Friday, December 20, 2013

Pet Health Tip #35- Liver Disease in Cats

Fatty liver, also known as hepatic lipidosis, is the most common liver disease in cats.  When the body is in starvation mode, it quickly shifts fat cells to the liver.  It does this so the liver can convert the fat into lipoproteins for energy.  However, the cat’s liver is not very good at converting these fat cells.  So, the fat accumulates in the liver.  As the fat builds up, the liver starts to lose its ability to function.

The liver has many jobs in the body.  These include: detoxification, protein synthesis, and the production of chemicals used in digestion.  The liver also helps break down red blood cells and produces clotting factors to aid in blood clotting.  Because of its many jobs, when the liver starts to fail, you will see several symptoms.

Hepatic lipidosis is usually caused by a cat’s loss of appetite.  This can be caused by illness (such as diabetes or kidney disease), stress, extreme diet restrictions by owners, or being lost.

The most obvious symptom is yellowing of the eyes and mucous membranes.  This is referred to as jaundice in people, but is referred to as icterus in animals.  Other symptoms include: anorexia, vomiting, lethargy, neurologic symptoms, and depression.

Treatment will often require hospitalization and includes: fluid therapy, diet changes, and mineral supplements.

The most important treatment is prevention by paying close attention to your cat’s eating habits.  If your cat loses its appetite, it is important to discover the underlying cause and get it treated before the liver starts to deteriorate.  Hepatic lipidosis can be life-threatening, so the earlier treatment is started, the higher chance of your cat’s liver recovering.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Pet Health Tip #34- Liver Disease in Dogs

There are a wide range of causes of liver disease in dogs.  The most common causes are:

Bacterial infection
Viral Infection- Most common in unvaccinated puppies
Toxins-Insecticides and arsenic
Drugs-NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) used to treat arthritis

Early symptoms of liver disease include: weight loss, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, and increased thirst.  In most cases, if the underlying cause of the liver damage is found and treated during this early stage, then the liver will heal and return to normal function.

Symptoms of liver failure include: icterus (yellowing of the eyes or gums), ascites (fluid accumulation in the abdomen), spontaneous bleeding, and neurologic symptoms (disorientation, head-pressing, dullness, and seizures).  Once the liver has advanced to the stage of liver failure, the chances of regaining liver function are very slim.  However, many dogs can survive with chronic treatment, such as IV fluids, medications, and a special diet.

The most important factor in liver disease is to prevent the underlying causes by having your puppy properly vaccinated, keeping your pet away from potential toxins, and using therapeutic drugs according to your veterinarian’s instructions.  Additionally, if you suspect that your pet has been exposed to toxins or has overdosed on NSAIDS, it is important to seek treatment as early as possible.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Pet Health Tip #33- Seizures

Seizures in pets can be caused by a number of underlying issues.  The most common causes are:

Idiopathic Epilepsy
Kidney Failure
Liver Failure
Toxins- Insecticides, chocolate, and antifreeze
Brain Tumors
Heat Stroke
Encephalitis- Inflammation of the brain usually caused by an infection such as Distemper

There are several types of seizures.  A grand mal seizure usually begins with a period of altered behavior, such as staring, restlessness, and crying out.  This is followed by the symptoms we usually associate with seizures, such as loss of consciousness, paddling of the feet, urinating, and defecating.  This part of the seizure usually only lasts 1-2 minutes.  It is followed by a period of confusion and incoordination.

Seizures can also be localized in the brain and cause a more localized reaction such as muscle twitching, blinking, and chomping.

Diagnosis is often made based on historical information, such as exposure to toxins, age of the animal, recent illness, etc.  Blood work will also be done to check for liver function, kidney function, and blood sugar levels.

During the seizure, the first impulse is to reach out and comfort your pet by talking to him and petting him.  However, it is best to turn out the lights, keep quiet, and not to touch him.  Sensory input can prolong the seizure.  This includes the period of disorientation that follows the main part of the seizure.  Once the seizure has ended, it is important to get your pet to a veterinarian for a diagnosis.

Treatment is usually based on treating the underlying problem.  For epilepsy, the treatment is based on the frequency and severity of the seizures.  It is important to keep track of when seizures occur and how long they last in order for you and your veterinarian to decide when to start your dog on anti-seizure medications.  Many of these medications have other side effects, so most veterinarians do not want to start anti-seizure medications until the seizures are happening at a regular frequency or the individual seizures are severe.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Coming Soon! TO LOVE A CAT

I am happy to announce that I'm about halfway through with my next novel, "To Love A Cat." For those of you who read "Dogs Aren't Men", you'll be happy to hear that Rebecca, Derrick, and Mitch all appear again in this one. I know many of you wanted to hear more about these characters, so STAY TUNED it's coming soon!!!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Pet Health Tip #32- Diabetes Mellitus in Dogs

Diabetes mellitus, also known as sugar diabetes, affects all breeds of dogs.  However, the most commonly affected breeds are Golden Retrievers, Miniature Schnauzers, and Poodles.  Obesity is a predisposing factor that contributes to the development of diabetes.

Diabetes mellitus is caused by the pancreas’s inadequate production of insulin.  This causes the cells to be unable to absorb glucose.  The glucose levels rise in the blood stream and will eventually spill over into the urine, resulting in elevated blood sugar levels and glucosuria.

Early symptoms of diabetes include: increased appetite, increased thirst, and weight loss.  More severe symptoms include: lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, cataracts, and coma.

