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The veterinarians and staff at the Shawnee Animal Clinic are pleased to provide you with an online newsletter. This fun and fact-filled newsletter is updated on a regular basis.

Included in the newsletter are articles pertaining to pet care, information on our animal hospital, as well as news on the latest trends and discoveries in veterinary medicine.

Please enjoy the newsletter!

Current Newsletter Topics

“Back-To-School Blues” For Your Dog

Parents and youngsters aren’t the only ones who have to adjust to a new schedule every fall. Just as kids grow accustomed to the care-free days of summer, dogs get used to the constant attention and play time that a child’s constant presence brings. Many dogs will adjust quickly to the change, but those prone to separation anxiety may look for ways to lash out.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Dr. Nick Dodman of Tufts University’s Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine recommended the following tips to help ease the transition between summer and the school year:

  • Make departure time happy using toys and treats
  • Create a place in the house where the dog feels safe
  • Try starting the routine before school begins
  • Do not indulge with baby talk or sympathy
  • See a veterinarian if the dog’s disposition doesn’t improve

With a little advanced planning and a few tweaks to you and your dog’s morning routine, you can keep your dog relaxed and content while his favorite playmate is gone for the day. Before you know it, your dog’s “back-to-school blues” will be a thing of the past.

VIDEO: Foolproof Pet ID

A microchip is a tiny computer chip which has an identification number programmed into it. The chip is the size of a grain of rice, and it is easily and safely implanted into the skin of an animal with a hypodermic needle. Once the animal is "chipped" he can be identified throughout his life by this unique number. Microchips are read by a scanning device which recognizes a unique identification number. Through registration of the animal with a national database, the owner can be contacted and this is an important step many pet owners forget. The bad news is that this technology is not foolproof. Watch this quick video and learn more about what you can do to make sure your pet is properly identified using a new free service.

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Doggy Couch-Surfing: The Newest Trend in Dog Care

The couch-surfing phenomena is raging across Europe and the US as one of the most affordable and interesting ways to travel. And now it looks like Fido can join you in the trend. New to the list of overnight options for your dog is DogVacay, structured after the more familiar couch-surfing model.

Couch Surfing

Here’s how it works. The online site allows pet owners to look up people in a specific area who host dogs. A host is expected to give your pet the same loving care that you would expect them to give their own animal – plenty of exercise and attention, meals, and of course, a doggy “couch” to rest their heads. The service costs approximately 25-30 a day, depending on your dog’s needs, and the services offered.

Scared a host doesn’t fit the bill for your Fido? Every host is interviewed by DogVacay, and owners are encouraged to meet the host families, the majority of which are dog owners themselves. The website provides bios, home photos, location, prices, and other relevant notes on their capabilities as dog-sitters. The company also offers insurance and GPS-enabled dog collars, should you want extra guarantees.

The Santa-Monica based company debuted their services in New York and Los Angeles in March, and is now available throughout the US and Canada. Though kennels still remain a good and viable option, DogVacay provides yet another possibility for Fido as you start planning your own summer vacay.

Explaining Pet Death to Children

When explaining pet death to children, it is important to be straightforward and honest. For many children, a pet's death is the first time they experience grief over death. Handling a pet's death in a positive way empowers children to handle grief in the future.

Girl hugging cat.

Children Cope Better When A Pet's Death Is Explained Honestly

The terminology that is used when explaining pet death to children is crucial. Euphemisms and clichés do not work. When explaining pet loss, use the words "death," "dead," and "dying" instead of "putting to sleep," "with the angels," or "visiting Uncle Harry" (an uncle who died a few months ago). These are all concrete words that children can wrap their brains around. Be clear, because children's minds may extrapolate harmful connotations from sugar-coated explanations.

A common euphemism for euthanasia is "put to sleep." There is no reason why children wouldn't think of this as a reversible process - "If the pet is asleep, let's just wake him up." Lying to your children by telling them that the pet ran away or that you gave it to a friend is a bad idea. Your children may exhaust every possibility looking for a lost pet, and the empty feeling of a pet that suddenly disappeared is worse than the truth about euthanasia. All of this only gives children a different kind of grief. If you say that you gave their pet to a friend, they wonder why their best friend would abandon them or why their parents would want to separate them from a creature that meant so much to them.

Instead, if you have made the decision to euthanize, it's a good idea to explain it in these terms - because we love Fluffy so much we do not want her to suffer. We are helping her to die because she is experiencing pain that we can no longer treat.

