For every creature there is care

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Here in Petlandia, our quirks and eccentricities include a love of unique pets. From beloved backyard chickens to ferrets, clown fish, bearded dragons — and dogs and cats — area veterinarians are prepared with the best medical care to keep our motley menageries in top shape. With everything from high tech to high touch, following are examples of the special creature care you’ll find.

Birds of a feather

Treating feathered friends is quite unlike treating dogs or cats. So, what to do when your African Gray Parrot or Henny Penny needs a doctor? Consider The Avian Medical Center in Lake Oswego. Treating all variety of farm fowl to exotics since 1984, services include routine and preventive care, diagnostics, surgery, pharmacy, and boarding. 

For the love of cats

When finicky felines need veterinary care, transporting them in a little box to a place that smells like DOGS . . . well, we all know how hard that can be.  

Never fear. That’s the approach of cat-centric clinics like The Cat Hospital of Portland in Sellwood-Moreland. This cats-only clinic is a fear-free practice designed with feline comforts in mind. Offering a full range of veterinary care, boarding and grooming services, staff say some kitties even find visits enjoyable. 

Oh, so exotic

Imagine a modern Doctor Doolittle who treats nearly any critter that swims, flies, or slithers. Yep, in Petlandia we’ve got that.

At Northwest Exotic Pet Vet in Beaverton, staff put education at the forefront of the patient relationship, making sure caregivers have the info and resources to provide the best possible care for their exotic pets. The clinic offers a full array of service, from routine care to surgery, microchipping, and medical boarding. 

Avian and Exotic Veterinary Care in Northeast Portland is home to the only two board-certified exotics specialist veterinarians in Oregon and SW Washington, meaning they meet extra education standards. The clinic welcomes birds, reptiles, amphibians, rodents, fish, primates, and exotic canine or felines, with services ranging from pharmacy and retail sales to boarding, diagnostic care, and drop-off services. 

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Southwest Animal Hospital in Beaverton rounds out our tour of the United Nations of pet care. This clinic, which accepts donations for research to advance exotic animal medicine, emphasizes education along with a full range of wellness, diagnostic, and surgical services. 

Care for Every Need

Pets need not be exotic to need specialized care, and our community has them covered too. From cardiology to dermatology, cancer care to dental services, we have an array of special-focus practices whose doctors work alongside primary-care vets to become part of a multi-discipline care team for your dear ones. You’ll find just a sampling of them here in our resource list.

Resources:

Bird care:

AvianExoticVetCare.com

TheAvianMedicalCenter.com

Cardiology:

HeartOregon.com  

Cat Care:

PortlandCats.com

Dental:

AnimalDentalClinicNW.com 

Dermatology & Allergy:

AnimalDermatologyPDX.com

Exotics Care:

AvianExoticVetCare.com

NorthwestExoticPetVet.com

SWAnimalHospital.net

Integrative:

IrvingtonVeterinary.com

PNWVisitingVet.com

TwoRiversVet.com  

Oncology and Surgery: 

VCSSpdx.com

Rehabilitation/Injury Management: 

Back on Track at BOTVRC.com


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A Portland native, Kennedy Morgan, has been around dogs her entire life - from the multitude of strays near the country home of her youth to the crew she calls her own now. Vegas, her retired agility superstar (Great Dane) has been her primary inspiration for all things dog in the last decade, including her passion for writing.  

Are favorite health foods good for dogs?

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Not necessarily, says Veterinarian Katy Nelson, who follows the latest trends as host and executive producer of a popular Washington, DC televised pet program. Set down the goji berry and kale smoothie and check out this doctorly advice:

-        Eat that whole avocado yourself — it’s not good for dogs. The fruit, stem, leaves, and seeds contain a compound called persin, which can cause vomiting and diarrhea in dogs.

-        Feel free, however, to share your turmeric and coconut oil. The mild-tasting, boldly-yellow spice revered for its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-bacterial, and possibly ant-cancer properties might interact with other medications, so ask your vet first. Tumeric is good to pair with coconut oil, as it aids absorption of the healing properties. Dr. Nelson says it’s okay in small amounts or as a topical treatment for itchy, dry skin. Just don’t get excited over rumors that the oil can cure thyroid or other diseases in your dog. There’s scant evidence to support such claims.

