Find a Furry Friend 1/17/13

January 16, 2013 in At Play, Community, Pets by Carey Germana

Josephine is a 10-year-old Terrier/Retriever mix who is potty trained, with all of her required shots and is spayed. She is a bit shy at first but she warms up quick. She needs to be the only pet. She has arthritis and is very sensitive with her back legs. Josephine doesn’t really care for men either. She would be ideal for a retired or older woman. Josephine is spayed, up to date on shots, negative for heartworm and house trained. For more information or to adopt, contact Tracy at or visit or


Cloe is a 6-year-old domestic short-hair cat whose family turned her into the shelter. She is good with children, housebroken and has all of her required shots. She is not yet spayed but the surgery is included in her adoption package. Chloe is laid back and calm. She likes people and is affectionate but not in a demanding way. Chloe would be a perfect friend for watching TV and just hanging out. For more information, contact the Indianapolis Animal Care & Control at (317) 327-1384 or visit

You are not a good squirrel mama

January 16, 2013 in At Play, Community, Pets by Carey Germana

You are not a Good Squirrel Mama

By Dr. Anndrea Hatcher

Olive Branch Parke Veterinary Clinic


Help! My dog uncovered a nest of bunnies! When many people see a baby squirrel out of a tree or a nest of rabbits, their first instinct is to swoop in and rescue the babies.

Just don’t do something, stand there! Why?

  1. Wild animal mothers often spend a lot of time away from the nest foraging for food. So the baby might not be as abandoned as it appears.
  2. Wild animal mothers are way more successful at raising their young than we are. Death rates of hand-raised squirrels run from 70-90%.
  3. The old wives’ tale that if you touch a wild animal baby, the mother will notice your scent and abandon the baby-actually is just an old wives’ tale.
  4. Indiana law prohibits removing wildlife from its environment except by people with the proper permits.

So what should you do? Try to put the squirrel, bunny or bird back in its nest. Or keep an eye on it and wait. Some types of juvenile birds spend some time on the ground as they are learning to fly. Baby rabbits in a nest in a small depression in your backyard spend nearly all of their time alone. The mother rabbit’s milk is so rich that she may only nurse her babies briefly at night. She spends the rest of the time away from the nest eating. You can place some loose grass on top of the nest overnight and then check it the next day. If the grass hasn’t been disturbed by the mother, then the bunnies truly are abandoned.

What do you do if you really need to call in the cavalry? Go to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources website and search for the wildlife rehabilitator list. Call the rehabilitator nearest you and see if you can arrange a time to bring the animal to her. Or if the animal is potentially dangerous, such as an injured raccoon, arrange a time for the rehabilitator to come get the animal. Wildlife rehabilitators don’t get paid for their work and they have to buy all their own supplies for feeding and housing the animals until they can be released back into the wild. Donations are appreciated.

Find a Furry Friend

November 14, 2012 in Community, Pets by Carey Germana


Emily Rose, two-year-old and Primrose, three-month-old, boxer mixes are up for adoption at the Humane Society of Johnson County. Primrose is one of five puppies born to Emily Rose. Emily was found as a stray and she was pregnant. Emily and her five puppies are all up for adoption. Emily Rose isn’t currently in a foster home with children, but she has done okay with older children. She is very friendly with people.  Emily would do best with crate training and frequent potty breaks. She would need to learn the routine of her new home. Primrose and her siblings are still babies and are not housebroken. It is unknown if Emily has had any formal training. She is a smart girl and a quick learner. Obedience training would help her bond to her new owner. Primrose and her siblings still need to attend puppy school. They would do best in a home that is willing to take them to obedience training so they can learn good puppy manners. They have all of their required shots for their age, and are neutered. Emily Rose’s past is a bit of a mystery, but she is a very nice dog that would make someone a great canine companion. She gets along well with people and other dogs. Primrose and her siblings are sweet, loveable puppies who will need to be kept indoors so that they can become true family pets. Like any puppy, they will need a patient family who is ready for the fun and responsibility of the puppy stage. For more information or to adopt, contact HSJC at (317) 535-6626.


