Holiday Gifts for Pets

If you are like most of our clients–and, according to a recent Nielsen survey, 95% of pet owners–you consider your pet to be part of your family. And if you’re like 90 percent of cat-only owners and 96 percent of dog-only owners surveyed by VetStreet, you buy holiday gifts for your pet.

According to VetStreet, half the owners who buy gifts for their cat spend $10 to $25, 22% spend less than $10, 19% spend $26 to $50, 7% spend $51 to $100 and 2% spend more than $100.

Nearly half of gift-giving dog owners spend in the $10 to $25 range, 26% spend $26 to $50, 15% spend less than $10, 8% spend $51 to $100 and 3% give their dogs gifts costing more than $100.

The most popular gifts for cats were treats and toys, followed by “home items” like scratching posts, cat trees, beds and bowls and holiday-themed toys and clothing.

Treats were the most popular gift for dogs, followed by toys. Owners said they were less than half as likely to buy holiday-themed gifts for their dogs, followed by leashes, collars, harnesses, bowls, feeders and beds.

Of those who own dogs or cats, 66% also buy gifts for other people’s pets.

What’s on your Christmas shopping list for the dogs and cats in your life? We think treats are a wonderful choice, so long as your pet doesn’t overindulge on Christmas morning. Ideally, the gift of treats will last well into the new year!

In choosing toys, we recommend playthings designed specifically for pets. Avoid toys that can be swallowed, either whole or in parts.

Finally, just for the fun of it, here’s our favorite YouTube video of pets opening Christmas presents.

Happy holidays from the Brownsburg Animal Clinic family to yours!

Pets as Christmas Gifts

Each year, with the best and most generous of intentions, people give pets as Christmas gifts. But if you search for “pets as Christmas gifts” on Google or Bing, you’ll find more warnings than support of the idea.

At Brownsburg Animal Clinic, we dedicate ourselves to promoting and supporting successful pet ownership. We believe at any time of year, giving a pet as a gift to another person–particularly as a surprise–can potentially turn out to be bad for the people and pets involved. We also believe, with proper consideration and preparation, giving a pet as a gift can result in a happy, mutually-satisfying relationship for the life of the pet.

And research backs us up.

One study published in the journal Animals examined whether receiving an animal as a gift had an impact on the owner’s love for or attachment to the pet and found no significant difference in attachment to pets between gift recipients and people who had acquired their pets themselves. Some owners feel an even greater attachment to the pet received as a gift because a loved one was the giver. Surprise gifts of animals were acceptable to 75% of those who had received them and some said the surprise itself strengthened their attachment.

Other studies have looked at whether cats and dogs received as gifts are more likely to be surrendered to a shelter than those acquired in other ways. Contrary to what you might expect, it turns out animals given as gifts have a significantly lower risk of ending up in a shelter than dogs and cats purchased or acquired by the owners.

In light of these facts, why do so many people warn against pets as Christmas gifts? Here are the major reasons:

  • Bringing a companion animal into a household creates a major responsibility for the lifetime of the pet, which could be 10 to 15 or more years for a dog or cat. Caring for a pet takes time, money and commitment. Only the primary caregiver can decide if he or she is willing and able to take on the responsibility for a pet.
  • Matching the right pet to the household and lifestyle of the owner(s) requires thoughtful consideration. Pets vary in their needs for time, space and attention, exercise and training. Making a sound, thoughtful choice is key to the longterm success of the relationship, and only the prospective owner can say what his or her true requirements and preferences are.
  • Children who receive pets as Christmas gifts may not be ready, willing nor able to take responsibility for the animal’s care. Older children may take on much of the care, but the adults in the household should expect to be the primary caregivers.
  • Holidays can be hectic, and there are often additional household hazards, such as ornaments, electrical cords, potentially harmful plants and foods, to endanger a pet. Bringing an animal into the household at such a busy time of year places unnecessary stress on the pet and can make the adjustment more difficult than it would be at more “normal” times of the year.

We agree these are all critically important considerations. But we believe, with some creativity and common sense, the gift of a pet can work. Here’s how:

  • As appealing as the image of a kitten or puppy under a Christmas tree can be, we strongly prefer the idea of representing the pet with a stuffed animal.
  • New pets need lots of gear–food, food bowls, collars and leashes, beds, carriers, crates and healthful, safe treats. All these can be waiting under the tree in anticipation of the new pet.
  • Matching the pet to the household and owner requires some thoughtful consideration and can benefit from research. Another great holiday gift, instead of the pet itself, is a book about choosing a pet.
  • Finally, once the new owner has considered and clarified the type of pet he or she will most enjoy and appreciate, we strongly encourage giving the pet the gift of a great new home by acquiring it from a shelter or rescue organization.

At Brownsburg Animal Clinic, every one of us is dedicated to enriching and supporting our clients’ relationships with their pets. We consider all our animal companions to be gifts, providing us unconditional love and enriching our lives with their playfulness and winning ways. If you are the giver or a receiver of a pet this Christmas, we will be happy to support you in making the relationship a success.

Thanksgiving Safety for Pets

If this painting depicting the first Thanksgiving in 1621 is to be believed, a dog was among the guests at the celebration. But Thanksgiving as we celebrate it today can be very dangerous for pets.

Here’s a quick summary by Dr. Ron DeHaven, chief executive officer of the American Veterinary Medical Association, of guidelines for safeguarding your pet this Thanksgiving.

Happy Cat Month

September is Happy Cat Month, a great time to focus on what makes your cat happy. Here’s the news release from the CATalyst Council, including good advice for our cat-owning clients.

Cats: feed them, love them, take them to the veterinarian. But when was the last time you thought about whether your cat is happy? Jane Brunt, DVM, Executive Director of the CATalyst Council and owner of Cat Hospital At Towson in Maryland says one of the keys to keeping cats healthy is keeping them happy. “Studies show that happy cats are healthier cats, and healthy cats are happier cats,” she says.

That’s why, for the seventh consecutive year, Brunt and the CATalyst Council have declared September as Happy Cat Month: a time to promote feline wellness by highlighting the link between feline happiness and health, and to encourage actions and activities that support happy  — and healthy — cats.

