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Management and treatment options for canine osteo-arthritis


Tips for maintaining an animal’s weight Shelters and rescues a benefit to animals in need

Fast facts about heartworm disease

Vetrax A Fitbit for Fido!

CONTENT Published and distributed by the Altoona Mirror 301 Cayuga Ave., Altoona, PA 16602 www.altoonamirror.com

4  Vetrax – A Fitbit for Fido! 6  Springer Spaniels to the

Publisher Edward W. Kruger General Manager Raymond M. Eckenrode Advertising Sales Manager Tracy Brooks 814-949-7021 tbrooks@altoonamirror.com


Food banks equipped to help pet parents

9  Heaven Scent Search and Rescue always answers the call

Events Marketing Manager Candance Holliday 814-946-7542 cholliday@altoonamirror.com Editor Amy J. Hanna-Eckenrode 814-946-7469 ahanna@altoonamirrror.com Layout and Design Nick Anna

Central PA Pets magazine is published by the Altoona Mirror. Copyright 2018 Altoona Mirror.  All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or part without permission is prohibited.

4 2 • FALL | WINTER 2018


10  Dealing and healing after 12

the loss of a beloved pet

Animal wellness goes beyond vet visits


Shelters and rescues a benefit to animals in need



16 18

Tips for maintaining an animal’s weight

Management and treatment options for canine osteo-arthritis 19  Because we all matter 20  Fast facts about heartworm disease

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FALL | WINTER 2018 • 3

Vetrax – A Fitbit for Fido! Dr. Maureen Rankin Central PA Pets


any of us are familiar with Fitbit, the popular wearable technology used for tracking exercise and other parameters. The ability to track our own health using technology has helped motivate and remind us to take care of ourselves. Recently, a wearable product called Vetrax has become available to veterinarians as a new tool to help monitor canine patients with the aim of improving health outcomes. This new technology comes with convenient set-up, dog-friendly features, and best of all, provides useful information about your dog’s behavior to help you keep Fido healthy. Just like Fitbit, Vetrax uses Wi-Fi and a downloadable app on your phone to provide real-time information on what behaviors your dog is exhibiting. Setting it up can be as easy as downloading the app, connecting it to your Wi-Fi network, and attaching it to your dog’s collar. Vetrax has pet-friendly features such as being water-resistant, having a long battery life (1-2 weeks) and the ability to withstand temperatures ranging from 32F to over 100F. Vetrax has five parameters it measures twenty-four hours a day: resting, walking, running, shaking and scratching. From these parameters Vetrax also provides information on your pet’s total activity as well as sleep quality. In the Vetrax app, you can set daily goals for each parameter, and both you and your veterinarian can monitor daily, weekly and monthly trends. There is even a journal feature, where you can save important health information about your pet (i.e. appetite, weight, medications, etc.) To some people, this may sound somewhat mundane (yeah, yeah, I see my dog do all of these things every day!) but to a veterinarian it’s a total gold mine! Since our patients cannot speak, Vetrax can speak for them, especially in situations when an owner cannot be home all the time to monitor

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their dog’s behavior. For example, if you have an anxious dog that paces around the house all day while you are gone, your vet may prescribe a medication for separation anxiety. You can use Vetrax to monitor the “walking” parameter to be sure that the medication is effective. If your pet is responding well to treatment, you would see the walking parameter decrease, and the resting parameter increase. Another common example would be itching. If your dog has allergies, you can use Vetrax to determine if your dog is spending more time scratching or shaking during the time you are gone. This information could lead to more prompt treatment. In addition,

you can also use Vetrax to monitor your dog’s response to your veterinarians recommended allergy treatment. These are just a few examples of how Vetrax can improve our ability to monitor our dog’s health, but there are many more! Vetrax can open a window into the lives of our dogs that ultimately may lead to healthier, happier, and longer lives. Dr. Maureen Rankin obtained her veterinary degree from The Ohio State University and is a veterinarian at Town & Country Animal Hospital. Town and Country is a full service veterinary practice located in Warriors Mark, PA.


Dr. John R. Walter, Jr. has been providing companion animal veterinary services in the Tyrone area for 35 years. He joined Tyrone Veterinary Associates after graduating from The School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in 1983. Dr. Walter purchased the current practice in 1994. Office hours are provided Monday through Saturday by appointment. Dr. Walter and his staff welcome new clients, and thank all their current clients for 35 years of allowing us to provide your pet’s veterinary care.

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Springer Spaniels to the rescue Prince

