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The Pet-Friendly Private Jet Boom

mom, dog, and daughter in private jet

By Felipe Reisch, Exquisite Air Charter

Rena Davenport, Exquisite Air Charter CEO, and former pet clinic manager shares her thoughts on how the travel industry, private aviation specifically, has adapted to the growing pet-friendly trend.

b/w photo of Rena
Rena Davenport

‘Pets before profit’ is how I like to call it. Near and dear to my heart is how various industries are finding ways to provide solutions for pets all around the globe, enabling owners to extend their love towards their animals while eliminating many recent behavioral barriers. This did not happen overnight and while families have always valued their furry friends, there was a gap in how businesses understood them and their entire role in society.

A wide spectrum of businesses today support a pet-friendly environment, from high-end hotels, barber shops, and restaurants to luxury travel. I can strongly speak about the latter while leading Exquisite Air Charter since 2004, a private charter company that supports owners by transporting their animals to different corners of the country and the world. I can safely say that luxury travel is likely one of the most prepared industries to support the pet-friendly boom, with private aviation leading the way. Here is why.

Owners treat their pets as their own children, and they require solutions that are up to the task. Private jet travel is the most complete service when flying pets, allowing them to travel alongside their human families in the cabin while also carrying along all their treats, toys, and favorite blankets.

Flying can be distressing for animals, especially when traveling without their human family. This is the unfortunate case with commercial airlines – most of the time pets are required to fly in the cargo compartment (small animals and emotional support animals can fly in the cabin but there are strict limitations) and sometimes injuries might happen while also being traumatized by the experience. In contrast, on a private jet flight, after checking in, pets and humans walk straight to the airplane, and, more importantly, animals can walk freely in the cabin with the appropriate flying conditions.

frenchie looking out window private jet

Furthermore, growing in popularity is the fact that pet owners are chartering a private jet for their pets to fly alone alongside a loving crew or cabin attendant, relying on the safety and comfort of the entire experience. In fact, in recent months, with the increasing pains of commercial flight cancellations throughout the world, thousands of pets were left stranded at airports, as reported here, and private aviation was the only solution for many caring owners.

On the same line, private jet flights for relocation purposes usually have a pet or two in the cabin with their owners while avoiding sending them to commercial cargo compartments. This trend has become so popular that it hit the mainstream media with a dedicated article in The Wall Street Journal, showcasing the real value of this industry as well as the possibility to share the cost of a charter flight with other owners.

Transport beyond aviation

It is well known that for decades animals have been traveling in airplanes. In fact, renowned for this service is the The Dutta Corporation, in charge of the logistics for flying horses, for leisure or competition, since 1988. Furthermore, this service as well as chartering a private jet are somewhat expensive. Gladly, there are also a wide array of transportation options, like-long distance driving RVs and motorhomes.

Companies like Limelight Limousine in Los Angeles provide this option, which is perfect for people looking to relocate pets but who cannot afford private charter options, as passengers can enjoy the sight and sit comfortably with their pets. There are also apps like Doobert.com to search for available animal transport volunteers to arrange the rescue and transport of an animal. Another alternative worth considering is Truckers Pet Transport, a non-profit organization based in Texas comprised of regional and long-haul truckers who volunteer their time to transport needy pets.

Recommendations for flying your pet on a private jet

Safety always comes first when flying your pet. For starters, the safest way for a dog to fly is with a body harness or a travel crate while smaller dogs and cats can be in a carrier that is attached to a seat belt during takeoff and landing. Further suggestions are bringing food and water, toys, treats, and favorite blankets, as the flight might add stress to their routine.

Also, as part of the checklist, at Exquisite Air Charter, we help owners navigate destination-specific requirements that may include pet passports, vaccination history, microchip documentation, health certificates, among others.

We also require breed, weight, and size information at the time of quoting to help ensure the right plane is offered to ensure the passengers’ and pets’ optimal comfort and safety. We also don’t forget that pets today are well beyond dogs and cats – transportation for reptiles, birds and even fish can also be arranged (although these requests are treated individually).

In essence, the pet-friendly boom in many industries will only continue increasing thanks to the combination of the openness of businesses, the heart of volunteers, and the trust provided by loving owners. I am truly fortunate to be able to provide a small helping hand to those in need to transport their pets in a safe, comfortable, and quick manner, and I’ll continue looking for ways to increase access to pet-friendly private jet charters for those families in need. We’ll find a way to move your fur-babies.

About Exquisite Air Charter

Based in Los Angeles, Exquisite Air Charter is a boutique operation that builds long-term relationships and provides very personalized service to every customer. Exquisite Air Charter’s aviation knowledge and expertise facilitates relationships with executives at the most highly regarded operators in the world and those relationships assist us in providing top-notch service to our clients.

Degenerative Myelopathy

by Dr. John Waterhouse

You may wonder why you sometimes see corgis with their back legs being supported by what looks like a dog-sized wheelchair. It’s called a cart, and it works for dogs the way a walker works for a human. There are several conditions that can affect a corgi’s mobility, particularly in the hind legs. Corgis, along with numerous other dog breeds, can be genetically predisposed to a spinal cord disorder called degenerative myelopathy (DM).

Also known as chronic degenerative radiculomyelopathy (CDRM), DM is characterized by clinical signs of slowly progressive hind-limb weakness and paralysis. The symptoms are caused by the oxidative damage to and degeneration of the Schwann cells in the white matter of the spinal cord. This degeneration causes interference with both motor and sensory function of the white matter. In DM, the white matter of the spinal cord—which contains the nerve fibers responsible for transmitting movement commands from the brain to the limbs and sensory information from the limbs to the brain—degenerates.

One of the first breeds in which the disease was diagnosed was the German Shepherd, so DM has also been called German Shepherd dog degenerative myelopathy. In the early stages, DM can be misdiagnosed as hip dysplasia, discospondylitis, a spinal tumor or injury, fibrocartilaginous embolism, or myasthenia gravis.