“Think about it from your cat’s perspective,” says Brunt. Most cats spend their days in a confined area like a house or apartment, they have no choice about what to eat or drink or where to eliminate; there are no trees to climb, and they sometimes don’t have access to a safe hiding place. And even though cats are predators, their natural instinct to hunt is rarely engaged. “They’re often not given the opportunity to be cats,” says Brunt. Plus, she says, “cats are also prey animals. Yet they have to share their limited space with large omnivorous mammals — people — and sometimes with other carnivores like dogs, or even other cats, who compete with them for their limited resources.”

Living in a threatening or unenriched environment is stressful for cats, according to veterinarian and CATalyst Council board member Dr. Tony Buffington, Clinical Professor Department of Medicine and Epidemiology UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.   “When cats perceive threat — or don’t get appropriate stimulation — their stress response system is triggered,” says Buffington. If the situation goes on for too long, it can affect your cat’s health. “For example,” says Buffington, “lower urinary tract signs or symptoms such as not using the litter box or straining are some of the most common responses to constant activation of the stress response system. It is not caused by spite, as some frustrated owners think.”

If a stressed cat is an unhealthy cat, then a happy cat is more likely to be a healthy one. What can cat owners do to make their cats not only less stressed, but more happy? CATalyst Council has a few suggestions:

Let them be safe and secure. “Like other prey animals, cats are vulnerable when they’re eating,” says Brunt. “Instead of putting a food bowl against a wall, move it away about the length of the cat, so your pet can eat facing the room.” If there are other cats in the house, Brunt suggests leaving space in between feeding stations. “If dogs share the home, consider feeding on a counter or designated table, so your cats feel safer.”

Give cats places to get high — and low. “Cats climb trees for two reasons: to survey their territory as hunters, and to escape as prey,” says Buffington. Give your cat access to high places in your home. This can range from expensive store-bought cat trees to simply clearing the top of a bookshelf for easy feline access. Some cats prefer to hide lower to the ground — under the bed, behind the sofa, or in a closet; make sure your home has some high and low places, so your cat can find the safe refuge he or she requires.

Encourage the hunter within. “For cats, hunting tends to take place in a particular order: Find. Stalk. Attack. Eat,” says Buffington. Try to encourage that order when playing with your cat. “Think how an injured bird or mouse might act,” he says, “and mimic that behavior with a cat toy.” Buffington is a huge fan of food puzzles, toys that encourage cats to figure out how to get food before eating it. “Studies show that animals — even humans — are happier when they can work for their meals,” he says. “If there’s one piece of ‘happiness advice I’d give cat owners, it’s to feed their cats with food puzzles.”

Give them their space. Whenever possible in multi-pet households, make sure each cat has access to a complete set of resources. “That includes food, water, litter box, and places to rest, scratch and climb — all out of sight of another cat,” says Buffington. Make sure their access can’t be blocked by another cat, even if you think your cats get along. “Conflict among cats is sometimes difficult for owners to see,” he says. “Even an action as subtle as a glance accompanied by a slightly different body posture can be a way for one cat to intimidate another.”

Keep it clean — litter-ally. “Cats are fastidious creatures,” says Brunt. “Inside our homes, we want them to use litter boxes, but we need to do our part by emptying them at least once or twice a day.” It’s also important to ensure that access to litter boxes cannot be blocked by other cats, or at least to provide alternative locations. Experts recommend at least one litter box on each level of a home, or one more than the number of cats in the house.

“We all can learn to think like a cat,” says Brunt. “And the best teacher is… your cat! Watch where he hides when startled. Pay attention to how she plays. Enrich his life with areas that make him feel safe and activities that play into her innate capabilities. This will help make your feline friend happier — and healthier.”

For more information and tips about ways to enrich your cat’s life, follow @CATalystCouncil or the hashtag #HappyCatMonth on Twitter and Facebook throughout September or check out the Indoor Pet Initiative or The Cat Community.

Caring for Your Canine Athlete

The field of sports medicine for people has grown a lot in the past few years, and within veterinary medicine, sports medicine for dogs isn’t far behind. Of course, it makes sense. As people adopt more active lifestyles, they enjoy involving their dogs in activities, too.

Most dogs are more than willing to run and play until they drop. A lot of times, their owners don’t realize inactive or out-of-shape dogs can over-train or hurt themselves just as human “weekend athletes” do.

Major differences in canine and human physiology make dogs more vulnerable to overheating than humans. Dogs don’t tolerate heat as well as people. Instead of sweating, they pant. When the air outside is hot, the panting doesn’t help them cool down as much, so they may be at risk for a heat stroke in situations that wouldn’t normally cause a person to overheat. Most people think if they’re OK in the heat, the dog is OK, too. But that’s not always the case.

Of course, we want our clients to have fun with their dogs. Walking or running and playing together are great for the dog and the owner. We just want people to ask themselves a few key questions before they get into any heavy exercise program with their dog—particularly in hot weather.

Is your dog in condition? Like people, dogs need conditioning to build muscles and cardiovascular fitness before walking or running long distances. If you want your dog to go with you on long-distance walks or runs, start with short distances and increase distance gradually.

Is your dog old enough for running? It takes 12 to 24 months, depending on the breed, for a young dog’s skeletal system to mature. Your veterinarian can advise you about your breed. Until then, limit running, jumping and other strenuous exercise.

Does your dog have hip dysplasia? Hip dysplasia is a common orthopedic problem in dogs, especially in the larger breeds. If you have a breed that’s prone to hip dysplasia, or if your dog seems to have trouble getting up and moving around, you need to avoid strenuous exercise until your veterinarian X-rays your dog’s hips.

How’s your dog’s cardiovascular system? Any kind of aerobic exercise works the cardiovascular system. Before you get into a strenuous exercise program with your dog-especially if it’s an older dog-you should have a veterinarian check for heart defects or disease.

Is your dog obese? It’s a great idea for overweight dogs to get exercise, but you should start slowly and build up levels of exertion gradually. To tell if your dog is overweight, you should be able to feel, but not see your dog’s ribs.