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By Jill Brubaker Reigh Central PA Pets


hat is it about an English Springer Spaniel that makes humans fall in love with them? Maybe it’s their curly haired ears, Olympic level swimming talent or their innate ability to know when we need some love. Whatever the reason, springers have a loyal following. Rescuing English Springer Spaniels is the primary focus of the Mid-Atlantic English Springer Spaniel Rescue (MAESSR). Based in Goochland, VA, where president Debbie Lipcsey lives, this 501(c)3 nonprofit is run over the internet and telephone by various teams. Their focus is rescuing purebred springer spaniels. They also accept mixed springer spaniels, other varieties of spaniels in need, and occasionally

completely different breeds. According to their website, www. maessr.org, all of the dogs in their care (except puppies) are spayed/neutered, microchipped, brought up-to-date on vaccines, HW tested, fecal tested and treated for any ailments found during the vet check, housetrained and given basic manners training before becoming available for adoption. Currently, 798 volunteers from across the Mid-Atlantic work to find good homes for the Springers. In Altoona, Cathy Moyer discovered MAESSR through Petfinder after her springer died and she began her search to adopt another. She found Prince, the typical “velcro” springer, who loved his tennis balls and would carry one around wherever he went.  He could entertain himself by tossing the ball and chasing it again and again in the



es by Servic ent tm in o app ONLY

For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 814-695-8478 or request one online at Blairvet.com. Kelly at the Central PA Pet Expo backyard. “Prince attended Central PA Pets Expo from 2012 to 2016 and was a consummate ambassador for the rescue group,” Cathy said. “Over the years he greeted thousands of people with a smile and his wiggle-butt. Prince saw thirty-three fosters come into the home and handled it like a champ although some fosters weren’t as easy for him to handle or accept.  As long as they didn’t try to swipe his ball, it all worked out in the end.” Though she has had many successes as a volunteer, one of her favorite fosters was Kelly, a springer/lab mix who came to MAESSR when his elderly owner couldn’t take him with her to a retirement facility. Kelly was ten years old and the sweetest boy. He was very gentle when playing with her pup. Kelly loved going for walks and was always on patrol for wild critters in the backyard. He killed one possum and three groundhogs who

made the mistake of ignoring the fence. Kelly went to a Central PA Pets Expo and had some folks interested in him. It took time, but Kelly finally found the perfect lady to adopt him in Virginia. Cathy said they have been very happy together, and it seemed meant to be for both of them. Cathy also does transport, writes MAESSR’s Weekly Update, and manages the MAESSR lending library which is available to the general public. They can always use volunteers to occasionally transport dogs in Central PA. She said, “There aren’t a lot of volunteers between Harrisburg and Pittsburgh so sometimes we need people to transport from Bedford down into Maryland or to Somerset or sometimes a little closer to Altoona or State College.” For more information visit www.maessr.org/traininglibrary.aspx or the Facebook page www.facebook.com/maessr.org

We at Blair Animal Hospital look forward to having you as part of our veterinary family.

1308 3rd Ave., Duncansville Blairvet.com • 814-695-8478

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Food banks equipped to help pet parents Old Mother Hubbard Went to the cupboard, To give the poor dog a bone; But when she got there The cupboard was bare, And so the poor dog had none. - Sarah Catherine Martin Amy J. Hanna-Eckenrode Central PA Pets


magine not having enough food in your home to feed yourself or your family. One in eight Americans struggle to get enough to eat every day — that’s 41 million people who wonder where their next meal is coming from. Now imagine having a pet on top of that worry. Certainly, if you can’t afford to feed yourself you can’t afford food for your dog or cat. Thanks to caring volunteers some food banks are now equipped to help pets and pet parents in need. Pet food pantries are becoming more prevalent as the need to provide pet food for pet owners who cannot afford it on their own increases. They exist to serve low-income families, elderly, homeless community members and all of those who have fallen on hard times for whatever reason. While there are not nearly as many pet food banks as “people” food banks, they do exist if you do your research. One of the largest and most successful pet food pantries in the area is at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 335 Locust St., in downtown Johnstown.

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Pantry coordinator Cynthia Greig said the animal welfare ministry was started about seven years ago and has been steadily serving an increasing number of families in need from across Cambria and Somerset Counties. However, she notes “We have people who come from all over.” The pantry is open two days a month (on a Wednesday and Thursday) from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Recipients are asked to show a photo ID and proof of income, Access Card or Social Security. The pantry does suggest a dollar donation to help defray costs. Donations for the pantry come from all over, according to Greig. “We have our regular contributors from as far away as North Carolina and Michigan, as well as, our more local donors,” she says. “We also hold a Thanksgiving food drive each year to help replenish our supplies.” While donations of food are very welcome, monetary donations help to keep the pantry going, said Greig. It allows the volunteers to buy the product they need most while working with area stores who often provide products or discounts to the pantry. Like most organizations, the need for volunteers is even greater than the need for contributions. “We are always in need of volunteers to help pack food. Even if a person can help out once or twice a month, the help goes a long way.” Greig says. For more information on the pet food pantry or to help volunteer you can call Cynthia Greig at 255-2504. Two other pet food pantries also exist in Blair and Centre Counties.

St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, 8th Ave. and 13th St., Altoona, runs a food pantry under the Central PA Food Bank and is open the fourth Thursday of each month. According to organizers the pantry continues to see a steady increase of families in need. Many of the pet food donations actually come from the Central PA Humane Society or other organizations and individuals. Recipients are asked to show a photo ID and a utility bill or some proof of residency. St. Luke’s Pet Food Pantry can be contacted at 942-1372. The FaithCentre Food Bank, located at 110 W. High St., Bellefonte, is open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1 to 6 p.m. They distribute pet food in State College at St. Andrews Episcopal Church on Thursdays from 9 to 11am. According to the Faithcentre.info/foodbanks website, Centre Hall Food Bank and Millheim Food Bank also receive cat and dog food from the FaithCentre Pet Food Pantry. For more information on the Centre County services of FalthCentre, contact 355-4400. All pet food pantries, despite location are always in need of donations and volunteers. “We may have one chief,” says Greig, “but it takes a lot of Indians to make the pet food pantry work. We are so grateful for the work of our volunteers and are always in need of helping hands.”


