February’s Special Events

LET’S MOVE ON FROM JANUARY. For me January is the longest month of the year. Not certain if it is the shorter daylight or the freezing cold, or like this year the blizzard conditions but I am very glad to put it in the review mirror. February being the shortest month of the year even though 2024 is a leap year is full of pet events. Our profession has done a great job of promoting February as Dental health Month for our furry friends. Let’s look at other fun events that this month holds.

  • Dog Training Education Month
  • National Cat Health Month
  • National Prevent a Litter Month
  • Adopt a Rescued Rabbit Month
  • Responsible Pet Owners Month
  • Feb 2nd: Hedgehog Day (Groundhog Day)
  • Feb 2nd: Golden Retriever Day
  • Feb 3rd: Doggie Date Night
  • Feb 7th-14th: Have a Heart for Chained Dogs Week
  • Feb 14th:  Pet Theft Awareness Day
  • Feb 18th-24th: National Justice for Animals Week
  • Feb 20th: National Love Your Pet Day
  • Feb 22nd: National Walking the Dog Day
  • Feb 22nd: National Wildlife Day (also celebrated in September)
  • Feb 23rd: International Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day
  • Feb 27th: International Polar Bear Day
  • Feb 28th: World Spay Day

The most known celebration would be Groundhog Day on February 2nd each year. I discovered while looking at the history of this event that Punxsutawney Phil and Polk County Paula (yes we have our own celebrity in Iowa!) are only right 40% of the time. If you use their predictions on how many more weeks of winter, you might be disappointed. The Farmer’s Almanac may be more reliable but even that has had a rocky road when it comes to predictions. I believe only the Creator knows and He smiles down as we place our hope in these traditions.

One day I do want to acknowledge in the month of February is Golden Retriever Day. I am aware that multiple breeds have a special day but this one holds a special place in my heart. Our coach shown here was our first family dog. Our kids grew up with him and he left a permanent mark on their lives.

Our first-born child, Jaclyn, chose to follow the tradition and got Ciggy 7 months before our granddaughter was born. It has been a joy watching July grow up with Ciggy. It has brought back many fun memories of watching her mom grow up with Coach. We are only 2 ½ years into this new relationship but they are very bonded. I decided to do a photo drop of Ciggy and July through the last few years. You will see not only that I have one of the cutest granddaughters but also that Ciggy has been an exceptional companion for her. From the moment she came home he has showered her with snuggles and wet kisses. Get ready for some adorable photos and some “Nene pride and joy”.

February 3rd is Doggie Date Night. This could be a fun event during the cold days of winter to plan a special event with your dog. Maybe you could have a dog get together with friends. Maybe you could plan a date at the local dog park. Maybe taking them on a weekend getaway would help break the boredom of long winter days and nights. Lots of hotels are allowing pets access to certain rooms in their buildings. Most have outdoor areas for elimination. They have realized if they want to attract pet loving customers they need to be more open to their fur babies.

I would also like to highlight the February 20th National Love Your Pet Day. Take a great photo of you and your pet or pets between now and then. On the 20th post those photos and let’s show the world how important our animal friends are in our lives. If you have lost a pet recently, share a photo in memory of them. Tell us why they are/were important in your life. With all the negativity in our world lets flood social media with positive messages.

I cannot forget to mention Feb 28th World Spay Day. Since 1988 I have been in the veterinary profession. When I began practicing, we often did wait to spay/neuter cats and dogs. I am seeing a trend in the current pet owner population to wait. These decisions are for various reasons, and I will not go into those here today. I want to comment that the behavioral issues and health implications of waiting needs to be factored into the decision to wait. Dogs and cats that are left intact are going to be more “worldly” in their mannerisms. They are constantly distracted by the environment around them and less tuned into their humans. This is instinctive and they cannot prevent it. If you are questioning whether to spay/neuter early or delay, speak with your veterinarian. The resources are great online to educate yourself about this topic. Your veterinarian would be an even better resource. Most breeders have experiences that may impact their preferences. Friends and family as resources can be helpful but don’t rely only on what others say or think. Make these important decisions for yourself and your pet based on what situations are happening in your life. Our world has shelters that are overcrowded with adult dogs and cats that come from all walks of life. Be a responsible pet owner and avoid unwanted litters by spaying your dog or cat.