Most diabetic dogs will need to be treated with a combination of insulin and dietary changes.  The proper dose of insulin depends on how the dog’s body reacts to it.  Dogs are started on an insulin regimen for about a week.  They will then need to come back into the vet clinic to have a glucose curve run to watch the body’s reaction to the insulin.  The dose will then be adjusted based on this reaction.  The dog will have to make regular visits to the vet clinic in order to monitor the blood glucose levels.  In addition, most dogs will need to be placed on a high fiber and high carbohydrate diet.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Pet Health Tip#31- Diabetes Mellitus in Cats

Diabetes mellitus affects approximately 1 in 400 cats.  Obesity is the number one contributing factor to feline diabetes.  However, not all cats that develop diabetes will be overweight.  Early symptoms of diabetes include: increased appetite, increased urination, increased drinking, and unexplained weight loss.  Advanced symptoms include: loss of appetite, vomiting, ketone breath (sweet odor), and diabetic coma.

Diagnosis of feline diabetes mellitus is based on symptoms, elevated blood sugar levels, and glucose in the urine.  When the pancreas fails to produce enough insulin or the cells fail to respond to insulin, the body cannot properly handle blood sugar.  This leads to elevated glucose in the blood, which spills over into the urine.  The inability to properly use blood glucose can lead to an increased level of ketones.  Ketoacidosis is a life-threatening condition caused by elevated ketones in the blood.

There are three types of diabetes mellitus in cats.  Type I diabetic cats are insulin dependent, meaning their pancreas is not producing enough insulin.  These cats will need to receive regular insulin injections.  In cats with type II diabetes, the cat’s pancreas may make enough insulin but the cat’s body does not use it properly.  This is the most common type of feline diabetes.  Often, these cats will respond to oral medications and dietary restrictions.

Some cats are Type II, but initially need insulin injections.  However, eventually, their system re-regulates and they can go off insulin.  These cats will still require a special diet.

Treating diabetic cats can be an expensive and frustrating endeavor.  The best treatment is prevention.  By maintaining your cat at a healthy body weight, you will significantly reduce the chances of her developing diabetes.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Pet Health Tip # 30- Hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism is an issue that primarily affects cats.  The thyroid gland becomes hyperactive and gives off too much thyroid hormone.  Hyperthyroidism in cats often goes undiagnosed.  However, in severe cases, the most common symptom the owner sees is a cat who has a voracious appetite, but is losing weight.  Often times, they will have an unkempt hair coat.  They also have a very rapid heart rate.  Other possible symptoms include: increased urination, vomiting, restlessness, and diarrhea.

The thyroid gland sits in the throat.  A normal thyroid gland should not be big enough to feel.  However, an enlarged thyroid gland will be palpable.  It will feel like two small peas on either side of the trachea (wind pipe).

Treatment for hyperthyroidism includes daily medication.  However, as most cat owners know, pilling a cat can be a very difficult job.  Some cats will take the pills if they are hidden in food (i.e. hotdog, bread, cheese).  Another good way to pill a cat is to put it in the back of the throat and then squirt water into the cat’s mouth.  This accomplishes two things.  First, the cat will be forced to swallow; and second, the water will cause the pill to slide down the cat’s throat making it more comfortable for the cat.

Irradiation of the thyroid gland is another treatment option that is safe and is actually a cure.  There are special clinics that will irradiate the thyroid gland.  It is a completely painless process.  The cat usually stays in the hospital for a few days in order to eliminate any radioactive waste.  Then they can go home and resume a normal life.  This treatment is the ideal treatment for hyperthyroidism.  However, it is also the most expensive and there are not that many clinics that are licensed to do it.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Pet Health Tip #29- Hypothyroidism

Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, and Miniature Schnauzers are the breeds most commonly found to develop hypothyroidism.  The thyroid gland is found in the throat.  Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland is not producing enough thyroid hormone.  Symptoms of hypothyroidism in dogs are similar to those seen in people.  The dog will have excessive weight gain.  The skin will be dry and flaky.  The hair becomes brittle and falls out easily.  There may be areas of hair loss (alopecia), especially on chest, neck, and body.  Often times the dog will also have a very low energy level.

Diagnosis is through a blood test that measures the level of thyroid hormone and function of the thyroid gland.

Treatment includes hormone replacement therapy.  Dogs do very well on thyroid medication.  The dose of medication needed varies, and your dog will need to have his thyroid levels checked regularly to ensure he is on the right dose of medication.  Once started on the medication, dogs will do very well and can lead long and happy lives.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Now Available!!! "Dogs Aren't Men" Audiobook

"Dogs Aren't Men" is now available on,, and iTunes. 


Rebecca Miller is a gifted veterinarian with an extraordinary understanding of animal behavior. She is leading a fulfilling life as the owner and operator of the Animal Friends Veterinary Clinic. Ever since her 30th birthday, her mother has made it her mission to help Rebecca find a man, get married, and give her grandchildren. But Rebecca doesn't see the need for a man in her life. She has her dog, Captain, and that's all the companionship she needs. However, her world changes the day she literally runs into Derrick Peterson, a gorgeously handsome ER doctor.

Derrick's experiences with women have taught him that they are vain, silly, and untrustworthy. He keeps his relationships with them brief and superficial. However, he finds himself being irresistibly drawn to Rebecca. She's smart, witty, compassionate, and very different from the women he usually encounters. Will Rebecca be the one to break down the wall he's spent a lifetime building around his heart?

Dogs Aren't Men | [Billi Tiner]
click image to buy now! $19.95

Monday, October 21, 2013

Pet Health Tip #28- Congestive Heart Failure

Blood flows into the right side of the heart.  The right ventricle then pumps the blood into the lungs where it picks up oxygen.  The blood then flows into the left side of the heart where it is pumped back out into the body.  As the blood flows into the different chambers of the heart, valves close behind it to ensure the blood continues to flow in the correct direction.  The sound that is heard when listening to the heart is the sound of the valves slamming shut.

If the valves do not operate properly, some of the blood will be pushed backwards.  If the valve fails that closes behind the blood flowing into the right side of the heart, then blood will back up into the liver and abdomen and cause “ascites”.  If the valve fails that closes behind the blood flowing into the left side of the heart, then blood will back up into the lungs.