Bonnie is a six-year-old Labrador Retriever Mix whose family turned her into the shelter. She is good with children, housebroken and knows basic commands such as sit, down and roll over. She has all of her required shots and neutering will be included in the $60 adoption fee. Bonnie is an all-around good dog. She is happy and loving and will roll over for belly rubs. She gives kisses and her whole body wags when you talk to her. She really would like to be a part of a family. Bonnie is gentle with food and friendly and playful with other dogs. She is a very sweet girl that is looking for her forever family! For more information or to adopt, contact Indianapolis Animal Care & Control at (317) 327-1384 or

Find a Furry Friend, 9/20

September 19, 2012 in Community, Lifestyle, Pets by Carey Germana

Maiden is a young adult dilute calico cat who has all of her vaccines, included in the $30 adoption fee. She does not really like other cats, but would probably be fine with one other cat. She loves being petted. She has never met a dog yet, and unsure about small children. Cats Haven does not allow any cat or kitten adopted from them to be declawed. For more information or to adopt contact Cats Haven at (317) 925-7001 or e-mail

is a 2-year-old domestic short-hair cat who came to the shelter as a stray. He is good with children, litterbox trained and is neutered, which is included in the $60 adoption fee. Sander is a very outgoing and playful cat who has been at Indianapolis Animal Care & Control since March. All he wants is a loving family and a place to call home. For more information or to adopt, contact Adam Garrett of Indianapolis Animal Care & Control at (317) 327-1384 or visit

is a 6-8-month-old domestic medium hair cat who came to the shelter as a stray, found by a volunteer of the Humane Society of Johnson County.  Tux isn’t currently in a foster home with children, but has proven done fine with older children. He will use a litterbox and is a smart cat. He has all of his shots and is neutered. Tux likes lots of affection and is very easy-going. He gets along easily with people and can be picked up and cuddled any time of the day. He will purr and purr for anyone who will promise to protect him and give him a forever home. For more information or to adopt, contact the Humane Society of Johnson County at (317) 535-6626.

is a six year-old female indoor cat. She has the sweetest little “mew” and loves being cuddled. She does have all of her claws, but is very, very good about snuggling in and letting you give her a “pedicure.” She’s such an adorable little thing. She would probably not enjoy a home with a dog, but could hold her own with other cats and would certainly love to find someone who can give her a lot of love and cuddles.  Agnes is spayed, up to date on shots, negative for FIV and FeLV and litter box trained. For more information or to adopt, contact ReTails at or visit

Geckos – Not just for selling car insurance

September 19, 2012 in Community, Education, Pets by Carey Germana

By Dr. Anndrea Hatcher
Olive Branch Parke Veterinary Clinic

Luckily for the car insurance company Geico, geckos are one of the few lizards that can communicate verbally. (Although not with a cute Cockney accent)  Go to to hear gecko conversation.

There are hundreds of different types of geckos. The Geico gecko is a Gold Dust Day Gecko (GDDG). The most common type of pet gecko is a Leopard Gecko (LG). They are as different as night and well, day.

Literally. GDDGs are diurnal and LGs are nocturnal. GDDGs need a tropical environment with high humidity. LGs are desert dwellers, used to lower humidity except when is it time to shed. GDDGs have a clear protective membrane over their eyes instead of eyelids. They keep their windshields clean with their tongues. LGs have regular old eyelids. GDDGs have amazing sticky toe pads that let them hang upside-down on leaves or attach themselves to the side of glass aquariums. They can do this because of Van der Waals forces which I can neither explain nor understand. LGs don’t have exotic sticky toes; they have tiny claws.

When choosing a gecko for a pet, it is important to learn about that particular type of gecko’s natural habitat so you can care for it properly. LGs got their name because they are covered with leopard-like spots. They grow to be 10 inches long and can live 20 to 30 years when properly cared for.

Don’t catch a gecko by its tail. It may fall off. Then it will wiggle on its own for a little bit in an attempt to get you (the predator) to eat it instead of the rest of the rapidly escaping gecko. The gecko will grow another one, but it just won’t be the same.

