# 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