Congenital heart disease can occur in any size dog.  Typically, the heart valves do not form properly, leading to failure to function properly.  The valves don’t seal the openings; and therefore, you can hear the blood leaking through the valve making a ‘whooshing’ sound.  This sound is referred to as a murmur.  Diagnoses of a heart murmur is made by using a stethoscope to listen to the heart.  Many dogs can live for years with a murmur without developing CHF.

Congestive heart failure (CHF) is a very common disease in dogs.  CHF can occur in both large and small breed dogs although the underlying causes vary significantly.  In small breed dogs, the most common cause is chronic dental disease.  The bacteria in the mouth set up residence on the heart valves.  Eventually, the valve begins to thicken and function improperly, leading to CHF.  In large breed dogs, the most common underlying cause is due to the heart being over worked.  This leads to a thickening of the heart wall and the failure of the heart to properly pump the blood.  Additionally, severe heartworm infestations can lead to CHF in any size dog.

Symptoms of CHF depend on which side of the heart is affected.  Right sided CHF will lead to ascites.  If the blood is being backed up into the abdomen, then the belly will start to fill with fluid and become distended.  If the blood is being backed up into the liver, then you can start to see signs of liver failure (jaundice, vomiting, loss of appetite, etc.).

Left sided CHF will lead to blood being backed up into the lungs.  The dog will usually wheeze or cough.  The cough is often productive, meaning that they cough up fluid.

With both types of CHF, the dog will have a decrease in energy and possibly a loss of appetite.

Treatment of CHF also depends on the underlying cause.  It can include: medication to increase heart muscle contractions, diuretics to draw the extra fluid out of the lungs, liver, or abdomen, and a special diet.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Publisher Weekly's Review of Dogs Aren't Men

Rebecca Miller is a veterinarian who is happy with her life and her animals. Her mother, however, would like to see her married sooner rather than later. Rebecca doesn't think this is likely until she meets Derrick Peterson. While she and Derrick-who likes to keep his relationships casual- dance around their feelings for each other, Rebecca is threatened by Dalton, her secretary's abusive boyfriend. Dalton is eventually arrested, but just when they think they're safe, tragedy strikes, and Derrick almost loses Rebecca, forcing him to confront his feelings and admit his love. Tiner- whose experience with veterinary medicine is clear- has written a quality entry in the romance genre. While her male characters are basic romantic archetypes, readers will appreciate the book's steady pace, well-constructed story, and genial style.- Publisher's Weekly

Friday, October 11, 2013

Pet Health Tip #27- Anti-freeze Poisoning

Ethylene glycol (anti-freeze) is highly toxic to pets.  Cats have an especially low tolerance.  It has a sweet taste that pets love, so if it is available, they will drink it.  Pets usually gain access to ethylene glycol through spills, leaks, or improperly sealed containers.

Early symptoms of toxicity (usually within 30 minutes to a few hours) include: vomiting, diarrhea, depression, a wobbly gait, head tremors, rapid eye movement, increased urination, and thirst.
Advanced symptoms include: severe depression, dehydration, coma, seizures, oral ulcers, and death.

Symptoms are dependent on amount of ethylene glycol consumed.  The toxicity is caused by the metabolites that are released as the body tries to break down the ethylene glycol.  These metabolites are toxic to the liver, nervous system, and kidneys.  The sooner the animal is started on treatment the more likely the ethylene glycol can be filtered out of the body before causing damage.  If you have any suspicion that your pet has consumed ethylene glycol, don’t wait!  Get them to your veterinarian immediately.  Once organ damage has occurred, treatment is much more intense and the chances of recovery are severely diminished.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


This boxed set includes all three books in the Bounty Hunter series. Get all three books for only $5.99!!


2013 Readers' Favorite Award Finalist 

After his father's tragic death, sixteen-year old Ben Sharp is living a life of solitude in a one room cabin in the woods. He is lonely and restless but cannot see a way to change his situation. His life takes an unexpected turn the day two horse thieves ride up leading a stolen stallion. When the two outlaws attempt to rob him, Ben is able to turn the tables. His successful capture of the men opens up his world to the life of the bounty hunter. Ben sets out on a journey that will transform him from a boy into a man. This coming of age tale is full of action, adventure, humor, and romance. 


Ben Sharp hunts outlaws for a living. He’s smart, tough, and only seventeen years old. In this action-packed sequel to Bounty Hunter: The Beginning, Ben goes after a gang of murderous thieves. As Ben tracks down and captures some of the meanest men in the west, his reputation for being fast with a gun grows. Ben’s grit and determination will be tested at every turn by ruthless men and the deadly forces of nature in this old west adventure. 


Ben Sharp thinks he has put his days as a bounty hunter behind him. He is living a peaceful life on his horse ranch and is eagerly awaiting the day Mary Anne Sumter returns from Boston. When rustlers attack a cattle drive and kill some of Ben’s friends, he is called back into action. Will he be able to return to his life of peace or has he been forced to leave that life for good? Read this action-packed conclusion to the Bounty Hunter series to find out. 


The Animal Friends Collection contains three middle-grade animal books. These books share several characters. Get all three books for only $5.99!!! 

Friends for Life 

Bo and Rico are two puppies who meet at a pet store. The puppies are dognapped from the pet store by two goons. Realizing they are in danger, Bo and Rico must work together to escape the dognappers. After their escape, Bo and Rico find themselves scared and alone on the mean city streets. They are rescued by a streetwise stray named Tank. Tank takes the puppies under his wing and teaches them how to survive on the streets. Bo and Rico embark on several adventures including avoiding the local Animal Control officer, Jimmy; several run-ins with a pack of dogs led by a stray named Mongrel; and rescuing a beautiful lost Poodle named Pearl. Through it all, Bo and Rico form an incredible friendship that will last a lifetime. 

