Ask The Experts!

At Plenty of Paws we work with some AMAZING people! Our clients offer a wealth of knowledge and support! With all of this expertise it would be BANANAS not to share  it with you. We have interviewed many our clients and other experts in the dog world to bring you the answers so some of your most pressing questions! If you have a topic you wish to learn more about definitely give us a woof at [email protected]

EXPERT
Dr. Catherine Kerr
Veterinarian/ Practice Owner

Dr. Kerr has loved animals from an early age, and continues to be both passionate and compassionate in providing the best of care to her patients. Always on the forward edge of the medical curve, Dr. Kerr is diligent about staying current with ongoing education and ensuring the best of equipment is available to provide high quality care.  Health care is a team effort, and the whole team continues to train together to ensure your pet receives the best.  We work with you, share all the options for your pet’s care, and then help you choose a treatment approach that works for you and your pet. 

 

 

We had the pleasure of learning more from Dr. Kerr on Stem Cell Therapy Procedures. Dr. Kerr is an experienced Veterinarian and Owner of Edgemont Veterinary Clinic . Dr. Kerr is an animal lover, a well respected veterinarian and is always on the leading edge of the medical curve.

Stem cells can be explained as your pet’s own repair cells. Stem cells can develop into different types of cells in the body.  These cells serve as a type of self-repairing system that divides without limit to replenish other cells.  There are two types of these cells: embryonic and adult.  Stem cell therapy uses the adult version of these cells that can be found in high quantities in fat stores in the body and stimulates them to become other types of cells. These cells are then placed in areas in the body that can benefit from their ability to repair and their natural anti-inflammatory effects.  Stem cells have a unique ability to regenerate, offering new potential to treat disease, reduce pain, and improve mobility in arthritic conditions.

  • Adult stem cells are highly concentrated in the fat tissue.
  • There are anywhere from 50 – 1000 times more stem cells located in the fat then in bone marrow.
  • The procedure to extract the fat from a patient is a much quicker and less invasive process than a spay procedure.

The primary use of stem cell therapy is in the treatment of degenerative osteoarthritis which is very common in older dogs and cats. Many senior pets suffer from reduced mobility due to joints becoming worn out. This leads to a cycle of reduced activity, muscle loss, weight gain and ultimately early euthanasia in some cases where it had become too painful for the pet to move around.  Stem cell therapy has value in younger animals for conditions such as congenital hip or elbow dysplasia. When a pet has poor joint conformation, the subsequent inflammation and wearing of the smooth articular cartilage leads to pain and lameness. Stem cell therapy can improve quality of life to ensure a longer, happier and more comfortable life of the pet with their family.  Other conditions have also benefited from the use of stem cell therapy, including pancreatitis, allergies, certain eye conditions, and others.

This procedure can be completed in one day.  The pet will undergo a short surgical procedure under anesthetic to procure 20-40 grams of adipose (fat).  This may be taken from an area near the belly button, or just behind the shoulder.  These areas are easy to access.   Once the fat has been acquired, it is processed in an in-house laboratory.  These purified stem cells are then ready to be injected. The pet is given a light and short-lasting sedation. The main portion of processed stem cells are injected into the primarily affected area(s), with the remainder given through the bloodstream to benefit the body as a whole. Stem cells have an innate homing sense and they will travel through the body to go where they are needed.  The pet is then awakened and goes home that afternoon.

Platelet rich plasma is a concentration of platelets from circulation in the blood stream put together with blood plasma.  Platelets contain large quantities of growth factors and proteins that promote reparation.  PRP therapy is a simple procedure where a blood sample is processed in a way that concentrates the platelets and activates the proteins in the platelets.  These reparative proteins are used to enhance healing.  Essentially, PRP therapy speeds a natural process in the body by putting concentrated levels of these proteins in damaged areas, such as joints or any other area of inflammation

This procedure can be completed in less than a half day, and only requires sedation.  A routine blood sample is collected and processed in-house.  Under sedation, the PRP is put directly into affected areas, and your pet goes home shortly after.

The difference between PRP and Stem Cell therapy is one of degree.  PRP provides stimulation to improve the quality and speed of the body in providing a healing local response to an injury, whereas stem cells infer to the area an ability to regenerate tissues. PRP can be done with sedation only; stem cell treatment requires a general anesthetic to surgically harvest the stem cell rich adipose (fat) tissue, and a surgical wound is created which will take a little time to heal.

Yes! Here at EVC we work only with the best quality in medical treatment and equipment.  Stem cell and PRP therapies use new and proven technology to invoke the natural healing abilities of the body to reduce inflammation and chronic disease impacts.  They are relatively non-invasive, have low risk, require little recovery time and are suitable for most animals. Because these processes are self-to-self donations of cells, they provide a safe and drug free way to manage trauma and other inflammatory diseases.

