Microchipping Your Pet

Statistics show that more than 10 million dogs and cats are lost or stolen every year, according to the American Humane Association. Additionally, one in three pets will become lost at somMicrochipe point in his life.

We now have the capabilities and technology to help recover lost pets: Microchipping. A tiny microchip, about the size of a grain of rice, is inserted in the back of the neck of the animal via a needle; this causes only a slight discomfort to the animal. The chip is then programmed with your information such as name and phone number.

The registration of the microchip is very important and it is how your information gets programmed into the chip! Some veterinarians will register the chip for you, but whether you do it or your vet does it, make sure it gets done. The chip will do no good if it is not registered and programmed. Also, if you move or change phone numbers, make sure you update your information on the chip. If your pet is lost, all that has to be done is to scan the back of the neck with a special machine (this does not hurt the animal) and your information will be displayed. This can be done by a veterinarian or animal shelter that has the equipment.Scan

Of course, it’s important to train your dog well to help prevent him from escaping in the first place. But, as added security, it is well worth the money and time to also microchip your pet. Last Hope holds microchipping events where you can get your pet chipped for added security. The next microchipping event will be at the Cedar Rapids Petco on January 3rd, 2015 from 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM. Please come out to help make sure your pet will return home in the event of an escape or home emergency such as a fire.

If you would like to help Last Hope defray the costs of microchipping animals, please donate HERE.

Julia Black


It always breaks my heart when breeder surrenders come in with medical issues. The lack of care that we see with these dogs is horrible. And that’s just the dogs we see. Kellie is one of those dogs. Her foster sent me her story.20140923_130902

It has been a long road for my little foster dog, Kellie.  Most people fall in love with animals instantly when they see their cute little eyes, or the color of their coats, or their gestures or smiles (yes, dogs smile…have you seen it?)  But for the sake of our foster hearts, we gaze at them for only a moment, and go deeper.  For those who have had dogs (or cats) that have had some kind of medical problem, we all know quickly, as if by second nature.

Kellie is that kind of dog, you know, the kind with the beautiful eyes and the black shiny coat.  She came with a number of other dogs we had gotten from a owner surrender situation.  Another Shih-Tzu came with Kellie, who seemed to be bonded with her in a special way.  They came into my care from the same “breeder surrender” and at first I wondered if it could have been her pup, since Kellie is 7 years old, and the other was a lucky twelve months.

Kellie’s file documented that she was a brindle-colored, male Shih-Tzu.  This was not the case!  She is definitely black and white, and definitely female.  She looked pregnant…her belly was round and soft, her nipples seeping scarce amounts of milk.  She began to have bloody diarrhea so I took her to the vet who believed she had an intestinal problem.  He prescribed her various medications, but much to my dismay, things weren’t changing for Kellie.  I changed her diet to home-made food, and became a nurse.  Time sheets were important, posting when she ate, drank, and had accidents.  When the antibiotic prescribed was taken in full, I scheduled her for a spay procedure.

I became increasingly alert about her symptoms daily; while I had one prior foster, he did not have these symptoms.  On the morning of her spay, I looked at her, all curled up beside me in bed, smelling like Doritos.  Yes, Doritos!  I can’t tell you why or what, but my gut feeling was a definite negative about going to the doctor to get spayed.  She was still ill and weak.

I called the vet who was able to see her that day.  On top of her bloody diarrhea, she had developed a strange panting…the long, drawn-out kind which sounded like she couldn’t catch her breath.  She would frequently walk a few steps, but then would abruptly sit down..with her face drawn down two inches from the floor.   She began to choke which sounded something like a duck, and she’d run as if she was scared of the sound.  I got in the car and drove the seemingly eternal time to get to the doctor’s office!

