Diabetic Alert Dogs…A Real Game Changer

 We very much appreciate two wonderful articles written by guest blogger, Elizabeth  Vaughn Gallagher.  Mrs. Gallagher is a graduate of Louisiana State University.  Her business career began after graduation as a flight attendant with Delta Airlines.  She went on to jobs in customer service  and retail, working for Coach for 12 1/2 years.  She has a son and daughter.  Her daughter and three grandchildren  live near her in Greenville, South Carolina.  Six years ago Elizabeth was given a little dog, Tabouli, who became a very important member of the Gallagher family.  We think you will be impressed with how well this little dog has served and helped this wonderful family, first as a service dog for a dementia patient, now as a Diabetic Alert Dog.  
Properly trained Diabetic Alert Dogs (DAD) can be a real game changer for people with Diabetes.  Since the disease has no rules, it is extremely helpful to have another line of defense in maintaining a safe blood glucose level.  These Service Dogs are able to tell when a person’s blood glucose is at an unsafe level by using their sensitive noses. They are trained to alert the diabetic or a parent, if the patient is a child, when the odor is present.  Dogs often can sense the changes before the person feels the drop. My DAD (Diabetic Alert Dog), Tabouli, will sniff and paw to alert me to a problem so I can check my levels.
Diabetic Alert Dogs are particularly helpful at night when the person is sleeping and is unaware they are in trouble.  Some diabetics are not able to tell their glucose has dropped but a trained dog will persist with the alerts until the person does something to help him or herself, or the dog will go find another person to help.  It definitely can be a lifesaver.  Many dogs are trained to bring the monitor and other supplies to their person,  or to get a juice container from the refrigerator.
DADs are working dogs and NOT pets. The public needs to respect that when they are working in public places they should not interfere by talking to or petting the service dog.  Obedience training at the highest levels is a must for DADs. The dogs must be able to pass a public access obedience test to show they are under control and safe to the public.  Proper behavior in any situation is a necessity and expected.
It can take up to about two years to accomplish all the training.  It is best for the training to begin when the dog is a very young puppy but dogs of any age can be trained.  Tabouli trained with Debby Kay’s Super Sniffer® Program in Harpers Ferry, WV.  Kay is a world-renowned trainer of Detection Dogs.  Sue Conklin, The Puppy Nanny in Simpsonville, SC, did his follow up training once we got back home.  Training continues everyday to make certain that Tabouli stays sharp and aware of his job. Tabouli is a mixed breed with an incredible nose, but Labradors and Golden Retrievers are seen more often doing this job due to their strong work ethic and innate scenting ability.
DADs go everywhere their owners go. Recently I traveled to the Caribbean where service dogs like Tabouli are not widely accepted and there are no laws allowing them access anywhere. When flying, I found it was nice to have the smaller dog. I think that people find a smaller dog easier to accept.
Due to his impeccable manners Tabouli was granted privileges not previously given to dogs, and paved the way, we hope, for others to follow.

My husband, Paul, passed away at home on May 11, 2014, from dementia. As anyone who has dealt with this disease knows, it is a difficult journey.
I was fortunate to have been given a wonderful little mixed breed dog named Tabouli who became a service dog for my husband Paul.
Realizing what an important role Tabouli played in our lives, I had him trained and registered as a therapy dog, which enabled him to be taken to nursing homes and hospitals to comfort others.
Tabouli’s work as a mobility and medical alert dog provided security, while his presence brought comfort. Many people living with dementia tend to walk slowly and tentatively. Tabouli was trained to help Paul pick up his pace and walk with confidence. When shopping with Paul and Tabouli, I could give a “Sit/Stay” command if I needed to speak with someone or when I needed to check out. Tabouli wouldn’t move until I gave him the “Free” command, so I knew Paul would not wander away. One of the most significant areas of Tabouli’s service came at night. If Paul awakened and tried to walk, Tabouli would wake me. Because of this little dog, I didn’t have to worry that my husband would get up and fall. Some people living with dementia have imaginary friends that can be frightening. I convinced Paul that no one could bother him with Tabouli by his side and then he would smile and relax.
There are many ways service dogs can help people living with dementia. They can be trained to block a door to prevent wandering or to guide a person gently back to their seat. They can provide physical support if a person falls or, through scent training, bring someone home if they’ve become lost on a walk. Dogs can interrupt agitation and provide immense comfort just by sitting in a lap quietly. If you’re interested in how service or therapy dog can help in your home, a professional trainer in your area may be a good place to start.
Tabouli was at Paul’s side when he passed away and by my side at Paul’s funeral. He was Paul’s little buddy and grieved his passing for over two months. Dogs often outlive the companions they serve. It is important to make sure the dog knows a person has passed away so they don’t continue to look for them to return.
Tabouli has now become my emotional support. I am convinced he was heaven-sent. He continues to be a dog on a mission, taking his job seriously and with confidence.
If you have any questions, please contact me. I would be glad to hear from anyone who might be considering getting a dog for his or her loved one.

