My Pet’s Cancer Diagnosis

541030_10200807370730847_356137719_nIt was frightening. I knew what the words meant, but couldn’t comprehend how they could possibly apply to us. I heard our veterinarian gently explain one of my beloved Maltese needed to see another veterinarian to explore our options. I was shocked. I forced myself to take a breath. My hands were shaking as a hundred questions raced through my mind. I was too afraid to ask some of those questions.

My sweet sixteen year old had slowed down, was a bit pickier about her food and didn’t like to get up before the sun, but she never seemed in pain as far as I had noticed. My best friend still had puppy moments; bark battles with the dog next door and always seemed to lead the way for her younger pack mate. I prayed our veterinarian was mistaken and there was another explanation.

Our long time veterinarian wasn’t wrong on her diagnosis. My dog was suffering from lymphoma.

Navigating a cancer diagnosis can be a frightening time for a pet owner. It is important to have access to information if you should ever face the issue with your pet. That is why May, 2016, is the seventh annual “Pet Cancer Awareness Month.”

Cancer is the leading cause of death in dogs over the age of 10. Cancer in cats is less common than cancer in dogs but it tends to be a more aggressive form. If caught early, about half of all cancers are curable.

“Cancer in pets is painfully common, frequently treatable, and among the most manageable chronic diseases of old age” explains Jeffrey N. Bryan, DVM, MS, PhD, DACVIM. The Director of the Scott Endowed Program in Veterinary Oncology and Comparative Oncology and Epigenetics Laboratory at the University Of Missouri College Of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Bryan has front line experience in amazing advances in pet cancer treatment.

Many cats and dogs diagnosed with cancer can be treated by their veterinarian. Some cancers can be removed surgically and the pet is cured. For others, there are many of the same options available to human cancer patients; radiation, chemotherapy and immunotherapy.

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Cancer therapies in pets are very effective if the cancer is caught early enough.

“Cancer treatment involves a lot of communication between what we refer to as the ‘triad of care’ – the pet parent, the primary care veterinarian, and the specialist,” says Gerald Post, DVM, MEM, DACVIM (Oncology), practice owner of The Veterinary Cancer Center located in Connecticut which is one of the organizations that sponsors Pet Cancer Awareness Month. “For example, the pet parent needs to be aware of any unusual lumps or bumps a pet may have, the primary care veterinarian will aspirate those bumps to find out if they are cancerous or benign, and the specialist will develop a tailored treatment plan for that individual pet patient.”

The warning signs of cancer in pets can be similar to those in people. If an animal is not feeling quite right, a swelling or lameness can be a sign to check with your veterinarian explains Dr. Bryan, “Clients should report new lumps or changes in health to their veterinarians immediately. The vets should investigate promptly.”

Unfortunately, sometimes there are few or no warning signs of cancer, at least early on. The point of Pet Cancer Awareness Month is to empower pet parents with knowledge, so that they realize that cancer is not automatically a death sentence for pets.

Pet parents can find specialists across the country through location searches on the VetSpecialists.com directory. VetSpecialists.com was developed in 2015 as a partnership between the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine and the American College of Veterinary Surgeons to provide education about diseases and conditions affecting animals and to increase awareness of veterinary specialty medicine.

If you are interested in learning more about pet cancer check out the University of Missouri’s Veterinary Oncology website. There are a number of resources on cancer and animals on their website.

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Cancer in dogs is often treatable.

 

Follow Hank to the Fun of Fast and Furriest to Help Homeless Pets

It’s said some of our most precious gifts we place in museums or vaults; others we take for walks. It is a very unique walk and run for dogs and people I want to share with you.

I think most dogs and pet people find ways to make friends. Just visit your local dog park to see how pets and owners mix and mingle.

