A Community of Caring


Life can deal harsh, unexpected blows. Events like job loss, a serious medical diagnosis, or divorce can turn a person or family’s life upside-down, often straining financial resources in the process. Anyone struggling to keep home, family, and life together well knows that when we feel most vulnerable, we want our pets by our side.

Petlandia is not only passionate about pets, but demonstrably committed to keeping pets and their people fed, healthy, and together. Fortunately for those in need, innovative, local nonprofits are there to help. You can help, too: next time you are at the pet store, consider buying an extra bag for one of the organizations below. To go even further, get another to keep in your car — chances are good while driving around town you’ll encounter someone who could use it.

Providing Sustenance

Knowing that tens of thousands of people struggle to feed themselves and their pets, the Pongo Fund Pet Food Bank’s primary focus is fighting animal hunger to help keep families and pets together and reduce shelter populations. This can be life-saving for humans and animals alike. One client shared that when her life went to pieces, if she’d been forced to give up her dog she might have also given up on life. 

In addition to serving more than 10,000,000 meals to date, the Pongo Fund introduced Pongo One this year, a state-of-the-art mobile veterinary hospital providing free care for the pets of very low-income and homeless people, including seniors, veterans, and more.

In Clackamas County, the FIDO Pet Food Bank distributes food for dogs and cats and works with other agencies to deliver pet food to homebound seniors as well.

House-bound senior citizens often rely on Meals on Wheels America for meals, regular check-ins, and social interaction. In the past, workers discovered hungry seniors were giving up substantial parts of their own meals to feed their pets. Now, seniors with pets can request pet food along with their own meals.

In Washington County, the Cat Adoption Team partners with Meals on Wheels to deliver pet food to homebound clients.

Hope and Care


When families struggle just to keep everyone fed, an unexpected medical bill can be catastrophic. Routine care, which can prevent big vet bills later in a pet’s life, isn’t always an option.

Good Neighbor Vet answers this need with clinics at partner businesses like pet supply stores and neighborhood retail outlets. Affordable rates for products and services and no-appointment-needed clinics held on weekends make it accessible to some who might not otherwise be able to find time while juggling work and family to get to the vet.

PAW Team works to bring life-saving care and medicine to pets of people experiencing homelessness and poverty. Clients include the terminally ill, disenfranchised youth, and military veterans.

Animal Aid is a broad-reaching organization with deep roots in the community. In addition to operating a shelter for homeless animals, the organization partners with PAW Team to spay and neuter pets through the C-SNIP program, and operates a Care Fund for emergency veterinary assistance in partnership with Portland veterinary clinics.

Keeping Families Intact

JOIN helped nearly a thousand local people last year transition from the streets to safe housing. The organization collects pet food and supplies so people can care for their animals while rebuilding their lives.

The Pixie Project is well known for its work in pet rescue and adoption. But the organization also works to keep pets in their homes by providing food, medical care, medications, and spay/neuter surgeries. 












A Portland native, Kennedy Morgan, has been around dogs her entire life - from the multitude of strays near the country home of her youth to the crew she calls her own now. Vegas, her retired agility superstar (Great Dane) has been her primary inspiration for all things dog in the last decade, including her passion for writing.

Are favorite health foods good for dogs?


Not necessarily, says Veterinarian Katy Nelson, who follows the latest trends as host and executive producer of a popular Washington, DC televised pet program. Set down the goji berry and kale smoothie and check out this doctorly advice:

-        Eat that whole avocado yourself — it’s not good for dogs. The fruit, stem, leaves, and seeds contain a compound called persin, which can cause vomiting and diarrhea in dogs.

-        Feel free, however, to share your turmeric and coconut oil. The mild-tasting, boldly-yellow spice revered for its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-bacterial, and possibly ant-cancer properties might interact with other medications, so ask your vet first. Tumeric is good to pair with coconut oil, as it aids absorption of the healing properties. Dr. Nelson says it’s okay in small amounts or as a topical treatment for itchy, dry skin. Just don’t get excited over rumors that the oil can cure thyroid or other diseases in your dog. There’s scant evidence to support such claims.

-        Flax seed oil? Probably yes, says Dr. Nelson. There’s evidence that it’s good for dogs’ skin and joint health, but only your vet can say if it might be right for your pup.

-        Finally, while trustworthy studies are scarce, Nelson says her own pets and patients do well on hempseed oil for anxiety or arthritis pain, so it’s worth a conversation with your own vet.


Happy Mouth = Happy Pets! 


