Fear & Loathing on the 4th

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4th of July fireworks can sound like the end of the world to pets. Managing a fraidy-cat or jittery dog can mean a long and trying holiday for you, too. Every year, countless panicked pets get hurt or lost trying to flee the terrifying sights and sounds, but these coping strategies will keep you and yours happy and safe until the skies clear.

Give dogs a good walk or playtime early in the day so they’re happily tired before nightfall.

Keep pets at home and indoors. You might need to do this for several nights, depending on how many days of revelry your neighbors observe.

Close the drapes and turn on soothing music to drown out the scary stuff.

Consider a fun distracting game. Coax a mildly nervous cat into a stress-relieving game with a laser or toy. Or fire up the hot-air popcorn popper for an entertaining, chase-worthy dog snack that also makes a distracting white noise.

If you know your kiddos get seriously worked up, your vet may prescribe anti-anxiety meds.

Talk to a good pet supply store: many can recommend over-the-counter treatments.

If — Dog forbid — a pet escapes and goes missing, get in touch with nearby shelters ASAP. Shelter staff work hard before, on, and after the holiday reuniting panicked pets with their worried people.

Hot New Lifesaving Law

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Oregon’s “Good Samaritan Law” — which allows bystanders to free children or pets from overheated parked cars — is one year old. It’s always advisable to call authorities and wait for help, but the law now protects you if you break a window or pry open a door because it’s too dangerous to wait, and:

You have a reasonable belief that a pet or child is in immediate danger

You call police before or immediately after entering the car

You use minimum force needed to get into the car

You stay with the child or pet until police or rescue crews arrive

Even on a mild 75-degree day, the inside of a parked car can reach a miserable 104 degrees in 20 minutes, and a deadly 118 degrees in an hour. 

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. 

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.

Roadside 
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You know those pithy bits of wisdom we love to hate when we’re having a bad day? Like the saying about a silver lining on every cloud? Three Portland felines don work vests and traverse area highways every day to prove those sayings true.

The feline siblings, Pixie Cat, Dixie Belle, and Sylvan Jinx, show local motorists that a flat on I-205 or a dead battery in the Gorge needn’t ruin a day. They roll with Jesse Dorsett, owner of Jesse’s Roadside Rescue, whose job is changing tires and jump-starting batteries. The cats’ job is cheering the sidelined motorists.

“They really are part of the team,” says Jesse, who has taken his cats along since they were kittens. They were just a few weeks old when he moved to Portland from California. “On that road trip, I realized they do really well in a car,” he says. By the time he’d started his business, Jesse’s cats were pros on the road. “I decided it was my business and I could take them along if I want.” The cats wear yellow vests and leashes on the job, and their images grace the company’s logo and advertising.

Originally an accountant, Jesse’s roadside business follows a long family history. “The Dorsett men working in the transportation business goes back to my great-great-grandfather who, with his brother, ran and operated a stagecoach in South Texas. I am an accountant who likes to rebuild cars.  I studied the double entry system of accounting about the same time I studied ignition systems.”

 Dixie Belle posing in front of the Bridge of the Gods

Dixie Belle posing in front of the Bridge of the Gods

Early on, Jesse found the cats helped do more than pass the time on the road. “There was one lady with a flat near the fast lane on I-205, by the grass median, and traffic was heavy,” he recalls. “She was crying and really stressed out. I said, ‘Hey, do you want to meet my cat?’” Sylvan Jinx visited with the frazzled driver, comforting her with his slinky black feline coolness. Soon the woman’s spirits were repaired, right along with her tire.

 Mr. Jinx enjoying the ride on the dash

Mr. Jinx enjoying the ride on the dash

Dixie Belle, a gray and white patched Tabby, performed a service miracle for another customer. “She had a flat tire, and she expected a tow truck,” says Jesse. “I didn’t come to tow her; I just came to change her tire. She was a little grumpy about that.” But Jesse says the woman’s mood changed when he asked if she wanted to visit with his cat. “She was happy right away,” he laughs.

For customers who find themselves stranded, Jesse’s cats immediately lighten the mood. Sometimes people have waited an hour or more, growing more frustrated by the minute, and when cats come to their rescue, “it can really make their day,” he says.

Customers agree, posting reviews like: "Best roadside service cat ever!"

 Pixie and Mr. Jinx (Haylee holding him) at the Casino in Warm Springs during the eclipse.

