Her work has won several awards from the Indiana Broadcasters Association, Society of Professional Journalists/Indiana Chapter, and Network Indiana. She has also had academic papers selected for presentation at national conferences like the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication and Broadcast Education Association.
Laura watched her share of game shows growing up and one summer while in California, she's chosen to be a contestant on "Sale of the Century". Her TV favorites include The Honeymooners, Project Runway, Seinfeld, The Big Bang Theory, Doctor Who and Star Trek (TNG and the original). She also enjoys crossword puzzles and when asked what some of her favorite places to visit are she says -- office supply stores.
Humane Society Northwest Indiana
6100 Melton Rd.
Article by Kimberly Juhlin, DVM, CVA, Vale Park Animal Hospital
How do you know if your pet needs to be seen by a veterinarian right away?
The first thing to know and be familiar with is what a normal, healthy pet looks like. They have bright, clear eyes with no sign of redness or discharge; clean ears, free of buildup or odor; a mouth with moist, pink gums, free of infection; teeth that have little or no tartar; no swollen, bleeding gums, nor excess bad breath; their breathing should be even and easy, without wheezing, coughing, or discharge from the nose; they should have a shiny coat, with unblemished skin, free of lumps and bumps. A healthy pet is bright and alert, with a normal appetite and thirst. They should have formed bowel movements that are easily passed; Urination that is not urgent or difficult. Urine should be clear and light yellow in color. They should walk, run, jump, sit, stand and lay down without difficulty or lameness.
Anything to the contrary is reason to have a pet checked. But is it a "go to the veterinarian this very minute" emergency?
Some situations that are “must see the vet now” include seizure, loss of consciousness, difficulty standing, excessive unexplained weakness, excessive bleeding, difficulty breathing or excessive coughing. Hint: look at your pet’s gums. They should be pink. If your pet’s gums are very pale, white, purplish or grey, this is a true life threatening emergency. Any suspected poisoning should warrant immediate attention, including anti-freeze (one teaspoon can cause acute kidney failure in a cat or small dog), rodent poisoning, snail bait or ingestion of human medications or chocolate. One Tylenol can cause liver failure in a cat. The decongestants in many anti-histamine medications can be lethal to dogs. Topical insecticides meant for dogs are toxic if applied to cats. Spider bites and stinging insect bites are potentially life threatening, causing milder reactions such as hives, swelling of the face and throat or, less frequently, full blown anaphylaxis, shock and collapse.
After checking your pet’s gums, you could take your pet’s temperature, rectally. This is done by putting a little KY jelly or Vaseline on the tip of the thermometer. Gently insert the thermometer into your pet’s bottom about an inch. The thermometer should slide in easily. After a minute, remove and check the temperature. Normal is between 100 and 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit for dogs and cats; anything below 99 or above 103 is worth a call to the veterinarian right away. Note: if your pet resists this procedure in any way, stop. You will stress your pet and they may bite you.
Sometimes situations that might not seem urgent really are serious. These include eye injuries or allergic reactions, swelling around the face or hives. A single incident of vomiting or diarrhea is not usually cause for concern, but repeated episodes over the space of an hour or day, could indicate a serious problem. Unusual breathing (louder than normal, greater effort taking a breath, excessive panting (+/- drooling), and repeated bouts of coughing) should not be ignored.
In male cats, straining or an inability to urinate, licking their penis frequently or seeming painful in the lower abdomen are signs of urinary obstruction which is a life threatening emergency. Sometimes, straining to have a bowel movement can also require immediate attention, or at least a call to the vet.
Sometimes your pet may appear alright even though they have just sustained a traumatic injury, such as being hit by a car, sustained bite wounds from another animal. Don’t be fooled, even if your pet looks okay, you are well advised to take them to a veterinarian right away. After a trauma, to be checked for internal injuries that could potentially kill them if left untreated. This might include a punctured lung, a bleeding liver, spleen or kidney; or a ruptured bladder. Bite wounds and cuts should be addressed before infection can develop, which begins by 6 hours post contamination. Doing so can help prevent the development of abscesses, address any deep tissue damage and suture the wound closed.
Other situations may not appear to be life-threatening but they potentially are. Animals that are not eating or drinking are often seriously ill. A cat that fails to eat for as little as 48 to 72 hours can develop a fatty liver, leading rapidly to liver failure.
Finally, some conditions are not life threatening but are painful enough to warrant immediate veterinary attention. Painful animal behaviors include panting, labored breathing, lethargy or restlessness, loss of appetite, aggression, hiding, or crying out. These are signs that your pet is very stressed and suffering. It may not be good to wait until your regular veterinarian is available to provide safe and effective pain relief.
