Page 1

Volume 6•Issue 3

Fall 2015

Dr. Katy Nelson —

Veterinarian, Animal Advocate, TV Host & Mom

Pets Get High Blood Pressure, Too Retired – But Not Out for the Count


“Hannah,” “Sheba,” & “Pepper” are available

for adoption through Virginia German Shepherd Rescue (VGSR) (details on Page 46)


Any Breed, Any Age, Any Size.

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Fall 2015

Volume 6

Issue 3

Volume 6•Issue 3

contents Fall 2015

departments 16 19

Dr. Katy

Weekend Getaway:

Pets Get High Bl ood Pres Retired sure, To – But N o ot Out for the Count

Visit Washington, DC for the Doggone Fun of It!

On the Cover…

Fitness & Training:



Rounding Up Rover:


“Han & “Pep nah,” “Sheba

,” per” are adoptio available n through for Virginia Shepherd Ge Rescue (VG rman Humane SR) Foundation (details on Page



“Hannah,” “Sheba,” & “Pepper” are all available for adoption through Virginia German Shepherd Rescue (VGSR). See Page 46 for Details

The Zen of Dog Training: Environmental Impact



elson — Veterin arian, Animal TV Hos Advoc t & Mom ate,

Photo by Carina Thornton, Fuzzypants Photography

Riding the Storm Out

Don’t Despair! Don’t Give Up! Rover Can Be Found!


Ask A Neurovet:




Stories Within The Bond:


Giving Back:

features 9

Retired—But Not Out for the Count


Prospective Pet Owners:

with Dr. Lauren Talarico

Pets Get High Blood Pressure, Too

What to Know About Kill and No-Kill Shelters

Oto-acoustic Emission

The Best Pet Sitters in Life Are Free


Ask Dr. Katy:


Metro Mutt:

special feature 12

Dr. Katy Nelson:

Veterinarian. Animal Advocate. Television Host. Mom. WOW!

with Dr. Katy Nelson

For a New Dog — 10 Mantras for the first 30-Days

46 Seeking A Forever Home Fall 2015 |


{ contributors }

contributors Beth Mullen, KPA, CTP, CPTD-KA

Kimberly Artley Kimberly Artley is Founder of PackFit: Body + Mind for Human + Canine. PackFit is dedicated to helping humans + their faithful canine companions achieve stellar health + wellness through various integrated modalities. Creating our best version of self + becoming the leader our dogs need us to be.

Prince Lorenzo Borghese Prince Lorenzo Borghese is founder of Prince Lorenzo’s Royal Treatment, an organic-based grooming line formulated in Italy. He is honorary animal welfare Ambassador for the ASPCA and the American Humane Association. He is also President and co-founder of Animal Aid USA, a not-for-profit organization comprised of all non-paid volunteers that through their monthly adoption caravans save an average of 150 lives per month. For more information go to or

Bruce Coston, DVM Doctor Coston owns and operates Seven Bends Veterinary Hospital in Woodstock, Virginia. He is the author of two books: The Gift of Pets and Ask The Animals.

Krisi Erwin, DVM, CVA, CCRT, CVPP Dr. Erwin, a life-long Loudoun County native, owns a house call practice called Wholistic Paws Veterinary Services that focuses on offering in-home acupuncture, rehabilitation, pet hospice, and euthanasia for her clients. Dr. Erwin is a Certified Canine Rehabilitation Therapist and a Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist.

Bonnie Lefbom, DVM, DACVIM (Cardiology) Dr. Bonnie Lefbom is passionate about cardiology for pets. Her vast experience allows her to remain focused on the emotional and financial needs of owners while achieving optimal treatment for each pet. Dr. Lefbom’s home life is joy-filled with three teenagers, two spoiled dogs, and one very friendly cat.

Laura S. Jones Laura Semonche Jones is an attorney and freelance writer and editor. She lives with her husband, two adored pit bull mixes and two tolerant cats in Charlottesville. Fallout Shelter, one of the stories in Breaking and Entering, her debut collection of short stories, was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Jones is also working on her first novel, and yes, there is a dog in it. More information and samples of her work are at

Laurie Luck, M.A., KPA CTP, CNWI Dog lover and professional trainer, Laurie knows the joy that dogs bring to our lives. Smart Dog University specializes in dog-friendly, positive training. From pups to dogs, Laurie makes training fun for both ends of the leash!


Beth is the Director of Behavior and Training for The Washington Humane Society, the District of Columbia’s open access animal adoption center which provides care to more than 51,000 animals annually. She is a Karen Pryor Certified Training Partner and a Certified Professional Dog Trainer-Knowledge Assessed.

Katy Nelson, DVM Dr. Katy Nelson is a veterinarian and the host of “The Pet Show with Dr. Katy” on Washington DC’s News Channel 8 - the show airs at 11am on Saturday mornings. An ardent advocate for pet rescue, Dr. Nelson works with numerous local and national rescue organizations to promote pet adoption. Dr. Nelson is known as “Dr. Pawz” on Washington DC’s All News Radio Station WTOP live on air every two weeks. You can also catch her on her online radio show called “Pawsitive Talk with Dr. Katy” on the all positive radio network HealthyLife. Net. Dr. Nelson is a Certified Veterinary Journalist (CVJ), accredited by the American Society of Veterinary Journalists (ASVJ). Catch her every Friday morning on News Channel 8’s “Let’s Talk Live,” and you can even find her reporting on animal health topics every week on WJLA ABC7 News. A prolific writer, you can follow her on The Pet Show’s blog blogs/the-pet-show and find back episodes of The Pet Show there, as well.

Lauren R. Talarico, DVM, DACVIM (Neurology/Neurosurgery) Dr. Talarico is a board certified neurosurgeon at VCA SouthPaws in Fairfax, VA. She graduated with honors from the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, completed an internship at the University of Georgia and neurosurgical residency at the Cornell University Hospital for Animals. Dr. Talarico conducts research projects involving Chiari-like malformations through the pediatric neurosurgery team at Children’s National Hospital in DC. She has also been published in several veterinary journals and textbooks. Dr. Talarico specializes in brain and spinal surgery, reconstruction procedures and treatment of medical neurologic diseases.

Anne Wills Anne Wills is the founder of Dogs Finding Dogs, K9 Search & Rescue for Missing Pets, a 501c3 Non-profit organization. In addition, Anne is a Professional Dog Trainer and Private Investigator, as well as the owner of Dogs Finding Drugs, K9 Narcotic & Firearms Detection. She is also an HLN and Fox News Consultant.

Fevi Yu Fevi Yu is the Founder & Chief Pet Sitter for a Free Pet Sitting Community that was launched in BETA last March, 2015. Her background in IT includes creating, monetizing and eventually selling top rated websites from the Caribbean including  She has been a business owner of a Web development and Internet Marketing Company for the last eight years and she has been a volunteer and foster home for countless of dogs and cats her entire adult life. is a combination of two of her passions: Tech + Pets.

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{ department }

Publisher/Editor in Chief Pamela Wahl Director of Operations Gene Wahl

{ publishers note }

a note

from our publisher

Art Director Kim Dow, Kalico Design

“The dog’s agenda is simple, fathomable, overt: I want. “I want to go out, come in, eat something, lie here, play with that, kiss you. There are no ulterior motives with a dog, no mind games, no second-guessing, no complicated negotiations or bargains, and no guilt trips or grudges if a request is denied.” — Caroline Knapp

Graphic Designers Jen Tyler, Jillian Winkler, Kalico Design Social Media Cami O’Connell Kristin Carlson Senior Editor Kimberly Holmes Photographer Carina Thornton, Fuzzypants Photography Copy Editor Matt Neufeld Advertising Director Pamela Wahl Production Coordinator Diane Weller Web Site Manager Jen Tyler, Kalico Design Business Manager Cathy Wahl Contributing Writers: Kimberly Artley Prince Lorenzo Borghese Bruce Coston, DVM Krisi Erwin, DVM, CVA, CCRT, CVPP Laura S. Jones Bonnie Lefbom, DVM, DACIM (Cardiology) Laurie Luck, KPA-CTP, CNWI Beth Mullen, KPA, CTP, CPTD-KA Katy Nelson, DVM Lauren Talarico, DVM, DACVIM Anne Wills Fevi Yu The Virginia-Maryland-washington, DC Dog Magazine 200 West Main Street Middletown, MD 21769 Tel: (301) 514-2804 Fax: (301) 694-9799

Welcome to the first issue of our publication to include our new name and new logo. The Virginia-Maryland Dog is now The Virginia-Maryland-Washington, D.C. Dog! We have not only changed our name to include Washington, D.C., but, we have expanded our circulation and distribution, too.   Not only is this the first edition of our publication to include Washington, D.C., but, it is our first edition to include three adoptable dogs on one cover! We are pleased to include these beautiful senior ladies who are seeking forever homes through the Virginia German Shepherd Rescue (VGSR) organization.  In addition to the above news, we have added a new column to our magazine called Metro Mutts! Metro Mutts will include articles that are exclusively written for our publication by the staff of the Washington Humane Society located in Washington, D.C. Articles will include valuable information, from adoption to training.  This edition of our magazine includes a Special Feature article about the Pawsome Dr. Katy Nelson! You may know her as the host of The Pet Show on WJLA, Washington, D,C.’s News Channel 8, or as Dr. Pawz on Washington, D.C.’s WTOP Radio, or as a guest on Fox and Friends, The Today’s Show, as well as the author of our own Ask Dr. Katy column in this publication. As always, this edition of our magazine is full of wonderful and useful articles written by a team of highly-educated and respected veterinarians, trainers, and professionals within the animal industry.  Happy Fall! Pam Wahl Owner/Publisher

©2015 No part of this publication may be reproduced without expressed written permission of the publisher. No part may be transmitted in any form by any means, including electronic, mechanical photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior written permission from the publisher. Publisher accepts no liability for solicited or unsolicited materials that are damaged or lost. Views expressed by editorial contributors do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher.


