off running, and even the fastest human runners will not catch a Greyhound in a full sprint. Never let a Greyhound off leash unless you are in a completely enclosed area.

One final thing people need to understand is that Greyhounds are different medically than other dogs. When Greyhounds come off the racetrack, vets will often put them on thyroid medication because their thyroid function is lower than other dogs. This low number can be normal for Greyhounds. My 5 year old, Ridley, was placed on thyroid medication when he retired for low levels and it turned out he didn’t need it because that was normal for him.

Platelets, which are involved in clotting, also tend to run lower in Greyhounds. Unless a Greyhound bruises very easily or bleeds excessively, lower platelets can be normal for the breed. My 10 year old, Gilly, tends to have a lower platelet count but does not have any signs of concern. As a precaution, however, he doesn’t have blood drawn from his jugular vein just in case he has difficulties clotting.

Greyhounds also tend to have a lower White Blood Cell (WBC) count but a higher Red Blood Cell (RBC) count than other dogs. Higher RBC results in more hemoglobin and a higher blood volume. That, along with having a universal blood type, makes Greyhounds great blood donors.

argBecause Greyhounds have such a low percent of body fat, they often have difficulties metabolizing anesthesia, so veterinarians tend to avoid using barbiturate drugs with them. And low body fat also means Greyhounds can get cold—or hot—very easily.

Adopting a Greyhound can be an amazing journey filled with unconditional love, devotion, and many fun-filled years. I’ve done a lot of research and learned a lot along the way, but adopting my retired racers has changed my life for the better. I couldn’t imagine it without my lazy couch potatoes.

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Try This at Home!

As with humans, exercise is an important factor in keeping dogs movin’ and groovin’, especially as they age. And while we have a whole slew of exercises at Scout’s House that we have our patients do, here’s an easy one every dog can benefit from, even at home:

WEIGHT SHIFTING
The goal of this exercise is to improve core strength and body awareness, as well as to increase ease of movement and your dog’s stability.

1) Have your dog stand with you sitting or kneeling at her hips or shoulders.

try2) Place your hands on the sides of her hips or shoulders and gently move her rear/front end from side to side or forward and back. If she has to take a step to keep her balance, you’re pushing too hard. The idea is to make her gently “sway to the music” without stepping out of her stance. This exercise helps strengthen her “stabilizing” muscles.

Start for 20-30 seconds a day, twice a week, building up to 45-60 seconds five days a week. Your dog’s tolerance and willingness to cooperate will determine how long you should do this exercise. This should be fun for your dog—don’t force it if it’s not!

NOTE: Discontinue this exercise if your pet shows signs of discomfort.

This Joint Ain’t Jumpin’

Sunday, June 1st, 2014
e-Newsletter • Vol. 5, Issue 2 • June 2014 • scoutshouse.com
logo 5 Tips for Healthy Joints
JOINTSby Amy Reichert, RVT,
CCRA (pending)

Everyone’s seen older dogs who get squatty in the back end, brought on by weak rear legs. Age takes its toll on all of us, canine and human, but you can do some things now to keep your dog’s legs and joints strong and healthy as he ages.
JOINTS     1. Ramp It Up
Jumping off the bed or out of the car, especially SUVs, can be stressful on your dog’s front end, particularly her elbows, and jumping up onto the bed or into the car can be hard on the spine and hips. Teaching your dog to use a ramp or steps to access beds or cars can reduce this impact on her joints.JOINTS      2. Pop A Pill
There are many supplements available today to help keep dog joints healthy and lubricated. Omega 3 fatty acids can regulate and reduce inflammation associated with arthritis; glucosamine and chondroitin help your dog’s body maintain healthy cartilage by replacing injured cartilage cells. Starting joint health supplements at any time in your dog’s life will likely benefit your pooch, but studies show it’s best to start these when your dog is young—even before he develops problems. While these nutraceuticals are generally regarded as safe, it’s always best to check with your veterinarian before adding any new supplements to your dog’s diet so she can help you determine the proper dosage.
     
JOINTS      3. Keep Her Lean
      It’s no secret maintaining a healthy weight is beneficial to your dog’s overall health. Excess weight on your dog’s frame can significantly increase wear and tear on joints, causing them to develop arthritis. If it’s hard to maintain a healthy weight on your dog, ask your veterinarian (or even a veterinary nutritionist) to help you find an appropriate diet and exercise plan—and to rule out any medical reasons for excess weight gain.
     