Talk about the death of a pet before the death occurs. Involve your child in the decision-making process. Not including children in the process makes them feel completely powerless about what is going on with their pet. If the pet has a terminal disease, talk honestly about the options with your children.

If the decision is made to euthanize a pet, your veterinarian can explain the medical aspects of death. The veterinarian can describe how euthanasia is done, and how the pet will look in death - the eyes do not close and the body may be warm for a few hours then later become stiff. If the pet dies or need to be euthanized as a result of an injury or traumatic accident, the veterinarian can also explain what went wrong.

Parents often wonder if a child should be allowed to be with the pet during death and see the body afterward. It may be a good idea to ask a child what he or she wants to do. If the parent or child does not want to be present during the euthanasia process, then they can go back into the room to say goodbye. Seeing that the pet is actually dead often helps give children and parents a sense of closure.

Boy hugging dog.

Involving Children In The Process Can Help Them With Closure

Grief issues do not just happen in the veterinary hospital; they happen after the children (as well as the adults) leave. Sometimes the grieving occurs months, or even years, later. During the grieving process, family members at various age levels will react differently. Children under two can sense stress in the house even though they do not know the cause. If this is the case, comforting them and paying extra attention to them may help. Children two to five years old typically believe they are invincible and regard death as a reversible feat that cartoons like the roadrunner and coyote enact. Although they may not understand that their pet is dead, explaining death concretely now helps them understand it better at a later date.

Eight-year-olds might understand that death is irreversible; however, in their minds, the universe revolves around them. If they think bad thoughts like, 'I don't want to walk Fluffy today. I wish she would just die' and then a couple months later, Fluffy dies, a child this age might believe that their bad thoughts caused the death of the pet.

Showing your own grief in front of your child is healthy. Grieving and crying in front of a child validates to the child that these emotions are OK to express. Hiding grief might make children wonder why you don't miss Fluffy. This could lead to them wondering if you would be sad if they died.

Children may react in ways that surprise adults. They may draw pictures of their pet underground, bury dolls, or ask shocking questions about what is happening to their pet's buried body. All of these responses are normal and healthy.

Families can be creative about memorializing their pet. Plant a tree. Put an engraved stone in your cat's favorite spot in the house. Encourage children to draw pictures. Each family member should be encouraged to memorialize their pet's death in a way that is meaningful to them.

If you or a member of your family is having trouble dealing with the loss of a pet, call your veterinary hospital for information. There are many Pet Hotline telephone services and counseling services available to families that have lost a pet.

Send Your Pet's Ashes To Space

A company called Celestis is now providing a way to memorialize pet by allowing their remains to boldly go where no pet has gone before: outer space.

A company will send your pet's ashes into orbit.

The company has already been sending human ashes into space, but only recently started offering its services to pet ashes. Pet owners can send the cremains anywhere from just outside the earth’s atmosphere to the moon. The company plans to launch its first pet cremains into space in the fall.

Marijuana Intoxication in Dogs is on the Rise

Veterinarians are seeing an increase in emergency calls for pets that have been sickened by ingesting marijuana.

In Colorado, where marijuana is legal, veterinarians are seeing a four-fold increase in the number of marijuana toxicity cases. Much of the increase is due to pets getting into their owner’s stash of THC-infused baked goods, or edibles.

Marijuana Intoxication in Dogs is on the Rise

And while humans presumably know how little of each item to ingest, their pets – dogs especially – are prone to eating as much as they can. (Think of them as having a permanent case of the munchies.)

Christy Tomcik, a veterinary technician at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital at CSU, says that the effect of marijuana on pets is similar to that of humans. “They become very tired and don’t move very much,” she said. Other effects commonly seen in humans, such as the desire to see whether or not Dark Side of the Moon and The Wizard Of Oz sync up, are not as common.

Pets that have ingested marijuana are typically treated with activated charcoals that can absorb the toxins, inducing vomiting, and administering IV fluids.

Veterinarians say that pet owners should keep treats away from their pets. “Marijuana is a poison to dogs,” said Dr. Billy Griswold, an emergency veterinarian. “Owners have to be careful and use common sense.”