The vet was perplexed.  He could not find any evidence to suggest problems with her tracheal tube, something another volunteer and I discussed the night prior.  He took blood samples and an x-ray which ruled out tracheal collapse.  When he came into the room a second time, I realized that my gut reaction to problems about animals could be trusted.  She had a chest x-ray which revealed her heart to look like a backwards capital D, and her diagnosis of congestive heart failure was made.  I felt like crying, and I would have, if I had not sat there holding this bundle of soft black and white fur.  He told me that it is a progressive disease, that she would never get better, or cured, but that there was medication she could take that would slow down the process.  She also had a stitch in her stomach which was apparently a stitch that didn’t disappear from her spay!

20140912_181628The following days and weeks went by, every day giving her what she needed in medication, food and love.  I thanked God that she would live another day when I got up in the morning, because I knew and still know that her days are numbered.  She slowly and surely got better.  She would go out for “walks” that required the few steps she would be able to grant.  She slept a lot and drank a lot.  I think it took the medication two to three weeks to clear the on-again-off-again honking sound of her cough.  She began to eat better.  She even rolled on her back.

Now, she has subluxing patellae on both hind legs, and I hear them pop every so often.  This will be something she will need to get fixed.  The last problem is that of menses.  She was not properly spayed, if indeed that was what happened from wherever we got her…the vet thinks that it was either a C-section or a term called ovarian remnant.

So, this is Kellie’s story.  It’s so amazing that every day when we get up, she wags her tail and comes to the kitchen to sit, patiently waiting for her medication dipped in peanut butter, hidden in yogurt, or smashed into turkey.  She is an amazing survivor and she is loved.

Because of our amazing foster homes we are able to save dogs like Kellie. (If you would like to foster click here.) Donate here today to continue helping dogs like Kellie.

Flea and Tick Prevention

Flea and tick prevention keeps your pet healthy. Your pet won’t pick up tapeworms or have flea bites that cause itching misery and flea allergy dermatitis. In addition, you can help prevent diseases that fleas and ticks carry such as Lyme Disease, ehrlichia, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and tick paralysis. Don’t let your pet get bitten by fleas when modern medicine has provided wonderfully effective and safe flea products.

Flea and tick preventatives can help your pet avoid:

  • Flea allergies
  • Hot spots
  • Biting adult fleas
  • Skin infections
  • Tapeworms
  • Lyme Disease
  • Ehrlichia
  • Rocky Mountain spotted fever
  • Fleas and ticks in your home


Fleas are insects that are ubiquitous in the environment – meaning they can be found almost everywhere. There are more than 2000 species of fleas, but the common cat flea (Ctenocephalides felis) is the one that most commonly afflicts dogs and cats.

A disease of concern that can be caused by fleas is flea allergy dermatitis (FAD), which is a severe allergic reaction to flea bites. Some pets are so allergic that even a single bite can cause a reaction. FAD makes pets miserable. In severe cases, it can cause severe itching and inflammation that, if left untreated, can lead to excessive scratching and chewing that can damage the skin. Secondary bacterial or fungal infections can develop as a result.

Fleas can also play a role in transmitting parasites, such as tapeworms, and bacterial diseases, such as cat scratch fever (bartonellosis), to humans.

Finally, in very severe infestations, particularly in old, ill, or young animals, fleas can remove so much blood through feeding that they can weaken the animal.

Fleas are prevalent throughout the United States. They prefer warm, humid conditions, so infestations are typically worst during mid to late summer and early fall. In some parts of the country, they can be a significant problem year round. Even during the cooler months, fleas can survive very well indoors once an infestation has been established.


Ticks are not insects, but they are closely related to spiders, scorpions, and mites. There are approximately 80 tick species found in the United States, but only a handful of them are of real concern to pets and people. Some of these include the brown dog tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineus), the deer tick (Ixodes scapularis), and the American dog tick (Dermacentor variabilis). The brown dog tick is the only species that can complete its entire lifecycle on a dog and can infest homes and kennels.

Tick bites can be painful and irritating, but the real concern with ticks is the number of serious diseases they can transmit, such as Lyme disease, babesiosis, anaplasmosis, ehrlichiosis, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. These diseases can cause significant illness and even death in both pets and people.