Welcome Home 

For as long as Jake can remember, he has been having the same dream. In his dream, he lives with a wonderful man in a beautiful home. He has never seen the face of the man in the dream, but he knows his voice and is certain that they are meant to be together. When the day comes for Jake to be given away to his new home, he believes that he will finally get to meet the man from his dreams. However, when he is chosen, it is definitely not by the man from his dream! He is taken to a home where he is terribly mistreated. After suffering years of abuse, Jake finally escapes and is able to begin the search for the man he has been dreaming of his entire life. Along the way, Jake meets some interesting characters, survives amazing adventures, and forms lifelong friendships. Join Jake on his incredible journey home. 

The Rescue Team 

Ellie is shocked and confused when her owners leave her at the animal shelter. Feeling abandoned and unloved, Ellie spends her days staring vacantly through the gate of her pen. Ellie’s life changes when she is finally adopted by a compassionate woman named Anne. Ellie and Anne form an unbreakable bond of love and friendship. A thunderstorm drives Toby, a young frightened kitten, to Anne’s porch. Anne and Ellie immediately welcome him into their family. One night, they hear an emergency broadcast announcement that a little girl is missing in the woods near their home. Anne, Ellie, and Toby join in the search to find her, and an incredible rescue team is formed. The team will be called upon again when a tornado tears through their town. Will they find any survivors? 

Saturday, October 5, 2013

NOW AVAILABLE!!! Bounty Hunter: The Legend

I am happy to announce that the third book of the young adult western Bounty Hunter series is available!


Ben Sharp thinks he has put his days as a bounty hunter behind him. He is living a peaceful life on his horse ranch and is eagerly awaiting the day Mary Anne Sumter returns from Boston. When rustlers attack a cattle drive and kill some of Ben’s friends, he is called back into action. Will he be able to return to his life of peace or has he been forced to leave that life for good? Read this action-packed conclusion to the Bounty Hunter series to find out.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Pet Health Tip #26- Rat Bait Poison

As the weather cools in the fall and winter, mice decide to set up residence in our homes, garages, barns, etc.  When deciding the best course of action to get rid of these pests, it is important to remember your pets.  Most rat poisons contain anticoagulants.  These poisons are not picky about who ingests them, meaning they will cause the same effect whether it is a rat, a dog, or a cat who eats it.  The rat poison smells good, and with your pet’s keen sense of smell, it doesn’t take them long to find it, no matter how well you think you have hidden it.

Many times, it is several days after the pet ingests the poison before they start showing symptoms.  Early symptoms include: Vomit or diarrhea that contains blood, bloody nasal discharge, and pale gums.  As the poison takes more affect, the symptoms will progress to severe anemia, weakness, lethargy, loss of appetite, internal bleeding into the chest or abdomen, and eventually death.

Outdoor pets are at greatest risk for rat poison ingestion.  They can come in contact with it in a barn, neighbor’s trash, or by ingesting a rat who has been poisoned.  If you catch your pet in the act of eating rat poison, you'll need to induce vomiting.  Use a needleless syringe or even a turkey baster to squirt 3% hydrogen peroxide solution into the back of your pet's mouth.  Give between one and two teaspoons of solution for every ten pounds of body weight.  Give the hydrogen peroxide, then wait five or ten minutes to see if your pet vomits.  If not, administer another dose.  Remember- inducing vomiting is ONLY for immediate treatment.  If several hours have already passed since your pet ingested the rat poison, then inducing vomiting will not help.

You will also need to take your pet to the veterinarian to begin treatment.  For acute ingestion without any symptoms, the typical treatment includes giving Vitamin K.  However, if you are seeing the symptoms listed above, then it is important to start emergency treatment.  This may include whole blood or plasma transfusions to restore the blood volume.

Not all rat poisons are toxic to pets.  If you can bring the package with you on your visit, it will help your veterinarian to determine the best treatment options.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Pet Health Tip #25- Chocolate Toxicity

With Halloween and other chocolate filled holidays right around the corner, this Pet Health Tip is well timed!

The symptoms of chocolate toxicity can range from mild diarrhea and vomiting to seizures and death.  The severity of the symptoms depends upon the amount and type of chocolate ingested.  The toxicity levels are as follows:

Milk Chocolate: Mild signs at 0.7 oz per pound of body weight; severe toxicity at 2 oz per pound of body weight.  In other words, one pound of milk chocolate can cause severe signs in a 20 lb dog.

Semi-sweet Chocolate: Mild signs at 0.3 oz per pound of body weight; severe toxicity at 1 oz per pound of body weight.

Baking chocolate: This one is the most toxic and can cause severe symptoms with as little as 2 small 1 oz squares.

In most cases, you will only see mild symptoms of chocolate toxicity, such as vomiting, diarrhea, or fever.  However, if enough is ingested, it could cause severe symptoms, such as muscle spasms, rapid breathing, increased heart rate, seizures, coma, and cardiac arrest.

It is extremely important to keep chocolate stored away from pets.  If you know your dog has ingested chocolate, then keep in mind the above information when determining whether or not your pet will require veterinary attention.  If it is just a piece or two of milk chocolate, then be prepared for some mild diarrhea.  On the other hand, if your dog ingested an entire bar of bakers chocolate, then you will need to seek veterinary attention.  If you are in doubt about the need to seek medical attention, then call your veterinarian and follow their advice.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Kirkus Review of Dogs Aren't Men

A fast-paced, energetic romance with a little sass.