-        Flax seed oil? Probably yes, says Dr. Nelson. There’s evidence that it’s good for dogs’ skin and joint health, but only your vet can say if it might be right for your pup.

-        Finally, while trustworthy studies are scarce, Nelson says her own pets and patients do well on hempseed oil for anxiety or arthritis pain, so it’s worth a conversation with your own vet.

New SE Vet - A ❤ for Comfort, Rescues

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Dr.  Valori  Johnson  knew her life’s calling from an early age. “The rest of my family were mathematicians and engineers,” she says, “but I was born with the animal bug, and made sure we always had a house full of pets.”

Her passion for animals led her right through veterinary college and into a specific vision for how she wanted to practice medicine. “Since veterinary school I have worked in large, busy practices,” she says. “I wanted to create a clinic with a calmer, friendlier atmosphere that was less stressful for our patients and clients.”

Johnson — Dr. Val to her friends and clients — fulfilled that dream in February when she opened Buckman Veterinary Clinic in SE Portland. Since then, she’s seen exactly the results she’d hoped for. “A number of the dogs and cats who had earned a reputation for being ‘spicy customers’ have been much easier to work with in our new space where they are not as stressed out,”  she says.

Johnson also had another goal when she opened her clinic. “I am hoping that the flexibility of having my own practice will allow me to expand the work I do with local animal animal rescues," she says. Johnson has worked closely with My Way Home Dog Rescue, a Sandy, OR nonprofit that places dogs from overcrowded shelters into forever families.

Cheryl Yoshioka, who runs My Way Home, helped Johnson get Buckman Clinic up and running. Now, the rescue’s dogs visit the new clinic for help with issues ranging from broken bones to autoimmune diseases and liver and kidney problems.

“Most all the dogs coming into rescue have suffered neglect,” Yoshioka says, “so their care is a priority for us. Our rescue does quite a few senior dogs, and after living a life of neglect they require special care. Dr. Val has provided that for us.”

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The work reaps rewards for the doctor as well as the patients. “There is nothing quite as nice,” Johson says, “as being able to help these animals that come in neglected and suffering get back on their feet and settled in new loving families.”

The doctor says says a career in primary vet care is “a complex puzzle” requiring a unique mix of medical knowledge, scrupulous study of the latest research, and a healthy dose of compassion. “I want our clinic to be filled with people who not only have the skills any veterinary staff member needs,” she explains, “but also have a passion for working with pets and the empathy to work with them gently.”

“So many times in my career,” Johnson says, “I have seen people handling pets in ways that are unnecessarily stressful to them. I am working to develop a culture where pets and their people are treated right as individuals with unique needs."

“When we succeed in this balance, and know we have helped a pet and his or her family, that is the best reward there is!”


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William Kennedy is a freelance writer who lives with his wife and daughter in downtown Eugene, Oregon. He's had many furry friends in his lifetime. Currently, he's tolerated by a black cat named Midnight.

Sink or Swim! Water Safety for Your Dog

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If you have a water-loving dog, you know there are few things more inviting than cool water on a warm day. There are risks such as overexertion and toxic algae, so it’s important to take precautions to help keep things fun and safe.

Don’t push a scared or reluctant swimmer — not all dogs are natural swimmers.

Take along: Ear cleaning/drying solution if your pup’s floppy ears are vulnerable to infection, a dog flotation vest, and knowledge of pet first aid.

Water-crazy dogs don’t automatically rest when they’re cold or tired. Watch for signs of fatigue, and get your dog on dry land for regular rest breaks.

Safe fencing to prevent unsupervised swims by pets or kids in pools and ponds.

Watch the waves. They can be deadly to tired or distracted swimmers.

Heed all warnings and advisories about toxic algae. Get help right away if you see signs of illness (lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea) as toxic algae poisoning can be fatal in under 24 hours. Check for affected areas at by searching "Algae Bloom Advisories" at oregon.gov.

That rule about swimming right after eating applies to dogs, too. Avoid any heavy physical activity for several hours after a meal. 