As a Certified Vet Tech, I know better than to wait a full year before getting a dental cleaning. While working at a clinic I was on the frontline of identifying early stage dental disease. So why did I wait so long? I was lazy. When I finally went for my cleaning I had eight cavities. I almost screamed when the dentist shared this news.

Regular cleanings are just as important for your animals. While you may not be talking about cavities during your pet’s annual wellness exam, you will be discussing periodontal disease, the risk of fractured teeth, and what to expect from your animal’s dental cleaning. Being proactive with oral health should be a priority for all pet parents.

The most common disease in pets is periodontal disease, which can lead to infections that introduce bacteria into other parts of the body. Simply put, bad teeth can lead to a very sick animal. Research shows that inflammation in any part of the body can have a serious negative impact on your pet’s internal organs. 

While oral exams are conducted during all routine visits, we as pet parents are their first line of defense. Signs of problems may include pawing at the mouth, dropping food, aggression when touched on or around the face, and/or disinterest in the food bowl. Any of these symptoms warrant a visit to the Vet. It’s important to remember that animals are stoic, so it’s up to us to recognize even small indicators that may signal dental disease.

What to expect with routine dental exams and cleaning

It begins with a comprehensive oral examination to evaluate structures of the face, head and neck. Then intraoral structures are examined, including teeth and soft tissues.

Dental cleaning

Dental cleaning

Scaling and polishing are the most common dental cleaning procedures. Dental radiology (x-ray) is also extremely important, as disease can easily be missed without examining beneath the gum margin. The gum margin is the border of the gingiva surrounding, but unattached to, the substance of the teeth.  

Speaking with the experts at the Animal Dental Clinic NW (ADCNW), a dental specialty clinic in Lake Oswego, reinforced what I was taught about oral health in Vet Tech School. It also made me appreciate how very lucky we are to have outstanding expertise throughout this community.

“You care most about what’s happening under the gum-line where hidden infection and pain resides,” explains Dr. Jean Batigg, DVM, DAVDC of ADCNW. “But without x-rays you cannot see what’s most important.” Pets must be sedated to obtain quality radiographs.

The goal is to avoid pets from having to live years and years in oral pain, according to Dr. Jacqueline Myers DVM of Forever Pet Dental. "Most dogs and cats require at least annual dental cleanings to maintain good oral health. The American Animal Hospital Association recommends dental cleanings annually after one year of age for cats and small dogs, or two years of age for large dogs,” Myers says. “To be effective, this must be done under general anesthesia in a veterinary setting, and must include dental x-rays.”  

Board Certified Veterinary Dentists offer specialty services in complex cases involving dental disease or injury. In many cases, Veterinarians in general practices refer cases to specialists when, for example, the dog or cat is at a higher anesthesia risk. Some general practitioners have Vet Techs with dentistry certification on staff as well.

With that in mind, world-class animal dentistry/oral surgery is performed every day at ADCNW, whose number-one priority, according to Batigg, is oral health. Also a top concern is anesthesia safety; many ADCNW patients are over eight years old. “There are a lot of options,” says Batigg, adding that “95 percent of cases can have anesthesia.”  

At many general practice clinics throughout Portland, two board certified Veterinary Anesthesiologists, Dr. Heidi Shafford and Dr. Lynnelle Graham, monitor patients with medical risks including diabetes and anxiety. Age is also a consideration, and both doctors are experts in providing anesthesia care for older pets. They both partner with clinics and offer their services so at risk patients can be safely operated on — and this goes beyond dental surgery. 

Signs of periodontal disease

Disease left untreated in your pet’s mouth causes continuing unnecessary pain. If you see any of these common symptoms of dental problems, see your Veterinarian as soon as possible:

  • Red, swollen gums
  • Increased drooling
  • Dropping food from the mouth
  • Whining while eating
  • Loss of appetite or weight
  • Loose or discolored teeth
  • Bleeding from the mouth

Preventing dental disease

Periodontal disease is difficult to control once it has developed. The good news is, it is preventable with a combination of home dental care and annual veterinary care. 

Daily brushing is necessary to minimize calculus formation. Reduction of bacteria in the mouth can be accomplished through not only brushing, but diet, chews, and toys designed to support oral health.

Water additives with the Veterinary Oral Health Council seal of acceptance also support a pet’s preventive oral healthcare routine.

Start early! Before introducing a toothbrush, massage your puppy’s or kitten’s gums to accustom them to having their mouth manipulated. “You must train your puppy to open its mouth so you can safely check his teeth,” says Batigg.

