#37 On Turning 60 Dec 7, 2017
This weekend I will celebrate being 60 years old. And I really mean CELEBRATE. It doesn’t bother me. I am embracing it. (It bugs my mom. I get that). It means that I have many years of rich experiences, good and bad. I have been practicing veterinary medicine for 35 years, and been a practice owner here in Lewisville for 27. I still like coming to work, seeing the pets and their owners. How great is THAT!
But along with the experiences come some aches and pains. Many of you may have noticed me limping this week. I dropped 30 pounds of metal on right foot last weekend, and my toes are really bruised up. Thankfully, I didn’t break or sever anything, but squished it. Thus the limp. It has made me feel very humble and much more empathic for my limping patients. For one thing, it hurts. It is inconvenient. And it strains the other leg when I am trying not to bear full weight on the injured toes. I know dogs have 4 legs, but it still strains joints and muscle to walk with a limp. I am trying to follow my own advice about rest, elevated, and NSAIDS, but it is difficult. (Too bad I can’t lick my foot). I know the bruising will fade, and I will walk normally again, but my patients may not know they will get better.
I still love veterinary medicine, and have no immediate plans to retire. So if you see me limping, it just means I am still doing what I love, in spite of getting older.
#35 Holiday Hazards Nov 29. 2017
As we come off the Thanksgiving holiday and getting ready for Christmas, I am already seeing and hearing about holiday mishaps. We had one dog eat used peanut oil that had been used to deep fry a turkey, started vomiting, and had to go to the emergency room for IV fluids & a short stay. Another client with a Labrador puppy is already seeing the puppy eat pine cones off the artificial tree.
There are many types of hazards this time of year:
Food- There will be so many special foods cooked, baked, boxed and gifted that we will have to stay on our toes to stay ahead of those inquisitive pups and kittens. They will be able to smell Grandma’s fruit cake under the tree and help themselves. And lots of chocolate goodies, with theobromine ( a cousin of caffeine), which can be toxic if enough is ingested.
Decorations- I talk a lot about Christmas trees with my clients because over the years I have seen a variety of problems arise. I used to see a lot of cats that ate “icicles”, those shiny strips that you drape over branches, but they must be out of style now. The other cat problem is them climbing the tree and toppling it over. Dogs love to eat ornaments on the lower branches and drink the water in the stands of live trees. Occasionally, owners will report dogs biting the wiring for the lights. So the best advice is to avoid trees on the ground if you have young dogs, or use a table top tree, or skip the tree all together. I have had some owners try baby gates, a barricade, or putting the tree in a baby playpen.
Other potential botanical problems are live plants like poinsettias, mistletoe, and amaryllis bulbs. These aren’t “toxic” but may cause your pet to vomit if ingested, so are best avoided.
I love candles, love to make candles, love to light candles, but they can be a fire hazard for a Labrador with wagging tail, or cats with long whiskers that get too close. I have even had some dogs eat scented candles. So be smart and use them up high and use in a candle holder that covers the flame
Guests- Many owners will have 2 legged and 4 legged guests over the holidays. There will be lots of new things to sniff, foods to steal, germs to share, and medications to sample. I have treated many a dog for ingesting Grandpa’s heart meds that got spilled. And not all pets accept new pets in the house easily. I have treated many a cat or dog fight wound around the holidays.
Traveling- This is always challenging, even if it is just across town. If your pet is not used to getting in carriers, or car trips, please practice early when everyone is less stressed. If needed, we recommend pheromones and medication to help decrease anxiety. And if your pet is boarding, call us to make sure that they are up to date on their vaccines.
Stress- This is a big one, and one we experience too. Plan ahead for your holiday fun, but think about your pet’s mental health too. Sometimes the best strategy is to try to keep on a normal schedule, normal diet, and normal exercise. That is great advice for us too.
With a little thoughtful planning, we can avoid holiday hazards and have a Merry Christmas. Remember to take lots of pictures!
#34 Diabetes in dogs and cats- Nov 16, 2017
Most pet owners are surprised when I tell then their overweight dog or cat is at increased for diabetes, just like a human. It never occurred to them that pets get this blood sugar disease too, but it affects 1 in 100 to 1 in 500 pets. That is why I am talking about Diabetes during Pet Diabetes Month.
Just like humans, the disease is a relative lack of insulin in the body, which is needed for the cells to take in glucose, which leads to high levels of glucose in the blood. We can see both Type 1 (insulin dependent), and Type 2 (non- insulin dependent) in pets, but most of the time by the time I diagnosis it, insulin in the only treatment. And most pets need the twice a day “shots”.
The most common symptoms that I see in practice are increased thirst and urine output, increased appetite with weight loss, or lethargy. Often the owner just thinks their cat or dog has a urinary tract infection or incontinence because they are having urine accidents in the house. Occasionally, I notice that a middle age dog has cataracts developing.
Diabetes has to be treated with insulin injections, usually twice a day, for dogs and cats. This is not fun, but most pets tolerate the tiny needles better than the owners. The other big downsides are the cost, and being tied into a set schedule which makes it challenging for boarding or pet sitters. Rarely, I have a cat that can be managed on pills, or diet alone.
Long term complications include urinary tract infections, diabetic crises of glucose too high or too low, cataracts, suppressed immune function, and slow healing. We seldom see the neuropathy and amputations that affect humans.
The best prevention for pet diabetes is maintaining a normal weight, avoiding obesity, staying active, and avoiding pancreatitis (often secondary to high fatty food). Some researchers are concerned that high carbohydrate diets could be a contributing factor, but a low carb diet is certainly part of the management while on insulin.
For more information:
#33 Dog parks- Nov 8, 2017
We are very fortunate in this area to have 3 new nice public dog parks. Lewisville, Flower Mound, and Highland Village all have spent your hard earned tax dollars to develop comfortable sites for dogs and their owners to play.
Lewisville put theirs in Railroad Park, which has LOTS of stuff for kids to do like football, baseball, soccer and a regional skate park. It opened in several years ago and has well established grass, a few benches, and small trees. It has 6 acres of fun (1 for small dogs, 5 for large dogs), that is lighted and opened until 10 pm during the winter. There is a link on the website for a map, but Railroad Park is in eastern Lewisville, just east of Railroad Street and just south of SH 121 Business & Valley Ridge Blvd, and just north of “the dump”, or Mount Lewisville as I call it. Lewisville Dog Park
Flower Mound created the Hound Mound, which is actually 2 parks, at the southern end of town. It is open dawn to dusk, is not lighted at night, and has some agility equipment. It is located on Garden Ridge Blvd, south of FM 3040. For more information,Flower Mound Hound Mound
Highland Village just opened up their dog park this year and is called the Dog Park at Unity Park. It is located by Kids Kastle and Briarhill Middle School, near the railroad tracks. The park’s hours are 6AM-11 PM, and is lighted, but closed on Wednesdays for cleaning. Dog Park at Unity Park
Fall is a great time to get outdoors with our dogs and get some exercise off leash. These parks can offer LIGHTED evening options, since it is getting darker earlier now and especially after we fell back from Daylights Saving Time.
All dogs must be off leash once inside the parks, and under voice control. They must be older than 4 months, current on vaccines, and not sick or in heat. Only 2 dogs per person, and no children under the age of 9 (these are DOG PARKS, not children parks). You must pick up poop. Foods, treats, or drinks except bottled water are not allowed.
Aggressive dogs aren’t supposed to go, but fights occasionally occur. My biggest health concern is intestinal parasites, which are easy to pick up. It is very important for dogs going to dog parks to stay on their heartworm medication year round, because they also deworm dogs for the most common worms monthly. Also airborne respiratory infections could happen whenever dogs get together, so keep Fido current on vaccines, especially Bordatella (aka Kennel Cough).
Don’t just “fall” into the sofa and cuddle with Fluffy after work. Get out there, have some fun together, and make some memories.
# 32 Fall grooming- Nov 1, 2017
Many dog owners are hesitant to get their dogs groomed in the fall. I hear many tell me that they don’t want to shave them too short before it gets cold or that the long hair keeps them warmer. No one is worried about fleas right now.
The reality is our temperatures in October were still mild, with highs in the 80s, and lows in the 40-50s. The average first freeze is not until Nov 15th, but we have many warm days into December. Most of the grooming dogs that we see are not outside dogs, but pampered indoor dogs, that only go outside to do their business, or to the Dog Park, or walks around the neighborhood. For these dogs, I recommend routine grooming every 4-6 weeks with trims and baths all though the fall and mild Texas winters.