Never give human pain relievers to your pet without first consulting a veterinarian. Many human pain relievers are toxic to dogs and cats, causing kidney or liver failure, or life threatening gastrointestinal ulceration.
Important numbers to have posted on your refrigerator and in your mobile phone include:
1. Your primary veterinarian’s phone number
2. North Central Veterinary Emergency Center: (877) 542 2119, (219) 785-7300, 1645 U.S. 421 Westville, IN 46391
3. ASPCA Animal Poison Control: 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
If you think that your pet may have ingested a potentially poisonous substance, call (888) 426-4435. A $65 consultation fee may be applied to your credit card.
When in doubt, call your veterinarian or local emergency veterinary clinic! It is better to be safe than sorry.
An article by Dr. Bill Donohue, Vale Park Animal Hospital
In the United States, the pet population has grown to well over 150 million dogs and cats yearly according to recent surveys. The true number of pets with cancer is really unknown as many cats and dogs do not receive routine veterinary care. Dogs and cats are living longer and healthier lives now due to better nutrition, health care and owner awareness of medical issues potentially leading to numbers being diagnosed with cancer. A recent study found that 45% of dogs that live to 10 years of age or older will die of cancer. An estimate of 32 to 47 percent of dogs and cats will die of cancer. At the same time, less than 10% of dogs and cats will die of heart disease. As you can see, cancer is an everyday finding for veterinarians.
(Photo courtesy Vale Park Animal Hospital)
Cancer does have warning signs in pets. Early detection and treatment is key to long term survival in some cancers. However, some cancers do not have treatments or successful management. The most common early warning signs of cancer provided by the American Veterinary Medical Association are listed below.
1. Abnormal swellings that persist or continue to grow
2. Sores that do not heal
3. Weight loss
4. Loss of appetite
5. Bleeding or discharge from any body opening
6. Offensive odor
7. Difficulty eating or swallowing
8. Hesitation to exercise or loss of stamina
9. Persistent lameness or stiffness
10. Difficulty breathing, urinating, or defecating
A few simple suggestions in addition to monitoring for the common signs listed above can help our pets. Routine petting and grooming will allow us to feel our pets frequently in hopes of feeling abnormal lumps and bumps. Routine veterinary care for every pet even if they never leave the house. Ideally, pets under the age of 7 years should have yearly exams and twice a yearly for pets over the age of 7 years. Blood work should be performed once year or more to screen for changes in the body. In addition to cancer, many other diseases such as diabetes, kidney and thyroid disease can be found with routine blood tests. Routinely exercise with your pet as a healthy lifestyle goes a long way towards longevity. Finally, please call your veterinarian and schedule an examination if any of these signs are noted in your pet.
An article by Dr. Mary Ann Sheller, Vale Park Animal Hospital
Pyometra (pyo: pus metra:uterus) is a serious infection of the uterus that occurs in unspayed female dogs. Most cases happen in middle or older aged dogs. The uterus fills with infected material, sometimes enlarging to 20 times its normal size.
Dogs which develop pyometra may not show symptoms in the early stages. Some will have a bloody or purulent vaginal discharge, others may not. Many will be very thirsty and have to urinate frequently. Some will be extremely sick…no appetite, sluggish, very depressed.
How is pyometra diagnosed?
Your veterinarian may suspect pyometra if your dog had a heat cycle in the past couple of months or if there is a vaginal discharge and she doesn’t feel well. Blood tests and xrays or ultrasound may be used to help confirm the diagnosis.
How is pyometra treated?
The most common treatment is removal of the uterus. This is essentially the same surgery as is done for a spay, but is more difficult and risky because the uterus is very diseased. Also, most patients are sick and older, so anesthesia and recovery are more worrisome. Patients may have to stay in the hospital for a day or two after surgery as the infection and temporary kidney damage resolves. Of course, antibiotics and pain medication will be given for several days to continue the treatment.
Are there alternative treatments?
In some patients, in which it is desired to have puppies in the future, a medical treatment consisting of antibiotics and hormonal treatments may be used. The treatment takes several days, and can only be attempted in dogs which are not severely ill. That particular dog will be at high risk of repeating the pyometra with every subsequent heat cycle. So it is important to have the desired litter on the very next heat and then spay her as soon as practical thereafter.
How can pyometra be prevented?
The best way is to spay your dog at a fairly young age (4 to 12 months depending on breed and other factors). Because the ovaries and part or all of the uterus are removed during a spay surgery, the dog will not have any heat cycles. No heat cycles, no chance of pyometra.
A caller to our studios this morning said about 4:30am, her husband looked out the window and saw a horse standing, eating grass, out in their front yard. This is in a rural area of Porter County, right off Porter/LaPorte County line road. The horse is in their backyard now, off the main roadway. For more info, call 219-874-3093.
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