JOINTS      4. Four on the Floor
      Hardwood and tile floors are easy to keep clean when you have pets. But these slick surfaces can be danger zones for dogs, especially those who are old or who zip around the house. Their feet can slip out from under them, they can slam into walls and doors, even fall down the stairs if unable to stop in time. Throw rugs and yoga mats can give your dog the traction she needs to stay on her feet, and they’ll help reduce the impact on joints from repeated falls.
     
JOINTS      5. Look Before You Leap
      Is your dog a potential canine athlete? There are no shortage of sports you and your dog can enjoy together, but remember not every breed is suited to every sport. A Mastiff, for instance, might not be right for the fast-paced sport of flyball, but he may excel in weight pulling or carting. Before you start, research the sport to see if it works for your pet, then get involved with a local club dedicated to the sport to learn how to train your dog safely. Even if you don’t plan on competing in formal venues, it’s important to learn proper form for your dog to ensure you’re not causing undue stress and injury to his joints. Should you choose to train at the competitive level in the high impact sports, such as agility or flyball, have your veterinarian examine your dog before you start to rule out any medical issues that might impact his ability to safely compete.div 
logo Patient of the Month: Lucky Z!
neuro     Plagued by bad joints since he was a puppy, Lucky is our longest term patient. We’re thrilled to have had a hand in helping him move and feel better over the years. This month, we asked Lucky’s mom to share some favorite memories with us as we celebrate his seventh year with Scout’s House.

     If Lucky could trade places with any other animal for a day, what would he be and why?

     Gazelle… Lucky has never been very graceful or athletic even when I got him at 7 months – in hindsight I’m sure this was due to his hip issues – so I think once in his life, he would love to be able to run like the wind without a care in sight.

     What is Lucky’s favorite thing to do during the week?

He loves to sit out in front of the house and watch the world go by… It’s even better when the various neighborhood dogs come over for a visit!

     If Lucky could talk, what would he say is his favorite part about coming to Scout’s House?

     Lucky loves seeing all his friends at Scout’s House… He’s known some of them almost half his life… And of course, getting fed snacks throughout his visit is a pretty nice treat.

     Favorite memory of Lucky?

     I have so many memories of his unbridled exuberance/playing/wrestling with his dog friends at various parks and beaches around the area that it’s hard to pick… And watching him open presents is a special treat – he seems to know which gifts are for him and gets so excited he appears to almost hyper-ventilate as he tears through wrapping paper and sticks his face into gift bags to hopefully pull out a stuffed animal that “talks,” which he then chomps so hard, he breaks the noise mechanism – usually within seconds… And then he rests with the most contented look on his face as if to say “my work is done”!

     What are Lucky’s therapists saying about him?

     Amy says she never has to wonder which holiday is coming up because Lucky always has a special collar to celebrate the holiday or season. Krista’s favorite moments with Lucky are when he slaps the water in the hydrotreadmill with his front paws to let us know that he is ready for another cookie! Alisa says Lucky’s happy smile is just what she needs to brighten her day on a rainy Saturday morning.

     A few final words from Lucky’s mom:

     Special thanks to everyone at Scout’s House for helping Lucky make it to 13 1/2 (so far)… not many big dogs live this long, especially big dogs with his type of mobility issues, and I’m sure his continuing visits to Scout’s House over the years, since his first ACL surgery, have helped improve the quality and longevity of his life.

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logo Liver Lover Dog Cookies
neuro     These treats won’t win any beauty contests, but dogs love them! Bake them on parchment paper for easy clean-up.

     1 lb. raw liver (beef or chicken), blended into a smooth paste
     1 egg, lightly beaten
     1 cup flour
     1/2 cup corn meal
     1/4 teaspoon salt
     1/4 teaspoon oregano

     Preheat oven to 350°. Mix all ingredients well in a large bowl. Drop a half of a teaspoon of batter onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 30 minutes (for chewy treats) or 45 minutes (for crispier treats).

     Makes 30 treats. 52 calories per treat, 1g total fat, 63mg cholesterol, 33mg sodium, 66mg potassium, 5.8g total carbohydrates, 4.8g protein.

logo Living In Tension
neuro     by Lisa Stahr

     As I write, two male cats are nestling up against my hip, jockeying for the closest position to my body. Whether that’s out of love for me or a cat’s predisposition to find the warmest spot possible, I can’t say. I like to think it’s the former, but I’ve lived with cats long enough to know it’s probably the latter.