Faster. Closer Pet Care When Seconds Count

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Anyone with pets knows the Murphy’s Law of super-scary sudden illnesses and panic-inducing injuries: they happen on weekends and holidays, when our primary veterinary clinics are closed. When that happens, we all want to find a good doctor, fast. We want to know what’s happening, how serious it is, and how to fix it.

Now, no matter where you are in the greater Portland area, getting that kind of smart, fast care just got easier. In an emergency when every frantic minute counts, the trained ER and critical care staff at Cascade Veterinary Referral Center is always ready to help.

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The Portland area has several emergency veterinary hospitals, some with quick care equivalent to human urgent care clinics, and others with the specialized care and equipment of human ERs. At CVRC, you’ll find skilled ER docs with veterinary technicians and support staff all assigned to their areas of specialty, such as internal medicine and orthopedics. And they have access to diagnostics ranging from digital x-rays and ultrasound to CT scans.

“It’s pretty exciting,” says CVRC Hospital Manager Traci Delos. “There are other choices, but hands down I think we have the best location: minutes off the I-5 freeway, no side streets, and easily accessible from 205 south and 217. From wherever you are in Portland it’s easy to get to us. That’s important when minutes count.

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The hospital’s move to emergency service is largely in response to the primary care vets who send patients to CVRC for specialized care.  'Our referring doctors definitely asked for this service,” Delos says. Full staffing means round-the-clock seamless care for the most vulnerable patients.

It’s also the realization of a longtime dream of CVRC’s founder, surgical specialist Dr. Richard Howard. He envisioned emergency care when he opened the hospital a dozen years ago. Every detail from building design to staffing decisions followed this vision. “We got really lucky with our clinician staff, ” Delos beams, “all are highly experienced with eight or more years in ER and critical care.”

While such expertise promises better outcomes for sick and injured animals, it’s also a balm for jangled, frightened humans. “Our clinic is designed around the client,” says Delos. “Sometimes they don’t know why they’re here or what will happen.” Staff members try to help with little touches like knowing the pet’s name before they arrive, and never interrupting a conversation to answer the phone: calls are answered in a side office to allow front-office staff to focus on the humans and animals present.

With other touches like same-day appointments, 24-hour access to staff, and photo updates on a pet’s condition, Delos says, “We’re also a newer ER clinic, so our wait-times are shorter, and we can get you back to your day pretty quickly.”

Adding caring human touches to state-of-the-art care, at CVRC they like to say, “We’re trusted for our care and chosen for our experience.”


The February/March 2018 issue of Spot is brought to you by:

Cascade Veterinary Referral Center * 11140 SW 68th Pkwy, Tigard, OR * 503-684-1800 * CascadeVRC.com

Smile!

Happy Mouth = Happy Pets! 

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As a Certified Vet Tech, I know better than to wait a full year before getting a dental cleaning. While working at a clinic I was on the frontline of identifying early stage dental disease. So why did I wait so long? I was lazy. When I finally went for my cleaning I had eight cavities. I almost screamed when the dentist shared this news.

Regular cleanings are just as important for your animals. While you may not be talking about cavities during your pet’s annual wellness exam, you will be discussing periodontal disease, the risk of fractured teeth, and what to expect from your animal’s dental cleaning. Being proactive with oral health should be a priority for all pet parents.

The most common disease in pets is periodontal disease, which can lead to infections that introduce bacteria into other parts of the body. Simply put, bad teeth can lead to a very sick animal. Research shows that inflammation in any part of the body can have a serious negative impact on your pet’s internal organs. 

While oral exams are conducted during all routine visits, we as pet parents are their first line of defense. Signs of problems may include pawing at the mouth, dropping food, aggression when touched on or around the face, and/or disinterest in the food bowl. Any of these symptoms warrant a visit to the Vet. It’s important to remember that animals are stoic, so it’s up to us to recognize even small indicators that may signal dental disease.

What to expect with routine dental exams and cleaning

It begins with a comprehensive oral examination to evaluate structures of the face, head and neck. Then intraoral structures are examined, including teeth and soft tissues.

Dental cleaning

Dental cleaning

Scaling and polishing are the most common dental cleaning procedures. Dental radiology (x-ray) is also extremely important, as disease can easily be missed without examining beneath the gum margin. The gum margin is the border of the gingiva surrounding, but unattached to, the substance of the teeth.  