Long hair can be a problem, especially around the eyes. I have seen numerous dogs with corneal ulcers that were either caused by long hairs rubbing the cornea, or at least hidden from the owner by the shagginess. Many ear infections are prevented by cleaning and plucking ears regularly, especially in hairy eared breeds. Full anal sacs can get infected or even rupture out through the skin around the anus causing much pain and discomfort for dogs (and even a few cats). Long nails can curl into foot pads or cause dogs to walk with an abnormal foot position, making arthritis even worse.
Regular bathing and brushing keep the skin much healthier, and can be done at home. For allergy dogs, I even recommend weekly bathing during their allergy season, even if it is winter tree pollen (just don’t put them outside to dry if it is cold). Profession groomers, like Monica on our staff, perform baths, brush out undercoat, clip hair to many lengths, clean ears, express anal glands, and trim nails. And groomers often find lumps and bumps while small.
I usually see a flea population spike in September through November because flea like mild moist fall weather, not the typical hot Texas summers. They will slow down with freezes outside, but they never freeze inside a house.
I have been seeing a lot of dogs with itchy fall allergies, licking their feet, rubbing their faces, scratching at their ears. Many have long coats that are only bathed every 4-6 weeks, and they are miserable. Cats can also have allergies, but much less commonly. Most cats can give themselves a bath, but some need help with mats and excessive fur around their privates.
We have many medicines to help skin & coat problems, but routine bathing and grooming is a foundation to a healthy dog or cat.
#31 Allergies- Oct 25, 2017
Allergies are nothing to sneeze at, really. Actually, for most dogs the primary symptom is itchiness, especially feet, ears, armpits and rear end. They usually don’t have runny eyes and nose, but a few might. And most “allergies” are to the proteins in pollen, rarely food allergies. For these pets, the immune system has an elevated, inappropriate response to these proteins that are inhaled and absorbed right through the skin. The prime skin cell that reacts is a mast cell, which is loaded with histamine granules, and releases the histamine when the specific proteins are detected by the immune system. Then the histamine triggers the itch. Licking is a symptom of itchiness.
This Fall season, high ragweed has been a problem for many fall allergy sufferers. It started early, around Labor Day, and will generally go until the first frost, average November 15. This year’s warm Fall might go longer.
Symptoms Include licking feet, rubbing face, shaking ears, scratching at armpits or sides, and licking/scooting on their rear. The pattern of allergy itchiness is different than flea bites, which is mostly lower back and backs of thighs. And an allergy dog with even one flea is extra miserable.
Uncontrolled allergies can lead to secondary skin and ear infections, either bacteria like Staph or yeast. If it goes on for weeks, the skin will make extra sebum and smell bad, or get flakey and crusty. Many people mistake this for “dry skin”, and stop bathing their dogs. If the itching and infections go on for longer, the skin may get thickened, turn gray, and wrinkled looking.
As pet parents, we can help these patients. First, I recommend starting with anti-itch medicine, often OTC antihistamines like Benadryl or Zyrtec. If that isn’t working well, I step up to prescription medicines like Apoquel. My last resort is steroids, which have many side effects.
Secondly, I stress cleansing the skin and ears with weekly bathing or wiping, often with gentle shampoos like aloe and oatmeal dog shampoos. If we leave the abnormal sebum on the skin, microorganisms will try to grow in it, so bathing is critical to break the allergy cycle. And washing the bedding and collars is important too.
The third component is to try to avoid whatever the allergy is too. Pollen is hard to avoid, so keeping the pets inside more helps, but pollen gets in homes too. Keeping filters clean helps. Stepping up antihistamines and bathing helps. Many dog foods have higher fatty acids that can help down regulate the immune symptoms.
Forth component is to avoid fleas and ticks. The flea population often spikes in mild moist weather like spring and fall. They don’t all die after the summer or winter extremes. And they never die in the house from bad weather outside. So keep allergy dogs on year round flea prevention like Nexgard or Trifexis.
Allergies are nothing to sneeze at, but we can manage it so are pets are more comfortable.
# 30 Halloween pet safety – Oct 19, 2017
I was going to write my own blog for Halloween, but the AAHA article I found said it all. Almost. It didn’t discuss some of the new Fear Free tools we have for noise phobic or anxious dogs. If the door bell ringing will set your dog off, consider a prescription oral gel approved for noise phobias called Sileo, that lasts 2-4 hours. Or for the generally anxious dog that barks at everything, prescription trazadone 90 minutes before the trick or treaters arrive might help decrease anxiety. Nonprescription ideas are Thundershirts for dogs, and calming pheromones for dogs (Adaptil) and cats (Feliway). Otherwise, the standbys of closing then in a back room, with a TV or radio on might help distract those pets that don’t want to celebrate trick or treat.
Here is the AAHA article:
“Halloween can be a frightening time for pet owners across the country. It can be scary for our furry friends too. The American Animal Hospital Association encourages pet owners to protect their four-legged family members this October by being mindful of their F.E.A.R. – food, environment, attire, and recovery.
Halloween means candy and tasty treats are plentiful and easily accessible to young children and pets. Candy, especially chocolate, is toxic to animals and can cause vomiting, restlessness, heart disturbances, and even death. Although grapes and raisins are a healthy alternative snack for humans, they can be potentially deadly for dogs. These fruits contain an unknown toxin that can damage dogs’ kidneys and cause kidney failure.
Candy wrappers can also cause health problems. Animals may eat the wrapper, causing obstruction or irritation to the pet’s digestive system. Candy and wrappers should be kept out of pets’ reach and young children should be taught not to share Halloween goodies with their pet. Seasonal foods such as pumpkins and corn may cause minor stomach irritation; however, they are relatively safe for Fluffy and Fido. Pumpkin seeds may cause digestive system obstruction if consumed by smaller animals.
Due to the increased foot traffic and commotion in your neighborhood, outdoor pets should be kept indoors during the days surrounding Halloween. Unsupervised outdoor animals are susceptible to stress, inhumane practical jokes or theft. Providing a safe, stress free environment reduces the probability of your beloved friend injuring himself or others. Loud and excessive noise created by trick-or-treaters can frighten your cat or dog. Animals should be kept away from the door and out of hearing range of a constantly ringing doorbell and excited children. Fluffy or Fido should be put in a room where they will not be disturbed by noise and activity. A frightened or upset pet may run out the door at the first opportunity and could harm the children in its way.
Be sure decorations are safe from the paws and teeth of curious pets. Crepe paper streamers, fake cobwebs, glow sticks, plastic spiders and cardboard wall hangings can easily be chewed and swallowed, damaging your pet’s digestive tract. Animals can also tip over the candle in a jack-o-lantern and burn themselves or start a fire. Keep decorations out of animals’ reach, and maintain supervision if they play nearby.
Transforming your pet into a superhero, witch, ghost, or goblin can be a stressful and unpleasant experience. Some animals love to dress up, but others dread it. If your furry friend doesn’t mind dressing up, make sure that you select a costume that doesn’t restrict his normal movements, breathing or vision. Costumes that interfere with these things can cause ligament or joint injuries, and animals are more likely to bite if their vision is impaired. Pets are better off left at home during trick-or-treating excursions. However, if they do tag along, it is best to keep them on a very short leash and harness to keep them from fighting with other animals, eating the treats, becoming victims of practical jokes – as black cats often do – or biting strangers they encounter.
It is important to have a plan if your pet becomes sick, injured or lost this Halloween season. Since time is critical during any unfortunate incident, pet parents should always have contact information for their veterinarian and local animal shelters easily accessible. Also, pet owners need to be aware that not all veterinarians are available 24 hours. However, all AAHA-accredited hospitals have access or referral to 24 hour emergency care. It is also important to update your pet’s identification tags and microchip information each time you move or change phone numbers so that current contact information is always available on your pet. The American Animal Hospital Association wishes all two and four-legged critters a happy and safe Halloween.
Established in 1933, the American Animal Hospital Association is the only organization that accredits veterinary practices throughout the U.S. and Canada for dedication to high standards of veterinary care. More than 3,000 AAHA-accredited practices pass regular reviews of AAHA’s stringent accreditation standards that cover patient care, client service and medical protocols.”
