The Animal Health Bulletin
Healing Springs Animal Hospital
Serving Family & Farm Since 1979
Dogs, Cats, Equine, Bovine, Small Ruminants, Camelid
Healing Springs Animal Hospital
107 Nuckolls Curve Rd
Galax, VA
(276) 236-5103


Volume II, Issue II

February 2006


        Research Shows Dogs Improve Self Esteem and Empathy in Children

        The Importance of Senior Wellness Screenings

        Greenies® Company Responds to Healing Springs

        Sheep Health Meeting at Galax Farm Supply (February 28)



Pet Portals Login






Research Shows Dog Ownership Improves Self Esteem and Empathy in Children


Various research projects have addressed the relationships between children and pets.  Ownership of dogs and cats has been connected with increased sense of responsibility, higher levels of empathy, and even higher IQ scores in children.  Some of these studies have suggested that it’s more than just having a pet in the house.  The benefits correlate with the amount of interaction the child has with the pet.  Recently, Robert Bierer, a PhD in Social Psychology and child counselor, conducted a study of dogs and children.


Bierer took a psychological profile of 126 school aged children at three different schools.  He found a strong correlation between higher levels of self-esteem and dog ownership.  He also found that children who owned dogs showed higher levels of empathy toward fellow children. 


The correlation was strongest in children aged 10 to 12.  Bierer commented “. . . this is when it really makes a big difference.  A dog doesn’t judge whether you’re right or wrong.  When you’re on your way into adolescence – which is a challenging time – having that secure base, that unconditional, nonjudgmental relationship with a dog is very helpful.” 


The higher ratings in empathy and self-esteem hold true whether the dog is considered the child’s dog or the family’s dog.  Other variables such as number of parents in the household and the presence of siblings also did not affect the positive effects attributed to dog ownership.


(Bierer, Robert E. “The Relationship Between Pet Bonding, Self-Esteem, and Empathy in Preadolescents.” Pub# 9993506, Arizona State University, 2000.)


While children are often attracted to puppies and kittens, Healing Springs Animal Hospital recommends that people also consider older dogs and cats as pets.  An older dog with a good temperament is less likely to nip a child and set the relationship off on a bad foot.  Other advantages of adopting older pets include:

  1. they are calmer, more self-confident, and more relaxed
  2. adult dogs are less likely to chew furniture
  3. adult dogs usually come house trained or are easier to house train than puppies

The Galax-Carroll-Grayson Animal Shelter near Felt’s Park has many eager to please dogs and cats up for adoption everyday.  They are open Tuesday through Saturday.  Call them at (276) 236-8501


Frontline Plus

Buy at Low Costs from Friendly Veterinarians







Dog Training hosted by Healing Springs


The Importance of Senior Wellness Screenings




The rationale for senior wellness screenings for dogs and cats is the same as the rationale for regular check-ups for older humans.  Early detection and treatment of common geriatric diseases can prevent permanent damage and organ failure. 


Cats and dogs do not show outward signs of kidney problems until more than 2/3 of the kidney function is lost!  Get Senior Wellness Exams for more timely detection and treatment.



Early detection can prolong the life and improve the well-being of your pet.  Many of the common geriatric problems in dogs and cats cause damage for a long time before they become evident to the owners.  Often times, only lab tests or professional examination can detect problems such as diabetes, kidney failure, and mammary cancer in a timely fashion. 


For instance, kidney dysfunction, if left untreated, can result in permanent damage or kidney failure.  Unfortunately, dogs and cats do not display outward signs of kidney dysfunction until more than 2/3 of the total kidney function is lost!  Any health management that works to prevent the disease, delays the age of onset, or slows the progression of the disease will help the animal live longer and enjoy a better life.


The leading geriatric conditions for dogs and cats include diabetes, arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, constipation (cats only), prostate problems (dogs only), dental problems, thyroid dysfunction, cataracts, deafness, renal disease, urinary tract infections, hypertension, and tumors.  Vets recommend that senior wellness screenings begin at 7 to 8 years of age for cats and dogs and that screenings continue every six months.  This corresponds to late middle-ages in humans and to the ages when many problems start developing in pets.  Large breed dogs live shorter lives, so their annual screenings should begin at 5 to 7 years of age.  As a general guideline, cats and dogs will benefit most from senior wellness screening when they have reached the last 25% of their life expectancy.