Speaking with the experts at the Animal Dental Clinic NW (ADCNW), a dental specialty clinic in Lake Oswego, reinforced what I was taught about oral health in Vet Tech School. It also made me appreciate how very lucky we are to have outstanding expertise throughout this community.

“You care most about what’s happening under the gum-line where hidden infection and pain resides,” explains Dr. Jean Batigg, DVM, DAVDC of ADCNW. “But without x-rays you cannot see what’s most important.” Pets must be sedated to obtain quality radiographs.

The goal is to avoid pets from having to live years and years in oral pain, according to Dr. Jacqueline Myers DVM of Forever Pet Dental. "Most dogs and cats require at least annual dental cleanings to maintain good oral health. The American Animal Hospital Association recommends dental cleanings annually after one year of age for cats and small dogs, or two years of age for large dogs,” Myers says. “To be effective, this must be done under general anesthesia in a veterinary setting, and must include dental x-rays.”  

Board Certified Veterinary Dentists offer specialty services in complex cases involving dental disease or injury. In many cases, Veterinarians in general practices refer cases to specialists when, for example, the dog or cat is at a higher anesthesia risk. Some general practitioners have Vet Techs with dentistry certification on staff as well.

With that in mind, world-class animal dentistry/oral surgery is performed every day at ADCNW, whose number-one priority, according to Batigg, is oral health. Also a top concern is anesthesia safety; many ADCNW patients are over eight years old. “There are a lot of options,” says Batigg, adding that “95 percent of cases can have anesthesia.”  

At many general practice clinics throughout Portland, two board certified Veterinary Anesthesiologists, Dr. Heidi Shafford and Dr. Lynnelle Graham, monitor patients with medical risks including diabetes and anxiety. Age is also a consideration, and both doctors are experts in providing anesthesia care for older pets. They both partner with clinics and offer their services so at risk patients can be safely operated on — and this goes beyond dental surgery. 

Signs of periodontal disease

Disease left untreated in your pet’s mouth causes continuing unnecessary pain. If you see any of these common symptoms of dental problems, see your Veterinarian as soon as possible:

  • Red, swollen gums
  • Increased drooling
  • Dropping food from the mouth
  • Whining while eating
  • Loss of appetite or weight
  • Loose or discolored teeth
  • Bleeding from the mouth

Preventing dental disease

Periodontal disease is difficult to control once it has developed. The good news is, it is preventable with a combination of home dental care and annual veterinary care. 

Daily brushing is necessary to minimize calculus formation. Reduction of bacteria in the mouth can be accomplished through not only brushing, but diet, chews, and toys designed to support oral health.

Water additives with the Veterinary Oral Health Council seal of acceptance also support a pet’s preventive oral healthcare routine.

Start early! Before introducing a toothbrush, massage your puppy’s or kitten’s gums to accustom them to having their mouth manipulated. “You must train your puppy to open its mouth so you can safely check his teeth,” says Batigg.

Pets prone to dental problems

Some breeds are more susceptible to dental problems than others. The smaller the breed, the greater chance of periodontal disease. Because the teeth are closer together, plaque and tartar builds up in the space in between.  

Additionally, smaller breeds tend to live longer, giving periodontal disease more time to progress.  

[What] to chew or not to chew

An educational drawer at The Animal Dental Clinic NW

An educational drawer at The Animal Dental Clinic NW

Unfortunately, I know from experience that excessively hard chew toys like antlers are a common cause of broken teeth in dogs. This is extremely painful, and can sometimes become abscessed. I recently learned this with my dog, Walter, as he had a pre-molar extracted as a result of chewing aggressively on an antler.

According to the veterinary experts with VetzInsight, “Watch a dog with a bone and you will see he grabs it with both front paws and munches on it on the side of his teeth. Human teeth chew straight up and down, but animals chew in the back where the teeth are made to shear food into little pieces; like scissors, they go past each other. When dogs do that and crunch down on something too hard at just the right angle, a piece of the upper fourth premolar breaks off, leaving a slab. Now the teeth slide over each other like pinking shears.”  