Does your dog have access to fresh water? Water is necessary for proper muscle function and flushes out waste products without damaging the kidneys. Water helps keep a dog cool, too. We suggest taking along a water bottle or canteen when exercising with your pet.

Do you know the symptoms of heat stroke? Dogs do not tolerate heat as well as humans. Hot weather can be deadly to dogs if they overheat enough to have a heat stroke. If your dog pants incessantly, feels hot to the touch and has pale or blue gums, you must cool him down immediately. Douse him with cool water and get him to a veterinarian at once. Some breeds are more vulnerable to heat stroke than others. Any dog with a pushed-in face, like a Boston terrier, a bulldog, a pug or a Pekinese, is usually more likely to have serious problems with heat than a breed with a longer muzzle.

The veterinarians at Brownsburg Animal Clinic agree the benefits of exercise for dogs far outweigh the risks, provided owners take the recommended precautions. “We don’t want to scare anybody, and we certainly don’t want to discourage people from exercising and playing with their dogs. We just want to be sure dog owners are aware of possible problems before they happen.

Sully and the Sunscreen

Last Saturday, my son Rhys and I took a bike ride. Before we left the house, I applied sunscreen to protect his fair skin.

When we returned home about an hour later, I found a large pile of strange-looking thick, white vomit in front of the couch. As I prepared to clean it up, I discovered more vomit on the stairs and in the hall. Then I discovered a chewed-up sunscreen bottle.

Most clients in my situation would have immediately called the clinic for help and guidance. But as general practice veterinarians, we doctors at Brownsburg Animal Clinic are like family doctors for our patients. We know a lot about your pet’s overall health and many common conditions they may have, but we can’t possibly know everything on every subject. That is why we often enlist the help of veterinary specialists, ranging from surgeons to dentists to dermatologists and yes, even toxicologists.

If I had received a call last Saturday morning about a patient who ingested sunscreen, I would not have been certain of the best course of treatment to take. There are so many new drugs and chemical compounds available, it is impossible for a general practitioner to keep up with which ones cause toxicities in pets and how to treat these toxicities if a pet is exposed. That’s why, when we receive such calls, if we’re not absolutely sure of what to do, we make an immediate referral to the Pet Poison Helpline.

The Helpline serves as 24-7-365 poison control for your pet. For a per-incident fee of $59, they will help you and your veterinarian (if needed) work through exposure to medications and chemicals that may be harmful to your pet. You will be assigned a case number and you and your veterinarian can call as many times as needed to seek advice on how to proceed with care.

At the clinic, we have referred clients to the specialists at Pet Poison Helpline several times. In some cases, we found the pet’s exposure to a potential toxin did not need follow-up care because the helpline staff determined the dose was not large enough to be toxic. In other cases, our clients were instructed to bring their pets to our office so we could induce vomiting and give activated charcoal and IV fluids. We also have had clients referred to a 24-hour veterinary care facility for several days of decontamination.

Chewed bottle of sunscreen

With that chewed-up sunscreen bottle in my hand, I thought about all the different chemicals Sully had swallowed, and while I know just what to do in cases of chocolate exposure or exposure to anti-freeze, I had no idea about these chemicals.

So I essentially referred myself to the Pet Poison Helpline, and one of their veterinarians helped me assess the situation.

I was able to provide her the name and brand and some of the ingredients still legible on the chewed-up label. We were able to determine the missing ingredients and estimate how much he was exposed to. Luckily, the level was not fatal and not enough to cause kidney damage. But it was enough to potentially cause stomach ulceration, so I started him on a stomach protectant.

The doctor also recommended doing some blood work the following day, just to make sure the exposure wasn’t higher than we suspected. I found Sully’s liver values were slightly elevated, so I checked back in with the doctor at Pet Poison Helpline, and we discussed adding a liver supplement and rechecking blood work in a few weeks.

This experience with Sully taught me a lot.

  1. Keep sunscreen out of my dogs’ (and son’s) reach.
  2. Zinc oxide is a good emetic (vomiting agent) that stains carpet white.
  3. The Pet Poison Helpline is a great, potentially life-saving resource for pet owners–including general-practice veterinarians like me–who need fast, accurate advice from a specialist in toxicology.

Wishing you all a safe summer!

 

Answering Your Questions About Leptospirosis

Many clients have been asking us about some recent news stories about leptospirosis–a deadly bacteria primarily affecting dogs but also, rarely, in cats.

Leptospirosis is nothing new and in fact, has been in Indiana for many years. The recent increase in diagnosed cases could be due to improved diagnostic tests for the disease, improved tracking, as well as increased contact between pets and the environment where leptospirosis can be found.

Fortunately, there is a leptospirosis vaccine available for dogs, which we recommend for all dogs that have any potential for exposure. If there is wildlife in your neighborhood, your pets are at risk. Another risk factor is exposure to or drinking from rivers, lakes or streams.

This disease can be fatal to our canine friends and is zoonotic, meaning humans can contract it. These are two reasons we highly recommend this vaccine for most dogs.

In some patients, the leptospirosis vaccine can cause a vaccine reaction. In most cases, the reactions we see are mild, with some facial swelling and hives. If your pet has a history of reactions to vaccines, please speak with your veterinarian to discuss the pros and cons of administering this vaccine.

To learn more about leptospirosis, visit the American Veterinary Association web site.  To have your pet vaccinated, call the clinic to schedule an appointment.

 

Dental Health Month 2017 Ends Tuesday!

Here we are, nearly all the way through National Pet Dental Health Month, and all our available dental appointments are filled. We’ve even extended the discount through the first couple of weeks of March to meet the demand!

Thanks so much to  our clients who care enough about their pets’ health to schedule a dental cleaning! They will receive a 10% discount and, while supplies last, a “dental goodie bag.”

We also offer a 10% discount off dental cleanings year-round if, during an annual wellness exam, we recommend a dental cleaning and you schedule an appointment for your pet within 30 days. The goodie bags are available only in February (and until we run out in March), but we offer the discount to encourage excellent dental health care every month of the year.

The benefits of the dental procedure in our office can be supplemented by home-care. To give you an idea of what’s involved, here’s a short video about dental home-care for dogs from the College of Veterinary Medicine at Auburn University.