Pixie and Mr. Jinx (Haylee holding him) at the Casino in Warm Springs during the eclipse.

For Jesse, who’s on call 24 hours a day, his feline coworkers keep him healthy and sane. “They know what’s up,” he says. “They know when I have people sign their paperwork and I give them a copy, the job is done. And then they know we get to go for a walk. We find a place with trees and we go for a walk.”

Few tales of businesses give so many reasons to smile. “My predilection for auto mechanics, driving, helping people in need, and spending quality time with my fur babies have all come together very conveniently in this business I have worked my way into. Needless to say, I keep good detailed books and do my own taxes.”


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Michelle Blake is a Salem, OR-based massage therapist and freelance writer whose work has appeared in national publications. Her husband wants you to know she's a REALLY crazy dog lady too.

Fido-Friendly Summer Travel

For Dr. Jason Nicholas and his family, a short jaunt out of Portland usually means a stay at the Oregon coast or hiking and snowshoeing in the Columbia River Gorge. For a shorter day trip, the family of four might spend an afternoon on the Sandy River Delta. Whatever the destination, Wendy, the family’s 11-year-old Spaniel/Border Collie mix, is almost always along for the ride.

Traveling with our pets is good for us and for them. We make memories and strengthen our considerable bond. “There are cats that enjoy getting out on a harness and going for hikes, but mostly we’re talking about dogs when we’re traveling with pets,” says Nicholas, adding that, as a hiking or camping partner, a dog offers security as well as companionship. 

But whether canine or feline, furry travel buddies make us better at getting out and exploring, even if only because we stop the car for their bathroom and exercise breaks. Just doing that, we’ll explore things we might have driven past and talk with people we might never have met.

As a family man, Nicholas loves the freedom of loading the kids and the dog in the car and heading out for adventure. But as a veterinarian and chief medical officer of the educational website Preventive Vet, he’s alert to the danger of heading out unprepared. 

Tips for Traveling Well from Dr. Nicholas

1.     Keep current on vaccines and parasite prevention.  Lyme disease is less common in our region than elsewhere in the US, but cases here have steadily risen in recent years and annual cases tend to peak in August. While ticks that might carry Lyme disease are more plentiful in the mountainous and eastern reaches of our region, “we’ve even had some Lyme disease over here in the western side of the state,” Nicholas says, “And fleas are a concern 365 days a year in Oregon; we don’t have a flea-free season here.” 

Talk to your vet about your dog’s lifestyle and travel schedule. Regular flea and tick prevention might be enough, but for intrepid wilderness explorers, a Lyme vaccine might be in order. 

2.     Buckle up!  An excited, wiggly dog is a hazard in a moving car and a projectile during even a low-speed crash. The results can be devastating. “Virtually any harness will help prevent an accident,” but not all will stand up to an actual crash. Nicholas prefers padded, crash-tested models like those from Sleepypod, but depending on your pet’s size and travel attitude, she may do better in a carrier that’s carefully secured. In any case, never let a pet ride in your lap. If an air bag deploys, pets on drivers’ or passengers’ laps get crushed in the impact.

3.     Keep ID tags current.  “Ideally, they’ll also have a microchip,” says Nicholas. Also keep a current photo saved on your phone in case your pet gets lost. 

4.     Scope out your surroundings on arrival.  “Say you check into a vacation home in the mountains and there are rodents out there,” says Nicholas. “Do a quick check of your hotel or rental house for possible hazards: rodent poisons, chemicals, balconies, maybe an open gate. And while you’re doing that, find out where the nearest veterinary clinic is in case you have an urgent and unexpected need.”

5.     Remember hot cars are deadly.  “No discussion of pet travel is complete without a warning about the risk of heat stroke,” Nicholas warns. Even on a mild day, the temperature inside your car will quickly climb into the danger zone. And when heat isn’t a concern, unrestrained pets left alone in parked cars can chew or choke on whatever they find in the car. 


Where do you and your furkids like to travel? Here’s how dog parents answered that question in a recent informal Facebook poll.