Because cats and dogs age so much faster than humans, veterinarians recommend senior wellness screenings twice per year.  Healing Springs’ senior wellness screening involves more testing than the typical focused exam and lab testing.  The broader range of testing will help ensure that you know about developing problems before they become clinical conditions.  The physical will include orthopedic testing, central nervous system evaluation, vital signs, pain assessment, dental assessment, skin evaluation, organ palpation, cardiopulmonary evaluation, rectal palpation (in dogs) and more.  An optional urinalysis including sediment examination will help identify developing kidney problems or a pre-diabetic state.  Blood testing will evaluate 13 different measures in dogs and 14 measures in cats.  If you have a senior cat or dog, call to schedule your senior wellness screening today: (276) 236-5103.


Your senior dogs need high quality food specially formulated for them.







Your senior cats need high quality food specially formulated for them.

Purrl Reedmore, the library cat of

Wythe-Grayson Regional Library now has her own website.  Check her out at





Greenies® Company Responds to Healing Springs


In February, Bradley Quest, a veterinarian with S&M Nu Tec, the manufacturer of Greenies®, responded to questions from the Animal Health Bulletin.  To see last month’s article, “The Grievance with Greenies®,” click here:



What is your response to claims that unmasticated pieces swell in the stomach rather than digesting?  What is your response to claims that the product is a choking hazard?  Digestibility testing with Greenies® show  them to be about 85% digestible when adequately chewed by dogs.  This is similar to most premium dog foods.  Obviously, if a dog swallows a large piece without chewing and it is larger than the diameter of the dog’s esophagus it could lodge in the esophagus.  This would be no different  than swallowing  a  large piece of meat.  The Greenies would not swell significantly either.


As far a large piece in the stomach, these would normally digest with no problem.  Again, it would take longer for a large piece to digest as opposed to small chewed up pieces.  It is simply a function of surface area of treat to contact digestive fluids and stomach mucosa.  The vast majority of dogs have no problem even if they swallow a large piece.  Is it possible for a dog to have a digestive problem if  it swallows a whole treat without chewing?  It is unlikely but possible just like with the large piece of meat, vegetable, or even fruit.


Can you compare the safety record of Greenies® to the safety record of other chewables such as Nylabone and rawhide? I can not speak about safety issues with other products but I can tell you that millions of Greenies®  are enjoyed every week by dogs with absolutely no problems.  Greenies® are the first dog treat in the world to have the Veterinary Oral Health Council’s Seal of Acceptance for plaque and tartar reduction.  No other manufacturer can say this.


Why should people give their pets chewable treats?  The best thing that pet owners can do at home is to brush their pet’s teeth.  Unfortunately, compliance with this is very low.  Professional cleaning at the vet’s office is good, but at most pet owner’s do that once a year if that often.  Since periodontal disease in pets is the number one underdiagnosed problem in veterinary medicine today, we need to address daily oral health maintenance with our pets to help them live long healthy lives.  That is how we position Greenies.  We have the dental testing to show that when used as labeled they will help reduce plaque and tartar buildup.  We also have the Lil Bits treats which are small bite sized pieces of the same ingredients and texture as Greenies but in small pieces.  We recommend them for dogs less than 6 months old, toy breeds less than 5 pounds, and dogs with a tendency to gulp food or treats.  We have excellent dental tests that show they also help reduce plaque and tartar.


Thank you to S&M Nu Tec / Greenies®

for a thoughtful, expert response to the concerns of some of our clients.


On February 26, Greenies® company notified Healing Springs that S&M NuTec has launched a website dedicated to health concerns surrounding the product:


See the dental chews recommended by the vets of Healing Springs.








Buy Treats and Nutritional Supplements recommended by our veterinarians.


Sheep Health Meeting at Galax Farm Supply


On Tuesday, February 28, at 6:00 PM, Galax Farm Supply will host an informational meeting for sheep owners and sheep producers.  Speakers will include Dr. David Redwine of the Haired Sheep Association and Heather Jenkins Brazzell, DVM of Healing Springs Animal Hospital.  Topics will include parasite control, nutrition, effective vaccination, sheep marketing, and much more.  Galax Farm Supply will serve dinner starting at 6:00.  Lectures will begin at 6:30.  The public is invited.  For questions, call Galax Farm Supply at 236-3721. 




The Animal Health Bulletin is a FREE service of

Healing Springs Animal Hospital

(276) 236-5103

107 Nuckolls Curve Rd

Galax, VA  24333


Visit our website at







Request an article topic. Click Here.

To ask questions about a specific pet, call Healing Springs at (276) 236-5103.


You have permission to forward this bulletin in its entirety to a friend.

If you did not receive the Animal Health Bulletin directly and would like to begin receiving them, simply enter your information for a free subscription:

Click here to subscribe.



Click here to subscribe, update your e-mail preferences or unsubscribe.


The Animal Health Bulletin is developed and distributed with the assistance of

Brazzell Marketing Agency specializing in healthcare marketing.



© BMA 2006