BucaneerstateparkwldogsonbeachI recall a dog park visit where I met a woman and her pooch visiting the facility for the first time. Hank was met with wagging tails. Hank’s mom just moved from Atlanta. Other pet parents learned Hank came into her life in college and has been a constant companion through moves, break-ups and celebrations including the job promotion to Saint Louis. Hank is more than a great companion; he helps his owner meet new people and learn about their neighborhood.

Hank and his owner exercise together. I mean serious running. Hank is a Whippet, a superb athlete as well as a gentle companion. Several of us want to make sure Hank can stretch his legs in an upcoming event to help homeless pets.

The 8th Annual Fast and the Furriest 5K Run and 1-Mile Walk will be Sunday, April 24th at Hollywood Casino in Maryland Heights from 9am to 11am. The run is the Saint Louis original dog-owner professionally-timed race. Others with or without pets will take part in the walk at a leisurely pace or activities on the grounds. This is an event not only for athletes, but the entire family. Fast and Furriest also offers children’s face painting, vendor booths and food trucks.

Another fun element of the event to help homeless pets is Pooch Poker where walkers will be dealt playing cards at stations along the 1-Mile Walk route. Players with a winning hand receive a prize at the end of the walk!

Animal lovers don’t have to walk or run to participate to help pets and be a winner.  There are online options to take part in the Fast and Furriest. Plus for first time contributions are matched! A generous donor is matching participant pledges for Fast and the Furriest. $25 turns into $50; $100 turns into $200. Think of the possibilities for homeless pets!  There is also a social media component, share your online fundraising page with your family, friends, coworkers and neighbors. It is easy to share your passion for the APA on Facebook and other social media outlets. By getting the word out, you could win fundraiser prizes!

All proceeds from this event will benefit the APA’ s mission of bringing people and pets together, advancing humane education, and creating programs beneficial to the human-animal bond.

You can learn more about the event and register at https://apamo.org/event/apas-fast-and-the-furriest/

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Fast and the Furriest 5K Run and 1-Mile Walk

Bee a Nature Hero: 3 Easy Ways to Help Pollinators + Free Online Garden Resources

Bees and other pollinators are in trouble. Join the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge

Have you spotted many butterflies this year? What about bees? Unfortunately, these pollinators are in trouble. Pollinators move from plant to plant while searching for protein-rich pollen or high-energy nectar to eat. As they go, they are dusted by pollen and move it to the next flower, fertilizing the plant and allowing it to reproduce and form seeds, berries, fruits and other plant foods that form the foundation of the food chain for other species—including humans. Pollination is vital to the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink.

Bees  are on the decline

Bees are the most obvious and recognized pollinators in nature. It came as a surprise to me that over 100,000 invertebrates also pollinate. These include butterflies, moths, wasps, beetles and even flies! Hummingbirds are among a thousand birds, mammals and reptiles also helping pollinate.

Vital pollinators on the decline

You can help be pollinator hero in many ways. Here are three easy ways to start.

  1. First, and perhaps the most obvious is through plants. Whether you’re a gardening novice with a small balcony or gardening veteran with a few acres; you may be able to help wildlife in your area. It is easy to plant varieties that will attract pollinators. For example, start with native plants. Native plants form the foundation of habitat for pollinators by providing them with pollen and nectar for food, cover from the elements and predators, and places where their young can grow. The best way to attract beautiful butterflies, busy bees, speedy hummingbirds and other pollinators is to fill your yard with native plants. There are some free resources to help at the end of this post.
  2. Avoiding pesticides is not only good for you, your family and pets it is the second great way to help pollinators. Bees are our most important pollinators, and they are insects. So are butterflies like the monarch. Using insecticides will kill these insects. Herbicides will kill important native plants such as milkweed that pollinators rely upon as a food source and a place to raise young. Make the commitment to avoid using chemicals and to maintain your garden in a natural, organic way. The traditional suburban lawn, on average, has ten times more chemical pesticides per acre than farmland. By choosing native plants for your landscaping, you are creating a healthier place for your family and community.
  3. The third easy step is to help protect our grasslands to aid pollinators. America’s native grasslands are critically important for pollinators such as bees and monarch butterflies. Our grasslands are filled with native plants that offer nectar and pollen for bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and a wide variety of pollinators. They also provide milkweed, the only host plant for monarch caterpillars. Today, more than 90 percent of native grasslands have been converted to cropland and development. Grasslands are disappearing faster than any other ecosystem in North America, and that’s a big problem for pollinators. Spreading the word through social media and helping educate others is a great way to be a pollinator hero. Planting milkweed to attract butterflies will give you enjoyment as you help pollinators.