If you decide to get a Mourning Gecko, you only have to come up with girl names. There are no male Mourning Geckos. (Is that why the ladies are mourning?) This type of gecko reproduces by parthenogenesis: the females make babies all by themselves and their daughters are clones of the mothers.

Like all reptiles, geckos may carry the bacteria Salmonella. The young, old and immunosuppressed humans are most at risk. Wash your hands.

Are turtles good pets?

August 16, 2012 in Pets by Submission For The Southside Times

By Dr. Andrea Hatcher

The word “turtle” is often used to refer to both turtles and tortoises. Tortoises live on land and most of them are plant eaters. Turtles spend part or all of their time in water and often eat both plants and animals. They are both reptiles which means that, in captivity, they need to be provided with a temperature gradient so they can maintain their body temperature. They also need a source of UV light to stay healthy.

Common types of turtles kept as pets include box turtles, sliders, mud turtles and painted turtles. In Indiana it is illegal to sell turtle species that are native to our state, which includes red-eared sliders, painted turtles, map turtles and common snapping turtles. It is also illegal to capture and keep a wild turtle as a pet unless you have the appropriate hunting or fishing permit and the species isn’t endangered. Additionally, the FDA prohibits the sale of turtles that are smaller than four inches long.  This is to prevent young children from putting them into their mouths and exposing themselves to the Salmonella bacteria that many reptiles carry.

Another factor to consider is that turtles live 30 to 50 years, so getting one as a pet may be a life-long commitment. Turtles don’t like to be handled and they aren’t famous for their speed – qualities that may lead a child to become bored with his pet before the 30 to 50 year time period is up. If you decide you don’t want your turtle anymore, you can’t release (or even re-release) it into the wild. Not only is it illegal to do so, but captive turtles don’t know how to fend for themselves in the wild, they may expose other wild turtles to disease, and if it is a non-native species to Indiana it could cause damage to local plant and animal populations.

If you make an educated decision to keep a legal species of turtle as a pet, learn about that specific type of turtle before you buy so you know what type of habitat it needs, the heat and UV lights that it needs and what kind of food it should eat. Pet turtles should have a yearly physical examination by a veterinarian and have an intestinal parasite exam to check for parasites, some of which can cause disease in people.

Sugar gliders can be sweet pets

July 19, 2012 in Pets by Submission For The Southside Times

By Dr. Anndrea Hatcher

Sugar gliders live in the wild in Australia, Tasmania, Indonesia and New Guinea. They are like a nocturnal flying squirrel that is about the size of a large hamster. Unlike Rocky the Flying Squirrel, the sugar glider is a marsupial (keeps their young in a pouch), like a kangaroo or our own American opossum.

Sugar gliders get their name from their preference for sweet food such as fruit and nectar and the furred flap of skin that runs from their fifth finger to their first toe. This allows them to glide 150 to 500 feet. Because they are nocturnal, they have large eyes that are painfully sensitive to direct sunlight. They have gray fur with stripes and cream colored tummies. They have opposable thumbs on all four feet, and sharp claws and teeth. Sugar gliders live in the tree tops and eat nectar, eucalyptus gum, insects, sap, small birds and rodents. This is a diet that is hard to duplicate in captivity.

Before deciding to get a sugar glider as a pet, keep the following points in mind.

They are nocturnal. We are not. They may make a barking noise at night.

They are social animals. They can become depressed and die if kept alone. You should get two of them. You will also need to commit to spending one to two hours a day interacting with them. In captivity, sugar gliders live eight to 15 years.

They need space to live. You should provide as large of a cage as you have room for. At a minimum, a cage for two sugar gliders should be no smaller than 24 inches by 24 inches by 36 inches high.
They may carry zoonotic diseases. Those are diseases that can be spread from animals to people, such as Salmonella.

They should be examined by a veterinarian yearly and checked for internal and external parasites.

Currently no studies have been done to determine what the ideal captive sugar glider diet should be. They commonly suffer from metabolic bone disease due to too little calcium in the diet or an improper calcium to phosphorus ratio. There are many different opinions about diets for sugar gliders. Check with your veterinarian.