Here’s one about how to brush your cat’s teeth.

For your convenience, we carry the dental health care products shown in both videos in our online store.

Cal’s Dental Procedure

With all of February dedicated to dental health care for pets, I want to give you a behind-the-scenes look at my own boxer–General Stubs Calhoun–and his recent visit to the clinic for a dental cleaning and exam. I hope this post will not only answer any questions you may have about what goes on during a dental procedure, but also show you that I personally consider dental health care essential for all pets, including my own.

Cal turned seven this past July. It had been two years since his last dental cleaning.

As a boxer, Cal is at higher-than-average risk for a condition called gingival hyperplasia, causing his gums to proliferate and grow so extensively as to cover his teeth. Cal has this condition, so in addition to cleaning his teeth two years ago, we did a gingival resection, in which we removed the excess gum tissue in several areas of his mouth. He recovered very nicely and had been doing just fine.

But several months ago, we noticed Cal was not chewing his rawhides the way he used to, and he had a slightly pungent odor to his breath. I did a physical exam, finding a little tartar and a few areas of gingival hyperplasia. I didn’t see any obvious signs of abscessed teeth. Still, I knew something was wrong, so I decided to bring him in for a complete dental exam, including full-mouth dental radiographs (x-rays).

The procedure started with the necessary preanesthetic blood work to make sure Cal had no underlying health issues that might make anesthesia too risky. Once we had Cal under anesthesia, we did our radiographs and found several fractured teeth. The fractures were below the gum line, so there was no way to see them–even with a regular dental cleaning and probing–without the x-rays.

We extracted the cracked teeth and resected the overgrown gums. We scaled and polished the remaining teeth.

Cal has recovered very well. He did need to eat a soft diet for about 10 days, but after that, resumed eating his usual dry kibbles. And he’s back to enjoying his rawhides!

I understand it can be a little scary to consider putting an older pet like Cal under anesthesia for a dental cleaning. That’s why we take measures to minimize the risks.

  • We require blood work within the past six months to be sure all organs are functioning well and able to handle the medications we use.
  • We use the safest anesthesia available.
  • All pets have intravenous catheters and receive fluids throughout the procedure.
  • While one technician cleans the teeth and makes the x-rays, another focuses throughout the procedure on monitoring the patient’s oxygen and carbon dioxide levels, electrocardiogram, heart rate, blood pressure and temperature using monitoring equipment very similar to what you would find in a human hospital.

Still on the fence about scheduling your pet’s dental appointment? Here are some additional resources from the American Veterinary Medical Association, including links to a dental health quiz, videos to help you teach your pet to accept home tooth-brushing and even more information about the “whys” of dental health care for your companion animal.

If you are ready to schedule a professional cleaning, contact us now to schedule an appointment. Remember, February is Dental Health Month, so we are offering a 10% discount off our regular price plus a free dental goody bag to take home to all who schedule dental procedures in February. Spaces are limited, so call today.

Dental Health Begins at Home

Dental health for pets begins at home with regular brushing. Some of our clients or their groomers scale built-up tartar off pets’ teeth, too.

But brushing and scaling are not enough. In fact, scaling without professional polishing creates micro-fissures in the teeth where plaque can adhere, leading to even more tartar build-up.

A professional dental cleaning , done under anesthesia, allows all surfaces of the pet’s teeth to be scaled, polished and examined for defects. We also examine the gums, tongue and the rest of the oral cavity and take full-mouth x-rays to examine teeth below the gum line. The part of the tooth showing above the gums–the crown–can look great, while there can be serious issues going on with the roots.

For more information about your pet’s dental health, including helpful home-care products that really work, we recommend the Veterinary Oral Health Council web site. Products with the VOHC Seal of Approval produce the best results and are safe for your pet. Several of these products are available at our online store.

For a professional cleaning, contact us now to schedule an appointment. February is Dental Health Month, so we are offering a 10% discount off our regular price plus a free dental goody bag to take home. Spaces are limited, so call today.

Heartworm Prevention is a Year-Round Commitment

One crisp fall day last week, I spotted–and swatted–a mosquito in my kitchen. As much as a I love all creatures great and small, I am first and foremost a doctor dedicated to protecting my loved ones, including family members and patients, from the many diseases mosquitoes carry–not to mention, the discomfort of itchy mosquito bites.

Long before the mosquito-borne Zika virus became such a concern in human medicine, heartworms, which are also carried by mosquitoes, have been a concern for veterinarians.

Fortunately, the proverbial ounce of prevention for dogs and cats is readily available in the form of heartworm preventives, such as the many brands we carry in our online store.  We also stock heartworm preventives at the clinic. Our doctors are happy to discuss how these products work and help you choose which one is right for your dog or cat.

All the pets in our household are on heartworm preventive year-round, so even if the mosquito I encountered had managed a bite,  the risk of their being infected would have been quite low.

But some clients insist their pets need heartworm preventive only during the summer months because mosquitoes are not a problem at other times of the year. A few insist their pets don’t need heartworm preventive at all because they stay in the house all the time.

The fact is, while there are more mosquitoes during the warmer months, there is no time of year when mosquitoes are not present in our climate.

And mosquitoes can and do come indoors, looking for people and pets to provide the protein and iron found in blood to make their eggs.

To learn more about heartworms, visit The American Heartworm Society’s “Heartworm Basics” page.

Our One-Star Review

Recently, Brownsburg Animal Clinic received its first one-star online review. We discovered it among our eight five-star ratings on Google, and it dropped our overall rating to 4.5. Our perfect 5.0, based on 37 reviews, still stands on Facebook. We also have three 5-star ratings on Yelp.

The one-star review was from someone whose cat had died, and the reviewer blamed the drugs the cat was taking–Cerenia, used to treat vomiting in dogs and cats, and “Covenina,” most likely a reference to Convenia, which we prescribe to treat urinary tract infections in cats.

The reviewer also blamed us. The rest of the review criticized our veterinarians personally as “archaic” and “old school young but stupid” doctors who might be able to treat dogs, but “cats not so much!”

The review concluded with a suggestion that we fire our “partner.”