Dos

·        Flexibility is a must!

·        Consider brands made with potato starch, which can be hydrated when they dry out (TIP: moisturize toys with a slice of bread in a food storage container)

·        Be present and aware whenever your pet is enjoying chews

Don’ts

Offer chews that cannot be ingested, which can cause a GI obstruction. Use products that can fracture a dog’s tooth, including:

·        Nylabones

·        Yaks

·        Rocks

·        Hooves, horns and antlers

Your pet will thank you for a healthy mouth! For dogs and cats to stop eating they must be in terrible pain. Schedule an annual exam now, and if you suspect discomfort or any of the symptoms mentioned above, get your pet seen right away.

And start brushing their teeth!


Anesthetic-free dentistry (AFD)

Experts in pet dentistry are very clear about Anesthesia Free Dentistry or No Anesthesia Dentistry (NAD). The American Veterinary Dental College (AVDC) simply states that an oral exam and x-rays cannot be done on an awake pet, stating: “A thorough oral health exam can’t be done on a dog or cat that is awake. During a thorough oral health exam, all surfaces of your pet’s mouth are evaluated and radiographs are taken. This allows a veterinarian to identify painful problems including broken teeth, periodontal disease or even oral tumors.”


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As a Certified Vet Tech, longtime PR veteran and content marketing expert, Christy Caplan brings her unique understanding of social and digital media to connect dog lovers to brands both on and offline. She lives with three hounds – two Doxies and a Beagle/Basset Hound mix,
who constantly teach her about life and companionship. Follow Christy at mylifewithdogspdx.com.

 

 

Try yoga with cats

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New year’s fitness resolution flagging? 

Try yoga with cats

Yoga is about being in the moment.

And nobody does that like a cat.

In recent years Portland area cat lovers have been able to see this truth in action, at yoga with cats classes offered at Purringtons Cat Lounge (home of the Meowmosa), and Animal Aid shelter for homeless pets.

Yoga with cats adds furry charm, zenful energy and playfulness to the feel-good factor of your practice. You might call it Meowga.

The experience has plenty of spontaneity. One cat might play-target a ponytail while another skitters across the gleaming studio floor around the mats. Still another feline drapes across a human outstretched in downward dog while another’s voice accompanies the instructor’s. Across the way a 20-lb furball lounges on a student’s chest. Whatever they’re up to, you can be sure that for cat lovers, felines take the zen of yoga to new heights.

Behind the fun, those hosting the classes hope that people drawn to them might just be moved to adopt a homeless kitty. Rescue professionals say that seeing cats outside the shelter environment makes it easier for people to envision them as home companions.

Courtesy of Purrington's Cat Lounge

Courtesy of Purrington's Cat Lounge

And whether you’re a beginner or advanced yoga student, instructors at both locales make classes enjoyable and accessible for all.

At Purringtons, both kitties and people “absolutely love it,” says owner Kristen Castillo. “It’s nice and quiet, and if there are any shy kitties hanging out in the back room they will often come out just to see what’s up. The cats always love visitors, and there is always an emotional benefit from being in the presence of cats.”

Rachelle Grant and her daughter caught a Purringtons cat yoga class while visiting from Vancouver BC.

“It was awesome,” says Rachel Grant. “It was a highlight of our trip. My daughter and I try to find cat cafes or cat rescues when we travel, and this was so much fun. We fully expected to like the cats, and we were so pleasantly surprised to love the yoga class too. The teacher was excellent, and her assistants were "purrfect". I wish all my yoga classes had cats!”

Courtesy of Animal Aid

Courtesy of Animal Aid

Animal Aid’s monthly yoga class is held at “our main free-roam cat room, which holds the largest number of our adoptables,” says Paige O'Rourke, Animal Aid Director of Operations. “Our kitties definitely get curious when they see the yoga mats roll out. Some like to roam around, weaving between participants as they hold their various poses. Others plop right down on the mats and make themselves at home. Of course, some observe from a distance.”

After class there’s time for playtime and visits with kitties throughout the shelter.

“Regardless of skill level, everyone is brought together by their love of cats and their desire to enjoy their company,” O’Rourke says. “Their participation directly benefits homeless animals by helping pay for their daily care needs, including high-quality food, medications, and vet checkups.”