Ticks are found in virtually every region of the United States. They are most prevalent in the early spring and late fall, although some species are well adapted to temperature extremes and can be found any time of year. In general, however, they prefer dark, moist, brushy places in which to lay their eggs.

Flea and tick prevention is very important for the health of your pet and your family. The best way to ensure the prevention of flea and ticks is to treat your pet year-round. It is relatively inexpensive, but the costs add up for Last Hope because we treat all of our dogs and cats. In order to help us continue to keep our animals pest-free, please donate HERE.

Julia Black


Allie came to us after her health issues caused the breeder who had her to relinquish her. She’s been with us for nearly a year now. Her foster mom has been helping to cover her expenses but even with that help Last Hope has still spent nearly $2,500 on Allie’s care. But as Allie’s foster mom told me “she has repaid {us} in love many times over!”

Allie came to Last Hope foster care in January of 2014. She was a breeder girl who, because she Allie1developed diabetes, the breeder released her. She spent the first almost 6 years of her life in a cage having puppies. She was in such rough shape, underweight and her diabetes was not regulated at all. Her blood panel was all out of whack. The vet had suggested doing the Cushings test and having an ultrasound done to make sure she didn’t have any tumors. We did an ultrasound and did not find any tumors but her adrenal glands and liver were enlarged so they also suspected the Cushings Disease. She also found a heart murmur she thinks it may be a leaky aortic valve. Not a problem now but will want to watch as she gets older.

Cushings Disease means that her body produces to much of the hormone Cortisol. In abnormally high amounts, cortisol thins the pet’s skin and increases hair shed leading to baldness. It can even cause deposits of calcium to form in the skin.

We aren’t sure if the Diabetes caused the Cushings or vice versa. She had no hair on her ears or tail and the hair she did have was very fine/thin. We were also having a hard time controlling the diabetes and that is a sign of the Cushings Disease.

First thing we did was get the diabetes regulated and try to get some weight on her. She is on a Denamarin Chew daily. The insulin is Novalin NPH 2.5 units twice a day. She just had her Spay, dental surgery and a growth removed at Anamosa last month and she has had 5 or 6 ACTH Stim test to measures if her Cushings meds are working. She will need another one of those tests next month.

Allie Before & After Oct 2014She loves to be held and follows me around all over. She will lay next to my chair when I’m working in the office and will also follow my pups. She’s such a happy little girl and will always potty outside, she has figured that out. I keep the diaper on her because she does tend to have accidents if I don’t get her out in time or if she drinks a lot of water due to the diabetes and Cushings.

Reading all this she sounds like a total wreck but looking at her she is such a happy little girl. She will paw at you to pet her and nudges you with her nose to make sure you are still there. She will run around the house and tilt her little head listening if she looses track of where I went & she LOVES FOOD!

Crystal Black

As you can see from the before and after picture, Allie has made an amazing transformation. With out the love her foster mom provided and the support from Last Hope this little girl may never have gotten this chance. To help support Last Hope donate here today. Help dogs like Allie get their second chance!

Bordetella or Kennel Cough

Kennel cough is most often caused by the Bordetella virus that is easily passed from dog to dog through the air. Just like the human cold, Bordetella is very contagious so it is very important to get your dog vaccinated against it, especially if your dog is around other dogs on a regular basis.

kennelBordetella will cause a dry, hacking cough that appears about three to seven days after the dog is infected. It sounds as if the dog needs to clear its throat and is triggered by any extra activity or exercise.

Many dogs that acquire the virus will cough every few minutes, all day long. They generally will not run a fever or have a loss of appetite but the constant coughing is irritating to both the dog and the dog’s family. The illness lasts about 7 to 21 days and the vast majority of dogs will recover without need for medication.

Last Hope always vaccinates its dogs against Bordetella because, although it’s rarely fatal, it is very unpleasant for the dog and it is so easily transmitted.

Help us continue to vaccinate against Bordetella by donating here.