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{ feature }

Retired--But Not Out for the Count Shaping A Dog’s Non-competitive Years Has your canine athlete been benched due

4 Your pup is what he eats!

to an injury? Is he finishing a run a bit slower than in the past? Are you considering retiring your athlete? If so, please keep the following suggestions in mind:

1 Work that noodle! Working dogs and athletes are conditioned to having a job. They are clever problem-solvers who engage their minds and their bodies daily. While all dogs should be challenged to keep their brains sharp and active, owners need to ensure that this happens for the retired athlete. Try having your pup go through an agility course that has been simplified to be appropriate for his age or physical ability. Train your dog to try lower-impact exercise, like nose work or tracking. Allow your socialite to become a therapy dog. Even puzzle toys and games can go a long way in keeping your pup’s brain in the game.

2 Feel the burn! Exercise is important in helping to maintain muscle mass and supporting brain health. Try focusing on pre-emptive exercises such as how to use a ramp or other tricks that may be rehabilitation exercises in disguise. A rehabilitation therapist can help you to determine what targeted exercises to use. Walks may need to be done in shorter, more frequent sessions. Remember, motion is lotion, so modifying your walks will help to keep your pet moving and the joints fluid. It will also help to prevent your pet from overextending himself. Don’t forget to end the day with a nice massage and some stretching.

3 Quench that thirst! Older dogs, suffering from mobility or cognition issues, may visit the water bowl less often. This can complicate other age-related issues such as kidney disease. Make sure to have water in easilyaccessed areas and have non-slip flooring nearby, such as a yoga mat. You can also improve hydration by mixing water into your pet’s meals.

Retired pups require changes in their diet. Digestive health may not be as strong for an older dog and your pup may feel better to have two or three smaller meals throughout the day more so than one or two larger meals. Easily-digested lean protein is important for maintaining muscle mass, so check with your family veterinarian to help with diet selection. If you are interested in a home-prepared diet, then consider consulting with a veterinary nutritionist. Your retiree is also not burning as many calories as in the past, so watch how much you are feeding, as obesity can easily plague an older dog. Swap out treats for lower calorie options such as baby carrots, green beans, or ice cubes.

By Krisi Erwin DVM, CVA, CCRT, CVPP

5 An ounce of prevention… Supplements can play a key role in helping to support a pet’s health. Remember, they are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and a product’s quality is up to the company’s integrity. Glucosamine and fish oils are still helpful for the retired athlete, but it may also be time to add additional supplements. Adequan (www.adequan. com) is an injectable medication that helps pets with more advanced arthritis. Prebiotics, or soluble and fermentable fiber such as Thorne’s ArabinexVET, can help to feed the gut bacteria to promote good digestion. Antioxidants, such as those included in Senilife (, can help to support brain function.


Don’t let your pup be out for the count—your treasured companion has been a teammate, partner, and friend. Let’s do our best to help his retirement be rich, fun, and some of the best years of your lives together!

For more information:


Wholistic Paws Veterinary Services P.O. Box 713 Hamilton, VA 20159 (571) 438-0339  

Fall 2015 |


{ feature }

Prospective Pet Owners:

What to Know About Kill and No-Kill Shelters By Prince Lorenzo Borghese

Sadly, there are about 3 million dogs and cats euthanized in the United States every year. This is a staggering number, especially if you take the time to put a name, face and story on each dog and cat that is euthanized. There is a silver lining though, and that is that the numbers are dropping thanks to social media and education. It is now easier than ever to search online for a specific dog or cat one wishes to adopt. Although using the internet to find your pet is an efficient method, a better suggestion is to make a visit to a local kill shelter when looking to adopt. Many people refuse to support such a concept, but the truth behind kill shelters is that the animals there need people more than ever. They are the ones that are usually suffering the most and only have days to live. They have ended up in these shelters at no fault of their own. A suggestion is that people should first look in these shelters for an adoptable pet before looking elsewhere. The main difference between a kill shelter and a nokill shelter is that a kill shelter legally must take in each animal that is dropped off, while a no-kill shel-

ter has the right to turn animals away. Many shelters who turn animals away suggest taking the animal to the local Animal Care and Control, which unfortunately are kill shelters. The no-kill shelters are not much different than the kill shelters, with the exception that they aren’t the ones that are physically euthanizing the animals. Whenever a no-kill shelter turns down a dog or cat, they know that there is a good chance that dog or cat will end up at a facility in which that animal’s future is in jeopardy.  There are some organizations working to save animals from these shelter fates. One such organization, Animal Aid USA, saves about 175 dogs per month, on average, which are pulled from kill-shelters. The dogs are then transported to other rescue facilities that are no-kill shelters.  A closing recommendation is to first look for a dog or cat that is available at a kill shelter in a person’s neighborhood or region. If a match is not found, go to a local no-kill shelter. If that still does not work, use the internet to look for an adoptable dog or cat. If prospective owners still can’t find a dog or cat and want to buy one, people should do their homework and make sure the animal purchased doesn’t come from a puppy mill or from a business that promotes cruelty, and simply breeds and sells animals without caring for the parents of the puppies and kittens.


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featurefeature } { special }

Dr. Katy Nelson:

Veterinarian. Animal Advocate. Television Host. Mom. Wow! By Laura S. Jones

Photography by Fuzzypants Photography

There is an old country expression that goes something like this: “Dance with the one who brung ya.” It means, perhaps obviously, that a person should stick with whoever helped them get to where they are. In Dr. Katy Nelson’s case, the animals brought her to the dance, and she has been dancing with them ever since. Sure, she juggles multiple demanding roles, but each one is based on caring, sharing and teaching. Being with animals from an early age taught her these skills, and she is dedicating her life to repaying the favor.

Multiple Hats

For her main day job, Dr. Nelson is an associate veterinarian at the Belle Haven Animal Medical Centre in Alexandria, VA. A Certified Veterinary Journalist, Dr. Nelson is the host and executive producer of The Pet Show with Dr. Katy on Washington DC’s News Channel 8 where she started her television career as a weekly guest on Let’s Talk Live. Catch The Pet Show at 11 am on Saturday mornings or watch past episodes online. She’s also known as “Dr. Pawz” on radio station WTOP where you can hear her discussing timely pet-related topics every other Thursday at 12:20 pm. In her spare time, she reports on animal health topics for WJLA ABC 7 and is the Medical Director of Pet Health for Live In The Now, a leading nutrition and lifestyle company. You can read her advice column “Ask Dr. Katy” in this magazine. Dr. Nelson lives with her husband, their son and daughter, their dogs Papi, a Labradoodle and co-host on The Pet Show, and Eddie Underbite, a Shih Tzu/Poodle mix obtained through Mutts Matter Rescue. The Nelsons also share their home with Tina,


The Virginia-Maryland-Washington DC Dog

Dr. Katy Nelson with Papa & Eddie

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a Southern Painted Turtle, and several fish. The fish originally entered the household as dinner for the turtle, but the turtle took a shine to her new companions and would not eat them. “They are all living in harmony,” Dr. Nelson says, with a chuckle at how animals will surprise us no matter how much we think we know. Growing up on a farm in the heart of Louisiana with “tons” of animals, Dr. Nelson was destined for a life filled with pets. But she probably wouldn’t have guessed she would get here. Or maybe she would have. “My motto is ‘what fleas lack in patience they make up for in persistence’,” Dr. Nelson explains. Undoubtedly persistence played a role in Dr. Nelson’s career and life paths, but so did passion and talent. Her story will make you laugh and inspire you to seize all opportunities that come your way to help animals and the humans who care for them.

The Early Years

Dr. Nelson was supposed to be a human doctor. But while volunteering at a “human hospital” the summer after her freshman year in college, she quickly discovered that people would not be her preferred patients. “I couldn’t deal with sticking needles in people, and I can’t imagine taking a scalpel to human skin.” So she switched to an animal hospital at Alexandria Zoo in Louisiana and discovered she loved working with animal patients and had no issues. “I am totally fine if it’s got fur on it.” “I learned a lot about animal husbandry there,” she remembers. She bottled raised a monkey, cared for baby lions and a 100 year old tortoise, and treated parrots smuggled with duct tape inside tires. “It was so eye-opening. I thought I knew about animals since I grew up on a farm with a wide variety of them, but this was a whole new world. It was pretty transformative for me. It gave me an opportunity to see what I could do in the world.” Dr. Nelson never looked back and graduated from Louisiana State University’s vet school in 2001. After school, she practiced in North Carolina before moving to the Washington, DC area in 2003 when she took a position with Iams. At Iams she worked as a technical services veterinarian and ultimately became their media spokesperson responsible for translating the latest nutrition science into language everyone could understand and apply.

