Saturday, November 10, 2012

Hemangiosarcoma in Dogs

A few Saturdays ago, one of our younger dogs, Cali (age 10) was not feeling well and after taking her to her regular vet at MeyerLand Animal Clinic and having lots of tests done, it was discovered that she had a tumor on her spleen that had ruptured and was bleeding. We were referred to Gulf Coast Veterinary Specialists to have emergency surgery to remove her spleen and the tumor. Although an additional ultrasound was done at GCVS to look for more tumors before doing surgery, sometimes they just can't see everything until they get in there. It turned out the tumor that was actually bleeding was on her liver. A part of her liver, her spleen and the tumors were removed. Unfortunately, she also had other small tumors on her liver as well. Sadly, the test results came back as suspected: Hemangiosarcoma. The average survival time after surgery for this aggressive type of cancer is only a few months and Cali's had already spread. We were devastated.

We went through this same scenario before with our dog Ellie just two years ago. Ellie had a tumor on her spleen that ruptured and she had the tumor and her spleen removed. We were very fortunate that the tumor was benign. Then a year later, she ended up getting immune-mediated hemolytic anemia (IMHA) and she had to have a blood transfusion. We got lucky again in her case as it was determined her IMHA had a cause (mycoplasma) which could be treated. Ellie is still doing well today.

We are so grateful to Dr. Moss and Dr. Benjamino for all of their help with Cali. She's had a morning or two where she didn't feel as good but for the most part, she has been feeling good since her surgery, acting her usual bossy self. She's the alpha dog in our pack so there's a lot of bossing to do! . We are keeping her as comfortable as possible, providing hospice care and cherishing the time we have left together.  

When dealing with something like cancer, you feel so helpless. There's just not a lot you can do. In an effort to help keep her as comfortable as possible and to keep her around as long as we can, I automatically started going through all my natural healing books for pets . I looked up cancer in dogs and what type of natural things are good for that; such as probiotics, digestive enzymes, omega 3's, turmeric and Willard water to name a few. (All of which she is getting.) Another thing I had made myself a note about was the yunzhi mushroom extract. After doing more research on this, I came upon this recent press release about how this mushroom extract helped dogs with hemangiosarcoma lived longer. Then, within a few days, I got an email from one of my favorite holistic veterinarians, Dr. Karen Becker and guess what she was writing about? How researchers were shocked by mushroom study results! So I went to the link in the press release for the mushroom extract they used in the study under the brand name I'm Yunity. They explain about using it for pets here. Cali is taking 2,400 mg per day based on her weight. It can't hurt, so we're giving it a try. It might keep her more comfortable and maybe it will give us a little more time.  

Update: Cali survived two months after surgery and had been taking the mushroom extract for a month and a half. We noticed that after receiving her first dose of the day, she seemed to feel better. We feel fortunate to have had those extra two months.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

We're Now on LinkedIn

In addition to Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, we are now on LinkedIn as well. Though sometimes finding the time to post anything at all is challenging, I tend to post most on Facebook (and it is copied to Twitter). I wish the posts could also copy over to Google+ and LinkedIn. Keeping up with all these social networks is time consuming but it is a great way to share information to a group of people quickly. Thanks for connecting, liking and following us!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Genetic Roulette

 I have been well aware of and doing my best to avoid genetically modified foods (GMO’s) for myself, my family and for my animals.  I recently came across this new documentary, Genetic Roulette” which is an online movie that explains and summarizes all the potential hazardous effects of GMO’s on our food producing animals, our companion animals and humans.

Please watch this documentary, Genetic Roulette, and share it with as many people as you can.  We can all make this shift in awareness and improve the health of countless animals and people. Though the free online showing (during last week) is over, you can still view it online for a small donation of $2.99. It's definitely worth it and I highly recommend it. You can also purchase the DVD for the full price ($19.95) of course.

Thank you for watching this and sharing it and spreading the word.  Let us create a healthier, happier world where compassion, health and happiness are more important than corporate greed and government corruption.