Heaven Scent Search and Rescue always answers the call By Jill Brubaker Reigh Central PA Pets


zra means “help” in Hebrew. At just three months old, Ezra, a liver and tan bloodhound, has begun training to be a search and rescue dog. She is the fifth bloodhound Dianne Thees of Heaven Scent Search and Rescue has trained. Boaz, which means “strength within him,” is Ezra’s half-brother. Born just five days after Ezra, Boaz too has begun training in search and rescue. He is a black and tan bloodhound. Dianne Thees is fascinated with the bloodhound breed. Diane said, “I believe that when their [bloodhounds] natural ability is cultivated and honed, they can be an amazing contribution in helping to locate the lost, missing or wanted”. For nearly twenty years, Dianne has been training and handling bloodhounds. Her husband, Mike, has been training bloodhounds for nearly a decade, following years as a firefighter, water rescue, including scuba diving search and rescue and as an EMT. Together, Dianne and Mike take calls from 911 centers, fire departments, emergency management agencies, along with both local and state police who need their search and rescue skilled bloodhounds. These calls can be anytime day or night, weekends, holidays and during their workday. Yes, they both have fulltime jobs. Fortunately, Dianne said, “Both our employers are very supportive of the service we provide and permit us to serve our local community and beyond.” When you talk to Dianne, you can hear the passion exude about her love of bloodhounds and their skills at search and rescue. The missing person may be a teenager with autism. The search subject may also be a suspected criminal. Regardless, Heaven Scent’s bloodhounds will answer the call. Heaven Scent Search and Rescue work together as a team. The dogs are taught as young pups to scent discriminate, meaning that they only look for that one scent they have been given and to ignore all other scents. Only when the dog is performing a training exercises do the bloodhounds wear a harness. This signals the dog to mentally switch to the job at hand. The harness is attached to a long lead leash and wherever the dog’s nose leads him, the handler follows. Bloodhounds should never follow a scent trail off leash because they become so dominated by their nose they are blind to hazards, risking


injury or death. Socialization with a variety of people, along with exposure to varied sounds and situations is also fundamental to the bloodhound’s successful training. This takes an inordinate level of dedication by their human handler. Dianne and Mike constantly train and share their knowledge by conducting weekend-long training sessions for other handlers. Training for real-life search and rescue cannot be done just in a controlled environment classroom. According to Dianne, “You have to get out in the elements and train, train, train. Ideally, a new handler needs to have an experienced mentor who understands, knows, owned, and trained the bloodhound breed.” She recommends that the team meet and train with other bloodhound teams and attend weeklong training seminars with other bloodhound teams. She notes that trailing is different than tracking. Trailing is the discipline of the dog going where the scent has traveled which is affected by terrain, weather and other environmental conditions. Bloodhounds can follow a scent trail for miles. Belle, one of Heaven Scent’s dogs, helped find an autistic teenager this spring. The teen had an eight hour start, yet Belle followed the trail for eight miles from her residence to a Walmart, where she went into the store, then back out and continued to walk to the downtown area, where she was found. Because of the large number of individuals in a search, the dog does not always get to “walk up find” the missing person, and that’s okay. It is a team effort and they all work together for a common cause. Most of us just read or hear about these incredible situations. For Dianne and Mike, Heaven Scent Search and Rescue is not a hobby; it is a lifestyle. The majority of their expenses, from vet bills to fuel costs traveling to answer calls throughout Central Pennsylvania, are absorbed by them personally. They use vacation time to respond to search efforts, to attend seminars and to conduct training programs. The emergency and law enforcement units that ask for their help do not reimburse Heaven Scent. Donations to Heaven Scent are always graciously accepted. They welcome business sponsorships to help offset the cost of food, veterinarian care and other expenses. Individual donations can be mailed to 2206 Adams Ave., Tyrone, PA 16686.



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Dealing and healing after the loss of a beloved pet By Amy J. Hanna Eckenrode Central PA Pets


hen we commit to loving a pet, we most often have to deal with the loss of our companion at some

point. Recently, I received a note from two of my readers who experienced the loss of their pet due to a medical condition. The husband has taken the loss very hard because he was so attached to their pet. His wife was struggling to find ways to help him cope. I, too, have experienced both human loss and pet loss and have felt levels of inconsolable grief with both and experienced a great range of emotions before any amount of time began to heal the heartache of each. Whether it involves the loss of a human or a pet, grief can be unbearable. We search for ways to deal and ways to heal. Because pets love us unconditionally and are dependent on us much like a child, the loss of one can spur the strongest of emotions. You can and will experience stages of grief with a pet, the same as you do with a human. Depending on each person who is attempting to cope with loss, there are many ways in which to try and come to terms with the great void our loved one has left behind. One thing experts agree on is to not try to bury your grief. Finding ways to express your grief is important and vary from person to person. There are emotional responses, such as talking to someone who understands your loss, and behavioral responses, like making a scrapbook in memory of your pet. In addition to making sure you’re eating right and exercising, I like the idea of con-

