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.

Why is my cat still hacking?

July 2017, I discussed the topic of hacking cats and wrote more about hair issues and only briefly mentioned other causes. That blog has the 4th highest views on our entire website. People do not like hacking when it comes to their cats! It is messy and ruins fabric and carpets which can make having a cat less desirable. Follow this link to see how to handle hairball issues in your cat. If you have already made changes and are still dealing with a hacking cat, read on.

What other reasons cause cats to hack? This list is extensive and difficult to determine sometimes. One thing that owners can do after addressing a hairball issue is look at what the cat is eating.  If the cat is not dropping weight and acts completely normal but is vomiting up bile and/or hair on occasion, consider removing all treats, people food, and canned food first. Go for 2-3 weeks with only dry food and see if any vomiting occurs. If no vomiting, then you can feel confident the dry diet is not responsible.

The way to determine if it was one of those other 3 things is to add each one in separately and go for 2-3 weeks independently and see if any reactions occur.  For cats that act completely normal and are not dropping weight this method is okay while trying to figure out the puzzle. People food can always be a culprit especially if owners do not offer this to their cats regularly. Cats can be sneaky and mischievous and find people food on their own.  Once consumed it causes a digestive issue usually 2-3 days after the intake. It is not an immediate response like most people think.  It is important to watch friends, family, and young children who offer people food without your awareness. 

If doing these two things independently at home and your cat “is still hacking”, I would encourage you to seek veterinary care.  Cats can have other digestive or respiratory issues that can trigger hacking as well. We can have inflammation of the digestive tract that triggers vomiting of bile. We can have respiratory tract concerns that can trigger vomiting of a white foamy substance. Heart issues can cause cats to cough but after the cough some will spit up phlegm that is not yellow in color. This can be coming from the respiratory system. There are lung worms that can be present in a cat’s respiratory system. This is most common in outdoor or stray cats that have been introduced into your home.

Taking video of your cat during the episode can be helpful for your veterinarian to view.  These videos can help solve the puzzle. Paying attention to when they occur.  Does it happen with activity, after eating or drinking, after sleeping or resting, etc. What does it look like? Again, a photo can be helpful. We do not need to have you bring it in on a paper towel.  It is important to know what their stool looks like and the volume of stool. This is easy with one cat but can be complicated with a multi-cat household. Many times, an answer for hacking is not a quick and easy diagnosis. Getting frustrated with your cat or veterinarian is not going to fix the problem either. Switching from one cat food to another cat food or veterinarian to veterinarian is also a bad idea. This can prolong the situation and make it more challenging to control.

With many conditions in our furry friends, sometimes a cure is not meant to be but managing a condition with diet, supplements, medications, feeding routines can be achieved. One of my favorite diets to manage hacking of bile in cats is Royal Canin’s Hydrolyzed Protein dry cat food. This diet has allowed many cats to continue living in their homes and reduced the frequency, if not eliminating it completely, of hacking (vomiting) up bile. They cannot get any other foods or treats or people foods to be successful. It is a prescription diet and must be prescribed by your veterinarian.   If you are seeing more white frothy phlegm than bile in what is hacked up, this usually points to a heart or respiratory issue. It is important to seek veterinary care early since a delayed diagnosis can have long term complications.  Some of these episodes can occur seasonally and may be a form of asthma in cats. There is no one treatment fixes all “hacking cats”!  Just remember to be patient with your cat and your veterinarian as they help you work through all the causes of “hacking cats”.

Dog Bite Prevention Month

April 9-15th in 2023 is National Dog Bite Prevention week. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) cosponsors this event annually the 2nd full week of April. This week attempts to raise awareness on the high numbers of dog bites each year. In 2020, insurance companies paid out $853.7 million for 16,991 dog bite claims. The dog bite numbers are increasing but more importantly the dollars paid out for each claim has risen significantly. With the interest in taking our dogs more places this statistic is sure to grow over time. This number does not represent dog to dog fights which also involves cost of care to pet owners.

In March 2019 I posted a blog talking about dog bite prevention week coming up in April. This link will take you to that blog which has some great information about how to approach dogs: Dog Bite Prevention

Many of the dog bite events involve children. Dr Sophia Yin has some great posters centered around this topic. I have posted two here with permission from CattleDog Publishing to show how we should approach kid and dog interactions. If we focus on education about how to prevent dog bites, we can spare children having a lifelong fear of dogs related to these traumatic events. It has been noted that dog bites to children are as often from pets in their own homes as it is a stranger’s dog. These 2 following posters are a great reminder of how kids should and should not interact with dogs. Share this information with your families. If you see a child doing something that could trigger a bite, speak with the parents or the child to educate them on more appropriate interactions. This needs to be everyone’s mission regardless of your relationship with the dog or the child.