Friday, July 27, 2012

A Dog's Compassionate Wish

I received this in an email from Allen M. Schoen, D.V.M., M.S., author of Kindred Spirits and founder of The Kindred Spirits Project. Thought it was great and wanted to share.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Rescued Dog Needs Loving Home

One of our clients found a dog. She already has two of her own. Do you know someone looking to adopt?

Fern is an active and very smart cattle dog mix who will need an equally smart and active owner! She's very loving and wants to be wherever you are. Her favorite activities are playing fetch, chewing on raw hide and rope toys, and wrestling with the dogs in her foster home. She also LOVES water and is especially taken with the garden hose - she can play in its spray for a good 15 minutes, jumping for joy! Fern likes long walks and is quite well behaved on the leash for never having been trained. She can be a bit mischievous (grabbing a sock or towel and running through the house - the usual!) but also is a sweet girl. She is spayed, house-trained  and knows how to use a dog door. At about a year old, she is full grown and weighs 40 lbs. She will do best in an all adult home or a home with older children. She also interacts best with dogs her size or larger. Please contact her foster mom at if you have questions or are interested in meeting Fern.


Thursday, June 14, 2012

In Loving Memory of Our Cat Webster

Shutterfly offers exclusive photobook layouts so you can make your book just the way you want.

Our oldest male cat Webster disappeared on Easter. We've never had a pet disappear before. He was an inside/outside cat though he preferred to be out most of the time. We have a cat door where they can come and go freely. Though we searched for days, on foot and by car, including searching all the nearby new houses under construction, delivering fliers door to door, we never found a clue as to what happened to him. It's like he just vanished. No body, nothing. Knowing my animals very well, I knew that something bad happened to him. Otherwise he would have come home like he always has for the past nine years. Not knowing what happened to him is torture because my mind goes crazy trying to figure out what could have happened---so much so, I gave myself a headache every day for a week. It's taken me this long before I could even talk about it. Needless to say, we have been very upset and grief stricken over his disappearance. In an effort to help work through my grief, I created a book to celebrate his life. I thought I would share it in hopes that it gives others ideas on creative, constructive ways to help deal with the loss of a beloved pet. 

 I started making hard cover books through places like Shutterfly when our horses passed away several years ago. I thought it was a nice, creative way to memorialize them. I have a book full of photos of our two horses and our llama. Another book of Three kitty. Now one for Webster.

UPDATE: I had my suspicion of what happened to Webster and then I had my suspicion confirmed when I read a recent article in our local newspaper. I believe a coyote got him. Behind our house is a big ditch that runs into the bayou. One day I saw a coyote run past, behind our house. The recent newspaper article was about the problem in our area with coyotes killing cats and small dogs. People had seen them attacking their pets! They trapped and removed two coyotes.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Vestibular Disease

Our oldest dog Einstein will be celebrating his 16th!!! birthday in August. We have been very fortunate in that Einstein has been very healthy his whole life, only seeing the veterinarian for check ups and once for poison ivy or poison oak (not sure which one) on his foot and face. (Yes, dogs can get poison ivy or poison oak.)  Just recently however, he had been suffering from outer ear infections. First one side and then the other. While he was being treated for that he also developed Vestibular Disease. Though vestibular disease can happen with no known cause to older dogs, in Einstein's case it was caused by an inner ear infection. This was confirmed when he had a MRI at Gulf Coast Veterinarian Neurology & Neurosurgery. Once it was determined it was caused by an inner ear infection (in both ears), he was prescribed antibiotics, which within a few days was already showing signs of improvement and able to go outside on his own again. The day I took him in for the MRI he could hardly stand, let alone walk. I was having to carry him everywhere. He had no sense of balance. He will be on the antibiotics for a total of three weeks and he's already back to being himself and feeling much better.