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necting with others who understand pet loss. It lessens isolation and negative judgment. Join a support group such as Rainbow Bridge online to connect with others who have recently experienced pet loss or are still coping. Don’t try to compare your grief with others. Everyone copes in his or her own way. Also, realizing the guilt you may feel is irrational especially after losing a pet to an illness or accident is a normal part of the bereavement process. Perhaps memorializing your fur baby will best offer a way to cope. Whether through cremation or burial, there are pet cemeteries where you can visit your best friend long after they have passed. I have always had my pets cremated and had their ashes returned to me in a decorative box that I could keep close by. Again, every approach is personal and unique to each person. Write and submit an obituary to your local paper or create a photo album or book in memory of your pet. Some people have jewelry made to memorialize their pet while others use a bit of the pet’s ashes in a piece of jewelry. These keepsakes help keep your memories close to your heart. Take brief journeys to some of your pet’s favorite spots or volunteer at a local rescue or shelter. Doing something for others is often times some of the best therapeutic medicine. Once it took me months to consider adopting again. Another time, I adopted almost immediately after my loss. Each pet

is special and his or her loss causes you to behave differently. Adopting another pet is not being disloyal to your pet. There are so many homeless pets looking for a forever home, that you can be sure your fur baby would be pleased you were able to open your heart to help another pet in need. All in time. Don’t be hesitant to seek out professional counseling if you’re not making any headway on your own in due time. There is no time frame when it comes to grief. Everyone has his or her own clock. But, if you just can’t seem to dig your way out of the doldrums, perhaps it’s time to call on a professional for some guidance. “There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love.” — Washington Irving

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Animal wellness goes beyond vet visits By Megan Stanton Central PA Pets


t times I wonder how I got so lucky. I take care of dogs for a living. Big, old, young, small, and sometimes world-famous record setting frisbee dogs. I’m excited to share with you my personal and professional experience working with canine athletes. I hope I can inspire and educate you about the highly therapeutic benefits of massage and stretching before and after activity, as well as sharing a few laughs along the way. Animal wellness is vastly underrated — think beyond your basic yearly visits to the vet. We forget that our bodies work as a system and should be treated as such. If we are not considering daily decisions we make for our pets — like diet, exercise, proper body management, and enrichment — we are really missing the mark for helping our pets thrive during their short times with us in this life. Let me just throw this out there, Mr. Bonez is my favorite Disc-Connected K9 team member. You know what I mean. When you just vibe with an animal, you feel it deep in your soul. So for all intents and purposes, I’m going to talk about him the most. The dude is a beast and three-time world frisbee finalist at just 6 years old. He is one of the 16 dogs on the team who were either rescued, abandoned, fostered, sheltered, or kicked to the curb. People gave up on them and in some situations shouldn’t have gotten a dog that didn’t remotely fit their lifestyle.



The Disc-Connected K9’s are a haven for misunderstood and misplaced dogs. They are given training, guidance, an outlet for their drive, but most importantly love and understanding. Each and every one of them have their own personalities and needs. Take Ricochet for example, a Mini Aussie who was being “sold” in front of a Walmart. The girl is opinionated to say the least and most definitely runs the roost. These dogs love what they do and we love ensuring they get to do it every day. With that comes risks like injury, fatigue, and tightness. They depend on us to do everything we can to ensure their wellness is considered every step of the way. Sport massage and stretching is not exclusive to world-class athletes. Even your companion dogs can benefit after a hike or game of fetch. Animals hide so much discomfort, it’s part of survival, so at times you may not even know something is wrong. It’s important we get in there and assess things more thoroughly. But, before you do, I must insist you consult with a professional, like myself, that specializes in the subject. At the very least properly educate yourself thoroughly before diving into anything. Pre-event massage, stretching, and warm up can prepare muscles to achieve greater range of motion. This greatly decreases the probability of injury, fatigue, and lameness. Post-event it can help aid in recovery by boosting circulation, tension, and rest. Let’s not forget the bond you experi-

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ence when working so intimately with your dog. Mars Rover is a dog who very obviously thoroughly enjoys being massaged and stretched. He would come over to me soliciting it after playing. We would look lovingly into each other’s eyes, silently sharing the happiness we both felt. Him for just playing his favorite game of frisbee and me for knowing how content he is with the life he has now. He was adopted by Lawrence Frederick because his owners were moving and couldn’t take him with them. Mars Rover has been to the world championships 7 times and is the former world record holder for the most points ever scored by a dog in the open professional division. He is in 3rd place and tied himself for 97.5 points. The dog is incredible. His hobbies include herding his “siblings” at home on a five acre-farm in Florida. So, no matter how you play, don’t forget your pet’s wellness before you do. They depend on us to make the most informed decisions to keep them healthy and happy for however long the good lord allows us to love them on this earth. Megan Stanton is the owner of Marigold Holistic Pet Care. She is an Animal Behavior College certified dog trainer who also holds certifications in Pet Nutrition and Diet as well as Canine and Feline Massage. She enjoys time in the outdoors with her two dogs, Cash the Boston Terrier mix and Magnus her special needs Chihuahua. www.marigoldholisticpetcare.com