1993… Jaclyn and our golden retriever, Coach

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

January weather has been less than normal but what a great opportunity to travel safely over the holidays. I have been mulling over what my blog topics should be this year. I have covered many different subjects over the last 7 1/2 years. Interesting to note that the “Hacking Cats” blog has had one of the highest hits on the great wide web! Guess we know what gets cat owners frustrated or concerned regularly.

I was looking for topics and discovered there are over 150 different pet holidays in a calendar year. I was curious to see what all those could be. January alone has 8 days designated as a pet holiday along with being labelled “Walk Your Dog month and “National Train Your Dog” month. Each special event has a website you can explore to get involved. The information is designed to help strengthen the bond between your dog and family. I have never heard a client say they regretted training their dog or going for walks with their dog. Both activities help your dogs and yourself stay healthier which improves everyones quality of life.

I will list the celebrations that are coming up in January. It was interesting to see the variety of celebrations that you can participate in this month. I was just curious about some of them so will highlight those here. Feel free to do your own research to learn more about these days in January.

  • January  2nd  – National Pet Travel Safety Day
  • January  5th   – National Bird Day
  • January  8th   – National Labrador Retriever Day
  • January 14th  – National Dress Up Your Pet Day
  • January 21st  – Squirrel Appreciation Day
  • January 22nd – National Answer Your Cat’s Question Day
  • January 24th  – Change a Pet’s Life Day
  • January 29th  – Seeing-Eye Guide Dog Birthday

Each of these has their own website giving history about the celebration. January 29th commemorates the date “The Seeing Eye” was incorporated in Nashville, TN in 1929. This organization is the oldest existing guide dog school in the world. New Jersey is the location of the current campus that includes not only administration and training centers, but also houses an adult breeding center with puppies that are kept there until 8 weeks of age. These puppies are monitored early for behavioral and physical concerns that could prevent them from being guide dogs for the blind. Not all puppies that begin the program graduate. This is one reason, of many, that it is not recommended that you purchase a puppy and have it trained. One person who did that exact thing stated, “After spending over $20,000 to train a service dog for my son we were left with a very expensive pet.” Be cautious if a trainer indicates they can train your puppy to be a service dog. It is not that easy and failure rates are high even with dogs from an organization like The Seeing Eye.

January 21st – Squirrel Appreciation Day – Never knew there was a day to appreciate squirrels. Many people and dogs get frustrated with squirrels. They are mischievous and crafty – acrobatic and entertaining all at the same time. There are 3 types of squirrels listed on this website worth noting: flying squirrels, tree squirrels, and ground squirrels. Ground squirrels include the chipmunks, groundhogs, marmots, and prairie dogs. Flying squirrels are unique in that they are nocturnal and difficult to see as they glide from tree to tree. Be sure to put out some extra corn to honor these creatures Sunday, January 21st.

National Bird Day is on January 5th. I had difficulty finding much history on this celebration but activities surrounding this day include birdwatching, studying birds, and even adoption. A bird owner must be prepared for screaming, biting, continual clean up, special dietary needs, and social interactions on a daily basis. Some birds can like parrots and Macaws can live 35-50 years. You thought a dog or cat required a long commitment.

During this long month of winter get out and celebrate one or more of these occasions. There are many species of birds that winter here in Madison County. Bundle up and head outside to see and listen for squirrel and bird activity. Dress up your pet on January 14th and post a picture on Facebook for all to see. Let’s enjoy this month as the days are getting longer and we are one day closer to spring.

Forever in our Hearts – FURITOE

At Winterset Veterinary Center we have the joy of spending our days with creatures great and small. We lost a special one suddenly today when Furitoe wandered out into harm’s way and was instantly killed. He will be remembered for his extra large feet and fluffy furry hair coat. He was born in April 2020 and came with his brother, Cheetoe, to work in the Customer Relations department at Winterset Veterinary Center. He took his job seriously and made a point of sitting on people’s jackets, purses, papers to get attention. He would chew on zippers and strings forcing a hand to pet him. He found joy in greeting customers and their pets as they entered our building daily.

The staff at Winterset Veterinary Center were constantly entertained by his interest in flushing toliets, dripping water faucets, empty boxes, etc. He would suddenly appear out of a closed cupboard during an appointment to the surprise of everyone in the room. He was a great retiever of toys. Throw a toy and he would bring it back to you as many times as you were willing to throw it. He loved a good belly rub and a warm lap to sit on.

