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.


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