Dr. Rebecca Miller, a 30-year-old veterinarian, immerses herself in caring for her animal patients and spending time with her dog, Captain. So what if her mother, Barbara, has made it her mission to find her daughter a husband? Meanwhile,Derrick Peterson, an ER doctor, has never been able to truly connect with a woman since he generally finds them superficial and untrustworthy. Nonetheless, Rebecca’s and Derrick’s worlds collide when Barbara gives Derrick’s stepmother Rebecca’s number. Derrick passes the number off to his friend, Mitch, who calls Rebecca and asks her out on a double date. After an embarrassing run-in at the local park, Derrick and Rebecca formally meet on the double date;they’re drawn to each other, though they keep their feelings to themselves. Derrick and Rebecca continue to bond over animals, basketball and their careers, and they finally become close after a frightening situation involving her employee’s sister and domestic violence. But the question remains: Will Derrick and Rebecca eventually fall in love?Though engaging and energetic, Tiner’s writing can get a bit repetitive. For instance, when describing Rebecca, she
writes, “She had an athletic build that attested to her active lifestyle. She kept her medium length brown hair pulled back from her face more from necessity than preference.” Varying the sentence structures would have made some of the descriptions less cumbersome. Additionally, the narrative jumps around frequently, which, although expected as the narrative switches between Rebecca’s and Derrick’s perspectives, is unnecessary at times. For a few paragraphs, the point of view even changes to Rebecca’s veterinary assistant, Jimmy. Nevertheless, while scattered at times, the novel successfully keeps readers engaged, and an enthusiastic audience shouldn’t be too difficult to find.

A light, easy romantic comedy that will appeal to animal lovers and young professionals.


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Pet Health Tip #24- Patellar Luxation

Has your dog ever been running and suddenly picked up one of his back legs and started running on three legs?  Usually, this will be for a short distance.  Then, he will give his leg a shake and go back to running on all four legs.

Your dog is experiencing something called Patellar Luxation.  Sounds complicated, but it is really very simple.  The patella (knee cap) is a small bone that sits in a groove at the front of the knee.  For some dogs, the groove the patella sits in is too shallow.  So, when the patella is experiencing a lot of movement (i.e. the dog is running), it will slip out of the groove and cause the knee to lock up.  The dog will hold the leg up and sometimes give it a little shake causing the patella to slip back into its groove.

Patellar Luxation is a congenital problem caused by the failure of the bone to develop correctly.  It is a common problem for small breed dogs such as Pomeranians, Poodles, and Chihuahuas.  The luxation itself isn't painful.  It is more of a nuisance.  However, over time, the action of the patella sliding up and over the groove will cause “wear and tear” on the cartilage of the knee joint.  Eventually, this will lead to arthritis.

If you have a dog that has a luxating patella, then it is important to make sure they maintain a healthy weight.  This will help slow the progression of the arthritis.  Patellar Luxation can also be surgically repaired.  The surgeon will go into the knee joint and deepen the groove the patella sits in, causing a tighter fit.  Surgery is the best solution, but can be expensive.  Most dogs with Patellar Luxation do very well even without treatment.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Pet Health Tip #23- Hip Dysplasia

Hip Dysplasia is caused by the abnormal development of the hip joint.  The hip joint is a ball and socket joint.  The head (top) of the femur (long upper leg bone) is the ball and it sits in a socket (acetabulum) of the hip bone (os coxae).  The head of the femur is supposed to sit very snugly in the acetabulum.  It allows a rolling motion, but is not supposed to have a sliding motion.  So, in a dog with Hip Dysplasia the ball is usually too small and the socket is too shallow.  This results in a "loose" joint.  In other words, instead of getting that snug fit, the joint has too much motion.  This can allow the joint to subluxate or "pop in and out".  Over time, this extra motion causes "wear and tear" on the joint and results in arthritis.

The development of Hip Dysplasia is primarily the result of genetics.  That is why it is more common in certain breeds of dogs such as Labs and Rottweilers.  As the puppy ages, the joint doesn't develop correctly and results in Hip Dysplasia.

It is often hard to diagnose Hip Dysplasia in really young puppies.  All puppies have pretty loose joints.  The question is whether they are going to develop normally or abnormally as the puppy grows.  By the time the puppy is about six months old, you will often start to see evidence of hip dysplasia.  The puppy may have a "rolling gate" where you can actually see the hip joint slipping when they walk.  This is often missed due to the fact that puppies are pretty resilient and will ignore the inconvenience of a slipping hip joint.

Typically, Hip Dysplasia is diagnosed once the dog has fully matured and the joint starts to break down.  The dog will have trouble rising or may cry out if their hips are pushed on.  Other symptoms include: trouble maneuvering up stairs, jumping into cars, or onto the bed.

Treatment for Hip Dysplasia is usually therapeutic, meaning we just try to alleviate the pain and slow the progression of damage to the cartilage in the joint.  There are several good medications available to accomplish this.  Passive activities, such as walking and swimming, are also good for the joint.  Additionally, it is very important to keep the dog’s body weight normal.  If the dog is carrying extra weight, it will speed the progression of arthritis.

Hip replacement surgery is also an alternative.  There are several veterinary practices that perform this surgery with very high success.  It is expensive, but it will cure the problem rather than just manage the symptoms.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Pet Health Tip #22- Canine Cognitive Dysfunction

As dogs age, they can develop symptoms similar to dementia in humans.  It is termed Canine Cognitive Dysfunction or CCD.  Dogs with CCD can show a variety of symptoms.  Forgetting how to do simple tasks, such as how to climb stairs or how to back up, is a common symptom.  Your dog may stand at the bottom of the stairs as if he is confused, or he may get stuck in a corner.

Another common symptom is becoming fearful.  Because your dog is fearful, his personality can change causing him to growl or bite if suddenly startled.  When approaching your dog, it is very important to make sure he knows you are there in order to decrease the chance of startling him.

Many dogs will also develop a fear of the dark.  These dogs often pace restlessly at night.  Finally, many dogs with CCD will no longer be housebroken.  They will start to eliminate in the house.