“Almost anywhere on the Oregon Coast.” We all know there’s something magical about dogs and beaches. Favorite lodgings include Lincoln City’s Looking Glass Inn, “very dog-centric property right on the Siletz Bay.”  —    Michele from Portland

“The Fireside Inn, The Whaler in Newport, Neskowin’s Proposal Rock Inn, and The Surfside at Rockaway Beach.  Very dog friendly and we like that beach a lot.”  —    Julia and her travel-loving St Bernard, Gomer

The Oregon Gardens Resort in Silverton, perched just between Salem and Portland, has dog-friendly rooms and endlessly walkable garden trails.” I took my dogs there last 4th of July — no fireworks!”  —    Jawea from Salem

Also citing The Oregon Garden. . . 

“Visitors can even bring their dogs to fenced exercise areas just up the road for off-leash playtime, in case you still need to tire them out,”  —    Sue from Molalla

For swimming/hiking/camping adventures, Stub Stewart State Park west of Portland boasts trails, cabins, and an off-leash romping spot. Many Oregon State Parks have dog-friendly yurts, as do some Washington State Parks such as Cape Disappointment. Other favorites include Sauvie Island, the Washougal River (SW WA), Cooper Creek Reservoir (Southern Oregon), and the popular hiking area known as Peavy Arboretum (Corvallis).  


Resources 

Dog Friendly Oregon Coast * idyllicbeachhouse.com * visittheoregoncoast.com

Dog Friendly State Parks * oregonstateparks.org

 Safety * preventivevet.com

 Silverton * OregonGarden.org

 Sunriver * BenningtonProperties.com


Michelle Blake is a Salem, OR-based massage therapist and freelance writer whose work has appeared in national publications. Her husband wants you to know that she's a REALLY crazy dog lady too.

How to know when it’s time to see the Vet

Have you experienced that anxious moment when you know something is wrong with your pet and you have to decide what to do? Maybe your dog is vomiting? Or your cat has diarrhea? Or perhaps your pet is limping, has collapsed, or is crying out?

None of us want our pets to suffer, and when such things occur, one of the most stressful aspects can be knowing what to do.

Is it an Emergency?

First, it’s important to recognize the signs of a true emergency so you can seek immediate veterinary care, if needed. It’s important to know if your veterinarian treats emergency cases, and to have a list of nearby emergency veterinary clinics before you need one. Many clinics will discuss a situation by phone to help determine whether it may be an emergency, and some will even provide home care recommendations if your pet has been seen at there in the past year.  You can also increase the chances of your pet surviving an emergency by taking a pet CPR or first aid class.

Some situations that call for immediate veterinary care include when your pet:

●       has collapsed or is unresponsive

●       has ingested toxins or an object that could cause blockage

●       has severe bleeding

●       is choking or cannot breathe

●       has injured an eye

●       has severe vomiting or diarrhea or occurrences more than twice in 24 hours

●       has broken bones or a leg at a strange angle

●       is having seizures or other neurological symptoms

●       is a cat who is straining to urinate or not eating for over 24 hours

If symptoms don’t appear severe, it can be difficult to know when to go to the vet. In these cases, remember animals — especially cats — are masters at hiding illness. This is because showing signs of sickness in the wild makes them vulnerable to predators.

Check Vital Signs

A basic assessment of the following vitals is an important step in determining whether immediate vet care is needed. If any of the following vitals are abnormal, s/he should be seen right away.

●       Hydration Your pet’s gums are a good indicator of hydration. Dr. Heather Dillon of At Home Veterinary Services — a Spot Top Dog winning veterinary practice that treats pets in their homes — says, “A healthy animal should have moist, coral-pink gums. When you gently press on the gums the color should turn from white back to the normal pink color in about two seconds. If the gums look pale, blue, are tacky (dry), or if it takes a prolonged time for color to return after pressing on the tissue, then you should have your pet seen.” With a well-hydrated pet, the skin on the scruff of the neck should move easily back into place if you pull on it gently. Here too, if it takes more than two seconds to move back into place, your pet is likely dehydrated.

●       Temperature Gently insert a lubricated digital thermometer into your pet’s rectum, and follow the instructions on the thermometer to get a reading. The thermometer should be inserted around one to three inches, depending on the size of the animal, and should never be forced in. A normal temperature for a cat or dog generally ranges between 100 and 102.5 F.

●       Respiration Rate. To measure respiration, simply count your pet’s breaths for one minute. A respiration rate of a healthy, comfortable cat is usually 20 to 30 breaths per minute; a dog’s is a broader range of 15 to 30.

