Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Pet Health Tip #3 Puppy Hair Loss

There are a several different underlying causes of hair loss in puppies.  I am only going to address a few of them.

Patchy hair loss with associated pruritus (itchiness):  The most common cause for patchy hair loss is fleas.  However, it can also be caused by the Sarcoptes mites.  This is often referred to as “Sarcoptic Mange.”  Infestation with Sarcoptes mites causes severe pruritus.  The puppies will scratch constantly.  Because of the constant scratching, and the damage that it does, the puppies often develop a bacterial skin infection.  These puppies will have red, crusty skin lesions in addition to the hair loss.  Sarcoptes mites live on the skin, and treatment is usually topical.  However, due to the skin infection, the puppies may also need to take antibiotics.  Sarcoptes mites easily transfer to other pets and can cause itchiness in people as well.  They don’t infest humans, meaning they don’t set up permanent residence on our skin.  However, they will bite us if given the chance.

Patchy hair loss without pruritus:  There are two common causes for these symptoms in puppies.  The first is ringworm (See #13 Ringworm for details).  The second common cause is another mite called Demodex, often referred to as “Demodectic Mange.”  These mites live in the skin.  They do not typically cause pruritus, so the puppies don’t usually scratch.  The treatment for demodectic mange is oral and usually requires a long treatment therapy.

Demodectic mange is not contagious to other pets or people.  The puppies actually obtain the mite from their mother, during nursing.  In addition, there is a genetic component that determines whether or not the animal will have any symptoms associated with the infestation.

In conclusion, several underlying factors cause puppy hair loss.  Therefore, it is important to consult your veterinarian for a specific diagnosis and treatment options.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

MaMa's Book Corner review of 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?

My Thoughts:

Ellie the dog feels abandoned when she gets left at the animal shelter by her owners, but is eventually adopted by a caring woman named Anne. Ellie absolutely loves her new owner and her new life. One night, during a thunderstorm, a scared kitten named Toby ends up at their house and he is also welcomed into the family. Ellie and Toby become a very successful search and rescue team.

I thought this was a really cute story! I really liked how loving Anne was. She reminded me of myself because I'm always wanting to bring home homeless animals and people. *hehe* She made these animals feel loved and wanted and that was wonderful. Even though people and animals thought it was strange that a cat and a dog could be a rescue team and doubted them, the pair never gave up and were repeatedly heroes. I think this book really reminds children to be loving, caring, and to be appreciative for what and who they have. My hope is that every child feels wanted in their life. If everyone tried to be a little more like Anne, this world would be a much better place. I definitely recommend this book for the kiddos in your life.

Pet Health Tip #2- Puppy Vaccines

Routine puppy vaccinations against Parvovirus and Distemper virus are essential to ensuring your puppy’s health.  Puppies are initially protected against these viruses through the antibodies they received from their mother.  However, as the mother’s antibodies begin to fade, puppies become susceptible to infection.  There is a window of susceptibility during which time the mother's antibodies are no longer effective, but they are still too high to allow your puppy to develop his own protection.  For most puppies, this window is open between 8-12 weeks of age. Therefore, it is extremely important to keep your puppy away from environments where he could possibly be exposed to the virus until he has received a full round of vaccines.


Most veterinarians recommend your puppy receives his first set of vaccines at approximately 6-8 weeks of age.  Then he should receive a booster every 3-4 weeks until he reaches 16 weeks of age.  This will ensure he receives the full round of vaccines and has developed his own protection by time his mother's antibodies are no longer effective


Parvovirus and Distemper virus are both found throughout the environment and can survive for long periods of time in the soil.  It is imperative that you keep young unvaccinated puppies away from any yards where there was a known positive puppy for at least one year.