If pets do get into their owner’s stash, veterinarians say it’s important to get medical help for them right away, and never withhold the fact that the pet has eaten marijuana. While pet owners in areas where marijuana isn’t legal may be wary of authority figures, Dr. Brian Serbin, a veterinarian in Phoenix, says that “the veterinary community is not here to tattle on [them]. Be honest with your doctor so we can fix your dog.”

First Commerically-Cloned Dog Comes Home To Florida Family

Edgar and Nina Otto lost their beloved dog, Sir Lancelot, in January 2008, when he died of cancer. On January 26, 2009, a little more than a year after Lancelot passed away, the Ottos were reunited once again with their best friend. That's when a 10-week old puppy named Lancey, cloned from Sir Lancelot's genetic material, was delivered to their home in Boca Raton, Florida. Lancey (his full name is Lancelot Encore) is more than just a cute yellow Labrador pup - he is the first commercially-cloned dog in the United States.

BioArts International cloned Lancey as part of its Best Friends Again program. The Ottos were one of five families to bid and win an auction held by BioArts International in July for a chance to clone a family dog. When Sir Lancelot died in 2008, the Ottos stored his DNA; after winning the auction, the DNA was shipped to the Sooam Biotech Research Foundation in South Korea, which provides cloning services to BioArts. Lancey was born on Nov. 18, 2008 and came to the U.S. on Jan. 25, 2009 after being weaned from his surrogate mother.

Lancelot Encore, the first commercially-cloned puppy.

Lancelot Encore, the first commercially-cloned dog.
Photo courtesy of Best Friends Again

Lancey is genetically identical to Sir Lancelot, much like a latter-born twin. While clones largely resemble their genetic forebears, similarities in behavior and personality vary, as a pet's personality is influenced by a variety of factors. During the cloning process, cells from the genetic donor are taken and inserted into an enucleated egg (that is, the nucleus is removed and discarded) of a female from the same species. Electricity is used to fuse the donor cell nucleus to the enucleated egg. Next, chemicals are used to cause the resulting embryo to divide as normal. Once the embryo is successfully produced, it is transferred to a surrogate mother, where the embryo develops as normal. Eventually, the surrogate births the cloned puppy.

According to BioArts chairman Lou Hawthorne, five other clients are scheduled to receive a clone of their four-legged family member in the next six months. Pet cloning remains controversial, with critics concerned about the ethics of cloning, especially in light of the large number of shelter animals in need of homes. However, BioArts maintains that its research into cloning can reduce pet overpopulation by contributing to the research of low-cost drug-based contraceptives. BioArts also believes that cloning research can help eventually repopulate endangered species and improve working dog breeding programs.

The Ottos already share their home with a number of pets, including eight other dogs and it cost the Ottos $155,000 to clone their best friend. But the price was completely worth it, according to Nina Otto. "Sir Lancelot was the most human of any dog we've ever had," Otto said in a press release about Lancey's arrival. "He was a prince among dogs."

Colleges Opening their Doors to Pets

As enrollment figures are starting to drop, many colleges are welcoming pets. Administrators at Stevens College in Columbia, MO and State University of New York at Canton have seen enrollments increase and emotional problems, often associated with students leaving home for the first time, decrease since allowing pets on campus.

A survey of 1,400 colleges lists allergies and irresponsible students as the two main reasons for not allowing pets. Other objections include mess, noise, disease, biting, roommate issues and pet abandonment. Schools that allow pets solve these problems in a variety of ways, including special dorms for students with pets and extra security deposits and cleaning fees. Schools also require current veterinary records and waivers of liability.

A girl and her dog on the quad

Here are a few schools that allow students to bring their pets to college:

MIT – Cambridge, MA
At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, students may keep cats in “cat-friendly” areas of certain dormitories. The cat-friendly areas have a Pet Chair who is responsible for approving and keeping track of pets in the dorm, and the pet owner must have approval from his or her roommates.

Stetson University – DeLand, FL
Stetson University allows students to bring fish, rabbits, hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs, rats, mice, cats and dogs under 50 pounds to pet-friendly housing areas on campus. While several breeds of dogs including pit bulls and Rottweilers are prohibited, the college nonetheless won the Halifax Humane Society’s 2011 Wingate Award for encouraging responsible pet ownership.

Eckerd College – St. Petersburg, FL
Students with pet ducks are in luck at Eckerd College. In addition to cats, small dogs and rabbits, the college allows owners of waterfowl to cohabitate with their feathered friend in its pet friendly dormitories. All pets on the Eckerd campus must be registered with Eckerd’s pet council.