Furitoe and Cheetoe often gave us photo/video opportunities that we shared on Facebook with our friends. Many of these friends only became  friends because of how adorable these two brothers have been. The photos shown here are just a small sample of a day in the life of Furitoe. We are deeply saddened by his passing and he will be missed tremendously by his brother, Cheetoe and all the staff,  clients,  and Facebook friends of Winterset Veterinary Center. 

If you have a special memory you would like to share we would love to hear it. Furitoe lived his life fast and was full of joy each day that he was on this earth. We know we will see him again someday at the Rainbow bridge and look forward to that soft nose, extra large feet, and soft fluffy hair coat that made him so huggable and loveable.

Final Blog of 2023

Where has 2023 gone? Long ago I was told that time goes faster as we age. I now understand that concept. Of course, we know that scientifically time is consistent but boy there are times I swear hours turn into minutes. This blog will cover multiple items since lots has happened since the last blog.

FIRST, let’s have a quick note on the mysterious canine respiratory disease. I believe the news has covered this well over the last few weeks. Unfortunately, we do not have an exact cause or cure at this time. The veterinary community is working on cases and diagnostics and treatment for this new condition. What we do know is that dogs in close contact with other dogs can spread this by sharing bowls, coughing, sneezing, licking another dog. Therefore, activities where dogs gather in close proximity to one another can spread the disease. They believe it is not a virus so finding the right antibiotics for treatment is crucial going forward. Dogs cough for lots of reasons. Please do not jump to conclusions that your dog has this disease just because it coughs. The disease does cause lethargy, fever, nasal discharge, cough, and potentially pneumonia. These dogs are sick. The cough is persistent it does not come and go. For instance, there are dogs that cough only when they get excited or only when they have been laying down. This would not correlate with this mystery respiratory disease. If you are concerned about your dog’s cough, please contact your veterinarian to find out how they want to proceed with diagnostics and treatment. Give the veterinary profession time to explore this new disease and we will surely share our findings once we have concrete information about it.

SECOND,  we have had a successful launch of the Librela osteoarthritis injection. The November blog goes into more detail about this new mode of treatment. We have had a few clients that have returned for the 2nd injection and have been pleased with the positive changes in their aging dogs. Comments such as – my dog is running and playing with the other dogs more, I saw my dog jump onto the couch again, my dog is getting up off the floor easier, etc. Our goal is to help dogs age more gracefully and with less pain. If you have seen changes in your dog’s mobility please consider a course of injections to see if LIbrela can help them. Let’s make life as easy as possible for them in their senior years.

THIRD, please continue flea and tick medication year-round. I realize in the past once the cold weather arrived we stopped. Well, this last summer we had 11 positive lyme disease cases. Compare that to only 1 case in 2022. A significant increase. Why you might ask? Our winters do not have snow on the ground like years ago. If there is no snow, the deer ticks are out and active. Our dogs are out in the woods and tall grasses with them. Let’s stop the spread of these tick borne disease by protecting our dogs all year long. Once a dog gets lyme disease, it’s body does not clear it after that. We see kidney disease in older dogs related to positive lyme cases. Protect your pets and keep them on flea and tick prevention.

FOURTH, with holiday gatherings our pets are at higher risk of poisonings. Finding chocolate goodies or packages with edible items is a common reason for a emergency call during this time of year. We also see higher cases of stomach issues from vomiting and diarrhea because of eating items we normally would not feed our pets. Please refrain from offering different food items to your pets during the holidays. No one wants to spend the holidays in the ER with your dog.

FIFTH, and final thought for 2023….

THANK YOU FOR ALLOWING WINTERSET VETERINARY CENTER TO SERVE YOU AND YOUR FURRY FRIENDS. WE ARE SO GLAD THAT YOU CHOSE US TO CARE FOR YOUR PETS AND LIVESTOCK. OUR SUCCESS COMES FROM THE TRUST AND CONFIDENCE YOU PLACE IN US.

WE HOPE ALL OF YOU HAVE A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS. AS 2024 ROLLS IN AND WE BEGIN A NEW YEAR, WINTERSET VETERINARY CENTER WILL HAVE ITS 40TH BIRTHDAY. THAT IS SOMETHING TO BE CELEBRATED.

SEE YOU NEXT YEAR!