Our dog Mr. Bubbles is almost 12 years old and he has been battling severe arthritis for the past 2+ years. Bubbles underwent both the Stem Cell Therapy procedure and the PRP injections this past August and September, respectively. Prior to the initial procedure Bubbles was on three different pain medications. He was struggling to go for mild fifteen-minute walks and to move freely around the house. We had restricted stairs and off-leash play time among other things. Bubbles was struggling to move from lying down to a standing position on the hard-wood floor, He just didn’t have the strength to lift himself up. He was struggling to go up flights of stairs and by July this past summer we had to carry him up and down the stairs. He stopped ‘following us’ around the house. His appetite was gravely affected by the pain medications as they were taking a toll on his tummy despite adding probiotics to his food. His quality of life was greatly affected.

Two and a half months later since the initial procedure Bubbles is a much younger version of himself. He can’t sit still, he wants to go for very long scenic walks and he wants to play with other dogs. He is ‘flying’ around the house climbing up and down the stairs and jumping up on the couch. He follows us everywhere. He is full of energy; his appetite has returned, and he seems so much more comfortable. Overall, we have reduced his pain medications. He is only taking one medication now (previously he was on 3 medications) and we have reduced the net daily dose of this medication to 27% of what it previously was prior to the procedures with the possibility it could reduce even further. The results have been quite significant

We are very grateful for the Edgemont Vet Team.

Ashley & Mr. Bubbles

EXPERT
Jessica Oxley
Owner of JessiCare Pet Services

Growing up, I had many well-loved pets – ranging from canines to fish to rodents to reptiles – which led to my understanding of how quickly they become an important part of your family.

I gained a wealth of knowledge about pet behaviours while managing a busy kennel in Vancouver, B.C., and then working for a well-established dog walking business in the lower mainland of British Columbia.

I furthered my education by earning my animal welfare certificate at Thompson River University, animal first aid training with DogSafe, and becoming an accredited positive reinforcement dog trainer through PetSmart. I fully believe that you can never stop learning, and I have most recently expanded my knowledge of animal behaviours through an animal psychology certification.

My long-developed experience with pets of all kinds has driven me to provide pet services in Calgary, including pet sitting, dog walking, cat checks, and so much more.

We caught up with Jessica Oxley owner of JessiCare Pet Services to find out answers to some commonly asked dog walking questions. Jessica is an expert in her field, an avid animal lover and highly sought after Dog Walker, Pet Sitter and Trainer.  Thank for your time Jessica!

There are many things to consider when choosing a dog walker. You should think about everything from what car they drive, to how many dogs they walk, to their insurance coverage, to extreme weather protocols, etc. My top 5 things to look at when choosing a dog walker would be: 1) Are they insured and do they have a contract. Safety should be a #1 priority for any per care provider, but accidents do happen.  You want to know that if something happens to your dog while out with your walker that there is insurance in place to cover expensive vet bills. You also want  to make sure they have a contract so that everyone is on the same page when it comes to services, prices, liabilities, etc. 2) Do they offer a meet and greet? Your pet care provider should give you the opportunity to meet them before starting services. This gives you a chance to see how they interact with your dog and how you feel about them. Always trust your gut instincts in these situations. You’re trusting them to come into your home when you are not there and take care of your pet. You should trust them. 3) What is their experience or training in working with dogs? Are they experienced with reading dog body language? What is their training philosophy (positive reinforcement vs. aversive training)? Reading dog body language is a skill. By understanding body language one can stop a fight before it happens, stop a dog from running away, can tell you if a dog is stressed, and many many more things. You want to make sure your pet care provider knows how to read dogs accurately and how to respond to the body language. Your dog walker will be spending time with your dog. This means they will be working with your dog when they have them out for a walk. You want to make sure they are reinforcing good behaviors and that they are using techniques you feel confortable with. 4) Are they and anyone else who will be handling your dog canine first aid certified? Again, accidents happen. You want to make they your dog walker is prepared to deal with an emergency situation. Knowing proper canine fist aid can safe a dogs life. 5) How many dogs do they walk at one time? Make sure you are comfortable with the amount of dogs your walker is taking out at one time. I recommend 1 walker for 8-10 dogs. This ratio is used in a lot of boarding and daycare facilities as well when it comes to monitoring dogs. Many cities, including Calgary, do not have a limit on how many dogs can be with one person at a park. I recommend making sure their max number is in their contract as well. I’ve come across walkers who state they don’t walk more then 10 dogs with up to 14 dogs with them before.