Stephens College – Columbia, MO
Stephens College is home to Searcy Hall, affectionately referred to by students as “Pet Central.” In addition to welcoming cats and small dogs, Stephens offers an on-campus doggie daycare and opportunities to foster pets through a nearby no-kill animal rescue organization.

Caltech – Pasadena, CA
Students housed in Caltech’s seven pet-friendly dorms are allowed to keep up to two indoor cats. Cats are provided with an ID tag by Caltech’s housing office, and students must remove cats if neighbors complain.

SUNY Canton – Canton, NY
State University of New York’s Canton campus has a designated pet wing where students are allowed to keep one cat or a small caged pet with the approval of the residence hall director. Pets in this area are allowed free reign in the hall, as the school’s pet wing community tries to promote a family-like atmosphere for its residents.

These are just a few of the colleges that currently allow pets on campus. In fact, a recent survey of college admissions officers found that 38% of schools have housing where some pets are permitted, with 10% of those schools allowing dogs and 8% allowing cats. Students who dread leaving Fido behind every fall might not have to if they choose a pet-friendly college.

World Rabies Day - September 28

September 28th is World Rabies Day, an international event to raise awareness of the deadly virus. With this in mind, it’s the perfect time to take a few minutes to educate yourself about rabies prevention and treatment.

World Rabies Awareness Day

Rabies is caused by a virus that animals and people can get through exposure to the saliva or nervous tissue of a rabid animal, and is nearly always fatal without proper treatment. Rabies kills over 55,000 people per year; at least half those are children under the age of 15 who are unaware of the risks of rabies. In 95% of human rabies cases, the cause was a bite or a scratch from an infected dog.

Rabies is not always visible to the naked eye. However, the following symptoms are common in infected animals:

  • Staggering or stumbling
  • Unprovoked aggressive behavior or overly friendly behavior
  • Foaming at the mouth

The Global Alliance for Rabies Control recommends that all mammals that are in frequent contact with humans should be vaccinated, but especially dogs, cats, and ferrets. Additionally, vaccinations should always be kept up to date to ensure their usefulness.

In order to reduce the risk of exposure to rabies from wildlife, the Alliance recommends that pet owners feed and water their pets indoors, as even empty bowls can attract wildlife. Garbage should be securely covered, as the smell from an open garbage can will attract stray animals. Wild animals should never be kept as pets, and should never be approached, even if they appear friendly.

If you’re bitten or scratched by an animal that is unknown to you, you may have been exposed to rabies. Wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water and seek medical attention immediately. Once symptoms of rabies appear, survival is very rare.

If your pet is bitten by an unvaccinated animal, consult your veterinarian immediately to see if your pet needs booster shots. You should also keep your pet away from other animals, and watch your pet for signs of illness or unusual behavior for at least 45 days.

More Information
For more information on rabies and to find out about World Rabies Day events, visit the Global Alliance for Rabies Control website at

Congress Vs. Exotic Pets: The History Of H.R. 669

Not all pets are cute and cuddly and sit in your lap, but pet owners love them just the same. Snakes, iguanas, birds, hamsters, fish and others are all popular pet choices, even though they can't go for a walk in the park or come when you call. However, in 2009, the future of exotic pet ownership was in question when a piece of legislation was introduced during the 111th session of congress.

The bill, H.R. 669, was called the "Nonnative Wildlife Invasion Protection Act." According to the text of the bill, its aim was to "prevent the introduction and establishment of nonnative wildlife species that negatively impact the economy, environment, or other animal species' or human health, and for other purposes."

The overall goal of the bill was noble enough, intending to stop irresponsible pet owners from keeping dangerous pets and preventing non-native species from taking over local ecosystems.

Many species of birds are considered non-native and will be affected by HR 669

Many species of birds are considered non-native and would have been affected by HR 669.

However, the language of the bill was vague, which meant that traditional pets like hamsters, aquarium fish, most species of birds, and reptiles could have been banned under the bill. As part of the bill, substantial scientific proof would have had to be provided before a non-native animal could be imported into the U.S., bred or transported across state lines.

The bill was widely opposed by pet owners, who mounted a massive letter writing campaign declaring opposition to the bill. Luckily for exotic pet owners, the bill died in committee, never even making it to the House floor for a vote. Similar legislation has not yet been introduced.