Osteoarthritis in Dogs

A few months ago, I wrote a blog introducing a new product for cats with osteoarthritis. This month I want to introduce a product for dogs with osteoarthritis. This product is called LIBRELA. It is a monoclonal antibody that blocks the receptors that lead to chronic pain in arthritic joints. The product for cats is called Solensia. We have had that for almost a year. Our clients have indicated their cats do feel better and are more active after receiving their monthly injections for arthritis.

We are excited to offer this new product. It is a more natural form of therapy in relation to our non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) drugs like carprofen or tramodol. This monthly injection does not have the same side effects that NSAID’s are known to cause over the months and years of usage. We will not have an immediate response on day 1 but over the course of the next 5-7 days improvements have been noted. The literature indicates the best benefits have been seen after 3 monthly consecutive dosages. It is important to commit to doing 3 months in a row to evaluate the positive changes seen in your dog’s mobility.

The following checklist is used to determine if your dog may be a good candidate for Librela. Sometimes these changes are so gradual that we do not recognize our dog may be dealing with arthritis. It is well noted that dogs are great at covering up their pain because they have such a high desire to bring joy to our lives. This product may be the right choice for you to bring back some pain free joy to their lives.

We are requiring lab work for our patients that have not had blood work in the last year prior to starting the Librela injections. Once we have done that, the injections are available to you monthly for as long as you feel your dog benefits from them. Most of our cat customers are showing signs of needing the next shot by 3.5 weeks. They get the injection and quickly start showing an interest in jumping up and down, climbing stairs, and zooming around once again. If you are tired of offering daily medications for joint pain or do not feel the medications are completely helping, maybe it is time to try a new approach. The research indicates most dogs and cats have some form of osteoarthritis by age 3-5. Imagine what the senior pets are dealing with in relationship to join pain and stiffness.

If you are interested in this new form of treatment for arthritis for your dog or cat, please reach out to us to set up an appointment. Let us help your pet have a more enjoyable holiday experience this year and be more active in 2024.

Tick Diseases on the Rise

During this season we love to go out walking in the woods or wandering off the beaten path to enjoy the fall colors. The temperatures are perfect for our pets to enjoy the great outdoors. The challenge is the threat for us and our pets when it comes to tick borne diseases. We all think of ticks and fleas in the spring -summer seasons but the deer tick have a very active fall cycle as well. In May 2017 I wrote a blog called “Spring has Come”. The main focus was on the tick borne diseases of Lyme, Erlichiosis, and Anaplasmosis. These are the 3 main tick diseases we currently see in our canine patients in this area. If interested in reading more about those diseases, please follow this link to my previous blog.

As I stated in the blog 5 years ago, year-round prevention for fleas and ticks is needed. Our climate changes are creating a perfect opportunity for deer ticks to spread disease in all seasons. January and February of 2023 we had many days with no snow on the ground. Now don’t get me wrong, I am happy when there is no snow, but the deer ticks are even more excited about that. They will continue to be active and searching out hosts to continue their life cycle. I spoke with a taxidermist who indicated he must leave the deer in his freezer for 1 month before the ticks will be killed. Do you know of any other living creature that could sustain 30 days in a freezer?

In 2023 checking our client’s dogs for tick borne diseases, we have had 10 positive cases. That is 10 more than last year. This tells me we need to do a better job of tick prevention. These 10 cases were dogs of all sizes and some live within the city limits. If you live in Madison County, ticks are everywhere all year-round. Do not be fooled into thinking the weather has changed and we no longer need to do flea/tick prevention. WE DO NEED TO PROTECT OUR FURRY FRIENDS FROM THESE TICK BORNE DISEASES. The following images show the 3 common infections in our country. It is obvious that we are not in the heaviest infected regions but we are not far behind. Please protect each and every pet!

I am often surprised by people who move to Iowa and are not familiar with the tick-borne diseases. They have been made to believe that these tick diseases are no risk for their pets if living in Arizona or Montana for instance. I look at these maps and disagree totally with those statements. With people traveling across our great nation with their canines we are going to see these diseases on the rise in all areas of the country. Here in Iowa ticks have always been a threat to our dogs. In the last decade we have been fortunate to have new products that work better than the topicals of the past. These new oral products cover from their nose to their tail. No more sticky substances on their skin. No more issues with bathing or swimming. No more issues with grooming or thick hair coats that make it difficult to get the product to the skin. No more skin reactions from the topical products. A new generation of products that really can protect our furry friends.

