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Furry friends need health care, too
by Cortney Maddock
Jul 07, 2008 | 1339 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune/Debra Reid - 

Veterinarian assistant Heather Braun weighs two-month old pug Shaka at the Pyramid Pet Hospital on Friday. The puppy received his second set of vaccinations.
Tribune/Debra Reid - Veterinarian assistant Heather Braun weighs two-month old pug Shaka at the Pyramid Pet Hospital on Friday. The puppy received his second set of vaccinations.
The 30-second ad spot follows a Jack Russell Terrier named Pretzel to the vet’s office for a routine examination. The commercial is part of the Maddie’s Fund northern Nevada ad campaign aimed at increasing pet welfare and health care.

“We hope to revolutionize the status and well-being of companion animals,” Maddie’s Fund President Rich Avanzino said. “Nevada is one of the least funded states by donations for animal causes.”

Avanzino explained that the Bay Area non-profit organization Maddie’s Fund has been involved with northern Nevada animal causes in the past and has been working closely with the SPCA on the campaign.

“The SPCA is helping us with great assistance with this program,” Avanzino said.

The Pets Love Vets campaign is taking aim at pet health care to reduce the number of animals surrendered to the shelter and homeless pets in the community, as well as inform pet owners of proper health care for their four-legged friends.

Perks of the Pets Love Vets program, in addition to the adorable TV commercial, include a Web site that helps pet owners find a local veterinarian and clinics that offer low-cost spay and neuter programs. The Web site,, also provides a checklist of issues that a veterinarian can help with.

Dr. Dennis Wilson, who runs the emergency vet clinic on South Virginia and Neil Road and is also the incoming president of the Nevada Veterinary Medial Association, explained that early detection is vital to a pet’s well being.

“The number one thing I hope comes from this campaign is more awareness,” Wilson said.

Wilson said that many pet owners don’t think of their veterinarian as their first source to help with issues such as biting or even self-mutilation.

“One of the real hopes I have is that people will use their vet as a resource for behavior issues,” Wilson said. “Behavior issues are one of the main reasons people surrender their pets.”

Wilson said that by taking a pet to see a veterinarian at the first sign of problems, the issue doesn’t have to escalate and that behavioral issues often stem from health problems.

Wilson explained that sometimes a cat owner will express that the cat has stopped using the litter box and the owner has become frustrated with the cat urinating in other areas of the house. Wilson said that by talking to a vet, sometimes the owner will discover that the cat has a urinary tract infection or an enlarged bladder, which has been causing the cat to not use the litter box.

Wilson said the top three behavioral problems he has seen dog owners struggle with are barking, destructive behavior and biting. He said he once treated a Chow-Chow that the owner brought to the vet because it was biting people. Wilson explained that the dog was suffering from entropion.

“It is when the eyelids are turned inwards and the lashes scratch the eye,” Wilson said.

Wilson said that he did surgery and after the dog healed, it stopped biting.

“He became the nicest dog because he could see and wasn’t in pain,” Wilson said.

With the help of a trusted vet, many pet owners are able to solve perplexing pet issues but Wilson said that sometimes it goes further than medical care. If the problem is not health related, owners should still talk with their vets, who can refer them to pet trainers or behavioral specialists.

“Owners should still visit the vet first to make sure nothing medically is wrong,” Wilson warned.

In addition to behavior issues, Pets Love Vets is targeting regular vet care as a means of prevention.

“If animals have routine dental care, they’ll be healthy but we still see infected mouths and teeth,” Wilson said.

Another problem that Wilson encounters is overweight pets.

“Animals that are heavy develop all sorts of problems,” Wilson said. “They can become diabetic, just like people, or develop arthritis.”

As part of the Pets Love Vets campaign, Maddie’s Fund is working with vets across northern Nevada to provide low-cost spay and neuters to pet owners who otherwise could not afford it — helping and hoping to eliminate pet overpopulation.

“The public is asked to pay a co-pay of $10 for a cat and $20 for a dog,” Avanzino explained. “More animals that are spayed and neutered means less homeless animals at the shelters.”

In addition to Wilson and Avanzino, Dr. Robyn Murray at the Pyramid Veterinary Hospital said that the hospital chose to be a part of the low-cost spay and neuter program because it benefits the community.

“It’s important to give back to the community,” Murray said. “It helps control the pet population and be an advocate for pet health.”

Health care and prevention could not be more important to Wilson, who said the campaign is important in getting that message out to the public.

“My hope is that the community gains longer, healthier, happier lives for their pets,” Wilson said.

For more information or to find a veterinarian, visit For information on Maddie’s Fund, visit
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