For many years I was involved in the Madison County Health Safety & Wellness Fair. Many professionals visited schools in the county and spent time educating the middle school kids about multiple topics. There were doctors, dentists, chiropractors, police, fire, ambulance, etc. that presented to the students. My topic each year was Dog Bite Prevention. I spent 12 minutes covering general information about what to avoid and how to protect yourself in the event of an attack. I sent home information with each student and we spoke to 6-8 different groups in a matter of a few hours. When covid hit in 2020, the program was halted and has not been restarted. It is necessary to somehow spread the word about dog bite prevention. If you have children or grandchildren share this information with them. Do not ever think that any dog is above biting.  Many people whose dogs have attacked people have said, “I do not know what happened. They had never done this before.” It can happen to you so be prepared.

Early intervention is still key when trying to prevent aggression with your dog. Spay and neuter since dogs left intact are 3 times more likely to bite. Take puppies less than 4 months of age to classes. It has been proven that early socialization to lots of people, other dogs, and new experiences helps make your dog more comfortable as an adult when introduced to new situations. Going to dog classes gets you time with pet trainers to ask how to deal with behaviors that are considered normal in dog world but unacceptable when interacting with people. Learn how to play with your puppy and what is not advised to prevent behavior issues. Classes often train the humans as much as we hope to train our puppies. If you get a puppy do not wait to start training. A puppy goes from 0-16 years of age in the first 12 months. We all know how difficult it can be to retrain a teenager SO START YOUNG.

Springtime Checklist for Poisons

March 20-26, 2023 is Pet Poison Prevention Week. Forty-six years ago the 3rd week in March was designated Pet Poison Prevention Week. Each year the Pet Poison Hotlines keep track of the most common pet poison calls. It is interesting to compare from year to year what the top accidental exposures are. They do not alter much from year to year. A few years ago though Cannabis entered the top 10 related to all the edible products that are now available for humans. With the online sales of CBD oil for anxiety and pain in canines there are accidental overdoses as well. 

It is noted that these are all accidental situations. No one offers these items to pets but our pets gain access to them one way or another. Puppies are the largest group involved because they chew and seem to be indiscriminate with what they put into their mouths. My suggestion is to get down at their level and look around to see what items my be in harms way. Check all rooms that the dogs have access to. Be certain to revisit these actions as the puppies grow since their reach increases as well. If visiting family and friends make certain to do a similar check in their homes and garages. With sheds and garages being open as warm weather increases these buildings are often a source of these toxins. Watch for access to neighbor’s buildings as well.

One common way to get pets to vomit up items they have consumed is to offer hydrogen peroxide orally until they vomit. My Weimaraner a few years ago gained access to my daughter’s gum in her room and I administered hydrogen peroxide orally until he vomited. I used up over 2/3rds of that bottle before he gave it up. I realize that seems like a lot but better to have him vomit then deal with the toxin going into his body. If your pet has swallowed gasoline or a caustic chemical, you should consult with poison control since those substances can cause more burning when coming back up again. I have used hydrogen peroxide to get a puppy to vomit back up a cat ball that he consumed to prevent a blockage as it moved through the digestive tract. Rat poison exposure is another good time to use the peroxide. If the time since consumption has been over 3-5 hours you will not gain anything by having them vomit. In those situations consulting with your veterinarian or the poison control would be advised. If you do not know exactly when it was consumed offering the hydrogen peroxide will not cause any permanent damage but may not be helpful either.

 The Pet Poison Helpline listed these as the top 10 poisons in 2022.

  1. Chocolate
  2. Grapes and raisins
  3. Xylitol – gum
  4. Ibuprofen
  5. Bromethalin – rat poison that causes brain edema – limited treatment options
  6. Marijuana
  7. Anticoagulants rodenticides – rat posion that causes clotting issues – have a treatment
  8. Vitamin D-3
  9. Onions/chives/leeks/shallots
  10. Carprofen

Item number 5 and 7 are confusing to people. There are differences between the poisons available to rid your home and buildings of rodents. The active ingredients sound similar but are very different in their toxicity to pets.  Brodifacoum is the active ingredient in anticoagulant poisons verses Bromethaliin. Bromethalin is a poison that causes lethargy, weakness, limb paralysis, tremors, seizures, coma, and even death at toxic levels of consumption.  Once this toxin has left the stomach, we do not have an antidote for it.  Please know what you are purchasing and how lethal the Bromethalin can be.

Another source that listed the top 10  poisons in 2021 was the ASPCA organization. This link will take you to their site. I like how they listed the items and gave more examples of what substances are important to consider.  Please take note of the plants listed and maybe visit the link provided to see a detailed list of toxic plants for pets. Many people are unfamiliar with what plants and flowers are a concern for our pets if consumed. Yet we may already have some of them in our home or landscaping.

In February 2017 my blog was about March being Pet Poison Month. I have attached the link since additional information is available there: March is Pet Poison Awareness Month

Spring is just around the corner so get outside and enjoy! Make certain to protect your pets so our children can enjoy their best buddies for years to come!  FYI – the photo is my oldest daughter with Coach from 1992. Weren’t they cute!