My favorite product is Bravecto for flea and tick prevention. It is a 12 week chewable or dermally absorbed topical, if your pet is finicky, that goes internally. It has been on the market close to 10 years with minimal side effects. Over 250,000 million doses have been sold worldwide in 90 countries. Bravecto starts killing fleas previously on dogs within 2 hours and ticks within 4 hours. If a dog has Bravecto already in place ticks rarely attach and if attached quickly dry up. A flea will only bite once before dying which is great for flea allergic dogs who have major skin reactions each time the flea bites them. The chewable product must be given with a meal of food to help break it down to assure proper absorption for the 12 weeks. The topical product is applied to the skin and dermally absorbs. Once dry it can be removed through bathing and combing. The dog product is available in both forms, but the cat product is only topical. I think they knew cats will not typically eat something new when it is presented to them.

The side effects of this new class of preventions, in the isoxazoline family, are few. Reports of seizure like activity are seen in 1 out of 10,000 dogs. Now don’t get me wrong- when that is your dog– you are worried. I had one of those dogs. I verified it with 2 doses of bravecto 3 months apart. Within 10-14 days after the dosage was given I saw a seizure. I then returned to a monthly topical. He was fine from that point forward. The seizures will not continue if you stop the product. I was disappointed I could not use the oral Bravecto since it has been such a great preventative for Winterset Veterinary Center for the last many years. My cats are on Bravecto and I love the 3 month duration. This makes it much easier to not miss a dose. We are all busy so the less we have to remember each month the better.

A close second to the Bravecto, is another isooxazoline product called Simparica Trio. It contains a heartworm and intestinal parasite prevention along with the flea and tick aspect of it. It must be given each month but is extremely successful preventing these tick borne diseases as well. It also is in a chewable format that dogs love.

I do not care what flea/tick prevention you use but please do it year-round in Madison County Iowa. If you find ticks on your dogs or cats that are attached and feeding, they are at risk for these tick-borne diseases. Once they are infected, they never clear the infection from their bodies. There are many other products besides those I have named here. Ask your veterinarian how to prevent tick borne diseases in your area. If we can stop the ticks from feeding on our pet’s we will stop the threat of tick-borne diseases in our furry friends as well. Do your part and start year-round flea and tick prevention. Enjoy the fall weather and beautiful colors.

Still Sharp After 35 Years

May, 1988 was a big day in Dr. Jim’s and my life. This month commemorates our graduation from Iowa State College of Veterinary Medicine as certified Doctors of Veterinary Medicine. At that time, we had completed 21 and 20 years of education. I had chosen not to get a Bachelor degree prior to being admitted to Vet School and was lucky enough to get accepted. I had known since age 10 that was my career choice and at 25 years of age, I had accomplished that goal.

My career path took me from Iowa to St. Cloud, MN right after graduation. My husband, Dan, and I spent the next 12 years in that area before returning to the Des Moines area in 2000. In 2004, we made the decision to move to Winterset and I reconnected with my classmate, Dr. Jim. He was going through some staff changes at WVC in 2007 and asked if I wanted a job. The rest is history and I have been here for 16 years.

As we enter veterinary school our education covers all species of animals. I had grown up on a farm and anticipated doing large and small animal practice. During my senior year of veterinary school, I started thinking about driving around the countryside in a blizzard. It was not appealing. I do not like to be cold. I am very directionally challenged. My days before GPS were often plagued with wrong turns and lost moments. How would I find these remote locations in the country? Staying in a climate-controlled building with heat in the winter and air conditioning in the summer was a better fit. I also considered the physical challenges large animal practice would bring. During my early years of practice, a giant breed dog was extremely rare. Today a dog weighing > 100 lbs is much more common. I am starting to realize my limitations when wrestling with dogs on nail trims and exams who may not be fans of strangers checking them over. Always grateful when owners are willing to assist during these moments.

I asked Dr Jim to share a few words about himself and his 35 years at Winterset Veterinary Center.

I grew up on a farm in Carroll County raising cattle, hogs, corn and beans. After high school I went to ISU majoring in Agronomy and Animal Science. Not knowing which direction to go, I applied to vet school after earning my degree in Animal Science and was accepted into ISU college of Veterinary Medicine. I joined Dr. Ken Henrichsen here in Winterset in 1988, four years after he opened Winterset Veterinary Center. He retired in 2007, when Dr Lonna then joined me. I have been happily practicing medicine for 35 years now. How time flies. My son Samuel was born weeks after our move here—man he is getting old!