There are medications available that will slow the progression of CCD, but similar to humans with dementia, there is no cure.  The best thing we can do is gain an understanding of these changes and do the best we can to accommodate our geriatric pets.  For instance, if your dog has grown fearful, try to minimize the amount of stress in his life.  One example would be allowing him a safe place to go if there are small children in the house.  If he has grown fearful of the dark, give him a nightlight.  Also, he may need to be constantly shown how to do simple tasks.  Finally, he may need to be placed into a crate when you are not home.  This can accomplish two things; one, it will give him a place where he feels safe when he is alone; and two, it will keep him from eliminating in the house.

Geriatric dogs can be a challenge.  Our dogs give us unconditional love and the least we can do is give them our patience and understanding as they age.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Sneak Peak- Chapter 1 of Bounty Hunter: The Legend

BOUNTY HUNTER: THE LEGEND, the third book in the Bounty Hunter series, is due out in October. I am happy to share Chapter 1 as a special sneak peak for all my loyal readers!


Ben threw his saddle over the corral fence and leaned against it. He gazed out across the pasture that ran behind the corral. Ten brood mares lazily munched on the lush green grass of early spring. All of the mares were heavy with foals. They would start giving birth within the next few days. Ben’s heart swelled with satisfaction. It had been a long winter, but the wait was almost over.
   Ben Sharp was only eighteen years old, but he was no boy. Life had carved him into a man. When he was sixteen, he had decided to become a bounty hunter. He had hunted down some of the most dangerous outlaws to roam the West. During that time, he developed a reputation for being brave, tough, and lightning fast with a gun.
   A year ago, Ben put all that behind him and bought a horse ranch. He wanted to build a place where he could provide a good home for Mary Anne Sumter, the girl he’d fallen in love with two years ago. She had left to attend school in Boston and he had spent the time she was away earning enough money from bounty hunting to buy the ranch. Mary Anne was expected back in June. Ben intended to ask her to be his wife. They had talked about it before she’d left. He only hoped that she hadn’t changed her mind about wanting to marry him and that she would love the ranch as much as he did.
   “You about ready to go?” a voice asked from behind him.
   Ben turned around and saw Colton Bixby sitting on his horse. Colton had been a skinny, scared kid when Ben had found him living alone on the streets almost two years ago. Since that time, he’d grown into a tall, muscular boy of fourteen. He had thick black hair and piercing blue eyes. He carried himself with a maturity that was well beyond his years.
   Ben smiled, “Yeah, I just need to saddle Blaze and I’ll be ready to go.”
   Ben climbed over the corral fence and hurried across to the opposite side. He opened the gate that separated the corral from the pasture and gave a shrill whistle. The big black stallion who stood in the middle of the grazing herd lifted his head and looked toward the corral. He let out a whinnying reply and raced toward Ben. The big horse slid to a stop a few feet away.
   “Hi, boy,” Ben greeted Blaze. “Ready to go for a ride?”
   Blaze blew out a loud snort and stomped his hoof into the ground. Ben chuckled and said, “Well, come on then.”
   Blaze walked through the gate that Ben still held open. They walked together across the corral. Ben lifted his saddle off the fence and slung it onto Blaze’s powerful back. He led the big horse out of the enclosure and swung onto his back.
   “All right, let’s go,” he said to Colton as he urged Blaze into a trot.
   As they passed by the barn, a large black man stepped out.
   “I should be back before sundown, Jesse,” Ben told him.
   Jesse Parker nodded in acknowledgement and turned his head to look at Colton. His eyes were filled with concern. “You be careful, Colton. Come back in one piece, you hear?”
   “I’ve told ya a hundred times, Jesse, I’ll be fine. It’s just a cattle drive,” Colton answered, a note of annoyance in his voice.
   Colton had decided to join the men from the neighboring ranch, the Bar S, on their spring roundup and cattle drive. He’d had a bad case of cabin fever after the long, harsh winter and needed to experience a little adventure. Jesse had tried to talk him out of it. Jesse was several years older than Ben and Colton and thought of them like they were his sons.
   Ben felt that the cattle drive would be good for Colton. He knew the boy needed to experience more than being cooped up on a small horse ranch. He was growing into a man and would need to decide what he wanted to do with his life. He knew that Mr. Sullivan, the owner of the Bar S, and his men would look out for Colton.
   Once they were out of earshot of Jesse, Colton grumbled, “I wish he’d stop worryin’ about me so much. I ain’t helpless. I can take care of myself.”
   “You ain’t foolin’ me. I know ya like it that Jesse cares about you. Me, on the other hand, I’ll be glad to get rid of you for a while. The cabin’ll be a lot quieter without your bellyaching,” Ben teased.
   Colton flashed him a quick glance and broke out into a smile when he saw Ben’s teasing grin.
   “You know you’re gonna miss havin’ someone you can boss around,” Colton returned good-naturedly.
   Ben’s grin widened. “Yeah, I guess you’re right about that.”
   “How long you figure the drive’ll take?” Colton asked.
   “Oh, I expect you’ll be gone for a about a month. It really depends on the weather and how much ground you can cover each day.”
   They grew silent as they continued the short ride to the Bar S. When they rode into the yard, they saw Gabriella Sullivan, the ranch owner’s daughter, hurrying toward the barn. Ben could tell by the way she moved that something wasn’t right. He kicked Blaze into a gallop.
   Gabriella looked up at the sound of the approaching horse. “Ben!” she exclaimed. “You’ve got perfect timing. Moon Dust is in labor.”
   Moon Dust was Gabriella’s mare. Ben had purchased his ranch from Mr. Sullivan. As part of his payment, he had agreed to let them breed Moon Dust with Blaze the previous spring. Ben’s heartbeat quickened at the thought of seeing Blaze’s first foal. When they reached the barn, he quickly dismounted and tied Blaze to the corral fence outside the barn. Then he followed Gabriella inside.