Businesses and community groups can get involved in this effort to help pollinators. One nonprofit in Saint Louis is working to provide a living landscape for birds and other wild animals. The Animal Protective Association of Missouri or APA is part of the growing trend to garden for wildlife.

APA Executive Director Steve Kaufman is working with the Saint Louis Audubon Society to create landscaping to encourage wildlife and benefit the ecosystem surrounding the adoption center: “The APA cares for all animals, not just the ones brought into our facility for direct care. This is just a small way to do our part to help the native Missouri animals that live in our area (or fly through!).”

The Missouri Botanical Gardens offers many free resources online to help with native gardens. You can find them by clicking on A Guide to Native Landscaping in Missouri or following this link: http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/visit/family-of-attractions/shaw-nature-reserve/gardens-gardening-at-shaw-nature-reserve/native-landscaping-for-the-home-gardener/native-landscaping-manual.aspx 11078212_10204083286547347_1748544961633585133_n
A national native online plant guide can be accessed by clicking on American Beauty Native Plants or following this link: http://www.abnativeplants.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/plants.search/index.htm?announcementid8429382

10494643_10207078779912157_3907921197852980798_nThe National Federation for Wildlife or NWF offers many free resources for gardening to benefit pollinators and wildlife. The NWF is joining with dozens of conservation and gardening organizations as well as seed groups to form the National Pollinator Garden Network. To mark the occasion there is a new nationwide campaign – the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge. You can take part in the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge by turning your yard or garden into a Certified Wildlife Habitat via National Wildlife Federation’s Garden for Wildlife program. It’s as simple as providing food, water, cover and places to raise young for pollinators like bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. You can learn more at www.nwf.org.

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Prepare Your Workplace for Take Your Dog To Work Day

Businesses looking to increase productivity and profitability; while reducing workplace stress and boosting morale may want to check out the benefits of pets in the workplace. Research by Virginia Commonwealth University touts the benefits of dogs on the job, citing reduced perceived stress and increased job satisfaction for employees with their pets at work.

Pets in the workplace can improve productivity

Pets in the workplace can improve productivity

A survey by the American Pet Products Association found that nearly one in five U.S. companies allow pets in the workplace. In fact, the survey found that:

  • 55 million Americans believe having pets in the workplace leads to a more creative environment
  • 50 million believe having pets in workplace helps co-workers get along better
  • 38 million believe having pets in workplace creates a more productive work environment
  • 37 million believe having pets in workplace helps improve relationships between managers and staff

2010_tyd_photowinner_louise_thmbAn upcoming event hopes to increase the number of firms with pets on the job! The 17th observation of Pet Sitter International’s Take Your Dog To Work Day®  (TYDTWDay®) is on Friday, June 26, 2015. Many businesses—even those not traditionally pet friendly—are opening their doors to employees’ dogs for this day to celebrate the great companions dogs make and promote pet adoptions.

Interested in being part of the fun? Check out the 2015 TYDTWDay Action Pack. It is an online planning guide for participants and provides step-by-step instructions for executing an office event. It even addresses common management concerns and includes a sample “dogs at work” policy and event participation forms.

09_tydtwday_hitachi_data_systems___staff3Event creator Pet Sitters International offers these tips for participating dog owners to help ensure management, employees and pets are all comfortable on TYDTWDay:

1. Do an office check. No one will mind your dog being in the office, right? Well, maybe. Check with management and co-workers to see if anyone is allergic, afraid of or opposed to you bringing your dog to work on this special day. Be respectful of those you work with and plan an alternate celebration, if necessary.