Safety Tips for July 4th!



Never use fireworks around pets! While exposure to lit fireworks can potentially result in severe burns and/or trauma to the face and paws of curious pets, even unused fireworks can pose a danger. Many types contain potentially toxic substances, including potassium nitrate, arsenic and other heavy metals.

Loud, crowded fireworks displays are no fun for pets, who can become frightened or disoriented by the sound. Please resist the urge to take them to Independence Day festivities, and opt instead to keep them safe from the noise in a quiet, sheltered and escape-proof area at home.

Keep citronella candles, insect coils and tiki torch oil products out of reach. Ingestion can produce stomach irritation and possibly even central nervous system depression. If inhaled, the oils could cause aspiration pneumonia in pets.

Do not apply any sunscreen or insect repellent product to your pet that is not labeled specifically for use on animals. Ingestion of sunscreen products can result in drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst and lethargy. The misuse of insect repellent that contains DEET can lead to neurological problems.

With the LOUD holiday approaching, we are excited to introduce Sileo!  In the past we have prescribed sedatives to help our family canines cope with the anxiety of the holidays.  Now, the FDA has approved the first and only treatment for noise aversion.  Cleveland Park Animal Hospitals have participated in the clinical trials, and can honor the safety and efficacy of this new medication.

Please call one of our 3 locations to inquire if this medication may be helpful for your nervous canine!

From our veterinary family to yours, we wish you a truly spectacular Fourth of July!



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Diabetes Mellitus


Diabetes mellitus is one of the more common metabolic diseases we treat in dogs and cats.  It is a complex disorder caused by deficiency of insulin, usually after the destruction of pancreatic islet cells that normally would produce insulin.

Diabetes mellitus typically occurs in older dogs and cats.  In dogs, females are affected twice as frequently as males.  The majority of diabetic cats are older neuter males. Certain breeds have an increased risk for diabetes. We see more of the disease in Poodles, Schnauzers, Cairn terriers, Bichons, and in the Spitz breeds.  Cats have no breed predilection.

 There are several conditions that increase our pet’s risk of becoming diabetic patients:  obesity, recurring pancreatitis, diestrus in the older intact female dog, cushings disease, and therapy with glucocorticoid drugs (prednisone).

Dogs and cats affected with diabetes are predisposed to several other disorders. We see kidney disease, hypertension (high blood pressure), bacterial infections, cataracts and blindness (in dogs), and peripheral neuropathy causing weakness and an unusual plantigrade stance in cats all secondary to the diabetes disease.

There are several signs that your pet might have diabetes.  Increased thirst (polydipsia), increased urination (polyuria), and weight loss are seen in just about all diabetics.  At times some diabetic dogs and cats might be lethargic (just feel bad, inactive), have poor body condition, chronic skin conditions, and blindness due to cataracts (dogs). In cats we see a lack of grooming behavior resulting in a poor haircoat and a decreased jumping ability due to hind leg weakness- in addition to the above conditions.

Diagnosis of the disease is confirmed by blood tests showing elevated blood glucose levels. Other abnormal parameters can also be seen on the blood tests in addition to the elevated glucose level.  An analysis of the urine will also show glucose in the urine.  In normal dogs and cats, we will not usually see glucose in the urine.

Typically, treatment of Diabetes includes injections of insulin every 12 hours. We adjust the diet to prevent and/or to correct obesity.  The pet must be fed twice a day just before the insulin injections.  We feed before the injections to be sure the pet is eating.  If the pet has a low glucose blood level, and is given additional insulin, a condition called hypoglycemia could develop.  This is when the blood glucose level gets too low.  The pet in this instance could get very weak, collapse, and possibly start to seizure.  If this should happen, an oral glucose supplement is given.  One would rub some honey, karo syrup, or other highly absorbable source of sugar onto the gums for a quick source of glucose to reverse the hypoglycemia.  If this should happen, call our office immediately and bring in your pet for testing and treatment.