# 29 New Lab Tests - Oct 12, 2017
Our October Bloodwork Special from Idexx (our reference lab) has some new tests that I can’t do in house (yet). The new kidney blood test is called SDMA, and after over a million tests run, they can prove it catches kidney disease earlier than the normal tests (BUN & Creatinine) when the kidneys only have 25-30% function left. We have already had one older dog results come back with an elevated SDMA but normal BUN/creatinine. Then we look further for reversible causes of kidney disease like infection, and can manage accordingly. How great is that!
The 2nd new test is called Cardiopet Pro-BNP. It is a heart muscle test that increases when dog or cat heart muscle cells are stretched, like with congestive heart disease. Again, we are looking for early warning signs of developing heart disease, and invites us to do further heart testing like chest radiographs, ECGs, blood pressure measurement, and even echocardiography ( ultra sound of heart) . We have already had a dog this month have an elevated Cardiopet result.
The 3rd new testing is done on the stool sample. Intestinal parasites are still really a big problem here in suburbia, especially for dogs that live in apartments or go to dog parks, and cats that go outside. The Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) recommends fecal screenings at least 2–4 times per year during the first year of life and at least 1–2 times per year in adult pets. A routine fecal check involves suspending the stool in a special solution, centrifuging it to make the nematode eggs float, and then looking for the eggs. The new fecal ELISA test is looking for proteins in the stool that are specific to the adult nematodes, like hookworms, roundworms & whipworms. It should be much more accurate and sensitive, especially in early infections where the adults might not be making eggs yet (prepatent period). We haven’t had any positives on this test yet, but I am certain we will.
These are great tools to have available to us, but they still aren’t as important as a good physical exam, vaccines (as indicated by lifestyle evaluation), heartworm testing & prevention, good diet and exercise.
If your dog or cat hasn’t been to the vet in the last year, this would be a great time to get a wellness checkup, vaccines updated as needed, and testing. Call for an appointment. Operators are standing by.
For more information: https://www.idexx.com/small-animal-health/index.html
CAPC for pet owners: http://www.petsandparasites.org/
# 28 October Bloodwork Specials- October 3, 2017
As many of you know, our reference laboratory gives us great deals on wellness labwork in October. This year we have some really great deals to share with you for your dogs and cats, young or old.
What is included? The big panel for older dogs includes a Complete Blood Count, a large Chemistry profile with thyroid and new kidney test, special heart muscle test, urinalysis, fecal exam, and heartworm test. The panel for cats is similar, but FELV/FIV testing instead of heartworm testing. The panels for young dogs and cats are slightly smaller, without the heart muscle test, thyroid or urinalysis.
What does labwork tell us? The complete blood count can identify infections, inflammation and anemia. The chemistry panel provides information about your pet’s liver, kidneys and pancreas, as well as other functions of the body such as blood sugar and hydration status. The new kidney test can pick up kidney disease much easier than traditional kidney function tests. The new heart muscle test measures the stretching of the heart muscle, associated with congenital or acquired congestive heart disease (common in old dogs). The thyroid test screens for low thyroid disease in dogs, or high thyroid in cats, both common geriatric conditions that are quite manageable if we find it. The urinalysis identifies an infection or inflammation in the urinary tract. The fecal test checks for intestinal parasites, and I constantly surprised by how many clean, well-cared for pets still pick up parasites, even my own. Dog panels include a heartworm test, but cat panels include testing for Feline Leukemia and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FELV & FIV)
Why should I do bloodwork on healthy pets? Ideally, all tests come back normal and we can rest assured all is well inside your pet. If we do find abnormalities, we are able to catch problems early and make recommendations to address the problem.
How often should I do bloodwork? We recommend yearly bloodwork on most dogs and cats. If the geriatric dog or cat, I often recommend every 6 months because their health is more changing.
How much will it cost and when will I get results? The cost for the senior dogs and cats is $149, (a 40% saving), $99 for young dogs (a 30% saving), and $79 for young cats (a 30# saving). We receive most results the next day, and will call you and review them personally. These prices are comparable to my in house bloodwork, but heartworm, FELV/FIV, urinalysis and fecal tests would not be included. These packages are a great value and screen for so many common diseases. Don’t miss out! Come in this October!
For more information. http://www.pethealthnetwork.com/
# 27 Pet Preparedness Kit- AKA “Go bag” or ”doggie diaper bag”- Sept 28, 2017
What if we experience a local emergency like a tornado or hazardous material spills that caused you to evacuate your home with only a few minutes notice? Do you have a 72 hour bag for yourself and your children? What about your 4 legged children? What’s in your kit?
Recommended items include: 3-7 days of food (dry or canned),3-7 days of water (plastic water bottles), non-tipping food/water dishes, cage or carrier for each animal (label with your contact & emergency contact info), leash, collar, harness for each animal (attach tags), stakes and tie-outs, litter pan, litter, litter scoop, can opener and spoon, favorite toys, treats, blankets, baby wipes, paper towels, and trash bags.
In a waterproof bag, place the following: registration Information, vaccination History, veterinary medical records, emergency contact information, special diet needs, medication (marked clearly for each animal, doses & vet contact info), pictures of you with your pets.
This is a lot of stuff, but it could be easily stored in tote bag, or unused carrier. I even carry a mini version of this when I travel with my dog because there has been times when we stopped unexpectedly and I needed a leash, or water, or wipes & trash bags to clean up messes.
I keep seeing pictures in my mind of those Harvey swift water rescued pets. The cats in carriers seemed much happier than the loose ones. I bet those owners wish they had packed a little 72 hour bag for themselves and the animals.
For more information also check out the ready.gov/animals
# 26 How to check your pets microchip registration
Even though only 1-2% of all pets are microchipped, I find the number higher if my practice. But in this day and age when we drop or change our phone numbers, email addresses and home addresses, we need to take a moment and check our pets microchip information on the data base.
A data base can store SOOOOO much more information than old fashioned dog tags. ( But if you are like me, I can never remember all my passwords.) Here are some some tips to manage that information and keep it current.
1) look in your files to find the company and website for your microchip. If you can’t find it, we have a scanner and can scan your pet, or we might even have their number in our data base.
2) log into your account and review the information
3) update any phone # & email addresses. Ideally, have 1 phone number for someone not in your area in case of a regional disaster without cell towers
4) set a reminder on your computer or phone to do it again NEXT September.
To look up a number : www.petmicrochiplookup.org
#25 Fosters Arrive- September 13, 2017
As we all recover from 3 weeks of solid disaster overload, we can now count our blessings. Most of us are unaffected by Hurricane Harvey or Irma. Here at Garden Ridge Animal Hospital, we just got in our Hurricane Harvey foster dogs and cats from Houston SPCA. We asked for 5&5, but got 3 & 4. I have posted the pictures of the cuties on our home page. All these pets MIGHT have owners who haven’t claimed them, so we are only asking for families to FOSTER them until they might be reunited with their homes, or up to 45 days. All seem young, friendly, outgoing, healthy, vaccinated, dewormed & microchipped. The dogs have been heart worm tested & given prevention. Please come by and check them out!
Things to do this week to prepare for emergencies: prepare a pet first aid kit. Pet first aid supply list.
I like this one, but I also suggest tweezers to get out stickers, and saline eye wash, which can be use on eyes and skin as a sterile wound wash. And I suggest that on the digital thermometer, you write in big letters DOG or CAT since this will be used rectally.
Next week: how to check your microchip registration information
#24 Hurricane Harvey Pet Relief Opportunities- Sept 7, 2017
I know every one of my clients is an animal lover, and the tragedy of Hurricane Harvey on the Gulf Coast pulls at our heart strings. I have been looking for meaningful opportunities for us in Lewisville to help those poor pets that are well managed.
The TVMA (Texas Veterinary Medical Association) is assisting the Houston SPCA in Operation Reunite. The mission of the program is to establish a network of vet clinics (like mine) that teams with clients (like you) to provide FOSTER care to pets displaced by the disaster. The ultimate goal is to return as many of these animals to their owners within 45 days of being delivered. The agreement is to foster for 45 days OR until the owner claims the animal, whichever if first. The Houston SPCA will transport the pets to my clinic, and I would provide vet care if needed.
If you are interested in fostering a dog or cat in your home from the Houston SPCA for up to 45 days, please contact me or my staff at 972-436-2199.
We are receiving 5 dogs and cats Friday, Sept 8!!!