Both of these viruses cause severe intestinal distress.  Basically, they cause the intestines to shed their lining.  The intestinal lining consists of the cells that absorb water and nutrients out of the intestines.  Therefore, the puppy ends up losing a lot of water (i.e. diarrhea) and losing a lot of weight due to the inability to absorb nutrients.  The shedding of the intestinal lining is also very painful.  Many puppies, especially small breeds, do not survive this loss of water and nutrients.


If you choose not to vaccinate your puppy and they survive puppyhood, their odds of contracting the viruses do decrease significantly.  However, unvaccinated adult dogs can still become infected with both Parvovirus and Distemper virus.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

My Interview At A Book Lover's Library

ABLL would like to welcome Billi Tiner to our humble abode. Sit back and enjoy the interview.

You are a vet. What was it about the profession that first drew you to it?

I have always loved animals. When I was 5 years old, my mother asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up and I answered “animal doctor”. I couldn’t think of anything more cool than earning a living taking care of animals.

How did you move from being a vet to writing?

Writing novels allows me to combine two passions, animals and writing. I wrote my first book, Welcome Home, while serving in the US Army Veterinary Corps. The main character, a black lab mix named Jake, was based on a patient that I had my first year out of veterinary school. All of my middle-grade books have animals as the main character and are told from the animal’s point of view. My experiences as a veterinarian have given me a good insight into animal behavior which help me to write more depth to my animal characters.

What was the most challenging thing about starting as a writer?

I wrote Welcome Home about 10 years ago. I tried the traditional paths of getting it published. I wrote hundreds of query letters to both agents and publishers with no success. So, the most difficult part was finding a way to get published. Once I found out about self-publishing, it opened an exciting door for me. I have been writing steadily since publishing Welcome Home in December of 2012 and currently have 4 middle-grade books and 1 young adult book available.

What was the funniest thing you saw as a vet?

My first year out of veterinary school I worked in a small animal practice in Oregon. A woman and her three kids brought in their six-month old German Shepherd puppy for a lump on his face. The woman was distraught. She was convinced that the young puppy had cancer as the “tumor” had grown so rapidly. She had heard that fast growing tumors were the most life-threatening. I knew immediately that the puppy didn’t have cancer as there are no types of skin cancers that affect puppies that young. I took a look at the puppy and saw that instead of a “tumor” it had an engorged tick attached to its muzzle. I grew up in Oklahoma and couldn’t imagine not being able to recognize a tick. I plucked the tick off the puppies face and explained what it was to the owner. She was quite embarrassed by her mistake, but very happy that her puppy was going to be okay.

What is the best thing you have learned in marketing regarding your books?

I have tried to develop a diversified approach to marketing my books. I have a blog, website, am on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. I am also on Goodreads, Shelfari, and Library Thing. I also have contacted several book reviewers about reviewing my books and usually offer giveaways on their site. However, the most successful part of my marketing strategy has been the KDP free promotion days that you can use if you sign up for KDP Select with Amazon. I usually contact as many sites as possible to advertise my free days in order to giveaway as many books as possible. This helps to boost ratings on Amazon and usually results in an increase in sales post-promotion.

What is a typical day like for you?

I work full-time and am an author as a side job. I try to spend part of everyday on some aspect of my writing. This can be anything from maintaining my blog to working on my next book. It is difficult when I only have a few hours a day to devote to my writing. However, I am hopeful that I will one day be able to make a career out of it.

Describe yourself as a writer.

My books are all very character driven. I develop my characters first and then build the story around them. I am very lucky in that once the story starts flowing, it just comes spilling out. I let my writing flow naturally and then go back and worry about editing.

What is the best part of being a writer?

I love getting lost in the story. The books start playing through my mind like a movie and I am just putting them on paper. It is a very exhilarating feeling.

What projects are you working on now?

I am currently working on the sequel to Bounty Hunter: The Beginning, my young adult western. The story centers around Ben Sharp, a teenager, who thwarts a robbery attempt and then decides to become a bounty hunter. I am having a lot of fun with this series as it is very fast paced and full of adventure and romance.