A Hungry Beagle Named Sparky After leaving Iams, Dr. Nelson returned to hands-on animal care. In May of 2010, two beagles suffering

from smoke inhalation were brought to the emergency practice where she worked. It might have been a routine case, requiring only good veterinary medicine from Dr. Nelson, but the media descended on the case. What made the story of two beagles saved from a house fire newsworthy was that one of the beagles —probably Sparky according to Dr. Nelson—started the fire by jumping on the stove to reach a box of dog treats. Sparky and Brownie, the other beagle, undoubtedly enjoyed a few treats before realizing they were in trouble. They were the only ones home when the fire happened. The Fairfax fire department quickly arrived on the scene and put the fire out. They found Sparky and Brownie under the kitchen table, pulled them out and put oxygen masks on them. Arriving soon after was another firefighter who happened to be Sparky and Brownie’s—and the house’s —owner. The incident naturally got a lot of media coverage. “The dogs had a happy ending,” Dr. Nelson is happy to point out, but Sparky had trouble breathing for a while and suffered a damaged respiratory tract. Asked at the time by a reporter if Sparky was responsible, Dr. Nelson looked at Sparky, scratched his chin, and admitted it was possible. “He is definitely a food hound, so he could be our culprit.” In that clip and in follow up coverage, Dr. Nelson proved to be a talented media personality and soon was asked to do a spot showcasing adoptable pets on Let’s Talk Live. She knew in her gut, though, that there was an opportunity to do more for pets. So, she pitched the idea for a stand-alone show focused on pets to the station manager. He said no, but remembering her own motto, (“what fleas lack in patience they make up for in persistence”), she kept pitching the idea for a year. He gave her a month trial in March, 2012 and The Pet Show was born. No one has looked back since.

The Pet Show

It made sense that story telling would become one of the ways Dr. Nelson could care for animals. In addition to animal science and veterinary medicine, literature and writing were a passion from her early years. “I love the opportunity I have to spread some common sense about the animals we live with. I feel like with our show we’ve established a good platform for spreading news pet owners need.” Part of the news that Dr. Nelson hopes pet owners (and those interested in becoming such) will receive from the show is that rescued pets can be fantastic additions to anyone’s family. She enjoys using the

Fall 2015 |


{ special feature }

“I love the opportunity I have to spread some common sense about the animals we live with. I feel like with our show we’ve established a good platform for spreading news pet owners need.”

reach of her show to promote rescue, fostering and adoption to people who might otherwise think all animals in shelters are somehow broken. And it has been working. “We have such an incredible success rate with adoptions on our show.” A passion for her within the rescue field is the senior pet. “You may only have him or her for a short time, but that time can be magical.” Dr. Nelson speaks from experience. She adopted Stanley when he was 12. He was a “guest” on Let’s Talk Live’s adoptable dog segment. She went to pick him up at the shelter and just said “oh no.” After the segment, there was zero interest in the 11 pound dog with a “grumpy old man” face. He had a little old man bark, too, like he smoked a pack a day for years.” Dr. Nelson was happy to take Stanley home where he fit right in. “With senior pets, the end just isn’t the whole story. It is sad, but totally worth it. Rescues are just like people. Not all broken. We only had Stanley for a year and a half, but it was transformative.” Eight local shelters participate in the segment of her show that Dr. Nelson uses to showcase pets in need of rescue, and she enjoys having the more exotic ones on the show. The Pet Show has hosted a miniature horse, snakes, guinea pigs, a potbellied pig, and a tarantula, which she held, reluctantly. “I am not a fan,” she admits. Dr. Nelson also has a special interest in pet fitness. “Fifty to sixty percent of American pets are overweight. We have trivialized it for too long. Obesity is one of the most chronic and undiagnosed illnesses in our pets. It affects all organs, and it is an inflammatory disease.” Inflammation, in pets and people, can


The Virginia-Maryland-Washington DC Dog

{ special feature }

contribute to serious illness, including heart disease. “We need to address and treat obesity seriously as if it were a heart murmur or arthritis.” To further her goals, she became a founding partner of PetsMove. org, a national health and fitness initiative aimed at getting people healthy alongside their dogs.

persuasive skills, this superstar vet is paving the way for a world with more compassion for – and knowledge about – our companion animals. Keep your fingers crossed for syndication for The Pet Show. We need her brand of science-based and compassionate advice and information. Even more importantly, so do our pets.

Family Life

Many people wear several hats in their daily lives. Dr. Nelson is more like a quick change artist who can fully transform from healer to teacher, to reporter to mom (to both human and animal children) with humor, intelligence and passion. When asked how she bal-

“Prioritize what you care about. My kids are my number one priority. They are proud of me and I am proud of them. I cook dinner for my family every night.” ances her packed work schedule with her family life, Dr. Nelson says the key is to “prioritize what you care about. My kids are my number one priority. They are proud of me and I am proud of them. I cook dinner for my family every night.” She says if she had to walk away because her kids needed her, she would. That kind of clarity undoubtedly makes it easier to work hard in pursuit of her passion. But she says she also has a lot of great help as well as an understanding employer in Belle Haven. “It does take a village.” And the internet. “Thank goodness for the internet. I can work remotely.” Even with a demanding travel schedule, she can keep all her balls in the air and still keep in touch with her kids.

What to do if your pet gets lost How to recognize a puppy mill How to choose the best pet food

For all the time she spends in the limelight, Dr. Nelson is really a homebody, though. Her favorite vacation is returning to the family farm where she first nurtured her love for animals.


Enjoy past episodes of the Pet Show at Once you are there, you can also browse a great archive of articles on topics as important and varied as:

Creative ways shelters are getting pets adopted How to manage seasonal pet allergies

And much more!

Dr. Nelson finds it an “amazing privilege” to advocate for our pets, their health, and rescue. A force to be reckoned with who uses her love for animals and

She also has links to adoptable pets! You can follow Dr. Nelson’s entertaining and enlightening posts on Facebook (The Pet Show with Dr. Katy) and Twitter (@drkatynelson).

Fall 2015 |


{ weekend getaway}

Visit Washington, DC for the Doggone Fun of It! We have been digging around the Washington, DC area and have discovered some fetching good dog-friendly places to visit with your Pup. Check them out!

Capital Crescent Trail 8454 MD 185 Chevy Chase, MD 20815 Tel: (202) 234-4874 The Capital Crescent Trail is an 11 mile trek that is built along an old line of the B&O Railroad. The trail includes both bridges and tunnels and places to frequently stop for water breaks. Venture a bit off of the trail for lunch at one of the many eateries along the way..

Fort DuPont Park 3985 Massachusetts Ave., SE Washington, DC 20019 Tel: (202) 426-7723

Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens 1550 Anacostia Ave., NE Washington, DC 20019 Tel: (202) 426-6905 A National Park full of breathtaking water flowers, wildlife, rivers and wetlands.

National Arboretum 3501 New York Ave., NE Washington, DC 20002 Tel: (202) 245-2726 Take your furry friend for a leisurely stroll through the Bonsai Garden and Koi Pond located at the National Arboretum. Picnic areas and parking are readily available.

This National Park once served as a lifeline for runaway slaves trying to make their way north. Open year around, this Park is a wonderful place to take in some beautiful scenery and fresh air with your favorite four-legged friend by your side.

National Mall Constitution Ave Washington, DC 20004 Tel: (202) 673-7660 The National Mall is full of beautiful and historic monuments and scenery.


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{ fitness & training }

The Zen of Dog Training: Part 4 Environmental Impact Environment: /en-vahy-ruh n-muh nt/ noun. ( 1. The surroundings or conditions in which a person, animal, or plant lives or operates; 2. The social and cultural forces that shape

By Kimberly Artley

the life of a species. So far, The Zen of Dog Training series has covered how to meet and fulfill a dog’s instinctual needs as a member of the canine species; how humans factor into dogs’ behavior; and how canine genetics are important. Now, the focus is on how a dog’s living environment influences and impacts behavior. This aspect of a dog’s life is just as important as the others. For example, what if your dog abruptly started urinating in the house after years of being reliably housetrained. Or if your dog started barking incessantly. Or began shedding more than usual. Or started fencefighting with other dogs, chewing up furniture, shoes or other parts of the house, licking him or herself excessively, or practicing other bizarre behaviors. What if the dog owner can’t quite pinpoint what the cause may be? You’ve had a complete vet check, and everything is good-to-go. So what gives? Thus, it’s time to do some detective work. Behavior is a form of expression. When odd behaviors occur suddenly, there’s always a reason— health, medical or otherwise. It’s up to dog owners to figure out what our dogs are trying to tell us, and to work to make things right.