Pets prone to dental problems

Some breeds are more susceptible to dental problems than others. The smaller the breed, the greater chance of periodontal disease. Because the teeth are closer together, plaque and tartar builds up in the space in between.  

Additionally, smaller breeds tend to live longer, giving periodontal disease more time to progress.  

[What] to chew or not to chew

An educational drawer at The Animal Dental Clinic NW

An educational drawer at The Animal Dental Clinic NW

Unfortunately, I know from experience that excessively hard chew toys like antlers are a common cause of broken teeth in dogs. This is extremely painful, and can sometimes become abscessed. I recently learned this with my dog, Walter, as he had a pre-molar extracted as a result of chewing aggressively on an antler.

According to the veterinary experts with VetzInsight, “Watch a dog with a bone and you will see he grabs it with both front paws and munches on it on the side of his teeth. Human teeth chew straight up and down, but animals chew in the back where the teeth are made to shear food into little pieces; like scissors, they go past each other. When dogs do that and crunch down on something too hard at just the right angle, a piece of the upper fourth premolar breaks off, leaving a slab. Now the teeth slide over each other like pinking shears.”  


·        Flexibility is a must!

·        Consider brands made with potato starch, which can be hydrated when they dry out (TIP: moisturize toys with a slice of bread in a food storage container)

·        Be present and aware whenever your pet is enjoying chews


Offer chews that cannot be ingested, which can cause a GI obstruction. Use products that can fracture a dog’s tooth, including:

·        Nylabones

·        Yaks

·        Rocks

·        Hooves, horns and antlers

Your pet will thank you for a healthy mouth! For dogs and cats to stop eating they must be in terrible pain. Schedule an annual exam now, and if you suspect discomfort or any of the symptoms mentioned above, get your pet seen right away.

And start brushing their teeth!

Anesthetic-free dentistry (AFD)

Experts in pet dentistry are very clear about Anesthesia Free Dentistry or No Anesthesia Dentistry (NAD). The American Veterinary Dental College (AVDC) simply states that an oral exam and x-rays cannot be done on an awake pet, stating: “A thorough oral health exam can’t be done on a dog or cat that is awake. During a thorough oral health exam, all surfaces of your pet’s mouth are evaluated and radiographs are taken. This allows a veterinarian to identify painful problems including broken teeth, periodontal disease or even oral tumors.”


As a Certified Vet Tech, longtime PR veteran and content marketing expert, Christy Caplan brings her unique understanding of social and digital media to connect dog lovers to brands both on and offline. She lives with three hounds – two Doxies and a Beagle/Basset Hound mix,
who constantly teach her about life and companionship. Follow Christy at mylifewithdogspdx.com.



Holistic Care a Boon for Seniors

Treating the Whole Pet for Quality of Life

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Meet Piper, a sweet 14-year-old Goldendoodle. Like many older dogs, while generally healthy, Piper periodically experiences back and hip pain, and has a bit of trouble getting around. All this is managed with the support of a great veterinarian.

When Dr. Louise Mesher of At Home Veterinary Services (AHVS), arrives at Piper’s home, she and her technician first do a thorough exam. Discussing any new issues and checking problem areas in her back and hips, the conversation naturally includes her quality of life, and treatment options to continue supporting her well-being. Mesher and her team treat the whole dog, considering quality of life in every step of the process. They first assess any medical concerns, then present a range of available treatments, detailing potential benefits and risks.

While discussing a pet’s aging and disease is difficult, it is extremely important — potentially preventing the need to make rash or emotional decisions later. Sometimes preventive treatment is “just what the doctor ordered,” but other times no action is best. A vet who is willing to discuss all the angles — with impeccable skills and a loving heart — is among a pet parent’s most important ally in navigating the later years of their beloved pet’s life. Dr. Mesher is just that for many, and it shows: this year Mesher and her practice won 1st Place Top Dog Awards for Home/Medical Vet, End of Life Care, and Cat Medical; and was voted Top 10 for Veterinarian (Dr. Heather Dillon and Dr. Mesher), Veterinary Practice, Specialty Medical, and Holistic Practitioner.

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In caring for seniors teamwork is king

“It is important to note that maintaining quality of life for elderly animals is not just about veterinary care,” Mesher explains. “It’s about organizing a whole support system. Each animal requires a different level of care, and each owner requires support from those around them. It’s a team approach.”

A full menu . . . and growing

AHVS provides many other services, including preventive and hospice care. For many animals, having care at home minimizes stress and allows for a relaxed, calm visit.