      Having sorted out their sleeping arrangement, the boys are now cleaning each other, tenderly and with great care. There is such affection in how they bathe one other; it’s touching to watch. I’ve seen this show before and I know that soon one will tuck his head into the soft folds of his brother’s neck and both will slide off into another deep and satisfying hour of sleep

      These two our are youngest cats, 7 and 2 years old, and they are connected in a way I’ve never seen with any of my animals. While the Internet may be peppered with photos of cats entwined in one another’s embrace, none of our cats have ever even come close to that level of affection for each other. A passing tolerance is all we can hope for and sometimes, oftentimes, we don’t even get that.

      But G and Moto are different. Maybe they bonded over their mutual disability—both are paralyzed in their rear legs—or maybe their personal qualities just speak to something in the other. But bonded they are—truly, madly, deeply.

      Friends and family ooh and ahh over how adorable they look cuddled together in one cat bed, feckless hind legs poking out this way and that. And even I have to admit, watching them sleep, they are achingly sweet and serene.

      But late at night, when the ticking of my great-grandfather’s clock is the only sound we hear, when sleep is the priority for everyone in our inter-special family, these angeli belli—beautiful angels—will show themselves to be devils in disguise. They’ll come alive with fangs and horns and devil tails dragging menacingly behind them. They’ll slide quietly across the hardwood floors in search of the darkest corners in which to hide. And then they’ll wait, together—quietly, patiently…the way a spider waits in a web—until one of our poor old tabby cats walks by. The screams will split the still of the night, waking up whole neighborhoods, probably even in Ohio. The ensuing fight will be brief but bitter, with spitting and hissing and clawing. There will be great noise. And saliva, lots of saliva. But it will end quickly. In seconds, the hapless victim will jump out of harm’s way, up high onto the back of a sofa or a tabletop, where the flaccid back legs of the devil cats can’t take them.

      A human will roll out of bed and spew harsh words in the direction of the devil cats. And they will stare back, eyes wide with innocence. “Who, me?” ask the angeli belli. Tufts of tabby-cat hair nearby will be the only evidence of their evil deeds.

      Back the human will go to the still-warm bed. And back the devil cats will slide, quietly, soundlessly, to the darkest corners of the night, looking for trouble where only calm should be. By morning’s light, they’ll be asleep on the bed, wrapped in the soft comfort of the other’s embrace. Angeli belli once more.

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This Joint Ain’t Jumpin’

Sunday, June 1st, 2014

newsletter_june_2014

 

5 Tips for Healthy Joints

by Amy Reichert, RVT, CCRA (pending)

JOINTSEveryone’s seen older dogs who get squatty in the back end, brought on by weak rear legs. Age takes its toll on all of us, canine and human, but you can do some things now to keep your dog’s legs and joints strong and healthy as he ages.

 

ramp1. Ramp It Up
Jumping off the bed or out of the car, especially SUVs, can be stressful on your dog’s front end, particularly her elbows, and jumping up onto the bed or into the car can be hard on the spine and hips. Teaching your dog to use a ramp or steps to access beds or cars can reduce this impact on her joints.

2. Pop A Pill
pillThere are many supplements available today to help keep dog joints healthy and lubricated. Omega 3 fatty acids can regulate and reduce inflammation associated with arthritis; glucosamine and chondroitin help your dog’s body maintain healthy cartilage by replacing injured cartilage cells. Starting joint health supplements at any time in your dog’s life will likely benefit your pooch, but studies show it’s best to start these when your dog is young—even before he develops problems. While these nutraceuticals are generally regarded as safe, it’s always best to check with your veterinarian before adding any new supplements to your dog’s diet so she can help you determine the proper dosage.

lean3. Keep Her Lean
It’s no secret maintaining a healthy weight is beneficial to your dog’s overall health. Excess weight on your dog’s frame can significantly increase wear and tear on joints, causing them to develop arthritis. If it’s hard to maintain a healthy weight on your dog, ask your veterinarian (or even a veterinary nutritionist) to help you find an appropriate diet and exercise plan—and to rule out any medical reasons for excess weight gain.

4. Four on the Floor
rugHardwood and tile floors are easy to keep clean when you have pets. But these slick surfaces can be danger zones for dogs, especially those who are old or who zip around the house. Their feet can slip out from under them, they can slam into walls and doors, even fall down the stairs if unable to stop in time. Throw rugs and yoga mats can give your dog the traction she needs to stay on her feet, and they’ll help reduce the impact on joints from repeated falls.

