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.


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.


“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.

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