Some questions to consider are: • Have there been any recent changes or shifts in the dog’s schedule or routine? • Has there been a change with the dog’s feeding? Have there been changes in the type of food served, or the time of feeding? • Did one of the dog’s primary caretakers acquire a new job, possibly prompting new time limitations and restrictions, or related new stresses? • Have there been any changes to the dog’s exercise routine? Have there been changes in the time, duration and intensity of the dog’s exercise? • Has there been any home improvement activity going on within the home? • Is there new home decor, renovations or additions? • Has anyone new moved into the home? Is there a new roommate, a new baby, a new friend, or new family or in-laws in the house? • Is someone new coming to exercise the dog? • Is the dog crated for too long, or was there a poor introduction to the crate?

Fall 2015 |


{ fitness & training }

• Has anyone who the dog was used to having around moved out? Have any children left for college? Has a significant-other moved away or been deployed? • Is there any type of construction taking place outside the home? • Has there been a death in the family or pack unit, or has someone fallen ill? • Is there anything else that could be interrupting the normal, usual feel of the household? A dog’s environment can trigger certain reactions and responses, affect health and behavior, and also provoke their natural, in-born drives such as prey, pack, fight and avoidance. The four main factors that make up our living environment are people and energy; location; living space; and sensory stimulation.

People and Energy

Every living thing is comprised of, and influenced by, energy. Since we’re all energetic beings, this is how dogs assess, know and respond to us (and each other). This is why it’s important for people to try and find a good energy match when welcoming a dog into their home. Most people choose dogs by how they look and what breed they are; however, just like with humans, dogs are far more than just looks. They are living, breathing, feeling, sentient beings, who are totally dependent on us to meet and fulfill their species, individual and breed-specific needs. Dogs are our mirror, and a direct reflection of the types of energy they consistently share space with. And some people could be struggling with their emotional, physical and mental health in a household. Dog owners need to make sure that everyone who lives in the household is on board in regards to the training and conditioning behavior of the house’s

dog. Otherwise, any efforts and strides made can be diminished by an alternative effort, or lack thereof, creating confusion on the canine end and frustration on the human end. Having an inconsistent environment will set any dog up for failure.


A dog can have a tough time being an urbanite. City living could involve many people in a dense area; issues involving personal space; multiple rules, laws, limitations and restrictions; too many buildings, walls, artificial turfs; pollution; and a lack of open, natural, clean and green spaces. With country dogs, the lifestyle could be more relaxed. In the country, there can be more green space; open fields; fresh air; and more people more acclimated to dogs. Dogs could be left outside to roam, and some of them could be un-neutered and not spayed. These dogs create more puppies, some of whom may or may not get homes. Also, dogs running free could run away, be stolen, be sold, be used as bait dogs in dog-fighting rings, get hit by moving vehicles, or get picked up and placed in small, under-funded, high-kill shelters with little exposure. These dogs have little chance of finding a loving, responsible and committed home.

Living Space

Studies have shown the massive impact that living space has on health and behavior. Is it clean? If so, is it cleaned with various types of harsh, chemical and toxic cleaners, or natural, organic, non-toxic cleaners? Is it clutter- dust-, animal-dander and mold-free? When there are too many things piled and cluttered in a space, it becomes a breeding ground for things like dust mites, mold, dander, germs and other allergens. Not only are they a health hazard, but the entire picture becomes a constant source of frustration, stress and energy drain on people.

Besides securing the living area, dog owners need to provide the physical and mental outlets for dogs to drain their energy.


The Virginia-Maryland-Washington DC Dog


How living spaces are kept and maintained speaks volumes, and several studies have shown a correlation between this and a person’s emotional, mental and physical health. Consistent disorder, chaos and mess in our home, work, and even our car-space, can be related to a person’s emotional, mental and physical disorder, chaos and mess. Whatever affects people, also affects their dogs. Dogs live in and share the same living space, breathe the same air, and absorb the emotional impact that the living conditions have on their humans. Much like people can child-proof a home, dog owners should take the same precautions for dogs. Dog owners should not be leaving things around that could easily get swallowed or chewed; should keep medications, cleaning supplies, and other items containing dangerous chemicals out of reach; ensuring that any holes and small spaces are blocked off; not leave apple cores, grape stems, chocolate and other toxic foods laying around; keep the lid of the trash can tight and secure; keep the lid of the toilet down, especially if you use chemical toilet cleaners; and make sure that any wires from electronics are out of reach.

Sensory Stimulation

It’s important, especially when conditioning and shaping puppies, to provide various forms of sensory stimulation. When dogs are able to experience a range of sights, sounds, smells, temperatures, textures, tastes, and different types of scenarios, they’re allowed to be more like a dog. Their senses are awakened and strengthened, preventing sensory deprivation, and they become accustomed to, and familiar with, the world around them. The more that dog owners expose their dogs to a variety of experiences, the more confident, equipped and well-rounded the dogs become. Consistent exposure to varied experiences is a great way to prevent future fears. Dogs are influenced and impacted by their environment, reacting and responding directly to that environment. Humans comprise a large portion of a dog’s life. It is the responsibility of dog owners, as caretakers, to provide their dogs with what they need to live a high-quality, healthful life, and to also provide for their dogs the ability to maintain a sound, balanced state of mind through which to enjoy that life.

Besides securing the living area, dog owners need to provide the physical and mental outlets for dogs to drain their energy. This promotes and contributes to a dog’s state of health and state of mind. This also prevents stress, frustration and boredom. When dogs have energy to burn, and their owners do not provide them with daily opportunities to release it, dogs figure out a way to release that energy. Common dog stress relievers and boredom-busters are excessive barking, chewing and shredding; digging; jumping; whining; pacing; tail-chasing; licking; over-shedding; fence-fighting; and hyperactive and restless states of mind. If dogs do not receive a daily outlet of energy, some dogs could elicit aggressive tendencies. This is how dogs show that their needs aren’t being met.

Fall 2015 |


{ training }

Riding the Storm Out: Helping Your Dog Deal With Thunderstorms By Laurie Luck, It’s thunderstorm season and if your dog is afraid of thunderstorms, it can feel nightmarish: KPA-CTP, CNWI checking radar every day, worrying that a storm will crop up while the dog is home alone, hoping the dog doesn’t destroy the house, or panic to the point of self-injury. Thunderstorm phobia is real. If a dog reacts poorly to thunder, lightning, wind, he may exhibit the following symptoms: trembling, panting, pacing, whining, drooling, attempts to hide, or attempts to get into a bathroom or the basement. Help the dog.

Get a Thundershirt for the dog. Using pressure to relieve anxiety has been a common practice for years, but without taking a class in a special kind of training that involves a pressure body wrap; there weren’t many options until recently. The Thundershirt was created--and now it’s easy to put a lightweight, stretchy jacket on the dog and press some Velcro strips together to create a doggie version of pressure that works in a similar manner to swaddling an infant, or having people with autism use pressure to reduce persistent anxiety. Be sure to give it a couple of test runs when there isn’t any chance of storms, to be sure to create a good association with the Thundershirt. Just put the Thundershirt on the dog at dinner time. Feed the dinner a few nights with the Thundershirt on the dog. After the acclimation period, put the Thundershirt on a few hours before a storm is forecast. And sometimes put it on when there’s 0 percent chance of rain, too, just to be sure the dog doesn’t associate the Thundershirt with an impending storm.

Try an Adaptil collar. Adaptil is a synthetic copy of the natural comforting pheromone released by a mother dog to reassure her puppies. Research has shown that Adaptil not only helps puppies, but also helps dogs of all ages who are stressed and anxious about thunderstorms and fireworks, veterinary visits, car travel, new additions to the family, and other issues and incidents.


Adaptil comes in a few forms: a room diffuser and a collar. Manufacturers used to offer a spray (which we loved--use it as needed, just spray it in the car, crate, or wherever it might be needed), but we couldn’t find that option on the U.S. version of the company website, as of the writing of this article.

“Music hath charms to soothe the savage beast.” — William Congreve. There is a CD called “Through a Dog’s Ear” that helps soothe a dog’s nerves, and it can be helpful not only for storms, but also while the dog is home alone. The over-arching psychoacoustic theory behind “Through a Dog’s Ear” is summed up in just two words--simple sound. This is basically  the process of minimizing intricate auditory information found in most music. In other words, it’s not good enough to just leave the radio on--even if it’s playing classical music. That kind of music is too complex to help dogs relax. The music on “Through A Dog’s Ear” has been specially composed and recorded to be used to calm dogs. It’s better to treat fear or anxiety earlier—rather than later when it’s had a chance to grow or be generalized to other situations. When a dog (or a person) is in a fearful state, learning can’t take place. If the dog is downstairs trembling and panting, he can’t learn how to feel better about storms. Medication can help with noise phobias----including fireworks and thunderstorms. The idea is to at least stop the event (thunderstorm) from continuing to strengthen a dog’s fear.

The Virginia-Maryland-Washington DC Dog

{ training }


It’s better to treat fear or anxiety earlier—rather than later when it’s had a chance to grow or be generalized to other situations.