The Texas Lions Hurricane Harvey Relief fund is another nonprofit group that is accepting donations that will only be used in Texas, and is completely nonprofit. 100% of the money donated will go to help Texans. Texaslions.org
On a positive note, here is a link on a successful vet team from Texas A&M University Veterinary Emergency Team in Rosenberg.
#23 September is National Preparedness Month - August 30, 2017
September is always National Preparedness Month, which takes on a whole new meaning after Hurricane Harvey. We may not see hurricanes in North Texas, but tornados, hailstorms, flooding, and ice storms happen. Funny thing is that preparing for one disaster is similar to most others. Shelter, food, water, power, communication contingency plans have to be made for all types of emergencies.
As a vet, I am the advocate for your pets. Remember to include them in your planning. Hurricane Katrina really pointed out the hole in many people’s evacuation plans was their pets. Hopefully with Harvey we did better. The Red Cross will never provide housing for pets. They might provide transportation. During the tornado in east Texas in April some shelters did allowed pets. Think ahead. You need to plan on a carrier for each pet, with food, water, leashes, litter boxes, and of course medications. Identification like tags on collars and microchips are critical to ever getting a missing pet back.
My heart breaks as I watch TV and see people walking in waist high water, carrying their children and pets to safety. They are all precious. Plan ahead.
There will be more to come as disaster relief goes into the next phases. After Hurricane Gustave, we provided shelter for some displaced pets and donated food and other resources. I will post announcements here and on the website as opportunities arise.
https://www.texvetpets.org/giving/ select "disaster" in the drop down menu for foundation program and donate money, not supplies. This is a part of the TVMA ( Texas Veterinary Medical Association) charity foundation, and will go to vets and animal hospital in Texas so they can help animals affected by the disaster.
# 22 End of the summer- Aug 24, 2017
Somehow when then temps are still near 100 degrees it doesn’t seem right to be talking about end of the summer, but it is the end of summer vacation season for many as school begins again. I went shopping a local craft store and was blown away by all the fall decorations and Christmas décor. Fall must be just around the corner.
I hope everyone did have a chance to take a vacation, with or without your pet. I encourage my staff to take some time off periodically to recharge, “sharpen the saw”, and come back refreshed. I also took a summer vacation this year with my husband and toured with our 1931 Model A Ford (and 20 other Model As) through Grand Teton, Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks. The long distance driving was grueling, the cooler nights were heavenly, and the sights were amazing. I took over a thousand pictures. Even now when I close my eyes I often see winding mountain roads, erupting geysers, bubbling Technicolor mud pots, spacious lobbies of historic old park hotels, and the backs of other Model As. I would have liked to have seen more wildlife, but we did see bison, moose, deer, bald eagles, and coyotes. No bears were seen.
I want to compliment my staff and relief Doctors Pena and Wayman for handling everything while I was gone. I trust my clients and patients were treated well in my absence. But I am back and rested mentally, physically, and ready for fall.
#21 Emergency vet hospitals- Aug 3, 2017
What would you do if Fluffy got sick in the middle of the night or on a weekend? Emergency vets to the rescue! We are fortunate here in Lewisville to be close to several excellent veterinary emergency clinics that are open when we are closed. The closest to Garden Ridge Animal Hospital is the Flower Mound Emergency Pet Clinic, located at 2311 Cross Timbers, # 319, Flower Mound, in the Sprouts shopping center near Kohl’s. The next closest one and newest is the Center for Veterinary Specialty and Emergency Care , 2700 Lake Vista Drive by the Vista Ridge Mall and Costco. They are a 24 hour full service emergency room and neuro-specialist center. And just a little farther down I35W at Frankford (1712 W Frankford) by the Racetrack gas station is the North Texas Emergency Pet Clinic. These all see dogs and cats.
But what if your pet isn’t a dog or cat? What if Dr Henricks is off that day or on vacation (heaven forbid)? The North Texas Emergency Pet Clinic has Dr Fowler on staff. She is excellent, but call before you go because she doesn’t work 7 days a week. The next choice would be South Flower Mound Animal Hospital, 2570 Northshore Blvd, Suite 100, Flower Mound.,
Or for clients who live closer to Grapevine, Dr Greg Moore at Southlake Animal Hospital is fantastic. 200 W State Hwy 114.
So just like you do for yourself or your children, think ahead and know who to call, or where to go if “stuff happens” after hours to your fur (or feather or scale) babies.
#20 Our Successful Search Dog Story- July 25, 2017
I want to brag about our nurse, Christian, and her search dog, Raine. This week they went out on a search for a missing woman in south Dallas and found her remains and some belonging in an overgrown thicket near a sewer in the hottest time of the day. Christian has been doing search and rescue for many years, and Raine, a 4 year old high drive female Belgian Malinois is her latest. Raine also alerted divers to the location on Lake Lavon of a drowning victim in June for a successful recovery. I am so proud of Christian and Raine for the results, their training, and service to the community.
Team Raine is part of Mark-9, a local nonprofit search and rescue organization. All the teams train extensively in 5 areas: Urban, Wilderness, Disaster, Water and HRD (cadaver). All MARK9 dogs are trained in general search and scent specific search, because you never are sure what you are going to need or find. The team motto is "Always ready, Ever able" so the team is available 24/7/365. They provide free services to local fire, police, and other government agencies.
So if you see Christian’s car in the parking lot with her dog inside, it is because she is ready on a moment’s notice to go on a search. Remember Raine is adapted to temperature extremes as part of her training. And we all pray we are never need Raine to find our loved ones.
#19 AAHA Awareness Day- July 22, 2017
What is AAHA?
The American Animal Hospital Association is the only accreditation body of companion animal hospitals in America. It was founded in 1933 with a vision to help hospital pursue excellence in many areas: medicine, surgery, anesthesia, diagnostics, emergency/critical care, pharmacy, pain management, dentistry, patient care, safety, cleanliness, record keeping, human resources, and continuing education. And each hospital is re-inspected every 3 years with new and higher standards, approximately 900 at this time.
Here at Garden Ridge Animal Hospital, we are proud to be AAHA accredited since 2006. I came from working at 2 other AAHA hospitals before 1990, and knew that one day mine would be accredited too. My ex-husband and I built to AAHA building specification in 1990, but I didn’t go through the process until 2006. We have been through 3 inspections since then, and passed every time.
We are very proud to be the only AAHA practice in Lewisville. Only 12-15% of small animal hospitals across North America are AAHA accredited. It challenges us to achieve the higher standards and continue to strive for excellence in many facets of practice life. We are encouraged to embrace change, pursue innovative solutions, and communicate openly and honestly. It is a fabulous resource for continuing education for me and my staff. And we are part of a network of other AAHA hospitals that we can recommend if you move or travel. You can rest assured that any AAHA hospital has to measure up to the same standards.
We won’t be open Saturday, July 22, 2017, National AAHA Awareness Day, but we will still be proud of the achievement every day we are open.
#18 West Nile Fever July 12, 2017
The City of Lewisville has had 2 positive mosquitos in traps with West Nile Fever in the last week. This is not a viral disease of dogs & cats, but it does affect humans, horses and birds. To combat the disease, the city will be spraying insecticides July 12 after dark, if it isn’t too windy. The locations are 800 block of College Parkway (near Summit) and Purgatory Pass and Cripple Creek Lane, near Highland Village Elementary School.
Things to do:
Keep your pets indoors when the city is spraying. You should be called by the city if they are operating in your neighborhood
Don’t leave food & water dishes outside during spraying.
Prevent open containers of water, or use “dunks” to prevent mosquitos. (This is good advice to help prevent heartworm disease in dogs & cats too. )
Keep pet birds indoors and protect yourself against mosquitos if you are outside (clothing, repellant spray).
For more information-City of Lewisville.
#17- Independence Day Safety Tips- June 28, 2017
I will keep this short & sweet.
Keep dogs and cats inside! That way they can’t run away, jump fences, dig out, or ruin back doors trying to get in.
Distract with music, television, playing, anything to distract.
Have ID on cats & dogs (name tags and/or microchips) just in case they escape from the yard & run away to hide from the noise. Homeagain link
Guests +Grills + Fun foods= lots of upset tummies. So be careful with” beggers”, “trash hounds”, “food thieves” &”counter surfers”. Watch out for well-meaning guests who sneak treats to our pets.