The ongoing care Piper receives includes acupuncture and therapeutic laser for back and hip pain. She also receives physical therapy (lucky dog!). Several members of the AHVS team are Certified Canine Rehabilitation Therapists, and they teach Piper and her owners therapeutic exercises for strength and flexibility. AHVS now offers these services to assist patients with long-term injuries and debility. The wonderful team of vets is ready for just about anything, and unfailingly provides care that honors the human-animal bond at every stage of a pet’s life.

The October/November '17 (We Heart Our Aging Pets) issue is brought to you by At Home Veterinary Services.

Learn more: pdxhomevet.com * dvm@pdxhomevet.com * 503-281-1631

Curb Your Enthusiasm

It’s our job to prevent overexertion          


Traci Delos loved watching her little dog play in the sprinklers. He’d bite at the water and chase it around the lawn, bright-eyed and wiggling, happy as could be. It’s the kind of all-out playing pet parents love to see, and a perfect way for pups to burn energy while staying cool on a warm day. 

The day he came in from playing and collapsed, Delos became a sudden expert in something she hadn’t known existed: water toxicity.

“He drank too much water, and that upsets the electrolyte balance enough that it can actually kill them,” she says. The dog was nearly unresponsive when she rushed him to the veterinary clinic. Thankfully, he survived. Since that day, Delos has been passionate about warning people that dogs who swim or play in water — or even who gulp buckets during rough play — are at risk for this uncommon but potentially fatal condition. “Especially for Retrievers and other breeds that tend to overdo it, this is something to watch for. It can cause swelling of the brain and they can die.”

Delos was surprised that she’d never heard of the condition. She’s worked with animals all her life, first as a groomer and sitter, then in veterinary client care and practice management. Today she is hospital administrator at Cascade Veterinary Referral Center in Tigard, OR. 

“It’s something I wasn’t aware of,” she says, even after years of experience in emergency clinics and specialty practices. But she’s not alone among well-informed pet guardians who hadn’t heard of some of the deadliest illnesses until their own pet experienced an emergency.

We’re all wary of common maladies like sore muscles and arthritic joints in our weekend warriors. The deadlier dangers though, while rare, are so horrifying that they warrant conversation.

The good news is, simple precautions can lower the risk of sudden deadly conditions. And pets who experience the more common ones, such as exertion injuries, are fortunate to live in the Northwest. 


“There aren’t a lot of things I see in human medicine that aren’t available in animal medicine,” says Delos, pointing to treatments such as veterinary acupuncture, massage, cold laser, stem cell and injection therapies, underwater treadmills, and therapy pools. 

Stem-cell therapy involves drawing the animal’s own fat cells, harvesting the stem cells, and injecting them back into the patient. “Tissues can regenerate,” Delos says. “Laser therapy and acupuncture are incredible. When I think back to when I was growing up, and what we were able to do for them and what we can do now, it’s just amazing.”

That, along with new anti-inflammatory medications with fewer risks and side effects than those available even just a few years ago, make it a pretty good time to be an aging dog or cat with creaky joints, bulging discs, or torn ligaments. 

As with humans, pets typically experience some age-related joint or soft-tissue pain. Some are more vulnerable due to their breed, genetics, or lifestyle. The part we can impact —lifestyle — can be challenging for those who have playful acrobatic cats or intensely ball-crazy dogs with a go-go-go approach to life.

Humans are likely to slow down when in pain, but our furry athletes are often loathe to leave the field. As Delos points out, it’s up to us to watch for signs of trouble and make them rest before overdoing it. Signs can include excessive panting, trembling, being unusually vocal or restless, or frequently re-positioning while lounging or sleeping. Symptoms might not always be obvious, which is another reason to see the doc anytime a pet’s behavior changes. 

Delos recalls a woman who felt she had to give up her Retriever who had started showing signs of aggression. “I had to email her and say, ‘Hey, that’s how animals often react to pain, so it’s important to have the vet check that out.’”


Guarding against overexertion can be a daily job for people with highly-driven breeds or working dogs, but simple steps can help prevent wear-and-tear injuries and even more dangerous conditions. Depending on your pet’s age, breed, snout length, and general fitness level, his exercise limits might be a short leash walk or an hour-long game of fetch. Whatever his limit, it’s worth heeding. Especially in extreme heat or cold, and in older animals, the risk is far greater than a potential knee injury. 

“A seven- or eight-year old dog can be like an 80-year-old person,” says Delos. Risks can include sudden death from “breathing problems, heart problems, heart attacks — pretty much anything that can happen to an older person from overexertion.” 