5. Look Before You Leap
leapIs your dog a potential canine athlete? There are no shortage of sports you and your dog can enjoy together, but remember not every breed is suited to every sport. A Mastiff, for instance, might not be right for the fast-paced sport of flyball, but he may excel in weight pulling or carting. Before you start, research the sport to see if it works for your pet, then get involved with a local club dedicated to the sport to learn how to train your dog safely. Even if you don’t plan on competing in formal venues, it’s important to learn proper form for your dog to ensure you’re not causing undue stress and injury to his joints. Should you choose to train at the competitive level in the high impact sports, such as agility or flyball, have your veterinarian examine your dog before you start to rule out any medical issues that might impact his ability to safely compete.

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Patient of the Month: Lucky Z!

luckyPlagued by bad joints since he was a puppy, Lucky is our longest term patient. We’re thrilled to have had a hand in helping him move and feel better over the years. This month, we asked Lucky’s mom to share some favorite memories with us as we celebrate his seventh year with Scout’s House.

If Lucky could trade places with any other animal for a day, what would he be and why?

Gazelle… Lucky has never been very graceful or athletic even when I got him at 7 months – in hindsight I’m sure this was due to his hip issues – so I think once in his life, he would love to be able to run like the wind without a care in sight.

What is Lucky’s favorite thing to do during the week?

He loves to sit out in front of the house and watch the world go by… It’s even better when the various neighborhood dogs come over for a visit!

If Lucky could talk, what would he say is his favorite part about coming to Scout’s House?

Lucky loves seeing all his friends at Scout’s House… He’s known some of them almost half his life… And of course, getting fed snacks throughout his visit is a pretty nice treat.

Favorite memory of Lucky?

I have so many memories of his unbridled exuberance/playing/wrestling with his dog friends at various parks and beaches around the area that it’s hard to pick… And watching him open presents is a special treat – he seems to know which gifts are for him and gets so excited he appears to almost hyper-ventilate as he tears through wrapping paper and sticks his face into gift bags to hopefully pull out a stuffed animal that “talks,” which he then chomps so hard, he breaks the noise mechanism – usually within seconds… And then he rests with the most contented look on his face as if to say “my work is done”!

What are Lucky’s therapists saying about him?

Amy says she never has to wonder which holiday is coming up because Lucky always has a special collar to celebrate the holiday or season. Krista’s favorite moments with Lucky are when he slaps the water in the hydrotreadmill with his front paws to let us know that he is ready for another cookie! Alisa says Lucky’s happy smile is just what she needs to brighten her day on a rainy Saturday morning.

A few final words from Lucky’s mom:

Special thanks to everyone at Scout’s House for helping Lucky make it to 13 1/2 (so far)… not many big dogs live this long, especially big dogs with his type of mobility issues, and I’m sure his continuing visits to Scout’s House over the years, since his first ACL surgery, have helped improve the quality and longevity of his life.

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Liver Lover Dog Cookies

recipeThese treats won’t win any beauty contests, but dogs love them! Bake them on parchment paper for easy clean-up.

1 lb. raw liver (beef or chicken), blended into a smooth paste
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup flour
1/2 cup corn meal
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon oregano

Preheat oven to 350°. Mix all ingredients well in a large bowl. Drop a half of a teaspoon of batter onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 30 minutes (for chewy treats) or 45 minutes (for crispier treats).

Makes 30 treats. 52 calories per treat, 1g total fat, 63mg cholesterol, 33mg sodium, 66mg potassium, 5.8g total carbohydrates, 4.8g protein.

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Living In Tension

by Lisa Stahr

tensionAs I write, two male cats are nestling up against my hip, jockeying for the closest position to my body. Whether that’s out of love for me or a cat’s predisposition to find the warmest spot possible, I can’t say. I like to think it’s the former, but I’ve lived with cats long enough to know it’s probably the latter.

Having sorted out their sleeping arrangement, the boys are now cleaning each other, tenderly and with great care. There is such affection in how they bathe one other; it’s touching to watch. I’ve seen this show before and I know that soon one will tuck his head into the soft folds of his brother’s neck and both will slide off into another deep and satisfying hour of sleep

These two our are youngest cats, 7 and 2 years old, and they are connected in a way I’ve never seen with any of my animals. While the Internet may be peppered with photos of cats entwined in one another’s embrace, none of our cats have ever even come close to that level of affection for each other. A passing tolerance is all we can hope for and sometimes, oftentimes, we don’t even get that.