DM has been diagnosed in many dog breeds, but most of the research has been focused on these breeds:

▘American Eskimo Dog

▘Bernese Mountain Dog



▘Cardigan Welsh Corgi

▘Chesapeake Bay Retriever

▘Rhodesian Ridgeback


▘German Shepherd

▘German Shepherd Crossbreed

▘Golden Retrievers

▘Great Pyrenees

▘Kerry Blue Terriers

▘Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

▘ Pembroke Welsh Corgi

▘Poodle (Miniature)

▘Poodle (Standard)


▘Shetland Sheepdog

▘Siberian Husky

Staging Degenerative Myelopathy

I like to divide DM into five stages. This helps when tracking how the disease is progressing and allows my clients to set objective benchmarks to use in making quality-of-life decisions. None of the stages is exact, as every patient is different and will progress at a different rate through these five stages. The stages provide good benchmarks for what to expect, but there can be some overlap in terms of clinical signs.

The average age at which clinical signs begin to appear is 8 to 14 years. Typically, the patient will progress through all the stages within a 12- to 18-month timeframe. The cumulative oxidative damage to the spinal cord white matter doesn’t appear until later in life, which explains why dogs with DM don’t respond to treatment. By the time the dog displays symptoms, the damage is already done.

The number one question about DM that I hear from clients is about bladder and bowel function. These are generally normal in the early stages of the disease, but as the disease progresses to the mid- to late stages discussed below, urinary and fecal incontinence will develop in conjunction with hind-limb paralysis.

The Five Stages Of Degenerative Myelopathy

Stage 1 or Early Stage (slight signs)

Clinical signs include:

▘Weakness in rear legs

▘Slight change in gait

▘Change in tail position

▘Scuffing of rear paw pads

▘Wearing down of innermost rear paw nail Signs typically associated with hip dysplasia include:

▘The dog has difficulty getting up from a lying position

▘Hindquarters appear to sway when walking

Proprioceptive deficit (“knuckling over”) in a dog with suspected degenerative myelopathy. COMMONS.WIKIMEDIA.ORG/WIKI/USER:JOELMILLS
Proprioceptive deficit (“knuckling over”) in a dog with suspected degenerative myelopathy. COMMONS.WIKIMEDIA.ORG/WIKI/USER:JOELMILLS»

Stage 2 or Early to Mid-Stage (neurological deficits noted)

The clinical signs in early to mid-stage DM include:

▘Beginning to have difficulty standing up

▘Swaying in the hind end when standing

▘Scraping all rear paw nails intermittently when walking (creating a click-click sound)

▘Early evidence of a loss of muscle mass in the hind limbs

▘Tail movement becomes less active

▘Rear legs start to cross each other when walking (worse when the dog turns)

▘May start to see urinary and fecal incontinence

▘May start to see knuckling when walking

▘May start to see delayed righting-reflex response times

Stage 3 or Mid-stage (partial paralysis)

The clinical signs of mid-stage degenerative myelopathy include:

The hind-limb paw of a dog with degenerative myelopathy shows the worndown, innermost nail, which can be a clinical sign of the disease. COURTESY VETERINARY TEACHING ACADEMY
The hind-limb paw of a dog with degenerative myelopathy shows the worndown, innermost nail, which can be a clinical sign of the disease. COURTESY VETERINARY TEACHING ACADEMY»

▘Loss of tail movement

▘Jerky movement in the hind limbs when trying to walk

▘Falling down when walking or standing (“drunken sailor”)

▘Cross extensor response—when one rear paw is touched, the other rear paw moves

▘Asymmetric weakness progressing to paraplegia

▘Falling over easily if lightly pushed

▘Wobbling and unable to maintain balance when standing

▘Knuckling of the hind paws when trying to walk (very obvious when turning)

▘Feet scraping on the ground when walking (constantly)

▘Inability to walk

▘Partial paralysis of the hind limbs (knuckling)

▘Urinary and fecal incontinence

Stage 4 or Late Stage (complete paralysis)

The clinical signs of late-stage disease include:

▘Complete paralysis of the hind limbs and loss of all motor function

▘Loss of all sensory and deep-pain reflexes

▘Hyporeflexia of the myotatic and withdrawal reflexes

Stage 5 or Final Stage (ascending paralysis to front limbs)

The clinical signs of final-stage disease include:

▘Complete urinary and fecal incontinence

▘Ascending paralysis to the front limbs

▘Weakness in front legs

Does Your Dog Have The Gene?

The past thinking about DM is that only dogs with two copies of the mutated SOD1 gene will develop DM, but this is not always the case A dog must have both the alleles (that is, A/A homozygotes) to develop DM. But there have also been cases in which dogs that test positive don’t develop DM, as well as cases in which a dog that has only one SOD1 gene (A/N heterozygous) develops DM. It’s now thought that environmental factors may play a big part in the progression of the disease and explain why some dogs that are positive for both SOD1 genes (A/A homozygotes) don’t develop clinical signs and other dogs that are carriers (A/N heterozygous) develop this disease.

There’s still much to be discovered and learn about DM and its causes. The genetic test isn’t 100% foolproof, but it provides a common-sense prediction of which dogs are at risk—and the degree of that risk—and which dogs aren’t.

Clinical Signs Used To Diagnose Degenerative Myelopathy

The classic clinical signs of DM are:

▘Sudden onset of clinical neurological signs without trauma

▘No history of pain

▘Mild ataxia and paresis of the hind limbs without thoracic limbs being affected

As we’ve mentioned, there’s a greater likelihood of DM if the patient is a high-risk breed or between 5 and 14 years of age. Diagnosis is based on the exclusion of all other disorders, and the genetic test may assist in a diagnosis when used in conjunction with clinical signs to get a presumptive diagnosis. The only truly accurate diagnosis can be made on postmortem examination of the spinal cord.

One of the big challenges in diagnosing DM is that it’s a diagnosis of exclusion—meaning all other diseases must be ruled out. The signs of degenerative myelopathy are similar to hip dysplasia in stages 1 and 2, and initial clinical signs may mimic other spinal conditions, such as intervertebral disc disease (IVDD) (see article in PCM, Fall 2022 page 36), or a slow-growing tumor of the spine.

Radiographs (X-rays) are usually the first line of diagnostic tests performed in determining if a dog has DM. X-rays are excellent for ruling out hip dysplasia or other degenerative joint diseases in the hind-limb joints and spine. The only drawback to radiographs is they don’t show soft-tissue structures—such as the spinal discs and the spinal cord—very well. If IVDD or a spinal tumor is suspected, an MRI or CT scan is a more appropriate imaging technique for ruling out these possible diagnoses. Another diagnostic alternative is myelography. This involves injecting a contrast agent (dye) into the space surrounding the spinal cord and radiographing the spine to note any interruption of the dye, which could indicate IVDD or a spinal tumor. Both MRI and myelography require the dog to be sedated with a general anesthetic.

