dog listening with big ear


Barks from Starks,
Summer 2019


As the coordinator for a Springer Spaniel rescue, I’m surprised at the number of dogs who are overdue for vaccinations when they are relinquished to us. Many haven’t seen a vet in years, are not taking the recommended heartworm and flea/tick preventatives, or have medical issues that could have been prevented with regular checkups.

Last summer, our rescue took in Jake, 3, who had lived on a large acreage and enjoyed lots of outside time, as a dog should. In his foster home, he began having diarrhea and vomiting blood. Then his feet became swollen, and he was suddenly extremely lethargic. Jake spent two nights at the vet with significant gastritis and enteritis.

Bloodwork and tests identified low RBC and high WBC count. And Lyme disease. 

Jake had not been on tick preventative, and the acreage he enjoyed was full of ticks that carry this disease. Once in the bloodstream, Lyme disease can affect many organs, but most commonly the kidneys and joints. 

During his illness, Jake’s feet were so painful that he hesitated to walk on them. He slept all the time and had little appetite. He was prescribed six medications and a paw cream.

Jake’s doting foster mom took time away from work to care for him. He recovered, but the illness was painful, expensive … and preventable.

 Writer Konnie LeMay suggested that the Wagazine print a “reference guide” for dogs and cats that included info on basic health, nutrition and emergency care. Then she offered to write it. 

The result (p. 20) is an excellent guide for owners who may not realize what their pet needs in the way of basic vaccinations and preventatives (and how often), owners whose pet ingests something poisonous (and the 10 most common toxins), or owners who need gentle health reminders (A dog biscuit is the equivalent of a candy bar. Yikes. Time to cut back “food love” I give my dogs). 

If the guide helps one owner guard against an ailment like Lyme disease, it will have done its job.

Speaking of health, we feature diabetes in this issue—in two ways. On p. 11, read about diabetes in dogs and cats. And on p.16, learn about a service dog trained to detect low or high blood sugar in his human companion. He’s 20 minutes ahead of her diabetic sensor. And he’s her potential lifesaver.

Here’s to a healthy summer for you and your pets!