But G and Moto are different. Maybe they bonded over their mutual disability—both are paralyzed in their rear legs—or maybe their personal qualities just speak to something in the other. But bonded they are—truly, madly, deeply.

Friends and family ooh and ahh over how adorable they look cuddled together in one cat bed, feckless hind legs poking out this way and that. And even I have to admit, watching them sleep, they are achingly sweet and serene.

But late at night, when the ticking of my great-grandfather’s clock is the only sound we hear, when sleep is the priority for everyone in our inter-special family, these angeli belli—beautiful angels—will show themselves to be devils in disguise. They’ll come alive with fangs and horns and devil tails dragging menacingly behind them. They’ll slide quietly across the hardwood floors in search of the darkest corners in which to hide. And then they’ll wait, together—quietly, patiently…the way a spider waits in a web—until one of our poor old tabby cats walks by. The screams will split the still of the night, waking up whole neighborhoods, probably even in Ohio. The ensuing fight will be brief but bitter, with spitting and hissing and clawing. There will be great noise. And saliva, lots of saliva. But it will end quickly. In seconds, the hapless victim will jump out of harm’s way, up high onto the back of a sofa or a tabletop, where the flaccid back legs of the devil cats can’t take them.

A human will roll out of bed and spew harsh words in the direction of the devil cats. And they will stare back, eyes wide with innocence. “Who, me?” ask the angeli belli. Tufts of tabby-cat hair nearby will be the only evidence of their evil deeds.

Back the human will go to the still-warm bed. And back the devil cats will slide, quietly, soundlessly, to the darkest corners of the night, looking for trouble where only calm should be. By morning’s light, they’ll be asleep on the bed, wrapped in the soft comfort of the other’s embrace. Angeli belli once more.

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Neuroplasticity: Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks

Thursday, May 1st, 2014

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heart_glyphDirector of Rehab Therapy Krista Niebaum recently completed a comprehensive primer on how rehab therapy can be used to help animals with neurological impairments. Today we’re sharing a section on neuroplasticity and how rehab therapists can take advantage of it to help a pet combat neurological disease or injury.

neuro-01In the past, it was widely believed that every animal—human, canine, or otherwise—was born with a “hardwired” central nervous system (brain and spinal cord). If damage occurred to any part, it was thought, there was no ability for the system to repair itself or to regain the corresponding function. Sadly, the loss would be permanent. Because of this, physical rehabilitation focused on developing compensatory techniques, either through altering the body movements used to complete a task or by using adaptive equipment.

More recently, though, research has shown that the nervous system has a capability to “relearn” and reorganize itself in response to experience and the environment—meaning, it’s somewhat “plastic.” Much like a person learning a new skill (such as a new swim stroke), the nervous system can be “taught” through specific training to again perform a function that has been affected by injury.

But “sloppy” practice can lead to “sloppy” learning. That’s why rehab therapists must consider neuroplasticity during every therapy session. By carefully assessing the animal’s status and monitoring his/her recovery at each session, the therapy team can determine the appropriate therapeutic activities to use to best challenge the healing nervous system and to encourage further functional recovery.

The Guardian’s Role

As rehab therapists, it’s also our job to give appropriate guidance to pet owners so that correct movement patterns are performed—and to ensure that compensatory movements are avoided. Because the animal patient typically spends far more time at home with the “human parent” than in the clinic with the therapy team—and because healing and learning are occurring constantly and not just while the pet’s in a therapy session—owners need sufficient training and education to maximize continuity of care and achieve therapy goals.

For the best possible outcome, the owner should be given information about the pet’s diagnosis, the expected stages of healing, as well as situations that should prompt follow up with a veterinarian and/or specialist. Owners should also be given thorough instruction on how to assist the pet throughout the day, possibly including anything from proper positioning and bowel/bladder care to how to assist the pet while walking and how to modify the home to make life easier and safer for the pet. Finally, owners should be given “homework” to perform outside of treatment sessions. Referred to as the Home Exercise Program (HEP), this typically complements what occurs during the patient’s sessions and promotes continued progress between sessions. While enabling an owner to take an active role in her/his pet’s recovery, the HEP—and the manner in which it’s implemented—can make a huge difference in the pet’s progress.

Together, neuroplasticity, rehab therapy, and a well executed Home Exercise Program can afford your pet the best possible outcome from neurological injury or disease.