Occasionally, it’s necessary to collect and analyze cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) to rule out inflammatory conditions. The problem that we see with DM patients is that putting the dog under general anesthesia can exacerbate the disease. It’s believed that the general anesthetic and the fluid-collection procedure places more oxidative stress on the remaining Schwann cells and can speed up the destruction of the remaining nerve cell axons in the white matter.

The genetic test that’s currently available is helpful, but it still can be costly, frustrating, and time consuming to get to a diagnosis of DM.

Treatment of Degenerative Myelopathy

There’s currently no effective treatment for DM, although there are promising options to slow disease progression. That being said, there are several things we can do to extend the life of a patient by months or even years. If we know early on that a dog is a carrier of or at risk for DM, we can make lifestyle changes so they might never show clinical signs of disease.

These changes include:

▘Not allowing the dog to become overweight (maintaining a body-condition score of no more than 5 out of 9)

▘Feeding a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids and low in starches

▘Anti-oxidant supplements

▘Physical exercise

▘Physical therapy, which has been shown to improve and prolong quality of life

▘Rehabilitation modalities, which have been shown to be successful in slowing spinal degeneration

▘A patient in stage 3 or 4 may need a supportive device like a sling or a cart when hind-limb paralysis progresses to the point that the dog is unable to stand or walk


The one good thing about this disease is that it’s not painful. As white matter axons in the spinal cord are lost, the dog loses the ability to feel pain or any sensation in its hind limbs. As mentioned earlier, bladder or fecal incontinence isn’t seen in stages 1 or 2, but incontinence is usually a symptom in stages 3 and 4, as hind-limb paralysis progresses.

As mentioned, the DM disease process typically proceeds over a 12- to 18-month period from the time of onset of the first clinical signs. When symptoms become too debilitating, most owners opt for euthanasia. Determining when to euthanize is a highly individualized decision that’s determined by how adaptive— both physically and psychologically—the dog and owner(s) are to the situation. Some dogs do well in a cart, while others never take to it. Besides the emotional toll that having a dog with DM takes on the owner, there’s also a great deal of physical care involved including lifting, carrying, and cleaning up after the pet. It’s a challenging situation for anyone, and some people are able to handle it better than others.

Deciding to euthanize a beloved family member is never easy, but it’s particularly heart-wrenching when DM is the cause. The reason is that the dog typically has a good appetite, is pain-free, and their mind remains sharp. Saying goodbye to a dog that we know is terminally ill or in pain is somewhat easier, because we don’t want them to suffer.

Home Care

Home care of a pet with DM requires 100% commitment from the pet parent. It is not an easy task, but with the proper guidance, caring for a pet at home can help slow the progression of the disease to allow a better quality of life for both the pet and the pet parent. Not incorporating a proper home care program early on can lead to a quicker progression of the disease.

It is important that a home care program incorporates a multimodal approach to caring for a pet with DM. This may include:

▘Pain control (from secondary falls and injury)

▘Weight control

▘An anti-inflammatory-rich diet (EPA-rich)

▘Physical rehabilitation

▘Controlled home exercise program

▘Nutraceutical supplements

The aim of a proper home care program is to improve strength and to maintain muscle mass, ultimately slowing down the progression of muscle disuse atrophy and maintaining good function for as long as possible. Our end goal for our pet companion is to maintain the best quality of life for the longest time possible.

To learn more about how to properly care for a pet with DM at home or to learn more about this debilitating disease, go to degenerativemyelopathyinfo.com or caninerehabondemand.com.

Dr. John Waterhouse BVSc, CCRP graduated in 2004 from the University of Sydney Veterinary School in Australia and went into general small animal practice. He continued to further his education in the areas of veterinary alternative medicine, including traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and acupuncture.

In 2010, John moved to the United States to undertake a fellowship in pain management and rehabilitative medicine under the direction of Dr. James Gaynor with Peak Performance Veterinary Group in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

John was brought on as a consultant from early 2013 to January 2014 to help build and open the new Canine Rehabilitation & Arthritis Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

In 2014, John became director of Veterinary Teaching Academy. He currently speaks around the world at various conferences on the topics of Canine Arthritis and Pain Management in relation to canine sports medicine.



One of the most important things I tell my clients is to think about a proper bedding system to help their pet. A supportive bedding system is my go-to first step.

Proper bedding is important not only for comfort but also because a dog suffering from DM needs to rest. In addition to providing a supportive bedding system, make sure the dog has a quiet place to sleep or just lie still, away from the activity and noise of the household. As the disease progresses, they will be more and more confined to a bed as they are no longer able to move around on their own. A supportive bedding system is vital in these late stages to help them stay comfortable and prevent pressure sore development from prolonged periods of non-movement.

Conditioning Physical Exercise

Conditioning benefits cardiovascular fitness, endurance, muscle strength, and flexibility. It’s essential for overweight pets or pets that aren’t fit. It’s also great for pets with chronic diseases such as osteoarthritis. Strong muscles around a joint help support it and diminish the risk of joint laxity. For pets with DM, we have to be careful not to overdo it when it comes to exercise conditioning, as this can have a counterproductive impact on the rate of disease progression and worsening of clinical signs if we overtrain.

The Chase Is Up!

Chasing is inherently reinforcing for many dogs— it releases a burst of feel-good chemicals that are difficult to resist.

Is your dog a chaser? The urge to chase turns some dogs into frenzied running machines who are difficult to stop. Their brains seem to leave their bodies as they launch themselves after tennis balls, cyclists, cats, or every dog on the horizon. Chase behavior can be embarrassing and obsessive, as well as dangerous. Some breeds may be more prone to chase-related issues, such as sighthounds bred to chase and catch prey or herding dogs bred to control movement.

Chasing is inherently reinforcing for many dogs—it releases a burst of feel-good chemicals that are difficult to resist. This is why dogs may chase even when exhausted or in pain, and why your border collie only has eyes for the ball and won’t engage in anything else in the environment. This lack of control isn’t your dog being deliberately naughty—they are acting on instinct, performing a behavior sequence completely natural to them.

