5 Phone Numbers Every Dog Owner Should Have Handy

Posted by Randi Case, DC
Written on 02/26/2014 by Brandy Arnold in Animal Advocates

If you’ve got a dog (or, is it that the dog has you?) this is one list you’ll want to print out and keep near the phone. In an emergency, when the internet is down, or if you simply need assistance with your dog from a real, live person, these 5 phone numbers should be in the Rolodex of every dog owner:

National Animal Poison Control Center: 1 888 426 4435. In an emergency every second counts. The National Animal Poison Control Center is a 24-hour manned emergency hotline sponsored in part by 36 different companies. While there is sometimes a charge for consultation, this call could save the life of your dog.

Spay/Neuter Helpline: 1 800 248 SPAY. Irresponsible breeding results in the abandonment and euthanization of thousands of dogs each year. SPAY USA is a national referral service that helps connect pet parents with free or low cost spay and neuter services in their area. With partnerships at over 950 programs and clinics nationwide, they eliminate finances as an excuse for not spaying or neutering your pets.

Animal Legal Hotline: (707) 795-2533. Do you suspect your neighbors are abusing their dog? Are you having issues with your landlord or tenants over a companion animal? Do you want to report a veterinarian that you believe is operating unethically or illegally? Here is the number to call. The Animal Legal Defense Fund can help with landlord-tenant disputes, veterinarian issues, neglect, and any form of abuse.

Emergency Disaster Information Line: 1 800 227 4645. Provided by the American Humane Association, this number provides support and relief information for pet owners living in areas affected by disasters including earthquakes, hurricanes, flooding, fire and more. While not an official “hotline,” this number is manned by live persons able to direct pet owners in the event of a natural disaster or emergency.

Pet Travel Hotline: 1800 545 USDA. If you plan on traveling by plane with your dog, a quick call to this number will ensure you are prepared for any bumps in the road where your dog is concerned. Run by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, this hotline provides travel resources, licensed pet transporter contact information, rules and regulations, and also assists those that believe their animal was treated inhumanely during travel.

In addition to these national helpline and hotline numbers, make sure you’ve got the numbers for your local veterinarian, nearest emergency veterinarian, and your local animal control services handy, too.

All Dogs May Go to Heaven. These Days, Some Go to Hospice

All Dogs May Go to Heaven. These Days, Some Go to Hospice.

Written by: Matt Richtel (Published: November 30, 2013)

More and more, cats and dogs get the human treatment. There are pet spas, pet therapists, pet clothes. And as it goes in life, so it now goes in the twilight. The latest phenomenon: pet hospice.

Denise Fitzmaurice, right, brought her 4-year-old dog, Sophie, to Dr. Michele Price’s mobile veterinary clinic for an examination.

Around the country, a growing number of veterinarians are offering hospice care, and marketing it as a way to give cats and dogs — and their owners — a less anxious, more comfortable passing.

The approach, in the spirit of the human variety, entails ceasing aggressive medical treatment and giving pain and even anti-anxiety drugs. Unlike in hospice care for humans, euthanasia is an option — and in fact, is a big part of this end-of-life turn. When it’s time, the vet performs it in the living room, bedroom or wherever the family feels comfortable.

That’s a big part of the job, the vets say, relieving pet owner guilt, giving them an emotional bridge to a pet’s death, and letting them grieve at home — rather than in a clinic or animal shelter. The intimacy carries a premium, sometimes costing 25 percent or more than euthanasia in a clinic. Vets, and their customers, say it can be worth it.

“They’re in their own environment, not only the pet but the owners,” said Dr. Mary Gardner, co-founder of Lap of Love, a Florida-based company that is one of the leaders in a small but growing market. “They’re allowed to have other animals present, other cats or dogs present, other children,” added Dr. Gardner, who refers to a pet’s owner as its “mom” or “dad,” and has since relocated her own practice to Los Angeles. “I’ve been to some homes where they had barbecues for that dog, and invited me and the neighbors, and the dog was the man of the hour.”

Lap of Love’s business has blossomed since 2010 from two providers to more than 68 vet partners in 18 states. The International Association for Animal Hospice and Palliative Care, a group started in 2009, now has 200 members, mostly vets, but also several family therapists, lawyers and an animal sanctuary in Northern California that takes in and provides holistic healing and hospice for terminally ill and elderly pets.

“There is a formal end-of-life movement, a formal hospice movement,” said Dr. Eden Myers, a veterinarian in Kentucky who runs JustVetData.com, which tracks industry trends. Of the providers who do this, she said: “They’re everywhere.”

