Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show 2012

Last weekend, my husband and I attended the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show.  Wow, we saw some fantastic horses!  In an outdoor ring, yearling fillies strutted their stuff.  The poise of these youngsters amazed me.  Then we walked over to another outdoor ring for a reining competition.  The agility and flexibility of the Arabian breed is wonderful.  They can stop and turn on a dime.  Last, we headed to the main show ring for an English Pleasure class.  If you enjoy horses, I strongly recommend a trip to the show in 2013.  Kids under twelve years of age are free.  A cowgirl’s hat’s off to Scottsdale for hosting this great event – it shows why my hometown of Scottsdale is “The West’s Most Western Town”. 

The Best Material for Pet Food Bowls

When it comes to food bowls, pet owners have three basic choices – plastic, ceramic and metal (stainless steel).  The following list gives the pros and cons associated with each material.

1) Stainless steel- Stainless steel is a durable material that is great as either a food or water container.  It is easy to clean and comes in a variety of sizes, perfect for all kinds of animals.  I like it because it is durable, dishwasher safe and hypoallergenic.  Unfortunately, stainless steel does have one major drawback – shocks.  In dry environments, static electricity builds up when dogs and cats walk on carpeting.  The animal receives a nasty shock when they touch the bowl.  To prevent this, place metal bowls in non-carpeted areas.  Also, remove metal tags from collars.  

2)  Ceramic- Ceramic dishes are easy to clean and relatively inexpensive.  The main disadvantage is breakage.  The sharp fragments may cause severe injuries.  I have seen several lip, tongue and paw lacerations from broken dishes.  Also, make sure any paint or glazes on the piece are safe for animals.  Watch out for lead.

3)  Plastic – Plastic is cheap, lightweight and extremely durable.  My parrot has had the same bowl for fifteen years.  Unfortunately, many animals are allergic to plastic.  The most common sign is dermatitis of the chin and muzzle.  Pictured below is a dog who received an automatic food dispenser with a plastic bowl for Christmas.  This dermatitis developed in two weeks. 


McDonald’s Agrees to Phase Out Gestation Crates in Pork Suppliers

I will never forget walking into a large pork producing farm during my swine rotation in veterinary school.  I saw pregnant sows in small crates, the crates were so small that the pigs couldn’t even turn around.  They could only move a few inches forwards and backwards.  Growing up in Minnesota farm country, I was used to seeing pigs in large pens with access to the outdoors.  When I expressed my horror at these conditions, the farm staff was unmoved.  

This week, McDonalds announced it will phase out pork from suppliers who use gestation crates.  Thank you McDonalds!  Large corporations like McDonalds can make a huge difference in the humane treatment of animals.  I would also like to thank Wendy’s, Sonic, Harris Teeter, Quiznos, Whole Foods Market, Chipotle  and Safeway who have been praised by the Humane Society of the United States for their collective decisions to avoid suppliers who abuse animals.  I would also like to thank the Humane Society of the United States for your tireless work on behalf of animals.  Keep up the great work!

More information is available at:

Join Dr. Nelson at the Tucson Festival of Books

Join Dr. Kristen Nelson, veterinarian, speaker and author of Coated With Fur: A Vet’s Life at the Tucson Festival of Books.  This year’s festival is March 10 and 11, 2012 at the University of Arizona. Stop by booth #243 on the central mall as I would love to meet readers.  I will also be delighted to share information about the next book in the series; Coated With Fur: A Blind Cat’s Love.   

Learn more about animals during a panel discussion titled “Animal
Behavior – Mild to Wild” on Saturday, March 10th from 11:30 to 12:30 in room 111 of the Chemistry building. Dr. Nelson will join Sy Montgomery, author of Birdology and Patricia B. McConnell author of Love Has No Age Limit: Welcoming an Adopted Dog into Your Home. More information at  The festival draws over 100,000 visitors so it will be a fun weekend celebrating literature!

February is Pet Dental Month

The American Veterinary Medical Association has declared February “National Pet Dental Health Month”.   Pets struggle with a variety of dental problems including periodontal disease, alignment issues, and fractured teeth in carnivores and overgrown teeth making it difficult to eat in herbivores.  Besides causing pain, infection from the mouth may spread throughout the body infecting everything from heart valves to the kidneys.  Therefore, it is vital to check your pet’s mouth frequently and perform home care.  Remember, “Pets need dental care, too.”    

Pictured below is a cat with a painful, fractured lower canine tooth that I found on physical examination. 

You Make The Diagnosis: Name The Rare Blood Disorder Found In Irish Setters

This beautiful girl is Liddie, an Irish setter with a big personality.  Liddie brightens any room she enters with her expressive and friendly face.  For this photo, she ignored me and listened to a dog in the room next door.  What a character! 

Irish setters have a rare but fatal genetic disease that causes fever, anorexia, recurrent infections, slow wound healing, weight loss, umbilical infections, gingivitis, lymphadenopathy, pododermatitis and osteomyelitis. Name this inherited disease. 

Dx:  Canine Leukocyte Adhesion Deficiency (CLAD)

Canine leukocyte adhesion deficiency is an inherited disease caused by a mutation in the leukocyte integrin CD18.  It is an autosomal recessive which means that dogs with only one copy of the gene will be asympotomatic carriers while those with two usually die young.  The disease is also seen in humans and cattle.  Since CLAD is a devastating disease, I recommend testing all Irish setters prior to breeding.  Your veterinarian will collect a blood sample and send it to Optigen for testing.  More information is available at

“Gene therapy for CLAD with lentiviral vectors using the murine stem cell virus and human phosphoglycerate kinase promoters” Human Gene Therapy, June 2011; 22(6): 689-96.
“Frequency of the canine leucocyte adhesion deficiency (CLAD) mutation among Irish red setters in Germany” Journal of Animal Breeding and Genetics, April 2005; 122(2): 140-2.