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FALL | WINTER 2018 • 13

Sheeba is a hospice foster from ARTBAR. Shane and Shanna Snyder have decided to let her have the best life possible... ”a big adventure” for what time she has left and take her everywhere which she truly enjoys. It seems to be working as she has lived longer than expected. 14 • FALL | WINTER 2018


Shelters and rescues a benefit to animals in need By Patti Lawson Central PA Pets


can’t read any advertisements for the sale of companion animals. The business of making money from living creatures is repulsive to me when so many wonderful dogs are languishing in overcrowded shelters and eventually facing death. I am not alone in my beliefs and thankfully there are thousands of rescue organizations across our country that work tirelessly to save animals from death and cruelty. These selfless individuals work constantly, request monetary assistance; foster homes and transports, and save the lives of amazing animals every year. Caring for animals is a 24-hour a day and seven days a week responsibility, so taking this on is a life commitment, not an endeavor to make money. In this country we are blessed to have many county run shelters as well as numerous animal rescue groups. County run shelters individually operated rescues are covered by both state law and county ordinances. That’s why it’s imperative that shelters and rescues are run by someone with expertise in animal care, financial management, human resources, adoptions, placement of animals, and fundraising. Both are non-profit entities covered by U. S. Code Title 26, Subtitle A, Chapter 1, Subchapter F, Part I §501 (c) (3). Exemption from tax on corporations, certain trusts, etc. (c)List of exempt organizations (3) Corporations, and any community

chest, fund, or foundation, organized and operated exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific, testing for public safety, literary, or educational purposes, or to foster national or international amateur sports competition (but only if no part of its activities involve the provision of athletic facilities or equipment), or for the prevention of cruelty to children or animals, no part of the net earnings of which inures to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual, no substantial part of the activities of which is carrying on propaganda, or otherwise attempting, to influence legislation (except as otherwise provided in subsection (h)), and which does not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office. If your rescue group can qualify for non-profit status under this code section, donors will be allowed to write off their contributions of money, food, and supplies. You must fill out the proper paperwork with the Internal Revenue Ser-vice which can take three to six months (or longer) to obtain approval for non-profit status. If you want to start a rescue, it’s imperative that you also investigate the licenses re-quired by your city, county, and state. You’ll need a business license and perhaps a kennel license. Location is important because many municipalities have limits on how many animals may be

on each property. There are numerous release forms that must be drafted for use for various operations of your rescue such as when an animal is relinquished into your care, permission to do background checks of potential adopters, permission to enter the adopter’s home for a suitability check, agreement for temporary foster homes for your rescued animals, and adoption agreements that specify if the adopter discovers they do not want the animal that it must be returned to the rescue. Rescuing animals in need is a noble cause but a great deal of backbreaking work and heartbreak is involved. Establish good relationships with other rescues and your local shelter. Volunteers are key to rescue. They provide unlimited needed services such as fostering pets until a forever home is found. Foster parents are of utmost importance and Sheeba is a good example. Sheeba has cancer and a “forever” foster was needed. These are fosters who don’t adopt the dog, but care for them as long as they are living. Professional services that are volunteered are priceless such as vet care and legal services. Let’s all remember what Gandhi said best; “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” Patti Lawson is an award winning author and trial attorney. She is mom to Sadie, and Rusty, who joined the family in November 2014 from a high kill shelter in rural West Virginia. Patti is married to Rodney Morrison, who indeed signed a Pet Nuptial.

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Tips for maintaining an animals weight By Dr. Jess Stanek Central PA Pets


eight is a sensitive subject. Veterinarians can have a hard time discussing weight with their animal

owners. Our pets are in a unique situation, in that food is regulated by us. Our dogs and cats (for the most part) cannot open a refrigerator door and eat the left over pizza. The variety of foods and treats that now line the shelves at groceries stores and pet stores, and the availability of online food/ treat services, make feeding our animals overwhelming. And the onslaught of information available to us online, whether good or bad, can leave us with more questions than answers. Culturally, food is important, and we often reflect that when we feed our animals. Food is love, and it is easy to love our dogs and cats too much. Feeding guides on packaging is often misleading or misinterpreted, and as owners, we don’t take into account the number of extra calories that we give our pets, in the form of treats or table food. Food intake is only part of the problem. Lack of exercise also plays a role. Compared to decades before us, we have become a somewhat sedentary society. And if we are moving, it is usually in the car, taking family members to different activities. It’s hard for us to make time for our own exercise, let alone thinking about our pets. There are certain diseases in our pets that can be the result of obesity. The most common issues that we can see are joint disease and arthritis. Obesity can be a contributing factor in one of the most common joint injuries in dogs, cruciate injury. And as animals age, if they are overweight, arthritis can hinder movement and cause more pain. Heart disease, while an association with obesity in people, is generally not a huge concern in our dogs and cats that are overweight because our dogs and cats do not commonly develop atherosclerosis. However, being overweight can put added stress on the heart and lungs. Those animals with pre-existing heart or lung disease that are overweight may be sicker than those who are a healthy weight. Another disease that we can see associated with obesity in cats specifically is Diabetes Mellitus. Diabetes can occur in normally weighted cats as well, but cats that are overweight are more at risk for developing this disease. Also, cats that are overweight 16 • FALL | WINTER 2018

can develop skin and fur changes (matting, flaky skin, and dull fur coats) because they aren’t able to groom themselves as well. Cats may develop inappropriate litter box habits if they are overweight, if they aren’t able to easily access their box within the house.