Thanks to advancing medical care, pets and humans alike are living active lifestyles well beyond middle age, healing from injuries, managing arthritis, and staying in the game. In the end, that means we get to enjoy our furry adventure buddies for more years. 

“We’re their guardians,” says Delos, “and it’s important for us to make sure their quality of life is the best it can be.”


Michelle Blake is a Salem, OR-based massage therapist and freelance writer whose work has appeared in national publications. Her husband wants you to know she's a REALLY crazy dog lady too.

Fresh food — it’s good for everyone


Heather Macfarlane of WILD Pet Provisions has worked in the pet health and nutrition field for more than 30 years. In that time, she says one of the most frequent questions she’s heard from pet parents is what senior dog/cat food is best.

Macfarlane says nutritional recommendations are based on each dog and cat's individual needs, and senior pets are no exception. “Diets should be tailored to meet each pet's nutritional needs, and not based on age alone,” she says. “Every person I know eats for their needs — why should pets be any different? 

In the natural world, Macfarlane points out, there is no puppy, adult, or senior food for wolves or wild cats, and in fact no packaged food at all. “Their food is their prey —  raw muscle meat with organs, bones, fur, and pre-digested greens, berries, and anything else that’s in the stomach of their prey.”

What did dogs eat before commercial pet food became available a mere hundred years ago? Macfarlane says, “People food. Mostly consisting of the parts of the food we didn't eat — meat scraps, organs, bones, veggies, etc. This was much closer to their natural diet than what we find in the pet food aisle today.” 

Macfarlane goes on to say that while the pet food industry holds that senior dogs and cats should eat differently than adults or young pets, there isn't a consensus for guidelines on such senior formulas. “In reality, senior pet foods on the market vary in content and analysis, including protein, fat, carbohydrates, and calories,” Macfarlane says. “Just because a pet food says it is for "senior dogs/cats" it doesn't mean it's good for all senior pets. A dog the same age as your senior dog may have very different nutritional needs, so feeding them both the same food may not be beneficial to one, or either one for that matter.” 

22-year-old Turtle is one of Macfarlane's four senior felines (and one senior dog)

22-year-old Turtle is one of Macfarlane's four senior felines (and one senior dog)

All dogs and cats should eat according to their individual needs, not just based on their age, Macfarlane says. 

So what to consider when making food choices for your pet? Macfarlane says body condition and underlying disease or imbalances are much more important factors than age when it comes to feeding your senior pet. 

“What I recommend is that all dogs and cats, including seniors, eat fresh, raw food,” Macfarlane says.  “Raw food is in its natural state and the nutrition is readily recognized and utilized in dog and cat bodies. Older pets thrive from food they are designed to eat, which provide moisture, natural joint support, digestive enzymes, and animal-based protein.” 

Where to start? “Some fresh food is better than no fresh food at all,” Macfarlane says. “You probably don't eat salad every single day, but you eat salad, right? Likewise, if you don’t feed your pet a 100% fresh food diet, then incorporate fresh as much as you are able by adding fresh foods to your pet's current meals, feed fresh meals once a day, once a week, twice a week, whatever is feasible for you and your pet.”  Pet nutrition assessments and individualized dietary plans are available through Macfarlane’s business. 

Beneficial foods Macfarlane recommends incorporating into your senior pet's diet include:

  • Green Juju (contains buffalo bone broth, celery, coconut oil, dandelion greens, ginger, kale, lemon, parsley, turmeric, zucchini)
  • Canned sardines (packed in water, not oil)
  • Bone broth
  • Freeze dried food and/or treats (such as Stella & Chewy's, K9 & Feline Naturals, Vital Essentials, Primal)
  • Phytoplankton
  • Eggs
  • Wildcraeft's Heal
  • Turmeric or Golden Paste
  • Green and Blue Lipped Mussel
  • Coconut oil
  • Probiotics
  • Digestive enzymes
  • Boswellia

Learn more and meet the nutrition specialists at WILD Pet Provisions at 2393 NE Fremont, Suite A in Portland, or at wildpetprovisions.com.

CBD can help pain, anxiety

Colorado Dog Company, producers of hemp-based CBD Dog Biscuits, says: “While we are not allowed to make specific claims related to our hemp biscuits and treats, we can tell you that our customers typically purchase our products because their dogs are experiencing the following symptoms; separation anxiety, arthritis, hip and joint pain, elder dog pain, loud noise anxiety —such as thunder or fireworks — travel anxiety, seizures, cancer and more.”