Though I was relieved to confirm the cause of his vestibular disease, of which could be treated, the MRI also told us some things I wouldn't have been aware of. It showed around 10 small lesions throughout his brain that indicated small strokes (of which he showed no other signs). It also showed a meningioma tumor on the frontal lobe mass of his brain. Though these tumors are benign and can be surgically removed, I am not going to put him through such invasive surgery at his age. So then we took him to his regular veterinarian to get an abdominal ultrasound, X-rays, urinalysis and to check his blood pressure to see if we could determine what was causing the strokes. He had just recently had a check up and blood work done showing no problems there. All the tests came out normal with the exception of his blood pressure being all over the place. They took it eight times and though it averaged out to be a little above normal, the vet didn't think it was high enough to warrant the strokes, though he was given a medication to help lower his blood pressure. He will be getting his blood pressure checked again in a couple of weeks.

So now that we are armed with the knowledge of what is going on with him health-wise, we can treat him accordingly, keeping him as comfortable and happy as possible. He is doing very well for a sixteen year old (forty-four pound) dog and we hope to have him around for as long as we can! He has brought us so much love and joy in the twelve years we've had him so far. He has been the most dedicated, loyal dog I've ever had (he has to know where I am at all times!), not to mention extremely smart! Giving him the best care and lots of love is the least I can do in return.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Cozy Critters Donates to Patrons for Bellaire Parks

Bellaire Town Square Entry Plaza
In honor of our 10th anniversary, Cozy Critters Pet Sitters is proud to be a donor to the new Bellaire city hall entry plaza. The entry plaza, complete with a gazebo, new landscaping and a brick walkway and wall, has local businesses advertised on the wall and brick walkway. Though we had no choice in where our brick was placed, we couldn't have gotten a better placement -- front and center!

They will be having a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony on Monday, May 21st at 6:00 PM at the gazebo behind city hall located at 7008 S. Rice. Stop by and check it out. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

All Kinds of Critters

"Luna" Hedgehog

We can now add another type of critter to our list of pets we have cared for: a hedgehog! Besides cats and dogs (of course!) we have cared for horses, rabbits, birds (a large variety), fish (fresh and salt water), guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils,  iguanas, bearded dragon, chameleon, leopard gecko, turtles, tortoises, frogs, tad poles (yes, tad poles!), sugar gliders, snakes, rats, mice, chinchillas, tarantula, scorpion, hermit crabs and chickens. Whew! 

Friday, February 10, 2012

Celebrating 10 Years in Business!

It is with great pride that I am able to say that Cozy Critters Pet Sitters is celebrating their 10th anniversary! It's hard to believe a whole decade has passed since I first started the business in the Spring of 2002. It has gone by so fast! We have done well over 36,000 pet sitting visits! These last ten years have been filled with many wonderful memories, lots of funny stories and a whole lot of unconditional love from all the wonderful pets we have cared for. We have learned a lot too, and continue to every day. Not to mention it's been a real pleasure to get to meet and provide a great service for so many animal loving people like ourselves! We have the greatest clients! We couldn't ask for more! A big "thank you" to all of our clients and we hope to be your pet sitters for many more years to come.

Another big "thank you" goes to MeyerLand Animal Clinic, who not only has treated our pets (and some of our clients' pets) for the past few decades but has also referred many clients to us. All the veterinarians and staff there are great! Thank you for your continued confidence in us. We really appreciate all that you do.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Dog Treat Warning

Are you feeding chicken jerky treats to your dog? If you are, be sure to check the package and see if they are made in China. If so, throw them out! It doesn't matter what brand they are. If they are made in China you are taking a big risk by feeding them to your dog. FDA officials are warning pet owners to avoid chicken jerky treats made in China.

The Federal Food and Drug Administration has logged at least 353 reports in 2011 of illnesses and some deaths tied to imported chicken jerky products, also sold as chicken tenders, chicken strips or chicken treats. The FDA's latest (updated) warning was posted on Nov. 18, 2011. This was the agency's third alert about chicken jerky treats, with previous cautions issued in 2007 and 2008. Though these alerts have been out for years, I still see clients buying them.

Dog owners and veterinarians are reporting that animals have been stricken with a range of symptoms within hours or days of eating chicken jerky, including serious problems such as kidney failure and Fanconi syndrome, a condition marked by low blood sugar. Though the illnesses appear tied to chicken jerky products manufactured in China, the source of the problem remains a mystery.