Dr. Amir Shanan, a vet in Chicago who started the International Association for Animal Hospice, described the movement as growing, but still not mainstream; veterinary schools are only now embracing the idea. “There are skeptics out there,” he said. “But 20 years ago, there was almost no one other than skeptics, and that’s changing rapidly.”

There are no formal standards for this hospice care, and Dr. Shanan said there was a debate about what those standards should look like. “The core of the debate is who is to decide when is the right time to euthanize, if at all,” he said, noting that some hospice supporters advocate giving pets palliative care until they die naturally, as in human hospice.

Hospice and in-home euthanasia are different things. Their growth is owing to similar factors, says Dr. Myers, including a growing acceptance of hospice for humans, as well as cellphones, laptops and online marketing that make mobile vet services easier to operate. Plus, she said, more vets offer the services as a business alternative to the high cost of starting and maintaining a traditional clinic.

“And,” she added, “you’ve got people willing to spend scads of money on their pets.”

For pet owners, the financial implications of this end-of-life movement cut two ways. In one light, hospice can be seen as reducing the cost of aggressive medical care, or it can be seen as its own version of aggressive comfort care, at least when compared to euthanizing a pet sooner.

A hospice or euthanasia visit from Lap of Love generally costs $200 or $250, including drugs. Euthanasia at a clinic typically runs less, though prices vary widely, and is even less at a nonprofit shelter, like a local animal shelter. Some pet owners say costs are irrelevant given the peace of mind — their own.

“It was more for me than him,” said Jan Dorr, a bookkeeper in Boca Raton, Fla., who was an early Lap of Love customer in 2010. She’d spent $5,000 on chemotherapy for her chocolate lab, Darby, but the dog’s health continued to fail. When she heard about the idea of pet hospice, her reaction was positive; a year earlier, her own father died after a positive hospice experience. She called Dr. Gardner, who helped make Darby comfortable by increasing his pain medications, and giving Ms. Dorr a checklist of ways to recognize when it was time to let go, such as when Darby stopped eating, walking or interacting.

When Darby’s condition worsened just days later, the vet returned to perform euthanasia. Ms. Dorr lay down on her bed with Darby, hugging him. “She let me say when,” Ms. Dorr said, referring to the vet’s final injection. It was far preferable, she said, to the alternative: “I just couldn’t get it into my head to put him on a steel table in a cold room and let him go.”

Kathryn D. Marocchino, a professor of death and dying at California State University in Vallejo, who in 1996 founded the Nikki Hospice Foundation for Pets, said the end-of-life movement for pets addressed what she described as a “sense of coercion” faced by owners of sick pets forced to decide between aggressive treatment or euthanasia. She said that her group got calls from people thanking them, and saying things like: “Where were you 30 years ago? They made me kill my dog.”

Dr. Michele Price, a veterinarian in Northern Virginia whose in-home end-of-care business has doubled since 2009 to 20 percent of her practice, got a call recently about an ailing Labrador named Champ. She’d first seen the dog in August when his owners thought it was time to euthanize. But when Dr. Price got to the house, Champ was doing O.K., and she and the family decided on hospice treatment and pain meds. Later, Champ took a sharp downward turn and couldn’t walk. Dr. Price returned and they set up for the euthanasia.

Champ was on a quilt next to the fireplace when Dr. Price administered the initial sedation. “They hugged him, and told him what a good dog he was. They said, ‘We love you’ and ‘We’ll miss you,’ ” Ms. Price said of the dog’s owners. As for Champ, “He fell asleep. That’s the last thing he remembered.”

Dr. Mary Gardner, a veterinarian, co-founded an in-home pet hospice and euthanasia service called Lap of Love.

A version of this article appears in print on December 1, 2013, on page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: All Dogs May Go to Heaven. These Days, Some Go to Hospice..

Crash-Test Dummy Dogs Hunt for a Safe Seat Belt

Article excerpted from a 10/2/2013 article by Matthew Dolan (WSJ.com)

Auto makers have used crash-test dummies to simulate stresses and strains on human forms from big men to tiny women. Now, it’s Fido’s turn.

The nonprofit Center for Pet Safety in Reston, Va., has teamed up with auto maker Subaru to run preliminary tests on 11 pet safety belts.

The goal: To figure out which pet restraints work well enough to earn a seal of approval from pet-advocacy groups, which the center hopes will one day set national safety standards.

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Center for Pet Safety - A specially designed canine dummy gets buckled in by researchers in a collaborative crash-test study of pet harnesses conducted by Subaru and the Center for Pet Safety.

This summer at a private product-testing lab in Virginia, seven of the 11 pet harnesses underwent crash testing. The center designed some of the world’s first crash-test dogs, simulating a 25-pound terrier mix, a 45-pound border collie and a 75-pound golden retriever.