●       Heart Rate. For cats, heart rate is usually measured by resting the hand on the cat’s side, behind its left front leg. For dogs, the femoral artery on the inside of the back leg is usually easiest for measuring heart rate. The normal range for a pet’s heart rate is quite wide, and can vary depending on the stress level and size of the animal. A dog’s heart rate is usually between 100-150 beats per minute; a cat’s is generally 140-220. Both heart and respiration rates are best measured when your pet is relaxed, if possible.

Other Factors 

●       Age. When a very young or older pet shows signs of a medical concern, s/he should be seen by a vet.

●       The number of symptoms. If multiple symptoms are apparent, the situation is more serious. For example, a vomiting, lethargic dog is more likely to have a serious condition than one who is only vomiting.

●       Environmental exposure. Consider what your pet may have been exposed to. Is it possible that s/he ingested a bottle of pills or something toxic in the yard? Dogs will often eat clothing or toys, and cats often eat string or yarn; both necessitate an immediate veterinary visit. For a full list of substances that are toxic to pets, visit the ASPCA Poison Control website.

Common Concerns

Symptoms are not the disease, but rather clues you can use — in conjunction with diagnostics like an exam, lab work, radiographs, ultrasound, and sometimes even surgery — to determine the underlying condition.

Vomiting and Diarrhea

Most pets occasionally vomit or get diarrhea. If either is occurring and is intense, or lasts longer than 24 hours, veterinary care is needed. When vomiting or diarrhea start, withhold food to give the stomach a rest. Dr. Dillon advises offering small amounts of water, but if your pet vomits the water, consult your vet.

If vomiting or diarrhea stops for 6-8 hours, offer your pet small amounts of bland food, like boiled chicken, turkey or rice. If your pet continues to do well, gradually transition back to a normal diet over several days. If vomiting and diarrhea resume after reintroducing food, it is time to see the vet. Chronic (repeatedly occurring) vomiting or diarrhea calls for a visit to the veterinarian.

Dr. Dillon warns that cats should not fast as long as dogs. “Any time food is withheld from a cat it should be done under the advice of a veterinarian because of the potential for hepatic lipidosis (fatty liver syndrome).” It is important not to give your pet any medication without consulting your veterinarian.

Possible causes of vomiting and diarrhea include: recent change in diet, dietary indiscretion (eating unusual or unnatural items), parasites, viruses, gastritis and gastroenteritis, pancreatitis, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, or bloat.

Limping 

Limping can be caused by a wide variety of conditions — some easily resolved, while others are more serious. According to Dr. Lillian Su at Sunstone Veterinary Specialists, most pets who limp are experiencing pain, and the most common causes of limping are musculoskeletal or neurological pain.

If your pet is able to put weight on the leg and is not experiencing other symptoms, the limping may be caused by a strain that could heal by applying a cold pack, and limiting his or her activity to short bathroom walks for several days.

With limping, a veterinary appointment is urgent if any of these is true:

●       there is a broken bone or wound

●       the pet cannot put weight on the leg

●       the leg is at a strange angle, is swollen, or has obvious instability

●       the limping appears to originate from the back instead of the leg

●       For cats, paralysis of one or both rear legs can indicate a dislodged blood clot. If your cat has limited use of ANY leg, the foot feels cold, or the cat is vocalizing loudly, it is a medical emergency.

Do not give your pet pain medication unless prescribed by your veterinarian. “While it is natural to want to give your pet something to help with their pain, many over the counter anti-inflammatories and pain medications are harmful to pets,” Dr. Su says.

Possible causes of limping include: broken or fractured bone, ligament injury, developmental orthopedic disease, stroke, arthritis, infection, or foreign body in the leg.

Lethargy 

Although lethargy is a common symptom, it can be difficult to find its cause. Dr. Stephanie Scott of Pearl Animal Hospital explains, “Lethargy is a difficult symptom to interpret. It can run the gamut of something not concerning, like being tired from a busy, active day, to a very concerning symptom of a serious potentially life-threatening problem.” Because lethargy is such a general symptom, your veterinarian will likely want to supplement a physical exam with detailed lab work and radiographs. If a pet parent is worried, Scott advises that they have their pet seen by a veterinarian — especially if there are any other symptoms.

Possible causes of lethargy include: gastrointestinal upset, cardiac disease, infection, immune-mediated hemolytic anemia, muscle or joint pain, bloat, cancer, urinary issues, or kennel cough.