 

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COOL TIP: Ice is Nice!

iceA great way to help your pet feel better, ice can relieve pain and reduce swelling, especially if used immediately after an injury, and reduce soreness after overuse. It may also help speed healing of muscle tears and strained tendons. And, if used consistently, ice may keep a chronic problem from getting worse, and it may decrease the need for anti-inflammatory and pain medications (but talk to your veterinarian before making any medication changes).

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DIY: A bag of frozen peas makes a great ice pack if you don’t have a gel pack handy. Or make your own“slush ice” by mixing 1 part water with 2 parts rubbing alcohol and freezing it in double-layered, zippered plastic bags. Always wrap the ice bag in a towel or pillowcase to prevent burns, and be careful not to let an area that’s bony, has decreased sensation, or is covered by a thin hair coat get too cold while icing. For best results, ice about 5-7 minutes, 2-3 times a day, allowing the area to return to body temperature between icings.

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A Little Less to Love About Jolly

before-afterby Amy Reichert RVT, CCRA-pending

When we first met Jolly, she couldn’t walk for more than ten minutes without getting sore due to pain in her tarsal, or ankle, joints. Her inability to participate in everyday activities led to a more sedentary life and with that came extra weight. Unfortunately for Jolly, the added pressure on her joints further contributed to her discomfort and decreased mobility. Her prognosis was guarded, some even said she might not live to see her third birthday. Jolly’s owners came to Scout’s House with the hope of improving her mobility and quality of life. They were determined to help her lose the weight and help her live a full and active life. With hydrotherapy, laser treatments, pulsed magnetic therapy, and a strict diet, Jolly has made huge strides in achieving these goals.

Her owners have been diligent in following the Home Exercise Program to supplement her regular rehab appointments and, as a result, Jolly has lost over 15 pounds (so far!) and her quality of life has surpassed expectations. Now, she’s able to keep up with the other dogs in the household on walks and will even chase her basketball in the backyard all afternoon, given the opportunity. She still has some work ahead of her, but she celebrated her third birthday in November and we hope to help her celebrate many more.

There’s a LOT to love about Jolly, but now there’s just a little bit less of her to love, and everyone’s just fine with that.

Dog Saved by New Procedure after Eating Death Cap Mushrooms

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

A new procedure that drains toxins from the gallbladder has saved the life of a dog who ate death cap mushrooms.  Share this link with your friends and veterinarian to spread the word.

Big Changes Ahead at Scout’s House

Sunday, July 1st, 2012

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Scout’s House was founded on the belief that animals deserve the same cutting-edge medical services—and the same standards of care—that humans do.  That basic tenet has guided every decision we’ve made these last seven years and has allowed us to provide the highest quality of rehabilitative care to your pets.

red_textIn keeping with that principle, we’re happy, excited, and proud to announce our new partnership with West Coast Veterinary Surgical, an innovative veterinary surgical practice now opening in Palo Alto.

Headed by Dean Filipowicz, DVM, MS, DACVS, West Coast Veterinary Surgical, Inc. is a full-service veterinary surgical practice offering orthopedic, neurologic, oncologic, soft tissue, and reconstructive procedures, as well as emergency and post-trauma surgery.

A state-of-the-art practice, West Coast recognizes the critical role rehab therapy can play in ensuring the best possible outcome for your dog or cat after surgery.  Which is why West Coast patients will receive five sessions of rehab therapy after every surgery in which rehab is indicated—at no additional cost.  And thanks to our partnership, you’ll also save the cost of an initial exam at Scout’s House before starting therapy (an additional $200 savings).

BENEFITS OF REHAB AFTER SURGERY

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Just as with humans, physical rehab therapy can help animals recover more quickly and more completely after surgery.

Studies have suggested, for example, that dogs who have TPLO surgery for torn cranial cruciate ligaments (CCLs) heal dramatically faster with rehab therapy than without (Sherman et al). And because rehab therapy helps dogs heal more quickly from CCL repair surgeries—and because rehab strengthens muscle groups in both the affected leg and the other leg—it’s theorized there’s a smaller chance of the dog rupturing the CCL in the other knee when rehab therapy follows surgery.

PARTNERS IN YOUR PET’S RECOVERY
Working together, Scout’s House and West Coast will be your partners in your pet’s recovery.