Naturally, we found this review distressing. Our first impulse was to respond to it online, but upon further reflection, we decided it was better to flag it for review by Google, which prohibits personal attacks in its online reviews, and hope it will be taken down.

Meanwhile, we want to express our sympathy to the client for the loss of his or her cherished cat. Every one of us at the clinic has lost pets of our own, and we understand the pain, grief and yes, sometimes even anger, that are often part of the recovery process.

We also want to note that the drugs mentioned as “killers” are both safe, highly effective medications that have been in use for the past 5 to 10 years–hardly “archaic.” If your pet is taking either of these drugs and you have concerns, please call us to discuss the benefits and risks of the drugs for your pet.

Finally, we want to assure our clients that all of our doctors and medical staff are well-qualified, dedicated general practitioners who follow best practices and protocols in both feline and canine medicine. As small animal practitioners, we keep up with the veterinary medical literature concerning both cats and dogs, and all of us meet all continuing education requirements. We are capable and confident of our ability to provide high-quality medical care for your pet. When more specialized care is called for, we do not hesitate to refer you to the appropriate specialist.

We hope all our clients will feel free to discuss any issues they have about the care we provide in our clinic. If you have a question or concern with our diagnoses or treatment recommendations, we encourage you to discuss it at the time of your visit. While our veterinarians are not always available to take phone calls for much of the day, we are happy to return calls to answer your questions. So please, leave us a message and we will contact you as soon as we are able.

Thank you to all the clients who have awarded us top ratings. We dedicate ourselves to continuing to deserve your trust and loyalty!

Medicines for Humans Can Be Dangerous for Pets

Nearly half the calls to the Pet Poison Hotline involve pets who have ingested over-the-counter or prescription drugs for humans.

In some cases, the pet got into the pill bottle or daily dose holder on its own. In others, a well-meaning owner deliberately gave the drug to the pet to relieve pain, nausea or other symptoms. Owners who store their pets’ prescription medicines next to their human family members’ prescriptions sometimes pick up the wrong bottle and accidentally give the pet a dose of a drug prescribed for a human in the household.

And pet owners sometimes use a drug prescribed for one pet to treat another. This is especially risky when using a drug prescribed for a dog to treat a cat.

Surprisingly dangerous are common over-the-counter pain relievers, including non-sterioidal anti-inflammatories–NSAIDS–such as Aleve, Advil and Motrin, and acetaminophen–the active ingredient in Tylenol. Even one or two pills can be seriously damaging and even deadly for pets.

For a top-ten list of medicines for humans and their damaging effects on pets, visit the Pet Poison Helpline. There’s also a brief video on the page with additional pointers and safeguards you can take to protect your pet.

Although aspirin is not on the Poison Helpline’s top-ten list, treating your pet with aspirin before coming in for an office visit can delay treatment with a more effective drug because we have to wait for the aspirin to clear the pet’s system before starting the appropriate drug. In these cases, using aspirin as a “home remedy” in hopes of avoiding an office visit keeps your pet in pain longer and slows recovery.

Before using a drug intended for humans to treat your pet, call our office to confirm it is safe and effective and to determine the proper dosage.

If you discover your pet has ingested a drug meant for humans on its own, and it’s during our office hours, call us immediately. We need to know the name of the drug, the dosage and how many pills you believe your pet has swallowed. We may have you bring your pet in right away, or we may refer you to an emergency clinic. We may have you call the Pet Poison Helpline, or we may call on your behalf to consult with the toxicologists on the most effective treatment.

After hours, call the Pet Poison Helpline at (855) 764-7661 and be prepared for a trip to the emergency clinic.

 

Managing Your Dog’s Noise Anxiety

July 4 is upon us, and chances are at least 40 percent of our canine patients will experience noise anxiety during the celebratory fireworks. Summer thunderstorms can trigger similar fears, causing panic and dangerous reactions, destruction of furniture and fixtures, self-inflicted injuries and frantic escapes.

That’s why the busiest day of the year for intake of runaway dogs in animal shelters is July 5.

Cats can be noise-averse, too, but their fear responses are usually not as pronounced. A cat may retreat to a favorite hiding place when frightened by noise, but otherwise appear unfazed. So most of our clients’ concerns about noise anxiety involve dogs.

If noise makes your dog anxious, we can help.

Home remedies we recommend in mild to moderate cases include playing music to mask the noise and carrying on as usual. It’s tempting to comfort a fearful dog, but a better approach is to signal all is well by engaging in normal behavior. A little cuddling is fine, but anything you can do lighten the mood is most helpful. If you can, just be present to your dog, ideally in a windowless interior room, and ride out the storm together.

For more severe cases, there are drugs we can prescribe to reduce anxiety and keep your dog relaxed and safe during fireworks, storms and other noisy conditions. The first step is an office visit to assess the severity of the anxiety and discuss treatment options with you.

We’ve just received our first shipment of Sileo, a promising new drug  approved by the FDA to treat noise anxiety. Visit the drug manufacturer’s web site to learn more about noise anxiety and how this new drug can help.

While we can’t promise a quieter summer, we may well be able to provide a calmer, more relaxed summer for your noise-averse dog. Call to schedule an appointment today.

 

Emergency and Specialty Referrals

Have you ever brought your pet here or to some other general veterinary practice and been referred to a specialist or advised to head over to the local emergency clinic?

There was a time, 30 or 40 years ago, when small animal general practitioners did, or at least tried to do, everything. We still do a lot. Most of us do some dentistry and many are comfortable and capable handling some orthopedic procedures.

But with the recent advances in veterinary medicine, specialization has flourished. The American Veterinary Medical Association currently recognizes 22 veterinary specialty organizations. These range from veterinary dermatology to surgery to ophthalmology to dentistry to critical care.

If you bring your pet in, and one of our doctors refers you to a specialist, or an emergency clinic or a 24-hour veterinary care facility, chances are it’s because we believe your pet would benefit from specialized and/or round-the-clock care.

So, you ask, what do we “regular vets” learn in vet school then?