I have a sheltie who is getting more nervous about thunderstorms this year, and definitely hides and shakes with fireworks. I will be using Sileo for him.
Have a fun and safe Fouth of July Holiday!
For more information https://www.pet360.com/dog/lifestyle/dog-safety-tips-for-the-fourth-of-july/ownB_-HrTUKuqPe_xzuiuw
# 17 Flu Update- June 21, 2017
It’s the first day of summer but the hot news item is Dog Flu, or Canine Influenza. It’s in the local news because 2 dogs tested positive in Hood County, southwest of Fort Worth. As of today, I am not aware of any confirmed influenza cases in Denton, Dallas, Tarrant or Collin Counties. The 7 cases confirmed so far have been in Harris (Houston), Travis ( Austin), and now Hood(Granbury) counties.
This specific strain of flu, the H3N2, is the latest mutation for dogs. It first appeared in March 2015 in Chicago, made a lot of dogs run fevers and cough, but a few dogs did die. About 80% of dogs exposed to this viral strain will show symptoms of cough, some will get a high fever, and a few will get pneumonia. If your dog has been traveling and develops these symptoms let us or your family vet check them out. Usually, dog get exposed to this virus as the same places they get other respiratory diseases ( Bordatella- aka “kennel cough”) such as kennels, dog parks, doggie day cares & grooming salons. The bad news is there is no specific flu medicine for dogs, just supportive care. The good news is there is a vaccine to this strain since it has been around for a few years, although it takes a series of 2 injections, 3 weeks apart to impart good immunity. If we wait until it’s in the local dog parks, it will be too late
Here at Garden Ridge Animal Hospital, we have decided to carry the H3N2 Canine Influenza vaccine since it is getting close to our patch of Texas and some of our patients may be traveling to areas with confirmed cases. It is not recommended for all dogs, not even most dogs. But it might be indicated for some, and we will be ready with the vaccine and the latest information.
I am not trying to panic anyone. I just want to provide the facts, and options. This is a developing story, and it might get worse or better. But check here if you see stories on Facebook. I might have more accurate information. I will update this blog as we get more information.
So if your dog travels to the Houston, Austin or Granbury areas, goes to dog parks, doggie day care, boarding facilities or grooming spas, you might think about adding this vaccine to their other ones ( rabies, distemper, parvo, leptospirosis and bordatella) this summer.
For more information-
#16 What’s new with ticks?
I have recently attended two seminars on ticks, and was pleasantly surprised to find out there is new information about these nasty buggers.
Ticks are NOT insects like fleas, but arachnids, more closely related to mites and spiders. They not only suck blood, but carry and transit lots of diseases like Lyme’s, Ehrlichia, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and many more. Ticks can be found on many animal species (humans, dogs, cats, deer, cattle, horses, feral hogs, coyotes, rodents, reptiles, and birds), but each tick species is a little picky about what it prefers. And specific ticks spread only specific diseases, so tick identification is important.
I used to do a lot of tick identification, but mostly we found the Brown Dog Tick (named because it is all brown, not because it attacks only brown dogs), and the pretty Lone Star Tick (named because the female has a pretty white spot on her back). I am rethinking performing tick identification after these lectures because the normal ranges of many other ticks have really changed to include North Texas, and clients travel all over with their dogs. Tomorrow if a dog or cat comes in with ticks, I am certainly going to ask where they travel, pick off a tick, kill and store in alcohol, try to ID, and have the owner watch very closely for illness. About 7% of ticks in Texas have been found to carry diseases, but in Pennsylvania up to 40% of the tick carry Lymes organisms. And of course I am going to recommend tick prevention (oral systemic products like Simparica which work better than topical products like Frontline). The ticks still have to bite and suck blood to get the medicine, but they kill the tick faster than the time needed to transmit diseases like Lymes, Ehrlichia and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. I will recommend prevention year round, because ticks aren’t found only in the spring.
Other things we can do to avoid ticks are simple, such as not walking in high grass or brushy areas, keeping our yards clean so we don’t attract rodents and wildlife, don’t feed birds or squirrels, and use approved products on ourselves and our clothing like DEET and permethrin. Check yourself and your pets after possible exposure, especially body folds. If you find one, use fine tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible, and pull upward with steady even pressure. Then wash the area thoroughly with rubbing alcohol, or soap and water. Dispose of a live tick by submersing it in alcohol, sealing it in a ziplock bag, or flush it down the toilet. Never crush a tick with your fingers.
So the summary: ticks are bad news, spread diseases and are getting worse. The good news is we have better prevention products and better knowledge especially if can take the time to ID the tick.
For more information, http://www.tickencounter.org/
#15 Grieving and pets
I get asked a lot of questions about grieving, from the human side and the pet side. Unlike most human doctors, veterinarians see a lot of death in our patients. And for many owners, it is experienced up close and personal, while often human family members pass away in a hospital far away.
How to decide when it is time to say goodbye? I take the time to have a “courageous” conversation with my clients as we near the end of life of pets about the quality of life for their pet. This is very individual, and requires some frank discussions about pain management, hygiene, nutrition, mobility, safety, engagement with family and other pets, and preservation of dignity. We can use that implement a care plan, if one is possible. We also take into account the humans in the equation. And we discuss euthanasia in the hospital, euthanasia at home, or natural death. We don’t perform euthanasia at home anymore due to scheduling, but Peaceful Pathways for Pets and Pet Loss at Home do.
There are Five Stages of Grieving that apply to humans and pets. The first is denial, then bargaining, anger, depression and acceptance. I find many pet parents go through these, but not in the same order, and stress how normal it is to go back and forth. But all these emotions are normal for grieving. I think I see pets that do experience some of these stages when they lose a human or animal family member, especially depression and acceptance. I am not sure how dogs and cat view death, but they certainly can experience loss of a loved one. My best advice is to keep routines as normal as possible, with maybe more love and attention. Occasionally, getting another pet is a good answer, but not always. Families that have many pets that are all about the same age find it super hard when several pets die in a short time frame, so maybe staggering the ages is less painful.
Before and after euthanasia, 30% of pet owners will experience significant grief, and 50% will question their decision. This is normal too. The staff at Garden Ridge Animal Hospital is trained and skilled in bereavement conversations.
Many clients ask me when to get another pet. My standard advice is when THEY are ready, not the children or other pets. Ideally everyone is ready at the same time, but not always. I remember one case many years ago when a small dog darted out the door, and was killed by a neighbor’s large dog with one bite, right in front of the owner. The wife was quite distraught, and the husband tried to help her grieving by adopting a new puppy. The poor wife never bonded with the cute puppy, and then she felt guilty about that too.
Occasionally, clients need professional help or more resources. The Pet Loss Center is a resource for articles and referrals, and is the company that we use for pet cremations. I wouldn’t hesitate to reach out to them with questions about grieving.
#14 National Trails Day June 3, 2017
Did you know this Saturday is National Trails Day? What a great reminder to take a hike, ideally with our 4 legged canine family. Lewisville is sponsoring two hikes; a guided nature hike at LLELA and a “sneak peek” hike starting at Memorial Park. Only service dogs are welcome at the LLELA hike. The dog friendly one is at 2 pm, starting at the parking lot of the Senior Center of Memorial Park, at the corner of Valley Parkway and Corporate (1950 S Valley Parkway). “Get a guided sneak peek at Lewisville's future nature park. We'll blaze our own trail as we discover what makes this wooded corner in the middle of the city so special”. This is an estimated 1 mile hike, and should be over by 3:30 pm. If these aren't an option, consider a hike in your neighborhood, or local park.
Exercise is as important for dogs as it is humans, both physically and mentally. It helps manage weight and as we say, “a tired dog is a good dog.” As a pet parent, you have to use some common sense so we don’t push our dogs past their abilities. A mile hike on a hot day may be too much for your overweight older dog, or not nearly enough for a young active puppy. Remember to keep your dog on a leash at all times, bring some water, take breaks as needed, and use good manners if you encounter other dogs on your hike.
If you are into paddling instead of hiking, there is a grand opening of a paddling trail at Grapevine Lake at 9 am.
Whatever your favorite trail is, go out there and have some fun!
# 13 Moving with Pets Tips
My neighborhood has lots of Home For Sale signs on lawns sprouting like mushrooms. 65% of moves occur between Memorial Day & Labor Day. Moving can be stressful, but not if you plan ahead and make checklists. As the big day gets closer, pets will see and sense all the chaos and may become anxious. Adopted dogs might have emotional baggage about being abandoned. Here are some tips to help.