Medication is a way to open that window of opportunity in order to get a foothold into easing the fear. Veterinarians are on the front lines, and they are qualified to advise dog owners about whether their dog is a candidate for medication, and to determine which medication would be most appropriate. As a trainer, I stand ready to implement the training and conditioning necessary to help teach dogs that thunder and lightning isn’t all bad, but I can only make progress if the dog is in a less fearful or anxious state. Medication doesn’t necessarily tranquilize or sedate a dog--they can be alert, functional, and awake, yet be bothered less by the booming and noise of thunderstorms or fireworks.


For more information: Laurie Luck, KPA-CTP, CNWI Smart Dog University 240.394.1112


There is help for noise-phobic dogs! Try a combination of the products mentioned here, and talk to your veterinarian about the benefits of using medication to help teach the dog to relax during a thunderstorm.

Fall 2015 |


“Benevolent, instructive stories of the bonds between animals and humans.”

Where DC actors help DC animals find forever homes!

-Kirkus Reviews

The Gift of Pets is a featured title on the 2012 LA TIMES Summer Reading List and in the 2013 Virginia Festival of the Book. Available from all major book retailers, Amazon. com and in ebook format for both Kindle and Nook. Get a signed copy from Dr. Coston’s website.

Saturday, September 19, 11:00am - 2:00pm


The Park at CityCenter DC Actors for Animals, in partnership with CityCenterDC, is hosting the 3rd annual mega adoption event BELTWAY BARKS! •

{ rounding up rover }

Don’t Despair! Don’t Give Up! Rover Can Be Found! When pets go missing, of course, pet owners sometimes become overwhelmed, sometimes they give up the search, and some people tend to think the worst. Often, when a dog goes missing, seemingly anything can occur, even the illogical. Dogs Finding Dogs (DFD), a dog rescue organization based in Maryland, has reunited more than 2,000 missing dogs with their owners. One aspect related to the search for missing dogs is that those conducting the searches must never give up. Dogs, like any creature, have natural survival instincts that start as soon as they are out on their own. They become more similar to other creatures, such as a fox. Dog owners need to keep this in mind during searches.

Surviving Harsh Elements Dogs can often survive through what appears to be incredible odds against them. For instance, there is the tale of Mimi, a Pug and Jack Russell mix who was involved in a fatal boating accident in the town of New Market, located in Frederick County Maryland. The boat she was on plummeted over a local dam, the Lake Linganore dam, tossing all on board

By Anne Wills Photos courtesy of Dogs Finding Dogs

onto the boulders and into the harsh waters. When searchers accessed the scene with search dogs, the situation seemed futile. Some observers thought the search would be a recovery—and not a rescue. Katherine, Mimi’s owner, stated “I knew for sure she was dead! Mimi being so small could have never missed the boulders. I am sure she hit her head and drowned.” The search dogs confirmed Mimi’s scent at the edges of the dam. As Heidi, a search dog, and searchers tracked Mimi’s scent along the wood line of the dam, Mimi started barking from the woods along the side of the searchers! What appeared to be a grim situation for some of the searchers turned into a moment of rejoice and determination to get little Mimi caught. Mimi’s case has extreme circumstances. A dog simply running away is just as emotionally draining. Perseverance often leads to a happy reunion.

Fall 2015 |


{ rounding up rover }

Pictured above L to R: DFD Rescue Team, “Mimi,” “Chamber,” “Bouquet,” “Colby,” “June”

During the middle of the winter, with single digits and snow on the ground, Lisa, of Front Royal, Virginia lost her dog Chamber in the Shenandoah National Park while going to the veterinarian. She was fearful that her dog was going to perish due to the elements. “We searched for her around the clock for two weeks until we were finally able to find her near one of our traps and lure her back to us with my son's other dog Turbo,” Lisa said. “DFD kept me focused on many tear-filled meltdowns and convinced me that the K9 would have taken us to her if she were deceased. Instead, I was given every indication she was still there.” A dog’s instinct to survive is very strong. They will find a way to stay warm. With Chamber, there was an abandoned cabin that she found, and Chamber entered the cabin. With snow on the ground, she had water to stay alive. Other aspects from the incident helped Chamber—Lisa’s scent on the ground, some free-standing feeding stations and traps. These aspects modified Chamber’s behavior to keep her in one place.

A Dog Will Work Off Its Nose An incident involving a dog named Bouquet demonstrates the use of survival instincts. Bouquet disappeared from a boarding facility for twenty-six days. Often, when a dog is lost for this amount of time, some owners give up and possibly believe that their dog has perished or has been found by another person. “She pushed open a door and escaped into cornfields half an hour after I dropped her off,” said Kyle. Near the end of the twenty-six days that Bouquet was missing, the dog managed to follow her owners’ scent back to their home neighborhood. “I spent


hours walking from my back door out to where she was spotted and back,” said Kyle. “After two days of this, she scratched on my back door to be let in at 11:45 p.m.!”

Ran Away, Stolen and Dumped Kristen, had a similar situation with her dog Colby. Colby was missing for seventeen days. Colby ran fifteen miles across Baltimore, was stolen along the way, and was subsequently dumped in a remote area of Baltimore County. In this situation, it would obviously have been easy for Kristen to have given up. But, once again, a dog’s instincts to survive tend to kick in. “Colby was finally found on the porch of a family who fed him for two days before seeing our flyers,” said Kristen. “He was a little dirty, a little thinner but alive and well!”

Too Scared to Come to The House Finally, the case of Jennifer of Knoxville, Maryland, and her dog June demonstrates how the survival traits in a dog can be frustrating, even for the dog’s owner. June was missing for five days after a door was mistakenly left open while Jennifer was preparing to leave for a camping trip. A K9 was deployed to follow June’s footsteps, which lead down a path to the C&O Canal and passed a construction site. Feeding stations, cameras, and scent trails of the owners were set up along the path that the K9 tracked from Jennifer’s house and past the construction site. This generated several sightings. “I one-hundred percent believe that June followed our scent to find us!” said Jennifer. “I am so thankful that we placed scent strips all over the area. My husband and I walked the path for hours. We even brought her fur brother down to the path for a walk.”

The Virginia-Maryland-Washington DC Dog

June was ultimately found down the path----at the construction site. She had been close to home the entire period that she was missing. Her survival instincts apparently kept her from coming back to the house.

If dog owners stay focused and turn that negative energy into determination, there could indeed be success during a search for a dog.

Inspirational Advice

Dogs become a different animal when they are left to fend for themselves. It is these differing traits that occur in differing situations that keep dogs safe—but also aloof. Just because your dog has not been seen or has come across extreme circumstances does not mean that the dog will perish. For some people, it is hard to fight the emotions of concern and fear for a pet during an incident when a dog goes missing. If dog owners stay focused and turn that negative energy into determination, there could indeed be success during a search for a dog. Dog owners should never give up hope. Dogs are far tougher than their owners sometimes want to believe.


For more information: Anne Wills Dogs Finding Dogs 410.908.6374


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Fall 2015 |


{ ask a neurovet }

By Lauren R. Talarico, BS, DVM, DACVIM (Neurology/Neurosurgery) Photo Courtesy Dr. Lauren Talarico

Ask A Neurovet Dr. T,

Dr. Lauren Talarico

I have a 10 year old Border Collie with recent onset seizures. My vet recommended an MRI scan of his brain. I have started researching MRI scanners and I am confused about the different types. Can you help me understand the difference so I can get my dog the best scan? —Tamara, Washington, DC

Dear Tamara, What a fantastic question! Understanding the differences between a high strength and a low strength MRI scanner can be very difficult. An MRI scanner is a giant magnet that is measured in units known as Teslas (T). A 3.0T MRI scanner creates a stronger magnetic field, and thus a more detailed MRI image than a 1.0T or 0.5T MRI scanner. You want to make sure your veterinary neurologist uses a high field MRI scanner for your pet. Low field MRI scanners, such as 0.5T or lower, create substandard images that can make your pet’s disease very difficult to diagnose. Furthermore, detailed MRI images from high field MRI scanners are necessary for surgical planning. Aside from the size of the MRI machine, it is important to understand who is operating it. For example, you can purchase the fanciest big screen TV money can buy. However, if it is set up and controlled incorrectly, it will produce a substandard image. It is extremely important that a trained MRI technician is operating your pet’s MRI scanner. If you have any further questions regarding the MRI scan your pet is about to receive, please feel free to contact me for more details! 

Do you have questions for the Neurovet? You can follow Dr. Lauren Talarico on Twitter @neurovet3 or contact her through her blog at


The Virginia-Maryland-Washington DC Dog


Dear Dr. T, My 6 year old Yorkie was recently diagnosed with encephalitis. I am have been reading about this disease online and I have heard it referred to as GME. She has been responding to her medications so far, but I read her disease can come back at any time! Can you explain to me what this means and how my dog could have contracted this disease? —Darlene, Falls Church VA 

Dear Darlene, I am happy to hear your pup is responding well to her medications! I understand how frightening encephalitis can be. The word “encephalitis” means inflammation of the brain. The acronym “GME” stands for granulomatous meningoencephalitis, a specific type of encephalitis. The second type of encephalitis is known as necrotizing encephalitis (NME or NLE). We believe encephalitis is an autoimmune disease. In other words, your dog’s body is attacking itself. The best way to treat encephalitis is to suppress the immune system with steroids and secondary immunomodulatory medications such as Cytosar arabinoside, Cyclosporine, Azathioprine and Leuflonamide. Many dogs require a combination of the above medications to manage their disease and keep in in a clinical remission. Unfortunately, encephalitis can come out of remission at anytime, requiring dose adjustments and/or adding second, third or even fourth medications to the treatment regime. It is very important to monitor your pet very closely for any signs of neurologic decline. In certain cases, subtle signs of disease relapse can include loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, circling, loss of balance, head pressing and possibility personality changes. It is important to keep a close relationship with your veterinary neurologist throughout your dog’s treatment process, as they can make decisions as to how and when your dog’s medications need to be adjusted to keep her in a clinical remission. 