We learn a little bit of everything! In many areas of veterinary medicine, we actually learn a lot, and we keep on learning through continuing education! Our veterinarians are all very knowledgeable and comfortable diagnosing and treating many common ailments. But from time to time, we recommend a specialist as the best person to diagnose and treat rare, complicated, chronic or severe cases.

For example, if your pet has been hit by a car and has multiple fractures, like most regular clinics, we do not have bone plating materials that may be indicated for the types of injury your pet has. So we send you to an orthopedist who has what’s needed to care for your pet.

Or if your pet has severe allergies, and we’ve tried dozens of diets and medications, and your pet is still itchy, we may send you to a dermatologist for allergy testing.

If you come in at 5:45 p.m. and the clinic closes at 6:00, and your pet has been vomiting non-stop for 24 hours, we may send you to an ER as they offer 24-hour care plus a critical care specialist who can take the time and apply the specialized expertise to be sure your pet has the best possible chance of recovery.

So if you come to the clinic and one of our doctors recommends a specialist or sends you to the ER, rest assured it is because in our best judgment, we believe your pet will experience the best outcomes being cared for by someone with more experience and more sophisticated, specialized equipment for diagnosing and treating the particular illness or condition. And that means your pet has the best chances of healing in the shortest amount of time.

Hugs May Be Stressful for Dogs

We came across a Psychology Today blog post in which author Stanley Coren suggests that most dogs find hugs stressful.

The research involved analysis of photographs posted on the Internet. More than 80% of dogs being hugged showed signs of discomfort, stress or anxiety.

We encourage all our dog-owning clients–especially those with children in the household–to read the article. If your dog shows any signs of discomfort when being hugged, it’s a good idea to find other ways to show your affection.

Why Do Cats Do What They Do?

Why does your cat behave as he or she does? This 5-minute TED-Ed video, called “Why do cats act so weird?” has some answers.

Written by Tony Buffington, a veterinarian and professor with a special interest in cats,  the animated video covers a number of common feline behaviors, tracing them back to their evolutionary roots. It’s fun to watch, too!

Estate Plans to Cover Your Pets

When it comes to estate planning, most of us update our wills and name beneficiaries of insurance policies and retirement funds so that our heirs and favorite charities will be provided for.

But what about our pets?

What will happen to your pets if they outlive you? Have you considered including your four-legged loved ones in your estate plans?

Depending on your family, financial and tax situation, you may provide for your pet’s care and support within the provisions of your will or in a trust document. For many people, the best approach is to execute a revocable trust incorporating provisions for pet care. Here’s why:

  • A revocable trust can easily be revised to add or remove a pet.
  • With a revocable trust, the assets you allot for your pet(s) are not tied up in probate, which can take a great deal of time and leave your pets without care.
  • Generally, assets in a revocable trust are not taxed as part of the estate.

Should you change your will or create a revocable trust to provide for your pet(s) in your estate plans? Only an attorney familiar with your situation and estate planning law knows for sure.

As veterinarians, we can’t provide legal advice, but if you are concerned about providing for your pet’s welfare in your estate plans, we encourage you to to ask a competent, licensed attorney.

HIPPA for Pets

At Brownsburg Animal Clinic, we maintain detailed medical records on every one of our patients. From time to time, our clients ask us to share those records with veterinary specialists, emergency clinics, breeders, groomers and training clubs.

But in Indiana, your pet’s medical records and information about its medical condition are confidential. In fact, we cannot release your pet’s records without a signed authorization from you to do so.

We have a multi-purpose form that includes an authorization to release your pet’s records when you ask us to. You can also use this form to notify us of changes in your address or phone number. For your convenience, we encourage you to download and complete the form and return it to our office so we may respond promptly any time you ask us to share your pet’s medical records.

Here are the specific regulations for Indiana, as summarized by the American Veterinary Medical Association on their web page about confidentiality of veterinary patient records:

An animal’s veterinary medical record and medical condition is confidential and may not be furnished to or discussed with any person other than the client or other veterinarians involved in the care or treatment of the animal without written authorization of the client with the following exceptions:

An animal’s veterinary medical records and medical condition must be furnished within five (5) business days without written client authorization under the following circumstances:

(1) Access to the records is specifically required by a state or federal statute.

(2) An order by a court with jurisdiction in a civil or criminal action upon the court’s issuance of a subpoena and notice to the client or the client’s legal representative.

(3) As part of an inspection or investigation conducted by the board or an agent of the board.

(4) As part of a request from a regulatory or health authority, physician, or veterinarian:

(A) to verify a rabies vaccination of an animal; or

(B) to investigate a threat to human or animal health, or for the protection of animal or public health and welfare.

(5) As a part of an animal cruelty report and associated applicable records that are part of an abuse investigation by law enforcement or a governmental agency.

(6) To a law enforcement agency as part of a criminal
investigation.

An animal’s veterinary medical records and medical
condition may be furnished without written client authorization under the following circumstances:

(1) To the School of Veterinary Medicine at Purdue
University, the animal disease diagnostic laboratory, or a state agency or commission. However, an animal’s veterinary medical records remain confidential unless the information is disclosed in a manner allowed under this section.

(2) Veterinary medical records that are released by the board of animal health when in the judgment of the state veterinarian the disclosure is necessary or helpful in advancing animal health or protecting public health.

(3) For statistical and scientific research, if the information is abstracted in a way as to protect the identity of the animal and the client.

 

Ian Dunbar on Dog-Friendly Dog Training

We came across this very insightful TED* talk by Ian Dunbar, a veterinarian, dog trainer, animal behaviorist and author. Over the past several decades, Dr. Dunbar has written many books and DVDs about puppy and dog behavior and training, including AFTER You Get Your Puppy, How To Teach A New Dog Old Tricks and the SIRIUS® Puppy Training video.

For much more information and free resources by Dr. Dunbar, including a comprehensive online dog training textbook, visit Dog Star Daily.

*TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less). TED began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged.

Diabetes

We all know human friends and family members who suffer from diabetes, but many people don’t realize pets can develop diabetes, too.

The key symptoms are lethargy, excessive thirst and frequent urination.

We can’t yet cure diabetes, but we can help you manage the disease in your dog or cat.