If you feel your dog’s chase behavior has become an issue, the first step is to prevent them from practicing this addictive behavior. The more often they chase, the harder it is to break the cycle. This may mean your dog is spending more time on lead and avoiding places full of chase triggers. If your dog is fixated on chasing cars, for example, seek out quieter roads or different times of day while you work on things. Once your dog’s brain and body have had a chance to disengage from frequent chasing, you can begin reinforcing the behaviors you want to see instead—like focusing on you. The key is to do this slowly so you and your dog are successful every step of the way. Reducing chase behavior is possible. To enjoy a calmer dog and more relaxing walks faster, engage a force-free trainer to help.

Bone Tumors are No Treat for Dogs

by Dennis Macy, DVM, MS, DACVIM

The most common bone tumor found in dogs is called osteosarcoma (OSA). This bone tumor develops eight times more often in canines than in humans, and many physicians have viewed the treatment veterinarians apply to dogs with OSA to human medicine. OSA is primarily a disease that develops in middle-aged and senior dogs. However, while seven is the median age for developing canine OSA, in rare cases, these tumors have appeared in dogs as young as six months old.Swelling caused by osteosarcoma. COURTESY FITZPATRICKREFERRALS.CO.UKSwelling caused by osteosarcoma. COURTESY FITZPATRICKREFERRALS.CO.UK»
radiograph illustrating osteosarcoma. COURTESY FITZPATRICKREFERRALS.CO.UK
Radiograph illustrating osteosarcoma. COURTESY FITZPATRICKREFERRALS.CO.UK»

OSA tumors develop from primitive mesenchymal cells—cells that develop into connective tissue, blood vessels and lymphatic tissue. We differentiate these cells from other mesenchymal tumors by their production of osteoid, or unmineralized bone tissue, a marker that allows pathologists to make the diagnosis of OSA. Once the OSA tumor develops, pet owners typically notice some lameness in their dog, followed by swelling at the tumor site. These symptoms are commonly associated with a pet’s recent injury and frequently lead to a misdiagnosis of only a soft tissue injury or sprain.

The development of OSA is often found on weight-bearing bones, especially those near late-closing physeal (growth plate) areas on heavy dogs. Additionally, weight-bearing bones with past fractures or other trauma are more susceptible to developing these tumors.

As with most dog tumors, OSA tumors can grow rapidly. In fact, some OSA tumors in dogs have reportedly doubled in size in just about two days. Compare this to breast tumors in women, which a have an average doubling time of 146 days.

A dog’s body weight is the single strongest predictor for whether they are at risk for OSA. Almost a third of the dogs that develop OSA weigh 88 pounds or more. In contrast, only 5% of the dogs with OSA weigh less than 33 pounds. As you might suspect, the following breeds have the highest risk for OSA: Saint Bernards, Great Danes, Irish setters, Doberman pinchers, Rottweilers, German shepherds, and golden retrievers.

Over the span of a dog’s life, unaltered or sexually intact dogs are more likely to develop OSA than altered dogs. That said, we should caution that, for larger breeds, many veterinarians recommend waiting until your dog is one year of age or has its full skeletal development before it is spayed or neutered.

What role do genetics play in the development of canine OSA? Many dogs with OSA have been found to have abnormalities in the tumor protein (TP) 53 gene. Medical biologists are currently researching other recently discovered genetic markers as well.

When OSA is discovered in the limb of a dog, amputation is often required. Unfortunately, surgical removal is not sufficient to ensure your dog’s survival. Dogs that have limb amputation with no other treatment have only a 5% to 10% chance of living a year past their surgery. Dogs that are not treated with chemotherapy in conjunction with the removal of their OSA have less than a 5% chance of living beyond two years of treatment. In contrast, when canine patients receive drug therapy in addition to amputation, their survival beyond a year increases to 50%. Clearly, we have more work to do in both human and veterinary oncology to change these percentages.

Limb amputation is well tolerated in most dogs, especially if they are already lame and not putting weight on the impacted leg. It offers immediate pain relief associated with the tumor, and most pet owners report their dogs have the same or nearly the same ability to get around post-surgery as they did before amputation.

For patients with serious joint disease, limb-sparing surgery (LSS) is an option. However, this option is usually only available at a few university centers with bone banks. Alternate therapies, including small molecular inhibitors and immunotherapy, are currently in trials. We hope these new treatments will help us diagnose OSA earlier, which significantly improves our ability to treat this dangerous disease.

Dennis Macy, DVM, MS, DACVIM, is aboard-certified oncologist and internist, CSU Professor Emeritus, Animal Samaritans, Thousand Palms, California.

What Signs Should I Look For in My Dog?

At first, osteosarcoma will usually present as intermittent lameness, due to pain that comes and goes. The pain may subside with standard doses of pain killers, but usually only for a week or so. It’s important to watch for these signs that may signal osteosarcoma:

▘Where it presents in the limbs, a dog will experience pain/lameness that doesn’t go away, along with swelling of an affected limb that is painful, red, and hot to the touch.

▘Tumors on or along the spine will cause neurological problems, such as seizures or difficulty walking.

▘A tumor situated in the jaw will make eating painful for the dog, so he may appear to have no appetite.

▘Tumors on a dog’s ribs will cause noticeable breathing difficulties.

▘In the skull, jaw, or ribs, a swollen area or a noticeable mass is often the first sign of a tumor.

▘When a tumor is present anywhere on the dog, it will usually cause loss of appetite and overall lethargy.

How is Osteosarcoma Diagnosed and Staged?
Ultrasound-guided bone cell aspiration. COURTESY FITZPATRICKREFERRALS.CO.UK
Ultrasound-guided bone cell aspiration. COURTESY FITZPATRICKREFERRALS.CO.UK»

To diagnose osteosarcoma, veterinarians typically follow these steps:

▘Conduct a complete physical examination, blood tests, X-rays of swollen or painful areas as well as the chest, and a bone scan.

▘Biopsy any suspicious areas via fine needle aspiration.

▘Perform a computed tomography (CT) scan to determine if cancer has spread (in 90–95% of dogs, the tumor will have already metastasized at the time of diagnosis).

What Treatment Methods Might Be Used?