Dental Health Month is Here

We made it to February. This is a short month and before you know it the spring flowers will be in bloom! The days are longer and the sun is getting closer to the earth to heat it up! Bring it on!

Looking back at the blogs from the last 6 ½ years I have discussed dental health month 4 different times. Of course, the blogs were about different teeth concerns but it still emphasizes the importance of dental health. I still counsel people regularly about what items to avoid their dogs chewing on. The blog from January 2018 talks about the common issues we see with pet’s teeth that are chewing on bones and antlers. If these are common items you offer your dogs, I would look at this blog:

Read the Post: No Bones About It (January, 2018)

Was your New Year’s resolution to start brushing your pet’s teeth? It is a great time to start during Dental Health month. The February 2020 blog goes through a step-by-step process to introduce this new procedure to your pet. I always encourage people with kittens and puppies to get them accustomed to brushing while they are still young. This is always the best time to start all routine care programs such as cleaning ears, clipping nails, giving bathes, brushing teeth, combing hair, etc. This blog also has a nice video from a client who brushes her dog’s teeth. What a difference this has made in their oral health.

Read the Post: February is Dental Health Month (February, 2020)

Ever wonder how a dog’s teeth are cleaned. Certainly, they will not just lie there and let us clean the teeth. They do need anesthesia and are required to be still during the entire procedure. We do the dental scaling, cleaning, and polishing in the morning so our patients can go home in the afternoon. This blog talked about the equipment needed to clean teeth. Extractions are necessary if we have extensive damage to the gums or roots present. It makes no sense to keep teeth that are no longer viable for chewing. The reports indicate most dogs and cats have some dental decay by 3 years of age. Check out this blog from a year ago.

Read the Post: February is Dental Health Month (February, 2022)

Imagine what your teeth would look like if you did not brush daily. Our pets are no different. This is one daily task that can make a huge difference in the oral health of our pets. The Pet Industry wants you to believe that chewing a dog biscuit or piece of rawhide is all that is needed to keep their teeth clean. I hope you realize that only by brushing are you going to impact their long-term oral health. Go ahead and FLIP THE LIP of your pet! If you do not see pearly whites flashing back at you….It is time to set up a dental procedure to protect your furry friends oral health.

Why is “Pet Selection” Still Important?

HAPPY NEW YEAR! Welcome to 2023 and all this year has to offer for new beginnings. We are excited to be here to assist our customers and their furry friends during this year and beyond. Dr Jim and myself will be celebrating 35 years since receiving our Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degrees. The clinic will be celebrating 40 years of business this year. Dr Jim has been here for 35 of those years. Stephanie celebrated 20 years as an employee and myself, 15 years in 2022. We all feel a connection to this business but more importantly to the clients that we serve and their critters. Whether they are big and cannot come in the building or small and we need a gram scale to weigh them, they all are important to us.

I recognized last year, that I have now come full circle with my time here at Winterset Veterinary Center (WVC). What I mean by that is, I am now helping my clients(friends) say goodbye to those bounding puppies and snuggling kittens I first got to know back 15 years ago when I began working at WVC. This is a first for me. Most of my career I have moved around enough that I never got to this stage at my previous locations. It is heart wrenching but also fulfilling to be here through all the stages of our pet’s lives. Both Dr Jim and myself know that helping a pet pass from this life to the next is as important as other needed therapies.

I have been doing blogs for 6 ½ years now and realized that there are many topics that I covered early on that I should revisit in 2023. I am looking at which ones have been googled most often and plan to adjust or add to the original blog. One topic that is near and dear to my heart is pet selection. I feel the blog is still relevant and needs very little adjustments. I know there are more online tests that can be taken to help someone select the best pet or if it is a dog you are wanting, there are tests to help you select the right breed.

Reach out to your veterinarian and ask for their help in assisting with pet selection. The years of training not only in higher education but also practice will serve you well in finding the perfect pet for its forever home. Many factors are used to help someone decide if they should get a rescue pet or a new pet. How much time do you have each week to spend with your pet? Are you home regularly to feed, water, and exercise? Do you have allergies against pet dander and hair? Are you willing to commit to this pet for the next 15-20 years if it is a dog or cat? How much money do you intend to spend to purchase the pet and care for it each year? These are some of the questions that are important to consider when selecting a pet. The online tests cover these and other questions to help guide you in the selection process. Please feel free to reach out to Dr. Jim or myself if ever you need help in this process. Daily we see decisions that were made quickly without thinking through the long-term scenario. Once the pet is home it can be difficult to return so do your homework first! Thanks for reading my blogs and let’s make 2023 the best year yet for caring for our furry friends who make our life complete just by being here.

Click on the link and read all about the importance of pet selection.

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