The people at Merck Animal Health have declared November “Pet Diabetes Month.” If you are currently living with a dog or cat who has diabetes, we encourage you to visit Merck’s informative Pet Diabetes Month web site to learn more. If your pet is displaying symptoms, please call us to schedule an appointment.

The Ears Have It

One of our favorite sources of information for clients is the American Veterinary Medical Association YouTube channel.

Today’s topic is ear care for dogs and cats.

First, here’s a brief overview on ear care for dogs. Please note at about a minute and a half in, there’s a recommendation NOT to use cotton swabs. We agree! Cotton swabs can push debris further into the ear canal and possibly injure the ear.

And here’s a video on ear care for cats.

Year-Round Protection

As cool days begin to outnumber warm ones, it’s tempting to consider skipping a few months of heart worm preventive or flea and tick control. After all, come winter, there won’t be a mosquito in sight!

Our advice is to resist the temptation and keep up the good work of heart worm, flea and tick prevention year-round.  In our climate, mosquitoes, fleas and ticks can’t be counted on ever to disappear completely. Even during the coldest months, the risks remain.

We have many options for heart worm prevention and flea and tick control, both topical and oral. Feel free to call the clinic with any questions regarding which product will work best for your pet, and be sure to ask about the rebates that come with many of them when you stock up. 

If you already know the products you prefer, shop for them at our online store.

Misty Eyes ‘Raise the Woof’

Brownsburg Animal Clinic is a proud co-sponsor of the upcoming “Raise the Woof” fund-raiser for Misty Eyes Animal Center on Friday, November 13, starting at 6:00 p.m. at the Palms in Plainfield, 2353 Perry Road in Plainfield.

Since its founding in 2011, we have supported Misty Eyes, and we deeply appreciate the role they play in fostering animal welfare in our community. Their mission is “to end the needless euthanasia of domesticated pets in Hendricks County,” and they work toward that goal using a multi-faceted approach that involves collaboration with local organizations, teaching responsible pet ownership and the benefits of spaying or neutering pets, and placing homeless pets in qualified foster and adoptive homes.

The “Raise the Woof” event is a great opportunity for a fun night out for a wonderfully worthwhile cause. We hope to see you there!

 

World Rabies Day

September 28 is World Rabies Day, officially launched in 2007 to raise awareness about the public health impact of human and animal rabies. Rabies is a devastating disease that can be deadly, but one that is 100% preventable by vaccines.

In Indiana, all dogs, cats, and ferrets three months of age and older must be vaccinated against rabies by a licensed veterinarian. After their initial vaccine, dogs and cats receive boosters according to the vaccine manufacturer’s recommendations. Although there are rabies vaccines for dogs and cats that specify annual boosters, more often only the first booster is due after 12 months, with remaining boosters due every three years after that.

Besides risking your pet’s and your family’s health, keeping a dog six months old or older that has not received a rabies vaccination is against the law. For complete information about Indiana’s laws concerning rabies vaccines, visit the state web site.

To make sure your pet’s rabies vaccines are up-to-date, call our office. We will be happy to check your pet’s records and let you know when the next vaccine or booster is due.

Happy Cat Month

September  is  Happy  Cat  Month, an annual event created by CATalyst Council to educate and inform cat owners about all they can do to keep their cats happy. The goal is to spread the word  about the health,  welfare and value of companion  cats.

Often,  cats  are  viewed  as  self-reliant,  aloof  and  less  in  need  of medical  care  than  dogs. The  aim  of  Happy Cat Month  is to counteract  these  stereotypes  and  ensure  cats  are  well  cared  for and enriched and  that they receive  the  preventive  care  they  require.

The doctors and staff at Brownsburg Animal Clinic are happy to answer questions about “best practices” to keep your cat healthy and happy.

Dogs and Heatstroke

We’ve talked about the dangers of hot weather for dogs before. We encourage all our dog-owning clients to read this article in today’s New York Times. It has some good advice, including the warning signs of heat stroke: excessive panting, lethargy and a deep red tongue.

If you think your dog is having a heat stroke, get it into cool water immediately. If the symptoms persist, treat it as a medical emergency. If it’s during our office hours, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturdays 8 a.m. to noon, call us immediately at (317) 852-3323 so our staff can prepare for your arrival and offer you advice for administering first aid.

If it’s after-hours, on weekends or a holiday, please call the Airport Animal Emergi-Center at (317) 248-0832. The emergency center is at 5235 West Washington Street in Indianapolis. Maps, directions and more information are available on the Emergi-Center web site.

WebMD for Pet Health

Many of you may be familiar with WebMD as a source of reliable online information about human health.

But did you know WebMD also maintains a pet health web site with specialized sections for dogs and cats?

While we haven’t reviewed every single veterinary health-related article on the site, the information we have seen appears to be accurate. And some of the topics on the site and in the emailed newsletters look interesting and fun.

As with your human family’s health care,  however, we encourage you always to look to your own doctor as the primary source of definitive information about preventive care, diagnosis and treatment.

The doctors and staff at Brownsburg Animal Clinic are here to answer your questions about the specifics of your pet’s health. We hope you’ll use the information you find online at WebMD and other pet health sites to start a conversation with us.

AVMA’s Check the Chip Day

The American Veterinary Medical Association has declared August 15 “Check the Chip” day.  As you’ll see if you visit the AVMA’s page, the goal is to remind owners of pets with microchip implants to confirm that their registration information is up to date.

For pets without microchips, our strong recommendation is to make an appointment with us to microchip your pet. It’s the best way to increase your chances of recovering your pet, should he or she get lost or be stolen.

For more information about the microchipping procedure itself, here’s a brief video from the AVMA.

At Brownsburg, we use HomeAgain brand microchips. The HomeAgain web site has even more information about the benefits of microchipping, and we are happy to answer any questions you may have about the procedure.

About Cat Litter

While browsing the ASPCA web site, we came across an article about cat litter. You’ll be surprised at how much there is to know, from the history of cat litter to the most common causes of “litterbox lapse!” Before you buy your next batch of litter, we encourage you to read this informative article.

Heartworm Season is Here

With all the rain we’ve had recently, we are sure to have lots of standing water and standing water is the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes. Mosquitoes are the little creatures that transmit heartworms from animal to animal.