Please report every incident of pet illness or death you and/or your veterinarian believes to be related to a pet food or treat to the FDA and to your State Department of Agriculture.  For reports to the FDA, you can do this online using the Safety Reporting Portal.  For reports to your State Department of Agriculture, ask to speak to the person in charge of pet food.

2/11/12 Update: Click here for more interesting information regarding these treats. Keep up the good work, Susan Thixton! (This woman is a blessing!)

Resources for Canine Genetic Disorders

In a recent newsletter from Dr. Karen Becker, she shared some excellent resources for canine genetic disorders.These resources can come in handy for dog owners, breeders, veterinarians and others working in the field of canine healthcare. These tools provide an enormous amount of information about inherited disorders in dogs. They can also provide valuable information for prospective dog owners or breeders interested in learning how to avoid inherited diseases in their dogs, and veterinarians looking for current information on the treatment of canine genetic disorders.

The goal of the Canine Inherited Disorders Database (CIDD) is  "to reduce the incidence of inherited disorders in dogs by providing information to owners and breeders, and to facilitate the best management possible of these conditions by providing current information to veterinarians."

The Inherited Diseases in Dogs (IDID) database is provided by the University of Cambridge Veterinary School.

The Online Mendelian Inheritance in Animals (OMIA) database is hosted by the National Institutes of Health and includes all animals, not just dogs. However, dogs are the best documented of all the animals found in the OMIA database.This database is considerably trickier to navigate than the other two unless you're already familiar with it.
Hopefully, you'll find these free online tools useful when you have questions or want to learn more about the health challenges of certain dog breeds.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Pet Product of the Month

Our favorite product of the month is the Kong for dogs. They are made of durable, natural rubber, have a large hole in one end and a small hole in the other. You can fill them with treats, kibble, peanut butter, carrots, a combination of these or they even have Kong stuffing that comes in a can. In the summer you can refrigerate or freeze them for a cool treat during hot summer days. The red ones are for regular chewers and  the black ones are the most durable version for the power chewers. They come in different sizes from extra small to extra, extra large for different size dogs.They also have Kong for seniors, which is purple (not pictured) and Kong for puppies (blue and pink , not pictured).  They are great for entertaining dogs for long periods of time, especially when they are home alone and bored. It's a good way to make them work for their food or treats too. Our own dogs as well as clients' dogs just love getting a Kong filled with food or treats! They like to throw them around and watch them  bounce too.

There are also other types of Kong toys that hold treats like the Kong Goodie Bone and the Kong Stuff-A-Ball, both pictured here.

Kong Stuff-A-Ball
The best thing is they are made in the U.S.A. and have been tested for toxic chemicals by and have been found to be safe!

Kong Goodie Bone

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The DNA Results Are In!

We just received the results from the Canine Heritage  Breed Test on our dog Duke (pictured above) and his litter mate Cali (pictured below). (See previous post.) What was your guess? We were somewhat surprised but not completely. We had guessed that they probably had Catahoula, Chow Chow and/or German Shepherd in them. The results came back that they have two secondary breeds of Chow Chow and Bluetick Coonhound (see pictures below).  Wow. We were right about the Chow Chow but the Bluetick Coonhound was a surprise. What an interesting mix! We looked up the two breeds in our dog books and as we read about each of them, it explained a lot about some of their particular behaviors and traits. As far as their appearance, we can see they got the spotted, Merle pattern from the Bluetick Coonhound but the actual hair color of the Chow Chow. They got the ear size of the Coonhound but the ear shape and posture of the Chow. Duke has a coat more like the Coonhound but Cali's thicker coat is more like the Chow's. Her tail definitely says Chow. Duke's tail curls back too but not as completely as his sister's. 