Things you can do to keep your pet a healthy weight: • Feed a nutritionally complete dog or cat food, taking recommendations from your veterinarian regarding the amount to feed. Remember, animals, like people have different life styles. For instance, not every 25-pound dog should be fed the same amount of food. The 25- pound hunting beagle probably needs more food and calories than my 25-pound mix breed Bernice who sleeps all day. And if you are talking to your vet about weight loss, it is helpful to be completely honest with your vet about what and how much you feed your pet. • Understand that all the extra things that your dogs and cats get can add significant calories to your animals’ daily needs. The pizza crust, the sprinkle of cheese, the bottom of the ice cream bowl, can all add calories. • Exercise is exceedingly important. Again, keep in mind that there are different exercise recommendations based upon the breed and life style of your pet. But remember that even a small walk in the evening or a little bit of playtime can make a difference. • Exercise in cats is not as straightforward, but there are many good ideas out there. A great resource is the Indoor Pet Initiative (indoorpet.osu.edu). This website offers lists of ideas to enrich the environment in which your cat lives. Ideas from cat perches, to “hunting” feeding options, to other toy interactions, can help to encourage activity.

In general, a healthy weight in our animals is dependent upon breed and body shape/ size. There is no such thing as one size fits all. However, the basics of a healthy weight boil down to calories in and calories out. If your animal is overweight, please always discuss ideas of weight loss with your veterinarian. Weight loss should not be a “quick fix.” It takes time. Remember that unexpected weight loss could be a sign of an underlying problem, so always discuss any concerns with your vet. Maintaining a healthy weight can lead to a long life with your pet. Dr. Jess Stanek, is a veterinarian/owner of Hollidaysburg Animal Clinic, 801 Walnut St., Hollidaysburg. She is a 2002 graduate of Ohio State Veterinary School. She and her family reside with their dogs, Bernice and Freddie.


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FALL | WINTER 2018 • 17

Management and treatment options for canine osteoarthritis By Dr. Phil Aquadro Central PA Pets


steoarthritis is a disease/condition characterized by changes in the articular cartilage of joints and the surrounding soft tissues. Genetic or developmental factors (such as hip dysplasia), trauma (injuries), obesity, and normal “wear and tear” with aging are all factors that can play roles in the development and progression of osteoarthritis. In some cases, immune system disorders or infection can be involved. There are both physical and chemical changes in joints affected by osteo-arthritis. The disease is diagnosed by physical examination (which may demonstrate lameness, evidence of pain, “crepitus”, or decreased mobility in the affected joints) and radiographs (which demonstrate the bony conformation and condition of affected joints).

18 • FALL | WINTER 2018

By the time of diagnosis, the pathologic changes of osteoarthritis are often irreversible. No treatment is effective in restoring an arthritic joint to a completely normal condition. The goals of treatment are to: • Alleviate pain & discomfort, • Arrest secondary degenerative changes, • Produce maximum joint function, and • Limit the potential for adverse reactions or interactions involving medications. There are medical — and sometimes surgical — treatment options for managing the effects of osteoarthritis. Appropriate options depend on the age and health of the dog, the joint(s) affected, the clinical severity of the disease, the radiographic appearance of the joint(s), the intended use of the dog, and financial constraints. A “multi-modal” approach is often ideal, using a combination of weight control, diet, anti-inflammatory/pain relief medication, nutraceuticals (to help preserve joint cartilage), and appropriate exercise and adding or removing physical therapy. Weight control is critical to reduce stress on joints. Diet management includes omega-3 fatty acid-enriched diets &/or weight control diets. Controlled exercise (including physical therapy) maintains mobility & joint range of motion. “Nutraceuticals” (oral “joint protectant” medications) are combinations of Glucosamine, Chondroitin sulfate, Glycoamino-glycans (GAGs), Methylsulfonyl-methane (MSM), anti-oxidants, etc., which appear to have various anti-inflammatory effects. MicroLactin is a milk protein product which appears to block chemical & blood cell events in inflammation. Injectable anti-inflammatory drugs include Adequan [Polysulfated Glycosaminoglycan (GAG) injections], in a series of 8 injections over 4 weeks, increases levels of joint “lubrication”.