Sugar gliders aren’t legal in all states, counties and cities. Check before you buy. They are currently legal in Indiana, Indianapolis and Greenwood.

Sugar gliders can be sweet pets if you’ve done your research and are prepared to provide for their needs.

What is the ‘L’ in DHLPPC?

June 21, 2012 in Pets by Submission For The Southside Times

By Dr. Anndrea Hatcher

You know that string of letters that represents one of the shots that your dog needs to get? The “L” stands for leptospirosis. Sometimes biology and medicine create such lovely words. My dad, an aquatic biologist, wanted to name me *Spirogyra* after a filamentous green algae. Wow. I wonder if then everyone would have to italicize my name in order to be writing it correctly. The name I ended up with was strange enough. Like the spiraled algae, leptospirosis is caused by a spirochete bacteria shaped like Shirley Temple’s ringlets. And that is where the beauty ends.

Leptospirosis is one of the most common zoonotic diseases worldwide. Zoonotic means a disease that spreads from animals to people. That is why we vaccinate our dogs for it. Currently it is thought that cats are unlikely to be infected by it and there isn’t a feline vaccine for it.

The signs that a dog may have leptospirosis include increased drinking and urination, dehydration, vomiting and jaundice. The bacteria damage the liver and kidneys. Ten to 30 percent of dogs suffering from leptospirosis die.

In humans, leptospirosis causes flu-like symptoms in the first phase, and then may progress to the more severe second stage of meningitis, liver damage and kidney failure.

How are dogs infected? They may drink water from a puddle that has been contaminated by infected urine from a sick raccoon, opossum, squirrel or deer. Or they may investigate and lick an area where an infected mouse or rat has urinated in the house. Water loving Labrador retrievers may get it from swimming in a contaminated pond, lake or stream.

How are people infected? The Center for Disease Control (CDC) states that one third of people that get leptospirosis are exposed to it by their infected dog and one third get it from rats. The final third of humans contract the disease from the environment, often by drinking from or swimming in contaminated lakes, ponds or streams. Despite Leptospirosis’ label as one of the most common worldwide zoonotic diseases, the CDC reports only 100-200 human cases in the United States per year.

We can help prevent it by vaccinating our dogs. However, one of the drawbacks of any vaccine in humans or dogs is the risk of vaccine reactions. These can range from potentially fatal (anaphylaxis), to hives (allergic) to a small lump under the skin that goes away within a couple of weeks. For that reason, some veterinarians stopped vaccinating for leptospirosis. Since then, the number of cases of leptospirosis in dogs and humans has been increasing nationwide. This may be due partly to the fact that less dogs are being vaccinated for the disease and partly because people are developing land that was previously rural, exposing pet dogs to infected wildlife.

Because younger puppies seem more likely to react to the leptospirosis vaccine, the first dose can be held off until 12 weeks of age, then the second dose given one month later.

I require dogs that board in my kennel to be vaccinated against leptospirosis to protect the other boarders, my patients, my staff, myself and my children and husband, who help out at work. I recommend that my patients be vaccinated for leptospirosis once a year, but I don’t recommend that you name your kid Spirochete.

Cocker Spaniels: Don't judge a book by its cover

May 17, 2012 in Pets by Submission For The Southside Times

By Dr. Anndrea Hatcher
Cocker spaniels are adorable, long-haired, floppy-eared, medium-sized dogs. There are two types: the American cocker spaniel and the English cocker spaniel. Not surprisingly, the American version is more popular on this side of the pond and the English cocker spaniel is more common in England. Both dogs look pretty similar, but the American is a smaller dog with a dome-shaped head and shorter muzzle and back than its English cousin.

American cocker spaniels usually weigh between 24 and 30 pounds. The taller English cocker spaniels have a narrower head and chest and usually weigh 28 to 32 pounds. American cocker spaniel colors are divided into three categories: 1. Blacks (Including black and tan) 2. ASCOBS, standing for Any Solid Color Other than Black, including liver and tan. (yep, that is the official American Kennel Club abbreviation. Cool, huh?) 3. Parti-colors (tri-colors) These must be the fun cocker spaniels.