The final results, expected to be released this week, weren’t encouraging. Sleepypod’s Clickit three-point safety harness was the only restraint that consistently kept a dog from launching off the seat. It was also the only one judged to offer substantial protection to all passengers, dog included, in the event of an accident.

Subaru says it will soon offer Sleepypod’s Clickit Utility Harness as an accessory in its vehicles.

The Center for Pet Safety, which says it doesn’t receive any funding or free products from the pet-device industry, is in the first stages of trying to establish a uniform standard to judge all pet restraints.

“It establishes a good baseline,” said Sean Kane, a noted auto-safety researcher with Safety Research & Strategies, who reviewed the study at The Wall Street Journal’s request. The variations in test-dummy size were particularly important, he noted, since larger dogs consistently fared worse in the tests.

An untethered pet can create a safety hazard. Pet advocacy group Bark Buckle Up argues that unrestrained pets act like missiles in accidents, endangering passengers and themselves. In one calculation by motorist-advocacy group AAA, even a 10-pound unrestrained dog in a crash at only 30 miles an hour will exert roughly 300 pounds of force.

Law-enforcement groups say an injured or disoriented pet thrown from a car crash can turn violent or impede rescue efforts.

Several pet-restraint manufacturers say consumers should be cautious of these early test results. The firms say they crash-test their products at accredited facilities. The devices, however, aren’t tested by the American Pet Products Association, the federal government, traffic-safety groups or other product-safety groups.

“Our members are continuously striving to develop products that enhance the lives, health and safety of pets,” says Bob Vetere, chief executive of the American Pet Products Association, who says he hopes consumers will continue using pet restraints.

Nearly 90% of U.S. pet owners say they travel with their pets, but few strap them in, despite recommendations from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and others. Some 17% of drivers surveyed in a 2011 AAA study admitted driving with a pet on their lap.

 

Hyperbaric Chambers and Pets…

excerpted from an Associated Press article of 2/26/2013…  

Hyperbaric chambers have been used for decades to treat divers with the bends, burn victims and people with traumatic injuries, but in the U.S. they’re increasingly being used on ailing pets.

Doctors at the University of Florida’s College of Veterinary Medicine have recently used an oxygen chamber on dogs, cats, ferrets, rabbits and one monkey.  Veterinarian and professor Justin Shmalberg said the capsule has been used to treat animals that have been bitten by rattlesnakes, hit by cars and those with infected wounds, among other things.

“Any place we have swelling of tissue, we oftentimes are thinking about the hyperbaric chamber as something we could do to decrease that,” he said.  Shmalberg said the chamber’s high-pressure atmosphere of pure oxygen appears to help reduce swelling and aid healing time. He added that the school will begin clinical trials this summer to determine how – or even if – the hyperbaric chamber really is effective in speeding recoveries and healing animals.

There is little research on hyperbaric treatments and pets, although veterinarians who use the chambers note that most of the research for human hyperbaric treatments comes from trials done on rabbits and rats.

In humans, insurance companies will pay for hyperbaric treatment for several conditions, including carbon monoxide poisoning, crush injuries and bone marrow infections, among other things. Some insurance companies won’t pay for hyperbaric treatment for wounds or ulcers, saying that it’s an “unproven” therapy — but some people swear by the treatment and seek out private clinics.

It’s the same with pet owners; veterinarians with oxygen chambers say that people with sick pets often will often research the treatment and request it after becoming familiar with it through human medicine.  “It is a very new modality for treatment in veterinary medicine,” said Dr. Andrew Turkell of Calusa Veterinary Center in Florida.

“I find that it’s really very effective for any kind of trauma,” he said, adding that he’s seen improvements in pets that have been hit by cars that have been subsequently treated in the chamber.

McCullough said that his employees deliver and train veterinarians on how to use the capsule. Working with 100 percent oxygen can be dangerous, which is why pets going inside the chamber are patted down with water before the treatment so their fur doesn’t conduct static electricity and cause a fire.

In 2012, the high-oxygen chamber of a Florida equine sports medicine center exploded and caused part of a building to collapse, killed a worker and the horse inside the chamber.  The machine that exploded wasn’t one of McCullough’s chambers; it was a larger contraption made for horses. The horse inside the chamber apparently struck the side of the machine with its foot, which caused the spark and fire. It underscored the potential danger of the capsules.

Dr. Dorie Amour, the director of Emory University’s wound care clinic, suggested that hyperbaric therapy in pets be a last-resort treatment. It “has to be a therapy used when there is no alternative. Or a therapy used for a very serious problem for which there hasn’t been a solution.”