We have witnessed so many changes in the practice of vet medicine since we graduated from school! For me, the biggest (best) change was cell phones. When I started here, being on call meant staying home by the phone for emergencies. The cell phone meant that I could go sit in the bleachers to watch my kid’s activities or go to a friend’s house for the evening. I also could do so much more communicating than the Motorola two-way radio in my truck. Computers also helped immensely with better record keeping, communication, and accounting. Digital x-ray is so much faster, safer, and cleaner than the old films and developer tanks in the dark room. Technology continues to give us more excellent tools and medicines for diagnostics and treatments. We have also had to keep more detailed records for compliance for governmental regulations—not complaining, but we would be buried without computer tracing and memory. Dr. Lonna talks about how the importance of social media in making people aware of your practice is one of her biggest changes. It is important to have a presence through a website and other social media sites like Facebook. Many clients find us from their cell phone google search and not a yellow page ad in the local phone book. Does anyone even have those anymore?

We have seen so many puppies come here and mature for long happy healthy lives and then come for the last visit. So many clients had kids grow up with mine, and now have their own families and pets or livestock that we now serve. I have had a very rewarding 35 years at the Winterset Vet Center. Dr Lonna has enjoyed her 16 years here and we want to celebrate these milestones.

Since the practice will be turning 40 years old next year, we have decided to have a big celebration on September 21, 2023, at St. Joseph Catholic Church. We will have the cattlemen and pork producers cooking up meat. We have ordered cookies from Bakery Unlimited. We will borrow an ice cream machine from our longtime friend, John LaFratte. We hope to see many of our clients and partners join us for this event. We could call it a customer appreciation event, but it is more than that. We have been together in community for the last 4 decades and want to celebrate our friendships and partnerships. We will start serving at 5:00 pm and hope to have everyone through by 7:00 pm. Come, eat, and share memories of our years together. We look forward to seeing you on Thursday, September 21st, at St. Joseph Catholic Church.

There are many changes that have taken place over the years for both of us. As you can see from the photos early on verses recently. The one thing that has not changed is our desire to treat our patients as if they are one of our own. We also cherish the relationships we have built over the years. One celebration could never be enough to thank each and everyone of you for entrusting us with your critters big and small.

STILL SHARP AFTER 35 YEARS AND LOOKING FORWARD TO THE FUTURE!

What’s New for Arthritis for Our Pets!

Cats are not small dogs! This is a statement that I have used many times over the years. They are unique in their health issues and aging concerns. This is very prevalent in therapies for osteoarthritis (OA). We have been using multiple different therapies for dogs for arthritis for years. Cats cannot be given many of those medications.  

What is OA? This impacts the joints of our dogs and cats often anytime after 3- 5 years of age. The cartilage is worn down and bone rubs against bone. This cartilage is a protective layer within the joints. As this layer is broken down the body attempts to stabilize the joint and lays down more bone. As you can imagine this new layer of bone causes pain with movement. This pain turns into chronic pain and our pets start laying around more. Sometimes we mistake this as a normal aging change. With less activity we see additional weight gain. With additional weight we have more painful joints. This creates a vicious cycle that limits a pet’s mobility and happiness. In September 2019 I wrote a blog about obesity and how that impacts OA: Obesity and Arthritis on the Rise — Is there a Connection?

Cats are great at hiding their pain. They will sleep more. Choose not to jump up and down from objects. Stop doing stairs or limiting those activities. Sometimes not using the litter box can be related to joint pain. The location of the box, the height of the box, a hood on the box, etc. are all things that may be impacting OA and cause a cat not to use their box. People are always aware of pain when they see a limp but with these other subtle changes the OA pain can be missed.

Up until recently for cats with OA we could offer diets with glucosamine. Supplements with glucosamine for daily administration. Adequan injections administered weekly to monthly as needed for joint pain. Corticosteroids which have multiple negative side effects over time for OA. None of these treatments were as beneficial or convenient as we would have liked for our feline patients. Let me tell you what has changed.