In appetence/Anorexia

Like lethargy, loss of appetite is a common but vague symptom that can be caused by a variety of conditions. When accompanied by other symptoms, or the pet has a major systemic disease, it should be seen by a veterinarian. For instance, if your pet has diabetes, you should contact your vet if even one meal is skipped.

It is especially important for a cat who is not eating to see a vet within 24 hours, as s/he is vulnerable to hepatic lipidosis, or liver failure, a life-threatening disease. If your pet seems hungry but does not eat, you can try to make the food more enticing by heating it to room temperature or adding tasty, aromatic treats, such as water from canned tuna. According to Dr. Dillon, “Sometimes offering small amounts for food at a time can be a little less overwhelming.”

Possible causes of in appetence include: gastrointestinal upset, foreign body blockage, cancer, kidney or other organ disease, pain, pancreatitis, or thyroid disease.

When in Doubt

Only a veterinarian has the training and tools needed to fully diagnose and treat your pet. Dr. Scott encourages, “I am here to help your pet feel better. Your pet, my patient, can't speak, so I rely on you, the pet owner, to help me figure out what is going on. Lab work and/or radiographs [x-rays] can really help me determine what is or what is not going on.” There are many options for low-stress, patient-focused veterinary care — from clinics with separate entrances for cats and dogs to veterinarians who provide in-home care — and your veterinarian is there to help.  As Dr. Su says, “If you’re on the fence or at all uncertain, call your vet!”


Daniela Iancu, founder of Animal Community Talks, has worked and volunteered with veterinary practices and animal welfare organizations in the Portland area for the last decade. Her happy home includes a wonderfully supportive husband and sweet senior cat, Maya.

Anesthesiologists - The OTHER surgical MVP

 Dr. Shafford cradles a patient with asthma, kidney and heart disease.  The kitty is recovering well from anesthesia.

Dr. Shafford cradles a patient with asthma, kidney and heart disease.  The kitty is recovering well from anesthesia.

It’s a loving pet parent’s “perfect storm” — being caught between a pet’s need for a medical procedure and his or her risk of complications with anesthesia.

“One thing that always surprises me is that people don’t know specialist-level anesthesia is an available option,” says Dr. Heidi Shafford, DVM, board-certified veterinary anesthesiologist. It’s Shafford’s business to provide anesthesia care for medically-fragile patients.

A veterinarian may consider a pet high-risk with anesthesia for various reasons, including age, breed sensitivities, liver, heart, or kidney disease, previous anesthesia reaction, or a littermate who died under anesthesia.

“It’s not necessarily that their pet can’t undergo anesthesia, and it isn’t necessarily that their vet is wrong, but that it isn’t within their vet’s comfort level,” Shafford explains. “I’m not contradicting what that vet is saying, but here’s an analogy for what I do. Some people have compared me to a river 'bar pilot' — like those who help captains cross the difficult Columbia River Bar between the river and the ocean. Instead I help medically fragile pets navigate anesthesia.”

Shafford’s expertise helps enable high-risk pets to have procedures that can increase quality of life. A toothache is no longer life-threatening.

Veterinary anesthesiologists are sticklers for detail, crafting special anesthesia plans for each pet. For example, older pets require lower drug doses, benefit from extra support and monitoring during and after anesthesia, and need to quickly resume eating. Pets with liver disease are safer with an anesthetic that doesn’t involve liver metabolism. For kidney patients, extra pre-anesthetic fluid support and special attention to preventing and treating low blood pressure can help support fragile kidneys during anesthesia.

“Most of my patients have heart disease, kidney disease or both!”  Whatever the challenge, Shafford faces each with specialized training and thorough preparation, along with a formidable team.

“I want owners to know that I take what I do — improving anesthesia safety for pets — very seriously.  I gather detailed information about each pet ahead of time, both the focused medical picture and overall background. I get a grasp of the main concerns from the primary vet, and also talk with owners about their pet’s energy level, appetite, any coughing, sneezing, and other various details.”

Dr. Shafford also explains the upcoming procedure to pet parents. “For example, with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, there is a risk of low blood pressure and irregular heartbeats, and my anesthetic plan would include steps to minimize stress and prevent low blood pressure. I would be monitoring from before the anesthesia begins and intensively throughout, to immediately pick up on any changes, if any, to support the patient early and well.”