The company credits modern technology for “unlocking the secrets of the hemp plant to ease the suffering and pain our dogs experience but can’t describe to us in words,” adding that scientists have discovered that CBD can help dogs with a wide range of pain- and stress-related issue.

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In response to Spot’s query to friends on Facebook Amy Brock had this to say about CBD:

“We have been using CBD treats for almost a year for our 16-year-old Rat Terrier/Chi mix. We give him 1 in the morning and 1 at night. As we were learning and getting his dosage right he had a few seizures and if we gave him a treat the seizure would stop in seconds. Since we have been regularly giving him the treats there have been only 2 x he has had a seizure, both were when we ran out and the dispensary was out.

We also give them to our dog who was on Prozac for the first 12 years of her life due to anxiety from being abused when she was young. She started to develop kidney issues and we were able to stop the Prozac and switch to CBD.

We are so happy to have this option! They are the 2 on the left. :)

For special offers and testimonials from customers using CBD from Colorado Dog for their pets, visit coloradodog.net.


Anesthesiologists - The OTHER surgical MVP

Dr. Shafford cradles a patient with asthma, kidney and heart disease.  The kitty is recovering well from anesthesia.

Dr. Shafford cradles a patient with asthma, kidney and heart disease.  The kitty is recovering well from anesthesia.

It’s a loving pet parent’s “perfect storm” — being caught between a pet’s need for a medical procedure and his or her risk of complications with anesthesia.

“One thing that always surprises me is that people don’t know specialist-level anesthesia is an available option,” says Dr. Heidi Shafford, DVM, board-certified veterinary anesthesiologist. It’s Shafford’s business to provide anesthesia care for medically-fragile patients.

A veterinarian may consider a pet high-risk with anesthesia for various reasons, including age, breed sensitivities, liver, heart, or kidney disease, previous anesthesia reaction, or a littermate who died under anesthesia.

“It’s not necessarily that their pet can’t undergo anesthesia, and it isn’t necessarily that their vet is wrong, but that it isn’t within their vet’s comfort level,” Shafford explains. “I’m not contradicting what that vet is saying, but here’s an analogy for what I do. Some people have compared me to a river 'bar pilot' — like those who help captains cross the difficult Columbia River Bar between the river and the ocean. Instead I help medically fragile pets navigate anesthesia.”

Shafford’s expertise helps enable high-risk pets to have procedures that can increase quality of life. A toothache is no longer life-threatening.

Veterinary anesthesiologists are sticklers for detail, crafting special anesthesia plans for each pet. For example, older pets require lower drug doses, benefit from extra support and monitoring during and after anesthesia, and need to quickly resume eating. Pets with liver disease are safer with an anesthetic that doesn’t involve liver metabolism. For kidney patients, extra pre-anesthetic fluid support and special attention to preventing and treating low blood pressure can help support fragile kidneys during anesthesia.

“Most of my patients have heart disease, kidney disease or both!”  Whatever the challenge, Shafford faces each with specialized training and thorough preparation, along with a formidable team.

“I want owners to know that I take what I do — improving anesthesia safety for pets — very seriously.  I gather detailed information about each pet ahead of time, both the focused medical picture and overall background. I get a grasp of the main concerns from the primary vet, and also talk with owners about their pet’s energy level, appetite, any coughing, sneezing, and other various details.”

Dr. Shafford also explains the upcoming procedure to pet parents. “For example, with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, there is a risk of low blood pressure and irregular heartbeats, and my anesthetic plan would include steps to minimize stress and prevent low blood pressure. I would be monitoring from before the anesthesia begins and intensively throughout, to immediately pick up on any changes, if any, to support the patient early and well.”

According to Shafford, recovery is too often an overlooked danger zone.

“During a procedure, the pet is getting extra oxygen, is often being warmed, and someone is close at hand. They are often getting IV fluids. When many clinics finish anesthesia, there is a misperception that the anesthesia is 'finished,' that the pet is out of harms’ way, and people move on to something else.”

But, says Shafford, the majority of pets lost to anesthesia-related deaths actually pass away during recovery.

Anesthesia was stopped early for this sweet dog by her primary care veterinarian because of complications related to heart disease.  She was referred to Dr. Shafford for specialist-level anesthesia care.  Here the pup looks happy after a successful anesthesia and dental procedure!

Anesthesia was stopped early for this sweet dog by her primary care veterinarian because of complications related to heart disease.  She was referred to Dr. Shafford for specialist-level anesthesia care.  Here the pup looks happy after a successful anesthesia and dental procedure!