▘Pain management is the primary goal of treatment, to ensure the best quality of life for patients.

▘Amputation may be performed in the case of a limb tumor.

▘Systemic therapy including chemotherapy or immunotherapy, along with local treatment of the primary tumor.

Keeping Boogie’s Smile Bright

Little Boogie Shoes © Alicia Bailey

Dental care is important for overall pet health for dogs and cats

If you’re wondering why your dog or cat has stinky breath, it is definitely time to visit your veterinarian and discuss dental care. Stinky breath could mean there is something more serious lurking below the gum line, and no amount of “breath freshening” treats can fix it.

Boogie and his pack have been on a regular dental care schedule since they were adopted, and what works for us is a process called NADS, or Non-Anesthetic Dental Service. This is a process in which the dog’s teeth are gently cleaned without the dog being put under anesthesia. For a pet like Boogie, who lives with special needs, NADS is a great option for us, and we have it done by Veterinary Dental Service (VDS) who performs the service at our veterinarian’s office.

Chuck Purkey founded VDS after witnessing the inadequate and dangerous dental care at grooming and boarding facilities. He found that there was no real oversight of the procedure technicians were performing, or veterinarian supervision in the facilities, and the result was pets with new loose teeth, damage to the tooth enamel and gum line, and a path for infection, ultimately making their dental health worse.

Boogie with Dr. Shayda at East Chapman Veterinary Center

Knowing there was a better way and passionate about providing the highest standard of care to pets, he sought out mentorship and training from veterinarians to assist him in creating a safe, effective, and gentle protocol. Additionally, with your pet’s safety always the priority, VDS services are only provided at veterinary practices with a veterinarian and staff on site.

Boogie and his pack have benefitted from regular NADS cleanings as part of our overall dental care plan. It is important to know that you must be referred by your veterinarian, so you will have to see your doctor before making an appointment. Here are some commonly asked questions about the NADS service, and how to find veterinarian partners near you.

Chuck Purkey holding a smiling Boogie after his teeth cleaning.

What will my pet experience during this procedure?

If your pet is determined to be a candidate for NADS, at their appointment they will be gently swaddled in a blanket and placed at an angle on their back so that the cleaning can begin. Some larger dogs don’t require swaddling, and simply sit through the procedure. From there, the VDS team will examine your pet’s mouth, alert your vet to anything extraordinary, then proceed to scale the tarter and polish the teeth.

Why do you only come to veterinary offices?

The reason for this is to ensure he has access to the pet’s health history, the recommendation of a NADS service from the pet’s doctor, and in the event of an emergency—say, a broken tooth or abscess is discovered—the situation can be dealt with at the hospital.

Is every pet a candidate for NADS?

No, NADS is not a one-size-fits-all option. Only your veterinarian can tell you which treatment is appropriate for your pet.

How can I find out if my pet is eligible for NADS?

Visit the VDS website for a list of veterinarians they work with. Contact the veterinarian that is best for you, let them know you’re interested in NADS for your pet, and they will guide you through the next steps required.

Who is an ideal NADS patient?

■ Pets who have recently received an anesthetic dental, have an at home brushing routine, and are ready to begin a vet-approved maintenance program.

■ Pets who are calm and adjust well to new sounds, sensations, and handling by others.

■ Pets who have special health concerns that make it a high risk to go under anesthesia.

What can I do at home to keep my pet’s teeth and mouth healthy?

Chuck Purkey is an advocate for at-home brushing, and at your NADS appointment, he and his staff are available to walk you through how make brushing part of your pet’s at-home routine.

Dental Stats:

■ More than 80% of dogs over the age of 3 have active dental disease. (VCAHospitals.com)

■ Studies show that bacteria from the mouth can enter the blood stream and be carried around the body. (AVDC.org)

■ Periodontal disease has been associated with changes in the kidneys, liver, and heart. (AVDC.org)

Warning Signs of Dental Disease:

■ Bad breath

■ A yellowish-brown crust near the gum line

■ Red, swollen gums

■ Bleeding gums while eating

■ Difficulty eating or loss of appetite

■ Loose or missing teeth

Unlicensed Cleanings

Facilities other than veterinary offices with a vet on staff are not able to provide adequate care should an emergency arise. These practices are not only dangerous but also illegal! To report illegal cleanings, please contact:

Dr. Peter Weinstein, DVM, MBA
SCVMA, 5576 Corporate Ave., Cypress, CA 90630
Phone: (714) 821-7493

The Latest from The Kennel Club of Palm Springs

by Lilian S. Barber

The Kennel Club of Palm Springs is one of the leading and most prestigious dog clubs in the United States and puts on one of the premier dog shows in this country (if not in the entire world), as well as one of the largest, with entries close to the 4,000 mark. The venue is the classy and spacious Empire Polo Grounds in Indio.

Plans are well under way for the January 5–8, 2023 show. Since details are not yet complete, progress can be followed on the club’s website (tkcps.org). Up-to-date information about the club’s meetings and other activities can also be found on the website. KCPS meetings are held on the third Wednesday of each month, except during July and August. New information regarding meeting locations and current dog obedience classes sponsored by KCPS can be found on the club’s website.

Because dog shows can be a little confusing for people not familiar with the judging and ring procedures, KCPS is planning on conducting a form of guided tour during the shows to explain the way things work. Most members will be wearing clothing with the KCPS logo and will be easily identifiable and willing to answer questions about the show or suggest where information might be available. A large dog show is a great place for prospective dog owners to learn more about different breeds and their characteristics. Most exhibitors are happy and willing to answer questions once they have shown their dog (especially if they have done some winning!).

Another great feature of the KCPS show is the large building full of vendors, selling every conceivable dog-connected item, from quality dog supplies and equipment for walking and housing canines, to comfortable and stylish clothing and accessories for their owners. The January event will be an occasion no dog lover should miss!

Additional up-to-date information about upcoming shows can be obtained from the superintendent, Jack Bradshaw (jackbradshaw.com).

Mark your calendar and plan on attending our dog shows. There is an all-day parking fee of $20 per vehicle. Entrance is free for a vehicle full of dog lovers and enthusiasts!