According to Shafford, recovery is too often an overlooked danger zone.

“During a procedure, the pet is getting extra oxygen, is often being warmed, and someone is close at hand. They are often getting IV fluids. When many clinics finish anesthesia, there is a misperception that the anesthesia is 'finished,' that the pet is out of harms’ way, and people move on to something else.”

But, says Shafford, the majority of pets lost to anesthesia-related deaths actually pass away during recovery.

 Anesthesia was stopped early for this sweet dog by her primary care veterinarian because of complications related to heart disease.  She was referred to Dr. Shafford for specialist-level anesthesia care.  Here the pup looks happy after a successful anesthesia and dental procedure!

Anesthesia was stopped early for this sweet dog by her primary care veterinarian because of complications related to heart disease.  She was referred to Dr. Shafford for specialist-level anesthesia care.  Here the pup looks happy after a successful anesthesia and dental procedure!

“In recovery I monitor closely,” she says. “They are recovering from medications, may be a little cold, and not fully in control of their systems. It’s that first one to three hours after surgery that's so critical.”

That extra assurance is one reason Shafford’s schedule is full of return clients.

“A big piece of what I do is assure you that your pet is looked after, that they are warm, that their heart is beating strong, and that they are comfortable and well.”

On site two to three days a week at the Animal Dental Clinic in Tigard, Shafford says, “The dental specialists and technicians are very skilled, fast and efficient, and it truly minimizes anesthesia time. We team up for patients that are the most at-risk. I know if I ask them for help during an anesthesia emergency, they are there for me. We’ve worked together through some very challenging cases.”

Also working alongside other veterinarians, the doctor says, “The majority of vets in the Portland Metro area are familiar with me, and there are times when I’m available to come to their location. Some procedures are best performed at certain clinics.”

Neutering a dog may be a routine surgery, but for a high-risk patient with serious heart disease, anesthetizing demands her skills. “And I’ll be doing that next week for a kitty cat. There’s just this wide range of things I do for so many pets — I anesthetized a cat for cataract surgery last week — never a dull moment! I absolutely love what I do.”


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 einforcements!!

Don’t let Halloween become a nightmare for your pet

While Halloween can be a howling good time for family members of all ages, it can be downright dangerous for pets – from toxic Halloween candy to pet costumes turned choking hazards. Sink your fangs into this scary stat from Petplan pet insurance: During Halloween week, pets are 84% more likely to visit the vet for raisin poisoning and 26% more likely to visit for chocolate poisoning.  

Below are tips from Petplan veterinarians for keeping pets safe this Halloween.  

 

· Afraid of the Dark (Chocolate): Chocolate poses a whole pillowcase-full of problems for pets. While all chocolate is toxic to pets, dark chocolates are the most dangerous containing a higher concentration of toxins like theobromine and caffeine, which can cause diarrhea, vomiting and increased heart rate and blood pressure. It can even be fatal depending on the amount ingested.  Milk chocolate has higher fat content which can trigger conditions like pancreatitis. The risk of chocolate toxicity during Halloween spikes 26% higher than at other times of the year. Be sure to keep the candy haul out of paws reach! 

· Raisin’ Hell: Some pet parents prefer to hand out raisins to trick-or-treaters instead of sugary sweets. While healthier for children, raisins are terribly toxic to pets – especially dogs. Even in small doses, raisin consumption can cause kidney failure. The risk of raisin toxicity is 84% higher during Halloween than at other times of the year. Be sure that any raisins are out of reach from pets. 

· Ghastly Get-Ups: According to the National Retail Federation, 16.2% of pet parents will dress up Fido or Fluffy this year.  Be certain pets are able to breathe and move freely in their costumes and choose an outfit that doesn’t have extra pieces like legs, hats or pompoms, as dogs often mistake these choking hazards for chew toys. Remember, too, that pets can become overheated and dehydrated in their disguises, even in cooler weather. 

· When Witches Come Calling: If you’re expecting lots of ghosts and goblins to ring your doorbell, make sure your pet isn’t tempted to dash out the door. Consider setting up a room with water, food, toys and a comfy bed where your pet can stay safe and sound.  

· Wrappers of Fright: Foil, cardboard and paper wrapping can cause just as much mischief as the candy inside! If a pet snacks on wrappers, they can become stuck in his guts, causing an obstruction that often requires surgery to remove. After bingeing on bonbons, be sure to toss trash in a lidded can well away from sniffing snouts.