2. Puppy-proof your work space. If you plan on working with your dog, make sure your office environment is safe. Remove poisonous plants and pesticides, hide electrical cords and wires and secure toxic items such as permanent markers. Any office items in question should be placed out of paw’s reach.

3. Make sure Fido is fit for work. Even dogs don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. Be sure your dog’s shots are current. Make plans to have your dog bathed and groomed before accompanying you to work. Be mindful of your dog’s “work readiness.” You know your dog’s demeanor, so if he is aggressive or overly shy, it’s best to leave him at home. Consider how your dog has behaved in the past around strangers before making the decision to bring him. If your dog has shown fear, irritability or aggression, or if your dog has never met strangers, the workplace is not the best place for him.

4. Prepare a doggie bag. Include food, treats, bowls, toys, leash, paper towels, clean-up bags and pet-safe disinfectant. If you are routinely in and out of your work space, consider bringing a baby gate for your doorway or a portable kennel for your dog’s comfort and your peace of mind.

5. Plan your pet’s feeding times carefully. During an important sales call is probably not the best time for a bathroom break. Plan your dog’s feeding time around your work schedule and be sure to choose an appropriate area for your dog to relieve himself afterward.

6. Avoid forcing co-workers to interact with your dog. Dog lovers will make themselves known. Sally from accounting and Joe in human resources may not want to play fetch or offer belly rubs, so be mindful of fellow employees’ time and space. To avoid pet accidents, monitor the amount of treats your pet is being given from your co-workers. Remember that chocolate, candy and other people food should not be shared with dogs and that not all non-dog owners will be aware that these items can be very toxic to your pooch.

7. Have an exit strategy. Although most dogs enjoy TYDTWDay, your pet may not. Should your dog become overly boisterous, agitated or withdrawn, consider taking him home or plan in advance for your professional pet sitter to offer a midday check-in visit. Never, under any circumstance, leave your pet alone in a vehicle while you work.

Are you interested in planning a TYDTWDay event at your office? There is a free downloadable TYDTWDay Action Pack on the event website, http://www.takeyourdog.com.

Businesses unable to participate on Friday, June 26, or that wish to incorporate other pets in the celebration are encouraged to pick any day during Take Your Pet To Work Week™, June 22-26, to plan an event.

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Missing Cappy: An Extraordinary Healer and Volunteer

Why a Pint Sized Pup Means So Much to So Many

A remarkable volunteer for a Saint Louis nonprofit is being remembered. This big hearted go-giver was less than fifteen pounds and left a paw print on the hearts of thousands of people.

Cappy, a pint-sized pet of Jim and Diane Doyle worked with his “grandmother” Helen Doyle and her dog Lucky as therapy dogs. The trio served as PetReach volunteers with the Animal Protective Association of Missouri, or APA, visiting senior care facilities, convalescent centers and hospitals. It was a volunteer outreach they would perform for over ten years.

Helen, a pediatric nurse says Cappy was the right prescription for so many: “Cappy was calm and a great healer. I would put in in a lap or on the chest of someone in a bed and their face would light up. So many times, they would begin sharing stories of a childhood pet or their dog at home. Their pain and worries were eased.”Cappy

It was after such a visit to see patients at a Richmond Heights hospital, a vehicle struck Cappy. The truck never stopped. Even in the accident, Cappy brought out the best in people. Two onlookers rushed to help. The strangers gave mouth to muzzle CPR to Cappy. The dog that greeted everyone with enthusiasm and made life better for so many was gone.

Cappy exemplified the meaning of service as he helped so many people as an APA PetReach volunteer. So many feel fortunate to have known this wonderful soul and witness how Cappy put his training, loving nature, and small size to work to make the world a better place. His life leads many of us to believe angels are often disguised as dogs.