Interesting! It was fun finding out what breeds make up their DNA. It gives us some insight into their personality traits and also of any possible health problems that may be inherent in the two breeds. We already knew they are characters full of personality that we just love to pieces! Read more about how we found them here.
Chow Chow

Bluetick Coonhound

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Favorite Pet Product

This month's favorite pet product is for cats. Cats need different forms of entertainment to keep them happy and active. Toys are great but cats like to climb and scratch too. Scratching is a natural behavior they do to shed the outer sheaths of their claws and leave their scent. Cats like different kinds of surfaces to claw on such as carpet, cardboard, sisal, upholstery and wood. They like to scratch on things horizontally and vertically. They like to climb to high places too. I have several different kinds of scratchers strategically placed throughout the house especially in spots where they tend to want to scratch like the corners of the sofa or chairs. My favorite cat trees are made by Armarkat. They have lots of sizes, colors and types of cat trees. I have a large one like pictured here. I've had it for several years and the cats climb, scratch, play on and run up it all the time. I bought it through an Ebay auction and got a very reasonable price (most of it was in shipping cost). It was very easy to assemble and can be taken apart easily too. Some of their cat trees like the one pictured here use faux fur instead of carpet which I like better. (Carpet puts off chemical fumes.)

Another scratcher my cats love is the "S" shaped horizontal one pictured here. They really like the sisal pad to scratch on and they also like to lay inside the other side or crawl underneath. I have a client who has one that is a double-wide. I've tried to find where I can purchase a double-wide but haven't had any luck. (If you know where to get it, let me know!)
The all time favorite horizontal scratcher is the corrugated cardboard box. After they have shredded the top you can turn it over and use the other side. I think they like the double-wide ones (as shown) better because they can lay on top of it while they scratch. They can't do that so well with the narrow ones. Be sure to apply some catnip for added pleasure!

There are all kinds of cat scratchers so try a variety to see which ones your cat  likes best. Place them in their favorite scratching areas (like the corners of the furniture). Cats can be trained to scratch on appropriate things it just takes some training and patience. When you see them scratching on something they are not supposed to, you can tell them "no" and gently remove them from scratching on that item and then place them on the item they are supposed to scratch on. (I've even demonstrated what to do for them!) You've got to give them an alternative to scratch on if it's not going to be your furniture. And most important: When they do scratch where they're supposed to, be sure to praise them, a lot, every time you see them do it. This will reinforce their good behavior! My cats have come to expect praise when they scratch on their cat scratchers and it's very rare for them to scratch on anything else.

Note: The Emerycat board (as seen on TV) which has emery board as the surface was not a hit at my house or many of my cat clients either. Although the idea is good, most cats don't like the feel of the emery board and shy away from scratching on it.


Monday, January 2, 2012

Christmas Trees Can Be Deadly

It was my last pet sitting visit of the year. Saturday night, December 31, 2011. This client of almost four years has a dog and three cats. I went in, turned off the alarm, let the dog out and started to prepare the cats dinner when I noticed the oldest cat, Allie, age 19, did not appear in the kitchen with the others like usual. I went looking for her and was horrified to find her hanging upside down by her waist in the Christmas tree. She first appeared lifeless. She was so entangled in the lights that I frantically untangled them from around her back legs and waist and discovered one around her waist was so tight I couldn't get it off so I ran and got the scissors and cut it off and lowered her gently down to the floor. She meowed a pitiful weak meow. She was still alive. I don't know how long she had been like that. My previous visit was early that morning and now it was twelve hours later. She had probably been like that for hours. She got up after a just a minute or so and tried to walk but had no use of her back end. She drug herself to the litter box and laid in it. Of course I called my client who was due to return the following afternoon. After being treated at the emergency clinic, she ended up passing away peacefully at home the following evening, New Year's Day. 

The sad thing is that my client told me she had intended to take down the Christmas tree before going out of town. But she had lots of errands to do before leaving and didn't get around to it. Of course now she feels horrible for not doing so. So remember: If you are going out of town for the holidays and you have pets, take down the tree! The risk of leaving it up is not worth it. When an animal gets caught in something and can't get loose, they panic and make it worse. Even a nineteen-year-old cat finds a Christmas tree irresistible to climb. Christmas trees can be deadly for pets!

Rest in peace sweet Miss Allie. You will be greatly missed.