Dear Dr. T, My 5 year old French Bulldog had back surgery last week and he is ready to go on walks and is trying to jump on the couch! My neurologist told me to keep him strictly crate rested for 2 weeks until his recheck exam, however he looks so great is this really necessary? —Christine, Manassas VA

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Dear Christine, I am so glad to hear your little guy is doing so well after his surgery! Even though he is ready to go back to his normal activity, I cannot stress the importance of following the postoperative instructions. Strict crate rest is defined as carrying your dog outside to urinate and defecate every 4-6 hours, then putting them into the crate immediately afterwards. Absolutely no running, jumping, stairs or playing with other dogs should be allowed during the postoperative process. I know how hard it is to crate rest your dog when they feel so well, but the “tough love” approach is what will ensure his back surgery is a complete success. The surgical site needs time to heal. Dogs that are allowed to exercise too quickly after surgery, they are at risk of destabilizing the surgical site, leading to potentially permanent neurologic deficits. Trust me, I know how hard it is to rest your dog when the weather is sunny outside and they want to play. However, a good 3-6 weeks of postoperative crate rest is necessary to ensure your dog’s optimal postoperative recovery.

Fall 2015 |

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{ health }

Pets Get High Blood Pressure, Too (Although Not from a Hectic Lifestyle!) High blood pressure, also called hypertension is a disease if left untreated can be serious. People and

By Bonnie Lefbom DVM, Diplomate, pressure for people, that is not the case for pets. Conditions your veterinarian would find on wellness ACVIM (Cardiology) pets are both at risk, for very different reasons. While stress and anxiety play a role in high blood

examinations, along with older age, are the most common reasons pets develop hypertension. Sadly, everyone (dogs, cats and people) with high blood pressure is at risk for sudden blindness, kidney

Photo courtesy of CVCA

damage, seizures, and strokes. It is very important to identify pet patients with high blood pressure and begin treatment before the onset of these serious side effects.

Who’s at risk for hypertension? In pets, hypertension is typically related to older age and concurrent diseases such as diabetes, kidney and thyroid problems. Fortunately, high blood pressure is extremely rare in young, healthy animals.  As pets age, their wellness needs increase (just like it does for people). When dogs are over 8 and cats are over 10, your veterinarian will usually perform

a wellness exam twice a year instead of annually. Wellness evaluations for geriatric pets include a thorough physical examination looking for physical changes over time, new lumps and bumps, using a stethoscope to listen for heart murmurs and rhythm changes, performing blood tests, urine and fecal analyses, as well as a check of the pet’s blood pres-

Fall 2015 |


{ health }

sure. Regular check-ups with your family veterinarian is the key to keeping your furry family members happy, healthy and long-lived.

What can we do to prevent high blood pressure in our pets?

Can high blood pressure be treated?

Just like for people, prevention is the key! Maintaining a healthy lifestyle for your pets is the greatest gift you can give.

Fortunately, pets don’t need a prescription for less stress in their lives to bring their blood pressure down. There are several medications that your veterinarian could prescribe to bring your pet’s blood pressure in to the normal range. Most are human medications, and are inexpensive. Depending on the response to initial therapy, multiple medications are sometimes required. It is also crucial to work with your veterinarian to manage any other problems or conditions that may be contributing to the high blood pressure.

Just like for people, prevention is the key! Maintaining a healthy lifestyle for your pets is the greatest gift you can give. If the blood pressure is not responsive to treatment, your primary care veterinarian would then refer you to a board-certified veterinary internal medicine specialist. If the high blood pressure is associated with a new heart murmur or rhythm problem, your primary care veterinarian would refer you to a boardcertified veterinary cardiologist. Board-certified veterinary specialists have four additional years of training and have passed rigorous exams to provide advanced care to pets in their area of specialty.

The most important lifestyle habits to keep your pet healthy mimic the things we need to keep our human selves healthy, such as: • Losing any extra pounds today. • Avoiding weight gain with advancing years. • Exercise daily - have some fun with laser lights for cats and ball play or play-dates for dogs. • Avoid excessive salt intake (for pets, this translates into minimizing table scraps, semi-moist treats and those with a basting/coating). • Feed your pet a balanced diet formulated for his/ her life stage (TIP – everything you feed your pet other than their food actually UNbalances their diet!). • Have wellness checkups with your primary care veterinarian at least twice yearly for pets over eight years of age.  • Ask your primary care veterinarian about referral to a veterinary specialist if advanced care is required.


The Virginia-Maryland-Washington DC Dog

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{ stories within the bond }

Oto-acoustic Emission By Bruce Coston, The receptionists had written the reason for Maggie’s appointment at the top of the page: check DVM ears! Ear infections are one of the most common maladies we see. Since I treat as many as four or five ear infections a week I was formulating a therapeutic plan for Maggie even before I entered the room. Maggie was a Yorkshire terrier mix with inquisitive eyes and an ingratiating demeanor whom I had treated since her first puppy visit five years earlier. As a healthy girl Maggie had needed me only for her routine preventive care. Though no longer a puppy, Maggie still behaved like one - frenetic, crazy, rambunctious and utterly engaging.

“How long has Maggie’s ears been bothering her?” I asked absently. “They don’t bother her at all as far as I can tell.” “Have you noticed swelling of the ear flaps?” “No.”

Maggie’s owner, Emma Moomaw, had been a client for many years. Maggie’s predecessor had also been a patient of mine. Through the years Emma had proven to be stable, grounded, and always pleasant to work with. She was tall with sandy blonde hair and a pleasant face nicely complimented with a hearty smile and freckles. There were no facades with either Maggie or Emma. Both were transparent and uncomplicated - at least I had always thought so. I pushed through the exam room door and greeted my patient. As always, Maggie was glad to see me. Her whole body writhed in greeting and she strained to plant a sloppy kiss on my cheek.

“OK, is there a bad smell?” “Nope.” “Is she not hearing well?” “She hears as well as ever.” “OK, Emma,” I said. “I’m a little confused. The record says you want me to check her ears. But she is showing none of the usual symptoms of ear problems. Tell me what your concerns are.” “You’re going to think I’m crazy, Dr. Coston,” she said hesitantly. “But… Maggie has ringing in her ears.” I didn’t know exactly how to respond to this. I turned from making notes in the record and faced Emma, confused and speechless. Emma interpreted my silence as skepticism and her freckles became more obvious as her face flushed. “Wait,” I said finally. “Did you just say Maggie has ringing in her ears?” “Well…Yeah,” she responded, squirming almost as much as Maggie was. “How can you tell that Maggie has ringing in her ears?” “I can hear it when she’s sleeping on the bed beside my pillow.” I was quiet again for longer than I meant to be, my mind working to make sense of what I’d heard.


The Virginia-Maryland-Washington DC Dog


{ stories within the bond }

I started by feeling the ear flaps, then lifting them and looking down into the canals, tracing their course as they dived down and into the skull.

“Let me make sure I understand what you’re saying,” I said. “You can hear ringing in Maggie’s ears at night while she’s sleeping?” “That’s right. I hear it plain as day.” “Well, that’s a new one on me,” I said after another pregnant pause. “It’s not that I don’t believe you, Emma,” I said reassuringly. “I just have never heard anyone tell me they hear ringing in their dog’s ears. Has Maggie shown any other symptoms?”

“Can you hear it now?” I asked. Emma leaned in close to Maggie and was quiet for a moment. “Yes, it’s ringing right now. Hank thinks I’m crazy. Please tell me you hear it too.” I had never thought so before, but I thought Hank might have a point. “Has Hank ever heard the ringing?” “No…At least he won’t admit it.” “Has anyone else ever heard the ringing?”

“No, she seems to be absolutely normal.” “No diminished hearing, vision or sense of smell? No balance problems? Nothing?” I asked.

I thought Emma might burst into tears, her face beginning to register something like panic. “You’ve got to believe me, Dr. Coston. I hear her ears ringing! Please listen again.”

“I haven’t noticed any problems at all.” “Well, let’s take a look,” I said. “Put the little girl onto the table.” My exam homed in immediately on Maggie’s ears. I started by feeling the ear flaps, then lifting them and looking down into the canals, tracing their course as they dived down and into the skull. The cartilaginous ear canals felt like thin, short pencils. Both ears appeared clean and free of the debris, redness, smell or pain usually associated with ear infections. I then inserted the dreaded cone into each canal in turn and looked through my otoscope to visualize deep into the canals where a perfectly normal pair of ear drums glistened in the light. I could find nothing amiss. Finally I leaned down and let Maggie lick my cheek, listening carefully for any noise emanating from her direction. Nothing! I turned to Emma, my face betraying my thoughts.