SOLENSIA is a new monoclonal antibody injectable formula created especially for our feline patients. It has been out since the first of the year. This is the first approved long term injectable treatment for osteoarthritis in cats. It is a natural form of therapy. In cats that have received the injections their owners are returning for additional injections each month. The owners have noticed that their cats are doing activities that they were not doing before the injections. It can take up to 1 week for the body to respond to the injection. The best response is often seen after 3 monthly injections have been given. We hope that this will improve the lives of our feline patients and their owners. No one wants to give a cat a pill and cats are often very suspicious of new foods offered with medications in them. The injection is seamless and as of now we have had no side effects reported. The most common side effects reported during the clinical trial were sensitivity at the injection site and vomiting. We have seen none of this since we started offering these monthly injections.

If you think your cat is showing signs of pain associated with arthritis, we highly recommend an exam with your veterinarian.  Discuss with them the signs and symptoms and determine if SOLENSIA is right for your favorite feline friend.  Some diagnostics may be recommended prior to starting the injections. The goal of ours is to help our feline friends have pain free senior years. One client indicated that the shots allowed her cat to jump up onto the counter once again. That was one behavior she could have done without. 😊

A little side note to our discussion today on cat OA. The same company that brought us SOLENSIA is set to release a similar product for dogs called LIBRELA. We hope to have it available sometime later this fall. We will certainly notify clients when available. With each passing year we find more effective and safer products to help our furry friends live long healthy lives. Our goal is to extend their lives and allow them to bring more joy into yours.

Stay cool and please drive safely as our kids head back to school.

STYLOHYOID OSTEOARTHROPATHY???

“Never heard of that before” was my response when told that Hughy, a 19-year-old quarter horse gelding, was diagnosed with this last month. Our daughter sold him to an amazing family in 2019 after she went off to college. We all figured he had lots of years left to help raise other young girls who would become amazing equestrians and strong confident women.

The call came as a shock that he was showing a head tilt and was uncoordinated in his movements. He was still interested in eating. He was up to date on all his immunizations. He was fine one day and showing symptoms the next. They did take him to an Equine Specialist and diagnostics were performed. He was diagnosed with Stylohoid Osteoarthropathy. I will not go into details about this condition since you can look up the information as well as I can. They do not have a direct cause but have seen one common denominator in horses with this condition. Many of the horses have a history of being cribbers. This abnormal behavior is seen in a low percentage of horses (2.4-8.3%). It has been around for hundreds of years, and as of today, we do not have a cure for those horses who show this behavior. Cribbing collars are used but not without failures being reported. Studies have shown the use of cribbing collars can lead to an increase in cribbing after they are removed. If cribbing is stress induced and a horse is prevented from doing this behavior, it could be counter-productive since the horse would not be able to reduce its stress levels. Toys have been offered as a distraction from boredom hoping to prevent cribbing behaviors. There has been evidence suggesting that there may be a genetic link since many Thoroughbreds are plagued with this condition.

Hughy came to us in 2011 as a cribber. He did this behavior at home in the stall, in the pasture, in the trailer, at the shows, etc. He always felt the need to find something to crib on. He never had digestive issues or abnormal stools indicative of ulcers. We did normal preventative maintenance with immunizations and dewormings regularly. He was given supplements designed to help his joints and digestion. He was on good quality hay and pellets and never missed a meal. I report this as a way to help others know that just because your horse cribs this does not mean you are doing something wrong. Some horses have behavioral issues that cannot be explained. Even with advancement of knowledge and treatment a complete cure may not be an option.

What I did not know was that this could have serious consequences in his future.  I am not saying that knowing this would have prevented me from purchasing a horse that cribs. I am suggesting that awareness of what this could lead to is important while making that purchase. We were up front when selling Hughy about his cribbing. His only vice really. They gave Hughy an amazing home his last years on this earth. I feel sad that he will not be around for me to watch him at the Madison County Fair or that he cannot raise another young lady into a strong confident woman. He was a gentle giant and one of the best at taking care of business and his rider at the same time.

Our daughter won highpoint on him numerous times over the years. She entered multiple competitions, and he never failed her in the arena. She did county fairs, Block & Bridle, saddle clubs, Aksarben, state fair, Quarterhorse shows, 4-H fun shows, and rode him just for fun when time allowed. He was an all around horse in the sense that he could do patterns, rail work, jumping, trail, and speed events. I should clarify, Hughy, doing speed events, it was always at ½ throttle. Even when our daughter did the State Fair Queen competitions, she would get into the top 20 but never got him to pick up the pace enough to be in the top 5. He could go full speed in the pasture but doing so with a rider was not acceptable to him.