Therapeutic Laser Therapy is a relatively new modality used to manage osteoarthritis. Laser therapy stimulates blood flow, reduces inflammation, and decreases pain in joints affected by osteoarthritis, and can decrease the need for chronic medications. Typically, an initial series (“3-2-1”) is followed by “maintenance” treatments, as indicated by the patient’s condition and response. NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs) provide both analgesic (pain relief ) and anti-inflammatory effects, to reduce pain and inflammation associated with osteo-arthritis. Though most NSAIDs are very useful in management of arthritis pain and inflammation, rare but serious side effects have been reported in dogs taking these medications. Prescription NSAIDs (Rimadyl, Deramaxx, Metacam, etc.) are considered more effective than aspirin, require only once-daily dosing, and are generally considered safer than aspirin, due to more specific anti-inflammatory effects. The most common NSAID-related side effects generally involve the stomach (such as bleeding ulcers) or intestines (diarrhea). Kidneys and liver can also be affected, as they are involved in metabolism and excretion of NSAIDs. Particularly for dogs on long-term NSAID medication (i.e./ longer than 2 weeks), regular blood chemistry monitoring is important to monitor for adverse effects. Summary of management of osteoarthritis: Again, the goals of treatment for osteoarthritis include alleviating pain/discomfort, arresting secondary degenerative changes, and producing maximum joint function, within the limitations of the condition of the affected joint(s). There are medical — and sometimes surgical — treatment options for osteoarthritis which can help to manage symptoms and improve the quality of your pet’s life. Ask your veterinarian for recommendations regarding the medication and monitoring options which are appropriate for your dog’s specific situation. It is possible to manage osteoarthritis and significantly improve your pet’s quality of life! Dr. Phil Aquadro is the owner of Town & Country Animal Hospital in Warriors Mark. A 1988 graduate of Cornell’s New York State College of Veterinary Medicine, he enjoys all aspects of mixed animal practice.   CENTRAL PA PETS

Because we all matter By Jill Brubaker Reigh Central PA Pets


ia was a Chihuahua mix who was born with a cleft palate. This birth defect prevented Mia from nursing and was about to starve when Sue Rogers intervened. Despite the opinions of veterinarians who said that this birth defect combined with a host of health problems were insurmountable, Rogers fought for Mia’s survival. She learned how to insert a feeding tube so that Mia could take nourishment, literally nursing her back to life. Mia survived for nearly two years and her death was the inspiration for the Mia Foundation. Rogers used her devastating loss to spearhead rescue efforts for animals with birth defects. Anne Trexler of Altoona is a volunteer for the Mia Foundation and describes Rogers’ dedication for animals as unfailing. “She doesn’t turn away anything,” Trexler said. Rogers has helped cats, birds, goats and a donkey named Star at her home in Rochester, New York. Trexler first heard of the Mia Foundation through Facebook where Rogers shares live video of the animals in her care. Anne learned of a local Yorkie that was blind and diabetic and set for euthanasia. Trexler messaged Rogers on Facebook for help and she agreed to take the dog if Trexler could get her to Rochester. Trexler is now a volunteer in the Central Pennsylvania area, transporting animals from as far away as Florida and South Carolina to Rochester, where they get a second chance at life. Though there are many animal rescue

organizations, Trexler believes that the Mia Foundation is unique in their focus on animals with birth defects. She has seen good and bad in her volunteer hours. Anne was happy to help a teenage girl who has Downs Syndrome adopt a Mia special needs puppy. But of the several calls she receives daily, many are about puppy mill dogs who are overbred, causing birth defects and a bad situation. Breeders take them to the veterinarian, but then don’t return for the animal when they learn that the medical bills will eliminate their profit. Mia Foundation followers and volunteers share a strong connection in their pursuit of saving more lives. They operate solely on donations, rarely ask for money and pay their vet bills in full. Their transport system is strong and spreads from Tennessee to Texas, Ohio to California, and Michigan to New York. Sue has talked to students about bullying prevention by bringing a dog who cannot bark to make her point. In addition to transporting animals, Trexler also produces a newsletter for the Foundation and is raising money by selling 2019 Mia Foundation calendars. For more information, visit them on Facebook at The Mia Foundation — love for Mia, or on PetFinder.com. Mia Foundation volunteers will be at the Central PA Pet Expo and hope to see you there.

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FALL | WINTER 2018 • 19

Fast facts about

heartworm disease By Dr. Rebecca Jackson Central PA Pets


eartworm Disease: What is it, why do we worry about it, and what can we do about it?

What is heartworm disease? • Heartworm disease is a condition caused by the parasite Dirofilaria immitis (we will just call these pesky creatures “heartworms”). This parasite has a few different life stages, and the adults like to live in the heart and pulmonary vessels. As you can 20 • FALL | WINTER 2018

How is heartworm disease spread? • The parasite responsible for heartworm disease (Dirofilaria immitis) is transmitted by infected mosquitos.

little differently. Heartworms prefer dogs as their host, where they migrate from the skin (where the mosquito bite occurs) into the heart and vessels of the heart. Heartworms will follow a similar path in cats, but they can get off course and end up in places other than the heart (eyes, nervous system, skin, etc.).

Does heartworm disease affect dogs and cats? • Yes! Heartworm disease affects both dogs and cats, but it affects each species a

What are the signs that my pet has heartworm disease? • In dogs, we typically see coughing, exercise intolerance, or collapse. In cats, the

imagine, the presence of these heartworms causes problems for the animal resulting in heartworm disease.