Julia Black



I first heard Mason’s story about a month ago when he first came to us. But for one volunteer, it started nearly a year ago. 

Lori had been watching this dog run the fields out side Vinton for nearly a year. She tried every trick she could think of to gain his trust. But nothing seemed to work. Mason

Then one day we received a call from the Vinton shelter. They had a dog that had been hit by a car and needed surgery and wanted to know if we could help. Of course we agreed and Lori went out to transport the dog to our vets office. Much to her surprise, it was the same dog she had been chasing for months.

Mason had broken both bones in his front leg. After a few x-rays he had plates put into his leg. The total cost was over $1,700. He was moved into a foster home to heal up and get ready for his new home.

Just this week Mason went to his new forever home! He loves his new mom and dad already!

Mason FamilyWhile Mason may have spent a year on the run it looks like he will settle right in in his new home! Thanks to Last Hope he will be able to run and play with his family just like any other dog. To help Last Hope continue to help dogs like Mason donate here today!

Crystal Black

The Importance of Rabies Vaccinations

All states in the United States require pets to be vaccinated against the rabies virus and ours is no exception. But besides being the law, there are other important reasons to vaccinate your pets.

The symptoms of rabies are visible in one or several stages. With most animals, the virus will spread through the nerves of the bitten animal toward the brain. The virus is relatively slow moving and the average time of incubation from exposure to brain involvement is between 3 to 8 weeks in dogs, 2 to 6 weeks in cats, and 3 to 6 weeks in people. However, incubation periods as long as 6 months in dogs and 12 months in people have been reported. After the virus reaches the brain it then will move to the salivary glands where it can be spread through a bite. After the virus reaches the brain the animal will show one, two, or all of the three different phases.

ShotThe first is the prodromal phase and usually lasts for 2-3 days in dogs. Apprehension, nervousness, anxiety, solitude, and a fever may be noted. Friendly animals may become shy or irritable and may snap, whereas, aggressive animals may become affectionate and docile. Most animals will constantly lick the site of the bite. In cats, the prodromal phase lasts for only 1-2 days and they usually develop more fever spikes and erratic behavior than dogs.

From the prodromal phase, animals may enter the furious stage; cats are particularly prone to developing this phase. The furious stage of the disease in dogs usually lasts for 1 to 7 days. Animals become restless and irritable and are hyperresponsive to auditory and visual stimuli. As they become more restless, they begin to roam and become more irritable and vicious. When caged, dogs may bite and attack their enclosures. Animals progress to become disoriented and then have seizures and eventually die.

Animals may develop the paralytic phase either after the prodromal or furious stage. The paralytic phase usually develops within 2 to 4 days after the first signs are noted. Nerves affecting the head and throat are the first to be involved and animals may begin to salivate as a result of their inability to swallow. Deep labored breathing and a dropped jaw may result as the diaphragm and facial muscles become increasingly paralyzed. Animals may make a choking sound and many owners think that there is something lodged in the dog’s throat. The animal will get weaker and eventually go into respiratory failure and die.

There is no treatment. Once the disease develops in humans, death is almost certain. Only a handful of people have survived rabies after extremely intensive medical care. There have been several reported cases of dogs surviving the infection, but they are very rare.

Vaccination is the best way to prevent infection and properly vaccinated animals stand very little chance of contracting the disease. While rabies vaccination for dogs is mandatory for all states, it is estimated that up to half of all dogs are not vaccinated. Some communities are also requiring cats to be vaccinated, which is very important because there are currently more cases of cat rabies than dog rabies. Some people estimate that less than ten percent of the cat population is vaccinated thus leading to the high incidence of rabies in cats. The standard vaccination protocol is to vaccinate cats and dogs at three or four months and then again at one year of age. A year later, a three-year rabies vaccination is recommended. The three-year vaccine has been tested and shown to be very effective.

All of our animals are vaccinated against Rabies. Please donate here to help us continue.

Julia Black