I held the stethoscope to Maggie’s ears, listening intently first to the left and then to the right ear. I could hear nothing. I looked at Emma and shook my head. “Emma,” I said hesitantly, “have you had your ears checked?” “It’s not me!” She nearly shrieked the words, her face blanching. I moved my stethoscope to Emma’s ears and listened again. I was mostly joking, trying to lighten the gathering storm in the room. But I also half expected to pick up a quiet buzz in Emma’s ears that was absent in Maggie’s. Silence. Tears of frustration and embarrassment began to pool in Emma’s eyes, and they searched mine frantically. “Try again. Don’t use your stethoscope this time. I can hear it without a stethoscope.”

Emma’s face flushed. “Did you find anything?” “Nothing at all. Those are two of the most normal ears I’ve ever examined.”

I bent down again and listened with my nose even with Maggie’s. I could hear only her steady breathing in my ear. “I still don’t hear anything, Emma.”

“It’s there, I tell you. Her ears are ringing!” Emma’s voice became shrill.

“Put your ear closer, right up to Maggie’s ear, like this.” Emma pulled Maggie’s ear flap up and bent

Fall 2015 |


{ stories within the bond }

down till their ears were touching, their cheeks brushing each other. I was beginning to feel sorry for Emma. The stress was taking its toll on her. I wanted to provide her a face-saving end to this visit, but she simply wouldn’t relent. I followed her example, getting cheek to cheek with my patient and nearly inserting my right ear into Maggie’s right ear. Still nothing. “It’s OK, Emma. Maybe it’s an intermittent thing. Maybe it just happens at night when she’s relaxed. She sure isn’t relaxed right now. Just look at her.” Maggie was clearly feeding off of Emma’s stress, her face now tight and drawn, a worried look in her usually welcoming eyes. “No,” Emma replied, more adamant than ever. “Try the other ear.” I placed my right ear by Maggie’s again; listening to her left ear this time. Again I could detect nothing out of the ordinary. I shook my head and looked apologetically at Emma. “Sorry, Emma. I still don’t hear anything.” “No, not HER other ear, YOUR other ear.” Her voice was pinched and thin. This had gone from silly to ridiculous; but I was afraid Emma might explode if I didn’t comply. So, more to humor her than for any other reason, I turned my cheek and placed my left ear up to Maggie’s right ear, our noses pointing in the same direction like two bird dogs on point. And there it was — a quiet, constant high-pitched squeak like the buzz of an old fashioned TV. I was stunned. Putting my left ear close to Maggie’s left ear,

now facing her hind end I heard the same ringing, only a bit louder. Astonished, I sat bolt upright and looked at Emma’s face; then bent down and listened in turn to both ears again. It was unmistakable. Maggie had an audible ringing in her ears! Emma’s face relaxed and registered such relief that I thought she might hug me. “You heard it, didn’t you?” “Yes, Emma. I did. That’s remarkable! I’m sorry I doubted you.” “So what is it?” “I have not the foggiest idea. Whatever it is, it seems to be posing absolutely no problem for her. She’s perfectly healthy in every way. I’ll do some digging and see what I can discover. But there doesn’t seem to be anything for us to treat. Take Maggie home and let her be the one dog in the world with ringing in her ears.” The next few days were spent researching the Maggie’s phenomenon. I pored over texts. I scoured the veterinary literature. I consulted with neurologists and internists. What I discovered was that Maggie was a very rare breed indeed. In most animals audible sound waves create mechanical vibrations of the ear drum which are transmitted to the inner ear through the ear ossicles where they initiate electrical signals in the auditory nerve which are interpreted as sound by the brain. In rare animals like Maggie, this system works in reverse as well so that mechanical energy in the inner ear is amplified in the cochlear apparatus, transmitted through the ossicles and vibrates the ear drum enough to create an audible sound. Maggie’s ringing has a name: otoacoustic emission. It happens at subsonic levels in a surprisingly large percentage of the human population. Only rarely does it create sound loud enough to be heard with the unaided ear. The neurologists were excited by the prospect of recording Maggie’s ringing and publishing a paper about it in the journals. But, having their assurance that there was no medical significance, Emma decided against the three hour trip to the veterinary school simply to satisfy the curiosity of a few academics. Maggie remained a patient of mine for many years after my diagnosis. The ringing persisted into her old age, though it, like Maggie, diminished in intensity with time. Suffice it to say that I have diagnosed no other patient before or since with ringing in their ears. And every time I tell the story, people look at me with the same disbelief and skepticism that I showed to Emma that day.


The Virginia-Maryland-Washington DC Dog

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{ giving back }

The Best Pet Sitters in Life Are Free By Fevi Yu Several summers ago, my family and I were busy planning for a vacation, and we needed a pet Photo courtesy of DOGMA

sitter for our dogs and cats. We recently moved to a new neighborhood, and our previous sitter didn’t work in our new location. We started calling and scheduling prospective sitters for interviews. One sitter pushed our dog a little too hard when the dog jumped on her, causing the puppy to yelp. Of course, jumping is not a habit to encourage, but this was a foster puppy still learning how to act appropriately and there was no need for the roughness. That interview was brief. There was another sitter who opened the front door before I had gotten to the foyer and inadvertently let our beagle-mix outside. It’s difficult to find a pet sitter, and it’s especially difficult to find a sitter that you can completely trust and believe that they will keep your pets safe and happy. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has guidelines for choosing a pet sitter. The organization suggests: • Your pet gets the environment he knows best; • Your pet gets his daily routine; • Your pet gets his regular diet; • Your pet gets relief from traveling to, and staying in, an unfamiliar place with other animals; • Your pet gets attention while you are away.

‘Free’dom Come After interviewing four prospective pet sitters, my family and I were exhausted. More than that, we were bewildered and surprised that we didn’t have the desire to hire any of them. The prospects either provided silly answers during interviews, or they had mannerisms that didn’t fit into our ideal of someone who would, and could. care for our pets. Then one day, a neighbor came over to say hi, and he brought his dogs with him. My family had previously met him, and we liked him. We asked if he could make a recommendation for a pet sitter. He then told us that he and other neighbors pet sit for each other in the neighborhood. When someone is away, someone else on the street cares for the pets. This was good news—and free--except you paid with your time.


We are not discounting pet sitters who do this professionally, and if you find one who is a good pet sitter, please don’t let them go. A company that I founded, Dogma, was launched in Washington, DC on March 17, 2015. Dogma is free community pet sitting: Members within a 6-mile radius can exchange pet sitting services with each other for free, you simply need to pay-it-forward to someone else in the community. We have a point system in place that tracks users’ actions within the community. Dogma. me is based in Amissville, Northern Virginia, and we plan to open satellite offices in Washington, D.C. by January, 2016.

Background and Forward Before founding Dogma, I was surprised with the cost of pet sitting.’s community pet sitting, there is no need to stretch budgets. In developing the Dogma community our goals include lessening the return of pets to shelters because of the lack of resources to care for them; increasing the adoption from shelters because of the increase of support and assistance from community members; and creating an online and offline pet community that cares for pets and each other. is in BETA There is something to be said about finding someone who wants to pet sit for you versus someone who you are paying to pet sit. With Dogma, pet owners can find someone who wants to pet sit for you and get to know your pet and love them----for free.

The Virginia-Maryland-Washington DC Dog

{ giving back }

Biscuits, Cookies, Cakes & More! The catch is that you also have to be that someone. Dogma is currently available in Washington, D.C., and Northern Virginia. All website posts are scheduled to be vetted by founders and accepted within 24 to 48 hours. BETA users will be able to meet our founders and help provide suggestions and feedback about how to improve the process.

Abbel la Cak es

Location and Membership Dogma plans to create partnerships during the coming months in 2015 with shelters, rescue facilities and pet groups who support community pet sitting. Dogma only involves in-home pet sitting. Information about joining Dogma is located at www.dogma. me. After a free trial, users will be asked to be a member, which costs $4.99 per month. Members of Dogma will be insured. When people become members, that enables Dogma to ensure the safety of the pet sitting community through house checks and other administrative functions. One of Dogma’s future plans is to provide emergency vet care funds for members. The organization plans to announce this program soon. 



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Fall 2015 |




? ? Play With Us! Connect

with us on Facebook or Twitter! The Virginia-Maryland Dog


@ thevirginiadog


? ? ? ? a ?


??? ?

By Katy Nelson, DVM

Do you have questions for Dr. Katy? You can follow her on Twitter @drkatynelson, on Facebook or send her an e-mail at


{ ask dr. katy }

Dr. Katy

Dear Dr. Katy: Do older dogs have special nutritional needs? – Samantha G., Washington, DC

Dear Samantha,

Great question! We must remember that aging, in and of itself, is not a disease. However, nutrition can be a very powerful tool in maintaining health, preventing disease and in helping to manage disease. If your older pet is healthy and on a high-quality adult formula food, you may not need to change diets. However, if your pet is suffering from an age-related condition such as arthritis, kidney or liver disease, heart disease, diabetes, or cancer, then a properly suited nutritional formula could not only be life-altering, but life-saving. Whether it’s an over the counter diet, a prescription diet, or even just a few supplements added in, there is a perfect formula out there for your pup. Speak with your veterinarian about your pet’s individual needs so you can find the right diet for your pup together.