What are your plans for 2013?

I plan to get out the next two books in the Bounty Hunter series. I also plan to release a book of pet health tips. In addition, I have several middle-grade stories rolling around in my head that I would love to let out. I also hope to continue to build a fan base and improve the marketing of the books that are currently available.

Billi, thank you for stopping by.

Visit A Book Lover's Library at

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Pet Health Tip #1- Housebreaking Your Puppy

Housebreaking your puppy can be a frustrating event.  However, remembering a few simple rules could save you and your puppy some heartache.

First, there are specific times when your puppy will need to eliminate. These are:

1) Immediately after waking

2) Approximately five minutes after eating

3) Immediately after playing

Additionally, puppies under six months of age need to eliminate approximately every four hours.

You can use this knowledge to your advantage.  If you know that these events will trigger your puppy’s need to eliminate, then you can time when to take your puppy outside.  Once he is outside, tell him what you want him to do.  For instance, use a phrase like "Go potty."  Don't play with the puppy until he potties.  Then, once he is successful, give him lavish attention and praise.  Eventually, he will learn to go on demand.

Another thing that you can do to greatly decrease the amount of time it takes to potty train your puppy is a method called "crate training."  It is a simple concept that really works.  The idea is that you have a crate your puppy considers his den.  The crate should be big enough for the puppy to lie in comfortably, but not so big that he can use one end of it for a bathroom.  Dogs are pretty clean animals and don't like to eliminate where they sleep.  They are also den animals and feel safe and comfortable sleeping in a small dark place.

Here is how “crate training” works:  The puppy should be inside the crate whenever you are not giving him direct attention.  So, let's start at night.  You place the puppy in the crate.  You will need to give him a potty break in the middle of the night.  Take the puppy directly outside and give him the command to "Go Potty".  Once he obeys, give him praise and attention.  Remember, do not play with him until after he potties.  Then place him back into the crate.  Repeat this process first thing in the morning.  He may only urinate at this time.  Feed him and then take him back outside.  Most puppies will need to defecate about five minutes after eating.  Then place him back into the crate.  He needs to stay in the crate until you are ready to give him attention again.  Make sure to take him directly outside, give him the command, and wait until he potties before playing with him.

Remember he will need to go outside approximately every four hours.  It usually only takes a few days until your puppy will catch on to this routine.  Just like kids, puppies feel most comfortable and confident when they have a routine.  They will be much better behaved in the long run.  So, with “crate training” you get two benefits, a housebroken puppy and a puppy that doesn't have separation anxiety.

If you don't want your puppy to be in a crate while you are home, then you can place him on a leash.  That way he stays within your line of vision.  If you see him sniffing the ground and circling, then he is about to go and you need to get him outside immediately.  This method doesn't work as quickly as crate training, because of the increased likelihood of having accidents.  However, it can also be effective.

“Crate training” is also a great method to use if you are housebreaking an older dog.  In my experience, this method can work within a few days.  Many times, the dog will prefer to spend their time in the crate, even if you leave the door open.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Adopt a pet from an animal shelter

I was a veterinarian at an animal shelter for a couple of years. I have also adopted several dogs and cats. I thought I would share my thoughts on pet adoption.

There are several misconceptions about getting animals from a shelter. One misconception is that you can only find older mixed breed dogs. Well, I can tell you that you can walk into about any animal shelter at any time and you will find pure bred dogs there. While working in an animal shelter, I saw a large variety of pure bred dogs come into the shelter; everything from Shit Tzu, Maltese, and Yorkies to Saint Bernards, Standard Poodles, and Great Danes. So, you CAN get pure bred dogs at animal shelters. It is a little harder to get puppies, but you can definitely find a mature dog.