BEFORE THE MOVE
If possible, take them to new place. Let them see stuff going there before the big day. If the move is not nearby, decide if you are flying or driving. Most airlines require health certificates by a vet within 10 days of the flight. And it you are going international, check out the APHIS website (https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/pet-travel) by country of destination. Some of the rules are very specific about microchips, rabies vaccinations, and parasite treatments. Dr Henricks is licensed to write airline and international health certificates.
Get them used to the crate & car rides. It helps to use lots of treats, toys, calming pheromones, soft towels, and soft music for positive outcomes. Even if the move is just across town, and not across the state, practicing with the crate will destress everyone. Some pets may need “something stronger,” but most can have a significant decrease in their fear and anxiety with positive experiences. As a Fear Free Pet Certified veterinarian, if we need drugs, I am trained with several options. ( https://fearfreepets.com/)
Gather up medical records, prescription medicines, copies of vaccines & microchip info. Most vets are willing to print out your records (if computerized), copy records, fax or email them to your new vet. As an AAHA member, I am always happy to look up a referral in different cities to find another AAHA vet. (https://www.aaha.org/pet_owner/about_aaha/hospital_search/default.aspx?utm_content=buffer96050&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer)
Pack an “overnight bag”. Make sure pets favorite stuff goes with the pets especially beds, blankets, favorite toys, and of course food, water and dishes. Those things might be hard to find the first day.
Consider crating the day of the move, staying with a friend, or day boarding somewhere so pets are not under foot loose with movers going in and out, strangers in “their” home with lots of commotion.
Remember safety in cars or planes. Buckle those crates in.
Take breaks every 2 hours on long car trips.
Moving fish? You can transport fish a short distance in their own water in bags. Talk with your aquarium store for specifics.
Moving birds or small rodents? Make sure their cages are securely closed so no escaping. Covering the birds may also be less stressful for the car trip.
AFTER THE MOVE
Set up at least one room of the house before you let your pet loose. A new “home base”. This can be a great time for positive interactions, not anxious ones.
“Pet proof” the new house. Tuck away electrical wires, make sure screen windows are securely latched, check the backyard for toxic plants, and remove any rat poison bait.
Let you pets explore the house and yard, but supervised. This is a great time to think about changing outside cats to indoor only or at least for the first week or so to get them settled in and not run back to the old house.
Change your contact info with your vet so reminders go to the new address and phone number.
Change your info on the microchip data base. So many pets get lost the first weeks. Here at Garden Ridge Animal Hospital, we use Home Again chips https://www.homeagain.com/, but your pet might be on a different data base.
So good luck if you are moving, and I hope these tips help to ease the stress on our four legged children.
#12 The Purring Cat by Dr Bonnie Beaver, Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine
I had the good fortune during my prevet school and vet school education at Texas A&M University to take classes from Dr Beaver. She is a renowned behaviorist and in some ways a mentor for me. I saw this article on the Texvetpets website and it was too good not to share.
The cat’s purr has been fascinating to us for many years. It wasn’t until recently that we have come to understand its origin and perhaps its meaning too.
Historically, the purr has created much speculation. It was thought that the sound originated from fremitus, which is caused by disrupted blood flow in one of the major blood vessels (the aorta or caudal vena cava). Theoretically, that vessel formed a sharp bend when the cat arched its back while being pet. Science proves this theory wrong. The vessels don’t develop a sharp bend; they maintain their lumen size by arching. The sound really comes from the larynx (voice box) as do the other sounds a cat makes. To produce the purring sound, the size of the airflow opening narrows, creating turbulence.1 This explains why the purr can be loud if there is a great deal of constriction or soft if the opening is only slightly constricted. It also explains why some cats purr during inhalation and some during exhalation.
The other big question that comes up is why cats purr. What is its meaning? Obviously, we can never know because we can’t ask them; however, we can look at the situations in which cats purr and make educated guesses.2, 3 Queens purr while their kittens nurse. Cats use a “greeting” purr when they encounter friendly cats or people and when they are being pet. These are times we tend to think are pleasurable for the cat. But not all purr bouts seem to be associated with potentially pleasurable events. Some cats purr at times they seem to want something, usually food. This has been called a “request” purr. Perhaps this purr is the feline equivalent of a human’s smile.4 We usually smile when things are pleasurable, but we can also put on that fake smile when we want something from someone too.
1 Remmers, J.E. and Gautier, H. (1972): Neural and mechanical mechanisms of feline purring. Respir. Physiol. 16: 351-361.
2 Moelk, M (1944): Vocalizing in the house cat: a phonetic and functional study. Am J. Psychol. 57: 184-205.
3 Moelk, M. (1979): The development of friendly approach behavior in the cat: A study of kitten-mother relations and the cognitive development of the kitten from birth to eight weeks. Adv. Study Behav. 10: 163-224.
4 Beaver, B.V. (2003): Feline Behavior: A Guide for Veterinarians, 2nd ed. Saunders: St. Louis, p. 101-102.
- See more at: https://www.texvetpets.org/article/the-purring-cat/#sthash.0zLYPtlI.dpuf
#11 National Pet Week
It is a week for us to celebrate the human/animal bond. The AVMA is taking this year to highlight the seven things pet owners can do to ensure the healthiest and longest life possible for our pets, focusing on a “lifetime of love.”
It is also the week before Mothers Day. And as pet parents, we often think of ourselves as “mom” and “dad” to our pets. For many, it is a tradition to take Mom out to dinner. Why can’t our pets do this too? There are only a few local restaurants that allow pets. One that I visited this week is the new Twisted Root in downtown Lewisville They have a lovely patio that is dog friendly (sorry cats). If you know of more local restaurants that allow dogs on the outdoor patio, let me know.
So celebrate your own human/animal bond in your own way, or maybe with burgers and adult beverages.
#10 Heat related illness
Every May I hold my breath on warm muggy days that I don’t see my first heat stroke case. Clients seem to understand not to exercise their dogs or leave them in cars when it is 100 degrees, but get complacent when temperatures are only in the 80s. We have to remember that dogs can’t sweat like us to cool themselves, so they have to pant or be in direct contact with cool or wet surfaces.
Hyperthermia (elevated body temp) occurs when the core temp rises faster than compensatory mechanisms (panting, contact with cool surface) can regulate them, can be life threatening, and is a true medical emergency. Racing greyhounds can have a brief hyperthermia after a race, but then it comes down.
The danger zone is body temperature > 105 rectally. Normal resting temperature for dogs and cats is 100-102. Risk factors are exercise and high humidity, enclosed space (like a car), and hot surfaces like an asphalt parking lot. Some dog breeds are at risk due to short nosed breeds (Pekinese, Boston Terrier, Shih Tzu), narrow tracheas (English Bulldog, Yorkie), or elongated soft palates. And of course fat dogs are at risk because they are well insulated & some can’t take full breaths. Symptoms are panting, fast heart rate, dry mucous membranes, dark discolored membranes, depression, and seizures. Heat stroke affects nearly every organ like septic shock. The treatment is rapid cooling, fluid replacement for shock, and management of complications (clotting problems, kidney failure). Not all dogs survive.
Things to do:
Learn to read your dog for sign of overheating
Stay in the shade with a fan or where there is a breeze.
Make sure your dog has water to drink, and maybe a towel or “frog tog” to cool by evaporation.
Things NOT to do:
Don’t Exercising on warm muggy days, unless your dog has been conditioned to it.
Don’t leave pets in cars if temp > 70
Don’t overcool with water. The goal is between 102-103. You don’t need ice water.
Don’t force water in their mouth.
I contacted the Lewisville Animal Adoption Center for their advice to citizens who find a pet in car on a warm day. They recommend you call them @ 972-219-3478, and let come out and assess the situation. They will contact the police if the car must be broken into to help the pet. Don’t be a vigilante.
But it is the mild humid days that sneak up on owners. My little Pekinese almost had it one time on a mile walk on a muggy 80 degree day. I had to carry her because she couldn’t walk, found a yard with a sprinkler running & cooled her feet & face, and got her home. I was lucky.