Knowing how to read canine body language helps a lot with this, especially when introducing a new dog to the group. You want to be able to pick up on calming signals, stress signals and warning signs. I ask every new client questions about how their dog is with other dogs and they sign off on their answers in the contract. So there is some trust put into the owners understanding of how their dog is, however, dogs can act very different when away from their owners. So it’s important to do proper introductions and monitor dogs very closely when they first meet. Accidents happen, and that is one of the risks of having lots of dogs together in one place. I see and hear about dogfights breaking out in dog parks all the time. It’s your job to keep the dogs safe, it’s important to be educated in how to properly break up and prevent dogfights as well.  If I pick up on body language that might lead to a fight I immediately step in and deal with the situation before things escalate.

Currently in Calgary there is no bylaw that limits the amount of dogs one can walk at a time. I’ve personally counted up to 20 dogs with one walker. Is this safe? It all depends on the person walking those dogs and how they manage their dogs. I mentioned above that many places ratio 1 human to 8-10 dogs. I personally like to keep my groups small, they max out at 6 dogs. I choose to do this so I can spend time training and working with the dogs I walk. I also feel that in an emergency I can respond faster with 6 dogs then 20 dogs.

Separating large and small dogs is a good idea. Many daycares and boarding facilities will do this, and I do recommend it. However, I have clients that own large and small dogs so that is not always an option. I also, know of small dogs that play much better with big dogs. Things to keep in mind: - a small dog is at higher risk of getting hurt when wrestling, playing or getting run over by a large dog. - Predatory drift can be triggered in dogs when playing with small dogs. Predatory drift is not something you can test for and I’ve heard of horror stories of larger dogs grabbing a small dog by the neck, shaking it and killing it with no warning signs at all. If you are going to mix small and big dogs you are definitely opening up to more risk. 

I ask my pet parents first if their dog is allowed off leash, then depending on their answer we go from there. On our first walk together I will either go to a fully fenced in dog park and get a feel for their recall, or I will use long lines to test their recall. I trust a dog off leash when I can see that they are checking in with me and responding to me on a regular basis.  Recall is something I reinforce with the pack every single walk. We do recall drills regularly.

There are two things I hear often: “ Oh, how fun, you get to play with dogs all day, you have the best job in the world” and “ I’ve heard you can make a lot of money doing that” Yes, I love my job! Yes, I get to WORK with dogs all day. But I am not out there just playing with dogs all day.  My job is hard work and it’s a lot of responsibility, and people don’t get this. When I am out with the dogs I am constantly looking out for safety hazards (wildlife, garbage on the ground, people, other dogs, etc), monitoring the dogs body language, paying attention to weather, training recall, training focus, training loose leash walking, reinforcing good manners and working on impulse control. And yes we do play as well ☺ Yes, you can make good money in this business, but that shouldn’t be your main reason for becoming a pet care professional. If it is, then you will not succeed. You have to not only seriously LOVE dogs, but also enjoy working with people. I am in constant communication with some of my clients. We discuss everything from their dog’s poops to even their personal life matters. Something I never expected when I started my business was how close I would become with my clients. I have helped my clients through end of life care with their beloved fur babies, and I have helped some of my clients through personal emergency situations. For some people you become part of their family and someone who is there to help when they need you. You will make money, but you also take on a huge responsibility. I wish people would understand that it’s more then just playing with dogs and respect that this is an actual career and a legit business. I hear of fellow dog walkers who are constantly having clients try to negotiate their prices. This is a business, it should be respected, you wouldn’t walk into your child’s daycare and start haggling them on their prices.

Oh man, I laugh every day with my dogs. I guess one of my funniest stories would be when Cali, a 4 year old Blue nose staffy locked me out of my car!! I had Cali on a leash and was getting ready to cut her nails. I saw a dog heading our way (off-leash, in a designated on-leash area), so I automatically popped Cali into my car on the drivers seat. I didn’t think about the fact that my keys were sitting on the seat. The dog passed the vehicle and another dog walker friend of mine was approaching the parking lot. I stopped to chat with her then went to open my car door. Cali has stepped on the fob and locked the car. The dogs, my keys, my wallet, my cell phone, everything was in the car! Thank goodness it was a cool fall day and there was no panic about the dogs being trapped in a hot car. Two of my back windows were cracked open, so we tried to use a stick to unlock the front doors. About two seconds after putting the stick through the window the dogs had grabbed it and were happily chewing away on it. We gave up and called AMA and they came and saved the day. I now carry an extra set of keys in my backpack. ☺

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