“In recovery I monitor closely,” she says. “They are recovering from medications, may be a little cold, and not fully in control of their systems. It’s that first one to three hours after surgery that's so critical.”

That extra assurance is one reason Shafford’s schedule is full of return clients.

“A big piece of what I do is assure you that your pet is looked after, that they are warm, that their heart is beating strong, and that they are comfortable and well.”

On site two to three days a week at the Animal Dental Clinic in Tigard, Shafford says, “The dental specialists and technicians are very skilled, fast and efficient, and it truly minimizes anesthesia time. We team up for patients that are the most at-risk. I know if I ask them for help during an anesthesia emergency, they are there for me. We’ve worked together through some very challenging cases.”

Also working alongside other veterinarians, the doctor says, “The majority of vets in the Portland Metro area are familiar with me, and there are times when I’m available to come to their location. Some procedures are best performed at certain clinics.”

Neutering a dog may be a routine surgery, but for a high-risk patient with serious heart disease, anesthetizing demands her skills. “And I’ll be doing that next week for a kitty cat. There’s just this wide range of things I do for so many pets — I anesthetized a cat for cataract surgery last week — never a dull moment! I absolutely love what I do.”

Christy Caballero writes from the heart about all things pet-related, from a couple deer trails off the beaten path, typically juggling a cat (or two) on her lap as black kitty AsTar teeters on her shoulder and Mojo the retired Greyhound quietly calls for einforcements!!

Pranic Healing

Options in wellness continue to grow

Complementary medical processes such as acupuncture and chiropractic care have expanded dramatically in recent years, helping pets with mobility, comfort and healing. Another recent option — energy or “pranic” healing — is a modality pet parents can do themselves to support their pet’s health and wellness.

Some are skeptical. When she first learned of Pranic Healing, Liza Burney was a practicing attorney with a left-brain, scientific perspective.  “I was not interested in airy-fairy stuff,” she says. “But I was dealing with a medical condition that mainstream medicine wasn’t resolving, so I began to explore alternatives.”

Burney says her exploration was systematic and methodical and included studying underlying research.  “Fortunately for me, Pranic Healing approaches healing the same way an engineer would, including years of testing. I learned a new paradigm of healing using the energy flowing from the hands to balance, harmonize, and transform the body’s energy fields, which supports and accelerates physical healing for people and pets.”

“I explored the process, and realized that in addition to the physical body, there is an entire system of energetic anatomy which, with a little training, can be sensed with the hands, evaluated and restored to a balanced state. When we understand that the condition of our physical body is directly related to the health of our energy fields, our entire approach to healing changes.   The first time I felt my dog’s energy field, it was like nothing else I’d experienced — and things have never been the same.”

The Principle

Pranic Healing is based on the principle that the body possesses the innate ability to heal itself and that healing can be accelerated by increasing vital energy (prana) to the affected part — this is fuel the body uses for healing.  With more fuel, the body heals more quickly, sometimes with surprising outcomes.

Burney shares this from a student:  “My dog, who is prone to skin conditions, developed a hot spot on the back of his leg. I tried what we learned in class and, after cleaning and applying topical spray to the site, applied Pranic Healing. I couldn’t find the injury the following morning! I finally found it — the spot was marked by a little patch of matted fur — the redness was gone.” 

Pranic Healing can help when traditional treatment options are uncertain.  “Western medicine sometimes has limitations treating certain conditions,” says Burney, “like ‘mystery’ digestive disorders.” For example, she cites a cat which chronic vomiting that the vet thought was some incurable disease.  After one Pranic Healing session, the next day that cat looked alert and began to eat without vomiting.  The owner couldn’t believe how quickly the cat responded, especially because the effect was long-lasting.

Emotional Conditions

Dogs have rich emotional lives, says Burney. Shelter dogs often struggle with fear and anxiety; others may be affected by the trauma of a divorce, or grief over the loss of a companion.  “Our emotional state is directly linked to the balance of our energy fields,” she says. “Which is good news, because we can use energetic tools to rebalance and strengthen the emotional body, which helps heal the symptoms.”

Pranic Healing can be learned by anyone — the basics in two hours. Intensive weekend workshops run 16 hours. Learn more at heart-to-heart-healing.com.


Fitness for pooches and peeps has never been so fun!

The word “fitness” might evoke images of running shoes or sweating at the gym, but how about activities that include your favorite canine? Does your furry friend get off the couch to stretch more than her jaws at mealtime? If not, it’s time to get her moving!