Sounds purr-fect.


 

 

 

Yoga with Cats at Animal Aid

Find your center (and a little cat hair) by joining adoptable kitty Harriet (a yoga and parkour champ) and her friends at the Animal Aid shelter for Yoga with Cats! taught by Yoga NW instructor Bonny Chipman. Guests should take a mat and arrive at the shelter at 11:45am. Next class Feb. 18 noon-1pm. Preregistration required, space is limited.

Animal Aid 5335 SW 42nd Ave Portland | 503-292-6628 | animalaidpdx.org

Purr Yoga at Purringtons Cat Lounge

Cat Yoga started shortly after Purringtons’ opening in January 2015. Sessions run 6:30-7:30pm; with a half hour to hang out with the kitties. Teachers Alicia Johnson and Heather Klawender.

Drop in? You MIGHT luck out. “It depends. If we have an opening, we happily welcome walk-ins and have a few yoga mats for those who show up sans their own mat,” Castillo offered.

Purringtons 3529 NE Martin Luther King Blvd | 503-334-3570 | purringtonscatlounge.com


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Christy Caballero writes from the heart about all things pet-related, from a couple deer trails off the beaten path, typically juggling a cat (or two) on her lap as black kitty AsTar teeters on her shoulder and Mojo the retired Greyhound quietly calls for reinforcements!!

Pongo Fund rolls out mobile vet hospital

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The Pongo Fund, Oregon and SW Washington’s emergency pet food bank, introduced Pongo One in December, a state-of-the-art mobile veterinary hospital bringing critical veterinary care and other services to underserved and underprivileged families and pets throughout Oregon and SW Washington.

The 23-foot mobile hospital, featuring two surgical suites, a laboratory, x-ray, pharmacy and more will provide advanced veterinary services at no cost to qualified pet owners in need, including the homeless, seniors, veterans, victims of domestic violence, residents of low income housing and more. The Pongo Fund is a volunteer-driven, nonprofit. Learn more at thepongofund.org.

Bone Up on winter pet safety

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While it’s been a mild winter in the Northwest this year, some chilly days and weeks still lie ahead.

Despite their fur coats, pets feel the cold just as humans do. The follow safety tips are offered by the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute

  • Know your pet.  Pets’ tolerance for cold varies. When out for walks, provide a jacket for short-haired, elderly or frail dogs.
  • Forgo haircuts.  Save shearing for warmer months.
  • Check ears, paws and tails regularly.  Check for signs of frostbite, raw spots or debris.
  • Wipe your pet’s belly, legs and paws. Have a clean towel ready for when your dog comes inside to remove ice-melting chemicals, which can irritate and cause serious illness if licked or swallowed.
  • Clean antifreeze spills. Attracted to the sweet smell and taste, pets will lick or drink antifreeze, which is toxic to cats and dogs. Clean spills and consider using a brand made from propylene glycol, which is less toxic.
  • Keep water flowing. Dry winter weather can be dehydrating. Keep fresh water free of ice inside and out.
  • Provide a warm bed. Give your pet a warm, cozy bed and plenty of elevated places inside to warm up.
  • Leave Fido at home. You know the dangers of leaving a pet in a hot car, but did you know the practice can be just as hazardous in winter? When running errands, it’s always best to leave dogs at home.

Worried Dogs

Dietary Supplements Can Help Ease Anxiety

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I have three dogs. One of them, Aksel, is an outgoing goober — a ridgeless Rhodesian Ridgeback with the soul of a Labrador. Aksel hasn’t a worry in the world, and he's never met a stranger he didn’t love. When meeting people for the first time, he's 90 pounds of lap dog trying to wrap his giraffe-like tongue around their faces.

My other two dogs also love people, but unlike the carefree, imperturbable Aksel, both of them have anxiety issues.

Rhoda, my Pit/Boxer/Who-knows-what mix, is a hot mess of worries. She’s a rescue dog, but I got her as a puppy and know that worried is just her nature. She loves the car, but thunderstorms, fireworks, and loud noises freak her out. And now at her advanced age of 13, even changes in routine make her quake.