If you do not already have your pet on heartworm preventive, we highly recommend getting him or her covered! If your pet has never been on any kind of prevention, a simple blood draw is all it takes to set the process in motion. We have several options on prevention and some really great rebates!

We never want to see any of our beloved patients come up positive for heartworms. Its very taxing on an animal’s overall wellbeing, and treatment for the parasite can be quite expensive.

Here is a great article from the ASPCA all about heartworms, the signs and symptoms, how its treated and lots of other good info.  If you have questions, please call the clinic at (317) 852-3323 and we will be happy to help you keep your pet happy and heartworm-free!

Fireworks and Pets

With Independence Day fast approaching, we want to remind owners to protect their pets from exposure to fireworks.

  • Fireworks are noisy! While most humans enjoy the lights and sounds of a fireworks display, many pets experience the noise as unnerving or even terrorizing.
  • Lighted fireworks can cause severe burns and trauma to the face and paws of a curious pet.
  • Unlit fireworks can be swallowed, obstructing your pet’s digestive tract and introducing potentially toxic substances, including potassium nitrate, arsenic and other heavy metals.

We know of at least one local July 4 fireworks display this year at Arbuckle Acres Park, and we’re sure there will be many families celebrating the day with fireworks in their own backyards.

We encourage you to protect your pet from fireworks this July 4!

Summer Safety Tips

Summer has arrived!

We found an AVMA video that gives a great overview of how to keep your pet safe during the summer months. Even if you don’t have time to watch the whole thing, we encourage you to watch the first two and a half minutes for a good overview of heat stress, including emergency measures you can take.

Adopt a Cat

The American Humane Association has declared June Adopt a Cat Month, and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals encourages you to adopt a shelter cat during June.

The checklist on the AHA’s web site offers some great advice for first-time cat owners. We also like this page on the ASPCA’s site, titled Top 10 Things to Do Before You Bring Your New Cat Home.

For a very basic overview of cat behavior, check out the AVMA’s video, Cat Behavior 101.

To find a cat who needs a home, we encourage you to visit Misty Eyes Animal Center at 640 East Main Street here in Brownsburg, or visit their web site to see photographs of cats available for adoption.

National Heat Awareness Day

May 23 is National Heat Awareness Day, sponsored by the National Weather Service to remind us of just how dangerous heat can be, not only to humans, but to pets.

As shown on this NWS web page about the dangers of heat to children and pets, even when the temperatures are relatively mild, the interior or a car or truck can heat up very quickly. To reveal more details, click the links on the page.

Also addressing this same issue is a brief video from the American Veterinary Medical Association.

We agree with the advice from the AVMA. If you love your pets, leave them at home!

Preventing Dog Bites

Sponsored by the American Veterinary Medical Association, National Dog Bite Prevention Week® takes place during the third full week of May each year. The goal is to teach people about preventing dog bites.

The AVMA’s web site has a page dedicated to dog bite prevention.  We encourage you to visit the page and learn more about how you can lower the risk that your dog will bite. There are also tips on how to avoid having a dog bite you or someone you love.

Also from the AVMA is this video about preventing dog bites. This is video has dog bit statistics as well as specific tips for avoiding being bitten. We hope you’ll watch it with your kids.

Dental Care at Home

As Dental Health Month draws to a close, there’s still time to schedule an appointment and receive a 10% discount on dental procedures for your pet.

You also receive a free home care kit when you pick up your pet.

We encourage you to make home dental care a habit! Here’s advice from the American Veterinary Dental College on home dental care for dogs.  And here’s their article on caring for your cat’s teeth at home.

 

AVMA Video on Dental Health

The American Veterinary Medical Association has produced a good video overview of dental health for pets. It takes less than six minutes to watch, and is well worth the time!

Don’t forget our 10% discount off dental procedures during February. Call our office today to make your appointment. You’ll receive a free take-home dental care kit, too.

Dental Health Month

February is National Pet Dental Health Month!

Regular dental care for your pet can increase his or her length and quality of life. At Brownsburg Animal Clinic, our veterinarians check your pet’s teeth at every exam and will let you know if we recommend a dental cleaning under anesthesia. Between these cleanings, you can do many things at home to help your pet’s oral health, from brushing to chew toys and dental treats. Ask me or one of our other doctors about your pet’s dental health at your next visit.

We are offering a 10% discount for dental cleanings in February and sending home a free at home dental care kit!

Just call our office to schedule a dental cleaning.

About Trifexis

We have had many questions about the series of articles written by the Indy Star on Trifexis and other veterinary drugs. We would like to address the concern of Trifexis safety that was the focus of the first article.

We have been prescribing Trifexis since it has been on the market and have found it be very safe and effective. The only side effects we have noted are vomiting, occasional diarrhea and, in rare cases, itching. Any medication taken orally can cause vomiting. For our patients that have experienced these side effects, they have been short-lived (24 hours or less) and, based on experience, we typically then decide to use a different heartworm preventive that may be better suited for these particular pets’ stomachs.

Meanwhile, I have continued to use Trifexis with my own pets because of its ease of administration, effectiveness and safety.

What we do know is heartworm disease kills. Period. Our greatest fear is that these articles will incite panic and cause people to stop giving preventives altogether. If you have questions about your pet’s heartworm medication or heartworm disease, please do not hesitate to ask your veterinarian or check out the American Heartworm Society’s website.

We doctors at Brownsburg Animal Clinic always welcome an open dialogue about your pet’s health, medications and any potential side effects. Your pet’s health and well being are always our top priorities. We thank you for your continued trust in allowing us to care for your furry family members.

IVMA Response to Indy Star Series

The Indy Star’s “Pets at Risk” series raised a number of important issues that affect all our clients in their relationships with their pets. At the same time, the articles also suggest that some veterinarians are unduly influenced by our desires for financial gain at the expense of our patients’ health and our clients’ wellbeing.

I encourage you to read the response of the Indiana Veterinary Medical Association to the series.

If you have questions or concerns about the articles, or any aspect of your pet’s health and our recommended treatment and preventive measures, please talk to me or one of the other doctors at the clinic.