Cocker spaniels were bred to hunt woodcocks. At this point, you might be asking yourself, “What is a woodcock?” I was imagining some sort of wood-chucking woodchuck, but it turns out that the woodcock is a bird. Cocker spaniels were designed to flush birds into the sky to be shot, then find the birds and carry them back to their owners, like golden and labrador retrievers do.

American cocker spaniels were the most popular dogs in America from 1940-1952 and again from 1984-1990. This last batch of popularity was bad for the breed. Uninformed backyard breeders and puppy mills inbred dogs resulting in a number of inherited diseases that continue to plague the breed.

Back to that adorable, long-haired, long eared, tail wagging dog….step closer and take a sniff. Whoa! I rarely meet a cocker spaniel that I can’t smell from a distance. Those fabulous floppy ears prevent fresh air from getting into the ear canals and create a moist, warm breeding ground for bacterial and yeast ear infections. Some cocker spaniels that don’t receive adequate (time-consuming and expensive) care for their chronic ear infections will develop boney lesions in the ear canal. I can’t even imagine how painful that must be. At that point, the only way to treat the pain is to surgically remove the entire ear canal. The dog will still have the floppy ear, but no opening underneath and will be deaf.

That smell may also be coming from the skin. Cocker spaniels are prone to developing a skin disease called seborrhea. This results in a smelly shedding of dry or oily skin flakes. It can’t be cured, but can be controlled with medicated shampoos. Cocker spaniels also often develop odoriferous skin infections secondary to the seborrhea or allergies.

Now, on to the list of non-smelly diseases that cocker spaniels are at risk for: several eye disorders which may result in blindness (entropian, ectropian, progressive retinal atropy, progressive rod-cone degeneration, glaucoma, and juvenile cataracts), heart disease (dilated cardiomyopathy, sick sinus syndrome), kidney disease, autoimmune hemolytic anemia, luxating patella (bad knees) and hip dysplasia.

Finally, the massive buildup of breeding in the 1980’s created a disease called Rage Syndrome. Cocker spaniels are prone to epileptic seizures, and Rage Syndrome is a type of epileptic seizure. Instead of succumbing to a violent jerking seizure, a different part of the brain is affected. A calm, friendly cocker spaniel will, without provocation, suddenly go berserk, biting anyone nearby without recognition, including owners and children. After the seizure, the dog returns to its normal behavior until the next seizure.

Some cocker spaniels will be aggressive when guarding their food or toys. They are also prone to submissive urination. This means they greet you enthusiastically every day when you come home from work by urinating on the carpet.

I don’t want to alienate any cocker spaniel owners. Many cocker spaniels are wonderful dogs and I wouldn’t be able to pay my bills without them. Just make sure that you are making an informed decision before choosing this breed. Cocker spaniels require a lot of time for daily grooming and exercise and a lot of money set aside for medical care.

Pet Dispatches – April 19, 2012

April 19, 2012 in Pets by Submission For The Southside Times

Doggy dementia

Clinically known as canine cognitive dysfunction, mental deterioration is a sad but real part of a dog’s life too. Things like sticking to a strict schedule and managing your pet’s anxiety by keeping it in familiar surroundings can mitigate the disease’s effect.

Caring for pet, nature

Pets and the environment are two hot-button topics for a lot of people. But what happens when the two meet? How do you care for a pet while also caring for Mother Nature? Things like recyclable litter and buying supplies locally for less shipping can accomplish both.

Getting a puppy?

If you’re contemplating adding a baby canine to your family, consider your babies first. Waiting until your children are mature enough to help care for the dog can be a great asset and bonding experience.

Pet insurance?

Purchasing insurance for your pet can be a smart move in the right situation. “Pet insurance can make state-of-the-art medical treatment and/or traumatic emergency care possible for many pet owners who might otherwise not be able to afford it,” says veterinarian Karen Halligan.