LA’s Latest Pet Trends

Fifi & Romeo

Los Angeles is a melting pot of culture, ideas, interests, and people. It’s also a pet-loving city, with residents who adore their pets and want to include them in almost every aspect of their daily life. Restaurants with pet-friendly patios, beaches and parks where dogs can be off-leash, and some of the coolest pet trends in the country begin right here in LA. Many startup pet companies are based in the City of Angels, and here we show you some that are worth a second look when you’re in town.


Pet care starts in the home, and the supplies associated with pet ownership are now more stylish and trendy than ever. What was once a noticeable cat litter box or a dog kennel has now become a piece of furniture or a work of art, seamlessly blending into our own personal style of home decor. This has become especially prevalent in Southern California, with stores like KBSPETS Los Angeles offering these discreet pet supply pieces and homeowners boasting their home decor on social media platforms like Instagram. Even stores that have their own nonprofit rescues, like Vanderpump Pets, have fun offerings that reflect Los Angeles culture.


Such designs also extend to what your dog or cat rocks out in public! Pet street wear at its finest cam be found in boutiques on the streets of Rodeo Drive, Ventura Boulevard, and Burbank’s famous Magnolia Avenue. Both for style and utilitarian purposes, more and more dogs are wearing fashionable boots, jackets, and sunglasses during their outings with their humans. With the pavement becoming so hot during the summer months in SoCal, the boots help protect sensitive paws from the searing heat. During the winter (as rare as cold may seem), coats can help insulate small dogs who can’t regulate their body temperatures very well. Many of these boutiques exist in exclusive neighborhoods, such as The Urban Pet in Beverly Hills and Fifi & Romeo in West Hollywood.


Custom stylish dog collars are equally popular, especially for owners who want to showcase their unique style through their pet. Although only a few boutiques and stores offer truly high-end collars, many discriminating pet owners or-der from companies such as Ella’s Lead, DogNerd Designs, and Pinsch Me Designs online, all of which offer the highest quality collars available. For shoppers who prefer browsing a brick and mortar location, California Collar Co. is located in North Hollywood. Their fancy collars have become so popular, in fact, that I’ve seen people stop one another on the street to ask if they’re wearing a California Collar Co. design!


Of course, all these stylish choices mean nothing unless you have somewhere to go. Lucky for Angelinos, the city is incredibly pet friendly (and becoming more so each year)! Malls and stores at The Grove, on Melrose Avenue, and many on Ventura Boulevard in the Valley love having your four-legged family member join in on the shopping experience. Since the pandemic and the influx of outdoor seating, many eateries welcome well-behaved pets to sit with their owners outside (and even offer pet menus). Bakeries and eateries tailored specifically to pets also found their way to popularity— My Pet Naturally on Pico and Three Dog Bakery in Encino are beloved choices.

Other pet-centric shops such as Woof Dog Boutique even offer pet-safe wine! Many local pet-friendly events such as the Vegan Street Fair (annual), Vegan Playground (every Monday), the classic car shows, art street fairies, and more are very welcoming to man’s best friend. Taking your stylish pup out to brunch, dinner, or a friendly pub get-together with friends is a big staple of the LA lifestyle.

But, for those times that you can’t bring your pet with you (such as to clubs and concerts), LA is filled with on-demand pet care startup companies like Wag! and Rover. You can even order mobile grooming (through companies such as Barkbus), mobile vet care, or mobile pet chiropractic services at the touch of your finger by booking an online service. For something a bit more upscale, dog hotels are booming in the city, with trendsetting hot spots like Chateau Marmutt on Beverly Boulevard and D Pet Hotel in Encino becoming popular.

Although these fun LA trends may not be for everyone, they do show that the latest population of pet owners has a new way of thinking about our animals—and we are here for it!


Responding with Courage and Compassion

by Sarah Scorgie

San Diego Humane Society’s Humane Officers

When they show up for work each day, San Diego Humane Society’s Humane Officers have to be prepared for anything. In the field 7 days a week, these officers have the power of police to enforce animal related laws. They are the go-to support system for 14 cities throughout San Diego County when residents need help with everything from barking dogs and injured wildlife to the most heartbreaking cases of cruelty and neglect. Driven by compassion and a commitment to keeping animals and the people who love them safe, Humane Officers also take every opportunity to educate community members about how to properly care for pets.


Their job is vital—and it’s anything but easy. Heartbreaking situations are all too common, such as in late October, when a good Samaritan found two young shepherd mixes who had been left to die in a small shipping container at the Buena Vista Lagoon in Oceanside. The dogs, one male and one female, were so emaciated that they were unable to walk on their own. Both a year old, they were so malnourished that rescuers initially thought they were puppies.


San Diego Humane Society’s officers responded to the scene and showed the dogs the human compassion they so desperately needed. But as one dog was being gently carried into the organization’s Oceanside Campus for care, he passed away in the arms of an officer. The other dog was in so much pain, and his prognosis was so poor, that San Diego Humane Society’s compassionate medical team had to relieve his suffering by immediately performing humane euthanasia.

A good Samaritan found two dogs who had been left to die in this small shipping container. He made a difference by calling the San Diego Humane Society.


Although they weren’t able to save the dogs lives, Sgt. Melanie Hutchinson found hope in the midst of tragedy. “Those dogs died in somebody’s arms, rather than in a lagoon under a bush,” she said.

For those of us reading about a situation like this, it’s unimaginably heartbreaking. For our Humane Officers, responding to tragedy with compassion and dedication is part of their daily work. So is doing everything they can to educate the community to ensure these entirely preventable moments never happen in the first place.

“These dogs were without proper nutrition for a very long time to become so emaciated,” said Chief of San Diego Humane Society’s Humane Law Enforcement Bill Ganley. “There’s never a reason an animal should get to that state. We’re here to help people who can no longer care for their pets, so that no animal has to suffer such a tragic outcome.”

San Diego Humane Society offers a wide range of resources to support pets and people in times of crisis. As an open admission shelter, the organization will never turn away an animal in need. It understands that there are life situations that may prevent people from being able to properly care for an animal, which is why pets are welcomed without judgment.


For community members who want to keep their pets but need help affording proper care and nourishment, the organization offers plenty of support—from free pet food and supplies, to access to affordable veterinary care.

And for those witnessing cruelty and neglect, San Diego Humane Society offers a 24-hour Humane Law Enforcement Dispatch line. In the case of the two dogs found at the lagoon in Oceanside, a phone call from the good Samaritan allowed the animals to know love in their final moments.