#9 Fear Free Pet Principles
I have been taking classes in a new program designed to take the fear out of going to the vet for our dogs and cats, called Fear Free Pets. I thought I was doing a pretty good job up to now, but I am learning so much more. We all can experience some fear, anxiety, and stress when we go to the doctor, or dentist, and so can our pets. As a mom, I had to help coax and coach my children at the doctor or dentist too. Many times it was simple stuff like coloring or playing a handheld video game to distract them, and then giving treats when it was all done. It is the same principle with pets.
The training starts with how to tell if a cat or dogs is afraid, anxious, or stressed. Some things are obvious: barking, freezing, hiding, ears laid back, tail tucked for dogs, and hiding, hissing, ears laid back, dilated pupils for cats. But even less obvious signs like dogs yawning, or cats laying “all tucked up” are symptoms of anxiety.
Dogs and cats aren’t “bad” or “mean”, but they certainly can be fearful of new places, people, smells & sights, and they can act out then they feel trapped. “Fight or flight” is a real automatic nervous response, and I will add “freeze and fidget” to that response list.
So our goal is to coach pet owners on how to get their pets to the vet with as low a stress as possible. We are using lots of new things like calming pheromone sprays that you buy OTC at pet store, wraps with blankets or “thundershirts”, and conditioning dog and cats to car trips. How many cat owners put their cats if the car and NOT go the vet? The cat has learned to associate the crate and car with an unpleasant experience. What if we left the crate out all the time in the house, especially as a routine hiding “safe” place in the main room?
If your dog or cat has had a scary experience at the vet before, we might need special coaching to avoid some of the previous triggers. We had one this week that our notes said he bucked for blood draws, so this time we did our exam without stress, drew the blood at the end with lots of treats for distraction and it all went much better. Some pets might need antianxiety medicine the next few times to help overcome those fears. I would much rather spend some extra time on dogs with mild anxiety, than just force our way through a scary experience, and condition our pets to be really scared next time. Let us help you and your pets.
For more information, see fearfreepets.com
#8 April is Heartworm Awareness month
Most pet owners have heard about heartworms, but may be fuzzy on the details about the nasty little critters. I hear clients ask why should do a blood test when they look at their dogs poo and don’t see worms, or that they are “just backyard dogs” and never encounter other dogs.
Here are 5 IMPORTANT FACTS EVERY PET OWNER SHOULD KNOW ABOUT HEARTWORM DISEASE (but were afraid to ask)
#1: Blame the mosquito! Pets don’t infect each other with heartworms; pesky mosquitoes spread the disease. In fact, just ONE BITE from an infected mosquito is all it takes to infect your pet with heartworms.
#2: Heartworm infection has been diagnosed in all 50 states, but it is very prevalent in Texas. Click here to see 2016 incidence map. https://www.heartwormsociety.org/pet-owner-resources/incidence-maps
We routinely diagnose 3-6 cases of canine heartworms a year at Garden Ridge Animal Hospital.
#3: Cats as well as dogs get heartworm disease. Fortunately, there is a monthly topical prevention for cats called Revolution, and it controls fleas and intestinal parasites too! Unfortunately, cats are not the correct host, and their immune system goes into high gear to fight the migrating larva, which causes severe, and often fatal, lung disease.
#4: There’s no season for heartworm disease. That’s why the American Heartworm Society recommends year-round prevention.
#5: Heartworms are deadly, but heartworm prevention is affordable, highly effective and (usually) easy to give. The America Heartworm Society And Garden Ridge Animal Hospital recommend testing dogs for heartworm infection every 12 months and giving heartworm preventives 12 months a year. Here at Garden Ridge, we carry 2 affordable complete heartworm/intestinal oral preventions for dogs, but you can order ANY heartworm prevention brand from VetSource, our online pharmacy with a link on our website front page.
Some dogs are extra picky, and require some “pill pockets” or human food to hide the medicine. Our goal is for your dog to just think he is getting a “special treat” once a month.
For more information about heartworms: https://www.heartwormsociety.org/pet-owner-resources
#7 Easter hazards
April 10, 2017
For me, Easter was always about new dresses, going to church, decorated Easter baskets, coloring and hiding eggs, and eating chocolate bunnies. Yum. But all those candies can cause trouble for our pets. Chocolate, especially dark chocolate, is like an overdose of caffeine, causing vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures, and in severe cases, death. Some Easter candy may have artificial sweeteners such as xylitol, which can cause a rapid severe drop in blood sugar in dogs and cats, leading to seizures and death. And even innocent Peeps and jelly beans can cause gastrointestinal upset if ingested. The solution is to keep all candy out of reach of pets.
What basket would be complete without fake “Easter” grass? This stuff can be really dangerous in a puppy or kitten’s GI tract since it isn’t digestible at all.
Easter lilies are beautiful but deadly, especially to cats. If your cat chews on one, call the Flower Mound Emergency Pet Clinic immediately. For more information-https://www.thespruce.com/are-lilies-poisonous-to-cats-3385489
Hiding plastic or dyed eggs? Keep track of the number so Fido doesn’t find a spoiled egg in a few days.
Lastly, please don’t give children live pets like chicks or bunnies, just colored Peeps & chocolate bunnies. Enjoy the holiday.
#6 Stormy weather
April 5, 2017
April showers bring May flowers, but here in North Texas the showers sometime bring noisy thunderstorms, dangerous hail, damaging high winds and tornados. And we actually had all those last week!
Thunderstorms and noisy phobias
When I ask clients if their dogs are afraid of thunderstorms, about half of them say yes, but the reaction varies from mild to severe. For dogs that only exhibit mild anxiety like hiding or seeking attention, it is enough to give them a safe place like their crate or closet, or a distraction like playing, or maybe some soothing music. Don’t give them too much attention or you might be rewarding the attention seeking. For the moderate phobias, I add Thundershirts and calming pheromone balls like Adaptil. If the dog is waking the whole house up, digging up carpeting, ruining doors, or jumping through windows, it is time for medication. We are fortunate to have a safe and approved product called Sileo that blunts the reaction to noise (even fireworks), works in 30 minutes, and only lasts 2 hours. It is administer as a paste in the cheek pouch, not a pill or liquid. If the thunderstorm lasts longer than 2 hours, the paste can be repeated. I used Sileo last year on my dog for firework noise phobia. He was able to sit calmly beside me, not cower or hide every time a shell exploded. It can also be given AFTER the panic attack has started, and works just as well.
Stay inside. Make sure your outdoor dogs have a dog house or covered patio. Hail can kill.
Even “just” high winds can damage trees and knock fences down, as we were reminded last week. The best prevention is to keep your fence in good shape, keep collars on with rabies and ID tags, and have them microchipped. I am a big fan of microchips in pets because they are small, safe, and I have never seen a problem with one. It is an inert barcode on a rice sized ceramic bead, implanted with a syringe, that can be easily scanned by vets or animal service personnel like a VIN number on a car. We then call a database, given them the number, and pets get reconnected with their pet parents. I recommend everyone contact their chip database yearly or when information changes to keep it updated. We have stories about vacationing owners reading their email to learn their pet was “at large” before the pet sitter even knew it was missing!
I can’t stress enough the importance of having a shelter location in your home, with leashes or carriers for dogs and cats, and of course a radio & flashlight. Years ago, one of my nurses heard the tornado siren, got into the bathroom with her pitbull and cat, while everyone was scared, and it wasn’t pretty. After that, she crated the cat and kept the dog on a leash. Crates give an extra layer of protection for falling debris, and the leash keeps frightened dogs from running off if the walls come down. Be prepared.
For more information on Natural disaster preparedness http://www.petmd.com/dog/care/evr_multi_disaster_planning_for_pets
#5 Grooming (or FUZZ Happens)
March 29, 2017
Having your pets groomed isn’t just to make them look pretty. Their skin & coats need attention just like our skin & hair, and here are some good reasons to get your pets groomed:
1) Removes mats, tangles, stickers. Removes pollen that can trigger allergies. Remove excessive oils.
2) Removing loose undercoat will help a dog or cat stay cooler in summer/shed less in house
3) Manages nails to correct length
4) Cleans ears & anal glands
5) Checks for fleas/tick & skin masses
6) Makes pets smell better so we want to be near them more.
7) Most pets like it!