 Proper diets for diabetic patients are important to help regulate the glucose. Dogs are usually fed a high fiber diet. Cats are fed a diet restricted in carbohydrates. Cats might also be fed a high fiber diet to help control the diabetic condition.

 It is important to have a daily exercise routine for dogs.  The amount of exercise of the pet and calorie content of their diet should be consistent to help regulate the blood glucose levels. Exercise helps move the glucose out of the bloodstream and into the cells for use in normal metabolism. If the dog has erratic exercise, it can be more difficult to regulate the diabetic condition.

Monitoring of the diabetic patient is important to keep the pet healthy.  We initially monitor the glucose weekly until the clinical signs have resolved, and the glucose levels remains in an acceptable range for the 12 hours following the insulin injections.

After we achieve control of the glucose levels, and clinical signs of diabetes have resolved, we have the pet return to our hospital for rechecks every 3-6 months.  During these visits, we will conduct a physical examination, weigh the patient, and test for proper blood glucose levels.

 Diabetes can be a frustrating and debilitating disease, but with consistent care and medical treatment, we can gain control of the condition and enjoy our pets for years to come.


By: Allen Finley, DVM

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What Causes Colic in Horses?


Five common mistakes owners make that may cause colic:

1 . Changing feed suddenly.

Horses are creatures of habit. They do best when fed the same thing at the same time and in the same amount. A common mistake is changing types of feed. For example, changing from oats to a pellet feed without allowing time for the horse to adjust can lead to colic. Because there is a difference in consistency of feed and how it is digested, abrupt change can alter some of the digestive processes in the horse’s stomach. It takes time for the GI tract of horses to adjust to a different type of feed. Always change feed little by little over a two to three week period.

2. Allowing water to freeze in winter.

Some horses will not drink extremely cold water or will not break ice to drink. Lack of water consumption can lead to colic because a horse’s GI tract can become impacted. The amount of water consumed is a significant factor in preventing impactions. If the food material is too dry as it moves through the digestive system, it is more likely to cause a blockage.

3. Changing hay types (example: from Fescue to Bermuda Hay).

Similar to number one (above), the horse’s GI tract needs time to adjust. Different hays have different textures and switching abruptly leads to a great risk of colic.

4. Excessive exercise to horses (“out of shape”).

Like us, horses need conditioning to be in shape. It is important to increase exercise gradually to get horses “fit” and ready for extreme exercise.

5. Forgetting the “parasite problem”.

Horses should be checked at least once yearly for parasites. Also a deworming program should be established by your veterinarian. Parasites can lead to colic and weight loss.


Dr. K. Derek Wessinger




Laser Therapy for your companion?

BriscaA guest post by Lynne Heinicke:

“My beloved German Shepherd, Briska has suffered with age related problems.  She is 14 yrs and 7 months old as I write this.  It was very hard for her to get up and down.  Dr. Bryant Phillips suggested Companion Laser Therapy.  After her FIRST treatment, it was like a light went on.  She was feeling so much better!  She was able to get up and down with less effort.  She enjoys her Laser treatments and they have truly improved her quality of life.  I highly recommend the Companion Laser.  Briska and I are grateful to Cleveland Park Animal Hospital of Travelers Rest for sharing this pain management therapy with us.”

Have you been considering Laser Therapy for your beloved companion?  Here are the top 10 beneficial biological effects of the Companion Therapy Laser system:

1. Relieves Pain

2. Reduces Inflammation

3. Accelerates Tissue Repair and Cell Growth

4. Improves Circulation

5. Increases Cellular Metabolic Activity

6. Reduces Fibrous Tissue Formation

7. Improves Nerve Function

8. Accelerates Wound Healing

9. Stimulations Immunoregulation

10. Stimulates Acupuncture and Trigger Points

Companion Class IV Laser Therapy is the application of red and infrared light over any anatomical area to improve and augment wound/soft tissue healing and promote relief for both acute and chronic pain. The Companion Laser has a photochemical and biochemical effect on cells. This differs from the heating or photothermal effect that surgical lasers have on cells. The pleasant warmth that is felt during application is the laser light stimulating the individual cells own physiological processes. Simply stated, these photons stimulate each individual cell to revitalize and reactivate its own healing processes through a biochemical cascade of events.

What you can expect?