   Gabrielle walked a few feet ahead of Ben. He had not seen her since last fall. He felt the same stirrings of attraction he always felt when he was near her. She was a beautiful girl. She walked with a long, graceful stride. Her long black hair flowed down her back and rested just above the flare of her hips. Ben gave his head a swift shake when he realized he was staring at Gabriella’s backside. His unexplained attraction to the girl was a major reason why he’d limited his visits to the Bar S over the last year. When he had visited, he’d done his best to maintain his distance from Gabriella. He knew that Mary Anne was the woman he wanted to marry. He loved her with every fiber of his being. He couldn’t understand why he reacted so strongly to Gabriella every time he saw her.
   “Hi, Ben, looks like you made it in time to see the blessed event.”
   “Hello, Mr. Sullivan,” Ben greeted the man who stood in the opening to one of the barn stalls. “How’s Moon Dust doing?”
   Patrick Sullivan was the owner of the Bar S and had become a close friend of Ben’s. He was a fair man who ran a highly successful ranch. All of the ranch hands loved him.
   “She seems to be holding her own. She just started pushing a few minutes ago,” Mr. Sullivan answered.
   Gabriella paused to give her father a quick kiss and then disappeared inside the stall.
   Ben and Colton joined Patrick at the stall’s opening.
   “Hello, Colton. Are you ready to get to work?” Mr. Sullivan asked.
   “Yes, sir, Mr. Sullivan,” Colton answered. “I’m more than ready.”
   “I was about to ride out and join the men when Moon Dust went into labor. I’m going to stay until she drops the foal. You are welcome to ride on out and join the roundup or you can stay here and ride out with me. It’s your choice.”
   “I think I’ll ride on out and join the men. I wouldn’t want it to seem like I was getting any special treatment riding up with the boss,” Colton answered.
   Patrick grinned. “All right. They’re in the north pasture. You can let Scott know what’s keeping me. I should only be a couple of hours behind you.”
   Scott Mitchell was the ranch foreman.
   “Yes, sir, I’ll tell him,” Colton replied.
   “Good luck, Colton,” Ben said, reaching out to shake the boy’s hand. “Jesse and I’ll be glad to see you when you get back.”
   Colton gave Ben’s hand a quick shake and then turned and hurried from the barn, eager to join the other cowboys.
   “He’s a good kid,” Ben commented. “He’s gonna try his best to prove he’s a man.”
   “Scott and I’ll look out for him,” Patrick commented.
   “I know you will. Otherwise, Jesse and I would have tried harder to stop him from going.”
   Moon Dust let out a loud groan. Ben and Patrick turned to look into the stall. Moon Dust’s gray coat was sleek with sweat. Gabriella stroked her neck and whispered softly to her. Moon Dust let out another groan as her abdominal muscles tightened in a strong contraction.
   Patrick and Ben stood in the stall’s entrance. A silent tension filled the air as they anticipated the first look at the new foal. Ben realized he was holding his breath and forced himself to relax.
   Just then, another big contraction ripped through Moon Dust.
   “I see a hoof!” Gabriella exclaimed. “That’s it, girl. You’re doing great,” she whispered as she continued to stroke the mare’s neck.
   Moon Dust let out another loud moan and a moment later the foal’s head appeared. The mare sighed, her muscles relaxing after the hard contraction.
   Ben could hardly stand the wait. He wanted to reach in and pull the foal the rest of the way out. He clenched his fists at his side.
   Patrick chuckled and said, “One more good push and the foal will slide right out. The hard part’s done.”
   Moon Dust lifted her head as another contraction hit her. The rest of the foal’s body emerged. It immediately started moving its legs trying to stand. The mare stood and started cleaning the foal.
   “He’s beautiful,” Gabriella sighed. She swung around to face the men. “Have you ever seen a more magnificent looking animal?”
   “I don’t believe I have,” responded Mr. Sullivan.
   Ben’s eyes met Gabriella’s. He was struck with how beautiful she looked. Her’s eyes were wide and glistening with excitement. A radiant smile lit her face. Ben felt his heart lurch into his throat. He just shook his head, unable to speak.
   He tore his gaze from Gabriella and looked toward the foal who was struggling to stand. The foal was big and black just like Blaze. Unlike Blaze, who had a white stripe down his face, the foal had a small white star in the middle of his forehead. When he finally stood, Ben was surprised to see how tall he was.
   Gabriella giggled as the little horse took its first tentative steps toward his mother. Within a few minutes, he was nursing.
   “He’s going to be big,” Mr. Sullivan commented. “Just like his daddy. Let’s give them a few moments to get to know each other. Then we can turn them out into the pasture. The little guy is going to need some room to get used to those long legs.”
   Ben and Gabriella followed Patrick out of the barn. Ben was surprised to see that the sun was already beginning to set.
   “I’m sure glad I got to see that,” he commented. “My mares should be dropping their foals in a couple of days. I hope they look half as good as that one.”
   “I’m glad you were here, too, Ben,” Gabriella said. “It was nice to share the experience with you.”
   Their eyes met again. Ben felt heat creep into his cheeks. He coughed to clear his throat and said, “Well, I’d best be gettin’ back to the ranch. Jesse’ll be worried if I don’t make it before sundown. Good luck on the cattle drive, Mr. Sullivan.”
   “Thanks, Ben. Good luck with your foals,” Patrick answered.
   The men clasped hands. Ben nodded to Gabriella and then walked over to Blaze. He quickly mounted and turned the big horse to leave.
   “I’ll come visit next week. I’ll want to see your foals,” Gabriella said.
   “All right,” Ben answered. “See ya next week.”
   As he rode toward home, his mind was filled with images of Gabriella. She’d looked so beautiful when she’d turned and smiled at him.
   “Get hold of yourself,” he muttered angrily. “Mary Anne’s the one you love. Stop thinking about Gabriella.”
   He knew that when he saw Mary Anne again, he would forget about these feelings he was having for Gabriella. Two years was a long time to go without seeing someone. Suddenly, he wondered if Mary Anne might be having similar thoughts about another man. He was in a terrible mood by the time he made it back to the ranch.
   Ben threw open the cabin door and stomped inside. Jesse was sitting at the small table eating dinner.
   “What’s wrong?” he asked with concern.
   “Nothin’,” Ben growled.
   “That sure is a lot of stomping for nothing,” Jesse commented.
   “I said it was nothing,” Ben replied.
   Jesse shrugged and went back to eating. He knew better than to push Ben too hard. If he didn’t want to talk, it was better to let him deal with it on his own.
   After a few minutes of silence, Jesse asked, “Any news from the Bar S?”
   “Moon Dust had her foal,” Ben answered, his tone softening at the thought of the horse. “He’s a beaut.”
   “I’d like to see him,” Jesse answered.
   “I’m sure you’d be welcome.”
   “I might ride over in a couple of days and take a look,” Jesse commented.
   “He’s definitely worth seeing,” Ben answered.