If you would like to learn more about the APA’s PetReach program, contact Laura Jones at volunteer@amamo.org or 314-645-4610.

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Include Your Pets in Your Safety Plans

Prepare for the Unexpected and Take Easy Steps Now

Summer storms, fires, floods, or man-made 61987_4733688904420_645967911_ndisasters can strike at any time impacting your treasured pets. Don’t forget to include your pets’ unique needs in your emergency plans.
“Every home should have an emergency supply kit and plans for how to stay safe when disaster strikes,” advises Illinois Emergency Management Director James K. Joseph. “Make sure your kit and emergency plans address the needs of every family member, including your pets.”

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Summer storms and extreme heat are frequent occurrences that can put pets at risk. Not only can severe storms make evacuation of your home a necessity; they can make pets so nervous they run away.

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Heat stroke is a common problem for pets in warm weather. Dogs with short noses or snouts, like the Boxer or Bulldog, are prone to heat stroke. This is also true for any obese pet, a pet with an extremely thick fur coat or any pet with upper respiratory problems such as laryngeal paralysis or collapsing trachea.

GM_25470_279040Never leave your pet alone in the car, even for a few minutes, and even with the windows cracked open. During warm weather, the inside temperature of the car can quickly reach 120 degrees.2577628

 

Pet owners also need to be aware animals may try to get out a home or apartment  window or door, which are more likely to be open as weather warms.

Knowing CPR for pets is also a good way to be prepared. The Red Cross offers classes in pet CPR. The Red Cross also offers a first aid app for everyday emergencies. The app has videos and simple step-by-step advice on pet first aid. To find it text “GETPET” to 90999 or search “Red Cross Pets” in the Apple App Store, Google Play or Amazon Marketplace.m34240123_763x260-pet-first-aid
Are you ready to create an emergency kit for your pet? Check out this top 10 list for pet preparedness:

Food (your pet’s regular food)
Water
Leash and collar
Bowl(s)
Photo of your pet/ID and a photo of you with your pet
Medications your pet needs
Immunization/vet records (keep both updated)
Pet carrier
First Aid Kit
Contact list of pet-friendly hotels, veterinarians, American Red Cross, and out-of-town friends/family

Most Dogs Do Not Like Hugs Plus Other Communication and Bite Prevention Facts

Dogs are known as man’s best friend for a reason. They are great companions, emotional support, working dogs and much more. They deserve a kiss, hug and a pat on the head right?  Wrong. Most dogs don’t like hugs, kisses, or pats on the head according to animal behaviorists. There are some 70 million great dogs and any dog can bite.

Every year, almost 5 million people are bitten by dogs and most of those bitten are children. Strange dogs are not the most common offenders, 77% of bites come from a family or friend’s dog!

Preventing dog bites is everyone’s responsibility. Simple measures can be very effective. Being aware of the risk and active supervision is important. For example, a calm and gentle dog surprised or startled can react uncharacteristically if a toddler crawls up and kisses a sleeping dog.
10440678_796489223779881_6550008399635534847_nIt is obvious a child poking or pulling a dog tail or ear could provoke a bite. Animal behaviorists find dogs guarding resources including food, toys, or even its owner is the cause for most bites.

Many animal organizations and adoption centers offer fun classes on safe interaction with animals to prevent bites. For example, in Saint Louis the APA Adoption Center (Animal Protective Association of Missouri) offers a variety of classes for kids and adults. You can learn the ways dogs and cats communicate, the proper way to approach a dog and what to do if approached by a stray animal.

11025160_807130716029148_5874756013793407181_nYou can attend a class at the APA Adoption Center or instructors and trained pets can come to you. To check out some of the programs and classes available to all age groups check out the APA website or follow this link: http://www.apamo.org/education/group-programs/group-programs-list/

If you are outside the Saint Louis area, check with local adoption agencies or visit https://www.avma.org for more information on dog bite prevention.
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