Then there’s Biggie, my rescue Pit Bull, who had been kept tied up in a yard until being dumped at a high-kill shelter. Despite this mistreatment, Biggie just adores people — family and strangers alike. But if I leave him alone in my car, he gets worried. Really worried. Barking, seatback-mauling, windshield-smashing worried. Even mellow Aksel, lounging in peaceful oblivion on the adjacent seat, has no calming effect on Biggie.

A friend overheard me mourning the shredding of my car’s seatbacks after one of Biggie’s anxiety attacks and suggested I try Composure, a calming dietary supplement produced by VetriScience Laboratories. It worked for his cat, he said.

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According to the VetriScience website, Composure’s “colostrum calming complex” — a mix of bioactive proteins — “supports stress reduction and cognitive function.” Colostrum, the protein-packed “high octane” milk moms produce soon after childbirth, sounded comforting to me. (Composure uses cow’s milk for its formulation.) The second active ingredient, L-theanine, “helps the body produce other amino acids to bring specific neurotransmitters back into balance." The last active ingredient, thiamine (vitamin B-1), “affect[s] the central nervous system to help calm anxious animals.” Composure Pro, a stronger, vet-prescribed version, additionally contains L-tryptophan, a calming amino acid many people associate with the “calming effects” of turkey.

VetriScience’s studies show that Composure, which comes as a chewable treat or liquid, works at an effectiveness rate of 79 percent, even without the L-tryptophan. Other clinical studies show that colostrum helps doggie diarrhea (something Biggie has thankfully not inflicted upon my car . . . yet). It’s also good for coat quality and periodontal disease. Between the colostrum and the studies, I was sold and decided to give it a shot.

You can give Composure to your pet daily — one or two treats a day, say — or just as needed. A 60-treat bag of Composure runs about $12 on Amazon; the Pro version costs about twice that. I tend to give Biggie his Composure as needed, and he absolutely loves it. Personal experience is by no means a clinical trial, but when I remember to give Biggie this special snack, he barks less and my car gets fewer marks on it. I’ve started giving Composure to Rhoda too, and she seems all the better for it.

If Composure for some reason doesn’t work well for your anxious pet, you might try another popular supplement on the market: CBD oil (cannabidiol). One day I was chatting about Rhoda with Dr. Doreen Hock of Pacifica Veterinary Services and The Healthy Pet, and Dr. Hock suggested I look into this remedy, sold at The Healthy Pet. Hock told me she’s seen CBD change the demeanor of older pets. She said her own dog, who had become anxious due to age-related changes like hearing loss, became less stressed after starting CBD.

Sorry I freaked out and broke your windshield.  Love, Biggie

Sorry I freaked out and broke your windshield.  Love, Biggie

Dr. Hock explained that cannabis for pets is made from hemp and only has CBD in it, not the THC that will make your dog sick if he gets into the pot cookies left on the table. It’s not legal in Oregon to put marijuana in cat or dog food, according to the Oregon Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Animal Health program. But CBD derived from hemp is legal in vegetarian food or treats in this state.

Thanks to federal restrictions, studies of the effectiveness of CBD on pets are lacking, but according to Dr. Hock, CBD oils, biscuits, capsules, powders, and tinctures fly off the shelves at her Eugene store.

Speak with your veterinarian about behavior issues. There are many treatments for anxious pets, from supplements, pheromones, and simple behavior modification to anxiety medications. Anxiety is a health issue that can be treated.

We started giving Rhoda a daily dose of CBD, sometimes using Canna-Pets Canna-Biscuits and sometimes Austin and Kat Hemp Biscuits. Sure enough, she soon started acting noticeably calmer and more comfortable.

Not every dog can have Aksel’s love of everything and be unfazed by new situations. Luckily for Biggie and Rhoda, we’ve been able to find alternative remedies to ease their fears (and the damage to my car).  


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Camilla Mortensen is editor-in-chief at Eugene Weekly. She is also a folklorist and a community college instructor. She has two horses, Flash and Cairo; a cat named Woodward; and an assortment of dogs — Rhoda, Aksel and Biggie Smalls — and lives in a 1975 Airstream trailer outside Eugene.