We mourn the loss of this amazing boy who’s registered name was “A Blaze to Victory”. His name held true at many competitions over the years. He now rests in peace after running his final race and finishing strong here on earth. Forever in our hearts Hughy will be and so thankful for all the memories.

Noise Phobias in Dogs

Summertime is a great time of year for pets unless they are fearful of thunderstorms and fireworks. Many dogs in our practice panic when these loud noises are heard. They can keep the entire household up at night because of it. The challenges are real. As veterinarians we understand the frustrations for both the client and the pet. There are various options to consider when addressing these issues. I decided since we are heading towards the Fourth of July and all the loud celebrations that go along with it, a blog about noise phobias would be in order.

I just wish the suggestions and solutions to address these pet behaviors would be easy. We have more options today than we did years ago when Dr. Jim and I started practicing veterinary medicine. Even with those options, no two dogs are alike when it comes to response to therapy. There are multiple variables that impact behavioral therapies in general. Therefore, I want to stress right now that the likelihood of complete control with noise phobia treatments is zero. We can improve the behaviors and reduce the undesirable side effects. However, these pets will always be afraid, and our medications are designed just to reduce panic and its side effects.

I want to encourage people to get puppies during the seasons where storms and fireworks are plentiful. If puppies are exposed to these noises when they are younger, they traditionally will not have fears. When puppies are born in winter months with no storms to experience until they are older, this can create fear and panic. If you have a puppy or dog showing storm anxiety, do not cuddle them and offer an over-abundance of sympathy. You are just rewarding the anxious behaviors. Attempt to continue to do life as usual during the storm. This will help them learn to accept these noises as a normal part of life. If it helps, turn on lights and turn up the music or TV or a fan. Go to the basement to avoid the visual lightening effects that can add to their fears. Thunder shirts have had benefits for dogs that already have issues with noise phobias. They act as a tight comforting hug (pressure) on the torso of the dog. They are used for separation anxieties as well. These shirts are available online and are ordered according to the size of your dog. They are great for protecting surgery sites on the dog’s torso as well.

If your dog is exhibiting any of the following symptoms: keeping you awake at night, pacing the floor, drooling excessively, shaking uncontrollably, hiding, destroying your home, etc., please reach out to your veterinarian for options. The medications that are available now to prescribe are numerous. Many are human medications that have been successfully used in our dogs for anxieties of different natures. We require doing blood work and an exam prior to starting the medications to ensure that there are no underlying problems. When we begin the medications, we are doing so on a trial basis. The drug and dosages may need adjustments before we hit the sweet spot for control of symptoms. Again, owners must understand that their expectations should be improvement of symptoms, and not a complete cure.

If your pet has a history of noise phobias, please do not contact your veterinarian the day before the fireworks or storm. These work ups take time to determine the best course of action for your dog. The dosages take time to find the best levels to reduce symptoms but allow your dog to continue to function normally during a storm or fireworks. We do not have any miracles to offer on those emergency phone calls when the family and dog are all in a panic. These phobias do intensify over time so if last year was not bad, this year could be much worse. Have that conversation with your veterinarian before storms and fireworks season arrives.

Did you get a new puppy this year? This is the perfect time to introduce them to these storms and fireworks. Plan to attend events in the area where you can be prepared to offer them a meal, a treat, interactions with friends and family which distracts them from the loud sounds. If thunderstorms and rain showers are predicted, get out your rain gear and go for a walk with them in the rain. Sit out on the porch and listen to the rain while offering them their food or treats. Keep them from thinking anything scary about weather changes. In their mind, it is a time when they get food or yummy treats. Do you want to hunt with your puppy? Prepare to go trap shooting or to a shooting range with your young puppy to introduce them to these sounds at a young age. Maybe the first few trips are just to be in the area of the shooting range and with time you introduce them to shooting the gun around them. If you are seeing a fear reaction to these loud noises in your puppy, please seek professional help from your veterinarian, breeder, or pet behavioralist. Hoping they will grow out of it is not a good plan.

The staff of Winterset Veterinary Center hope you have a wonderful summer and especially enjoy the Fourth of July. We must be thankful for the freedoms we have here in America. These freedoms have come with great sacrifices over the years. It is important to remember those sacrifices and BE SAFE as you gather with family and friends to celebrate this year.

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