“He’s a true hero,” Sgt. Hutchinson said. “He called us. He did something.”

To learn more about San Diego Humane Society’s Humane Law Enforcement program, or to learn how you can take action to protect animals in need, visit sdhumane.org.

Food Pantry Resources for Pets

Many organizations throughout Southern California provide assistance for pet owners facing hardship. Below is a list of organizations with Food Bank resources for pet owners. Additional resources can be found on our website, petcompanionmag.com.

Helen Woodward AniMeals: Free dog and cat food for seniors or people with disabilities; recipients must go through a local human service organization (partners listed on website). (858) 756-4117, ext. 341 animalcenter.org

Rancho Coastal Humane Society: Community pet food bank open every Saturday, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at RCHS, 389 Requeza Street, Encinitas, CA 92024. (760) 753-6413 rchumanesociety.org

SSNAAPE: Senior Special Needs Animal Assistance Project Endeavor provides free pet food, transportation to veterinary and grooming appointments and financial assistance for veterinary care as resources are available. (760) 451-8961 (760) 728-0249 ssnaape.org

San Diego Humane Society: Through the Community Pet Pantry, anyone can visit their campuses in El Cajon, Escondido, Oceanside or San Diego to pick up a bag of dog or cat food, and other supplies, as available. No appointment is needed. Tuesday-Sunday 10 a.m.– 6 p.m. More information at sdhumane.org

Downtown Dog Rescue: This Los Angeles-based dog rescue offers free spay/neuter services to low-income and homeless pet guardians, a shelter intervention program to keep pets and their people together, and a pet resource center. (818) 407-4145 (323) 880-8259 downtowndogrescue.org

OC Animal Allies’ No Empty Bowls helps people in Orange County who need time to get back on their feet while preventing their pet from going hungry or being relinquished to a shelter due to lack of resources. ocanimalallies.org/our-programs/no-empty-bowls

Pet Food Bank Palm Springs Animal Shelter: This community food bank helps pet guardians keep their pets in their homes by providing pet food to those in need in the Palm Springs area. (760) 416-5718 psanimalshelter.org/pet-food-bank

RCDAS Healthy Pet Zone: Their goal is to help pets and families stay together. Programs include a food pantry, pet behavior support, and more for Riverside County residents. (888) 636-7387 (PETS) rcdas.org/index.php/services/healthy-pet-zoneCharacter count: 5810SAVE

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Hidden Household Hazards

Pets look at the world from a completely different perspective than their humans. Lacking the ability to reason out their actions—and designed with the ability to leap, spin, wiggle and chew their way into all manner of situations that would not occur to most of us—dogs, cats, and even birds sometimes find themselves facing danger in the most ordinary places! This article will explore a few potential threats to your pet that you might not have considered. And perhaps it will even help you look at the world through your pet’s eyes for just a few minutes.

It’s well known that pets see the world as a dining hall and a playground. With no hands, they use their mouths and noses to sample novel things they encounter. Their natural curiosity leads them to explore and investigate, but their inability to reason and anticipate consequences gets them into some unexpected places. Unfortunately, we humans have created an environment of hazards and threats that we naturally avoid because we understand them. Your pet does not.

Picture, for example, the cat owner happily lounging in his recliner, watching TV or enjoying a nap. Kitty, who is a little restless, decides to explore the space beneath the chair—just the sort of small, dark space that cats are attracted to. Her owner stirs, reaches for the lever to straighten the chair … Kitty is caught in the mechanism, or between the footrest and the chair side.

Cats are also drawn to high places. They are infamous for getting themselves stranded in trees and on power poles, roofs, etc. But even inside the home, this hankering to see the world from above can get them into trouble. Put something “out of reach” and, for some cats, you’ve issued a challenge! My own cats have demonstrated an amazing ability to reach the most elevated spots. They’ve discovered how to access a small storage space above a closet by hopping onto a desk, then a bookcase, balancing across the top of a partially opened door and, from there, accurately leaping into the space several feet away.

Tops of refrigerators are especially attractive to cats. And their feet are adept at opening cabinets and drawers. Give them a curtain and they’ll use it to access the curtain rod, and from there may clamber onto the tops of sheer-walled furniture, where you’ve placed fragile ornaments, pictures in glass-fronted frames, etc. They of course don’t place much value on such items and seem to enjoy pushing them off the edge, where they may shatter, creating a broken glass hazard that they, another pet, or even you may step on.

A little less scary, but still a problem: cats often climb onto ledges, including shower enclosures, which they can easily fall from. Even if they land uninjured, they can be trapped in a shower until someone finds and rescues them.

Don’t have cats? Plenty of dogs have been known to counter-surf, knock things over, and walk on broken glass, too! In fact, dogs have been known to sail through plate-glass windows and sliding doors after rabbits and squirrels or when frightened, such as during thunderstorms. Dogs and cats alike are prone to run past humans to get outside if panicked, and often find themselves lost and frightened once they stop running.

Providing safe, interactive spaces and toys help keep cats out of mischief (sometimes!)

Outside hazards are well recognized for free-roaming pets. But many people allow their pets onto balconies of upstairs rooms or apartments, even hotel rooms, thinking that they’ll be safe because it’s “too high” for them to get down. Elevation does not create safety! Overall, pets do not seem to have a good sense of distance. Cats, in particular, become mesmerized when they’re staring down from high places (particularly at night) and may jump, or they tend to rest along the rail and can easily fall. “High-rise syndrome”—seen mainly in cities—is so dubbed because cats seem compelled to leap (or fall) off balconies. So if you have a balcony, think twice about allowing your pet unsupervised access!

A major category of household hazards can loosely be called “stuff pets get into,” which also includes “stuff that gets into pets!” You might expect that dogs are more prone than cats to eat things that aren’t food, but that’s only somewhat true. Cats and dogs tend to be attracted to different items, with a lot of overlap.

Recurring themes in cat eating or chewing on non-food items include the following.

A major category of household hazards can loosely be called “stuff pets get into,” which also includes “stuff that gets into pets!”