Reprinted with the permission of PetPlan.

What to do . . . If you’ve LOST or FOUND a pet

If your pet is MISSING  

It’s so scary when a pet becomes lost — countless what-ifs, and the fear you might never see them again. Following are tips to prevent your pet getting lost, and what to do if it happens.  

Microchip and keep contact info current. The majority of reunions are thanks to microchips. Causes for separation are many — don’t make the mistake of believing it can’t happen to you.  

Keep collars/current tags on. Cats often lose collars; if yours roams, check to be sure it’s still on, and if not, replace it immediately. Machines at pet and even grocery stores make it easy (and affordable) to get a new tag on the fly.  

Keep current photos. Those on your phone can be sent to your computer to make a flier if needed. 

Fortunately, unlike humans, you needn’t wait 24 hours after a pet goes missing to report it. Start the search checking nearby places; for cats this includes all nooks and crannies — they can hide in unbelievably small spaces. Talk to neighbors, including kids, who are more often outdoors and usually love pets (and helping).  

Check local shelters and lost pet postings at local veterinary clinics, pet stores, and nearby businesses. Have fliers ready to post as well — fliers should have a decent photo, a brief, clear description, where/when your pet was last seen, and contact information.  

Get online. Post your flier, or your pet’s photo and info, on Facebook, craigslist, nextdoor.com, and any other sites with lost/found pages — including shelters and vet hospitals. Keep posts current and be available for people to reach you. Don’t give up hope. Pets go missing every day and there are many happy endings.  

NOTE:  Visit the shelter, don’t just call. Staff and volunteers carry a heavy load, and are caring for many pets — potentially making it tough for them to spot yours. You, on the other hand, will likely sight your sweetpea almost instantly if he or she is there. 

If you’ve FOUND a pet  

Finding a lost pet can be exhilarating as well as stressful. Did someone abandon him? Is s/he injured or unwell? Does s/he have a family missing him or her, or could s/he have been mistreated or abandoned?  

Social media is packed with stories of mistreated pets, so it’s easy to assume that if a pet is lost s/he didn’t have a good pet parent. But that’s not always the case. Pets go missing for any number of reasons. Fireworks. Construction or remodeling. New babysitters. Kids coming and going, leaving doors ajar.  

First things first

Will the animal come willingly, so you can get him or her to safety and investigate where s/he belongs? If yes, here are tips for helping get a lost pet home.  

-        If the pet has tags, try the contact information.

-        Have a veterinarian scan for a microchip. If s/he is chipped, contact the registered owner.

-        If no tag or microchip, hopefully the vet will do a quick wellness exam, and they or you can contact the local animal shelter who will take over from there.  

You can do more

-        Being a good citizen, you can post all the same ads you would if your pet was lost. Contact local clinics to see if they have a patient matching the pet’s description and post a description and photo(s) of the found pet on Facebook, craigslist and nextdoor.com where family — or friends of the family — might see it.

-        Most animal shelters must hold a pet for a set number of days before making him or her available for adoption. This is when the chance is greatest for reuniting the pet with its family.  

Unable to capture

If you cannot get the pet, don’t force it. Some may react aggressively purely out of fear. Also, you don’t want to spook the pet and potentially lose sight of it or put it in harm’s way. Contact animal control for help. Stay in the vicinity with the pet if you can. Try not to corner him or her, but do try luring and building trust with food or treats. If all efforts fail, from time to time a lost pet will linger in the area. Put out food and fresh water and keep an eye on social media pages. Contact shelters and veterinary clinics, and even post ‘FOUND’ posters in the area. Hopefully his or her family will spot one and comb the area. Often a pet is just waiting for someone familiar. 

Resources  

Bonnie L Hays Animal Shelter, West Side  *  co.washington.or.us/HHS/AnimalServices/AnimalShelter

 Clackamas County Dog Services  *  clackamas.us/dogs

 Family Dogs New Life Shelter  *  familydogsnewlife.org

 Humane Society for SW Washington  *  southwesthumane.org

 Multnomah County Animal Services  *  multcopets.org

 Oregon Humane Society  *  oregonhumane.org

 Oregon Friends of Shelter Animals  *  ofosa.org

 The Pixie Project  *  pixieproject.org

 Make fliers:  search.petfbi.org/lost-pet-flyer.aspx