Now, the fact that you may not get a puppy is NOT a bad thing. There are big advantages to older dogs. First, they are through the chewing phase. So, you don't have to worry about the destructive puppy behavior. Second, many of them are already house broken; and if they are not, it is much easier to house break a mature dog. Finally, older dogs are less likely contract a contagious disease such as Parvovirus, due to having a mature immune system.

Finally, the misconception that dogs from an animal shelter are less healthy. Almost all animal shelters vaccinate the animals prior to releasing them for adoption. In addition, most will either spay/neuter the animal at the shelter or will provide vouchers for you to get it done through a local veterinary clinic. In addition, many of the shelters will test the animals for common diseases, such as Heartworm, Intestinal parasites, and many viruses. Also, most animal shelters will treat the animal for any disease/injuries that it may have when it comes into the shelter. So, in reality, most animals that are adopted are very healthy.

So, if you are thinking of getting a new pet, think about adoption. There are many wonderful animals out there in need of loving homes. They are more than ready to give you their hearts.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Pet Health Tip #40- Tick Borne Diseases

Several diseases can be transmitted to dogs and cats from ticks.  Therefore, keeping pets that have access to the outdoors protected from ticks is essential to their overall health.  There are many good tick prevention medications available.

The four most common tick borne diseases that affect dogs in the United States are Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Ehrlichiosis, and Tick Paralysis.  In most cases, the tick must be attached for several hours before they can transmit these diseases.  So, if ticks are promptly removed from your pet, it will greatly reduce their risk of developing a tick borne disease. 

Lyme Disease 

Lyme disease is caused by bacteria.  The symptoms include: lameness, fever, swollen lymph nodes and joints, and a reduced appetite.  In severe cases, animals may develop kidney disease, heart conditions, or nervous system disorders. Animals do not develop the "Lyme disease rash" that is commonly seen in humans. 

Lyme disease is treated with oral antibiotics.  Since this is a bacterial infection, the animal doesn’t develop an immunity and can contract an infection again. 

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF) 

The symptoms of RMSF are similar to Lyme disease and include: fever, reduced appetite, depression, pain in the joints, lameness, vomiting, and diarrhea. Some animals may develop heart abnormalities, pneumonia, kidney failure, liver damage, or even neurological signs (e.g., seizures, stumbling).

Similar to Lyme disease, RMSF is treated with antibiotics.  However, unlike Lyme disease, dogs usually do develop an immunity to future infections.


Erhlichiosis is caused by a rickettsial organism.  Common symptoms include depression, reduced appetite (anorexia), fever, stiff and painful joints, and bruising.  Signs typically appear less than a month after a tick bite and last for about four weeks.

Treatment of Ehrlichiosis usually involves an extended course of antibiotics.  Animals will develop antibodies against the organism, but can become re-infected.

Tick Paralysis 

Tick paralysis is a strange condition caused by a toxin released by the tick when it attaches to the pet.  Dogs that are sensitive to the toxin can develop weakness in the hind limbs that can progress to complete paralysis.  Owners usually notice a sudden unexplained paralysis in an otherwise healthy dog.  Removal of the tick will lead to a complete recovery.

Cats can be infected by all of the above organisms, but do not tend to be as severely affected.  However, additional tick borne organisms can cause severe infections in cats.  These are discussed below.


This infection is also known as Feline Infectious Anemia.  The organism attacks the cat’s red blood cells and can lead to severe anemia and weakness.  Cats will often need to be hospitalized and may need blood transfusions if the anemia has become severe. 


This is also known as Rabbit Fever.  Cats will show symptoms of a high fever, swollen lymph nodes, nasal discharge, and possibly abscesses at the site of the tick bite. Younger animals are usually at a higher risk of contracting tularemia. 


This disease is common in wild cats, such as the bobcat.  Ticks that feed off the wild cats can then transmit the disease to domestic cats.  Symptoms include: anemia, depression, high fever, difficulty breathing, and jaundice (i.e., yellowing of the skin). Treatment is often unsuccessful and death can occur in as short as one week following infection.