Our goal is to ensure that your pet heals as quickly, as correctly, and as comfortably as possible, and we’ll do that by:

  • creating a disciplined convalescence plan that’s custom-tailored to your pet’s needs;
  • seeing your pet regularly to ensure the best possible outcome while decreasing the risk of complications;
  • regularly conferring on all cases, including sharing information through phone calls, photographs, and videos if complications do arise, and referring back for rechecks, as needed;
  • keeping your family veterinarian involved in all aspects of your pet’s case, from initial consultation through the healing process;
  • guiding you through every step of the recovery process, from being accessible and available to answer all of your questions to showing you how to perform simple Home Exercises to hasten your pet’s healing.

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About West Coast Veterinary Surgical

1206_dr_deanTHE MAN BEHIND WCVS
Dr. Dean Filipowicz is a Board-certified diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons.  He received his doctorate from the University of California at Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, and he completed an academic internship and residency in small animal surgery at Virginia Tech, where he also earned a Master’s degree in veterinary sciences.  Dr. Filipowicz served as a clinical instructor at Virginia Tech before moving to the Bay Area in 2008, where he became the main surgeon for a large veterinary specialty practice.  During this time, he also established the surgical department for Veterinary Specialty Services in Fresno, a leading specialty practice in central California.

In addition to his work as a veterinary surgeon, Dr. Filipowicz contributes to the expanding body of knowledge in veterinary medicine by publishing papers in trade journals, co-authoring chapters in books on veterinary surgery, and speaking at veterinary conventions and symposiums.

Dr. Filipowicz has special interests in minimally invasive surgery, fracture management, reconstructive and oncologic surgery, and sports medicine.

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Why Use A Board-certified Surgeon?

droppedImageIf you had knee surgery, would you want your general practitioner to perform the surgery or an orthopedic surgeon?  The answer, almost always, is the latter.  And that’s exactly what you should expect for your pet.

A veterinarian who is board-certified in surgery has successfully completed the rigorous certification requirements set by the American College of Veterinary Surgeons (ACVS), training that regular veterinarians do not receive.

According to the ACVS, these requirements include:

A one-year rotating internship and a three-year surgical residency program. During the closely supervised residency program, the resident works with recognized board certified specialists to acquire additional knowledge and skill in veterinary surgery. The resident must also demonstrate a commitment to contributing to the scientific literature and maintaining a moral and ethical standing in the veterinary profession. Following the residency program, veterinarians must pass a rigorous examination, consisting of written, case-based and practical portions, to be considered a specialist in surgery. An ACVS board certified specialist in veterinary surgery is also referred to as “ACVS Diplomates.”

Although all veterinarians can do surgeries, using a board-certified veterinary surgeon ensures the best possible outcome for your pet—with the potential for fewer complications.

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Common Surgical Procedures Performed by West Coast

Tracheal stenting for severe collapse

Tracheal stenting for severe collapse

Orthopedic procedures:

  • Hip surgery for dysplasia, such as TPO, JPS, FHO, and total hip replacement in 
special circumstances
  • Stifle surgery for cruciate tears including TPLO, TTA, Tightrope, and Extracapsular 
stabilization techniques
  • Fracture management, either traditional open reduction with internal fixation (ORIF), 
external fixation (Ex-Fix), or minimally invasive plate osteosynthesis (MIPO)
  • Joint exploratories
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    Deranged stifle & comminuted, open tibial fx

    Osteochondral autograph transfer system (OATS) for cartilage lesions

  • Arthrodesis
  • Amputations

Neurological Procedures:

  • Hemilaminectomy for intervertebral disc disease (IVDD)
  • Ventral slot for disc disease of the neck
  • Dorsal laminectomy for lumbosacral disease

Soft Tissue Procedures:

  • Head and neck surgery, such as correction of brachycephalic syndrome in pugs, 
bulldogs, etc., ear canal ablations (TECA-BO) for end stage ear disease, sialocele correction
  • Thoracic surgery such as correction of PDA, PRAA, pericardectomy
  • Abdominal surgery such as gall bladder removal, liver lobe resection, spleen
removal

Oncologic Procedures:

  • Mass resection +/- skin reconstruction
  • Radical mastectomy
  • Anal sacculectomy

Reconstructive Procedures and Wound Management:

  • Pedicle flaps, free tissue grafts
  • Vacuum-assisted closure

Minimally Invasive Procedures:

  • Thoracoscopy
  • Laparoscopy
  • Arthroscopy
  • Stenting (tracheal, urethral)