The texture of electric cords is very appealing to both dogs and cats, no matter the age. This can be frustrating when they chew out the phone cord or eat your new iPhone charging cable. But it can also be deadly if the cord is plugged into the wall, or if they decide to swallow a long piece of cable! Electric cord injuries include not only the risk of electrocution but can also cause severe burns in the mouth and a poorly understood type of delayed lung disease that can be hard to figure out if you don’t know your pet has chewed a cord.

Cats love to eat hair ties and rubber bands. In fact, cats have been known to swallow a whole bag of the things (one at a time, we assume)! In a similar vein, ribbon, thread, rubber bands and other long stringy things pose an attractive hazard for cats. Unfortunately, the only way they are coming back out is surgery.

I’ve also removed a large wad of wool carpet from the stomach of a Yorkie, and most of a lariat rope from a Pointer, who apparently thought these were good snacks. Dogs will readily swallow anything that has touched food (including knives, wooden skewers, toothpicks, string, butcher paper, plastic wrappers and more). And because the dogs usually know they aren’t supposed to have it, they tend to swallow things whole, where they can cause choking, perforations, burns or obstruction. Many of these won’t show up on an X-ray and could be deadly if you don’t specifically mention them to the vet.

Speaking of things that touch food, more than one dog has suffocated after getting its head stuck in an empty milk carton or plastic bag. Never leave these dangerous items out where any pet can get to them.

Certain house plants can also pose a threat. Many are irritating or even poisonous, so do a little Internet search before you bring home that potted sago palm, for example. Even silk plants can be a problem—a feline patient of mine once spent a week vomiting intermittently and was almost taken to surgery before finally passing a long silk “branch.” Ironically, poinsettia, which gets a lot of bad press around the holidays, is only a mild irritant.

Even dog toys aren’t always safe! The most common way dogs break teeth is chewing on items that were sold for that purpose—hard nylon “bones” are a major culprit, as are cow hooves, antlers, and bones, as well as rocks they pick up at home. And when a big dog grabs a toy meant for a small dog, it can pose a choking hazard or intestinal foreign body if swallowed.

Finally, anything poisonous to other animals— i.e., a “pest deterrent” targeting rodents, snails, insects, etc.—is also poisonous to a pet. Because most are sweet-tasting to increase their appeal to the target species, dogs will readily eat many toxic compounds. Cats are unlikely to eat such things, but if it’s spilled or scattered, they may walk through it then feel compelled to lick the residue off their feet. Because they are more sensitive to most chemicals than other animals, even this small amount could be deadly for a cat.

So how can you protect your pet from these “hidden” household hazards? The truth is, it’s impossible to think of everything. I’ve known dogs to break legs falling off the couch or playing in their own backyards. All we can do is to look at the world from the pet’s point of view and be careful with anything they might find appealing. I hope this article also serves as a good reminder that life is fleeting, pets can be silly, and we need to appreciate them and the love they give us, every day.

Lillian Roberts

Lillian Roberts, DVM, is the owner of Country Club Animal Clinic, which is located at 36869 Cook Street in Palm Desert. (760) 776-7555 countryclubdvm.com

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Leave Your Lasting Legacy

by Bart Verry

This past Spring, the Palm Springs Animal Shelter launched its Friends Forever Legacy Society. Comprised of individuals who have designated the shelter as a charitable beneficiary in their estate plans, this program was developed to provide an opportunity for these generous individuals to get together periodically, receive updates about what’s happening at the shelter and what’s in store for the future, and receive current information about some aspect of legacy planning or tax issues.

Legacy gifts are an important part of the future of the shelter. They provide restricted and unrestricted gifts to help us continue to help the thousands of animals that enter our doors every year. As we embark on a strategic plan, we are looking to expand our physical and programmatic footprint throughout Palm Springs and the entire Coachella Valley. Legacy gifts will help us achieve our big expansion dreams! We anticipate being able to share aspects of this strategic plan in early 2023.

When the Legacy Society was launched earlier this year, we identified 53 individuals who had informed us that the shelter was in their estate plans. Now, just a few months later, we have nearly 110 individuals who proudly serve as Legacy Society members. Two brunches have been organized this year, one in May at the new Modernism Museum in Palm Springs, and one in late October at the shelter. These continue to be excellent ways to engage members and provide updates on the shelter.

Two of our newest Legacy Society members are Jim Fundin and Rafael Lorenzo. They came to us earlier this year as they were finalizing details of their estate planning goals. “When we started thinking about our legacy, we wanted to include organizations that are near and dear to our hearts. The Palm Springs Animal Shelter was a logical choice for us, as we are huge animal lovers,” stated Fundin and Lorenzo. “The lack of 24-hour emergency care here in Palm Springs is something that is of great concern to us. As the shelter adopts a meaningful strategic plan for the future, we hope that our gift will help provide this critical service to the residents of Palm Springs and throughout the Coachella Valley.”

Leading the strategic planning effort is Dan Rossi, who joined the shelter this past February. “As my one-year anniversary as the Executive Director of the Palm Springs Animal Shelter approaches, I am continually impressed by what we do to care for animals in the Coachella Valley. Our staff and volunteers are top-notch and I am proud to work with this group each and every day,” shares Rossi. “Legacy gifts are key to our future, and I share my utmost appreciation to all of our Legacy Society members. As the former executive director of the Humane Animal Rescue of Pittsburgh, I led a huge expansion effort and cannot wait to work closely with our Legacy Society members, donors, volunteers and staff to spearhead the efforts here at the Palm Springs Animal Shelter.”

When putting together your estate plans, it can also be important to consider what happens to your pets when you are gone. Many organizations, including the Palm Springs Animal Shelter, have created Pet Protection Programs, which provide an opportunity for you to share detailed information about how you would like your animals taken care of upon your death. Typically, a charitable designation in your will or trust to the non-profit is required.

Compassionate. Progressive. Committed. Friends of the Palm Springs Animal Shelter (FPSAS) is a non-profit 501C (3) organization that manages and operates the open admissions Palm Springs Animal Shelter. FPSAS provides lifesaving services to the City of Palm Springs, Greater Coachella Valley and beyond.

FPSAS believes every animal deserves a loving, safe and healthy environment in which they can thrive. We transform lives through extraordinary animal care and advocacy. We inspire compassion and positive relationships between the community and animals through direct action and humane education.

For more information about the Palm Springs Animal Shelter, please visit our website at www.psanimalshelter.org.

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