Did you know dogs have different coat types including “short”, double coated(heavy undercoat), silky & curly(like poodles)? Professional groomers have different tools and brushes for each type, and special high volume cool dryers. Groomers are trained to trim nails, pluck and clean ears, and express anal glands. (These three areas are the one I see missed by home grooming.) Groomers have one special virtue: patience! There are some dogs and cats that don’t do well away from home, and for those consider mobile grooming, where a van pulls up to your home, hooks up your water and electricity and grooms your pet on your property. If you can groom your dog at home, you are special. Many pet owners can do brushing and bathing between professional groomings to keep their dog looking & smelling nice.
Garden Ridge Animal Hospital is fortunate to have Monica as it’s groomer for over 10 years. She only does 4-6 pets per day, so it is not as stressful as some crowded facilities. She not only grooms dogs, but also cats, rabbits, and occasional ferrets. If she spots a problem, the doctor is right here and can evaluate it. Grooming can be combined with routine visits for annual exam, vaccines and heartworm testing. She has an assortment of medicated shampoos. If fleas or ticks are found, products can be recommended specific to your pet, which include chewable oral and topical medications like Simparica and Vectra for dogs, and Revolution for cats.
So start your spring cleaning with grooming for your pets. They will thank you.
# 4 Wildlife update
March 21, 2017
Even though we are in a suburban area, Lewisville and the surrounding cities are loaded with green belts and therefore wildlife. As it begins to warm up, we will have more sighting of skunks, snakes, coyotes, and bobcats. Which is the scariest is debatable.
Snakes just freak a lot of people out, and many dogs will be bit investigating snakes in the backyard. Most snakes are not poisonous and help control the rodent population, but we do have lots of copperheads, especially out in Copper Canyon and west Flower Mound. Texas does have all 4 poisonous families of snakes (Rattlesnake, Copperhead, Water Moccasin, and Coral snake), but the most common here is the Copperhead. This is good because it is the LEAST Venomous. http://www.copperhead-snake.com/ The Flower Mound Animal Emergency Clinic (http://www.fmepc.com, 2331 Cross Timbers, in the Sprouts shopping center) is very familiar with the treatment of this snakebite. They have the latest anti-venom drugs and protocols. For pets that travel to west Texas we are worried about Rattlesnakes. There is actually a “vaccine” to help build up tolerance to the Rattlesnake venom and give the dog more time to make it to an emergency hospital.
Skunks here in North Texas are the #1 vector for Rabies (but in Austin it is bats). Rabies is a viral encephalitis disease with no cure, but good vaccines for prevention. Affected skunks behave oddly for a nocturnal shy species, often coming out during the day, and acting friendly to people or “drunk”. If you see a skunk out the daytime, call animal control immediately. Your pets might be vaccinated, but the feral /stray cats in the neighbor probably aren’t and are the 2nd most common affected species after skunks. Remember to keep all your dogs, cats (even the indoor ones), and ferrets vaccinated against rabies. It is the law, and it is there to protect pets and humans from rabies. Garden Ridge Animal Hospital now carries the Rabies vaccine for ferrets!
Lewisville Animal Control is reporting lots of citizen sightings of coyotes & bobcats. Neither of these are much a threat to a backyard dog or cat, and certainly not to humans. They would much rather eat rodents, small birds, rabbits, and feral cats. However, they will be attracted to your backyard or garage if you leave pet food out, or bird seed, or fallen fruit from trees. If bobcats are seen in your area, it might be wise not to leave small dogs, cats, or chickens outside overnight.
So enjoy the wildlife, and keep your pets safe and vaccinated for rabies. Watch out for snakes, but remember most are beneficial and not poisonous.
# 3 SPRING BREAK- “DOGS GONE WILD” AT THE DOG PARKS
March 14, 2017
Many of my clients are enjoying the mild spring weather and more light in the evening to take their dogs to the dog park. We are lucky here in Lewisville to have several parks close by. The city manages a very large nice park with 2 fenced areas (one for small dogs, one for large dogs) at Railroad Park, east of I35 between Hebron & Business 121 ( by the dump). www.cityoflewisville.com/home/showdocument?id=6853
Flower Mound has its Hound Mound, on Garden Ridge Blvd, south of FM 3040. http://www.flower-mound.com/1549/Dog-Park-FAQs
Dog parks are wonderful places to take you pooches to play, run, sniff, bark & socialize safely, but you have to follow the written rules. These usually are that dogs must be vaccinated for Rabies, off leash, no young children, no puppies < 4 months, not in heat, and no more than 2 dogs per person.
Some guidelines: when you pull up, check out the group of dogs before entering. Trust your instincts and don’t go in if it doesn’t feel safe to you.
Make sure your dog will come to you when called. This is called “recall”. (They won’t be on a leash)
Avoid the peak times – usually 5-7 pm.
Keep little dogs with little dogs, not the big dogs.
Read your pet’s body language for signs of anxiety: tucked tail, raised hackles, bared teeth, growling, hiding, cowering, and avoiding other dogs. If you see these, leave.
Watch out for owners that aren’t paying attention to their dog’s behavior & avoid them.
Remember that dog parks are not a place to work on their problem behavior, especially bullying, and not interacting well with humans or other dogs. If Fido does have these issues, come and see us for a behavior consultation. There is no shame to ask for help, and Dr Henricks & the staff enjoy helping dogs and cats overcome problems.
Make sure your dog is also vaccinated against canine distemper, parvovirus, and Kennel cough (Bordetella). We aren’t seeing dog flu here now.
So go out there and enjoy the mild spring weather. Run, play ball, go wild with your dog!
#2 The Birds and the Bees
March 6, 2017
It is the first week of March, after “the warmest winter on record”, and it looks like spring has already sprung, and nature is all about reproducing. So my topic this week is “the birds and the bees.” But I am going to keep it clean enough to show your kids.
First BEES. Many of my clients know that I am beekeeper and I find these little working girls fascinating! (All the workers are female clones of the queen, no males). I just finished taking an online veterinary medicine class on BEE MEDICINE. Yes, it really is a thing. They get bacterial diseases, viral diseases, and lots of parasites, especially mites. And bee keepers struggle with these issues just like dog & cat owners. But how to kill mites and not bees, and not get chemicals in the honey is pretty tricky. This brings me back to basic insect lifecycle, like the butterfly that we all studied in school: Egg, caterpillar, cocoon, and butterfly. Or for bees: egg, larva, pupae, adult bee. Or for fleas: same egg, larva, pupae, adult flea.
Now when a queen bee lays eggs in the hives, we don’t see them, or the larva & pupae. When flea females lay eggs on your pet inside your home, OR on the backyard possum OR feral cat under your backyard shed, we don’t see the eggs, larva or pupae. By the time you see fleas on your pets, there are hundreds of egg/larva/pupae in the environment. That is pretty scary stuff. So don’t wait until you see fleas or ticks to begin treatment. Be proactive with systemic insecticides IN our pets, NOT spraying the environment which can poison our friends the bees.
Now the BIRDS. When a mommy bird and a daddy bird love each other very much, they make little baby birds that live in nests in trees. When we have big wind storms, like today, sometime they get blown out of the nest. Or sometimes they are little teenager birds just learning to fly, and get down but now back up. We get calls here every spring by concerned bird lovers that baby birds are on the ground, “abandoned” by their parents. This is probably not the case. If you see the nest and can put the baby back, it is OK to do so. The parents won’t reject it because you handled it. If you don’t see the nest, or can’t reach it, try to make a safe place for the baby nearby (under a bush, or 3 sided box) AND keep your pets away from the area for a day or two. The parents will hear the cries, and tend the baby on the ground until it can fly. Bird parents love their babies too.
And that is my take on the BIRDS and the BEES.
Next week- SPRING BREAK- DOGS GONE WILD at dog parks.
#1 Fleas and Ticks
Feb 28, 2017
Here it is the end of February, and we are having another warm day. The Pear trees are blooming and it has rained recently. IF I WERE A FLEA OR TICK, this is great weather. I would love to hatch out of my cocoon and hop onto a roaming cat, possum or other other critter and get a nice warm blood meal. Next stop- your backyard!
Just like we put out weed killers BEFORE the yard is covered with dandelions, I recommend you start cats & dogs on fleas & tick medicine BEFORE you see fleas and ticks. Those little bugs lay eggs like crazy and you can’t see the eggs/larvae /pupae, only the adults. And you won’t see many adult fleas or ticks- our pets are too good about licking & biting them off (esp the cats).
Ask our staff about systemic insecticides (much better than topical) for dogs and cats. We have great new products to PREVENT FLEAS & TICKS.
Next week- Birds and Bees