For laser therapy to be successful, it needs to be aggressive. We have established an introductory buddle that provides 2 weeks of intensive rehabilitation to damaged tissues. Three treatments will be scheduled during the first week. This can be consecutive days, or every other day as pet owner’s schedule permits. During the second week, the remaining 3 treatments will be preformed. After the first 6 sessions, the patient moves into a maintenance plan that is entirely dependent on your pet’s need. Some patients need a follow-up laser session monthly, and other pets may only require maintenance doses every 6-8 weeks.

Our laser treatments are administered in a quiet room, with lights dimmed in an environment conducive to healing. A blanket or soft bed is provided. While some pets prefer to stand during sessions, most relax, lie down and often fall asleep.

Optical exposure to direct or indirect laser light should be totally avoided. For this reason, protective eyewear will be provided for every patient and pet owner.

When is Laser therapy NOT indicated?

Laser light should not be administered to the following situations:

1. Pregnant females or over the testicular region of males

2. Areas of Hemorrhage

3. Regions of Melanoma or Sarcoma (Neoplasia of any kind)

4. Heart Disease (avoid using the laser over the cardiac region)

5. Patients that are currently taking photosensitive medications such as tetracycline or griseofulvin.

The Companion Therapy Laser system provides a non-invasive modality that initiates numerous physiological and biological processes.  In summary, it stimulates the animal to heal itself!



All dogs can bite

Dogs use their mouths to communicate!

Not only by whining or barking, but also to react to different situations.  Dogs may bite or nip while playing.  They also may bite to protect their puppies, a toy, or their food. They also may react to fear or stress by biting.  Ill dogs may be painful or sore from an injury and bite if touched or moved.  Dogs will choose the intensity of their bite. For example, a dog may gently mouth or nip to warn you to stop, or they may fully bite if they are very painful or fearful.


There is no single way or exact set of guidelines to follow to know if a dog will bite or not.  Watching their body language and knowing the personality of the dog will help, but it still does not guarantee how a dog will react.   It is important to be Continue…

Intestinal parasites


What are intestinal parasites?

It is estimated that half of all indoor cats and a third of all indoor dogs sleep in the bed with their human companions.  This is an important fact to consider.  Dogs and cats are susceptible to many species of intestinal parasites, including whipworms, roundworms, hookworms, and tapeworms.  Each of these can cause disease in your pets, but they can be harbored in low levels without showing signs of infection.

Types of intestinal parasites

Roundworms and hookworms are contagious parasites which are of particular risk to humans.  These parasites like to live Continue…

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Proper dog nutrition

What should I feed my dog?

This is a question that we are asked quite frequently, and the answer is not so straightforward as one might think. There are several different factors that need to be considered. First you need to take into account both the age and lifestyle of the pet. A 4 month old growing Mastiff is going to have different nutritional requirements than a 13 year old Shih Tzu, just as a working Border Collie’s energy requirements are going to be much different than that of the typical coach potato Bulldog. Also, any underlying medical disorder (i.e.: urinary disease, diabetes, kidney disease, etc.) will affect the diet recommendation for your pet. Interestingly, there is a company that is now working on developing diets tailored for your specific pet based on DNA testing… stay tuned.

Which dog food is the best?

So how can you tell a high quality dog food or company from one that might not be as good? First, check the Nutrition Adequacy Statement that should be present on all pet foods. This will tell you Continue…

Backyard chicken care

 Are backyard chickens worth the trouble?

A year ago, in an effort to eat healthier and to give our children some “life on the farm” experiences, my wife and I purchased seven Buff Orpington baby chicks. A few weeks later, we purchased 12 Americana chicks. We had recently moved into a home in the Simpsonville area that already had a chicken coop. We cleaned it up and added some nesting boxes. Our children loved Continue…

Llama Mamma!


Llamas and Alpacas for pets?

When I was in veterinary school at Auburn University, I spent summers assisting a missionary in Uganda and Kenya. Much of her work involved small ruminants, and so began my work with camelids. After falling in love with these beautiful creatures, I returned to clinicals my senior year and concentrated on Alpacas and Llamas. Once in practice in Travelers Rest, I truly began to learn the complexity, peculiarity and meekness of the species. I especially love working side by side with Greenville County owners of these ancient animals, because in the world of Alpacas/Llamas…”it takes a village”.

Although different species, Llamas and Alpacas can be successfully bred with the resulting offspring called “huarizo”. With the exception of my favorite llama friends, Pilgrim and John, I will refer mostly to Alpacas. My favorite Alpaca’s name Continue…