   Jesse grinned, glad to have an excuse to ride over to the Bar S. He would be able to check up on Colton without the boy suspecting the real reason he was there.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Coming Soon!!!! "Dogs Aren't Men" the audiobook

I am happy to announce that the audiobook version of "Dogs Aren't Men" is currently in production. I am very excited about the narrator Rebecca Roberts. Yes, the main character in the book and the narrator have the same first name!

The audiobook is expected to be available for purchase through Amazon and Audible on Oct 1st!


A contemporary romance.

Rebecca Miller is a gifted veterinarian with an extraordinary understanding of animal behavior. She is leading a fulfilling life as the owner and operator of the Animal Friends Veterinary Clinic. Ever since her 30th birthday, her mother has made it her mission to help Rebecca find a man, get married, and give her grandchildren. But Rebecca doesn’t see the need for a man in her life. She has her dog, Captain, and that’s all the companionship she needs. However, her world changes the day she literally runs into Derrick Peterson, a gorgeously handsome ER doctor.

Derrick’s experiences with women have taught him that they are vain, silly, and untrustworthy. He keeps his relationships with them brief and superficial. However, he finds himself being irresistibly drawn to Rebecca. She’s smart, witty, compassionate, and very different from the women he usually encounters. Will Rebecca be the one to break down the wall he’s spent a lifetime building around his heart?

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Pet Health Tip #21- Heat Stroke

Heat stroke is (unfortunately) a common problem during the hot summer months, especially when temperatures soar into the 100's.  Two of the most important things you can do to protect your dog from the heat are to make sure your dog has lots of shade and plenty of water.  It is easy to forget how fast water can evaporate in extreme heat, so make sure you re-fill the water dishes often.

Outdoor dogs with thick coats of fur, even if it is relatively short, should be shaved.  The thick fur is just like you wearing your winter coat out in the heat!  Another great idea is to add water misters to their pen to act as an air conditioner.  And lastly, do not leave your dog in a vehicle, even if the windows are cracked!

Symptoms of heat stroke include: Excessive panting; recumbency (lying on side); pale mucous membranes (gums and inside of cheeks); and unresponsiveness.

Emergency treatments: It imperative to get the dog's temperature down as quickly as possible.  Heat stroke dog temperatures can rise above 105 degrees.  The best thing you can do is get your dog to a veterinarian, so he can be started on IV fluids and the vet can work on lowering the dog's temperature.  However, if you are unable to get to a vet clinic, there are some treatments you can try.  First of all, you don't want to lower the temperature too quickly.  One of the best ways to lower a dog’s temperatures is to pour rubbing alcohol along his spine.  Rubbing alcohol evaporates more quickly than water, thus acting as a coolant.  Also, a room temperature water enema works well.  You don't want to use cold water as the dog's temperature is already well above room temperature and cold water would be too much of a shock to the dog's system.

Even with proper treatment, a heat stroke victim's chances of survival are minimal. So, the best treatment is prevention.  Please be aware of our four-legged friends during the warm summer months and do what you can to keep them safe and comfortable.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Pet Health Tip #20- Cystitis (bladder infection)

Cystitis refers to inflammation of the bladder wall.  Several underlying medical issues can cause cystitis.  The most common cause of cystitis is a bacterial infection.  This is especially true for female dogs and cats.  Bacterial infections in dogs and cats happen the same way they do in people, and pets will show similar symptoms.  These symptoms include: increased frequency of urination, straining to void the bladder, and blood in the urine.  Antibiotics are used to treat bladder infections.

Bladder stones (uroliths) can also cause cystitis.  Bladder stones are mineral deposits that form into rock-like substances.  These stones can be as large as golf balls!  The symptoms are exactly the same as with bladder infections.  Occasionally, a small stone may become trapped in a male dog’s or cat’s urethra causing a blockage.  This is a serious condition that requires emergency treatment.

During the early stages of stone development, the pet will have crystals in the urine.  Dogs may or may not develop symptoms of cystitis during the crystal phase.  Cats will typically start to show symptoms during this phase.  As I stated earlier, these crystals and stones are caused by mineral deposits.  These deposits are created by the urine either being too acidic or too alkaline.  The treatment is a change in diet, which will either raise or lower the pH of the urine.  Some bladder stones will dissolve in response to the diet change.  However, surgery is usually needed to remove the stones.

A less common cause of cystitis is a bladder tumor.  These usually develop in older female dogs. The tumors are typically benign.

There are other less common causes of cystitis.  All causes create the same symptoms.  Therefore, if your pet is showing symptoms of cystitis, you should take him or her to a veterinarian in order to get an accurate diagnosis.