Fitness with your best friend is fun for both of you — and the whole family. Plus, it supports longevity, injury prevention, and mental health. Yep, mental health. It’s a fact that many problem behaviors are a direct result of boredom and unspent energy.

So what options are there for you and your frisky companion? In Portland, the sky is literally the limit! Here’s a guide to fitness in and around the city.



Surely you’ve heard Kaiser Permanente’s radio ads saying, “Everybody Walk!” Walking is one of the easiest, most affordable, readily available options for keeping pups fit. And wherever you live there’s a neighborhood or park suitable for walking. In inclement weather you can even walk at your local big-box home improvement stores, most of which welcome socialized, well-behaved canines.

Got dogs of different speeds? No worries. Consider a stroller. My Leo absolutely loves to come along – throwing unique, fluffy tantrums when left behind – but he is so slow. Picture this: the girls stretched out six feet ahead, Leo strolling along six feet behind . . .  not ideal. So we got a stroller. Now Leo rolls along and hops out for off-leash romp opportunities.


Among the friendliest places for dogs nationwide, the Northwest boasts many canine-centric fitness facilities. Swimming is great for pets of any age, even those with physical limitations. Being suspended in water removes pressure on joints, just like for humans. Of course during warm seasons there are plenty of outdoor options. To name a few, some of our favorites are 1,000 Acres and Clackamette Parks, and the Willamette near Oaks Park.


We are surrounded by some of the most beautiful country in the nation, making hiking a wonderful experience for two- and four-footed creatures! There are countless directions you can go, all fitness levels, amazing things to see — and for your pup to smell. A great guide on exploring the region is Doin’ The Northwest with Your Pooch by Eileen Barish.

Dog Sports

So many to try! Have you considered agility? Actively engaging in an obstacle course is great for the 2- and 4-legged alike. Among the best things about it is the partnership between you and your dog. Plus, you burn physical and mental energy, which of course is good for you both.

Joring. Never heard of it? Well, get ready to Google 'cause there’s a whole wide world of options. Basically joring is a pulling sport. You can train your dog to pull with a harness and work up to connecting him or her to a bicycle, a scooter, or skis. It’s a year-round sport, and another supporting the relationship between you and your pup.

Other activities equally awesome for providing challenge and pleasure and supporting the relationship include weight pull, carting, disc-dog, dock diving, obedience, barn hunt, nose work, rally, and freestyle. Different activities are suited to various fitness levels, so it’s easy to find something you both can enjoy.


Biking is another fun year-round activity. When Vegas and I started, my hope was to keep her toned and build a bit of muscle. Given her Great Dane size and strength, I wasn’t comfortable just holding the leash while we biked, so I purchased an accessory that attached to my bike and clipped to her harness. It worked great and we’ve enjoyed many miles together over the years.

One thing I enjoy most about staying fit with my pups is the bond that continues to deepen between us. Even at nearly 10, Vegas does not like to go more than a day between walks. She grew up accustomed to activity, and still expects it. Getting and staying fit can take on many appearances. Just keeping your dog involved in daily activities becomes a fitness routine.

Leo (redhead) and Sophie ride while Vegas strolls on foot.

Leo (redhead) and Sophie ride while Vegas strolls on foot.

Keep it simple.

Fitness needn’t cost a lot; plenty of options are free or perfectly affordable. By following the KISS — ‘Keep It Simple, Sweetie’ — rule, simple activities like walking to the mailbox together, throwing the ball in the yard after dinner, taking a stroll to watch the stars, going to the market or a neighborhood event, camping, or splashing in the river are great ways to keep your pup engaged. Even playing tug or teaching tricks contribute to fitness. I like “unwind” and “wind up” — my little pups spin first one way then the other. I also work to use command words for everyday activities like stretching or walking backward.

A lot of fitness is about your creativity, so use your imagination! How can you keep your dog involved in life? Mine rarely stay home — only when I’m running errands, etc. They love to visit family, go to dog shows, ride along, hang out at barbeques, and play any training game Mom comes up with.

So lace up your tennies and grab the leash: it’s time to get fit, have fun, and keep Fido moving!

Kennedy Morgan works in the construction industry by day and enjoys coming home to her Great Dane, Vegas, and Pomeranian, Leo. Her household is also indentured to a 14-year-old tortoiseshell diva cat, Capri. They enjoy walks, hikes, beach trips, agility, and learning new things, and are often seen out and about on the west side or at local dog sporting events.