Dear Dr. Katy: A few of my friends who own adopted dogs have obtained the DNA kits that you can purchase online in order to determine the ancestry of their dogs. What are your thoughts on the accuracy of these types of kits? — Carol W, Reston, VA

Dear Carol,

There are multiple doggie DNA tests on the market, but we must accept their limitations. While many of the companies that make these tests have databases containing several hundred breed-specific genetic profiles, there is more than twice that number of recognized dog

breeds in the world. What does that mean for your pup’s test results? It could be that your dog’s DNA profile could be similar to a breed or two within the database, but it could be more comparable to one breed that isn’t in the database. What are the benefits of these tests? Well, mostly for satisfying your curiosity about where Fido gets those big ears and funny tail, but it also could lead to a great conversation with your veterinarian about potential breedrelated issues, if in fact your pup’s test comes back believable. For medical purposes, there are new tests out on the market that test for genetic predisposition to disease, and they actually may be more useful for disease prediction, but not necessarily as much of a fun conversation starter at the dog park. You can find more info on one type of test at, and we will be discussing my dogs’ results from that specific test on our October 10th episode of The Pet Show with Dr. Katy.

Dear Dr. Katy: Dear Dr. Katy: Is there any type of rule of thumb when it comes to trimming the nails of a dog? —Stephen P., Middleburg, VA

Dear Stephen,

My rule of thumb is let someone else do it…just kidding…sort of. I really hate trimming nails and am very thankful to have an awesome staff of veterinary technicians and assistants that don’t mind helping me out! The best tip I can give you is to take the time to look at the normal anatomy of a dog nail. You can find great pictures and drawings of this online. Why do I suggest that? Because by knowing where the blood supply ends in a normal nail, it’s much easier to know where to cut on the nail without hurting your pet. Also, always have a helper. It’s less stressful on you and your pup if you have someone gently holding your dog and distracting them with treats while you get the clippers properly positioned than to try and struggle to do it all by yourself. And, remember, if it’s too much for you to accomplish at home (as it is for me), your veterinarian or groomer can always do it for you for a small fee.

Fall 2015 |



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{ metro mutt }

For a New Dog­— Ten Mantras for the First Thirty Days Here are ten tenets for the first thirty days of owning a dog:

1 Establish a Routine: Dogs crave predictability. Stick to the same times when feeding, walking, training and departing your home.

2 Provide a Private Spot

for Your Dog.

Dogs, like people, need time to themselves. Create a spot with a crate or a mat that is the equivalent of a person’s bedroom. Call your dog—or better yet teach a targeting cue—to get your dog away from his space, rather than invading his space.

By Beth Mullen, KPA CTP, CPTD-KA

3 Limit Interactions with

New People, Places and Things:

Unless your dog is a puppy—and you’ll still want to proceed with positive, controlled interactions if he is—keep his world relatively small. He’s learning the routine and building his relationship with you. Your friends, family members and neighbors are strangers to him. Let your dog explore his neighborhood in short walks around the block, slowly incorporating more of the neighborhood: Avoid dog parks for now. It’s always better to proceed cautiously, since it’s much harder to undo a negative association that your dog makes. A dog may also have never seen common household items. Build positive associations with new items by clicking, then feeding a dog with yummy food after he notices an object of concern. Looking is a behavior. Reinforce your dog with a delicious treat just for looking at new people, places or things.

Fall 2015 |


{metro mutt}

4 Begin Positive Reinforcement Training in Your Home:

Classes are helpful tools for teaching your dog how to live in the human world. However, training in your home for the first month establishes the line of communication, while also allowing your dog to learn in a distraction-free setting. Marker or clicker training is the fastest, clearest way to establish communication. The Kikopup YouTube channel is an excellent resource, with short videos. Start with “What is Clicker Training?” followed by “How to Teach Touch.” Seeing how fast, and how many behaviors, dogs can learn will impress dog owners. Remember, a dog will conduct dog behaviors unless you teach him what’s appreciated by humans.

5 Shift Calories

Out of the Food Bowl:

The food bowl was invented by humans. Use some of a dog’s daily calories in short training sessions, about five minutes. Spread training sessions throughout the day. Use some of the dog’s meals to reinforce a loose leash while walking.

8 Let Your Dog

Initiate Contact with People. Never Force an Interaction:

Remember that many dogs do not like strangers touching them. Provide a stranger with some tasty treats. Let the person gently toss a treat to your dog. The person can then simply leave a hand extended for your dog to investigate. If your dog solicits attention, the person can gently pet your dog on the chest. Some dogs find it uncomfortable and threatening to be petted on top of the head.

9 Seek Help and Ask Questions: There is information on the internet--yet much of it is incorrect on the science of learning. Punishmentbased training may suppress some behaviors, but it is not fixing the underlying cause. Instead, focus on reinforcing any behaviors that you like from your dog. Tell your dog what pays. For example, reinforce four-paws-on-floor if your dog likes to jump on people. Train alternative behaviors to undesirable ones. Otherwise, dogs are simply conducting dog behaviors.


6 Understand That Dog-to-Dog

Have Fun With Your New Dog:

Many dogs are dog-selective, meaning they like certain dogs and not others. Many dogs also find leash greetings uncomfortable. Limit or avoid these greetings until you learn more about your dog’s stress signals.

Playing, feeding, walking and interacting with your new dog builds a lasting bond. Take it easy the first month and get to know each other before widening the circle. You’ve got a lifetime together.

Introductions Can be Stressful:

7 Observe Your Dog at His Calmest:

What do his ears look like? What does his mouth do? What position is his tail in? What is the demeanor of his entire body? Since dogs communicate with the slightest of body movements, dog owners need to learn their dog’s body language. Departures from calm behaviors mean your dog is concerned. Make positive associations with what concerns your dog by using food. Feed him after he sees something of concern. This sequence is crucial. Also, distance your dog from any triggers.




Mullen is the director of behavior and training for The Washington Humane Society

The Virginia-Maryland-Washington DC Dog

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{ seeking a forever home }

Seeking A

Forever Home

“Hannah,” “Sheba,” & “Pepper” For this issue of The Virginia-Maryland-Washington DC Dog we are pleased to present a trio of Senior ladies with a lot of life and love to give. Meet “Hannah,” “Sheba,” & “Pepper” Hannah was adopted from Virginia German Shepherd Rescue (VGSR) in 2007. Sadly she was returned to the Rescue due to medical issues associated with a member of the adopted family. Hannah is very sweet and loving. She is great with dogs, cats and children. Hannah possesses impeccable manners. When you pick up her leash, she is dancing at the door ready for a new adventure. Sheba came to VGSR after her owner became ill and could no longer care for her. Sheba is deaf and heartworm positive. Until treatment is complete her activity level must be kept to a minimum. Sheba likes to investigate everything she comes in contact with. She can be a bit stubborn at times, but is currently being fostered, and as a result she is becoming more and more engaging and loving. Pepper was rescued from a rural breeder after many years of being overbred. She had a severe ear infection as well as a yeast infection associated with her skin. She loves to have her ears rubbed and her belly scratched. In addition she enjoys car rides and attending adoption events where she receives lots and lots of attention.

Photo by Carina Thornton, Fuzzypants Photography

HANNAH SHEBA Breed/Mix: German Shepherd German Shepherd Male/Female: Female Female Approximate Weight: 75 lbs 70 lbs Approximate Age: 12 years 13 years Activeness: Low-Moderate Low-Moderate Good w/Other Dogs: Yes Yes Good w/Children: Yes Yes Housebroken: Yes Yes Medical Issues: None Heartworm + Feeding Issues: None None Special Needs: None Deaf Vaccinations: Up-to-Date Up-to-Date Microchipped: Yes Yes

PEPPER German Shepherd Female 80 lbs 12 years Low Yes Yes Yes Weekly Medication None Deaf Up-to-Date Yes

Virginia German Shepherd Rescue (VGSR) (703) 435-2840

Virginia German Shepherd Rescue (VGSR) Virginia German Shepherd Rescue (VGSR) is an all-volunteer, non-profit organization based in Virginia with volunteers, fosters, and adopters located in the VA, MD, DC and WV areas. VGSR is dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation and re-homing of German Shepherd Dogs. Since it’s inception in 2001, VGSR’s goal has been to find “good dogs for good homes.” All money raised through donations to VGSR is utilized for the care of these dogs. The rescue does not have a physical location; all rescued dogs are fostered in the homes of VGSR volunteers.


The Virginia-Maryland-Washington DC Dog


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The Virginia Maryland Dog Fall 2015  

The Virginia-Maryland Dog is provided as a quarterly print magazine, as well as an extensively designed website www.thevirginia-marylanddog....