signs are not always very clear and they can vary from coughing and difficulty breathing to vomiting, weight loss, and lethargy. How does one test for heartworm disease? • Heartworm disease in dogs can be diagnosed with a blood test that is run in the hospital. If this test is found to be positive, your veterinarian will likely recommend that a blood sample is sent out to the laboratory to verify that your dog truly is positive. If found to be infected, your veterinarian will likely recommend radiographs of the chest, full blood work with urinalysis, and possibly an ultrasound of the heart (echocardiogram). The good news is that most veterinarians recommend that your dog be screened at every annual examination to ensure a negative heartworm status. This way, we can catch infections early and intervene quickly. • In cats, the diagnosis is a little more difficult with the current tests that we have available. Your veterinarian may recommend blood work to include samples sent to the laboratory, chest radiographs, and/or an ultrasound of the heart (echocardiogram). Diagnosing heartworm disease in cats can be very difficult. How is heartworm disease treated? • We do have a very good treatment protocol to tackle these beasts in the dog, but the therapy is expensive, hard on the dog, and can be life-threatening. Treatment involves antibiotics, steroids, heartworm prevention, and a medication that kills the adult heartworms. The timeframe for treatment is around 4 months, CENTRAL PA PETS

and you have to keep your dog very quiet the entire time. For our feline friends, the treatment is as varied as the disease, but oftentimes involves steroids and heartworm prevention. Can heartworm disease be prevented? • YES! There are easy to use, safe, and very effective preventives available for both cats and dogs. Check with your veterinarian to see what they recommend for your pet. Why should we worry about heartworm disease in central Pennsylvania? • Unfortunately, the onslaught of rain that we have experienced in the past several months has boosted the mosquito population in our area. With this increase, the chance of your pet contracting heartworm disease has also increased. And just in case you were wondering, yes, we do have heartworm disease in central Pennsylvania. If you have further questions about heartworm disease, or want to ensure your pet is protected, please consult with your pet’s veterinary team. Rebecca Jackson, DVM, is the managing doctor at Blair Animal Hospital in Duncansville, Pennsylvania. Dr. Jackson graduated from Purdue University with a degree in Biology and then graduated from Washington State University with her degree in veterinary medicine. She has worked as a veterinarian in a variety of wonderful scenarios (in areas all over, the United States) thanks to her husbands service in the United States Army. Dr. Jackson is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association and Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association. Along with her human family, she resides with her fourteen-year-old black cat, Jack.

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Latest Happenings

with the Airlines By Joseph Fagnani Central PA Pets Editor’s note: Earlier this year, Delta Airlines introduced stricter guidelines for flying with service or support animals as a result of “a lack of regulation that has led to serious safety risks involving untrained animals in flight” after they experienced another newsworthy incident in January. A lot has been happening with the situation, so we asked Joseph Fagnani, board president of the Center for Independent Living of South Central PA and chairman of the Service Paws of Central PA Board, to fill us in on the most current happenings with the airlines and service dogs.


irlines continue to update their policies regarding animals that fly onboard planes because consumer complaints are up 80 percent this year. We think a lot of this is because they allow emotional support animals and pets to fly in the passenger cabins. There has been a dramatic increase in numbers of people who identify as having a disability or anxiety and who bring dogs, cats and other kinds of animals onboard, resulting in associated increases in the number of incidents involving badly behaved and uncontrolled animals. It should be noted that accredited schools do not train cats, rodents, pigs, snakes, insects, etc., to be service animals. Also, certification does not mean that the dog has to come from an accredited school, since there are more self-proclaimed certification facilities than there are accredit-

22 • FALL/WINTER 2018

ed schools. While there was a movement toward miniature horses to guide the blind, that has since been found to be too problematic. If the airlines are motivated by concerns for the safety of all, they need to revise their policies about accepting emotional support dogs and pets for their passengers and crews. People accompanied by certified service dogs are also concerned about safety onboard an aircraft. Requiring updated vaccination records does not address the behavioral issues that can make sharing a cabin or a row with a frightened or untrained animal any safer for passengers or crew members. Like anyone else who flies, we don’t want ourselves or our well-cared-for service dogs (including up to date vaccinations) to be exposed to communicable diseases or distractions that can result in our being unsafe. We understand the airlines’ concern about the health and behavioral certification for service dogs, because having well-trained and controlled dogs, makes flying a more comfortable experience for everyone. The airlines received an exception from the Americans with Disabilities Act regulations and are controlled by the Aviation Compliance Division of the Department of Transportation. The DOT breaks down the animals into two main groups, service dogs and pets. Service dogs are further broken down into three groups: service (for physical disabilities), psychiatric (can perform defined tasks) and emotional support dogs (not trained to perform

assistive tasks). Pets need documentation 48 hours in advance of the flight and have to be in a carrier. Emotional and psychological support dogs require documentation to be supplied 48 hours before flying. Service dogs for a physical disability does not have to have documentation. The DOT is supposed to clarify the requirements for the different groups of animals by the end of 2018. The current policy states that if you are traveling with a trained service dog, in some cases, you may be asked to show: 1. The dog’s Veterinary Health Form and/or an immunization record or other proof that the dog’s vaccinations are current within one year of the travel date. 2. While not required, customers are encouraged to upload this documentation to My Trips through the Accessibility Service Request Form. Airlines say valid tags issued by your local animal services department will suffice as “other proof that the dog’s vaccinations are current.” In addition, effective July 10, Delta Airlines announced that pitbulls as pets are not allowed inside the cabins of their planes. The ADA does not accept emotional support animals or pets as service dogs. We think the acceptance of these animals by the DOT promotes the spread of fraudulent service animals in other places of public accommodation. If you have any questions, call Joseph Fagnani at (814) 940-0270.


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Central PA Pets Fall/Winter 2018  

Central PA Pets Fall/Winter 2018